Why Are Artists So Depressive?

Mental health hits harder for creative types

When my therapist diagnosed me with Chronic Adjustment Disorder over the summer, I felt relieved.

Making so many moves in a short period of time on top of accepting my life as a new mom and then a new wife was overwhelming to the point of paralyzing me.

Attaching a name to my constant mood swings and relentless identity crisis made me feel better. More normal.

I would even go as far as to say that it dignified my identity as a writer.

I’ve never done well with life adjustments. Getting my period, enduring my first heartbreak, graduating college, being let go of jobs. All of these “normal” life transitions aren’t unique, but to me, they felt so final. So personally attacking.

Endings — no matter how small or insignificant — are like a crude awakening telling me I’m not strong enough, I should be ready for the next thing by now, that I can hear hissing in the back of my mind: “This part is over, now. Get over this chapter and get over yourself.”

Life Adjustments = Sacrificing Personal Freedom

I know now that it’s more about losing independence (and control) than it is about adapting to change. The tug of war with control and change and stress and joy can be both maddening and thrilling.

Why then, can’t I look at life changes as fresh starts or exciting opportunities instead of dead end halts clipping me of my freedom?

It Got Me Thinking…

Creatives have one resounding thing in common — we have this sort of darkness in our minds that we can’t seem to escape. Sometimes it clangs loudly like pots and pans, and other times it’s a mere whisper. It is both an advantage to our work and a downfall to our quality of life. Hence we never know whether it’s going to benefit or berate us.

This darkness — or quirkiness — isn’t exactly accepted by society.

Perhaps this massive shift in time will shed light onto the root cause of anxiety and depression, normalizing mental health “disorders” for not only creative types, but for everyone.

Glennon Doyle, in her book Untamed, makes a comment toward the end like:

“The crazies are my people. I feel so much more like myself around them. Like my depression and anxiety isn’t so…bad.”

In essence, the “crazy” is our superpower. Without madness there would be no creation. The catch is that we must go through it, instead of around it, to really embrace and appreciate what it’s doing for us, not against us.

What can artists do to feel less alone in their mental health struggles?

  1. For one, we can acknowledge that having negative or dark thoughts is a normal and necessary part of the creative process.

  2. Secondly, we can find likeminded people and entire groups dedicated to supporting creatives’ mental health.

Ending Questions

  • Do artists experience pendulum swings of high highs and low lows because we are self-involved, all too consumed by our work?

  • Have we yet to learn how to turn our fantasy world off so we can operate in the real world? Should we have to turn that part of ourselves off?

  • Are we terrified to innovate simply out of fear of a stranger’s hurtful critique?

  • In a world where we claim to praise one another for our differences, why are we desperate to be normal?

Thank you for reading today!

Are you a creative? Aka a person who identifies as an author, comedian, designer, dancer, photographer, musician, painter, stylist, decorator, chef? Do you struggle with feeling guilty about your dark side?

I like to think we are all creatives in some way.


Related Notes

I have come across some FABULOUS people and organizations who care deeply about the cross section of creativity and mental health.

I utilize them for inspiration, education, and really, to feel like someone gets me.

Dazey La

Hourglass Boston

Feel Good Club

Mind Charity

Be you.