Home > Self Help > The Dark Side of Creativity

The Dark Side of Creativity

Nothing shiny and fun here. No name dropping of new books or anything of the sort. The point about this post is it’s my way of trying to process a lot of recent events. You know the events, you were probably as shocked as I was when you heard about Robin Williams.

After the initial, “It’s got to be a hoax!” I got to thinking that maybe it wasn’t. Sure, for some celebs I might have that animalistic glee that I want to see them fall from grace. This wasn’t a reality star though, this was somebody who has touched generations of people in a positive way. The kind of guy that makes you feel you’re a better person just because you knew who he was, even if you never had the chance to meet him.

I could see the possibility. The act of using humor to mask pain. We all do it in some fashion. It gets us through and is more than just a coping mechanism, it helps us find something positive to redirect our attention on. I had no idea that Robin suffered from depression or was battling addictions – I’m blissfully ignorant of most celebrity gossip and news stories. That made sense too when I heard about it, and for the same reasons.

Now, in the aftermath, I’m seeing more and more postings on social media about depression and studies citing links to creativity. I’m a creative guy, should I be worried? Is the shadow of doubt and depression going to come knocking some day? My wife tells me I can be moody at times, is it a precursor?

Knowing I have family and friends that read this – don’t worry. I’m not. Sure, I have my moments but don’t we all? I’m not bipolar or even given to fits of dark despair. Lagging book sales can ruin my day, as do surprise bills while I’m trying to save up to buy a house. I’m as susceptible to bad news as anyone is. I tend to think long term a lot and that may have me act like I’m brooding, but that’s about the worst of it.

The point is I can understand all of that. I’m creative, but there are people a lot more creative than me out there. As a creative person I understand the thirst for adventure and thrill. We like excitement and maybe even danger. Risk and reward. For me every book is a gamble. Every crazy stunt I’ve tried to pull over the years as business ventures is a risk (so far none have paid off either). Without that thrill of trying something new I’d have to find something else to keep me from getting bored.

Is that what happened to Robin Williams? Did he become successful enough that he ran out of thrills? I can imagine him being disgusted with himself for falling back on addictions, and if that happens it can lead to depression. Of course what I can imagine and what he went through probably have nothing in common. We’ve all got our personal demons. Calling him cowardly for his chosen exit strategy would only show a gross lack of understanding. It’s easy to argue that he fell on an emotional grenade just as destructive as one filled with ball bearings thrown by terrorists into a crowd.

I’m thankful that we have so many movies and shows to remember him by. Media that I can show my children as they grow up and enrich their lives with, much as he enriched mine. I’m about as far from a religious person as can be found but I had an odd thought earlier today— Some very impressive rain storms covered most of the United States the other day. For example, Detroit (where I live) suffered record flooding. That was the same day that Robin Williams died. Was it, perhaps, tears from the heavens at his passing?

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

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  1. August 14, 2014 at 00:24

    This is one of the nicest posts I’ve read about Robin William’s passing. Nicely reasoned, no calling him a coward for making a decision he needed to go and a reminder of how much so many owe him for his own brand of creativity.
    It’s good that all creative people are depressive or BP but it’s certainly true that a high incidence of comedians seem to be. In truth I think it’s the depression that makes them turn to that craft. The belief that we’re not liked, despite being told we are leads to many trying to be funny in order to be liked. I really don’t know what particular demons Robin Williams had that brought this episode on but whatever they were nothing can alter the fact of the tremendous please Robin Williams brought to millions and the legacy he leaves behind for future generations of film watchers.
    Thanks Jason for posting and I hope the instances of poor book sales are few and far between.

    • August 14, 2014 at 06:35

      Thanks David. It’s funny, in a not-so-funny way, how every clip I see of him still makes me laugh but I look deeper and can see (or at least I imagine I’m seeing) a man struggling. One of those hindsight is 20/20 kind of things I suppose.

      Oh, and books were a bit low yesterday, but that’s an occupational hazard. The answer is to keep on writing (case in point, 2 chapters written yesterday).

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