Much has been made about the link between creativity and depression. From Vincent van Gogh to Amy Winehouse, the self-destructive creative genius archetype is an enduring one.
I can't say I'm a huge believer in the tortured artist routine - that is to say, people who take pleasure in torturing themselves through art (or "poseurs", if you will). Sure, I'm a perfectionist at heart but for me, creativity is my escape from the futility of modern life - certainly not an endorsement of it. I love what I do and making things brings me a lot of joy. Also, as rare as it may sound for a hipster creative, I also love to laugh - if someone isn't making me laugh, then I'll make myself laugh (the awful dad jokes on my Twitter is testament to this). But despite this, once in a while, even I often find myself being inexplicably and forcibly submerged in a sea of melancholy. What's even more baffling is that sometimes I find myself almost relishing in it.
I used to think that melancholy was just the price you paid for creativity. You know how they say that psychics and mediums inadvertently shorten their lifespans in exchange for seeing things that are not meant to seen? In the same way, I always felt that creatives were doomed for a life punctuated by sadness, in exchange for the ability to bring beauty into the world.
Now admittedly, I was an extremely dramatic and emotional child. As an adult and a professional, my thoughts on the matter have changed somewhat.
The problem with creativity and the act of creating something is that it just sort of...happens. It's not like solving a mathematical problem or driving a car, where you need to use every last bit of your brain - when you create, you sort of go into a trance. Sure, if something is particularly tough to draw or extremely detailed then of course, you concentrate on the task but for the most part, you sort of go into autopilot - or as the emo child version of me would say - you let creativity take over. Whilst you're in your creative trance, your brain starts to think about other things and here's where the problem comes.
Sometimes, these thoughts are as simple as "what should I have for lunch today" but for the most part, it's usually much more existential - why am I here, what is the purpose of life, why are good people punished, how did the Kardashians get so famous? And the problem with existential thought is that there is only one outcome - the more you think about it, the more meaningless and pointless life seems. When you consider a piece of art can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months, that's a lot of thinking that life is pointless. It's no wonder creatives get depressed.
I obviously can't speak for every creative person out there and perhaps there is something more biological in a creative person's genetic makeup that makes them more prone to bouts of depression and melancholy. What do you think? Do you get inexplicably sad sometimes? Is it down to the fact you're a creative person or is it because of something else? I'd love to hear your thoughts.