Writers and Mental Illness part 1
By Britney Pieta
A friend of mine was reading something to me about a lot of famous writers who had mental illness or nervous breakdowns sometime during their life, some of them being very severe. A few well-known authors that come to mind who suffered mental illness are: Charles Dickens, David Wallace, Edgar Allen Poe, and Virginia Woolf. Not saying that every writer will experience mental illness, but you have to watch out for it and be aware of the signs.
We as writers often times live in our own little world. Some of us basically “live inside our heads” and our imagination, so sometimes we lose touch with reality. Some of us also lose touch with the outside world because we stay in our little creative zone inside our house, which it can be a good thing to have your own space. BUT you have to have a balance. Just as people can get lost in a book reading it, we can get lost in the process of writing it.
“Artists, musicians and writers quite often work alone, and when they begin to fall into depression, they do not have the support and encouragement as do people that regularly work in a setting that has co-workers that would notice a change in personality, mood, or signs of depression,” Sherri Granato, from yahoovoices, said.
So my advice to you is to:
1. Join a writers group—somewhere you can share your writing and be with others like yourself so you are not lonely.
2. Get out of the house—work on some of your writing projects out in nature or in a public place like Starbucks, McDonalds, Panera Bread, or the library. Remember you are not under lock and key like Cinderella!
3. Take a break—don’t spend all of one particular day writing non-stop.
4. Don’t be all dark and dreary—add some humor to your writing to make you and others laugh.
5. Play other roles—you are not only a writer but also a family member, friend, mentor, etc. You don’t want to push away the people in your life because you have no time for them. So don’t forget that writing isn’t the only thing you can do for others.
In part two of this series on mental illness I will tell you how to inject humor into your writing.