Are artists more suspectiable to mental/emotional issues then non-artists?

November 6, 2011 at 06:14 AM · I know teens can get medically depressed quickly. I have been for the past two years. I rember very little. It is like a chunk of my memory is missing. I know music and other forms of art can help us vent our issues, but do they also magnify them? Does our constant search of emotions lead to cycle of mental/emotional issues that could destroy our lives?

Replies (59)

November 6, 2011 at 09:04 AM · Greetings,


In fact it is one of the greatest myths of violin playing that we have to display our emotions. There is, if you like, nothing more boring than watching someone cry. What we are actually doing is trying to

stimulate a range of emotional responses in the listener. That is our job. We have very little control over the actual deep origin of anothers emotions or the intensity with which they are going to feel. Some people will react to Bach, others may only be moved by Mahler. Perhaps two of the reasons why a whole arena of people are moved is one: they are moved before they even arrived at the concert. Typical emotional anticipation. Sometimes so strong they aren`t evne listening to the actuall cocnert in any meaningful way. Second , its hard not to synchronize emotions with a crowd. Try laughing your head off with glee while Dumbo is watching mother being carted off on a train.....

But back to the musician. I only fund this out about ten years ago by extensive Alexander work, but when musicians are in the present, rather than thinking about what they just played, or trying to kid themselves that this passage should be sad, or remembering a favorite aunt that died- just paying attention to what they are doing in a non invasive way, then the sound that comes out is -your-sound . Its not the ego based, fake sound that many musicians produce. Not saying this sound is bad. It`s just that we violinists delude ourselves at a subconscious level with our hero worship. We love Oistrakhs sound. We devote our lives to playing like him at many levels. And of our physique allows it and we watch enough videos we can almost force ourselves into a specific mould of a certain player. The result can be very impressive indeed but it is fake consciousness.

I can tell you from my own experience playing a Mozart concerto to an audience of 5o with an extraordinary Alexander teacher just working my neck as I played that I felt a profound sense of dissatisfaction in what I had just done because I hadn`t `felt` emotional as I played. She laughed at me and pointed to the audience, about ten of whom -were- crying and the other 40 sitting slack jawed in disbelief at the difference between playing as `Buri, with all his dreams and aspirations and beliefs about the violin,@ bypassed in favor of just letting the music flow though you and touch others to the core. I have seen this so many times and the players response is -always- the same.

`I hated that. It felt cold. It must have sounded terrible.`

Yet to the listener it was music that was simple, touching and profound.

Living in a world of false consciousness, whatever we are doing is harmful to us all. being a vessel for art and giving people happiness and joy is the healthiest thing one can do apart from eating prunes on a regular basis.



November 6, 2011 at 09:23 AM · What a fantastic post Buri. Truly inspiring. I'm reminded of the Beatles song title: 'Let it be' ...

November 6, 2011 at 10:00 AM · Hear, hear, Buri!

November 6, 2011 at 01:57 PM · FANTASTIC post, Buri, but I don't know if it addresses Hunter's concern.

Maybe, Hunter, you could respond? If I heard you correctly, you are asking about emotions/music/depression. I know that, for me, being in the present moment IS one helpful way of 'managing' (I don't have a good verb for it) depression. Not hanging onto the present moment but BEING in it--and that is something I learned from A.T. (which my teacher recently, in a very jokey moment said begins to sound like 'snake oil,' because it addresses so many issues).

And there are times, when I'm alone, that I'll play a piece for its cathartic value, but that's not what I'd ever present to an audience. It's just part of working through me to get to the piece. I'm not sure if this makes sense, but I throw it out for what it's worth.

November 6, 2011 at 03:52 PM · Bravo, Buri! Right on point. That artists (in all the arts) are "emotionally disturbed and that's what makes them great" has been a universal urban myth worldwide for centuries. The fact is that artists do indeed get in touch with their emotions in a very public way that most people don't. That perhaps makes it seem that they're a little more mentally unbalanced than non-artists. But, as one of my professors in grad school once said years ago, "Normal is a quality that every person has that disappears as you get to know them better."



November 6, 2011 at 03:57 PM · "Does our constant search of emotions lead to cycle of mental/emotional issues that could destroy our lives? "

No, Hunter, I think having your music will always be a good thing. You mention teenagers becoming medically depressed, that too is part of being a teenager, a growing pain of sorts. If you feel you are truly depressed, cognitive therapy is a great way to go, rather than drugs IMO. Do not think that you have reached some destination emotionally, you may be having a tough time and if so, it's natural to get a little down. Try not to analyze things too much. Be easy on yourself when you can. There will be a time in your future when you look back and be so glad you had music in your life, and how silly it was to think it was causing more harm than good.

November 6, 2011 at 05:50 PM · A friend of mine has written a book about this:-

November 6, 2011 at 09:04 PM · as much as I like to agree with you guys, i think it depends on the musician himself/herself?

for me, i have to keep exercising or other outlets so those emotions don't blow up inside me because..i play the violin and those emotions tend to get trapped inside me rather than out.

And we can see a lot of musicians who died of mental illness. Joseph Hassid who was more than incredible died in his 20s... I think Menuhin mentioned he had issues too when he was in his teen except he somehow worked it out. So did Michael Robin and many more. so yea. I think to be something great you gotta have something more than others.

November 6, 2011 at 10:37 PM · Thank you Mr. Brivati, that makes alot of sense. I was wondering about weither music can cause depression. I took a few medically sponsered depression tests and came back as mjaor depressed on all of them. I also talked to several friends of mine who have been/are depressed and they described the same symptoms I felt. I mainly started this discussion because I think my depression is coming back (its like a boomerang, the harder I try to make it go away, the faster it comes back) and I wanted to try dealing with it with my music. I am hesistant because last time I felt like this all I rember is that I wanted to kill myself and I dont know if my playing magnified the depression. I think that my recent break up is bringing the depression back, but I dont know because it seems like I am always at some level thinking about killin myself.

November 6, 2011 at 11:08 PM · Hi, Hunter,

I wondered if you went on with treatment for your depression after this testing you are telling us about. If you can tell that you are feeling worse, you need to talk to a therapist or doctor now. It would be a good time to tell your parents or your counselor at school that it's time to get help. The depression is not something you can deal with all by yourself, or just push away, or play out of existence. It's a condition that a doctor or therapist can work with you to get under control. You do not have to face it alone - but you do need to ask for help now.

I hope you will let us know who you talked to today or tomorrow who is going to find someone to work with you.



November 6, 2011 at 11:16 PM · I believe teens have an extraordinary amount of stress to get great grades, to get into a good college, to make decisions about the future while teen brains are still developing and prone to emotional extremes. By the same token, in time, teens generally eventually grow out of the emotional-extremes problem. Music is an art form and I certainly hope it is an expressive art form, but just as in life, balance is important. I agree with Buri in the idea of becoming the vessel; don't get so entangled with the performance and desires because that will inevitably take energy away from your production of the music. Can music amplify one's depression? I'm not sure about that. If you're heavy into death metal and music with negative messages, I imagine it could. I'm not saying you have to listen to or use music you don't like but at least try to make and listen to music that feeds your soul in a positive or uplifting way. One of the important things you can learn is how to differentiate which music feeds you, which music is neutral and which music drains you.

November 7, 2011 at 12:52 AM ·

November 7, 2011 at 02:38 AM · I dont really know what caused it. I think it was from a long long stop in my praticing. Then things just got worse from there. It mihgt have been there my entire life, just dealing with the fact that my dad's job involved him possibly dying even though he was in logistics (ex-special ops USAF, JSOC). I didnt get treatment after I took the tests. And i really dont want to now because my parents would probably force me to take medications. I dont even take pain meds because I am afraid of what I might do with them if I get depressed bad again. I think the break up might start a snowball effect, and God knows when itl stop. I didnt do anything, she just said she didnt want a committed relationship. I started writing, but in the mornings two things pop in my head. 1. she left.2. where is the gun? 3. I dont need the gun just her 4. where is my f@#$%^& viola?!!?

November 7, 2011 at 03:17 AM · I would encourage the OP to be aware that the emotional ravages of adolescence are both real and transient. It is a difficult and sometimes very unpleasant state that lasts for years, but resolves into a state of interior harmony. Hold onto that thought and hang in there. And thank you for introducing a thread that will wander about in areas of great interest for us all.

I've often been greatly moved by music, and find it problematic to contemplate the emotional aspects. While I can hear someone play a piece that I find might move me to tears, when attempting to play it myself, the emotional state I formerly felt does not seem to be a part of it any longer; it becomes at first a puzzle to be worked out, then a skeleton on which I get to hang such flesh as I can conjure from my playing. I do not strive for an emotion when playing, rather I try to please an inner auditor, who seems to know how he would like it to sound, and that's what I attempt to produce. Odd, but there it is.

Keep on playing, Hunter, and when things get a bit overwhelming, lose yourself in the viola. You have the gift of time; there are few better ways to spend it than in making music, and refining your skills.

November 7, 2011 at 03:40 AM ·

November 7, 2011 at 05:29 AM · Asking for help is the best thing you can do for yourself right now. Please, don't think you can deal with this depression on your own. Tell your parents you need to talk to someone NOW. You can go to the hospital emergency room too.

You don't necessarily need medication but let a professional make that decision and discuss your options.

Ask for help. Don't be alone with your thoughts. Don't hurt yourself. Life is worth living and you will get past this.

Suicide Hotlines

November 7, 2011 at 06:17 AM · Hey, Hunter,

It's true that sometimes drugs are prescribed for depression, but not always, and there are a variety of ways to treat it, depending on the cause. Talking about your experiences and the trouble you are having with a trained therapist is part of every treatment and it gives you a chance to have someone else who is listening carefully, but who is not in as much pain as you are, help you sort out what is going on. I think you are making a good decision to avoid pain medications, and I hope you are also making that same good decision to avoid other drugs, especially alcohol.

It sounds like you have a lot going on - you've been under stress with your dad's job, you've been badly depressed before, and now your girl friend has broken up with you. You think you are becoming depressed again and you are worried because you sometimes think about killing yourself. Although this is all pretty overwhelming right now, I believe you can come through it. And the first step is to talk to an adult you trust. It doesn't have to be your parents to start with - if there is a teacher or coach you get along with, they would be a good person to talk to today. Or your school counselor, or your minister or rabbi, or your doctor. Or your parents, of course. But talk to them today. It's a hard step to take sometimes, but it is the first step to feeling better. Let us know this evening that you've started.

November 7, 2011 at 09:33 AM · If you opt for killing yourself, you banish forever the possibility that something great will happen in your future. These times that try the soul come to pass. Take it from someone who's been there. You need to believe that something good is just around the corner because it's true. Go look for it.

November 7, 2011 at 11:25 AM · The fact that you're talking about this on this forum is good. Keeping things bottled up is detrimental, because at some point you will reach a breaking point and do something rash and probably harmful, if not to yourself, surely to someone or something around you. My nephew took his life in August of this year, no one saw it coming. We were all devastated and dumbfounded. How could he do this? Suicide really solves nothing and deep,deep down is a cowardly and selfish act. He was a loner who never communicated,never had much interaction with anyone. The point is,devastating things happen to us that we don't understand and talking with someone we can trust really helps us to see that all is not hopeless, that life is worth living, and that there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

November 7, 2011 at 12:15 PM ·

November 7, 2011 at 12:42 PM · In a general way I would say that I feel that musicians are not necessarily more or less prone to depression. I do feel that playing music is often cathartic and theraputic. The same with listening to music. But it depends on the music and on the individual. Sometimes playing or listening to what stikes us as "sad" music can be cathartic, but sometimes we can over-indulge. Some music one may find annoying, some indeed depressing. If so, we should try to avoid that if we can.

But to Hunter - there have already been a lot of words of wisdom kindly directed to you. PLEASE heed them. Please seek help, and please know that you can truly get better.

November 7, 2011 at 12:54 PM · hello hunter, a lot of great advice above. know when and where to turn for help,,, you are the few viola voices on this forum that we read so don't make us beg:)

life will get better, same or worse,,,you have to stick around to experience it.

here is a link for your reference:

to ans to your question, i am not sure if there are data out there, but i doubt playing music CAUSES depression.

i am sure listening to so called sad music all day long may sensitize someone who is currently sensitive to a sense of sadness. also, people who feel depressed may want to avoid the crowd and seek some peace and quiet, so a musical instrument can more easily come into the picture as a companion.

although to suggest that playing violin/viola leads to peace and quiet does not quite make sense, does it? :)

November 7, 2011 at 02:06 PM · Hunter, since you have been so open about your depression and the fact it is "coming back", let me share what a Dr. told me a few years ago. If you are going the medication route, you should know that no antidepressant works long term. That is why there are so many on the market, and now supplemental medications are being created.

This Dr. told me, NO ANTIDEPRESSANT is going to work for more than two years without serious therapy. The drugs are part of the reason people have these swings. Try not to dwell on the hard things in your life, ask about cognitive therapy, it is really great. I will never again take one of those pills and for the past few years have been making great strides in many areas.

November 7, 2011 at 02:11 PM · I think it is important to differenciate between an "artist" and an "interpreter". To me an interpreter "only" needs to be an good and sensitive craftsman but an "artist" usually has something inside wich MUST come out. In that case composing music (or making some other art) can very possible be a kind of therapy for releasing the pressure and say something you cannot say with words.

I don't want to give any specific medical advice because I am a violinist not a doctor. But I have some experience with depressive people. I am not totally talking out of the dark:

Be careful with medications! I just lately read an (german) article about the overuse of legal prescribed "drugs" in the USA (followed by addiction). I think it is much more important to find a good therapy-method, wich makes you understand your feelings and deal with it rather than tranquilize your whole brain until you don't care anymore for your problems... and probably nothing else too. Some doctors unfortunately take this easy way out without warning for its risks.

One good therapy is to get to know your illness and search for ways out. Go to a doctor with specific knowledge and experience and also important: do some basic good stuff like eating good (very important!), regularly going out into fresh air and sun and finally work on something (maybe music/art helps here ;) so that you get good sleep at night!

I wish you all the best. You are not alone! Always remember: when there is a down.. it will be followed by an up! thats life.

November 7, 2011 at 02:23 PM · well, i tend to agree with one point raised here and there on this thread, which is, go to see a pro that deals with this kind of situation, the earlier the better.

it is much to ask of someone (not talking about hunter here necessarily) who is in the middle of depression to exercise judgement on the right time to seek pro help. the earlier the better.

also, because none of the posters have ever seen hunter and known hunter personally and medically, we will all be better off not to share our feelings toward medication with reference to hunter's situation. taking pills has a negative connotation to start with. addiction concerns even more people. even particular doctors have particular views and preferences. but no doctor in the world can say with confidence what is the most optimal way to go forward without knowing the patient, let alone helpful posters on this thread.

there are times when the most optimal way is indeed through pharmacological management and that decision should be left for others more qualified to make.

teenagers can be quite impressionable. i just don't want hunter to get too influenced here even though we all mean well. there are indeed side effect of taking medicine, possibly affecting quality of life, but guess what, many lives have been saved as well. it is a tough call to make here.


November 7, 2011 at 09:27 PM · A lot of good advice already, Hunter. Most important: IF YOU ARE EVEN TOYING WITH THE IDEA OF SUICIDE, GO TALK TO A PROFESSIONAL. Your doctor, a school counselor, a hotline, someone who knows more about this than you do. Magazine or internet quizzes can raise possibilities, but they're not foolproof. You may be clinically depressed, you may just be seriously bummed out, but have a pro help you sort it out. Please.

From what you have said in previous posts, you live in area with few artsy kids, your parents don't understand the lure of the viola, and there's not much support or understanding for what's most important to you. This will change.

Finally, "Where's the f#@&%$G viola?" is a good, healthy response to the break-up with your girlfriend. Get back to something positive, something that means so much to you. You will live many, many more years of your life as an adult than as a teenager. This, too, shall pass.

November 7, 2011 at 10:36 PM · thanku. all of u. i dont think id be able 2 talk about this face to face with most ppl.

November 7, 2011 at 11:14 PM · Hunter, please remember, especially with your relationship crisis, that God doesn't close a door without opening a better one, or at least opening a window to something better.

Get help, and realize that your troubles are grooming you for greater things. It's really something to be excited about. You will need to be a willing partner to bring it to fruition. For instance, you may not be able to walk through that window. You may need to look around for a chair or a ladder.

You're doing that here, and that shows so much promise and potential....

November 7, 2011 at 11:24 PM · try to remember "hope", real hope, if you dont believe in god. You are the man! I at least hope you'll be better soon!

November 8, 2011 at 03:15 AM · Hey, Hunter. I'm glad you can talk to us, even if you are not comfortable with a lot of face to face. I still think it would be a really really good idea to talk to at least one person you know. A lot of us made some suggestions - teacher, coach, counselor, doctor. Even someone anonymous on a help line. Can you talk to just one person today or tomorrow? I guarantee that feeling better starts with asking for help.


November 8, 2011 at 04:25 AM · Hunter,

I think that depression is difficult to live with, and I would like to say I am impressed and touched you are able to share with us. I also suffer from depression.

I think that music and depression may interact, but I do not believe for a minute that music causes it. Depression exists as a separate item, and it affects the things in your life; if music is in your life, that is affected. Depression can make people pull inside, or use their will to try and break through. Many very successful artists have been depressed, but it may be their struggles with depression honed their abilities, rather than depression causing them.

If you were an accountant, depression would affect your math skills; if you were a carpenter, depression would affect how you build.

I think that since depression affects feelings so heavily, musicians and artists that base their work on feelings are so much more in tune to what is happening to them, but it is like rain; it lands on all of us, even if we don't look to the sky.

Accept it, but do not succumb to it.

For myself, I do not like it, but it has caused me to develop a level of introspection that allows me to be truly honest with myself. I see others that lack that gift, and I am so glad I am not like them. So, in that way at least, depression does have a gift along with the cost.

November 8, 2011 at 02:08 PM · Hunter,

Being a military brat poses special challenges- worrying about your Dad getting killed on the job is just one. There are some good web sites about military brat life- google them and read some other people's stories & how they dealt with the situation. I was raised in USMC family and had some difficult times in my late teens,as well. It's hard, because your Dad's probably adjusting to a lot of things as well, and maybe not there for you the way you hope (who knows what logistics means?). Later, with some healing and a lot more perspective, you'll find yourself very proud of the contributions your Dad's made, as well as the very real ones you and the rest of your family have made at the same time. Carry on & find ways to take good care of yourself! Music is an excellent help to healing, btw.

November 8, 2011 at 03:43 PM · i like Buri's post very much as well

i would like to add that whenever i'm busy being creative...whether designing, or practicing violin or simply being busy in a healthy swimming or excercising...all of this is a good catharsis or relief. so creating music is itself an act that should bring relief not suspend or inhibit it. i was quite a depressed and probably depressing child, largely for the lack of being creative i suspect and it would have helped me greatly to have someone involve me in the arts at that age.

November 9, 2011 at 10:35 PM · Logistics is the transportation of objects and or people. I know this dosent sound stressful, but when you do logistics for the speical ops., things can get pretty dangerous from what he can tell me. I have a very important question. Is hearing a voice in your head telling you to kill yourself part of depression?

November 9, 2011 at 11:02 PM · Maybe. And it is definitely a sign that you need to talk to somebody right now. Please call this hotline - 1-800-784-2433 ( or 1 (877) 723-3422 for a hotline in Victoria - as soon as you read this. Please. We are rooting for you, but you need to talk to somebody immediately.

November 9, 2011 at 11:06 PM · "Is hearing a voice in your head telling you to kill yourself part of depression?"


It certainly can be. It is only one of many voices though. If you don't allow that one voice to drown out all the others, you won't let it sabotage your life mission. You were put here for a purpose. Get the help and support you need so you can live out that purpose.

November 9, 2011 at 11:09 PM · Any voice in your head advocating violence towards yourself or someone else is something you must talk to a pro about immediately. Now, Hunter, now.

November 9, 2011 at 11:20 PM · No, im fine right now. It aint talking right now. I was just curious because it was a couple days ago.

November 10, 2011 at 02:26 AM · Hey, Hunter. It is definitely related to your sadness, one way or another. As David says, though, that voice is not the boss. You have choices, and some of them are about which of the ideas that come you will pay attention to.

I want you to do something specific right now, OK? I want you to put the phone number we gave you (1-800-784-2433) in your cell phone or on a piece of paper in your wallet, so you do not have to look it up if you feel like you are going to hurt yourself. You can just call. And you know, you don't have to wait until then to call, either. You can just call to talk and the person on the other end will be someone who will really listen to what you have to say. So put the number in your phone now. Thanks.


November 10, 2011 at 03:23 AM ·

November 10, 2011 at 04:34 AM · Hunter,

I would agree with the other suggestions; get some help. Further, I would say that with help, you can get some relief.

I do not say that I had the same issues or symptoms, but I delayed seeking help for a number of reasons.

Primary, I was concerned that letting anyone or anything fiddle with me would change me from who I am, and I have a very strong self-protective core.

To that, I will answer that the help I received, both by people and medication, did nothing to change that core. The biggest changes were to reduce the pressure; the need for something NOW! and gave me the opportunity to relax enough to think and come up with what I really wanted as a response. I am still the same person; I still have the same strange sense of humor, I still get sad, get mad, but now I am in control of it, not it in control of me.

Again, get help. It does not make you something else, it just lets you be in control of yourself better.

November 10, 2011 at 05:42 AM ·

November 10, 2011 at 05:50 AM · A lot of people have e-mailed me, with concern for Hunter. Perhaps music doesn't make a person depressed, but we musicians tend to be sensitive and empathic!

Hunter, and anyone else feeling like this, here is my take on depression, a problem that runs in my own family.

After a lifetime of watching family members deal with it, I've concluded that it's a little bit like diabetes. A person with diabetes can't regulate the sugar in his blood properly. Since sugar is necessary food, this makes life hard. A diabetic has to consult with a doctor, and he often has to take daily shots of insulin to regulate the sugar in his blood. If a diabetic does not regulate the sugar or take the insulin, he can easily go into a coma and die, from food the rest of us eat every day. No one would say to a diabetic, "Suck it up and regulate your sugar in your blood, you wimp!" to a diabetic. It is obvious to everyone that this person needs medical assistance and medicine.

A person with depression tends not to produce enough seratonin in the neurotransmitters in his brain. There are medications that can help even this out, and they are very effective. Yet people tend to tell people who are depressed that they should just cheer up. But if the depression is deep and persistent, you may need medical help, even if only for a little while.

Are people ashamed of having diabetes? No. But sometimes it's harder to ask for help if you have depression, because it seems like something that you're supposed to control yourself.

I've seen people really overcome both temporary and chronic depression, but you have to move on it when you are feeling pretty well -- before any voices are banging at your mental door -- and resolve to truly take care of yourself by getting help.

So if you are feeling depressed, find someone you trust -- a parent, a doctor, a school counselor -- and see if you can work toward a plan to address it.

November 10, 2011 at 05:59 AM · sorry to hear about your troubles Hunter, take my word whn I tell you from personal experience that they are in fact temporary and you won't feel so awful forever (although I understand it's difficult to remember a time you DIDN't feel so bad when you are in the grip of it).

My experience is suicidal feelings come from two places, extreme anger directed inwardly (often because it's SO extreme it might present problems if directed outwardly) and a deep need to make change in your life.

Both are treatable and fixable, suicide most certainly isn't.

I've been mad much longer than I've played an instrument so it's no chicken/ egg debate for me, for you my dear, it's a case of getting through each day as it comes.

I can only concur with the sentiment here that says it's worth getting help, please do, however much you may not want to, however embarrassing, shameful or horrid it is, I guarantee someone has been there before you.

I could provide you with a list of world class musicians in all genres with mental health issues, it's hugely long and very prestigous. You are in the very best possible company and have nothing to be fearful or embarrassed about.

Whatever you do, don't use a permanent solution for a temporary problem, it's wasteful and hurtful to people who care about you.

The colour will switch back on in the world one day, I promise.

November 10, 2011 at 10:33 AM · "My experience is suicidal feelings come from two places, extreme anger directed inwardly (often because it's SO extreme it might present problems if directed outwardly) and a deep need to make change in your life."

So true! And the difficulty is to direct this energy in an constructive path while trying not to manifest the problem or let it demage your heart, soul, brain and body.

I am sure Music can help here... at least because it is communication, wich is vital in any state of depression. If you don't play for an audience you are still commununicating with your inner world wich is always a healthy but not necessarily a fun thing to do.

And hearing a voice in your head wich tells you to kill yourself is a serious matter. I have been in an similar state of mind some years ago, but for me it was more a feeling than a voice. It can be very strong and for me it was important to know people who have similar experience and talk to them... not necessarily about depression

November 10, 2011 at 12:40 PM · Dear Hunter,

Concerning your depression, I can only reiterate what has already been said: seek help now!

Concerning your original question and if you - and other discussants - wish to explore the subject further, have a look of the work by Anthony Kemp, including his book "The Musical Temperament" (OUP 1996). Among other things he has examined whether specific personality traits are associated with certain musical instruments. I once heard him speak at a conference in London and remember that he said, string players have particularly high anxiety levels (the conference was about stage fright). Why this should be so, is of course the usual chicken-and-egg question: are certain types of people drawn to certain instruments or does playing that instrument shape them? My own hunch would be that it's both. Anyway, Kemp's work offers some interesting points to think about.

Best wishes


November 10, 2011 at 01:57 PM · "No, im fine right now. It aint talking right now. I was just curious because it was a couple days ago."


You've gotten help from professionals to try to become a better musician, right? Would you play as well if you hadn't? There's nothing wrong with doing the same thing with emotional issues.

Just because you have a few days when you're playing really well doesn't mean that you wouldn't consider taking lessons in the future, does it?

If you're feeling some shame about getting help because your Dad has done some impressive things in the military, keep in mind that he probably has had a huge amount of training, support and team involvement in everything he has accomplished. He didn't do it on his own. Nothing wrong with you doing the same.

He was involved in logistics, which is basically putting various kinds of needed support structures in place, so you can borrow some ideas from that. How about putting together a logistics support unit to keep you supplied with what you need emotionally, so you can operate at maximum efficiency?

Do we have a plan?

November 10, 2011 at 08:41 PM · Hi Hunter,

I hope you really are considering getting help for your depression, because I have something to add. I have two brothers, loners, nearly 40 who have been struggling with depression for many years. They have both been diagnosed, however only the younger one chose to do something about it. He searched until he found a combination of therapy and medication that suited him, sometimes a battle but now he is happily married to a lovely girl who sees the brilliant man he really is.

The older one wouldn't do anything about his depression and turned to alcohol, which is now another huge battle to eliminate on top of his depression. The way I see it he has made things twice a bad, the alcohol sees him with no money and usually no job, which makes his low moods so much worse.

The younger one once explained to me that the depression is like a beast that stops you from doing things. He said he required fierce determination to ignore the beast and get help, but that once he did things got a lot easier. Please accept the advice already given and seek help asap.

Regarding your question about music, well, I'm not really the emotional type, so I don't think I can answer it. But boy oh boy, during difficult times with my brothers, I would go to my violin, shut the door and play all my favourite stuff, and I could always come out smiling! Such is the power of music.

November 11, 2011 at 07:06 AM · Hunter, you know you're going to be hounded until you speak to someone right?

Obviously the contents of that conversation are private but it seems like there are plenty of people worried about you just on this thread.

Get it checked out and post to say you have so everyone can stop being quite so concerned huh?

November 11, 2011 at 12:36 PM · Well, I hope it's not hounding. Hunter, I am really impressed that you felt like you could tell us about some of your problems, and I appreciate your confidence. I know that you will be able do the same thing when you decide to talk to someone who can help you more. Meanwhile, I'd like to hear how you are doing now. Can you give us a shout?


November 11, 2011 at 01:33 PM · in this society, letting others know that one is depressed carries a stigma. for instance, many do not regard diabetes and depression similarly even though both are human ailments. so it is easy to come to terms with this: i will just deal with my depression instead of dealing with people's stares. the world can be cruel.

but i am glad hunter can voice his feelings out a bit online (earlier he made a statement somewhere that he would not feel comfortable discussing like this in real life which i totally understand) which may give him some space and room to work things out himself. we don't know how receptive his parents are if he asks to see a pro for evaluation which may be another obstacle. as much as we know what the right thing to do, there may be issues we are not familiar with.

still, hunter, do realize that everyday everyone has issues with deal with some of which seem so impossible to tackle let alone resolve. sob stories are all around. some regard their circumstances as challenges and CHOOSE their feelings. it is not an easy process to learn to do that, but it is a very important survival skill to develop.

One out of three people will go through major depression in a life time so although it is not as common as flu, it will catch most of us, sooner or later:).

couple quick suggestions:

1. organize your life better. for instance, write down things to do for each day and try to accomplish them item by item which will help keep your mind focused.

2. start an exercise program and stick to the routine. the term runner's high is probably not foreign to you, but it is indeed a fact that exercise will change your body/brain chemistry. one sign of major depression is what they call psychomotor retardation, meaning, everything slows down and some will lost interest in things that were previously pleasurable. a routine will help to combat that.

3. learn a real music instrument, like violin. just kidding!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

November 11, 2011 at 10:51 PM ·

November 12, 2011 at 03:44 AM · Well, Happiness is an attitude, but for me, sometimes, my attitude is not happiness! For me, or others, unfortunately.

November 12, 2011 at 04:02 AM · i think perpetual happiness is not realistic, but it is important for young people (or old cranky farts:) to learn to accept themselves for the way they are and feel. being content, perhaps? when all is said and done, that is something a person should be entitled to or at least comes to terms with. it should not be taken or bullied away.

something eric said is true, that very often it seems that no one cares and you are on your own. it is easy to slide into the thinking that well, if they don't approach me, i am not going to approach them. i am going to close the door and play my instrument. it is one way to deal with things, but it may not be a good long term plan.

perhaps there are happy loners running around in the woods, but for the most part, young kids need to learn to socialize with a variety of people. they need to learn to accept and be accepted, even among those with whom they share no major interests. people may not understand each other, but they can learn to respect each other. with respect, be it from others or from yourself, life becomes more meaningful because you feel you contribute and make a difference.

music playing is double edged. on one hand, some can form some life long friendships among those with similar interests. on the other hand, those long hours of solitary practicing may not be that healthy for some.

November 12, 2011 at 06:35 AM · I think the important thing here, is that we care. Too many opinions, advice, and shared experiences, mine included, to be helpful.

Hope you are feeling better Hunter, and hope to see more posts here on soon.

November 12, 2011 at 01:55 PM · Hi,

I have been reading this with interest. I will add my own thoughts to all the things that I have already been shared. While I agree that everyone is as susceptible for problems with depression/anxiety, the thing that I think is different with music is how it forces us to face ourselves. One of the major differeces is that in music and performing we are constantly exposed for all that we are with our strengths and weaknesses in front of the public for all to see. That can be very difficult; very few professions in life allow for that.

I think that difficulty and adversity represent many things and how we view things including our belief system shapes our reactions. For me, I do personally believe in karma (the idea that as we sow so shall we reap or more exactly self meeting self) and that how we face things and develop our understanding determines how we advance. It enables me to accept certain things that I know can be tremendously hard, accept the injustices and keep going trying to better myself.

One of the people who inspires me the most these days is the cyclist Lance Armstrong who faced 3 simultaneous cancers at age 25 and not only survived and recovered but went on to win 7 consecutive Tour de France and found the Livestrong Foundation which is a great model. Yet, amidst all those incredible things, people kept attacking him for all kinds of things. As if that the incredible human courage required to do what he did cannot simply be accepted and admired or serve as inspiration.

Laurie mentioned diabetes and diseases, and yes, many things are diseases but one of the things that these do is to force us to face and make choices. Sometimes they are very difficult. A personal example is that most people in my family tend to be easily overweight. In order for me to keep a normal weight (get back down to normal was hard) and probably now maintain it in the future is to watch everything I eat like a hawk and train and exercise like a beast. It is difficult when I see people who can enjoy life much more than I can while I can't, but I accept my situation and will face it as best as I can. In the process I have learnt much that I can use to help other people and I do.

It is the same with the violin: it has been an outrageously difficult journey for me. Many things have happened in the last few years that I would not wish to anyone in life, not even my worst enemies.

I find that the idea of self meeting self (or karma) is one of the things that keeps me going. I look at what I have to face and try to understand and see what choices I have to make (or try to discover that I may not be making which is holding me back). And then, I find that accepting the situation is best. It requires tremendous discipline, but that is my life. Though sometimes I feel happy for those who have it easier and wish that I too could have it better as well, through many of the difficulties I have learnt much and the choices that I have had to face, though very difficult at times, have made me realize many things.

Have I always felt like this, no. I know how Hunter feels. But, what has changed most is me through all of it.

I had an acquaintance in the past, who when someone would complain about anything would look at the them and always had the same reply regardless of the situation: "So, what'cha gonna do about it?!" It reminds me that something can always be done, even though at times it may be very difficult.

And in the end, I am a very tiny drop in the sea of the human population, but if what I have written here today helps even one single person, then it was worth it.

Cheers and best of luck! It is good to remember that no matter what, you are not alone and that though one of us may be struggling, we can always choose to help each other.

November 12, 2011 at 04:41 PM · Hi Christian,

-- through many of the difficulties I have learnt much --

So true. What is there to learn when all is smooth sailing? I have learnt more - and desperately needed to learn more - from the difficulties and hardships in life than from the easy times.

Your explanation of Karma reminded me of this poem that touched me a great deal and still keeps me thinking:


The time will come

when, with elation

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your own mirror

and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit. Feast on your life.

BY Derek Walcott,

November 13, 2011 at 01:13 AM ·

November 16, 2011 at 04:21 PM · Hunter, I stumbled upon this thread late. I hope you're still reading it. Suicidal thoughts are not part of the normal ups and downs of life and not something you have to live with. When I was depressed, although I did not want to kill myself, I had trouble finding the motivation to get out of bed at all and I had the most irrational moodswings -- people talked to me as if all I needed to get through it was a little willpower, but I knew deep down that I was out of whack and could not do it all by myself.

I have to talk a little about medication because, guess what, I was on it and it helped. I held the "medication as a last resort" position until I actually talked to the doctor, at which point I finally let down the Spartan facade and just let him prescribe me something, to my great relief. It was a bridge to where I needed to go; it did not give me fake happiness, change who I am, or get me addicted (these drugs as a class are not considered addictive, so please let's not give people that idea!). What is true is that one cannot just stop taking them, but must go off gradually. I did have some unpleasant side effects with the first drug so I had to change to another. I would never push it on anyone but I hate to see people automatically rule it out.

Look at the impact your voice has here: people who have never even met you care and are concerned about you. But really, by taking action you will be doing *yourself* the biggest favor, because you want to get back to the point where you can enjoy life again!

Hunter, you'll be on my mind. Please take care of yourself.

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