Theatre as Therapy
(Disclosure: I am not a doctor, I am not a therapist, I have no medical background other than relatives who are in the medical field. So take everything I say with a grain of salt.)
I've been going through a rough patch recently. There. I said it.
I'm not looking for sympathy or people to pat me on the back and say, "It's gonna be ok." I'm just on the downward turn of the wheel that is life, and that happens. People have bad days, bad weeks, bad months, bad years, and I'm just going through one of those bad times. That's life.
I've always been independent and I always try to exude strength and confidence. It's hard for me to admit weakness or defeat, so when it happens I try to hide. I shut out everyone around me while my insides are screaming for someone to see what is happening and assure me that everything will be ok.
My situation is nothing new. You, or someone you know has gone through or is going through or will go through a similar crises. Everyone goes through pain. Everyone goes a little crazy. Everyone feels like screaming at times.
And it's at those times that (for me at least) theater becomes a sort of life saver. You know? Like, when I feel like I'm drowning or the waves just keep crashing over me and I can't come up for air (or any other metaphorical situation where you feel overwhelmed by something), theater becomes the one constant that lets me drown and die and go crazy and scream and experience the fullness of all of my emotions, and then brings me back up to reality where I can wipe the salt water from my eyes and start to see the sunshine again.
Scientifically, the process I just described is called catharsis; the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.
An article on GoodTherapy.org said, "Due to the cathartic nature of dramatic artistic expression, drama itself tends to promote good mental health." And I have to agree with them. There's something about being able to free yourself of all the negativity and explore it and wallow in it at times that then makes it so much easier to let go.
And beyond that, the community that theater creates is like a self-made support group! You've got all these people around you who love you (or at least put up with you professionally) and you're never alone--unless you intentionally isolate yourself, which kinda goes against everything we are taught as actors (work as an ensemble, everyone's a creative genius, support each other, etc).
I dunno. I'm rambling now. All I want to say is that if you've been going through a rough patch emotionally, like I have been, and you're running out of avenues, 1) You're not alone 2) Maybe give theater a try. You'll make new friends, grow in your confidence, and get to deal with whatever's going on in a safe, supportive environment.
Or give me a call and we'll go get some chocolate, wine, and mushy sappy movies.