This morning I heard an interview with an author who suggested that the line between creativity and mental illness is so blurry that it is nonexistent. She herself did not identify as a creative person.
I get... well, I get furious when people conflate depression and creativity. This pervasive idea that artists and writers are more prone to depression. Or that depressed people produce better art.
It may be true that there are a number of artists who have suffered from depression. There are also a number of CPAs, royal monarchs, stay-at-home parents and air traffic controllers who have suffered from depression.
And the artists, might I say, are not producing their finest art when they are at their sickest. Instead they are cutting off body parts (Van Gogh), wasting away in asylums (Robert Schumann) or wandering into a river with pockets full of stones (Virginia Woolf).
I am sure that there are any number of people who can produce anecdotal cases of artists doing amazing things while they are out of their minds with mental illness. Bully for them. Happenstance. Luck. Not The Way Things Usually Are.
Why is there the persistent myth of depression fueling creativity? Because art speaks to us in a way that air traffic controlling does not. Because artists who live through major depression and come out on the other side might find a way to give voice to their experiences. Because when we are sad we can find art that speaks to our condition.
Being mentally ill means that you have a mental illness. It does not mean that you are creative or have an artistic temperament. It does not mean you are hip and cool and self-reflective. It does not mean that you are an introvert who just needs to get out of your shell. It means that your brain is not getting what it needs.
We need a different set of words to talk about Depression. So very frustrated with the baseline level of knowledge on this issue.
Now I will engage in some meditation for 5 minutes and calm down from this rant.
Note: super-exhausted today. Little sleep last night. Comatose nap with daughter. Feeling sinus-infectiony too.
Quaker, teacher, parent,