You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. Maya Angelou
My name is Leslie and I am a creative person. I am also mentally ill. I can tell you some of my diagnoses—Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I can also tell you some of my creative accomplishments—selling my collages in galleries, writing a monthly column in a newspaper, and publishing personal essays, poetry, and short stories in national magazines and anthologies.
Being mentally ill sometimes interferes with my creativity, other times it fuels it. Sometimes my mental illness drags me down, other times my creativity pulls me up. I started writing poetry as part of the therapeutic process and I haven’t stopped yet. My first collages expressed pain, anguish, and an undeniable need for freedom. My favorite color then was black, followed by red and gold. I have since branched out, using all the beautiful colors I can find.
In the book, Touched With Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament by Kay Redfield Jameson, the author shows a definite connection between artists of all kinds and mood disorders. Emily Dickinson was depressed. Baudelaire tried to kill himself. Hart Crane tried the same and succeeded. The collector fairy tales, Hans Christian Anderson, struggled with depression, as did John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress. Walt Whitman who wrote of the “body electric;” Mark Twain who brought us Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn; and Charles Dickens, author of Great Expectations and David Copperfield, did not let depression stop them from bringing enthusiasm, humor, and unforgettable characters into this world.
But what about us? What if I “just” write in my journal? Or if you create paintings that hang on your walls instead of those of the Louvre? We are still keeping company with talented artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, whose mental illness, self-mutilation, and suicide is a sad story often told.
Do you make music on an organ bought from local mall and have mental illness? If so, you have much in common with Handel, Rachmanioff, and Tchaikovsky. Irving Berlin, Noel Coward, and Cole Porter are part of our crowd too.
A person does not have to be in perfect, or even good physical and mental health to make amazing contributions to the world. So many artists, writers, composers, and creatives of all kinds have proved that over and over. People from the past. People from now. You. Me.
Much has been written about how creativity helps in healing. I’ve made collages of knives and blood instead of cutting myself. My art told anyone who bothered to look that my marriage was over long before I took my daughter and moved out of the house. Maybe the collages pouring out of me gave me the courage to do so.
I hope this blog will promote your creativity when that is what you need and help move you towards healing when that is what you need. Thank you for visiting my on-line home. Please visit me often.