I visualise the tiny holes
I’m on one of their backs;
In inner space.
Eroding this life’s vessel.
He says he’s fine
When he late
Like a child
He says he’s fine
When he lies to me—
For a stranger—
I keep making
Peace with the
The no return
The rot in
With another falsity!
I’ve made peace—
I lie to myself too.
The Creative Mind & Depression
Let’s consider that the creative mind and depression are synonymous. This is not a new idea — even if depression is regarded as a disease of modernity. It doesn’t take much to cast back to common references of such stereotypes as the ‘mad scientist, ‘tortured artist’ throughout human history — there has to be some inherent truth in the link.
Personally speaking, there’s a maddening synchronicity to weaving art through mental ill-health. I loathe embracing this affliction as an illness; it’s an evil twin that’s attached itself to my core. But there’s no wavering — it is an illness. Maybe one of the soul as much as the brain. It torments the creative mind like a captor. For some of us, the relationship becomes a sort of Stockholm syndrome, an inescapable symbiotic horrorshow.
I abhor it, maybe as much as I was conditioned to despise myself. Then I wonder if that instinctual over-analytic contemplation, the drive to understand and develop answers and solutions — a catalyst of change, a fuel of creation has some essence that fills a need — even when it leads to nowhere on the external. With depression’s tightening hands around life and art’s (those too are synonymous) throat and no words, shapes or colour come in any sort of sense, with the abandon of insanity. And the heavy, sticky, tar-like stuckness of it. With maddening, head-bursting introspectiveness and reactionary to stimulus, even of a thoughtless kind. Those stimuli can be hardest to shake — that processing of depression, like art, can be sickeningly narcissistic to an observer. Beneath that appearance, it can be more from an altruistic nature, one that can never find peace from being consumed by so much needless suffering for deplorable reasoning. An internalised, ever-raging war of sadness, anxiety and frustration and their armies.
There’s a kindred spirit amongst those who suffer (I’m not keen on that word too, though it is accurate) at the hands of this demon. Depression; the stalker. It certainly tortures and bates like one. Of course, I point the finger at depression itself, but maybe that creative drive is too a demon of sorts; a need, compulsion, addiction. That need, that drive can be as desperate as the most basic needs to survive. Creativity is the thirst of the soul that demands quenching.
While there’s no hard, scientifically proven link that I know of (I could be entirely wrong), its long-running prevalence cannot be denied. Some of the most cherished artists have made their afflictions known; undeniable tales slithered through brush strokes and words and musical notes, pouring blood through ink. Van Gogh, Plath, Woolf, Fitzgerald, Cobain, Staley, Cornell… there’s an endless parade of those who’ve broken into utter submission to their affliction, how many more unknown names bound together alone? Scattering pieces of themselves before their demise, with vultures pecking at the bones for generations after, or they blow away ashes to the wind… forgotten. There is a desperate need to live in some form of immortality living in loops and repeats, words cascading through eyes in minds; breeding and living on when that mind has long ceased being. Depression when it dances with suicide and for those whom it jumps into bed with, it’s an oxymoron in a creative who scatters seeds that, for some outlive, that immortality craving, notes from the grave, the cry for help or the declaration of: this is just how it is, beneath it all.
Many years ago, a doctor (or therapist) remarked how maybe there was no way out for me, that my deep dark maddening downward spirals of self-torment and heavy sadness, the depression and suicidal ideations and (at times) planning, were a part of me… Victim blaming? Professional incompetence? She (like several) didn’t know how to help. I’m a hopeless case. Miraculously, therapy didn’t push me straight off the tightrope. I embraced that message to a degree, though. Therapy (for me) was utterly useless. (For some of those, the mentally unwell are fodder to their ego-mania of saviour, even if just in prescribed works, it lines their bellies enough.) More than that embracement, it added to the weight of hopelessness — even with professional intent, sometimes there’s no one to help but oneself — in that, I’ve had no choice in the toughest of times.
I sometimes lull around the button. The whisper has never ceased, it bides its time; the one that says, “you’ve fought long enough”, “waited long enough”, “it never gets better for long”, “just give up!”, give in”, “finally, make the pain stop….” Lifelong mental health battles have steeped into my bones, I’m almost convinced it’s the culprit for a multitude of ailments. Dancing with physical pain like a lover, spawning one chronic pain to another.
I have my tethers, strands that force my nostrils just above the murky water, choking and gagging with that whisper, taunting to submit to the deep.
It’s interesting, though — I mulled over this recently whilst amid a major dip. It’s funny the terms we use for mental ill-health, there’s a flippancy that almost minimises this beast’s brutality. When I hear the buzzword ‘wellbeing’, I feel the same way — it’s wishy-washy, a platitude coined by the utterly clueless desperate to appear to care. A painfully overused marketing ploy. Along with the flippancy, there’s still such stigma for when mental ill-health is discussed sincerely and from places of genuine life experience — not just a mere observer. Not that I dismiss the validity of good, unbiased observations! As a highly sensitive introvert type, I’m an observational questioner — constantly to the point of unbearably annoying.
Back to the point — yes, I’m almost sure the creative brain (certainly, my own grey-matter) is in an ever-constant dance-off with depression and her tormenting sisters… I’ve never been a good dancer, they toss me around like dead meat.
Gnashing and gnawing at my innards
Viscera shredded; trauma tombs embedded
Stitch in bells, weigh down the nauseating flapping
Jangle a euphonious jingle
Steady placement of chinked shield
There my guilt brims
Shame for wishing away rapid cell division
Liquor and voluntary scalding
Natures way away
Life folding poured out
Out of Order; terror of disorder
For two, a freshly dug hole
The morning after
Nipping at heals with the snow
A hollow in another garden
There, a piece of my heart lays
A depression for my first’s succession
She wants to see my torment on display
To harvest in morbid grief games
Pretend she’s just the same
Yearning to reap from the suffering leaks of my soul
Observe my lamentations trapped in a fishbowl
To don a cape, be in control
Prodding my wounds, infecting
Imitation empath storing stories
Catalogued, indexed, held hostage
Latching of grief vampires
Sucking ephemeral life’s marrow
Chipping stones off my bones
An archaeologist scraping the shovel
No delicate brushing of bristles
Desecrating my pain
Self-appointed steward on my cradle’s grave.
1st of November is here and it’s NaNoWriMo Time! The month of writing will be focussed on my project ‘Backyard Asylum.’ 50K word target over the 30 days, no editing allowed – just writing!
Good luck to everyone participating I hope very many goals are utterly smashed!
Hopefully I manage to also keep on top of progress updates over at the nano site: https://nanowrimo.org/participants/clanwitch
I like a playlist as I live and write — every project has its own, and as with the story and characters this too will evolve. Here is where it’s at for Backyard Asylum;
October is a bustling month on the calendar with an abundance of projects for artists and writers to get involved in (though we do tend to have those wheels well in motion long in advance.) I have learned this very quickly this year actively subbing.
I wanted to highlight some cool, free short fiction that Insignia Stories will be featuring, as well as hosting a Blog Tour of other writers throughout October! All features are Asian inspired work from drabbles, poetry, flash and short fiction.
One for writers and readers to check out! Information on how to get involved in the tour, as well as the publishing schedule, can be found over on Insignia Stories; https://insigniastories.com/horror-matsuri-2020/
I am delighted to be sharing some work as part of this tour on 17th October, with my dark fantasy piece, ‘Goddess in Motion,’ inspired by Javanese mythology.
You don’t have to wait until October though! There is plenty of free fiction published already, not to mention this month’s imminent release of South-East Asian Fantasy Drabbles publishing on 24th September! Link for that on my ‘Books’ tab.
Four of my publications are currently available for FREE download from Amazon worldwide. The offer runs for three days through 17th, 18th and 19th June 2020.
Please check them out and if you do read – a review is always hugely appreciated, especially by Indie writers like myself, Andrew Taylor and G G Flavell.
The second Concoction Anthology is due for release this December. We cannot wait to share this one! Stories were, once again, all born from single word prompts.
Wide eyed, helpless he gazed through his new mother’s entranced steel-grey orbs. The cosmos mirrored in the sacred water on this Samhain night, bathed in magically majestic blood moon. Reflected as it was in both their souls; ripples through stars, each one a gift. A single birth and death on the very cusp of the veil, a perfect way to live forever. Thought the power-hungry young witch.
Laoghaire’s meticulous scheme to dispatch and consume the making of her body, radiant new life, was in veracious ritual motion, void emotion. Mothers natural selection.
The tiny infants body wriggled, gagged and choked; crystal fresh water, stars and planets rushed down his throat. The deep iridescent fairy pool of sparkling emeralds consumed new life with the boundless universe. Laoghaire’s fevered eyes drank in every detail of her secret sacred bairn.
An exchange with the realms of darkness, immaculate life for multifarious transcendent power.
© Natasha Sinclair. 2019.