5 Ways to Deal With Depression As An Artist
What up Smart Rapper? My name is Rob Level, and today we are talking about DEALING with depression as an artist. This is something I want to talk about because it affects millions of people, and most people – unless you’re really really lucky – experience some sort of depression at least once in their lifetimes.
There is a lot of social weirdness around depression and how to deal with it. A lot of people don’t like talking about it, so they don’t and they are sad forever. I made this video to show you that you don’t have to live your life like that.
More importantly, a lot of artists experience MORE depression than regular people because of the way our brains are wired. So you gotta know how to deal with it if you’re going to make it for real.
Don’t worry, Smart Rapper, I got you. I’m Rob Level, let’s get into it.
Why Do We Feel Depressed?
Alright first off we’re gonna talk about why depression happens. There’s a few different reasons but two big ones: situational and chemical.
A chemical reason means there are levels in your brain that just aren’t working as they should be. A lot of complicated things happen with our brain chemistry to make sure we operate well and live happy lives.
If just one thing is off, the whole system can get thrown out of whack. That’s the crazy thing.
When the chemicals in your brain are off, you can start feeling a lot of weird things. This includes sadness and fatigue, obsessing about stuff that’s going wrong for you, not caring about anything at all, struggling to relate to others around you, or not having fun anymore with stuff that used to be fun.
A good test if you think you’re depressed is to watch your favorite movie or listen to your favorite song; something that always makes you feel amazing or you have fun with. If you feel nothing, you mayyy be depressed.
Some people go in the opposite direction and get really energetic or run around all the time to try to distract from the stuff they are going through. Then it all hits them when they are alone at the end of the day, and they become extremely sad.
There are millions of ways to go through this.
When it’s an issue with that stuff, a lot of people think it’s that there’s something wrong or messed up with them.
Just because something isn’t firing right in your brain doesn’t mean you’re messed up or broken – or alone. Millions of people are going through it too. You just need some extra stuff to get it back to the right balance. In this case, that extra help should come from a doctor.
This person will talk to you about what you’re going through. They will make a judgment call about how to fix it or at least make it better. They’ll stay in touch with you while you’re getting better to make sure everything is going according to plan.
Now, why do these imbalances happen? There are a ton of reasons. The biggest one is your genes!
Your parents, their parents, the genetic makeup of the people who made you basically determines what your brain looks like and what it feels like to be you.
For some people, that’s great – no depression! For others, it means you’re dealing with something handed down to you.
That’s not fair, but that’s how it is. Not dealing with it because you wish it wasn’t happening won’t help ANYTHING.
No matter how you feel about it, you need to accept that it’s the hand you’ve been dealt. Once you accept it, your brain will automatically start generating ways to fix it, help you, and make your life better.
Before I keep going I want to mention a different kind of depression. That’s situational, AKA getting depressed because of the situation or circumstance you’re currently in.
That can mean your job, relationship, creative outlets, or lack thereof, family, pets, accidents, you name it.
As humans, we need to see a greater path for ourselves – in the future – where we’re okay – in order to be happy. Psychologically, we need to be able to see a potential path for success or at least a normal life in order to keep on going through every day.
When people don’t have that, when they can’t see that future, they get depressed. Again, this can happen from a lot of different things.
Your dog dying, for example, is sad and depressing. This is partly because there isn’t a future where you get your dog back. As a sane person, you know that. But there’s still no future, so you get depressed.
Another example is someone who is a rapper or singer and a creative person, but is stuck doing data entry in an office with non creative people for years.
Over time, depression as an artist starts to set in, because that person can no longer see a future where they get to perform or practice music as the career they always dreamed of.
Situations that cause depression are unavoidable as you go through life. It is important to be aware of their affect on you, particularly as a musical artist.
Once you’re aware, you can put yourself in situations where you’ll thrive. You can avoid ones that trap you and make you depressed.
So with that, I’m going to go into 5 ways you can deal with depression as an artist.
Number One: KNOW YOUR STANDARDS
First off, you need to know what you need to be happy. As an artist, you’re going to probably need to support yourself until your music takes off.
So really be honest with yourself about what you can live with and what you can’t. If you hate crowds or dealing with people, don’t get yourself a day job where you’re dealing with that shit.
Similarly, if you know you don’t mind working for cash outside music, but can’t stand working in an office or restaurant, find something like dog walking or delivering food, where you can listen to music and practice during work if you want to.
Figuring out the boundaries and preferences you have with certain tasks or situations will definitely help you place yourself into circumstances where you’ll thrive instead of becoming jaded or depressed.
It will also keep you away from just accepting anything you can get to actually making choices that are right for you at the time.
Number Two: MAKE A LIST
This one is for people struggling with depression as an artist right now. If you know you’re depressed, and you’re watching this video looking for something to help snap you out of it, good job.
Despite your depression, you’re going out and looking for answers. That’s a really good sign that you’re a strong person.
A lot of times when you’re depressed, you start losing sight of yourself and the things that make you YOU, like there’s a big distance between other people and you – and between you and yourself.
You struggle to care even about things that directly affect you or your life. If this is happening to you right now, here’s a little exercise you can do in order to “come back.”
On a piece of paper, make a list of stuff that you love – or that you are good at. Or things that you enjoy doing.
This includes food, activities, places, people. It can be anything. Write down your favorite foods. Favorite shows. Favorite songs. Words that describe you and your music. Your favorite beat plugins. Memories or times in your life you loved. Nothing you write down is dumb and no one will see it.
Writing this list is a reminder to you of who you are. At times of depression it’s so easy to forget why you are worth it.
You are worth it. This list will help remind you of all the things that make you who you are. Sometimes you’ll be so depressed you can only think of one thing for the list even after thinking about it for a long time.
If that’s all you can do, that’s okay. Keep thinking and add something else tomorrow. Have a trusted friend or family member help you think of things to add. The list will also remind you of a lot of cool stuff about yourself that you may have forgotten while you were depressed.
Number Three: WRITE A SONG ABOUT IT
Alright y’all this one might seem obvious for this channel, but you’d be shocked at the effectiveness of this method with dealing with depression as an artist. If you are really hurting, as an artist, making music or art in any way will help relieve your pain.
If you don’t have enough energy or the will to get to your regular songwriting set up, start writing from your bed or couch.
Pick a couple notes or a pattern and start expressing the stuff you’re feeling. Do it alone so you feel comfortable saying whatever you need to say, even if it feels like someone else might judge you for it, it doesn’t matter.
Even if it’s not the best song or even has a song structure, it doesn’t really matter. You may come up with some cool stuff you can pull for songs later, but that’s not the point of this right now.
Once you hear yourself saying what you’re going through out loud, you’ll feel at least a little bit better right away. The more you do it, the better you will feel.
This is also really important for another reason. Sometimes, when you’re depressed, you can feel like there isn’t a place for you in the whole world. If making music becomes something you can do, it will become like a comforting sanctuary for you to deal with your problems.
You’ll be more confident in the rhythm and habit of creating no matter what mood you’re in. You’ll be helping yourself in multiple ways.
Number Four : DON’T BE ALONE
Okay, obviously there are times you need to be alone. Music creation, like the kind I just described, is definitely a solo activity when you are working out depression or bad stuff and are worried about privacy. But, in general, if you’re depressed right now, your brain NEEDS stimulation!
One easy way to stimulate your brain is by not being alone. If you’re alone for long periods of time, especially when you’re depressed, your brain might start playing some pretty crappy tricks on you.
One thing that happens sometimes when you’re experiencing depression as an artist is that you lose perspective on life, your situation, or your problems. You might even start thinking you’re so terrible that no one would want to be around you.
YOU’RE NOT! Go out and interact with the world. I don’t mean like just going outside – though that helps. I mean like, going into stores or the movies, a museum, park, whatever. Anywhere you’re forced to actively engage with other humans. Being out among regular people in regular situations who have no idea who you are or what you’re going through will remind you that you have the ability to be WHOEVER you want to be AT ANY TIME.
Number Five: HABITS ARE YOUR FRIEND
Depression a lot of times feels like you just want to stay in your room or do activities that make you feel better but aren’t helping you get anywhere.
Playing video games is fun, but if you’re doing it all day every day – you’re hurting your current AND future potential.
You can also start to feel like things don’t matter.
To work against this, choose a couple things to start doing in your day that are good for you and feel good.
In general, waking up earlier, at least by 9, even if you don’t have to be up for work or school, is ideal. When you wake up, try to actually go outside or at least open a window to see the day outside.
Plan the day to be enjoyable but also filled with tasks or plans that put you closer to your goals, even if it happens slowly or over time.
Your positive habits can help you get out of a bad mental place. Maybe it’s the gym, but maybe not! Maybe it’s making yourself a tasty protein filled breakfast before you get started on beat making or writing a new hook.
Perhaps it’s taking yourself to a music center or gear store to look at instruments or equipment and start planning for your next project. Anything you can do to positively put yourself in forward motion will help. You’ll keep the habit since you get positive feelings from doing it.
Alright Smart Rapper, I hope this helps, I’m Rob Level, hit me with a like hit me with a subscribe and share your ideas on breaking down depression as an artist in the comments.
Keep trying, keep hustling, you do matter and your work matters. Don’t be afraid to fall down, everyone does. Just make sure you get back up. Alright keep hustling Smart Rapper I’ll see you at the top!