Is there a positive side to depression?
I know this headline might sound like a superficial way to grab attention but I believe it to be partially true.
I often experience bouts of darkness, where I feel hopeless and therefore useless. This state, I thought, was super de-motivational.
In hindsight this turns out to be the opposite.
The most creative ideas I get are born during these periods.
I’m not just going to rely on a survey of one here. It’s no coincidence that history’s most creative people (I’m not including myself amongst these people) have documented their struggles with depression e.g Ernest Hemingway, Steven Fry, Spike Milligan.
We need some type of stimulus to motivate us.
This motivation doesn’t always originate from a positive place. In fact, stimulus from a dark place is probably a lot more realistic because it’s been created with a backdrop hopelessness.
I recently interviewed John Dennis who is about to undertake a mammoth 12,000km solo walk to the south pole. This is months after recovering from him being bed ridden through chronic depression.
If it wasn’t for this suffering he’d never have even contemplated this life changing mission.
So if you come up with an idea or solution when you’re feeling negative, it’s more likely to be a winner than the idea you came up with when your head is full of unchecked optimism.
If you come up with an idea when you feel that nothing is worth it, you can guarantee that idea has made it through every negative cynical filter you have, before you’ve decided it’s a good idea.
Ideas created when you’re in a good mood suffer no such scrutiny.
Therefore, it’s the ideas you get at the bottom of the curve that motivates you to reach the top of the curve.
In other words, it’s your dark moments that not only fuels your bright moments but enables them to exist. You would not experience happiness if it wasn’t for the sadness.
This is not just a question of appreciating the contrasts, it more re-evaluating the usefulness of depression.
Depression is a fertile bed from where your best ideas and actions grow.
Maybe we should therefore stop looking on depression as a negative force but as the complete opposite.
If this is true and studies seem to suggest so, depression let’s us, ultimately, perform better.
So we maybe we should not see it as the end of the world, more the end of dead thought and the beginning of new ideas.