Creative Minds: Life, Love, Death and Jaffa Cakes

bunny-suicides-trayStephen Fry forgot the first rule of Cyclothymia Club. If he keeps this up people might start to understand that life is temporary, jaffa cakes are forever.  

As a society we’ve failed to educate ourselves about what mental health actually involves. Why start to drag our collective selves into the present now? Can’t we just be happy that equal marriage in 2013 is becoming a possibility? Sheesh. There’s no pleasing some people.

Before I return later to pick up this intro thread, I’ll explore a tangent and share with you one of my all-time favourite lyrics which happens to be from one of the world’s most famous bands from their poppiest album. Can’t get much more anti-hipster than that.

“I skipped the part about love, it seemed so shallow, and low.” – R.E.M. lyric from the song Low.

Love. Creative minds obsess over things such as life, love, death and jaffa cakes.


Recently I watched the movie Silver Linings Playbook which explores the concept of love between manic personalities with disorders. It’s an enjoyable movie but hard to take the story seriously when the leads aren’t exactly ugly. I’m guessing they couldn’t make the same movie with Ron Pearlman and Tilda Swinton as dysfunctional would-be lovers. Romantic comedies tend to do better at the box office when you have generic pretty face #1 and generic pretty face #2 to sell the thing.

Since sex and violence sells, we’re still waiting for a movie where normal characters are revealed to be every bit as dysfunctional, yet conform to what society expects and cover up their issues with mundane, socially acceptable daily grind numbing drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, sugar, and anything else that can create an addiction. For now it’s all serial killersserial killersserial killers, and serial killers. As long as it’s as far removed as possible from reality so that we can’t recognise any shred of ourselves in it, that’s OK.

In saying that, sex addiction is expertly tackled in Michael Fassbender’s film Shame. A grim and gut-wrenching depiction of the lengths the mind will go to to cope with our deepest fears and anxieties – and all with a smile painted on.


Long before we ever get to experience the types of films I’ve just mentioned, Disney animations and Hollywood movies hard sell us the fairytale of true love and happy endings.

Ah, the fairytale of true love. That bolt from the blue that is going to suddenly appear out of nowhere and sweep us off our Netflix watching bottoms. Yet the reality is just a little different. Sure, it doesn’t apply to everyone. I know people that I would say are definitely a match for life. However, the number of marriages ending in divorce (42% in England and Wales) would lend weight to the idea that – how we define what love is – may be a little flawed.

There I go again with the hard data. Sorry about that. Anyways…

Disney needs to make a new film where instead of talking about True Love, they replace it with the more accurate concept of Proximity Love.

What’s Proximity Love you may ask?

It’s where you’re more likely to fall in love with the person you’re often in proximity to, with whom you share the same core values.

Oh, so you bumped into your true love at work, or at a place that starts within the first half of your local post code. I mean wow, what are the odds?

Or worse. There’s the Proximity Love Timer.

This is even more likely to happen if you’re a female in your mid-to-late thirties whose baby-making biological clock is ticking down and at least one parental figure regularly reminds you of this fact.

Thanks parents. You spent all that time telling us not to get pregnant or to not get anyone else pregnant, and before you know it they’re dropping fairly unsubtle hints about grandkids. Personally I’d expect them to observe the meaning of the word boundaries before denting your dream trip round the world budget on mini-me’s. It’s the least they can do.

So despite the fact that generally speaking, in your twenties you wouldn’t dream of getting engaged in less than 18-24 months of knowing someone, in your thirties the implied expectations from family are enough to accelerate the process of true love. How wonderful.

I’ve attended a wedding where the bride and groom met online while playing World of Warcraft. To me that’s far more romantic than that time you drank too much in a club, flirted too much, and woke up beside your new true love the next day. And it doesn’t take long for (pollyanna reference coming up) craving the comfort that person gives to take hold.

One of the most common fears we all share is that of being left unloved and alone. That combined with the proximity love timer can generate a wedding plan quicker than you can say, ‘stay together for the kids’.


Returning to Stephen Fry’s blog post, reading it reveals familiar patterns.

Creative minds with cyclothymia could easily ponder daily over love or death in the same way you might check your Facebook for status updates every day/hour/select addiction level as appropriate. You know you don’t need or have to check Facebook again but you do it anyway out of sheer habit. Think for a moment about how powerful that voluntary habit is. Then imagine what it would be like if your mind was wired to involuntarily behave in that way about any other aspect it thinks about.

It puts me in mind of Cyclops the x-men character. Until you learn to control that level of laser focused mental creativity, you’re going to potentially burnout from everything you look at and think about. Potentially hurting the people and things you come into contact with in the meantime. Or at very least misrepresenting your true self and intentions.

In his post Stephen Fry explains that,

“I used to think it utterly normal that I suffered from “suicidal ideation” on an almost daily basis. In other words, for as long as I can remember, the thought of ending my life came to me frequently and obsessively.”

It may sound strange to most people but that ideation would have likely fitted into daily thought patterns filled with very ordinary activities. I’d give you examples but we’re in black comedy territory here.

He expertly makes a point of tackling the issue of people’s perceptions and total lack of understanding with the line, “Feelings are not something to which one does or does not have rights.” It’s not a question of having the right to feel a particular way. You just feel.

Mastery of that creative and thought-driven surge is a lifelong  journey. Over the course of a year I can use it to make companies millions in revenue, promote obscure underground music, and take emotional muscle building to Olympian levels.  It doesn’t automatically make me happy or sad. It doesn’t automatically stop me having thoughts like what’s the funniest epitaph I could write for my tombstone. You spend a lifetime hiding something until one day you realise you’ve got more in common with Spike Milligan than you do with your self-created, self-imposed, self-image.

Letting go of who you think you’re supposed to be? Sheesh. There’s no pleasing some people.


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