I recently watched this video by Rowan Ellis titled, “Creativity doesn’t make you a tortured artist” and it made me realize that society really does believe that there is a connection between mental health and creativity.
Perhaps it comes from having a lot of emotions and feelings during times when you’re feeling depressed or anxious or in a similar manner. However, this doesn’t mean that creativity is heightened when you’re suffering from a mental illness. In reality, I have a lot of trouble getting up from bed because of depression sometimes–much more make a piece I’m proud of.
I have been writing and drawing and being a creative person since I was young. It’s fulfilling to see a short story or an essay or even a doodle that I made, one that I can look at and be proud of.
But my depression doesn’t make my art. It doesn’t even let me feel good about creating. It tells me, “You’re not good at this. Why do you even try?” and many other things that are very far from what people think. They think that I get to talk about how I’m feeling and express myself better with depression. They think I think of a lot of metaphors and I am able to tell a story with depression.
In reality, I try to do something and it’s depression that stops me.
This romanticization of mental illnesses is very damaging, at least to me. I can only speak for myself, after all.
When people talk about how Van Gogh was so creative because he hated himself or how any other famous figure is good at what they do because they suffered from mental illness, that doesn’t make me feel good.
First of all, it puts this immense pressure on me. It goes, “Well, if they did really amazing work because of their mental health, what are you doing with yours?” which is a disgusting thought to have. Like having a mental illness is some sort of “blessing in disguise” and that I should be THANKFUL that it prevents me from leaving my bed or talking to a stranger because it makes me creative?
Second, it can encourage more depressive thoughts. After all, if it makes you creative, don’t you want it to stay? This kind of romantic view on mental illness helps no one and damages a lot of people. I found myself going back to bad habits because I though that I could create better work if I was sad or numb.
There are so much more things to talk about that regarding this, but I wanted to specify my thoughts a little. I wish this perception on mental health would stop being spread around. Having a mental illness doesn’t make you more creative. Being creative does not mean you have to “suffer.”
Nobody is benefiting from this and a lot of people are harmed from this kind of thinking.