Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saturday So What: Creative Mind and Mental Illness

There is a demon that lives in my mind. It feeds on happiness and grows so large that it blocks out the light. The time is coming when it will crack through the veneer I have built. Then may God have mercy on my soul.

----My thoughts at age 15

I have always had a bit of flare for the dramatic, leaned towards the creative side of life. In turn I have also struggled my entire life with depression and anxiety. It is my belief that the two are inextricably sealed together.

This week, another famous actor died after a struggle with his own demons and self medicating with alcohol and illicit substances-- Cory Montieth. He is only the most recent in a very long list of artists. I am not glorifying him or justifying his choices, I am looking at the root, which I understand.

To be an artist is to paint with your emotions. That can be words on paper, notes in a song, a performance on a stage, images on a canvas, and much more. We are the creative mind. To be able to emote, to share and touch someone, we have to bear a little piece of raw nerve. We have to regularly be able to tap into an emotion that some might prefer stay buried. Then, after a masterpiece is built, we hold it up to the world and say, "here, judge my heart".

I feel things deeply and viscerally. That can make joy utterly euphoric and within the same day a rejection casts me into a pit of snakes that bite at my ankles. Sometimes I feel like I am saying, "Love me, love me because I can't love myself." I could be wrong, but I believe many other artist, actors, singers, and writers feel the exact same way.

Some people use drugs and alcohol to treat themselves and dull their feelings. Others seek help from a professional. Many ignore it entirely and live in fear of discovery and do whatever is necessary to keep a face to show the world, but keep their tears confined in the corner where no one is watching. On the flipside there are others who are very open and brave about their struggles, a fellow writer Robison Wells is an excellent example of this.

There are as many ways of coping as there are people under the moon. Talking to someone helps, as does spilling my feelings into my writing or music. I've had medication that has helped and others that zombified me. I've prayed to God to steal my soul in the night. But if I had given up in the depths of my dispair then the pain might have ended, but so would the joy.

My biggest point is that there is no reason to be ashamed. The way I am and the way I feel gives me access into a universe that many are blind to. Though it means I have to walk carefully as not to get lost in that place. But I am not damaged goods. And neither are you. If you are struggling with mental illness, realize that doesn't mean you are less.  It means that you are more. You have more heart and more soul than can be contained. You are the creative mind.


  1. This is beautiful, Betsy. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Very insightful and encouraging to others. Great job.

  3. Beautifully written and a courageous act, in that you risk alienating your audience if they are uncomfortable with such an honest, naked, and vulnerable disclosure of dark inclinations. I applaud your honesty and celebrate you finding the silverlining in such a dark and foreboding cloud.

    My wife was not so fortunate, she too struggled with depression and personal demons. I can only speculate that she also pleaded with God to mercifully release her from this mortal coil to escape her mental anguish, but sadly, she went the next step and when her prayers were unanswered, she took matters into own hands to extract herself from this earthly existence.



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