C is for CREATIVE and Coping with COMPASSION

Day THREE: April A-Z Blogging Challenge

“Men have called me mad but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is, or is not, the loftiest intelligence–whether much that is glorious–whether all that is profound–does not spring from disease of thought–from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect.”— Edgar Allan Poe. 



Mental Health and Creativity seem to be oddly paired at first glance, but it is like a public secret, a fact that is well-known but not overtly acknowledged. Many, many famous and successful people like artistes — poets, writers, musicians, theatre actors, screen heartthrobs and divas, comedians, dancers, painters, mathematicians, scientists, world leaders, to name but a few of the different streams of creative expression — have been known to have suffered from one or more forms of mental disorders. Names that come to mind include poets like Shelley, Keats, Byron, Coleridge and even Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, Sylvia Plath; writers include Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemmingway, William Faulkner, Herman Melville, Leo Tolstoy, Virginia Woolf, Amy Tan, painters like Paul Gaugin , Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso, musicians like Beethoven, Mozart, Kurt Kobain, Britney Spears, scientists/mathematicians like Isaac Newton, John Nash (remember the book and Russell Crowe in the movie, ‘A Beautiful Mind‘ ), actors like Catherine Zeta Jones, Carrie Fisher, Linda Hamilton, Mel Gibson, Robin Williams, Kishore Kumar, Meena Kumari, comedians  like  Jim Carrey, Stephen Fry, and well, Florence Nightingale, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill to name just a few. The list is endless.

The reverse is often almost true too! Look around and if you can identify someone who you feel might be prone to a mental problem — whether relatively minor symptoms like anxiety, insomnia or depression, or more serious including manic depressiveness , paranoia, eating disorders, addictions, OCD (Obssesive Compulsive Disorder), Bi-Polar disorder, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Schizophrenia, or any other, then chances are that these persons also show flashes of creativity. Newer forms of research down the years have uncovered how brain functions are very similar in people who are extremely creative and in those children and adults with known mental health issues. The two seem inextricably linked. You can refer to this enlightening article here, called Creative minds mimic schizophrenia.

Access to more sensory impulses, ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking, over-sensitivity, high levels of focus, risk-taking, obsession to details, all these traits are common to creative people as well as those with mental health issues. The two seem related in more ways than one. Increasingly, studies of brain functions reveal that physical factors like chemicals secreted in the brain affect biological rhythms and have an impact on the emotional life of people that manifest as hyperactivity, irritability, paranoia, mood swings, anxiety and other such symptoms of psychological and emotional distress. But these factors also create geniuses and extremely bright and creative minds. 

While medication might be necessary for severe symptoms of mental illness, another soothing and non-numbing approach would be to encourage creative pursuits in the person. Creative expression or the appreciation of it channelise energy into non-destructive paths and help in regulating the mind and emotions. J.K. Rowling, the creator of the Harry Potter series was in a period of deep depression when she wrote her first book in the series. The books then went on to help her out of the depressive state.

COPING with COMPASSION is another key ingredient for mental health. Often the most mis-understood members of society, those afflicted with mental health problems need to take it easy. Compassion, like charity begins at home. Have compassion for yourself, love yourself as you are and do not beat yourself up over perceived and imagined flaws. Do not go by the opinions of others and of a society that increasingly lives and thrives on appearances. Give yourself a chance and if you are a parent or a teacher, give your child a chance to grow at his/ her own pace. In the final outcome, marks in board exams won’t even be remembered. A school year lost is nothing much in the larger scheme of life. But the wounds inflicted on the fragile psyche of the human being through insensitivity and mental cruelty can ruin a life, whatever the amount of clinical treatments.

Treat these souls with gentility and love. Even plants are said to respond to love, then why not a human being? For this, societal and familial expectations may have to be laid aside. Give up the ordinary for the extraordinary! And later on, one might well be surprised by the blossoming of a creative outlet. Love is its own reward, as is patience! Beneath that irritable exterior may very well live an ‘old soul’, a being of light, who when released from strictures and structures of society may have something unique to contribute to this world. Do not shut out that light before it can shine through and illumine itself and the world around.

© Lakshmi S. Menon & VOICE’nVIEWS



A view from the ‘other side’

Statutory Warning: Be willing to stretch your minds to include the reality of DIMENSIONS beyond the physical one. Now read on . . . .

September 10th was declared as ‘World Suicide Prevention Day’ and people were blogging in support of this movement. I liked one blog that talked about depressive tendencies leading to suicide in creative people. Mental illness and creative talent seem to be inextricably linked. Robin Williams is on many people’s minds; his death made many realise that wealth and fame with million dollar homes and every material possession one could wish for cannot promise happiness — that elusive fairy of well-being that makes life worthwhile.

However the word ‘suicide’ triggered in me the memory of a meeting I once had with a healer and channeller who spoke about her own experience with suicide. I hesitated to post this with the other blogs that were all talking about various practical things related to suicide; because what Roshita (the said healer) spoke to us was about an experience from another dimension! But when something wants to write itself out, it keeps nagging and prodding and so here I am with what I heard from R.

To begin with, I was attending a channelling session for the first time in my life and I really didn’t know what to expect. When the young, petite girl casually dressed in jeans and jumper opened the door, I got my first shock. Where were the beads and scarves and henna hair ?! Before the channelling started, (material for another post), R. introduced herself and talked a bit of her experiences with the esoteric. In India, re-incarnation and karma are not alien concepts but part of life for most people except of course, the anchors and intellectuals you find on TV talk-shows! R. affirmed that after death we go to a different dimension where we face a ‘life-review’ and the soul enters into a state of ‘rest’ before the next round of birth-and-death, whose circumstances are decided by what the soul chooses to learn. Talk about fixing responsibility for all the **** that goes on in life! There are a group of evolved souls/ascended Beings who help in this ‘review’ and  assist the soul to decide where it wants to go next. Rather than the concept of punishment and retribution, it is about learning from unwise choices that lead to suffering for oneself and others. One is given the chance to rectify wrong choices and here is a scoop! The soul is always asked, “do you want to go back?” And if you are smart or tired of this endless cycle, you can choose to say, “NO”. The journey then continues in astral dimensions, where things are not as grey as they are on the earth dimension. However we are so caught up in dramas of attachment or revenge, ambition, desire and greed that most often, we choose to go back. Remember to say, “NO’ when asked this crucial question, R. exhorted us. But I’m digressing . . . . getting back to what R. revealed about suicides.

This experience apparently is her own. In a previous life, R, was exceedingly fond of her father and very attached to him. He however died suddenly and the young girl, in her grief and despair, took her own life. Her over-riding thought at the time of death was that she wanted to be born as his daughter again. So what happened next ? (I was very curious here because recently there had been a suicide in my extended family and I had heard tradition denouncing suicide as having no redemption and souls wandering around endlessly and so on.)

Roshita went on to say that after death all souls are brought to a waiting-area (imagine a huge airport- lounge) where they are assigned different ‘rooms’ / sections depending on what experiences they have had. Those who have taken their own life are bundled into a room where they have to simply WAIT it out ! Wait out what ? Well, the rest of their allotted life-span and herein lies the catch: Suicide is just a temporary relief; the soul remains in limbo for the rest of earth-time, waiting for conditions to ripen before being born again. It sounded a bit like how when we have missed a flight we have to wait at the airport for the next one. So R. in her previous ‘after-life’ had to wait out her current life-span and then wait some more for her ‘father’ to be born, grow and be old enough to be her dad again!

What then is to be learnt from this, dear reader (if you are still with me)? Suicide is NEVER the solution to any tough situation we might be facing. The lesson will come back in another form, in another life with a lot of time wasted in the meantime. As long as there is life, hope exists. Let us remember the mantra: this too will pass

BOAT at sea