On creativity and mental illness
By P. Dreadful
Dodie’s Am i oversharinggg too much video
This past week, I’ve been a mess. I feel like I should not be a mess. I am engaged to someone I am in love with, I live in a nice apartment in a safe neighborhood and I have an adorable dog. So why have I woken up every day for the past week crying? How have I watched-not tv, not read, not even been self destructive (because that would require energy) the clock go from 1 to 6 to 7, watched myself from out of my body as time slipped away like a Salvador Dali painting?
I would get short bursts of energy at times. I was struggling to write a short youtube storyboard though I right now seem to have no problem at all writing this. I have a lot of mental health issues I am doing my best to deal with but sometimes honestly lack the strength-nasty demons named anxiety,depersonalization, and ptsd under an umbrella of depression. For a while, I was content to wallow in this feeling. I have been watching Lana Del Ray’s “Ride”, Cruel Youth’s “Mr. Watson”, Helicopter Girl’s “Glove Department”. Links will be posted in the description.
I have been undergoing therapy lately to understand why I do this-I still don’t know. What I do know is; I have always found beauty in the tragic, humour or irony in the extreme. I was born this way. I nearly died more times than I care to admit. From being a C-section baby (even my birth was backwards) to being injected with white blood cells as a child, medical issues from gallstones and chronic migraines to mental ones (I struggled with anorexia at 13, before most of the trauma I faced in early adulthood even took place to my knowledge.)
I think of my pain like water. When I am panicking it feels like I am being thrust under it and drowned. But I can find my way to serenity through my depression. It can take time, and does not always happen. But hearing certain lyrics, or reading certain words or quotes; it feels like the author or composer is communicating directly with my soul. And all of a sudden, I still may be sad-but what I don’t feel is empty. Some of Ride for example: “I once had dreams of becoming a beautiful poet, but upon an unfortunate series of events saw those dreams dashed and divided like a million stars in the night sky that I wished on over and over again, sparkling and broken.
But I didn’t really mind because I knew that it takes getting everything you ever wanted, and then losing it to know what true freedom is.”
Hearing that, in Del Ray’s luminous otherworldy vocals, brought me to a place of peace, and all of a sudden I was floating.
And sometimes, reading or listening to people’s thoughts and opinions makes me want to join in on the conversation.
I discovered Dodie (Born Miranda “Dodie” Clark ) through her doddlevloggle side account before quickly finding her main channel doddleoddle and music channel DodieVEVO on YouTube after years of writing and modelling and basically feeling unfulfilled. I had been browsing the site looking for new music and inspiration for my own work. I quickly became fascinated by the female British creator-who-at 22, already has 2 successful self written EP’s under her belt-the first, Intertwined was self-released on November 18 2016 and despite its unsigned status, the EP reached #35 on the official UK album charts during its first week of release. Her second EP, You, was released on 11 August 2017. In its opening week of release, the EP debuted at number 6 on the official UK Albums Chart—29 places higher than the peak of Intertwined. It also debuted at number 55 on the US Billboard 200.This makes Dodie’s original song count up to 38.
Apart from being the kind of soulful, confessional and brilliant singer-songwriter Taylor Swift used to be back when she was still writing her own lyrics and music, Clark will be also be releasing a book on 2 November 2017, Secrets for the Mad: Obsessions, Confessions and Life Lessons. She has won 2 and been nominated for 4 awards alone this year. And in Clark’s “am i oversharingggg too much” vlog, Dodie and Hazel discuss the link between genius and insanity. At 8:38 Dodie inquires “Why do Creatives tend to be so mentally ill?” And Hazel responds: “I think it’s an Chicken and Egg thing.” Dodie agrees and asks: “Do you create because you’re mentally ill or are you mentally ill because you create?” Like the licks to get to a tootsie pop center, the world may simply never know.
A lot of people-both in the comment section of these videos or other creators like Melanie Murphy in her response video on publically perceived oversharing seem to think people being honest about their mental health is romanticizing or enabling said problems. But for me, listening to something, whether it’s a Vlog, a book, a song, that speaks to my suffering actually has the opposite effect: It enables me to calm down. It makes me not feel quite so broken. It gives me the desire to use my voice, too. And for someone who *still* does not want to admit she has been victimized-that is a truly powerful thing.
In all honesty, humanity simply processes things differently. Dodie further addresses this in her follow up video and Melanie elaborates on wanting to protect her own personal bubble or space. I definitely believe if you are feeling truly happy wanting to hold onto that at all costs. But emotions come in waves, and it’s time to face reality. We now live in an technologically advanced age where Nuclear War can be declared on Twitter, yet said war is being declared by Donald Trump and when actresses try and speak out against assault and rape culture they are banned from the site. As a woman, I feel violated and objectified on a daily basis. As a human being, I am scared. I am also totally guilty of posting things in a bad mental state online. Recently I’ve tried very hard to stop this and channel my energy into journaling and creative projects instead.
However, by simply living with a lot of the mental health things Dodie talks about-it helps me. Her music contains both hauntingly sad songs and also awesome upbeat tracks.
Just knowing someone that talented also has days where it feels like it takes a Herculean effort just to get out of bed is what motivated me to write this article. I don’t see why this is as much of a hot-button dialogue as it is. I have very openly posted numerous times on my facebook account that if anyone has a problem with me to please tell me so we can hopefully resolve it. But it’s also very easy to unfollow or block someone on social media. No one is forcing people to watch everything Dodie or anyone struggling’s posts or videos. If parents really want to utilize them parental controls exist, and yes if something is very dark trigger warnings may be appreciated.
I personally grappled with a moral dilemma when there was a petition circling the web to ban Euginia Cooney from Youtube for clearly having yet publicly denying her eating disorder to her friends and fans. Other Youtubers such as Onision started from a place of alleged concern that turned to an all out mockery of a serious condition. I lost a dear friend and fellow artist to anorexia who collapsed at a train station in London at 24 and can now never create again. When I myself was fighting for control in all the wrong ways I read a Teen Vouge article that published a formerly anorexic model’s exact diet. The article was meant to show how she was currently a plus size model, but contained how much better she was doing when she was sick, how many more shows she was booking, how much more beautiful and famous she was. She apparently lived on lettuce and diet coke. I ate more than lettuce and diet coke, I thought to myself at the time. Therefore I can’t possibly be sick. If anyone understands the real danger of deluded thinking, its me. I almost died at 74 pounds. I literally only started eating again because of how awful hospitals in South Florida were. So I wondered: Should impressionable young girls really be seeing this? Shy, insecure girls with low self esteem and even lower body image? Girls like me? And then I had a conversation with a friend who set me straight. If it was not Eugenia, it would be someone else. And if I never read that article in Teen Vogue I would still be insecure, still feel out of control. I probably would have found a new “thinspiration” as he said.
Because guess what? Life doesn’t come with a fucking trigger warning. Online social etiquette is a very new and hotly debated thing. But controversy has always existed. Today’s wanting to ban people online was yesterday’s Fahrenheit 451. Unless you struggle with some of this, it’s very hard to explain. By seeing the extreme beauty and humour in the darkness it made me a survivor. If I didn’t I truly believe I would have either died of starvation or anger by now. Dodie’s video helped so much because there are times I want so badly to be productive but feel so disconnected. All of my friends are in another country or state, I only have acquaintances and frenimies physically here so this video helped me to connect, not with another person or place but with myself. If you only want to see happy things you can literally block news from FB but what happens when the bombs start dropping? Even my dog hates the rain (and some other dogs). People were complaining Dodie’s words and videos were like reading a diary, but what about the diaries of Anne Frank and Anais Nin?
It’s just sad to me when I feel like people are censoring themselves for fear of being judged or shamed. I highly doubt anyone struggling wants to be feeling that way but I don’t believe you can be happy even a majority of the time in life. As Veronica said to Heather in the iconic 80’s film: “If you were happy every day of your life, you wouldn’t be a human. You’d be a game show host.”
And at the end of it all, Hazel was dead on when she said suffering was part of the human experience. If we blocked all pain, how would we know joy? In regard to to how we deal and cope with that pain; that is up to us as individuals.
Dodie’s “Sick of Losing Soulmates” “Would You Be So Kind?” and “Awkward Duet” Music Videos below:
Dodies follow up video and Melanie’s Response:
Also Listening To: Mr Watson by Cruel Youth
Glove Department by Helicopter Girl
Death of a Bachelor by Panic at the Disco