You are here

Musicians and depression.

For anything relating to music-making on Windows computers, with lots of FAQs. Moderated by Martin Walker.

Musicians and depression.

Postby Marbury » Thu Feb 17, 2005 8:22 pm

I, from time to time, suffer horrible bouts of depression.I particulary find it hard when writing tracks.If a track isn't working very well, this can trigger it off which becomes a vicious circle.I then start to beat myself up and put pressure on myself.

I was just wondering if anyone else out there suffers from depression and can offer any advice on how best to manage it.

Thanks.

Ian.
Marbury
Frequent Poster
Posts: 718
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Cheshire, UK
 

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby Mr P » Thu Feb 17, 2005 8:51 pm

Hi Ian,

I find if you're hard on yourself when a track isn't working (which happens to everyone), the track will generally not progress.

I've found over time that doing other music related tasks when i'm not in a creative frame of mind can be a good way of keeping busy and also feeling that you are doing something musically, evn though not composing.

Although these tasks would depend on the type of music you write.

For myself, I would include making patches on synths (software or hardware), taking a microphone out and getting some nice ambient sounds, putting together some nice drum kits in a sampler for future use, making/recording some drum sounds etc

Something else which is a good idea is coming up with ideas for tunes and writing them down. For example 13/4 latin tune with badger samples, a drum and bass tune using the sounds of badgers as the only sound source, a short string quarter composition written on notation, that captures the essence of badger (just to see if it would provide different ways of working to sequencing) etc hopefully you get the idea.

I find that if you are feeling down, rather than getting worked up over a track you aren't feeling, take a short break, and then start another track, something that actually captures the way you are feeling, the mood you are in. I find that this sort of composition will generally be a lot more emotive. I also find that the songs that capture a particular state of mind stand the test of time a lot more, rather than other compositions that i have just churned out whilst going through a particular writing phase.

I hope this is some help, and gets you partly out of those vicious circles (i know them well ;) )

take it easy

matt
Mr P
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2002 12:00 am

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby Wurlitzer » Thu Feb 17, 2005 9:06 pm

This is a serious topic and probably belongs in the community section. But anyway, here's my 2p's worth.

I have suffered two major depressive episodes in my life, one in my early twenties and one a few years ago in my early thirties. By major I mean almost totally incapacitating me physically, and driving me to the absolute brink of suicide emotionally. I also had a general tendency to less severe episodes all the time up until the last major one, although I seem (fingers crossed) to have more or less totally defeated it in dealing with that. Obviously everyone has mood fluctuations, but I wouldn't say I've been "depressed" ever for a good two years now.

I dealt with it through a combination of:

1. Psychotherapy, which I'm still having and am just in the course of phasing out. While not being full-on Freudian analysis (which I don't really believe in, personally) this did involve a lot of reflection on my childhood, what sort of things created the negative patterns that were keeping me unhappy, and what sort of options I had regarding putting positive patterns in their place.

2. A course of anti-depressants, lasting just over a year, in combination with the heaviest period of the psychotherapy.

3. Thoroughly re-evaluating my professional musical life, what my priorities and ambitions were, why I was doing it at all etc. This in combination with (1) above.

4. Excessive amounts of posting on internet forums. We don't have a TV so it's something of a replacement.

Everyone's mood is affected by how well or badly their work goes, and this is probably more true of creative types whose deepest personality and sense of self is very closely intertwined with their work. But if you have a serious, ongoing problem that you have noticed is closely related to your musical activities, then there's a good chance that there's some problematic, unresolved issue in what drives you to do music in the first place. Addressing this doesn't necessarily mean you will stop doing music, although that is of course a common fear. For me, there was a period in which I did very much lose my musical "centre", and I had to go through that and accept the POSSIBILITY of never getting it back, as part of the healing process. But eventually a new and different centre emerged, with a much more positive outlook than my previous one.

If the things you mention are seriously affecting your emotional stability, relationships or productivity, you should consider getting professional help. Beating it ain't easy, but it can be done.

Oh, and read "Depression and How To Survive It" by Spike Milligan, one of its most well-known sufferers.
Wurlitzer
Regular
Posts: 403
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2002 1:00 am

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby Marbury » Fri Feb 18, 2005 8:05 am

Thanks for the encouragement.

The other thing I forgot to mention is that I am so unhappy in my day job.I think this has a major effect on my outlook as it is not creative in any way and totally boring.I have a deep yearning to make music my carear but its hard.I do write tracks for a library but this isn't going to give me a full time income.

I would like some direction on what places to look where I can get contacts in the music industry and put my studio to use.I also have a photographic and Art design background.People suggest, "look for something else", but its not like that with muic.Whee do I look for getting work?

I just need direction and vision to focus on.


Ian.
Marbury
Frequent Poster
Posts: 718
Joined: Thu Aug 28, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Cheshire, UK
 

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby Rick Taylor » Fri Feb 18, 2005 8:41 am

What do you want to do?
Rick Taylor
Regular
Posts: 50
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2004 1:00 am

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby Kemical Al » Fri Feb 18, 2005 11:12 am

Get out in the sunshine & do more exercise, sitting in front of PC monitors in a dark studio is not the healthiest of places to spend long periods of time. Do some good things for people, the thanks & appreciation will help. Take Wurlitzers advice & dump the telly (Eastenders alone is enough to depress anyone!) Finally, do something about the crappy job, even if it means going to college & learning a new skill or taking a dip in salary for a while. life is too short to waste on stuff you don't like doing.

Good luck & look on the bright side, most geniuses suffer from depression at some time or other.

Al.
User avatar
Kemical Al
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2001 12:00 am

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby www.7161.com » Fri Feb 18, 2005 11:31 am

al's right, excercise, excercise, excercise, get those happy chemicals flowing. Join an aikido class or something too, and cut ALL diary products from your diet, dont eat that [ ****** ].

mind you, you can also exploit that depression which often feeds the best songs (just look at all the great depressive writers in history)

'happy' is overrated btw so dont worry about it :)
www.7161.com
Poster
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2004 12:00 am

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby adrian_k » Fri Feb 18, 2005 1:03 pm

Davros,

No help I know but this is more common than you might realise.

Like Wurli above I've had a more than a few black dog years, anti-depressants, therapy, relationship issues, anger etc. I recognise a phrase you used - "beating myself up" :-

- because I was "trapped" in a job I hated and didn't have the whatever it took to change it
- because I didn't like my music, which was actually the most important thing I had
- because I had need to express myself but lacked the confidence pursue it

It's gradually changed:
- I chucked the job in (I was lucky enough to have the support of a very good woman). Didn't work for well over a year, helped me get some perspective.
- I started writing stuff and treating it as if it wasn't mine (= be not too precious). Finish stuff. Keep going, eventually something good comes along.
- I got out and played & sang in front of people solo instead of hiding in the band. It's amazing what a couple of good gigs does for the confidence.

Everyone's different, but it's working for me. I'm back in a job I don't like (for the money) but I don't care much about it. I'm too busy doing live sound & recording bits for friends, writing stuff, playing, not making a penny from it but feeding the soul.

No-one else is as hard on you as you are.

Phew! I've never really said all that before!
User avatar
adrian_k
Frequent Poster
Posts: 839
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Gloucestershire
getting better all the time..

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby 940nm » Fri Feb 18, 2005 1:20 pm

Some god advice above...

Also this book has been reccomended a number of times on the forum....

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0330343580/qid=1108729172/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl/202-3879892-4435031

It has some good excercises to focus your mind and bring your creativity forward, good tunes, good feelings.
940nm
Poster
Posts: 27
Joined: Fri Jun 21, 2002 12:00 am

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby gibson3 » Fri Feb 18, 2005 2:17 pm

This is a serious topic ... Musically speaking, my depression arises when I end projects for my clients or mine ones. And, for sure , depression or ,peraphs , only sadness, isn't due to doubt results :lol: ( i'm generally happy with my jobs) . Cant' explain why ,but it happens , and I think I live this moments something like a momentary "death". (In fact, don't we always say "music is life for me "? ). Fortunately this disappears , until a new project begins
gibson3
New here
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Sep 03, 2004 12:00 am

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby Mr Boules » Fri Feb 18, 2005 2:38 pm

Dont let them get you down.
User avatar
Mr Boules
New here
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 12:00 am

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby DavidM » Fri Feb 18, 2005 2:56 pm

>>and cut ALL diary products from your diet, dont eat that [ ****** ].

I second that motion. Cellulose-based products are hard to digest. :D
DavidM
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2005 1:00 am

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Feb 18, 2005 3:37 pm

Strictly speaking I should move this to the Community section, but since it's already going so well here and it proves that PC musicians don't spend all their time 'under the bonnet', I'm going to leave it ;)

dunch wrote:I started writing stuff and treating it as if it wasn't mine (= be not too precious). Finish stuff. Keep going, eventually something good comes along.


That's a very good point dunch - if like many musicians you have limited time to make music, when you finally do sit in the studio you can pressure yourself to produce something good rather than wasting your time 'messing about'. Unfortunately, unless you're feeling inspired this can result in frustration and then depression if things don't initially go well - the classic Catch 22 situation.

Far better to go in with the intention of enjoying yourself, when you'll find you have a better chance of coming up with something good because you're not trying so hard to succeed.


Martin
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 15009
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:44 am
Location: Cornwall, UK

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby www.7161.com » Fri Feb 18, 2005 4:31 pm

why doncha go to the docs & get a sicky for a year on depression, then watch TRISHA every morning

It's guaranteed to make you feel better when you see those chav troglodytes in action :?
www.7161.com
Poster
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Sep 02, 2004 12:00 am

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby Mr DiBergi » Fri Feb 18, 2005 4:55 pm

I've had a few periods of depression, but thankfully not too much recently. One of the things that would get me going was an irrational fear of illness - thinking that my sore throat was the first sign of my immune system failing before a painful death from HIV, or some redness on my forehead indicating that I was developing horrendous eczma(?), or that my headache was in fact a brain tumour.

I got over it in a number of ways - talking about it with people like my mum, who'd rightly say "don't be daft, you're not going to die, look at you you're a big strong healthy young man", and also playing sports and actually GETTING hurt and taking a painful whack. But talking about your feelings with people close to you, and playing a bit of competitive, physical sport is usually good advice anyway. What I still find is great to do is to say to myself "ok so what if it is a brain tumour? you're going to die eventually, so don't be a wimp about it; either go for a brain scan or shut the [ ****** ] up!" I wouldn't actually say that to someone who genuinely thought they were ill, for the record. But a kind of mental slap around the face to remind myself that my fears were totally irrational was and still does prove helpful.

On the subject of depression generally, recognising the signs of "the black dog coming" is helpful. If you can catch yourself entering that hopeless, empty state of mind it can be helpful to conciously tell yourself that you're feeling that way, that the chemicals in your brain are getting a bit unbalanced which is why you're feeling poo. "Ok, getting depressed, best not go out on the lash tonight, maybe I'll go see some family, or do something that makes me happy."

The music thing can be funny. I'm in that "boring, fairly soul-destroying day-job, think of nothing but music and recording but don't have enough time to do it" situation too. I don't think there's an easy answer. Personally I'm coming to accept the possibility that maybe I just don't WANT the music career enough to give up the money and security of my office job (though it is a music company). And there's nothing wrong with that! But I'm not resigned just yet. For the record.

Ever get that thing where you've planned an evening music-making, you get home, open a beer, turn on the computer/pick up the guitar/whatever and then just sit there, waiting for inspiraton to hit? Happened to me last night, so I just tried to do SOMETHING, even if just recording a couple of bars on the guitar as nicely as possible, then doubling it as accurately as I could and panning it left and right. It's pretty derivative and I'm not going to listen to it and think what an amazing piece of music I've written, but instead of hoping for a complete, brilliant, better-than-anything-you've-ever-done-before track to magically "appear" it's helpful sometimes to just change the focus, get the "music muscle" warm (like Mr P said), just keep cracking away, even if you don't think it's the greatest thing you've ever done. Anthony Keidis or whatever his name is from the Chilli Peppers said somthing like "sometimes a song drops out of you like a sneeze, and sometimes you have to bang away with a hammer and chisel", which always stayed with me.

Sorry for the basically POOR writing above, I'm desperately bored at work and praying for 5.30 and can't really be arsed to concentrate on anything properly, but on the main topic of getting depressed about tracks that aren't happening I'd just say DON'T GIVE UP! Look at it this way: if you give it your all, and it still comes out a bit cruddy and non-magical, don't beat yourself up about it. It's a bit like a football (or whatever) match - you might lose the game, but there's always the next one, and now you're that little bit fitter, little bit leaner and more experienced. It's NEVER a waste of time, not if you try.

And hey, put it away for a week or two, and you never know - when you come back to it you might even hear something you enjoy, and be proud of yourself for having worked hard at it even though you didn't really like it.

Good luck Ian, there ARE ways to "get happy" in life generally. Like the duff tune, maybe you've just got to persist, and belive that it's worthwhile, even if you don't quit know why.
User avatar
Mr DiBergi
New here
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Sep 29, 2004 12:00 am
Looking for musicians?
www.partysounds.co.uk

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby Mr DiBergi » Fri Feb 18, 2005 5:04 pm

Oh and Martin thanks for leaving this here, I think a little laxity is a good thing (insert toilet joke here)...

And since I wrote such a long post, can I have a title? PLeeeeeeeese? "Big Member" would be good.

Thanks :angel:
User avatar
Mr DiBergi
New here
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Sep 29, 2004 12:00 am
Looking for musicians?
www.partysounds.co.uk

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby Don Chishiotte » Fri Feb 18, 2005 5:44 pm

Davros wrote:I, from time to time, suffer horrible bouts of depression.I particulary find it hard when writing tracks.If a track isn't working very well, this can trigger it off which becomes a vicious circle.I then start to beat myself up and put pressure on myself.

I was just wondering if anyone else out there suffers from depression and can offer any advice on how best to manage it.

Thanks.

Ian.




I have been depressed for a long time. Contracted fatigue syndrome. Why do you think I choose the name Don chischiotte here...I am serious.
I still am ill,but,the depressive state is the one real enemy. Many health problems are triggered by depression.

First of all: dont even THINK about anti-depressants.
They are not,and never will be,your solution to your problems.

No matter what people say about it,really,forget aboout anti depressants,I am not going to enlist reasons why,but this will suffice:they will likely harm you,in the meantime your problems are still there. Drugs are always your lie.

They are drugs,even when the doctors say 'no no,you will not become dependant on them'. Leave them alone. They are full of cr...

You want to face your problems and not lies,said by you or others. You want to know yourself.
Only by doing that you will start to get somewhere.
I hope this is clear. The next thing is,you have to start changing your reactions. Our reactions become so ingrained 'cause we have been reacting the same way to various things for 30 years,and we learned them so well that it's an automatic thing.

So,start a study on awareness. You will have to search and no-one,I mean no-one,will do it for you. But as you go along things will happen and you will meet the unassuming person that will literally help you. Ever heard this:'when the student is ready,the master will appear' ? It's true.
but,this is so only because you really have to learn to rely on yourself,'cause the master will only show you the door. He will not open it for you.
You will have to take up courage and do it yourself.

Always come up with your own conclusions,NEVER assume that a certain thing it's true ,or not true ,because a real student is not someone that drinks anything.
You will have to question the master,yourself and really,everything.
Someone here will say 'this guy is obsessed with spiritual this and spiritual that'. I do not worry about and neither should you.

Depression is always a spiritual matter.
I feel always like I was born in totally the wrong place and time. I love life but I dislike most of the human race,with the exception of good,honest people.
THis kind I totally respect from within.
Anyway,I think this is not the right place for me to start bragging about my personal likes and dislikes...I will give you an advice now.

I am only trying to help and I am not trying to convince anybody because it's neither my intention nor my right.
Start having a good look at those books. They are not books about religion. I leave it alone.
Any or all books written by Bruce Lee. If you are not into martial arts,get 'Striking Thoughts'. He does not discuss self-defence tecniques there,but life in general. Great stuff.
'conversations with God' by neale donald walsh. Nothing to do with religion,again.
'desiderata' by Billy Meier. nothing to do with U.F.O.,but,what those ufo guys supposedly said it's very relevant to people like you that care to understand. It does not mater wheter the ufo exists or not or wheter you believe in it or not.Books by Sylvya Browne.
What matters is the message ,not the messenger.

That is all I can tell you...dont despair and have faith.
Start to learn about meditation,and DO IT. Everyday,even 10 minutes a day. Find a place where you can be with yourself ,where nobody disturbs you,and just sit there quietly and start from there.

Talking about music,our problem is the same one...we want to write GREAT music and we do not take anything less. We are very ambitious.
It's ok....I find ear training a great thing to do.It will satisfy you more than music theory.
Start a 'take no prisoner' ear training,sing and think any bit or parts you like,sing the bass and the chords in arpeggiated form,even sing rhythm.

AS you can see,this is a lot of work of self-correction,and it's not for the faint-of -hearth...it's for the guy that it's sick of taking it.

You will have to change your habits. You will have to excercise your will. I'ts very hard.
But ,be assured that if you do it,there is something for you at the end of the road.
Do whatever it takes to make the music that you want to do,study,buy the best books about music making and dont pull your punches.Dont forget this ear training business!
Most important,as soon as you feel depressed,tell yourself 'Dont despair!'. It works for me,and let me tell you,without those books and artists I have mentioned,my life would be far more miserable now.

So have faith and work,work,work. Think as little as you can 'cause it is already meditation of sort...and when you think,try to have only a couple of recollections about wahtever,then TAKE A DECISION AND DO IT.

This is called 'shutting the mind' or 'shutting internal dialogue'...it's this terrible habit to think forever about whatever aimlessly and worryng forever. (btw,I did not mention Carlos Castaneda's books. Check them out but dont buy a million of them for start.)Instead think:what do I have to do next?


From then on there should be only ACTION and no thought.
By not thinking,you will see that you will start to use your intuition. It leads to the true stuff and solutions as opposed to cr...made up by the mind.
Be strong. :x
Don Chishiotte
Poster
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Jul 08, 2004 12:00 am

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby adrian_k » Fri Feb 18, 2005 6:50 pm

Yes, I suppport the statement about drugs, they tend to mask the issues rather than resolve them. On balance, I wish I'd never taken anti-depressants, but the fact was I wasn't in any kind of fit state to be making any decisions at the time. At least they took the pressure off for a short while.

Don Chishiotte wrote:
You will have to change your habits. You will have to excercise your will. I'ts very hard.
But, be assured that if you do it, there is something for you at the end of the road.

I don't think I've ever seen more truth coupled with understatement in the same sentence :). This is the nub of it. It sounds impossibly daunting but really it's just one small step at a time. Just have to start.
User avatar
adrian_k
Frequent Poster
Posts: 839
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2003 1:00 am
Location: Gloucestershire
getting better all the time..

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby docformat » Fri Feb 18, 2005 7:08 pm

Wow i didn't expect to see this topic when i logged on!!!

But since we are on the subject i too suffer from depression. i haven't read all the way through the other posts and i can see a lot has been said already - it's a pretty serious subject. i'm not sure this is the place for serious indepth advice other than that if someone genuinely believes that they have this condition they should seek professional help - there's alot out there and this is an illness that is far more common than alot of people believe.

on a positive (hollywood!) kind of note although music (like anything that matters to me) can upset me and momentarily plunge me into the darkness, generally speaking it has been one of the most uplifting and supportive things i could have had in my life during some difficult times.

i'm sure a lot of other people feel the same way

peace
docformat
New here
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri May 23, 2003 12:00 am

Re: Musicians and depression.

Postby Wurlitzer » Fri Feb 18, 2005 7:32 pm

Martin Walker wrote:
dunch wrote:I started writing stuff and treating it as if it wasn't mine (= be not too precious). Finish stuff. Keep going, eventually something good comes along.

That's a very good point dunch - if like many musicians you have limited time to make music, when you finally do sit in the studio you can pressure yourself to produce something good rather than wasting your time 'messing about'. Unfortunately, unless you're feeling inspired this can result in frustration and then depression if things don't initially go well - the classic Catch 22 situation.

Far better to go in with the intention of enjoying yourself, when you'll find you have a better chance of coming up with something good because you're not trying so hard to succeed.

It's funny you should say that Martin, as I read the original comment precisely the opposite way, and it rang true for me (not saying that I'm right and you're wrong, just that it's an interesting difference of interpretation).

For me, one of the healing aspects of rearranging my musical perspective and priorities, lay in developing the ability to look at it as more of a "job". I'd previously been a fiercely dedicated composer, but mainly in classical music where there is virtually no money. I did have other skills though, having played in bands and done jazz, blues, soul etc since I was a kid.

Part of my new approach involved facing up to the necessities of accepting that I'm interacting with other people, who have their own needs and things that they need to get from my music. So this has involved being more professional in the way I approach agents, allowing simple practical and financial matters to affect what I write and when, and accepting that I have to try and live up to things imposed on me by others in the profession, not just to my own standards.

I wouldn't say I've turned into a complete musical whore, but let's just say I wear my knickers a few inches lower :)
Wurlitzer
Regular
Posts: 403
Joined: Wed Dec 11, 2002 1:00 am

Next