Are musician’s and other creative artists able to create because they’re depressed, or is their depression just an extension of their chosen careers?
Before I go in depth, I will go on the record as saying it’s a paradox. Both aspects of the above statement are true.
Many studies done have produced evidence of a link between mental illness and creativity, and looking at well-known musicians themselves, you find all of the similar characteristics mesh up with each other. Health.com posted recently a study that listed the Top 10 professions that carry severe depression, with creative artists ranking 5th.
This also proves to be interesting.
Musicians not only carry the burdens of depression a lot of the time, but also end up encapsulated in the world of alcohol and drugs, and sometimes, even get so far down the dark road they decide to end it all.
Mark Linkous shot himself in his broken heart.
Jeff Ward intentionally poisoned himself with carbon monoxide.
Herman Brood leaped off the top of a building.
I find it to be a slightly entertaining principle when someone exclaims that such-and-such band’s music has “saved their life”, especially when we stop and think that creating their music could be instrumental in ending their own.
Another interesting principle.
In my personal experience, it’s hard for me to justify doing something other than creative arts as a career. I also have historically suffered from major depressive episodes. I don’t view the world in a “standard” way. In fact, I view it quite heinously, to the point where I have been accused of “taking advantage of the fact I live”.
Maybe, this is true.
The fact of the matter is that I have all of the symptoms of a chronic depressive and also have a rooted craft in creative arts. I also have abused drugs and alcohol, finding it to be very difficult to keep clean, especially when there is mounting stress around me.
My work differs depending on my mood, and in some instances, I have to be on the edge at the farthest points in the spectrum to get my best work. I use a lot of metaphor and hyperbole in my lyrics, a lot of minor keys and chords, and layered simplicity. To me, personally, other things are callous. Music is storytelling, and if you really look at my lyrics, it’s autobiographical.
Sometimes, I feel like there are two of me, like in those cheesy fantasy movies when the Random Hero has an evil twin brother, and their “I’m the real so-and-so” stand-off always acts as the catalyst for the ending. There is the side of me that smiles, and the side of me that doesn’t. There’s a side of me that sees the sun, and a side of me that only sees the moon.
It’s like the tale of the doppelganger. For every person in the world, there is a clone, and coming too close to this clone entails one destroying the other. The same can be said about the dualism in being a musician. One side clings toward light. The other succumbs to darkness. The question is: which one is real?