This is the third entry in a series of essays from actor and co-creator of the Superego podcast, Jeremy Carter. He has been performing improv comedy for over 20 years.
Bouts of depression and anger are like a monster that shows up out of the blue -- perhaps a hillbilly uncle that shows up drunk while you're trying to put children to sleep and do your taxes. But, HERE HE IS!
And he wants you to feed him, and drink with him, and stay up late, or sleep way too much, and hate the things that he hates, even though you don't.
There is not necessarily a reason for my depression that is biological; and the anger, well, that comes from extended periods of depression. However, I can say that money doesn't help, mainly because it is the worst. In ten thousand years of social evolution, how haven't we come up with something better than money?
In entertainment, it’s hard enough to make money, which is why being asked to work for free -- as if it was something you'd do anyway -- is so insulting. For example; "You'll play our wedding! There's no money in it, but you'll work for food, right?" Or, "we hired you to do this project, but can you write it, as well? It's creative. You're creative. No, we won't pay you more for it."
You wouldn’t treat an employee of another field like this, would you? Do you ever just assume that your accountant would help you with your taxes because he loves crunching numbers? "There's no pay, but here's a two-for-one coupon for Steak & Shake!"
And by the way, do financial services inspire you? What if, when you go out for an evening with friends, every bar and restaurant played the stock report for ambient sound? Have you ever heard anyone say, “After dinner, let's go check out that new financial seminar that's touring!”?
My woes and freakouts aren't just about financial issues, but not being nagged on a monthly basis to pay somebody for being alive would be a nice change. The reality is that much of my sadness, anxiety, frustration is the result of not being able to support even a meager existence. I'd go get a "regular" job if I thought there was a chance of financial support and job security, but even those are hard to find. (Well done economic vampires and businessmen of the last thirty years! You've increased your fat bottom line to the point that the rest of your beloved country is being choked out.)
Then again, getting sad, or angry, or discouraged on a regular basis may just be part of the artist’s life. And though I don’t think mentally unstable people are more creative, I think having occasional emotional instability is a part of the creative process.
I can't speak for everyone, but as artists, even if it seems we aren't doing anything, we are. We're thinking, experiencing, discovering, observing! Our minds refuse to shut off. Our ideas slam into one another and generate new ideas. Many evolve too quickly to write down. Many are terrible! And many just make us/you/them sad. But we're looking for the idea that will inspire and you have to look everywhere.