The Curse of Creativity - Conko

The Curse of Creativity

This is a long enough blog so I’m going to create little a drop-off point here for you conservative and conscientious folk. If you enjoy routine to your day, dislike odd socks, bathe in rules and regulations and opening Microsoft Excel in the morning gives you a semi, then this blog is probably a waste of your time // If you’re an open-minded creative that thrives on ideas with a lust for things of beauty but have an insatiable thirst for perfection and innovation, but your mental state flutters and wobbles like a plastic bag caught in a tree, then there might be a hint of useful here for you. I’m no psychologist or supreme creative so take everything I say as if you were reading a blog written by someone who doesn't have a bulls notion about mental health or the arts.

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This complete rag of words is inspired by a sentence my godfather and friend Philip said to me recently. Philip’s a poet and author, so it’s fair to say he’s an auld dab hand with the inspiring sentences; dishing out deadly sentences with a large side of surround around soundness on the regular. Philip is an inspiration of my mine, not just because he’s highly creative and insightful, but a very caring person. You know one of those people that the second you enter into their presence you instantly feel warm and accepted? That’s Philip. (Click to see lots of other people say this) Anyway, Philip isn’t too well at the moment, physically; but his mind is an absolute powerhouse. His mind is one of the most fascinating and wise I’ve encountered in my young years and if I ended up anything like him I would be eternally grateful. We were briefly chatting about how he’s coping with his physical sickness and he said “I just have to keep creating”. It struck a chord with me man and it wasn’t my G-string. Mind over matter.

On the fence with common sense

That quick wag of Philip’s chin brought me back to something said to me by the only good psychologist I’ve ever encountered (big up St. Pat’s MHS) a few years ago. Having had some ropey diagnosis’s of ADHD, Asperger's and Bipolar off some quite confused doctors; this little angel Psychologist floats in with a lovely arse and tells me “Stephen, if you don’t be creative you’ll wither away, and Lithium or Ritalin will destroy your creativity”. So, if anybody would like to buy some Ritalin you know where your bread's buttered and your dissertations are completed.

I’m not a fan of anti-depressants or meds so that angel was a blessing in the skies. Some meds make me feel queasy, others make me act irrationally, others make me sleep loads, some make me sweat profusely and some turn my dick into a souvenir from the Eiffel Tower ... Anyway, all those meds kill any inclination of creativity I would ever had the rarity of encountering and make me feel worse than ever. So I quit them and have been on my own topsy-turvy journey of feeling grand by meditating, eating relatively well, and creating as much as time allows me.

The reason I’m writing this is because there is a direct correlation between my happiness and how much codswollop I create, and this goes for a high percentage of mi amigos who are also cursed with creativity.

We create: sometimes maybe good, sometimes maybe bad.

We don’t create: sometimes definitely bad.

It's funny maybe there's something about my Rita Aura but an insane amount of my friends are creative and an insane amount of my friends are insane,  not clinically OK but most suffer with mental health issues. It's kind of always perplexed me so I went and done some facking research bruv din I? (researched somebody else's research)

Here are some facts about 2,211 musicians that were surveyed in England, bruv. I'm confident these statistics are similar across most creative disciplines.

·      71.1% of all respondents believed they had experienced panic attacks and/or high levels of anxiety

·      68.5% reported they had experienced depression

These musicians were found to be over 3 times more likely to experience depression than the general public. (They also forgot to exclude the musicians from being counted as the general public which I know you can't quantify, but still this statistic would be even larger) I think, if you are a creative, I’d imagine you can apply that stastic to your own scenario and nearly assume, at the very least, 70% of your creative friends have experienced some mental illness issues along their lives.


There are tonnes of types of people who are ‘creative’. There’s creative scientists, creative accountants (big up NAMA) creative barbers, fuck it, there are even creative protestants. I suppose for the sake of my sanity and yours, I’ll focus on creativity in the arts. Which include anything from literature to techno, textiles to rap, paintings of peng tings, dance to architecture and film to pottery. Anything you can feel a reflection of the creators or your own spirit in; or lets hang our jacket for a minute on a definition from the Bernard Shaw fella - “You use a glass mirror to see your face, you use works of art to see your soul"

Creatives create all of the absolute everything that makes our world not a dark, dark place. See creatives are entrepreneurs, the innovators of new ideas, the producers of marvelous works of art for the ears, eyes, tongue and all of the everything for the anything in the whole wide whirled. The conscientious conservative folk that were meant to feck off at the intro are the ones that will maintain what the creatives have created, with their big lovely ironed chequered shirts and stable sustainable lifestyles. The industrious folk will keep everything in order while the creatives move onto their next stimulating project.

So what differentiates the creatives from the conventional? Probably the ability to think and manipulate abstraction. It’s a complex little beast though because the beauty of creatives is that they think more, the tragedy of creatives is that they think more.


Many psyches agree and spout out I’m a little tea pot short and stout. Many psyches agree and spout out that over-thinking or ruminating through your thoughts can very likely lead to major depressive episodes. Constantly thinking and delving into the future and past is a one-way ticket to Dogtown and the fact our not-so-trusty noggins are hardwired for survival means are thoughts are therefore naturally drawn to pain and suffering as opposed to joy. Anyone that has experienced a serious mental illness will have experienced the absolute novelty and joy of becoming trapped in a mise en abyme of negative thoughts about how you’ve been thinking negatively.

Is Underwhelming a Word?

Now all these negative thoughts lead to serious self-esteem issues that Gwen Stefani eating Pastrami will absolutely no doubt effect your jibbily-wibbily ability to motivate yourself to create absolutely anything. It can be hard to motivate yourself to boil a kettle, it can be hard to motivate yourself to eat and the world and it’s big bad bag of a billion beautiful can be underwhelmingly uninspiring. “There are days, hours, weeks, aye, and months, in which everything looks black, when I am tormented by the thought that I am forsaken, that no one cares for me.” –Tchaikovsky after going for way too many walks with the mongrel that is the black dog.

As if  feeling unmotivated or uninspired wasn’t enough but you also learn the desirable trait of criticising every single millimeter or beat of your past works. The self-criticism may not constructive in any sense, it may be just to sabotage or demolish any hope you had in yourself. Nice one El Braino, thanks for helping us out buddy.

I'm like Bertie Bassett the dirty bastad 'cause I'm into All Sorts

Another curse of creativity is when you do have self-esteem issues, everybody’s else work is perfect and your work will never reach the standard of other. Your work may be in fact severely whack or fresh as an éclair but trust, it’s this constant cynicism and desire for perfection that may have you drowning in self-doubt, but it sure as fuck will be the thing to push you further than those amigos with the egos that feel like their work is elite and have no hunger for progression. (Yes this blog is not for everyone. There are many that aren’t cursed by creativity, there are some artists that walk among us that think their work is exceptional, fair play to you but take your ego with for a walk)

So yes your work may be shit or it may be supreme fresh as cream and yes it’s entirely healthy to criticise your work ó háim go táim; but definitely please, please, don’t hate your work. Your art is your soul and it’s lovely to somebody. Keep on creating. Your pieces may not be the King Kong in the area about to cause mass hysteria of the art world, stomping and burning any mother fuckers in sight; but maybe your views of success have been skewed. It’s not about money, it’s not about fame. If ‘happiness’ is your goal then unhappiness most definitely will be achieved. Aim to learn and progress to achieve what you want to achieve. Keep portraying your soul, or making things you like to make.

Me aul Starry Night. I know the whirled's beautiful - but gooey brain tries it's best to distort or disrupt any beauty.

Lorem Ipsum yo mum.

Some people like olives, some people fucking hate them.

Also try disassociate your works from the work of others. Learn from others yes, enjoy others yes, but by golly fuck do not compare to others. Art is entirely subjective, you can’t really get graded or merited on something that’s entirely opinionated and where there is no correct answer. Your piece of art, no matter how insane or horrid will be enjoyed by somebody. It’s also highly likely that the person you’re comparing yourself to, or envious of, is also withering in self-doubt, and envious of another. Yes some people are more skilled in certain areas, or do some certain aspects of work better, but no one does you like you do you and if they do do you, you’re not being creative enough my oul jambon.

Careers, Cocaine & Caviar

Pursuing a profession in a creative field is a very high risk, high return strategy that most people are too afraid to gamble on.

Yes, if you do make it in your discipline you’re golden m8 - Sunday drives on a Tuesday, tits and bras, Ménage á trois, Marty Morrissey and Mary Higgins Clark etc etc etc. Everything is smooooooooth. //  You don’t make it, like the 99.7% of creatives already out there; then with the wrong mindset you may endure a life of ‘what-if’s’.

Now with that statistic, vigorously stirred with the approximate 70% likelihood of you suffering with a mental illness, it must be very hard to motivate yourself to make or create anything. You’ve got a little devil on one shoulder and a big black dog on the other telling you you’ll never make it; your work is futile so you might as well give up creating. It’s a complete waste of time and you’re about as useful as a disgruntled email to Bus Éireann. BUT what if you’re not creating for anybody else? What if your measure of success is gauged on how therapeutic creating feels? You are creating for your own enjoyment, to please no one else. Others can like it, others can loathe it, but you can fall flat on your arse as many times as you want if nobody’s watching. Just don’t quit and definitely don’t sit down cause I’ll move your fucking chair.

Maybe there doesn’t have to be a goal or an end product. Maybe the act of creating something is super fulfilling and therapeutic enough, and if something comes of it, cool, if not, well at least you feel better every time you make or create. Even if what you created made you feel shite, this may be your subconscious wibbly wobbly wonder trying to tell you something and in the future it might make you feel better. Leaving feelings and emotions suppressed or not a canvas or on a staff leads to more wibbly wobbly wonders

Aujourd'hui, ma vie c'est d'la marde

Today my life is shit

After stumbling from Wicklow to Luxembourg to get to Leitrim - I’m finally getting to the point of this blog. 

With the exception of a few, I think all creatives use various forms of art as a form of therapy, whether it be consciously or subconsciously. You can consciously attend art therapy sessions, or you can create music to portray your feelings. You could consciously go sculpt a medium-sized biggie smalls or write deeper lines than Eamonn Dunphy’s forehead as various forms of consciously pouring out your soul. Subconsciously, without knowing to yourself, you could go paint in your safe space with incense, Bonobo and somehow magically feel instantly better without any inclination as to how or why. Never trying to decipher why you chose to paint a big black cloud over orange crows poking the eyes out of one-legged sheep. Subconsciously using art as a therapy is a wobbly one. It’s good to have an outlet, but it’s important to recognise your emotions; and if you can’t recognise some reflection of yourself in your paintings, maybe it’s time to start interpreting your work or else get help. Even if you see nothing in your work, at least recognise the method; like me, like Philip, like many others, expression is a coping mechanism for you.

(If your work is becoming too dark and you’re beginning to drown in it’s own darkness, we have a mental health services page below or we can direct you to some insanely good psychologists or art therapists if you holla at


I’ve chased happiness for the majority of the years of my life and I’ve found the harder I chase it the further it gets away. So I've given up chasing happiness and I feel a whole lot better. I’m not even chasing being content, there are have no goals or gauges of success (bar owning an animal sanctuary) and I've figured my route to sanity is to keep learning and creating. 

There are multiple other integral factors that obviously influence my sanity, but for goals and measurements of success, I've found trying to learn more and creating more helps keep the black dogs out.

Creativity is never stable though and as my creativity can be be quite seasonal, so can my mood. If I’m not making something, I can be guaranteed my mood will be low. I like to think of creativity as a nice little tree that sometimes flowers and sometimes doesn’t. You lock creativity away and put it in the shade and it will definitely not blossom nor will you. Nourish that tree and you will reap the benefits. Give it attention. Whisper sweet nothings to it on cold nights. There’s different ways of nourishing your creativity tree; some people just smoke the god damn tree. I know Tracy Emin would deprive herself of sleep for three days. Some folks meditate, some just immerse themselves in the method, others operate better under time constraints, whatever Trevor; just don’t leave your tree wither away and harvest them fruits.

It go Halle Berry or Hallelujah |Pick your poison.....    Monet trees is the perfect place for shade

Coping Mechanisms

Use yizzer art, techno, literature, movie-making skills as a therapy. You may have an end goal, maybe not, but just fucking enjoy it. And while sometimes you may feel cursed with a creative brain, when your creativitree does blossom, enjoy the fruits, share the fruits, and thank god that you actually bear fruits. Because if it wasn't for creatives, imagination or visionairies, the rest of the world would still be wondering around fields completely fruitless and probably in the nip.

We also need your suffering. Imagine if there was a happiness chemical and it was poured into the world's water supply. The world would just stop and nothing would be achieved. Bad things would start happening and we wouldn't care. We need pain to progress and improve. So go out and gesture yourself and your chaos it through any medium. Just make sure and balance your chaos with things you enjoy, because you need happiness sometimes definitely maybe too.

Moping cechanisms

It's also very important that you are educated in all aspects of looking after your mental health, for you and others around you. We have a good few blogs on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, including the importance of staying fit, eating healthy, socialising and what directions to take with counsellors, psychiatrists etc. When you're overthinking, or ruminating through your thoughts maybe try meditation, some mindfulness techniques, art therapy or the many other forms of therapy for regulating your emotions if the chaos is becoming too much.

Have a read of our other blogs, or check out our services page or if you need help contact and we can help put you on the right track.


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