We Need To Stop Romanticizing The Stereotype Of The Tortured Artist


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I used to believe that in order to be a successful creative, one has to have some sort of darkness within them – like a traumatic past or a serious mental illness. Sounds stupid, I know. But it’s not all my fault – literature, cinema, and even people like you and I have believed and propagated this timeless myth. And this toxic belief isn’t going away anytime soon. Do a lot of creative people bear these burdens? Sure. But are they doing well because of them? Nope. They are doing well in spite of them.

I speak not as an observer but from personal experience. Towards the end of 2018, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and generalized anxiety. Deep down, I knew that I had these disorders for years. But I refused to see a professional because I was afraid what would happen if I was cured. You see, I believed that depression and anxiety, although terrible to deal with, fed my creativity. Thank God I was forced to rethink and abandon this messed up belief when I went through the worst episode of my depression so far.

It was August 2018 and my divorce had officially come through. I was devastated, suicidal, and unable to mask my weariness with the world. My family convinced me to seek help, and a month or two later, I was diagnosed with CD and GA. Why the abbreviations? Because I am so damn tired these days…

I recently went on a family vacation for a much-needed break. I am grateful I could go as it helped clear my mind. But ever since I have been back, my mental state has worsened, something I did not see coming. Those ten days away from home made me unlearn my coping mechanisms to get through the day. I’ve tried my best to get back to barely functioning, but it’s been a losing battle.

When I finally confided in my therapist after a two-week struggle, she said it’s a relapse and it’s okay to feel this way. A vacation is, after all, an escape from reality, and returning to reality isn’t easy when you are depressed. Life these days has become random and unstructured. Since not having a routine is making me feel lost and out of control, she advised me to get back to it and forgive myself whenever I slip.

As for how to rekindle my creativity spark? Well, we discussed the importance of being patient, for creativity is a slow process, and inspiration doesn’t come on demand. The best way to make sure the muse visits more often is to not just keep writing, but also dabble in other forms of writing without expecting it to be good. Like anonymous said, expectation is the root of all heartache. And I should destress by finding some time to escape from reality on the daily. What better way to forget my troubles than to immerse myself in say, a dystopian book or a riveting biopic? Honestly, it would be less unsettlingnot to mention cheaper—than going on a holiday.

I know I’m no genius, but I am a creative. And believe me guys, there’s nothing romantic or beneficial about being a tortured artist. Even research has proved that a happy mind is THE best zone to be in, so if you suffer from a mental health condition, don’t let it fester. Seek professional help so you can not only produce your best creative work, but also feel alive and human while you are at it.

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