I’ve heard that there is fairly high correlation between creativity and mental illness (source). Specifically, scientists refer to the prevalence of bipolar disorder in creative types, where the highs, by juxtaposition, serve to amplify the lows of daily life. Consider Sylvia Plath, Vincent Van Gogh, Ernest Hemingway, and Kurt Cobain to name a few alums. Some would even include the “bi-winning” Charlie Sheen, but I just think he’s a self-absorbed jerk and drug addict.
As a writer, thoughts swirl around my head constantly, not unlike a snow globe. Sometimes my thoughts dance around gently and are mesmerizing, philosophical and even, epiphantic. At other times, it can feel like a toddler has found my head and is shaking up a blizzard. The thoughts scream by my ears, too fast to decipher and connect, and sometimes the thoughts take on my mother’s voice. Not my sweet, loving mother’s voice, but her scary, screeching, threatening voice. Its hard to quieten these thoughts, much less push them out of my head. After a few sleepless nights tormented by raging thoughts, I have to start to wonder if this is what it’s like to go crazy.
To me, depression feels like living with one of those lead aprons the dentist puts on you while he’s taking x-rays of your teeth. It packs serious weight and renders me immobile. I haven’t felt like this since the birth of my first son, but I recognize that the beast is back and it scares me, so I write, searching for clues as to where it began to unravel.
I was never encouraged to write, not as a profession anyways. My parents pushed me towards medical school, but I rebelled and ended up in business school. In any case, I am well versed in science and logic, and let me tell you this – Depression is completely illogical. It makes no sense that a healthy woman in a nurturing, loving relationship, with healthy kids and healthy parents, living in a beautiful home with organic food in her fridge, and busy with an active social life, should feel unfulfilled. And then I feel terrible that I’m feeling unfulfilled, and worry that God will strike me down for being ungrateful. But I’m not ungrateful and I know that God is a loving God. And yet, I can’t seem to get this lead apron off of me.
I wish I knew what triggers it for me – maybe the past 4 months of gray skies and Vancouver rain, rain, rain and not going somewhere sunny for Spring Break have something to do with it – there is much in the press linking Vitamin D deficiency and depression. My friend did commit suicide a few months ago, so maybe that has been affecting me subconsciously. Maybe I’m stressed out because my youngest starts school full-time in the fall and my raison d’être is no longer. Maybe it’s merely an ebb in my nearly 20 year relationship? Maybe it’s PMS or egads, menopause? Maybe I’m lacking endorphins from hanging out with my kids for 17 days straight instead of being able to sweat it out at the gym while they’re at school?
All logical possibilities, but I wonder if it’s something altogether different. Am I alone in feeling this way or are there other 40 years-ish stay-at-home moms out there that feel there must be something more to life than cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring and PTA meetings?
I think I need something to look forward to and work towards. It’s not Spring Break in Hawaii, and it’s not a smaller dress size. It’s something big, epic even, something all my own. My Kilimanjaro. Now I just have to figure out what/where my Kilimanjaro is.
Thanks as always for reading.
5 Comments Add yours
I agree that “mentally ill” are violently creative and beautifully talented. My mother was a paranoid schizophrenic, with bi-polar or “manic depressive disorder” like they used to call it. She was a beautiful artist, she wrote lovely poetry. Both my sister and I are suffering from depression and my sister is a brilliant painter. I am envious… me… haven’t done much lol!
Hi Eschelle, this quote by Marianne Williamson has helped me alot.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Let’s let our lights shine! xo
I hate that you are feeling down. I’ve gone through that same funk from time to time, explaining to The Mister that if I sweep or wash a bottle one more time I might explode. I think it is a feeling that the monotonous day-to-day isn’t quite cutting it. I started blogging, writing, fueling that creative side of myself to balance things out. I can mop and clean and cook and fulfill all of those 1950’s female roles but I KNOW I have something for myself, an outlet at the end of every day. Hope you get some sunshine soon!
Thanks Tori! It’s nice to know that we’re all in this together 🙂
I’m working on the sunshine bit – thank goodness it’s finally stopped raining in Vancouver (today anyways) the sun always helps!
Not only is it therapeutic to write about this, it will get people talking about an issue that needs more attention: the prevalent experience of depression.
I know you will get past this roadblock, toss this boulder out of your way, and write the novel that is inside of you.