Many creative people ranging from artists to writers to Admen suffer from manic depression. The remaining are also highly prone to mental breakdown due to the enormous load and stress involved at work. For those of us in the creative field, mental instability has become just another part of our usual life, because we do not follow any “normal” schedule at work.
Interesting read @ Manic-Depression.net
Is Creativity A Symptom Of Bipolar Disorder?
Numerous famous poets, writers, composers, and artists were afflicted with bipolar disorder. But, does bipolar disorder cause an increase in creativity or are those who have exceptional levels of creativity prone to developing bipolar disorder?
It is a known fact that work stress leads to depression, diabetes, heart diseases etc just to name a few.
Here in advertising, coming up with “a strong idea” at the click of the finger may not be very difficult, but coming up with twenty different such ideas and working 72 hours straight in office is what drives many of us to pouring a glass of whisky much earlier (and much more) than other people, or popping that “funny looking pill” or puffing a cigarette that doesn’t smell like one…
Another reason for a mental breakdown is when we come up with an excellent masterpiece (a painting, a movie, a song, a book, an Ad campaign, or even a blog post) and then not being able to outdo ourselves the next time no matter how hard we try while a lot of people are expecting so much from us because of our previous success…
…that can drive anybody crazy.
The other day my boss Meghana sent me this link, which I think is the best pep-talk I’ve ever heard since I joined this Industry.
“Genius” by Elizabeth Gilbert
A must watch, people. Especially those of you who are in the creative field or people who are under a lot of stress and pressure from work.
The gist of the show – basically, how to cope with failures after a brief success, or identifying “your genius” as an external element.
Elizabeth Gilbert talks about how writers and creative people have a notorious reputation of being alcoholic manic depressive with a very grim death-rate in the 20th century alone - many creative people died young at their own hands.
“Creativity and suffering are inherently linked” and “Artistry in the end always leads to anguish” are some of her quotes. “The thought that your greatest success is behind you and that you will never out-do yourself again, makes you drink gin at 9 in the morning”, she stated nonchalantly.
She looked back in time to see how creative people coped with this emotional risk. In ancient Greece and ancient Rome, the people believed creativity is not from human beings, but rather a divine spirit that comes from an unknowable source. Greeks (like Socrates) called it daemons. Romans called it genius.
Hence due to this transcendent being, a person was under a much lesser stress (if his work was lame, it’s simply because his genius/daemon was lame!) and it also brings about humility instead of narcissism as the artist couldn’t take all the credit if his work was a grand success (“his genius/daemon did all the work while he just sat on his fat ass the whole day”) !!
It was only during the dawn of the renaissance that rational thinking set in and people “realized” it was man who was creative and not a spirit. Elizabeth felt this was a HUGE mistake and hence the reason why young creative minds today go mad and die early.
She also talks about the experiences of notable poetess Ruth Stone and musician Tom Waits, who have both experienced this external force of creativity trying to “thunder through their body” and that if they didn’t find a paper and pen in time to scribble out the experience, they would miss “it”. Seriously, how many times have you experienced this sudden formation of ideas within your head for no reason at all, sometimes at the oddest hours? I have, many times, especially in the loo.
I think I can sum up Elizabeth Gilbert’s final message as this: Instead of believing creativity comes from you, if you start believing your creativity is just on a loan from somebody, this way of thinking will change everything for you, giving you much more peace and serenity within yourself and at work.
I’ve been trying a lot these days to think in this manner, and believe me, treating “genius” as an external entity has helped a lot. Boss calls me to office and asks sternly, “Why the hell were you browsing porn from office?” and I calmly reply, “Hey, don’t blame me boss! It was my genius at work.”
Ok all jokes aside, I think this is a brilliant idea. Try to treat “genius” as an external being, although take care that you don’t develop a Multiple Personality Disorder while doing it (don’t give him a name or talk to him when you are alone, for starters!)
Relax and don’t panic or strain yourself when you’re not able to come up with anything for a particular client. Just consider it as one of those days your genius drank a little too much the previous night with his genius pals in the local genius tavern and is still passed out back home. Take a deep breath and wait for your genius to recover and come back to you.