So, after discovering Elizabeth Moon’s website yesterday, I decided to take a bit of a look around and see what she had on there. And I found an excellent article she had written titled The Writer and Depression.
I strongly urge anyone who wants to be a writer and who struggles with depression issues to check it out.
I’ve personally been incredibly fortunate to not have to deal with those issues. But I have seen the effects of clinical depression up close and personal and I know what a profound impact it can have on someone’s life.
On one of the non-writing forums I lurk, there are occasionally discussions about depression. And from those conversations, some people seem to think that handling depression is just a matter of “getting a little sunlight and changing your mental attitude.” And maybe that works for someone who is just in a bit of a funk (or who lives in Seattle – no offense to anyone in Seattle, but you are a little short on sunlight, comparatively). I think that cavalier attitude fails to acknowledge that depression can be a very serious issue that does, at times, require chemical or professional intervention.
So, for those of you who won’t click over to the article – a few points:
-The writer’s life is by nature a solitary and isolated life that can deprive a writer of good food, good exercise, social connection, and positive feedback. So, even someone with a positive disposition is going to be challenged at times. Which means, we all need to make an effort to eat well, exercise, socialize, and find a support system that tells us we’re good at what we do (even if we just received our umpteenth rejection letter).
-There is a level of depression where you cannot function as a writer (or as anything else, quite frankly). And, per Ms. Moon’s article, there are medicines that can help with this that will not kill your creativity, but will instead allow you enough mental balance to write. (See the article for recommendations on how to figure out where you are on the spectrum.)
-If you do end up on anti-depressants, don’t just rely on taking the drugs. Combine this with cognitive therapy, which will provide you with the tools you need to identify the depression earlier and, hopefully, cope with it better the next time around.
Seriously, if depression is an issue for you, read the article. Depression can take years of your life from you and there are ways to address it.
I know of at least two people who struggled with severe depression who are now medicine and therapy free and doing well in their lives. But both only reached that point after a couple of years of intense therapy coupled with medicine. And both are still potentially vulnerable to a relapse, but I think they have the tools they need now to seek help much earlier in the process.
And, yes, I know that for some people the drugs don’t help, and that I really can’t understand what it’s like to be that depressed. All I can do is urge anyone who is that depressed to seek out professionals or others who can understand and who can hopefully help in some way. And I can offer up Ms. Moon’s article as an example of someone who has been there and done that and has managed a career as a successful, published author.