Category Archives: darkness

Creativeness and Mental Illness…I wanted to talk about relief via art but found other connections….

So I wanted to write about my craving for creativity and how it has always helped me when I’m feeling negative, I started researching and ended up on a much more interesting route:

Creative people are statistically more inclined to have mood disorders and mental Illness.

So essentially, rather than creativeness being an amazing antidepressant and everyone should do it..its more the case that the very mental disorders we are fighting are a bi-product of our creative minds. The characteristics that give us the power to find relief via creating are the same characteristics which contribute to the negativity in the first place.

There is debate on whether these traits are nature or nurture and there is evidence to back up both.

Psychiatrist, Keri Szaboles working in Hungary made an interesting discovery, he gave 128 participants a creativity test followed by a blood test sand found that those demonstrating the greatest creativity carried a gene commonly associated with severe mental illness.

There have been studies In Sweden, directed by Simon Kyaga, where they have discovered that those in creative professions were more likely to have relatives with mental disorders and were statistically more inclined to suffer mental illness themselves, for instance it appeared that writers in particular were 121% more likely to suffer than those in other non creative fields, and 50% more likely to commit suicide.
Now that’s a staggering difference!

They also stated that some people inherit a form of the trait that fosters creativity without burden whereas others inherit an amped up version that stoked anxiety, depression and even hallucinations.

There has been discussion as to whether this is from physical or psychological influence. For instance is it the physical DNA or just the fact that families experiencing mental illness are less stable, therefore creating a less stable environment which therefore nurtures certain characteristics encouraging mental illness, Or certainly worsening it.

But this is beside the point, my interest here is to discover the actual link between creativity and depression. What are those characteristics which contribute to both?

Its suggested that creatives experiencing mood disorders and mental illness take in more information and are less able to ignore extraneous details, their brain does not allow them to filter.

American psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman stated: “It seems that the key to creative cognition is opening up the flood gates and letting in as much information as possible,” he writes. “Because you never know: sometimes the most bizarre associations can turn into the most productively creative ideas.”

So basically our inability to shut out certain information and feeling can mean that we are overcome with emotion, which can be both incredibly tormenting for the brain, yet that same information and feeling can be what stokes up to create, with so much going on inside is it any wonder we have to release it, let it out and share it in such, often spectacular ways?

Painter of ‘the scream;’,Edvard Munch suffered fro anxiety which he poured out through his work, he write about this particular piece “The sun began to set – suddenly the sky turned blood red,” he wrote. “I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an endless scream passing through nature.”

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If you look into the personal life of all the old creatives you will almost certainly discover similar issues and right up to modern day, take Robin Williams for example…everywhere we look to be inspired, the people who produce the most incredible ‘art’ in whatever form are those who suffer the most.

So I am here to be thankful for my dark times, for without them I wouldn’t be who I am today, I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog, I wouldn’t have a multitude of skills and abilities, of which I am proud. I have produced artwork in many forms and its greatly appreciated by those to whom I give it to, and those who see my work, or indeed read my work often feel the need to let me know how it has affected them(generally on fb, not like they have to because were face to face). Its pleasing to know I can inspire some thought or feeling in others and therefore I am grateful I am made this way.

In fact if it weren’t for this side of my personality I probably wouldn’t be a fitness instructor either, after all teaching in front of a class of people, using your vibrancy, your excessive energies to inspire, motivate and encourage them to put in their best…is this not performance and is performance not a form of art.

I would be a completely different person living a completely different life! Its quite humbling to look at it this way, all this moaning about feeling down, and poor old Kirst, when all along its what’s forced me into some of my most proud accomplishments.

That all being said, I must say I am not belittling the depression and disorders some people feel, for me its just an occasional thing, nothing severe or lasting so I have the right balance, I get enough darkness to inspire me but not so much to really bring me down. I am one of the lucky ones and I send much love and support to those with more severe forms of mental illness.

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Filed under art, artists, arts, battle, creativity, darkness, depression, disorders, mental illness

Defeating the dark times

Almost all of us will, at some point in our lives, experience depression. The darkness within, the uncompromising bleakness and often unexplainable feelings of failure, hopelessness and emptiness. But how many of us admit it? How often do we bottle it all up, mentally reprimanding ourselves for being stupid, telling ourselves were being ungrateful, ridiculous, weak, self pitying..?? The list goes on.

A list of self abusive words, taunts. A list of negatives which will only enforce the darkness and give the depressive part of our psyche even more to focus on and hold on to, giving it a firmer hold on our overall well-being.

Its ironic the wording we use to try to snap out of it are often the very words forcing us deeper in and why? If a friend was feeling depressed, would you use those words of advice to them?? The answer is no, because quite frankly, they are wrong! We are not weak for feeling, we are not ungrateful or self pitying for occasionally getting snowed under by life’s less savoury moments!

As long as we are trying, a long as we are fighting the internal battle we are not weak, we are strong! We are fighting day after day for something most people take for granted, going about our days when even the smallest task can feel like a struggle, every encounter with others feels like a trial, pretending everything is fine whilst secretly feeling so envious of their apparent ease at happiness. If only we opened up and talked…really talked!

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Most of us have had or regularly have depressive episodes, if we talked to each other more not only would it help to know you are not alone, often the most surprising people will admit to feeling the same, but also just letting it out, hearing it all said out-loud and discussed as a real problem as opposed to just going round and round the same stale old thoughts in your head, trying to convince yourself your not feeling it, can really help give you some perspective.

Of course there are also other things we can do to help ourselves. Personally I have a list of things which help. Some are instantaneous little pick me ups like singing as loud as you can in the shower, surrounding yourself with your happiest, silliest friends and just allowing yourself to forget and laugh, putting on your favourite comedy series or film. I swear The Big Bang Theory, Cougar Town, Mike and Molly and celebrity juice are sanity savers for me!

There are also more longer term activities we can partake in to improve mental well-being. Exercise for starters. Whether its a full on workout or just some yoga or a walk, the benefits are enormous. Not only does this increase happy hormones in the body, but it tires us out leaving less energy for agitation and aggression. We will often sleep better as mind and body are feeling satiated. Of course a good diet is also key here, junk food actually contributes to the release of hormones which will counterbalance the positives brought on by exercise and makes us feel lethargic and bloated.

Another beneficial habit is meditation, learning to let go and just be at one with yourself. Learning to relax and allow the universe to just be, accepting you are a part of a great vastness and allowing yourself to be lost in this. Getting a break from the mental chatter for a while and again aiding in sleeping.

Reading a good book is often beneficial. I find a good book helps put my life into perspective for a variety of reasons, depending on the book your reading. For instance reading a horror will not only distract you by taking you to a whole new place and adventure but also make you feel it could be worse…You are not in fact being stalked by the rabid dog Cujo or being chased by some sort of fog or mist which is turning people into zombies. Reading chick flicks can also be helpful as they are often emotional but your heroines always find happiness in the end, the autobiographies are great for really showing you how everyone suffers, again your not alone.
Then there are the little things, things unique to you which bring hope in your downtimes, light in the darkness and a smile to the saddest days. For me these are things like, tarot cards, getting creative making something, whether cakes, woodwork, paintings…anything, keeping a journal making sure to note good and bad feelings as well as things your grateful for, things you wish for in the future and short term goals which will help gain those wishes.

Lastly, charity. OK so I don’t mean you have to go to a third world country and build a well for thirsty children (although if that floats your boat…why not!), what I mean is doing something for someone else. Being responsible for someone else’s smile is incredible rewarding and not only that but if you believe in karma… This could be something simple like calling or writing to your Mum, Aunt, Grandma, someone who you know will be thrilled just to hear from you, your words brighten their day. You may want to bake or make something for someone, offer to babysit to give someone a break, picking up some of the extra workload from a stressed colleague or even just smiling at strangers in the street.
So to sum it all up… You are not alone, this isn’t a solo fight. Your friends and family are there to help as long as you are helping yourself and giving back as well as receiving! Keep your chin up and one day you will look back on this battle and realize you won, and you can win again if and when that dark old enemy shows its ugly face again.

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Filed under battle, darkness, depressed, depression, fighting, fitness, health, mental health