Why being a tortured artist won’t make your art better


Every culture or subculture has its clichés. The tortured artist is one of those clichés.

I have the tortured background of the artist clichés. I was emotionally abused by my mum growing up. I was diagnosed with learning disabilities at eight. I probably had my generalised anxiety disorder from childhood. By fifteen I had depression. I have a binge eating disorder (not bulimia). At nineteen I had a bad fall and glandular fever. That was was the beginning of my physical chronic illness. By twenty-four I had rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.

I can make art about all these subjects but it is doesn’t make it better art. Only practice makes art better.

Suffering from chronic mental and physical illnesses stops me being a more productive artist. A productive artist is one who is going to improve the quality of their art. Admittedly at this stage of my career if I wasn’t physically chronically ill I’d have a day job taking up time. But jobs usually take set hours. Illness is utterly unpredictable.

The art at the beginning of this post is called “Anxiety”. It’s inspired by my generalised anxiety disorder. I have previously made a piece on depression. Everyone experiences stress. It stops the human race from descending into complete apathy. In most people it is part of a healthy mental landscape. Generalised anxiety disorder means you never stop worrying, even if it is in the back of your mind. It cracks across your logic and common sense. When it is brought to the forefront of your mind it can be paralysing. I sometimes have panic attacks at this point but that is panic disorder which is a different anxiety disorder.

If any of the symptoms described sound familiar please seek help. Or contact me for a chat. Treatment will make you a better person and a better artist. Treatment doesn’t have to include medications.


Anxiety Recovery Centre Victoria http://www.arcvic.org.au/
Anxiety Treatment Australia http://www.anxietyaustralia.com.au/
National Alliance of Mental Illness http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=About_Treatments_and_Supports
Anxiety and Depression Association of America – Depression www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression
Anxiety and Depression Association of America – generalised anxiety disorder
American Psychological Association http://www.apa.org/topics/index.aspx
Psychology Today http://www.psychologytoday.com/

NHS Stress, Anxiety and Depression http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/low-mood-stress-anxiety.aspx
Anxiety UK http://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/
Anxiety Care Uk http://www.anxietycare.org.uk/docs/home.asp

All content © Copyright 2016 by Anita Morris.
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