Depression and Guitar Playing

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Discoqueen, Jan 25, 2018.

  1. Discoqueen

    Discoqueen Dang tootin

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    hey y’all

    We’re all musicians, so I imagine a lot of us have one diagnosis or another. I have Major Depresion with Psychotic Features and this illness has been kicking my butt. I feel tired a lot (like heavy with fatigue) and experience anhedonia, like, every day usually (loss of pleasure/enjoyment). So just my arms feel heavy so when I sit down to play after a couple minutes I’m already just not wanting to play anymore, or I won’t really feel any gratification at all, which really sucks. I know generally with any art or creative endeavor, but I’m living the dibilitating levels right now so I am pretty sure it’s not just a funk, and it’s been most of the last couple years, too (which lol hardly feel like a minute when I think back.)

    So, you know, I feel bad about not practicing so much because I really like thinking of myself as a guitar player (not meaning having the title, but just having this craft I’ve devoted so much to.)

    I’m wondering if y’all had some experience with this? Maybe some advice because I really want to play more but eh at the same time I feel shitty and playing takes energy I don’t even feel is there.
     
  2. odibrom

    odibrom .

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    I think it helps to have something objective to do, so when it is done, one feels fulfillment, which brings up some joy. This is the key, being objective.

    I also think It helps to take walks in the nature, so if you can, do so, hug a tree, take some time off, pick a friend or two and go for a walk/ride. Go out camping, you'll feel re-energized and re-connected with yourself. Go see some different horizon, go to the beach and just be there hearing the waves hit the sand. It soothes one's inner self...
     
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  3. DudeManBrother

    DudeManBrother Hey...how did everybody get in my room?

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    Maybe try some deep delay pedal and get the sounds to just drone out into the deepest aether and find a peaceful place in your mind that doctors haven't convinced you is fucked up yet.
    Meditation doesn't have to be upright lotus position chanting ohm. Use your guitar to lift you to heights you presently don't believe your capable of achieving on your own. Find a pulse, build it up, and escape for a while. Eat more fruit. Drink more water. Remember to smile even when you don't feel like it. Fake it til you make it.
     
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  4. Discoqueen

    Discoqueen Dang tootin

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    Thanks, I’ve been avoiding setting goals because I didn’t wanna ha resent having to do something when I was exhausted but now I think I will come up with a few to try to get finished. And I think I will go for more hikes, that’s a great idea :)

    Yeah, that actually sounds very inticing, I would have never thought of that, thank you!
     
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  5. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    I don't have any diagnosed mental illnesses or anything, and for the most part I'm a reasonably balanced adult - some anxiety, some days where I just don't feel up to anything, but that's not the norm for me and I don't think any of that is happening at a concerning or unhealthy level. So I don't know if I'm the most helpful person to weigh in here.

    But, I certainly feel better when I've been playing music. I work a very non-creative job involving numbers and spreadsheets and analysis, and I think having a creative outlet helps me remain balanced - I come home after work, pick up a guitar, and feel like a human again after a couple minutes.

    I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with setting goals provided they don't become a source of pressure or stress, but if you're worried they could be, then definitely don't let that become a barrier. Maybe just try to play something daily, even if it's just flicking your low E string as you walk past your guitar in a music stand or something - some days, that's the most I do, too (I've never consciously told myself to play something every day, but actually maybe that isn't a bad goal for me to set for myself, even if it's just something like that where I ring out one note on a guitar as I walk out the door). I think just the sound and the feel of a guitar can be empowering and exciting, and provide a valuable counterbalance to a different part of my life.

    I'll second the go on walks or go hiking and get more exercise, if nothing else because I definitely sleep better when I've been active, and I'm definitely less anxious/stressed/down when I'm not a fucking zombie. :lol: And, finally, I guess I'll also say that I'm NOT a medical professional, and while I can offer you some general observations that I've found generally work for me, everyone's struggle is different, and I have plenty of friends who have successfully dealt with crippling levels of anxiety, stress, and depression through some combination of exercise (an ex of mine found yoga really helpful), therapy, and medication. This is one of those things where whatever you do doesn't matter, as long as it works.

    Idunno. Anything I can do to help, let me know.
     
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  6. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    I suggest getting treated for your diagnosis.
     
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  7. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    QFT if you haven't already that is.

    For me learning to play the guitar in my early 20's actually took me out of a really bad mental state. At that point of my life everything seemed meaningless and I was neglecting my uni studies. I got motivated and got things back on track. I've been through similar situations when I know I should be practicing through the years and just felt like a chore. Up until I actually picked up the guitar and then I would play for 2 hours without noticing the time pass by. So not sure what to advise you rather than get professional help if you're not already getting some and try to find things to help you get out of that mindset. Especially don't fuss about how you're not playing enough guitar as it has the opposite effect.
     
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  8. BlackMastodon

    BlackMastodon \m/ (゚Д゚) \m/ Contributor

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    I've barely touched my guitars in the past couple years and for sure haven't taken them out of their cases since I bought my house back in July. It's a combination of not making the time for it and being unmotivated when I do try to pick them up. It's very easy to get frustrated and self-conscious of my abilities deteriorating, so I try to not set any standards for myself.

    I just play for myself, almost always unplugged, and noodle around with some covers I like to play. Or do something similar to what DudeManBrother is saying, messing around with effects and making cool soundscapes to get lost in. I never even thought of it as a form of therapy until I read his post.

    Depression blows ass, and I absolutely don't want to repeat those lame-ass memes where people suggest you don't need pills because all you need it fresh air or some such horse shit. If it's keeping you from doing the things you want to do then definitely look for some help if you haven't, even if it's just to get an idea of how to handle it. That being said, regular exercise, Vitamin D (sunlight), and healthy eating habits can help a lot with how you feel mentally and physically. Maybe some days when you know it's worse you can ease up on guitar playing so you don't get discouraged, but at the same time you don't have to think that you have to make up for it in some way down the road.

    I think you just need to let it come organically and try not to live up to any standards until you make for yourself until you get into a good positive grove.
     
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  9. Obsidian Soul

    Obsidian Soul SS.org Regular

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    I'm in the same boat although I haven't been diagnosed. I find it hard to pick up the guitar most days,which I know is frustrating for my friend because he wants to release some music soon. However,when I get over the hurdle and record,I go on a little spree and then it starts all over again.
     
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  10. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    This was very much me.
    I spent my early years being able to do exactly what I wanted all the time pretty much. In my early 20s I found myself with drastically less time. It took me years to get used to the idea of not being able to sit and work on music for hours on end every day. I'd long ago convinced myself it was pointless to bother at all if I couldn't really dedicate myself to it.
    Every couple of months I'd manage to play for a few hours for a couple of days and just feel bad about how much I'd deteriorated, and how I wouldn't have a couple of days free to practice again for another few weeks etc.
    It's taken me a while but I just had to get to a point where I could force myself to pick up the guitar for 15-30 minutes each day and just play, without a goal. It VERY quickly became clear that that's all I needed. That that can sustain me and keep me happy and keep my technique growing. I've just been coming up with a little exercise or practising a specific lick each day. Something totally fresh. After 30 minutes I can see significant progress and it's satisfying. It makes me want to do the same again the next day. I still miss being able to play lots but this will keep me going and ensure that when I do have a day off or something to play and record, I wont spend it feeling down about how bad my playing is because I haven't touched a guitar in months.
     
  11. odibrom

    odibrom .

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    ... all about finding something objective to do, it doesn't have to be anything huge. A big walk starts with small footsteps.
     
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  12. Spaced Out Ace

    Spaced Out Ace 0 0 1 0 0 6 5 0 3\

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    The "haven't convinced you is fucked up" part is true. The power of thought and perspective within the mind is powerful, and a doctor generally tries to convince you of shit to put you on shitty meds. I generally like to go outside for a walk and play guitar more, which has given me less to be angry or upset about. Might work for the OP; dunno though.

    EDIT: Oh, and I forgot the part about water and fruit. Eating/drinking less junk and replacing it with, you know, actual food, is pretty beneficial as well.
     
  13. wankerness

    wankerness SS.org Regular

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    Depression can be a really serious condition, especially if you have other mental conditions attached, and don't let anyone try to convince you that you should avoid the doctor and can fix it just by thinking more positively or getting more exercise or whatever. If you have a really serious condition that's about the worst advice you can get. Those are things you should also do, yes, but it's really irresponsible and dangerous to write it off like that and say that it's nothing. Doctors aren't evil and neither is medication if that's what they think is necessary. Try seeing a counselor or psychiatrist at the least. Ask around and see if any people you know have one that they trust.
     
  14. lurè

    lurè SS.org Regular

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    ^This.
    If you have been diagnosed with severe depression your doctor has probably given to you some kind of therapy (medicines, psychotherapy or both).
    Eating healty, doing sports or going out with friends are surely helpful but can't solve the problem at the root.
    Building a trust with a specialist (psychiatrist, psychotherapist) is a very important aspect for a succesful recovery.
     
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  15. BlackMastodon

    BlackMastodon \m/ (゚Д゚) \m/ Contributor

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    ^^These.

    ALSO, before I forget, try picking up a cheap bass if you have some spare cash!

    I did this a few years ago when I first started getting into these funks and it was very refreshing. At first, it was just to noodle around and try something new before picking up a guitar, but then I decided to get down to the basics and start learning how to actually play a bass (alternate plucking, walking up and down strings, etc.). It was cool to get down to the basics again and pick things up from the ground level and start to learn a new instrument that still felt familiar. There was also the added benefit of picking up a guitar after playing a bass for about 30 minutes and feeling properly warmed up and ready to tackle more challenging songs/licks. Playing the much wider frets on a bass seemed to stretch my fingers out incredibly well in a way that I couldn't figure out how to do with a guitar.
     
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  16. lurè

    lurè SS.org Regular

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    Also don't feel guilty if your are not able to play as before.
    Depression can make very hard even the things you enjoy most and you take it for granted like playing, eating and sleeping.
    Once you start a therapy things will get better, you'll see some improvements over time and the will to play will come back.
     
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  17. Spaced Out Ace

    Spaced Out Ace 0 0 1 0 0 6 5 0 3\

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    So is taking pills from some quack doctor who doesn't have much of a clue of what they are talking about, and are paid more to pedal drugs than solutions. Some of those pills increase thoughts of suicide "in teens or young adults," which isn't entirely true, because it does so to anyone that already is thinking about suicide. One pill I highly suggest you and everyone else stay away from is Cymbalta. That shit should be taken off the market, and the people pedalling that shit sued into the welfare line.

    So, no I don't think they should just "do nothing but stay positive." I think that pills should also be researched thoroughly, and they should also look at things in their diet that may also be contributing to their mental state.
     
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  18. Spaced Out Ace

    Spaced Out Ace 0 0 1 0 0 6 5 0 3\

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    Anyways, I'd strongly suggest getting rid of people in your life that affect your mental wellbeing in a manner that makes things worse.
     
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  19. CapinCripes

    CapinCripes Trem Snob

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    Speaking as somebody who has been hospitalized twice in the past due to my major depression it is very important to keep up on your doctors about how you feel any medications you are on are working as well as they could be. many medications have diminishing returns over time and will either have to be increased in dosage or changed entirely to a different medication to do the most good. I would not ignore medication either as that may be the worst thing you can do, doing so in the past lead to me ceasing to function and put me away in a hospital for 2 weeks. Would not recommend. The reality about Major depression is that it is caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain that needs to be offset in some way.
     
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  20. Discoqueen

    Discoqueen Dang tootin

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    Hey y’all thank you for the tips, insight and encouragement :)

    For context, I do have a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner who handles my meds and a therapist that I see every week. I’ve tried all sorts of meds in the past and am now on two that help keep me from the dangerous levels of depression by evening my mood and helping it stay that way when things get stressful. I avoided meds for a few years, because the first time I was on them one made me hallucinate, and one kinda sucked the soul outta me, but now I understand meds are going to be trial and error and you really have to talk to your prescriber frequently.
    Since this is my fourth major depressive episode, I’ve been cautioned that since this is a recurrent thing it’s all about managing symptoms and I just ha that’s where most of the energy goes. I do try to do the whole exercise and proper nutrition and hydration thing. Haha but I should probably focus a little more on that ^.~
    Kinda sadly, right now is the best I’ve felt in the past year, and I still have days where I don’t do anything because I just feel nothing.

    I do really like and appreciate the suggestions of trying something new with the music and trying to set a musical goal (but not attach too much pressure to it).
     

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