The Fear Theory

Changing the way we view mental health.

by Chad Hopson

The Dark Night of The Soul…

Something I found rarely discussed are the ups and downs that creative people go through in regards to their mental health, whether they are in the spotlight or not. At times the darkness consumes you, leaving you lost and hopeless; while other times you’re able to walk away with a new project, a piece of artwork, or a beautiful song. This series takes a look at how I rediscovered my creativity as well as how I was able to channel the negativity I was experiencing and turn it into creative fuel. I was able to express what I was going through with various sketches that turned into the pieces of artwork below, each playing their own unique role. I learned a lot about myself during that time. Although I can’t say that I’ll never experience another dark night of the soul, I was able to walk away with a different perspective of mental health as well as the tools to deal with it.

Get creative!

“Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” ― Einstein

The Fear Theory | The Monster

The Monster Inside

Back in February 2017, I decided to head out east and I booked a small farmhouse via Airbnb. Maybe it was the country air, but it was the first time in months that I attempted to sketch something. After countless hours, I drew this image. Although it wasn’t much, I knew what I wanted to do with it. The creature depicted fear and the various ways it manifested itself in my life. It represented everything: from anxiety, bouts of depression, and an irrational fear of life. Instead of allowing those various “monsters” to stop me, as they’ve done in the past, I decided to channel all of that negative energy into creative fuel that gave birth to this project. The small character portrayed at the bottom was me, attempting to get a still-life sketch of the elusive monster. The idea of a “perfect” design is always waiting to be challenged. Once I took a step back and started to observe the irrational thoughts I was having, I began to reclaim my power. Sometimes the things we fear are nothing more than an idea; only when we take a step back are we able to see things as they are.

The Fear Theory | Know Hope
The Fear Theory | Know Hope

Know Hope

This piece was an outward expression of an internal realization I had: I was tired of what I was dealing with. It was as if something clicked inside. I was able to put a visual to an internal feeling I was experiencing. I always found it challenging trying to communicate to people the battle I was having during that time. On the outside everything looked fine, so it was frustrating, to say the least, trying to explain what was going on. It wasn’t a dark cloud over my head like other typical depictions of depression; it was this constant pulling down, where any attempt to enjoy life was quickly dismissed. All that led to this sense of hopelessness that I couldn’t shake, regardless of what I did – it was mentally exhausting. This piece looks back at a time when the one thing that was able to pull me out of that toxicity was my guitar. It was a tool, much like a ladder, in helping me escape what I was going through.

Many of the creatives I came across through various markets and events related to this design the most. There is a universal feeling of having to overcome some form of adversity, in exchange for a piece of creative gold. Some create a new song, an original piece, or even a new business venture. Like many others, I was able to come out of it with my own gem: a new-found love for playing music. The bass guitar was the catalyst that launched me back into my creativity; It acted as a pencil when I didn’t feel like sketching, and allowed me to express myself in the same manner.

Creativity is everything.

I began focusing more on enjoying the journey of learning, creating, and playing, instead of worrying about the destination. Despite the negative situations and hardships we may face as creatives and non-creatives alike, we all have access to a creative power that can manifest itself in positive ways – through music, design, cooking, dancing, or in this case, even something as simple as a sketch.

The Fear Theory | Rise Up
The Fear Theory | Rise Up
The Fear Theory | Zenyatta
The Fear Theory | Zenyatta
The Fear Theory | Rocket Ship
The Fear Theory | Rocket Ship
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