Writing and a Healthy Mind

Photo by Pixabay

Every night before I go to bed I take three prescribed antidepressants or antianxiety medications. I take them at night because they make me drowsy and I can sleep off the side effect mostly, and then in the morning get on with my day. The question you are asking is probably threefold. First, how do you function if you take that many pills? The answer is, I can’t function without them. Without my medication, I am without a doubt a more dangerous angry at myself and other’s person. Still with taking my medication and I never ever miss a single dose ever. I sometimes feel overwhelmed with unexplained sadness or anxiety, the mean reds or the blues. I no longer try to understand I just trust that it will go away. Second, how did you get that kind of depression and anxiety? It’s hereditary on my father’s side of the family. Third, how long have you been like this? I’ve been like this since I was in the third grade. When I tried to kill myself for the first time.

But some famous writers suffer from the mean reds and blues that I suffer from and didn’t have the luxury of advanced chemistry that we have today. Sylvia Plath suffered with and was treated for depression and killed herself at only 32 years of age. Virginia Woolf filled her pockets with stones and walked into a lake. Ernest Hemingway killed himself after having unsuccessful electroshock treatments.

Studies suggest creative people are more likely to have mood disorders. Another explanation for the findings is that creativity creates mood disorders as a by-product of the lifestyle. Required in many creative fields can be punishing. For example, I’m sure you’ll all agree that writing is lonely, brutally critical, and lacks a locus of self-control. Giving control instead to agents, editors, and publishers. There is also a theory that being creative just makes you look clinically abnormal. The flow state that creatives strive for mimics markers of bipolar disorder. But, another study said that while the part of the brain responsible for coming up with new ideas only fires once or twice a day in most people for writers it fires all day long. It lets us create. We are always thinking of ways to incorporate our experiences into writing. We can’t shut down our brains to rest.

But the biggest myth is that we have to suffer for our art. It is true according to Kay Redfield Jamison, writer of Touched with Fire, writers are eight times as likely to suffer from mental illness than those who don’t pursue writing as a career. Writing as a profession creates a situation perfect for making a bad situation worse for those who suffer and an invitation to suffer for those who don’t. The work is solitary; you get tempted to work weird hours; you give up your sleep, it’s sedentary, it’s easy to fall into poor eating habits, and it’s filled with rejection and self-criticism.

Like having a life jacket before you drown or a fire extinguisher before the fire, you need to have a plan to deal with your depression or anxiety before it arrives. You may need a plan to keep it away. Once you have to deal with depression, it’s big enough to knock you off your game. So stay in the game by being social make sure you have a tribe that you look forward to meeting with regularly. Make sure you treat your writing career like you would any other career by keeping regular hours from nine o’clock to five o’clock and remember to take regular breaks. Get at least six hours of sleep at night but shoot for eight hours of sleep. Don’t forget to exercise, take a walk or a swim, just get that body moving. Eat highly nutritious non-processed food and keep the caffeine and alcohol to a minimum. Last, set goals you can control, for example don’t shoot for making the New York Times Best Seller List instead set a goal of writing two books a year.

As always, take care of your soul through journaling, meditation, positive affirmations, aromatherapy, bubble baths, and whatever other things fill your soul with joy. Whatever those things are, share them in the comment box below. And give this blog a thumbs up and subscribe please share it on your social media platforms. I love you and keep writing..