When I was eighteen, I did as many high school graduates do, and set off to start college life. My Dad and I drove the 2,000 mile trek from small town Indiana to Logan, Utah and thus it began. I started this new academic pursuit with ideas of becoming an art teacher (Why any of us are expected to know what career we want to pursue at the not-so-ripe age of 18 is beyond me). As I started art classes I realized that, though I was fairly good, I didn't have a passion for it. I saw these other students completely immersed in it. Driven by an obsession for the creative process. Long story short, I majored in Public Relations and minored in Art History. Turns out I enjoyed talking (big surprise there) and writing more than the physical arts. And, bonus, I wasn't all that bad at it. But, I didn't want to let go of art all together thus the art history minor.
I was very drawn to the conceptual and psychological aspects of art and the artist.What was their mentality while creating? What was their life like from childhood and beyond? How did challenges contribute or detract from the creative process?
I found that many artistic geniuses struggled with great challenge and even mental illness (This would be a very exhaustive blog post if I were to list all the writers and artists that have suffered from mental illness and breakdowns. Click HERE for a list). Michelangelo was thought to have suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Georgia O'Keeffe reportedly had clinical depression and Pablo Picasso was suspected of suffering the same. Jackson Pollock had a nervous breakdown in 1938. Vincent Van Gogh experienced periods of deep depression and also very manic periods of high productivity. Could he have been bi-polar?
Recently, I started reading the letters Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his family members, namely to his brother Theo (You can read them HERE). Towards the end of his short life, Van Gogh committed himself to the hospital at Saint Paul-de-Mausole where he created many paintings, one of which was the masterpiece The Starry Night.
All of this led me to thinking, "What if these great artists had been medicated? Would we then have been deprived of so many of the masterpieces we now enjoy or would they have been able to produce more?" There have been studies examining these questions and many more.
(I read quite a few articles on the link between mental illness and creativity and really loved this one found HERE. Read it...I DARE YOU!)
Then, it dawned on me (So here comes the part where all of this actually relates to my life...) Since I've been on a treatment plan that actually helps quite a bit, I haven't been writing on my blog nearly as much. (This is a big problem considering I am a creative genius comparable to the above mentioned artists...). Seriously though, you'd think I'd be motivated to produce more in a more stable mindset, but it hasn't been that way. It seems that the more pain and challenge I experience, the more I write.
Challenge increases the need for a creative outlet. I think that consistently experiencing difficulty creates depth in a person in a way that nothing else can. And this gives a creative person material for expression. And more importantly, that expression, whether it be the work of Van Gogh or an average blogger such as myself, may just help someone else.
So, does this mean I won't be writing any more? Heck no! I said I was more stable not perfect. I've got enough crazy in me to provide material for years to come. And it turns out happiness is a great thing to write about as well and my happy times far exceed my challenges.