Many deeply talented, creative, and unconventional people capable of creating moving art have also had deep struggles with addiction and mental illness. Many talent artists and musicians have found their lives cut short or their voices silenced by drowning in addiction and mental illness. Other people may feel reluctant to seek treatment, viewing their dysfunctions as a part of their identity and creative process, afraid that treatment will kill their ability to be creative.
However, the truth is that sobriety, recovery, and treatment, and its process of in-depth self-examination and self-acceptance, can unleash creativity as never before. Your creative gifts can even be part of the healing process that can in turn nourish them to shine like never before. Here are some steps, drawn from people’s experiences, that can help you thrive in your creativity and also pay attention to your recovery.
Addiction and the Artist:
Although in the short-term, drug use can seem to “inspire” art through manic-like feelings, and a release of inhibitions, or altering perceptions of reality, when recreational use turns into dependency, it can take over and end up killing productivity and creativity. When a drug is taken multiple times, your body develops tolerance for that substance, so that it no longer has as potent an effect. Eventually, you will move from taking a drug to feel “high,” to simply needing that substance to feel normal, healthy, or get on with your life. Addiction develops as the substance starts to become the only important thing in your life, and your work and your dreams will suffer. This is one of the main reasons why sobriety can not only save your life, but allow you to reconnect with your creative vision and get back in touch with your true self.
Depending on the substance used, there can be even more direct consequences that can make it harder to function as a creative. Long-term use of cocaine and alcohol do particular harm to the prefrontal and temporal lobes, that handle memory, imagination, analysis, abstraction, and other brain functions without which “creativity” becomes impossible.
The hopeful news is that recovery is possible. A struggle with mental illness does not define you, it is only one part of a complex, multifaceted, fascinating life that is worthy of your best care and love.
Connecting and Expressing Your True Self:
The recovery process is all about learning how to get in touch with your own truth. Addiction clouds your mental processes and recovery demands an end to denial that keeps you from looking for help. Careful self-examination, with the help of a therapist, peer group, supportive friend, or even guided journal can all help you get a better grasp of who you are. It is often hard work, but in the end, you will be more aware of what’s really going on, and more able to create out of that truth.
Creating With Open Eyes:
Creativity is a complex process, and can not be called on command. However, it can be nurtured, supported and built with mental habits more receptive to what’s going on in the world around you. Meditation and mindfulness exercises can be an excellent way to recapture your creativity. You can practice by learning to focus on a particular object, the look of leaf, the sound of a motor, the feeling of your breath, or the taste of chocolate, for an extended period of time, noticing every detail you can. What are you noticing, and what is happening within you? Taking the time to carefully consider these questions, noticing the world anew and receiving it with gratitude are important steps to both your recovery and the creative process.