Writer’s and mental illness

It’s been a long held opinion that a lot of writers have mental problems – ranging from mild cases of depression through to more serious illnesses – something about creativity and craziness walking hand in hand I guess.

That said, most of the writers I know are truly wonderful. I know that some of them have struggled with issues in the past but in general I’d call them all more sane that most, though definitely quirky πŸ˜‰

Personally, I’ve certainly had issues. I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar type 2 about 6 years ago now I guess, though I got it under control through counseling rather than drugs, and becoming hyper aware of what was going on in my head so that I could try and counter my disorder. These days, I don’t think I could claim to still be bi-polar, though I still have bigger ups and downs than most, and I do a damn good job (if I do say so myself) of controlling my moods and minimising the impact of my problems. In general, I’d say I’m pretty well balanced, and I can usually pull myself back to that centre. I’ve well and truly dealt with the events which triggered myΒ Β  mental illness and I feel really proud of myself for that.

And yet, I can’t sleep lately. I lie awake in bed thinking, and thinking, and thinking, and it hit me this morning that I’m in a bit of a manic state, no doubt induced by the stress of the month. I just can’t seem to switch off for more than an hour at a time. My mind is flitting here and there, though thankfully, I am able to get some things done!

Every now and then, I do let things slip, and my natural instinct to say ‘yes’ to everything and my general enthusiasm for all things writing related can work against me. I’m well aware that I overworked myself during June, and even though I’ve been telling people that I’ll take it easy in July, I wasn’t sure that I really would.

Until today. I have got to get myself back in balance, otherwise I am going to crash and burn and I simply will not allow that to happen.

So, I AM going to take it easy during July. I’m going to take deep breaths and say ‘no’ more than I say ‘yes’, I’m going to do only the things I want to, for my pleasure, not because I feel like I have to.

And if any of you sees me doing otherwise, let me know, because I am sure I’ll need the reminder πŸ˜‰


7 thoughts on “Writer’s and mental illness”

  1. Thank you for posting this; I’ll do my best to send you sternly worded emails if you seem to be taking on so much, if that will help πŸ™‚ . You definitely should feel proud. And wow, because so much of this could have been written about me; I was also categorised as bipolar II, though I don’t really view myself as having (had) it in the strict sense. I had one hell of a time with the drugs (I know they work well for some people, but they sure aren’t for everyone) and it was only once I got off them and made some pretty serious life changes that things started falling in to place.

    (If you’re interested, the gross oversimplification of a decade of introspection is that whilst my moods can fit bipolar patterns, they don’t do so without a trigger, so I don’t think of it as an ongoing illness or condition, rather a response mechanism. When my life is stable, I don’t tend to have more than some mild anxiety.)

    Have you read anything by Kay Jamison? She’s a… psychiatrist or psychologist, can’t remember which, who also has bipolar I and she’s written some really interesting things about mental illness and creativity.

    1. No I haven’t, I’ll have to look her up though πŸ™‚

      Sternly worded emails will definitely help!

      Sounds very much like we’re in similar situations! I love that my life in general is so stable and wonderful, it certainly makes things easier.

  2. I’m a unipolar with ADD and spent a lot of time thinking about being crazy and creative. I do think there’s a correlation, like somehow we see outside the box a little more than most, or we can use creativity as a soothing or medicating behavior. For me there is a wild creativity when not medicated, but the rest of my life is for shit, so I stay medicated and happy with a lesser level.

    1. Shame there isn’t a way to be wildly creative and have life be balanced! But I get what you mean.
      I remember being medicated when I was younger and everything seemed quite flat, so I learned to deal with the highs and lows because I just couldn’t cope with not having SOME colour in my life. We do what we have to right?

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