When creativity becomes hell on earth


When you are hurled rapidly and often not so gently into the world of creativity, it can sometimes feel as though you are going crazy. Perhaps this is why so many artists are perceived as being ‘crazy’ or eccentric, or fall to substance abuse.

In Day Two of exploring creativity, this is perhaps more vulnerable than I would normally be comfortable with. But I think the discussion is important. At the beginning of my creative journey, I fell in the midst of the storm of depression. We had a lot going on, and I was unable to cope. It wasn't the creative journey that brought it about. But it came at a time I was facing some inner demons. I sought guidance. I think strong people can do that and admit that.

Creativity brings with it the need to be vulnerable. And at times, it can be frightening, letting go of all the ‘normal’ things you held to be true. Like a paid job. Sometimes, the paid job lets us go; it’s a way of helping steer you on the right track. Likely, you were already unhappy, and this will have reflected in your work performance.

Jung once said that if we could see inside ourselves, we would go mad. He explains that those who have seen deeply inside themselves, in the modern age, are perceived as having a mental health issue. Well, that's a lot of artists, who need to dig deep in order to create. But you don’t need to have a mental health issue to be creative, and you don’t need to be creative to have a mental health issue. However, it’s a jibe that some who are creatively blocked might make. And one you need to be aware of, from both sides of the fence.

Now, fortunately, I have parked the black dog in the kennel, although anyone who has had depression (mine was in 2009) knows that it lurks, waiting to tug at the chain and escape from time to time. But even mentioning mental health seems to bring with it judgement. And, discussion. Today, Ernie Sigley (an Australian presenter) announced he is suffering from dementia, a traumatic disease for the family and the sufferer. There seems to be sympathy for that. But if an otherwise successful person announces they are not okay, or someone wants to simply pull them down, they attack their mental health. Not with compassion, but disgust.

These are what Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) calls poisonous playmates. They manipulate conversations to be about them, and of course, your perceived failures.