Depression and various mental illnesses and composing music

Discussion in 'Composition, Orchestration & Technique' started by EgM, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. EgM

    EgM Game music!

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    How do you guys deal with it? I suffer from a burnout at the moment because of other work not related to music. (IT/Security installations)

    In this state, I have no mental power to compose any music whatsoever. Firing Cubase feels nice for the first 2 minutes but then, everything feels like lifting 150lbs of blocks over and over.

    I used to be able to compose 5 songs a night and get really into music which I don't anymore... I wish I was able to do so again and I'm sure more people feel like I do.

    Ever felt like this, what did you do to get out of it?
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  2. pmcrockett

    pmcrockett Active Member

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    Yep. Doing fifty to ninety hours a week at the ol' day job for the past few years has killed music productivity dead. I'm in the process of handing most of my major job responsibilities off to someone else so I can cut way back on the hours and put the time into music instead.

    I wish I could say I learned how to deal with it and be productive in spite of it, but I haven't. Physical exhaustion and mental fog make even very simple creative tasks difficult. Most of the time, I can still see the very big picture aspects of projects that I'm working on or want to work on, but actually engaging with the details of the process ranges from difficult to impossible. Beyond a certain point, I find it best for my mental health to give up altogether until I have more free time, because finding a couple hours for music only to spend them staring at the computer unable to actually do anything feels even worse than not trying to do it at all.
     
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  3. OP
    OP
    EgM

    EgM Game music!

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    I don't do as many hours as you do, far less, but I'm self employed and spend most of my unpaid hours doing estimates, bookkeeping, taxes and all that nonsense.

    What I have issues with is being on-call for tech support and always having people depending on me all the time... Phone ringing to me == Stress!

    I feel for you @pmcrockett I wouldn't want to do 50-90 hours a week :/
     
  4. CoffeeLover

    CoffeeLover Member

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    go fitness training
    bootcamp or crossfit
    give it two months
    i aint joking around with this
    also check netflix for "functional fitness" normal nobodies being and becoming awesome!

    this helped me with everything
    physical-mental health and intelectual levels
    and razor sharp focus during the day
    and best of all Clarity
    that piece of pie youre complaining about will become a no brainer
    plus you aint getting younger.

    if you tell me no that isnt you
    then youre referring to everybody who trains cos thats how they think too
    now go and find a box near you and kick some ass and quit being old.

    piece!
     
  5. Daniel James

    Daniel James Senior Member

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    Hey Eric (sorry for the story time here)

    I unfortunately have a genetic predisposition to anxiety and depression. I have friends and family that love me, I have a wife whom I love very much, I have a great job that I love to do and yet I am still susceptible to depression. The reason I bring that up is to try to show you that its ok to accept this about yourself. You have already made a significant step by voicing it here and requesting help. That is actually one of the biggest hurdles on this clusterfuck of a journey!

    Like any medical condition there is NO shame in seeking professional help. You wouldn't be embarrassed to seek help if you had diabetes, you wouldn't be reluctant to see someone if you had a sore throat. Some people unfortunately are going to experience it in their life. But its ok, help is out there for you. No doctor will ever turn you away and no therapist will think you are being silly. Creatives in general tend to experience anxiety and depression sooner than some other professions as the work we create is an expression of our inner self, so putting that out there into the world can make you feel very vulnerable and stressed. So I say again there is no shame in seeking help. I personally went to my doctor and explained how I was struggling to feel positive emotion anymore, I started not wanting to go out, I started feeling helpless and that I would never amount to anything....all while being told this daily by people who hate me (one of the risks of putting yourself out there). My doctor listened to everyword and I explained there is no real reason I should be feeling this way, my life is good, he explained that it was just a chemical imbalance. Its something I really didn't have control over, but it was something I can treat.

    I am now on medication and focusing on getting back on track. The first thing I noticed however is that once I decided to accept something about myself that I had no control over, the world started to help me in return. I started receiving support from others who understood how it feels to feel hopeless for no reason. I started connecting with people in my life who actually matter and have done everything they can to support me. Help is there all you have to do is ask. After realising there are somethings in life I have no control over, I decided to let those go and focus on the things in life I CAN control, like bringing happiness and joy to others through the means I was born with. We are entertainers, we sacrifice a slice of our own happiness to provide it for others. But just know there are people out there ready and able to support you right back.

    You are not alone. There is help, all you have to do is ask. It DOES get better, just focus on those parts of life you can control and get support for those bits you can't. I promise you the darkness doesn't last forever and if you ever need help please don't hesitate to ask, I can point you to the right people to get the help you might need. Because I understand how it feels and I really want you to know that you should never feel shame for needing help.

    Much love mate,

    -DJ
     
  6. Jeremy Gillam

    Jeremy Gillam Active Member

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    Thanks Daniel for sharing -- posts like that are what make this a great forum to be part of.

    I too struggle with balancing my day job with my pursuit of music and can really relate to what Eric is saying. Something that helps me is to try to focus on other aspects of music when I'm too overwhelmed to sit down and actually do some proper writing. This might be spending 10 minutes practicing an instrument after a long day of work, patching up a synth or flipping through sounds in a library, finding a video on YouTube of a great performance of a great piece or a tutorial on an aspect of music or production at which I want to improve, etc. I think of it as taking musical baby steps, and figure that sooner or later I'll learn (or remember) how to walk!
     
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  7. Jaap

    Jaap Best audience ever...booh!

    On February 2013 I lost everything in a fire, my beloved one, my pets, my house, all my works and equipment. I only had the clothes left that I was wearing. This caused a big mayhem in my life of course. I was extremely depressed, completely mentally broken etc. Now more then 5 years later I am back on the road again happily and though every story of each and everyone of us is unique and different, I think there are a few common factors where can learn from.
    Talk, and that is great that you are doing that now already Eric! Talking about and acknowledge you need some advice, help etc, is a major first step.
    Remove for a while your bigger "goals" and plans. Take things by the moment, if you manage to work or get something done, it feels much more rewarding and that is what can contribute so much. A little feeling of achievement. But even more important, if things don't work out at that moment, there is totally nothing to be ashamed of. Don't think about what you could do in the past or what you hope to do in the future, just see and check with yourself what you can do now or not and confide with that.
    And if composing feels like such a heavy burden now, don't force it. The more you force it, the heavier the lift will be and could backfire.
    Also what coffeelover said is very valuable. Physical excersize is very important and so is taking good care of your body (with good food, not much toxic substances etc)
    And of course Daniel is spot on with what he is saying and advicing.

    Take care Eric!
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  8. Saxer

    Saxer Senior Member

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    I think it helps a lot to collaborate with others on projects. At least it helps me to have someone to show even small examples and get immediate feedback. It's hard to be your own motivator, technician, composer, arranger, performer and jury. If only one part of your chain is weak it's not possible to generate creative output. When I'm not in the mood (wouldn't call it depression in my case) I can't judge my results. Composing is a kind of simulated communication with an imagined audience using virtual instruments. So some real input is important.
     
  9. Saxer

    Saxer Senior Member

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    Wow, this is a real stroke of fate. Great to hear you're up again!
     
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  10. Jaap

    Jaap Best audience ever...booh!

    Thank you Saxer! Actually this great community helped me a lot. After doing the major first steps and being away here for I think half a year/year or something I also talked about it here on how to continue also with working. And got some really good tips, help etc and that was very valuable to hear from a lot of different input and stories. It is great that such a community can contribute beside the help and advice we get from our close ones or professionals.
     
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  11. Daniel James

    Daniel James Senior Member

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    Exactly this. As you proved with your horrific situation. There are things in life that are out of your control, if you don't come to terms with that fact, it can consume your life or tragically even end it. If you come to terms with the fact and focus solely on what you DO have control over your world will slowly be put back into order. Again I can't stress this enough, you are never alone in this and there is always someone there willing to help, all you have to do is ask...and there is ZERO shame in doing so!

    -DJ
     
  12. MarcusD

    MarcusD Active Member

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    Depression is like a black-hole consuming everything. But unlike a black-hole you can escape it's grasp. The hardest part is taking back control, taking those first steps is really damn hard. When you look up, you can't even see where those steps end, its just darkness. The thought of climbing blind is a lonely, daunting and formidable task.

    A concoction of health issues, learning difficulties & traumatic childhood experiences really took their toll on my mental health. Leaving me with depression throughout most of my pre-teens and early twenties. I was socially inept, ridiculed, bullied and felt very lonely. It took a very long time to wrap my head around a lot and "re-wire" my brain. The whole reason I'm into playing guitar, is because that was my holy grail at the time. It was the friend I needed, It was the language I could use to tell people to get [email protected]#ked. It was a release, but not a cure. It's good to have releases, but most progress comes from changing your routine.

    I find depression really sets in when you become stagnant, when you stop doing the things that bring you joy and repeat the same routines. The mind becomes brittle, you misplace all your energy on the illusion of doing "something" but really you're doing nothing that ultimately gives you nothing in return. The only real way out (for me) was by surrounding myself with positive, loving, encouraging people and going out into the world doing something different each day or week.

    My closest friend, who's currently recovering from depression and attempted suicide, found a really great way to help get him out and about. He cut-out pictures of different activities from magazines then glued them inside pages of a book. Things like, sky-diving, rowing, climbing, gymnastics, spa-day etc... Once or twice a week he'll open the book to a random page, close his eyes and randomly point to a picture. What ever that picture shows, is the activity he will go and do. These new experiences have bought him so much joy, he's discovered new passions and new friends. One step closer to finally waving goodbye to depression.

    It's all about making time for yourself, but using that time in a positive way to do things outside your normal habits (which is hard) but creating those new experiences are key to helping you on the journey. Setting yourself targets and goals can be a recipe for failure, especially if you don't meet your own expectations, let alone others. Focus more on living life, focus less on work / goals.
     
  13. Nao Gam

    Nao Gam Dirty little gearslut

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    Came here to post this. I have like 500 melodies in 2 different memory cards as well. I still think our mouth is the best interface our brains have for immediate expression while improvising, capturing even small nuances like vibrato, or multiple instruments at the same time (well not exactly my mouth's not a polysynth:P). At least if you can decode your own drivel.

    Point is, creativity strikes at random times, take advantage of it. Then when you're smashed you can just orchestrate/implement.
     
  14. Tice

    Tice Member

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    To me it's very important to make a distinction between stress and depression. While they often come in pairs, they aren't the same thing and require different solutions. The stress part, being over-worked, burned-out, etc. is about how much you're being asked to process on a daily basis. Have too much to process and you become over-stimulated. This is what causes you to want to put your foot on the breaks and slow down, or even stand still and do nothing for a while. The depression part comes in next, when what we feel we should be able to do doesn't correspond to what we are able to do, and we feel inadequate for it. Not only does this lead to depression, it also compells us to add stuff to our to-do list despite the fact that we can't handle any more stimuli to begin with. So we end up creating a vicious cycle: The more over-stimulated you are, the less productive you are, the more pressure we put on ourselves to do more, the more we add to our over-stimulation and the less we are able to actually do.
    That's why the general advice for people with a burn-out is to rest and do nothing. This includes not demanding of yourself to meet a certain standard of productivity. Working on something you usually love because somebody is whipping you to do so is no fun. The love for what you do will disappear. If you become depressed, that's what you're doing: whipping yourself to do more. No wonder you lose the love for your craft after loading up Cubase for 2 minutes. It stopped being about love and started being about measuring up to the expectations you think you need to live up to.
    That's not to say that it's easy to stop expecting things of yourself. Especially when society and people around you only add to the pressure of expectations. There are a lot of people you'd need to stand up to in order to claim the acceptance you need. But you have every right to do so. You're not a worthy person because of your work. You're a worthy person period. Anyone who makes you feel otherwise is (either knowingly or unknowingly) harming you. This may include yourself.

    In summary, break the cycle of over-stimulation and self-hate by accepting and loving yourself even when you don't work. From that, a desire to create will come back to you. Not because it has to, but because self-expression is something you'll naturally want to do when you're not over-stimulated.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
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  15. Parsifal666

    Parsifal666 I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.

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    This isn't meant to be disrespectful or callous in the least, but does anybody wonder why so many people are being prescribed all these anti-depressants...and yet overall people don't seem any happier (check the stats on violence in the US alone) than they were in the '70s?

    I certainly don't subscribe to Tom Cruise's dunder-dolt blather, however I have a healthy suspicion in regard to these seemingly rampant diagnoses of bipolarity in this century.

    Many believe Beethoven was bipolar...just think how much of the greatest music ever written might have been quite different had he been on these suspiciously overprescribed drugs.

    Not that I don't want people to be "normally happy", I just have misgivings when it comes to how many people are being prescribed these drugs and yet there are people shooting others while on them. Look at the papers, is the US any more happier because of these pills?

    Or maybe I need meds for paranoia lol!!!!

    Again, no disrespect to anyone, I feel for folks who suffer from such maladies...as opposed to people whom are pretty much just having a bad spell in their lives. There's a very real difference imo.
     
  16. MartinH.

    MartinH. Active Member

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    This forum really does look like a very supportive community (I'm still new here). Thanks for sharing to everyone and a "Get well soon!" to anyone who needs it!

    I've seen a friend burn out, that stuff is no joke! It was literally "crippling" to the point of no longer being able to perform trivial physical tasks at times, like getting up from the couch. And unlike something that slowly creeps up and you see it coming, reports of many people with burnout suggest that it rather hits you like a brickwall from one day to another.
    If you can, cut back a bit on the work hours, take care of yourself! If music isn't your job and you don't feel like it, there's no point in forcing yourself imho. If you can, find a hobby that is more relaxing for you. I've had periods of months where I didn't touch music once because all my creative energy had to go into my job.

    Thanks for sharing! Might be interesting for others what kind of medication works for you.

    To be honest I was starting to get worried about you, when I've seen your posts in one of the recent drama threads, and I'm really glad to see you're well on your way to recovery! You've never heard of me before, and I want you to know that the people who have never talked to you, but have known you through youtube for years and do care about your wellbeing, must outweigh the haters that message you by several orders of magnitude!

    Great post! Would you recommend for affected people to also stay away from forums and other online activities? If overstimulation is part of the problem and feelings of overwhelmedness and loneliness are driving people into online communities, this would look like a vicious cycle right there.




    The environmental factors (smartphones and facebook probably being among the biggest ones) are vastly different today than in the 70's.




    Not 100% on topic but I had to think of it for some reason: For anyone dealing with not depression but being targeted by "public outrage" or similar (which likely will lead to depression over time) I'd imagine you can find some useful bits of information in the book "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" by Jon Ronson. I've heard it being recommended on a podcast, but I haven't actually read it. Might be worth a look for anyone with a youtube/twitch channel, or anyone releasing products into the public that receive criticism. Gues we have quite a few members that fit into one of these categories and may sooner or later have to deal with some unpleasant people on the internet.
     
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  17. Tice

    Tice Member

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    It strongly depends on the forum and what you do internally with the replies you get. Some forums are very constructive and supportive about this. Be weary of elitist behavior, forums where strong egos are trying to prove themselves by acting superior to others. That can be extremely toxic if you believe you should be competing with them. (you don't need to)
    I wouldn't recommend isolating yourself. Your inner dialogue will just spiral out of control if it doesn't have other people to verify your thoughts with. But when orienting your inner dialogue by comparing your thoughts to others, make sure those others are constructive and supportive people who aren't seeking to establish themselves by being superior to others. When you do encounter those people, it's important that you develop an inner voice that reminds you that nobody is a truly reliable source of truth with credibility higher than your own voice. We're all stumbling in the dark, even when we don't all act like it. The more sure someone seems of themselves, the less reliable they probably are.
    As a general rule of thumb, I say people who think they know the answer won't be looking for it, and thus they cease to listen. That's not where you'll find a way to happiness. Don't take my word for it, distrust my words. Inquisitiveness makes you wiser.
     
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  18. Daniel James

    Daniel James Senior Member

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    Its a common misconception and this stigma is exactly one of the reasons people don't reach out for help.

    Antidepressants are not magic happy pills. Anxiety and Depression has a tendency to alter the chemistry of your brain and essentially (hugely oversimplified) dulls positive emotion, which leaves you with only the negative emotion. This explains the 'helpless' feeling many people experience from depression. Antidepressants (or SSRIs) increase the serotonin available for transmitting the information needed to bring back that positive emotion, its essentially balancing out the brain chemistry. This is working for me because I have my life in order. I have a support structure and am suffering with a chemical imbalance.

    If however you are depressed and your life is not in order or you do not have a solid support structure in place the medication will only help so much. They will even out the chemistry but if you are in a bad situation you will still feel those negative emotions. Thats why I am so adamant on stressing the fact that there is ZERO SHAME in reaching out for help. When you ask for help people will give you the support you need. The most obvious example of this are mental health hotlines who are available 24/7. Beyond that is where therapy comes in, the chemical imbalance if not treated soon enough can lead to a series of bad behaviours which become habits. Groups and Gatherings exist for this exact reason. You are not alone and nobody will think you are weak or silly for reaching out. Again depression is horrible illness and can get out of your control. If it does, reach out. Again if anyone is really suffering but are reluctant to seek help alone, contact me and I will help you find the support you need to get back on your feet. I know how you feel and I want you to know it doesn't last forever, all you have to do is want it to get better and people can help you get there.

    -DJ
     
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  19. Nao Gam

    Nao Gam Dirty little gearslut

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    @Parsifal666 school shooters are a special case if that's what you mean. You need an assortment of personality disorders and chronic social isolation to get one. Depression is not enough.

    @Daniel James +1, people need to get their lives in order before jumping on a pill which may even be given on a misdiagnosis. I was given the option to get ADD medication before, tho I possibly don't even have it. I chose not to. These meds have side effects and can only do so much anyway.
    I hope the pills have sorted it out for you Daniel
     
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  20. SBK

    SBK Active Member

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    I had same problem. The key to me was that I was everyday drinking alcohol. And I stopped cause of some issues. I didn't stop completely but I only had 1 beer everyday, and energy fulfillment sense and clear mind came to me and I could compose easily 1 track a day. Now I started again drinking ... but the pause from it even for 1-2 weeks, was super nice. You have to find what sets your creativity back. And also you need ideas running in your head, I mean practise a bit everyday writing something even for 10 minutes, and also listen to tracks you like most, that will slowly fill you with ideas, but don't quit, if you had a long beak that sets you back and you have to push it a bit. Also a good friend chat-walk-whatever, a good company and girlfriend if you don't have, fill your mind with and towards nice stuff. All the Best
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
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