Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Beyond the Blues

All artists are crazy. We've all heard that old cliche. And within that ignorant and often mean-spirited indictment of creative personalities is a grain of truth. Crazy, of course, is not a diagnosis, and I actually take it as a compliment. Crazy--in this context anyway-- means, to me, imaginative, liberated, uninhibited, creative.

But it's also true that many creatives suffer from depression, anxiety and other psychological disorders. From Vincent Van Gogh to Virginia Woolf, from William Styron to Kurt Cobain, the list of artistic luminaries who have grappled with mental illness is a long one. Fortunately, talk therapy and the advent of effective psychiatric medications have made it easier for those suffering to find relief and learn ways to cope with their conditions. Read more in Therese Brocahrd's article:

Dealing with depression to access our creativity

While there is greater awareness and acceptance, for some people a shame or perceived stigma surrounding mental illness still remains. This can delay, impede or thwart treatment. I have had clients who resist treatment because they fear medications, and sometimes therapy, will stifle or stunt their creativity. This is largely a myth. The reverse is more likely the case. If you don't get help, your creative well may seem to dry up. Reach out and you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you will be able to access that pool of infinite imaginative possibilities.

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety that persist for longer than a couple of weeks, please seek help from a mental health professional.

Drive safe Play nice. Think peace.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fail Safe

"Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."-- Samuel Beckett

A client recently admonished me to "knock off the chipper 'try, try again' nonsense." It's not so easy, he contended, to keep plugging away at something that shows no apparent evidence of ever amounting to much.

I can't argue with that. He's been toying with the same book project for over four years, having little luck with agents, publishers or, quite frankly, motivation to complete it.

But perseverance is as difficult as it is necessary. But if you are driven to succeed at anything, you will have to summon it. Somehow, some way.

When frustration sets in, ask yourself some important questions: why am I doing this? What do I expect from it? Is the pursuit of this particular goal, project, dream instilling even a modicum of joy into my life?

And don't farm them out. These are not questions to be answered by your spouse, mom, boss, coach, best friend or neighborhood yenta. Listen carefully to your honest answers.

If the object of your pursuit no longer holds the magic, sway or interest it once did, that's okay. It's merely a sign that it's time to move on. Too many of us chase around that one dream like a dog with a chewed up bone, out of habit more than real desire.

Maybe you need to take a breather. Or simply change course. Try something else. But don't give up. You might be done with that particular book, painting, rock band, invention. So what if it never came to fruition? Maybe it wasn't meant to.

Let that dream go, release its grip on your time and psyche. And embrace new possibilities. Relish this new chance to try again. To fail again. Failing better this time. Next time, you might even succeed.

Drive safe. play nice. Think peace.