Their been strong links between creativity and mental health due to the notion of "tortured artists" from Van Gogh severed ear or Sylvia Plath’s admission of mental anguish and her eventual suicide to Alexander McQueen’s heartbreaking death at his own hands. Mental health has been a frequent companion to those of the creative world, but even though we remember the tragic tales of late artists and writers, I believe mental health is a issue for everyone. The design industry’s frequent long hours, stressful projects, tight deadlines and frantic work environments can all exacerbate latent mental health conditions. In the creative environment these conditions are more common than anywhere else. A 2014 report published in the Guardian found similar links stating that “painters, musicians, writers and dancers were, on average 25% more likely to carry gene variants of mental conditions such as depression compared to other professions that are judge to be less creative”. Another study that has been posted by Harvard university professor Modupe Akinola and Wendy Berry Mendes titled "Dark Side of Creativity: Biological Vulnerability and Negative Emotions Lead to Greater Artistic Creativity” have also stated a strong connection that those with natural creative dispositions were far more likely than their less creative peers to be affected by “intense negative emotions”.
My experience with design and mental health has been difficult one, this is an industry that is very mentally demanding that involves you working long hours with pressurised deadlines and this can take a toll on a person’s mental state. My long battle with anxiety has been a rough one and I also found it hard to verbally express my emotions because of my introverted nature. There’s also the negative stigma that surrounds men, that they shouldn't not open up or express their emotions as is seen weak.
Design though allowed me a platform to communicate and visually express myself and my ideas better than I ever verbally could, but I also loved the reaction design creates. Someone who has never met you or knows you can emotionally connect with your work, no matter what your ethnicity, culture or beliefs are. And although that is great, there has also still been the negative of design’s mental demand and I always wondered how other aspiring creatives that are suffering from mental health cope with it and what ways or methods they took in order for it not affect their work or their lives.
I had my portfolio in order and having a successful second year at university I was excited and nervous to start my Diploma in Professional Studies year. The aim was to gather some valuable useful experience and to sharpen and progress my design career. At first it was a long hard grind just trying to apply for internships and being rejected constantly on a daily basis can take a toll on your motivation. But words I lived by and always kept as a reminder as a wallpaper on my laptop, was a quote by Martin Luther King that always snapped me back in focus and kept me pushing forward. And even though I had countless rejections and disappointments, one thing I learned from my experience is to always remember to keep moving forward. And as long as I have breath in my lungs, these are words I am going to live by.
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