Living your best life takes many forms and requires many skills.
One of the top ten skills is creativity. Creativity and mental health and their influence on each other is interesting to me personally and professionally. Sometimes the greatest art is born of pain and suffering. Sometimes pain and suffering rob us of creativity. Because it's interesting to me, because I hope I can spark some thought and creativity in my clients and readers, and because I selfishly like picking the brains of creative people, I decided to do a series of interviews about creativity and mental health. This interview is with Laura C, a former stand-up comedian, and current storyteller and writer who shared how she has evolved in her creativity and is working on finding balance.
- You're an artist. What kind of art do you do?
- I started out performing stand-up and improv comedy at the age of 19. I loved comedy and am still a huge comedy fan, but around the time I was 26 I started seeing a therapist and coincidentally I stopped performing comedy soon thereafter! For the past 5 years I've delved into personal essay, memoir type writing and live storytelling shows.
- It's not uncommon for creative types to struggle with mental health issues. What do you see as the interplay between mental health and creativity?
- I view the interplay as mental health and creativity really tied to emotions. Ever since I was little I was very sensitive and able to access my emotions much more effectively than others, for better or worse. I experienced anxiety and depression early on which left me unable to focus or do well in school, but when it came to writing or performing I could reach an audience in extremely memorable ways. With mental illness, I was able to feel an overwhelming amount of fear, hope, anticipation, jubilation, etc that allowed me to see the world in a different way than others. At times it hindered me, but ultimately I'm grateful I could channel my intense emotions and share them with an audience.
- You can't possibly feel creative all the time. What do you do to foster creativity and practice your craft even when you're not feeling it? Any tricks you've picked up to help you get out of your own way?
- I definitely feed off inspiration and seeing others perform, good or bad, puts me in the mood to want to create. After I go to a storytelling show, its hard for me to wanna stay in my seat cause I'll immediately wanna go home and start writing. So immerse yourself in your craft and its community, it will only foster growth. Creativity also seems to creep up at the worst times. I've definitely been a victim of my creativity not letting me get a good nights sleep, so if you ever feel that creative itch while you are lying awake in bed when its already 3am, my advise is to get it out! Even if you have to wake up super early the next day, get out of bed and get that creativity out! You might be sleepy the next day at work, but if creativity calls you should answer it!
- If you could suggest one thing for my readers to do to help them live their best life, what would that be?
- Maintain balance. Being creative and overcoming mental illness can be a real polarity. The highs can be so high and the lows can be suuuuuuuper low. I really wrapped up my identity in being a comedian and let it take over parts and times of my life that should have been filled with loved ones, friends, family, or just having "me" time away from my persona of "comedian." But then there were times when I wasn't performing or writing and my creativity and imagination would manifest in other odds or not so convenient ways. It takes a while to find what works best for you but putting your self care and mental health came first for me.
Reach out to Laura here: facebook.com/denverstorytellersproject