Enoch Li was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. After completing her education in Law and Political Sciences 7 years ago, she embarked on a career as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. She has lived in different countries including the Netherlands, Japan, France, and the UK, and now resides in Beijing.
Enoch was forced to take time off work due to severe depression, migraines and Meniere’s disease. She now spends her time in regaining her health, and writing about her experience (http://nochnoch.com) battling with the illness – from treatment methods to heightened self awareness as a result of more time now to reflect and ponder about changes she needs to make in her life.
Never thought I had any creativity. I equated creativity with artists, innovators, entrepreneurs, designers, fashion… I was none of that - until I sunk into depression last year.
And over the course of a few months, I rediscovered my creativity, which spurred my recovery.
I had always classified myself as “not creative” till I met my fiancé.
He could visualize colours, designs, and spaces. He made little crafts and redecorated the home. He had innovative ideas for businesses.
Equally, his friend, a graffiti artist and graphic designer, is what I call creative – all the scribbling and sketches that magically appeared on the canvas. I was in awe.
But it was a limiting belief that I was not creative myself.
Out of many disguised blessings from the period of illness, one is rediscovering my creativity. I say “rediscovering” because in fact I was creative when I was younger – I constructed mumble-jumble poems, short stories, drawings, even a book about Mr Caterpillar having too many feet when I was just 5 years old. I made bookmarks, and “laminated” them with my special tape, I made clothes for Barbie, and I made up stories for my bears.
This is all creativity at play. It’s in the heart somewhere.
At the age of 15, I dreamt of winning the Pulitzer prize or the Booker prize. I wanted to be an author. I wanted to write something.
And I wanted to publish my writing – I was told it won’t make me a living and teachers told me of failed attempts of many authors out there somewhere.
I was discouraged from pursuing my “creativity” at some point. I ended up as an international banker and manager for the last 7 years since graduation.
So as I stayed at home lounging everyday last year, wrought with migraines and depression, I started to tap into my creativity unknowingly.
I never cooked before, and suddenly I was trying out recipes, readapting them and then creating my own.
The simple act of mixing and match food, vegetables, sauces, herbs and spices was exhilarating, especially as I waited for the masterpiece to come out.
Sometimes it doesn’t taste so good, other times I thought I’d put Gordon Ramsay to shame.
I bought new glasses and tablemats for dinner, matching colours of the napkins and plates.
I’d make small changes around the apartment too, limited by the residual energy I had from pain and lethargy.
I bought flowers and arranged them in different vases, and redistributed the paintings and photos on the walls. It’s trial and error.
But more importantly, it’s my creativity at work.
And silly as it may sound, making up stories for stuffed animals while I lied in seclusion is also creativity and has helped distract me from suicidal thoughts and physical pain (http://nochnoch.com/2011/03/08/bearapy/).
We create everyday – we just don’t know it. The simple actions of putting together an outfit to wear, or what to cook for dinner, or what route to take to work involve our creativity.
We construct, we build, we establish. Everyone has it, and our daily lives are full of creativity.
Gradually, doing this small, seemingly menial tasks lifted my spirits. I began to look forward to each new day instead of trying to sleep all day and hide under the blankets, curtains drawn.
I hadn’t noticed then that this was my suppressed creativity coming out.
But even during my depression I had sudden bouts of ideas of things I wanted to do.
By following these little inklings I reopened the gates to my creativity to today, I am writing short stories again, writing my blog and drafting a book proposal.
Plus, I’m finally off anti-depressants and feeling much better about myself. The physical illnesses still trouble me but I’m much more energetic now to manage the pain.
Likewise, I encourage you, deep in your dark thoughts, to spare a moment and try something you have always wanted to.
And if you have someone around you who is struggling with depression, prompt him or her gently to do something they have always wanted to do.
It will spark off their creativity and lead them on to recovery.
Creativity is not the panacea to depression, but it definitely reignites the mind and put a positive spin to darkness.
Let your creativity set you free.
Enoch Li was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. After completing her education in Law and Political Sciences 7 years ago, she embarked on a career as an international executive in the banking & finance industry.
She has lived and worked in Paris, London, The Hague, and Tokyo. She now resides in Beijing. Enoch started to suffer from, most probably due to stress, severe migraines, Meniere’s disease and severe depression at the end of 2009 and has been struggling with it since. She is recovering but has lapses occasionally.
Thanks to Enoch Li for her article and photo, provided for the Talent Develop series of sites.
Related book: The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person's Path Through Depression, by Eric Maisel, PhD
Related pages and sections:
Healing & Art
Depression and Creativity
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