So its been a little while since I’ve put much up here. And by a little while I mean, do you guys remember who I am? Why we’re here? Whose dog is that in the corner?! Did Jim bring the sloth again. . . .
Joking aside, I haven’t been producing much public content, for my blog, for my youtube, or for my Patreon this month, and I feel terrible about that, but it has brought up something that I have wanted to talk about for a while. I have issues with both anxiety and depression, more so the former than the latter, but they are both aspects of me that cause me issues at times. Over the last year I have learned to get many things under control, identify my triggers, and have worked past a lot of causes of both of these things. However, as anyone who deals with anxiety on a regular basis will tell you, knowing your triggers doesn’t mean that sometimes something won’t come out of the blue and smack you in the face so hard you’re seeing stars for weeks.
About a month ago I had one of my worst anxiety attacks to date. This was promptly followed by a little over three weeks of the worst depression I have experienced in years. There were other smaller ups and downs with my anxiety, but my depression decided to hang around for a bit, and I suddenly found it impossible to create, to edit, to do much of anything other than get through the job I was at at the time which was a partial source of my anxiety, eat (sometimes), and sleep. My self care went out the window, and the evidence of all of this is manifested in the lack of any kind of posts, discussions, short stories, much of anything productive.
Well, I’m finally back in the saddle, working is happening, I have a new job, and my head is clearing up. With all of that being said, there is something that I can’t help realizing after all of it. Many if not most of my friends who are content creators* deal with some level and combination of anxiety , depression and various other mental health issues. Yet for some reason it is overall seen as normal because they are artists.
And that is strange to me.
It is so easy for us as a society to say “oh they’re just an emotional painter” or “she’s just a neurotic writer, don’t worry about it.” and it is this dismissive mentality towards the mental health of artists combined with the usually extensive and exhausting hours that we spend doing what we love and pushing past those issues, that exacerbate them. We are in the unique position of having an extremely high rate of bad mental health, and yet we somehow justify it by the profession that it impacts. The great irony of this is that we accept conditions that affect our minds, brains and emotional stability in people whose jobs and passions it is to create intellectually stimulating, emotionally evocative and psychologically intriguing content. We normalize the degradation of precisely that which lets those who wish to create do so. I also dislike the idea that you have to have been to doctors and have a piece of paper saying “Sarah has anxiety” before you are allowed to say that you have problems with anxiety. Besides the fact that not everyone has access to those resources, many people are not even capable of understanding the idea of going to a doctor or a therapist until after they have already identified what their problems likely are.
This is something that I would eventually like to create a discussion around because it bothers me just how little it seems to be discussed. In the mean time, I would like to get something productive made from my rambling little post here so if you your self, or someone you know deals with mental health and being a creator, what do you do to help pull yourself through the rough days? We all have them, and we all have little tricks.
For me its coloring. Giving myself 20 minutes or so to color calms me down, gives me something to focus on and lets my brain relax. It has helped me through anxiety attacks and given me a way to relax in general.
There will be some re-designing of my blog happening soon, perhaps a new name but I am definitely planning on keeping up on my posts. Thank you so much for any of you that have hung around and are reading right now.
*I use the term “content creator” to cover writers, shorty story writers, video creators, professional gamers, performers, anything that creates artistic, creative content.