May 21, 2009

Depression and the Writer

I was on AW last night and I happened to see a question someone posed concerning writers and depression. Impressed by the number of responses to the thread (it’s always good to know you’re not alone) I decided to do a little research. I found some very interesting statistics and a few surprising confessions.

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail myself, my goal here is just to make people aware. Depression can happen to anyone, but it seems to happen more easily to writers.

From the Horror Writers Association I found this:
On an afternoon in September of 1994, I sat by myself with a razor blade in my hand. Outside, the weather was hot and still. But in my head a storm raged. Dozens of disordered voices howled in the wind of that storm. Most of them were of the opinion that my work had no value; that I would never succeed as a writer, and thus would never realize my most cherished dream; that the pain of my existence had made me a liability to myself and to my family; and that I would be better off dead.
You can read the whole thing HERE

Angela Knight wrote on her blog:
I felt as if I was losing myself. One day I went in the closet and got out Mike's gun. It wasn't because I wanted to die -- it was because I felt I was already dying. Imagine being swallowed by a giant python, feeling yourself being slowly digested. Now imagine you've got a gun. That's what a suicidal depression is like. It's not that you want to die -- you just want to save what's left.
Read the whole thing HERE

Holly Lisle wrote:
I have faced the abyss of self-destruction once, when things were very bad, but managed to walk away. I've suffered from serious depression on a couple of other occasions, also from situations and events that were unbearable, and unfixable.
Read the whole thing HERE

And Elizabeth Moon wrote a very comprehensive article on depression and creativity, and why it’s a good idea that if you think you’re suffering from depression you should seek help.
. . . if you wanted to make a cheery person with no predisposition to depression depressed, you could stick him in front of a typewriter or computer for hours a day--feed him a typical writer's diet--forbid him to exercise, isolate him from friends, and convince him that his personal worth depended on his "numbers." Make him live the writer's life, in other words, and watch him sag.
Read the whole thing HERE

Now that you’re aware of some of the pitfalls of writing and depression, I want to leave you with this bit of advice from Monty Python. This isn’t meant to be frivolous, honest. I’ve been to cognitive therapy and one of the things they tell you is to always look for the good that can come out of what you may feel is even the worst situation. Trust me, it works.


Benjamin Solah said...

I guess a lot of writers have been there. Myself included.

It was more other factors more than writing, and those factors largelly hindering writing.

I would say my saviours have been writing which allows me to express all of the millions thoughts running through my head, political activism and protests that gives me an outlet to do something about the things I hate in the world, and my partner. Yes, falling in love helps.

C R Ward said...

I have to say that my saviour is the medication I'm on. It doesn't make it all go away, but it helps me deal with the darkness.

Coincidentally, I was at a poetry reading last night for local high school students, and the youngest poet read poems of dispair and suicide attempts. Fortunately she got the help she needed and her final poem was one of hope.