Are we prone to mania?

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I want to write something beautiful and positive today. That’s what I keep sitting down to write. But all I can think about is artists who become disillusioned and depressed.

Yesterday, we took the kids to the Van Gogh experience, and I sat in the room while they displayed moving images of his work on the walls, and I welled up with tears and how haunting his work was and how sad of a person he must truly have been. I keep thinking about Diane Arbus creating this beautiful art in a time when photography wasn’t really considered an art form, having her small community, her children, her ability to capture people with such skill, and still being depressed. I keep thinking about Richard Avedon and his insecurity, his fear of being open about who he really was. I think about Bourdain, again, his loneliness, his mania at the end. And so, this isn’t a happy, positive post, but rather my ruminations on the depression and anxiety that seems to come with being an artist.

Are we predisposed to be too obsessed with our work, to be lonely even when surrounded by people who love us? Is our meticulous nature, the thing that makes us so prone to continuously practicing, to making our work better and better also the thing that breaks us? I find myself thinking about this more and more lately, haunted by the talented voices of the people who just couldn’t handle life anymore. I am inspired by their words, their images. I am in awe of the paintings, the photographs, the things that they all created, and yet I cannot get past the fear that even with all that, they were not happy.

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