A fascinating insight on depression and writing, by Derek Haines:
Is there a connection between depression and writing?
Some years ago now, I clearly recall my doctor telling me that there was a definitive link between depression and writing. The only problem with his link was that he had no idea at all if writers became depressed through writing, or if depression miraculously manufactured writers.
So why was I at my doctor at that time talking about depression and writing? Well, to cut a long story short, within the space of six short months I had lost my parents, both very suddenly, my very best friend died due to a long-term disease, another friend was killed on a pedestrian crossing, oh, and just add some spice, my business failed, and I was diagnosed with cancer. Yes, it was a very busy six months.
During my regular consultations with my doctor at that time, he also discovered from a blood test that I had suffered from an undiagnosed case of glandular fever, or mononucleosis, during the same six months.
So, all things considered, I had a good solid list of reasons to be feeling a bit under the weather at that time.
I hate the word depression
I dislike the word depression intensely, as, from my experience, when you have this affliction, the symptoms don’t relate at all well with the word. Constant joint pain, muscle cramps, insomnia, headaches, fatigue, waking up feeling exhausted, difficulty with concentration, digestive problems and loss of appetite are some of the symptoms I suffered, but during my illness, I rarely felt sad, blue, morose and never once did I have suicidal feelings. I didn’t feel depressed. I just felt unwell.
When people around you know that you are being treated for this ill-described condition, they always ask the same pathetic question, which by itself can drive one crazy.
“Are you okay?”
The only logical reply becomes an auto-response.
“I’ll be okay.” (That’s what you want me to say, isn’t it?)
Back to the bit about writing
The only reason I mention all of this now is that during that tough time, and then over the following year or more of treatment for, well, let’s call it melancholia for want of a better word, I wrote like a crazy. I think I wrote six novels.
Productive? Well, I didn’t have much else to do, did I?
Except to prove that my doctor’s link between depression and writing was correct.
That was all many years ago now, and I can happily report that I am completely, totally and utterly normal and healthy. Um, ok, normal may be stretching the truth a little, as I have never been good at that, so I guess I should say that I have been back to my abnormal self again for quite a few years.
I am left with one small problem.
In that one year of being treated for the dreaded word, I wrote so damn well. Probably because I had little to do other than write. But now, I have a lot of trouble getting even close to writing as well as I did back then. Of all the books I have written, three that I wrote in that year are still my best sellers.
The only solution I can see to my new problem is to make an appointment with my doctor and ask him to put me back on those bloody pills right now. I want to write another great new book!
No! There’s no link at all between depression and writing, is there?