A few weeks ago on the Pro Tools Expert Podcast I shared a little of my story of dealing with anxiety, panic attacks and depression that I had for a few years in my mid twenties. I was surprised (although I should not have been) at those who then responded with positivity about me sharing this information.
Surprised why? Well for many dealing with various forms of mental illness it is made harder by the ongoing problem that many 'normal' people have of dealing with it. If you have suffered or continue to suffer with any kind of mental illness or know someone else dealing with it (statistically there's a high likelihood you have) then you will know what I'm talking about. Tell someone you have anything from a migraine to a broken leg and you'll get the 'get well soon' or 'tell me if there's anything I can do to help' kind of reply, but tell them you have anxiety disorder, depression or panic attacks and responses can range from blank looks as if you've just told them you are an alien to radio silence whilst you 'get over it.' It's sad but even with all the excellent work done by mental health charities there's still a perception problem in many parts of society with this issue, which in turns adds to the sense of isolation and misunderstanding that can lead to further issues in those suffering.
So why write about this on a Pro Tools blog? Simply because several studies have suggested a link between creativity and mental illness across a broad range of conditions, ranging from anxiety disorders to much more serious conditions, thus making it more likely for those suffering to be found in our community.
We talk a lot about gear, technology and technique but spend little time on the subject of mental health, which for me seems to be a dereliction of duty in fully supporting a creative community - surely this is just as important for some of you, if not more so.
Following on from this introduction I want to write a further two articles, the second will be me sharing my story, and perhaps the stories of others in our community brave enough to share their stories too. The third article will be how I overcame my condition and sharing some coping strategies for those still living in this dark place.
At the outset this article is to say to other members of the community affected by any kind of mental illness you are not alone, the statistics are alarming, but on a more human level I want to say you are not alone because many other creatives in our community will either be suffering or have suffered at some point in their lives with mental illness.
This first article is to bring this problem into the light, to tell you to not feel any shame for your condition and to start discussions and point you towards resources and people which I hope will bring wholeness to many.
My name is Russ and I've had a mental illness. Discuss.