Recently, I talked with an extremely talented friend who was feeling blue. His mood seemed to brighten when I shared that I often find myself wallowing in depression or watching the Food Network at 2:30 a.m. when anxiety precludes any semblance of sweet dreams. Much has been written about creative types and their tendency to overanalyze the world around them and question their place in it. That writing comes from minds more scientific and medical than mine; however, I related two truths with complete confidence: He’s not alone in his struggles, and a certain amount of angst can be an unfortunate byproduct of deep thinking.
Writing for ArtsHub, Deborah Stone cited studies collated in “Scientific American” showing that artists and writers are up to 10 times more likely to suffer from depression. She quotes Eric Maisel, author of “The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person’s Path Through Depression,” who says, “I think 100 percent of creative people are going to experience existential depression, which is a result of their desire to find meaning in life through their work.”
As a veteran writer, editor, speaker, coach and all-around communications consultant, I can attest to the pitfalls of an “alternative career.” For me, there is a definite connection between creative efforts and empirical crisis, and there are obvious practical concerns. The lack of a steady paycheck, coupled with the solitude of self-employment, can be enough to make subjective criticism sting harder. Those with “day jobs” may suffer just as much as they long for more freedom to pursue their passions.
To avoid over-simplification of mental health issues, I will keep this short and to the point. If anything here speaks to you, consider researching the topic and seek professional help immediately if you’re feeling overwhelmed by depression or suicidal thoughts. If the everyday malaise that comes with spending so much time “in your head” is getting to you, call a friend, get out of the house, clean something, help someone, enjoy some guilt free goofing-off or look for something in a different medium to inspire you (maybe on the Food Network) . . . Regardless of your level of distress, know that your feelings may be somewhat of an occupational hazard and that bad days can be the flip side of your most amazing creation yet. I can’t wait to see it, and I know I’m not alone in that!