Mental health & creativity – a blog from Poet, Adam Warne
We are well accustomed to the combination of creativity and self-destructive behaviour. The rockstar snorting coke. The writer who’s always sloshed. The clown who’s suicidal. As a poet who has depression I have often felt that this rich heritage gives me permission to indulge in my own self-destruction. When I didn’t want to live anymore it was comforting to chain smoke and drink far too much (often alone) and avoid eating and have the double satisfaction of destroying my worthless body and partaking in a grand tradition.
We know that there are many people with a mental illness who do not give a damn about the arts. We know that there are many artists who do not have a mental illness. The two aren’t inexorably combined. We also know that people’s behaviour is influenced by cultural expectations. People, consciously or unconsciously, often act in certain ways depending on the role they have been given. For proof, take a look at the Standford Prison Experiment. In our culture the role of the mentally ill artist involves self-destructive behaviour. I am a depressed poet so it is only natural for me to booze every day.
It has taken me a long time to grasp the simple fact that I can eat fruit and exercise and only drink one pint at the pub and still write poems. I have learned that caring for myself and my health makes living with depression easier. It isn’t a cure, but it means there are fewer days of hiding in bed and crying. It means I can spend more time being creative.
– Adam Warne