If I hadn’t watched Greta Garbo’s “Leave me alone” scene from Grand Hotel (1932), I would have never written this. On that cheery sunny day, Garbo left me longing to know more about her personal life. For some weird reasons, it was almost impossible to believe that she was a happy woman off-screen. This made me realize that a broken heart can be an ultimate source from which great art emerges? The pain vitiligo has given me can drive me to introduce new styles, ideas or creative directions.
I looked at studies. Surprisingly, many studies showed a higher rate of suffering among artists compared to the general population. In fact, there was evidence too to prove that children with bipolar disorder are disproportionately creative. I must admit, these studies took me by surprise, yet I had to talk to fellow vitiligo fighters who are painters, musicians, and writers to find out more.
How can you use your pain?
Artists who experience intense emotions are believed to have access to powerful tools. In a manner, it’s true. You can’t fully identify with love unless you get your heart broken. You can’t write a tragedy until you experienced it or at least observed it. Since art explores new ways of seeing the world, it makes sense that after going through the pain of rejection and fear of unknown, vitiligo fighters can fixate on feelings more than the average person.
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Here, I would like to mention Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. After an accident in teenage, Frida’s spine injuries left her with multiple operations and miscarriages. She poured her lifelong suffering on canvas in stark, disturbing and even bloody images. For her, turning pain into art was the essence of empowerment. But, it doesn’t mean that you will have to hold on to emotional suffering in vitiligo to become a true artist.
Utilize your pain, don’t get used to it
It’s important to take your broken heart and make it into art. But, decide not to remain a victim and get past self-pity. Vitiligo might have given you a lot of emotional pain (that goes beyond skin), but it cannot stop you from having this wonderful love affair with life. Depression (which is common in vitiligo) can sometimes enhance or otherwise contribute to creativity in some people, but it’s the creativity that provides a way to structure or re-frame pain. Learn from your vitiligo and let it drive you to create mesmerizing art.
For some people, emotional suffering, emptiness, and loneliness are the important part of living with vitiligo. Sorrow makes us want to contract and withdraw, not expand and excel. Creating great art depends on our capacity to stay emotionally balanced, not tortured. Pain may create beautiful art. But, this does not make pain beautiful.