Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Melancholia and Art as Therapy

I've been inspired to write this blog after reading the piece by Mark Lawson concerning the power of heavy 'high end' Theatre used as a tool to help lift the darkest depression. It just so happens that I'm going to see the same play this week - 4 hours of Greek tragedy at The Almeida.

I can concur with this piece. During my deepest moments of Chronic Depression I found myself engaging with a particular type of Cinema. Films with a message and a soul. Most of them come under a term I hate - Art House - World Cinema - my particular passion is French New Wave.

I feel drawn to the images. Most folk go to the cinema to escape reality but I'm a big fan of realist cinema, books, theatre. After all, we're all looking for answers. I just find mine in unlikely places.

I took on a project in 2010 to read novels that I had previously been genuinely terrified of. These books were out of bounds to me at school. I challenged myself and felt a great sense of achievement at the end of that year.

I once feared a certain kind of play at the Theatre. It was an irrational fear which I can now laugh at. I feared I wouldn't understand the piece - but then I discovered that I could come to my own conclusions.

My Pinter Quotes account on Twitter has 28,000 followers. I enjoy Pinter. I enjoy the menace. The complexities. The fact that you leave the Theatre with more questions. It's s gym for the mind.

On the surface it doesn't make sense. It is assumed that a depressive, during a bad episode, can not concentrate. This is not always the case. In fact I've found my ability to engage with the heaviest, deepest art is far more likely when I'm in the pit of melancholia. It can be a book, a piece of Theatre, a film.

From my own personal experience I've found that my mind opens up during a depressive episode. It becomes more concentrated. The images that I'm presented with become clearer and I think it's because this kind of more intelligent art is really reflecting life - realism.

Comedy was the last thing I wanted when I was depressed. I craved the darker art.

There's much research already in to the benefits of performance art for the depressive mind and I'd like to see the NHS look into this more - ok so it would cost a lot to send patients to the Cinema or Theatre but what about the long term benefit and possible savings ?

The NHS has embraced Mindfulness as a genuine treatment for depression and the results have been staggering. I believe there's a connection between Mindfulness and what is awfully known as High End Theatre / Cinema.

Your mind is massaged by great work. You enter a world which doesn't reject you ...it allows you in - it doesn't throw you out. It existed before you were born.

Part of me has always believed that melancholia is a twisted gift. I'll pursue this thought process

Tim - London 2015

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