Artists have a unique culture and specific challenges which other social groups do not face. I should know, aside from being a therapist to the artists, I am a photographer.
Artists are wired differently than the rest of people so feeling alone in the world, despite being surrounded by people, is an emotion they are all too familiar with. The saying “artists suffer for their work” applies both literally and metaphorically. Sure everybody invests time, money and effort in their chosen career but few have to use and expose their deepest, most personal emotions to the world. This is the artist’s main tool, a double edged sword that both lifts them in public and tears them down in private. Artists sacrifice time, money, relationships, and their own health by putting themselves on the table, with no guarantee of success. Artists understand that meaningful art comes from deep within, the strong emotions they often try to bury: anger, fear, sadness, and loneliness just to name a few. Artists often feel discouraged and create despite of a lack of support from their families and community, sometimes precarious living conditions, and oftentimes financial struggles. Is it any wonder then that imagination and creativity have long been linked to mental health issues such as depression, mood disorders, anxiety, and suicidality? Being able to draw from the horrors inside and create something truly beautiful takes so much stamina and suffering.
Feeling alone in the world changes an artist’s perception and the ways he/she deals with the challenges of art and life. When someone feels alone for a long time, they will eventually grow to believe it. They use the anti-tool of generalization and no longer ask for help (because when they did the most important people in their life already said “no”), or engage others for moral support, and eventually close themselves in. Closing yourself in is a problem all on its’ own, but when an artist does it, their work suffers. Not only do artists keep others out, they also keep themselves out. Their emotions become unbearable and to protect themselves, they close the door to the one thing that helps them be great artists: their feelings. Those strong emotions (fear, anger, sadness, etc) are scary to acknowledge, let alone deal with or use for a higher purpose (create art).