Episode #42: Christopher Hooton


Chris is a filmmaker, arts critic and the co-host of Coffee & Flowers, a podcast about The National.

Christopher Hooton has dealt with depression since he was in university, and it hasn’t been a straightforward path. He discovered that his symptoms are somewhat resistant to therapy and medication, so he’s had to find other ways to manage his mental health. Creativity plays a big role in that; not only does his experience with depression inform his creative projects, but being immersed in something creative also lets him become totally absorbed by something else. On today’s episode, Christopher and I talk about why he recently transitioned from arts critic to arts creator, and how the evocative nature of The National’s music, which is the subject of his podcast, provides a jumping-off point for talking about mental health. We also chat about why there is a gray area when talking about cures for depression, and the need for affordability in mental health services (something that, fortunately, the NHS provides).

Everything was just okay all the time, and obviously that is so, so, so good and I’m so lucky, but I think being in that environment meant that I wasn’t really prepared for the world.

Here are some of the things Christopher and I chatted about:

  •  His first symptoms of depression, and how it’s still hard to put his experience into words

  • Denying himself a diagnosis because he felt there was no “reason” anything should be wrong

  • A doctor’s thoughts on why he might feel unprepared for the emotional difficulties of adulthood

  • Finding that therapy was helpful in the moment, but that it didn’t make much difference overall

  • While hard at times, the importance of trying to get to a place of not taking things for granted

  • How cost plays into accessing mental health services, and why affordability is so critical

  • The up-and-down nature of mental health challenges, which sometimes isn’t understood

  • The role that pain plays in art, and how depression helps him to be a better writer

  • How The National has been an anchor throughout his career, and led him to his latest project, Coffee & Flowers

  • The podcast’s focus not only on The National’s music, but also big themes that tie into mental health

  • His recent decision to go freelance, and what other creative projects are in the works for him

  • Why he urges people with depression follow their creativity--whatever that might look like

I’ve always believed that all art is pain, in some way, shape or form, with very few exceptions.
Creativity, as well as being informed by depression, is something that definitely has helped with it.


Follow Christopher on Instagram and learn more about Coffee & Flowers on iTunes and Instagram

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