There are ideas that come to you so radical and original, you have to summon courage to even attempt them. And there are ideas that sneak up on you, that reveal themselves in corner store epiphanies. You are surprised by how obvious they are, how necessary. One of those ideas, is the radical notion of self-care for creatives.
We argue it every other week in person and on social media. We ignore it for as long as humanly possible and admit it grudgingly when the people we look up to are suddenly gone, our deepest fears played out on a massive stage. For me, it was Sylvia Plath. Each year on her birthday, the friends I have amassed thanks to our mutual love of The Bell Jar gather to remember her and how vividly she spoke of struggling with living, and the gift she’d been given.
Creative people struggle.
They struggle with anxiety and confidence. They live their lives shadowed by depression and self hatred and feelings of inadequacy. They are bogged down by the empathy that relentlessly follows them, and are crippled by the helplessness of not being able to do anything about it. They wonder if they are socio-paths, they fear that they are simply mining the lives of their lovers and friends for ‘muses’. They suffer dryness of pen, absence of brush strokes, their bodies refusing to bring to life that character whose words have already been memorized and tics imbibed. They shed themselves of themselves to fully inhabit the subjects of their art and sometimes they don’t know how to come back to just being ‘me’. But most importantly they struggle with admitting that something is wrong.
See, when you have gifts, to speak ill of them is considered rude, ungrateful even. The suffering Olympics, a phenomenon where a person’s sufferings are trivialized by others who feel they have suffered more makes our struggles seem trite, or self indulgent. So we suffer in silence, and pretend we are fine.
But you shouldn’t have to.
This is why we are dedicating ourselves to self care, for writers, painters, actors and singers, creatives of all kinds. We want to hear your war stories, your struggles, your problems, no matter ‘high-falluting’ you think it sounds.
You can write in as yourself, or anonymously, to firstname.lastname@example.org with “self-care” as the subject of your message.
We will offer advice if that is what the situation requires, or throw it out to our readership, your readership. We will learn from your stories, we will listen. We will care for ourselves and for each other, then hopefully, we will grow.
And just maybe we’ll take the taboo out of talking about mental health in creative spaces.