Writers With Mental Illness

What Is A Highly-Sensitive Creative?

As a creative, I’ve been told since I was a child that I think too much and I’m too sensitive. If I wasn’t playing outside or watching Olsen twins movies with my sister, I was reading. As I got older, I learned that I was not only a highly-sensitive person, I was also an introverted empath. My high school had almost 4,000 students roaming its halls. I picked up on the emotions of my peers, unaware that the overwhelming emotions I felt weren’t entirely mine.

Without Self-Care, Our Highly-Sensitive Traits Can Negatively Affect Us

I told her once I wasn't good at anything. She told me survival is a talent.When I developed depression and anxiety in high school, I thought I had done something wrong. I used writing, pottery, and visual art to express my emotions, but no one seemed to understand. They thought I was strange and maybe even a little screwed up. It wasn’t until I found like-minded creatives that I finally understood my weaknesses are also my biggest strengths. 

After years of trying to dull my intensity, I found a community of people who liked me just the way I am. They used words like…

  • Highly-sensitive person (HSP)
  • Highly-intuitive
  • Introverted
  • Empath
  • Neurodivergent

It sounded hippy-dippy and bizarre at times, but it described me perfectly. And here’s the kicker: every single highly-sensitive person I met was creative in some way. I began to realize that creativity and health go hand in hand. If I’m in creative drought, you can bet I’m not doing well emotionally. Art helps us cope with the overload of sensory input we receive. It helps us cope with our intense feelings and express them in a healthy way. As Doctor Elaine N. Aron puts it,

“The highly sensitive person (HSP) has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.”

Traits of a Highly-Sensitive Person…

  • Sounds may be louder, lights may be brighter, and smells may be unusually strong.
  • Even the texture of certain fabrics can infuriate us. Too soft or too rough can be both be terrible.
  • We can quickly tell how a person is feeling and may even take on the emotions of others without meaning to.
  • We need time to recharge after socializing and may prefer to hang out in smaller groups.
  • Violent mass media can negatively affect us, so we tend to avoid it.
  • We pick up on tiny details and subtle changes in our environment.

The Connection Between Creativity and Health

Art by J. Lavallee

Because highly-sensitive people have an increased sensitivity and higher intuition, we can become overwhelmed. At times, we may even feel unable to cope with all the signs and emotions we pick up on.

To put it simply, our minds do not filter out as many signals as the average person. We notice things even if we don’t want to. We have powerful minds that we may need to grow into.

Expressing ourselves creatively helps us cope. It can be hard, especially in a culture that encourages us to hide our feelings, but there’s nothing wrong with us. Highly-sensitive creatives are individuals who use art to cope with their intense feelings.

Survival is a Talent is a safe place for creative individuals to share their art and their feelings. Whether you’re here to browse the blog, engage in discussion, or get some feedback on your art, we’re happy you’re here!

HUGE thanks to Abby Whittredge, Daniel Watts, and Emily Deibler for supporting this blog!


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