I stepped out of my box on my last post “Political Obsurdities”. Needless to say I did not get many likes and no comments. Not that I live for likes or comments but I worked hard on that post, damn hard. I thought I had written an op-ed that would make people think. The cricketts were thinking.
Strangely, today was a bad head day for me. I have not “depression” sobbed in a minute and was taken aback when I did. Am I so entwined in what words I put to paper, so to speak, and the reception received that I will let my whole being be affected? I would be in good company if I did. Writing is one of the top 10 professions in which people are most likely to suffer from depression, according to US website health.com.
A 2009 article published by the Association for Psychological Science revealed research that showed a definitive link between creativity and the neuregulin 1 gene, which is also closely associated with psychosis.
Having hailed from a family with a long history of mental dis-ease — among them bipolar disorder, nervous disorders, anxiety, depression and bulimia nervosa — I fit the bill. As did this list of a few of my favorite writers who I now feel are part of my dysfunctional family.
1. Sylvia Plath
Plath was known, among friends and colleagues, for her frequent mood swings, tendencies toward impulsivity and a mercurial temperament. She was easily plunged into dejection by even the smallest rejection or perceived failure.
I am hopeful that when I find my writing voice as she found hers I will survive in tact what she could not.
2. Leo Tolstoy
Noticeable signs of depression didn’t strike Tolstoy until middle age, but the illness came on with a vengeance. The author considered becoming celibate, questioned his religious beliefs and began giving away his possessions so that he could live like a peasant.
Studies show that both those in the creative arts and those with depressive disorder spend an inordinate amount of time contemplating their own distress. I can relate.
3. Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf had her first bout with depression at the age of 15. She battled it throughout her life. Her creativity was frequently compromised by intermittent mood swings punctuated by sleeplessness, migraines and auditory and visual hallucinations.
I have Ms. Woolf beat by a year. I suffered my first anxiety attack and pursuing bout of depression at 14. Thank God I do not have auditory or visual hallucinations. But still I had no idea what the f**k was going on. Nor that I would be writing about it these many years later.
4. Ernest Hemingway
Depression, borderline and narcissistic personality traits, bipolar disorder and, later, psychosis created Hemingway’s personal hell. Hemingway self-medicated, used alcohol, engaged in risk-taking sportsmanship activities and wrote to cope.
The author’s mental and physical health deteriorated so rapidly during the last years of his life — primarily due to alcoholism — that he finally accepted electroshock treatments in 1960.
I relate to Hemingway in a personal way. I am a child of electroshock therapy, my mother received electroshock treatments in the early 60’s, while unknowingly pregnant with me.
It is undeniable that many prominent writers and poets of the last several centuries have suffered from mental dis-ease. In the words of Lord Byron, “We of the craft are all crazy. Some are affected by gaiety, others by melancholy, but all are more or less touched.”
I tend to agree.