Are Writers Prone to Depression?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, even back when I was a little kid. My mama used to call me her “melancholy baby” while my sister was her “sunshine girl”. All my life, I’ve been prone to a clinical depression – not being depressed, but clinical depression, the medical condition.

This doesn’t mean I’m an unhappy person.

What it does mean is that I have to watch myself very closely for signs of depression, such as isolation, fixation on certain things, loss of pleasure and enjoyment over things I love, etc and all of this with no real cause or reason.

Somewhere along the way, we all get ‘depressed’ about something. The difference between someone who gets depressed and someone with depression is like the difference between someone who has muscle aches from working out versus someone who hurts from the pain of cancer – one is situational and goes away and the other is a medical condition that may or may not have been prompted by a situation and it often doesn’t go away on its own but needs medical intervention.

I’m not ashamed to say I sometimes take antidepressants. For the last year, I’ve been taking Cymbalta, because there is some clinical evidence Cymbalta does helps with widespread pain as well as depression, and since I hurt all the time (and I do mean all the freaking time) it’s supposed to help.

I can’t tell for sure if it helps with pain, but I can tell you for sure it helps with mood. The Cymbalta allows me to be me.

Now, looking back on my life, I see so many times when some of the best writing I’ve ever done has been in the midst of a terrible depression – whether situational or medical – and I have the writers forum now where others there, an overwhelmingly large proportion of folks, all have some form of depression, social anxiety, or mood disorder.

Being a writer doesn’t make you depressed, but there is definitely something to the theory that a large percentage of writers do suffer from some sort of psychiatric medical condition, depression being the most common of them all, with anxiety appearing a close second.

And this doesn’t mean that my writing that is so good when I’m ‘depressed’ is all morbid, sad, melancholy, or depressing. In fact, I’ve written some quite lighthearted stuff while depressed. It’s just that to touch that really deep part of me where the very best writing comes from, I have to go down into that well where the depression resides, and then write from that very emotive place.

When I’m not depressed, I have found that being absolutely exhausted makes me write better too. Well, the typos run rampant, but the ’emotiveness’ of the writing is better when I’m either depressed or exhausted.

I think one reason for this is because the ‘inner critic’ gets shut off when depressed or exhausted. That little something in my ego that kicks and screams and runs tapes that say, “You aren’t good enough… you can’t, you shouldn’t, stop dreaming, blah blah blah, etc etc etc…” that part of me gets turned off and I can just do what I do best: write.

What about you? When do you write best? Are you prone to depression?

I read this article: http://articles.latimes.com/1996-05-02/local/me-65179_1

Of note: “80% of poets, 80.5% of novelists and 87.5% of playwrights.” [Suffer from some form of mental psychiatric disorder, mostly depression.]

80%.

Makes me glad I’m not a playwright, right?

Don’t become a poet. Apparently, successful poets are more likely to never have a ‘complete sexual union’, whatever that means. I’m a poet, but I’m pretty sure sexual union isn’t something I’ve had issue with.

Depression on the other hand….

It only takes a quick Google Search to see that depression and writing are often linked hand in hand.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts about this: do you think depression and writing are connected? If so, how and why?

Something to ponder…

Love and un-depressed stuff,
Michy

Writing Through the Darkness:
Easing your depression with pen and paper.