To Those Who Catch the Bus on Time

It's no secret that many creative types endure anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, what have you. Many of us who work in the creative arts--either professionally or as our side-line gig (I like the term 'habit' with all its inherent addict-like baggage)--take a certain degree of mental discord as scenery amidst the artistic landscape.

A little crazy is the price of admission for an artistic life. 

To that, I add: Inspiration to create any type of art is, in part, delusion. The creative act is, in part, responding to stimuli that is other-sensory. When you create, you go a little nuts. 

(Just as an aside, I personally can't tolerate the artistic personae who can't seem to function in the day-to-day world; Thomas Merton said that the enlightened person is the person who catches the bus on time, and this statement is doubly true for the artist. If you don't have the discipline to at least pretend to participate in the world where everyone else lives, I don't have time to listen to your bullshit. /end rant)

Anyway, where I used to find solace and strength in the stories of artistic types who learned how to cope with their various mental issues, as I get older, I am becoming more impressed by the many folks who don't consider themselves artists and who also confront or otherwise deal with their own mental maladies.

Anecdotally, it seems that having anxiety and/or depression is the more common state for most people. The norm. 

Whatever you may think of Rachel Maddow (I happen to think she's fab), her interview with Terry Gross from last year is fascinating. Maddow 'suffers' from depression, and her means of coping with her depression when it comes on is inspiring in its practical approach. 

 Maddow is a ble to sense when her depression is descending, and she adjusts her work schedule and personal life to weather the storm. (Many of us don't have the same luxury, of course, but consider that this is a woman who has a TV show on air five nights out of seven, where she is the one who has to go on camera. No, we can't all be Rachel Maddow, but I'd wager that many of us don't have the same level of stress that she does, either.)

As noted in previous blogs, I'm wired more for anxiety than depression. My body likes to respond to stress with a racing mind and pounding heart and sometimes, just for fun, full-blown panic attacks. I personally find that recognizing when I'm caught in a mental loop that is feeding my anxiety to be the toughest skill to master. I have trouble being able to stop and step outside of myself so that I can take a more removed assessment of what is happening and deal with it properly.

That's why I like Maddow's take. It's practical, and it's without judgment or shame. She feels her depression coming on, and she takes pre-established steps to deal with the episode. (And yes, one has to also acknowledge that it is probably her depressive tendencies that feed her incisive, somewhat obsessive, always excellent analysis. A little crazy is the price of admission, right?) 

Once, I admired the damaged, Byronic poet sacrificing his sanity for his art, suffering on the craggy cliffs of imaginative inspiration. These days, I prefer to hear from the non-artist folks who daily deal with their anxieties, their depressions, and still manage to catch the bus on time.