Daily Archives: April 17, 2015

Loneliness and Isolation: Necessary Ingredients of Creativity?


On the psychology of why rejection and loneliness may be necessary evils for the creative genius

“In the deepest and most important things, we are unutterably alone, and for one person to be able to advise or even help another, a lot must happen, a lot must go well, a whole constellation of things must come right in order once to succeed.” — Rainer Maria Rilke

Originally posted on Longreads Blog:

(Vincent) Van Gogh likely had a cadre of mental issues, none of which were suitably diagnosed while he was alive. Yet what seemed to weigh heaviest on him was the inevitability of his loneliness. According to his letters to Theo, he felt he had one of two options: content himself with loneliness or try to countenance his loneliness with friendships thereby derailing his creativity (“lead us from the road,” as he wrote).

Aldous Huxley wrote, “If one’s different, one’s bound to be lonely,” and upon thinking about it even a little, it quickly becomes apparent that many of history’s creative geniuses have been deeply lonely people. There is the obvious reason for this: dedicating oneself to an artistic pursuit means one has little time for social endeavors. This is what has frustrated flamboyant, gregarious writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Henry James, both of whom wrote about the dreadful isolation…

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Going Off Script

For months I have been locked into this depression, where the slightest deviation makes it a thousand times worse. It was as if I went off script, did one thing differently, the terror and darkness inside metastasized. I’d try to listen to music. Two songs in, I’d be so nervous and feel so out of sorts, I’d put back on a tv show. Because tv shows soothe me when I get this way.
The anxiety kept me inside, cringing at the noises from outdoors. My kid’s defiance seemed like an all out assault on my fragile senses and poor coping skills.
It was in a way like being paralyzed.
I’d love to say I am miraculously cured by eating squid ink or some shit but it’s not the case. I am just as broken today as I was yesterday.

BUT a couple of times this week I have dared to go off script, as in, standing up to the depression. It dictates everything and I usually fight it until I can’t anymore then wave the white flag. This week, for a couple of times, I defied the depression.
First, I took my kid across the street, in broad daylight with others around, and taught her to fly a kite. This held her interest about five minutes before she preferred picking dandelions but…
For five minutes I was doing the fun mom thing. It felt good. Then it felt strange. Then it felt like if I didn’t get back inside my bubble the world might just implode.
And yeah, I know it’s irrational and silly. But mental illness often is.
I still let my kid play outside. I still kept checking on her every two minutes. I would take five minute breaks to sit on the step and eat her rock/dirt concoctions. I was forcing interaction and it was hard and scary and the wide open outdoors with all the noisy neighbors really did petrify me…
But I did it. It was exhausting.
My kid is exhausting because nothing holds her attention more than five minutes so even if I were the posterchild for sanity she’d still make it hard for me to keep her entertained.
The point is, after two days of basically praying for an end to it all…I stood up to my depression, flipped it off, and basically told it that it was taking a backseat even if only for a few minutes.
Did I win the battle?
But I put up a fight and sometimes still having fight left in you is highly motivating.

In the second instance of defiance against depression and anxiety…I read a book. Yes, this seems trivial. But for the last year or two, I’ve barely been able to focus enough to read a chapter every two days.Not my norm because I am generally a voracious reader.
Not two weeks after starting the Focalin, my brain has slowed down enough to draw me into a story. I kept reading that book from 2 pm until the last page at 9:30 p.m. I didn’t turn on the tv shows or any background noise. I read. I enjoyed.
My kid played outside, then inside. We had breakfast pizza for supper. She got to take a bath with her Dora body paints. I finally showered. She was so well behaved, it was like I’d brought home the wrong kid.
And I didn’t go to bed until almost ten and because I wasn’t sleepy yet, I was awake until nearly 11.
Of course, the depression tugged away, the anxiety, chipped away…
Three weeks ago I didn’t have any fight left in me, just autopilot.
I guess that pulled muscle and subsequent crippling pain motivated me to embrace not feeling that way physically, enough that I could battle my mental demons adequately.

And that’s what it really boils down to. It’s never a case of being lazy or using a mental illness as an excuse to not do anything. Much like a sick body, its healing power affects functionality. Some days are good, some days are bad, some days are just survival.
There are days when your mind is too sick to do battle and that’s okay. No matter what the mundanes tell you, it’s okay to be sick and it’s okay to be too exhausted to fight it at times.
But the times when you have that little bit of oomph, be it a burst of hypomanic energy, or just getting good and pissed off…Those are the days you take that fuel, throw it on the fire, and run with the flames. Run until the depression douses them. It’s no cure. It may not even cheer you up.
But I feel less shitty knowing I am attempting to fight it. It’s not that it knocks me down.

It’s that no matter how many times it knocks me down…I keep getting back up.

“I’m Not A Mess” Redux with my daughter Marilla

Last night I had just finished working out when my precocious daughter Rilla walked into the room.  As I stood there exhausted, she said “Mommy, I have something special I want to show you!” I dragged myself upstairs to see … Continue reading


Somewhat of a slow day today–I have a training for school at 10 and not much else up for today.  I’m going to try to catch up on some tasks I’ve been procrastinating on–setting up tutoring for my youngest this summer, doing laundry, that sort of thing.   We have a lot coming up in the next few weeks for my kids, and I’m going to try to enjoy what my be my last slow day of the school year :)  I’m specifically going to try to keep from sleeping it away.  My medications do such a number on me in that department.  But I’m going to try to fight it today and get some things done,.

I’ve been on an 80’s music kick lately–we have a set of CD’s the have all these obscure 80’s hits, a lot of “one-hit wonders” and classics of the time period.  Not sure why they’ve piqued my interest lately, but I’ve enjoyed listening to them and some of the good memories of high school and college they’ve brought up for me.  Music is a very important part of my life and I enjoy most genres of music, from Celtic to classical to swing to Elvis and everything in between.  I used to play music when I was younger but about all I can play now on the piano is “Christmas Time Is Here” from the Charlie Brown Christmas special. :)

So that is my challenge today–stay awake and try to stay productive while listening to the music of my youth :)  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Behind the Curve

True Blood

♦ ♦

HerveauxIn desperate need of distraction from my flippity-floppity brain, I rented Season 5 of True Blood to see Robert Patrick as a werewolf.  And… well… kept going.

I’m really late to this party.  The show ended after seven seasons last year.  But there’s so much fun to be had.

Alcid, for one.

And the way Vampire Bill injects so much sexy smoke into Sookie!

So, if you’re not easily offended (everyone, even the tele-evangalists, say f*ck every other word.  It’s HBO.  They do it because they can), and you’re not squeamish (tanker trucks full of blood for every f*ckin’ episode.  Oops.  Sorry.  It rubs off), then you might enjoy this campy show.  Or maybe you were one of the five million die hard fans who found it ahead of me.  Or you got bored with it (how many ways can you have sex with a vampire? Yawn).

It’s Disneyworld compared to what’s playing in my head.

Ooo, new theme park idea…