Monday, August 16, 2010

The Tragic Artist

Why are artists/writers generally credited as having sad, depressive, or traumatic life experiences?

Surely, there have been many famous "tragic artists" to warrant this stereotype--I'm sure names like Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allan Poe, and Ernest Hemingway immediately spring to mind. And there seems to be reliable evidence from numerous psychologists who have found positive correlations between writers and depression/bi-polar. The statistics point out that writers/artists/musicians/etc. have higher rates of mental illnesses than most other people.

But what about you guys?

For the writers/artists/musicians/etc. reading my blog have you struggled with a mental illness? Or do you know an artist who has?

I just finished a 2-month stint of intensive psychotherapy last month. So at least for me, mental illness has been an influential part of my life. At least in the beginning, my depression led me to take out my frustrations on pencil and paper. Having attempted suicide twice before the age of 18, it's safe to say the arts were a "life-saver" for me.

I began writing "angsty" poetry and horror stories as early as the first grade. I remember horrifying my second-grade teacher with poetry I wrote and read aloud to the class. Mass murderers, natural disasters, monsters, and other warped creations were a common theme in my poetry and short stories.

At my lowest, I was my most creative.

And now that I'm "clean" and healthy, I'm redefining what inspires my creativity. I don't need to be "tragic" to write anymore. My life is anything but tragic now! However, without the childhood abuse, I doubt I would've started writing in the first place. My childhood, although traumatic, has helped me become the person I am today.

So if you are a tragic artist, recognize the signs and get help for yourself. Depression is not something you have to endure in silence. Get the help you need. You deserve it.

Here is a resource for artists/writers who have mental illnesses. You can share your poetry and creative writing in front of a group of other artists who'll understand without passing judgement. I was on the site for a little bit, but I found I no longer needed it as I got better:

Some online resources for depression, bi-polar, and other mental illnesses:


Fanboy Wife said...

Another tragic artist that pops into mind is Vincent van Gogh.

Vegetarian Cannibal said...

Yep. Cutting off your ear and mailing it to your girlfriend kinda belongs in the "tragic artist" category, LOL!

Thanks for stopping by, Fanboy Wife! Btw, I think your blog is absolutely hilarious! From one fanboy SO to another, I feel your pain!

Jenners said...

There does seem to be a lot of artists who are depressed and/or suicidal ... but then you have just as many who aren't. It just makes for a more interesting story I think.

But I do think that having a traumatic childhood might give you a need to write and create something ... more so than if you had a "normal" childhood. It could be a saving factor for someone I imagine.

Glad to hear you are on the road to recovery.

Vegetarian Cannibal said...

Thank you, Jenners. :)

Lisa Pietsch said...

I've suffered from depression. It is a horrible, dark place to be. About a year ago, I saw a doctor who put it together that my thyroid was complete crap. Amazingly, a few micrograms of synthroid later, I felt like a human being again. The problem with depression is that when you're in it, you rarely see out far enough to realize there is a problem.

What I find tragic about Hemingway is not his life but how it ended. He lived a fantastic life. He traveled the world, won Pulitzer and Nobel prizes and lived in some beautiful places. He had a serious condition that he could have easily lived with if treated properly but to be committed to round after round of electric shock therapy would probably expedite anyone to the gun cabinet.

Vegetarian Cannibal said...

Thank you for commenting, Lisa. Happily, psychology has come a long way from the barbaric methods used in the past. Electric shock therapy is rarely used in the profession nowadays.

I am happy your doctor was able to locate the cause of your depression! If only everyone with depression had a hormonal/chemical disturbance that surgery or medicine could fix!

The cause of my depression went deeper...darker. Day by day...year by year for 19yrs when I finally left home. I've lived most of my life in depression that it is somewhat surreal to be out in the light finally! I feel peace. Acceptance. No more PTSD or panic attacks. No more flashbacks or random crying spells that would last for hours.

It's a good feeling and I'm so proud of myself for facing all my demons. I don't think I could've done it without therapy. It inspires me to be a psychologist so I can help others. I hope my volunteer work with other rape/domestic violence victims does that. :)

Good comments, guys! Makes for interesting discussion!

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