It was a complete coincidence that we spoke about mental health then posted the interview with Jesse. It was quite fortuitous though. The topic of therapy and art is not as intertwined in the social psyche as it is in most artists.
For those of us who are creative (yes, I am a creative, a writer), we know how therapeutic our art can be. Art allows us to step out of situations that we are waist deep in and process it from a distance. Many times, our issues are so personal, so emotional, we can’t handle them because we are so close to them. Art gives us that step back, that perspective.
When I wrote my last short story (not a NYT best seller, but I liked it), I was processing a couple of things. One, I had all of these new feelings as a new dad. I was figuring out what it meant and how deep these new feelings went. Also at that time, the dog I raised, but had to leave with my parents when I moved out, had to be put down. There was a dog in my story and as I was writing his death scene (probably the more poignant scene in the short story), I found myself weeping over my passed pet. I hadn’t really processed it and this gave me a way to do that.
Jesse talks about how art allows us to take something inside of us and pull it out and send it away, which is therapy. I mean how many teen love movies have you scene where they write the letter then burn it? Similar principle.
You’re not an artist you say? You don’t have to be. We are all able to take something within us and make something outside of us. Jesse’s response in the interview was, “yeah? But I bet you can make a great meal.” That is a great response. Cooking is something I love to do. I remember when I was younger, a friend of mine gave me news that I was not happy about. I was disappointed and angry and didn’t know what to do. So, I went into the kitchen and made some really delicious egg sandwiches for him. He sat there confused asking, “your mad at me, but you just made me a sandwich?” It was less about making it for him. It was about me putting all of that into something outside of myself and giving it away. Also, the work of my hands helped me focus my mind.
If you are dealing with something right now, whatever it is, I would recommend seeking out some sort of creative craft. Make something with your hands. You don’t have to sell it and it doesn’t have to be good. It is more of a physical representation of the processing that is going on deep within yourself. Take what’s inside, manifest it in the world (because even though you can’t see it, it is real), then send it away.
***If you have burning desire to read my short story, you can get it here