Let me tell you something about being an artist with mental illness. It is not fucking glamorous.
With my anxiety and depression, I have days where my heart is heavy and my mind is afflicted with the most destructive thoughts. Those are the very worst days.
On those days I’m not just uninspired. I am tormented. What energy I do have I put into rescuing myself from that emotional tail spin.
On those days I give up completely on writing. It’s not going to happen. I don’t have it in me.
On those days when my anxiety and depression get in the way, I don’t create anything.
If there is anything to be said about being an artist with mental illness it’s that it prevents me from doing the work that I was put on this earth to do.
Some people think that madness helped some artists create. I’m willing to bet it prevented them from creating.
Think about all those artists with mental health issues and not what they did create, but what they could have created, if they had a better handle on their depression, schizophrenia, drug and alcohol addiction, manic episodes, and bipolar disorder.
I don’t give a good goddamn what Ernest Hemingway said. I never write drunk, and neither should you. (That guy was a son of a bitch. Amazing writer and a son of a bitch. Why would anyone want to be like him?) And in those periods of clarity and balance, I use that time to dig deep and write as honestly as I can.
When I have a day that I don’t feel that way, I make damn sure that I don’t waste it. After a period of darkness, that light is the gift of life.
I don’t know what kind of demons you have, but you don’t stop writing because of them, you write in spite of them.
Every day, every moment that you can tame those demons is an absolute gift. Every day that you write in spite of them is a chance at life. It’s a chance not just for yourself to live, but for others who carry those same demons to live as well.
The power of voice has and always will be a lifeline. It creates a human connection with those who are intimate with your suffering, because no matter what your demons whisper in your ear, you are not alone.
Using your voice won’t just save your life. It will save the lives of those who feel dead inside, who’s heart hurts and who fight a secret battle that most people will never see.
Using your voice gives someone a little bit of light in a whole lot of darkness. That alone is inspiration enough.
Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash