Depression Doesn’t Make Art

All the great artists were messed up. Picasso fell into a huge depression, and look at what he produced. Just imagine, if he had medication, how much art we would have missed out on.

Okay, if someone says that to you, deck them.

Maybe not deck them. At least not physically. But tell them: Is your art worth that much more than a person’s life?

And imagine, if Picasso had access to medication that had helped him, not just how much better his life would have been, but how much more art of his you would have to appreciate?

Last week I didn’t post a blog entry. I have done very little writing over the last two weeks.

Part of that is simply life. My ministry is picking up again, meaning I’ve got longer days. That’s not a bad thing. It does mean I have less time for writing at the moment!

But a much, much larger part of that has been my depression. I’m messed up.

For several days last week, I couldn’t really get out of bed. I was able to do the bare minimum for my ministry, but even that was difficult.

Some people will tell you a tortured soul makes for good art. And it’s true that someone who understands their own torment can often convey that well onto the page or the canvass or what-have-you.

But mental illness doesn’t benefit others with great art. Not really. The brain is fighting itself. If you asked a brain like that to produce art of any kind, the brain would answer, “I ain’t got time for that,” and then go and screech obscenities at the nicer parts of the brain. The mind is so busy tearing itself apart, it can’t make anything beautiful for others to enjoy.

Art can become an outlet for that struggle. I’ve been able to harness that energy before on occasion, but not when it’s really bad. When it’s really bad, I don’t create anything. I’m incapable. I pretty much just lie in bed.

And even if it was true that the worse the torment, the better the art, what does it say about you if you’d rather have the art than the person?

I’m not advocating mediocrity. We’ve got enough mediocrity. But let’s have good art without the torture, all right? Let’s help each other, show some kindness, some love, and encourage each other to get the help we need.

(And on that note—I do have the help I need. My Bride is amazing at taking care of me and kicking my butt to the doctor when it’s necessary!)

Oh, and I’ll be getting back to the writing this week. Or at least, that’s the plan! Self-care for writers is also necessary! If we don’t take care of ourselves, if we don’t get the help we need, our art goes uncreated.

Depression doesn’t make art.

Artists make art. Take care of your artists, and you’ll receive art.

It’s really not that hard to understand.

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