Writing is an illness?

So, science has just worked out that anyone who shows any kind of creativity is suffering from a mental disorder. Where do they get these notions from? Lala land?

In a recent article on the BBC:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19959565  entitled “Creativity closely entwined with mental illness” it was pointed out that writers have a higher risk of anxiety and bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, unipolar depression, and substance abuse, according to a team of researchers at the Swedish Karolinska Institute, led by Dr Simon Kyaga.

It went on to say that anyone who is in the least bit ‘creative’ is almost twice as likely to kill themselves; far more than the general population. According to the researchers, creativity is often part of a mental illness, with writers being particularly susceptible.

Thanks a lot folks; that maybe explains why I am so driven to write. It’s a funny thing but I’ve never ever thought of writing as being a mental affliction before. A passion, maybe, but an illness, where’s the proof?

The article mentioned four well known authors as classic examples:

The novelist Virginia Woolf famously suffered with depression and eventually drowned herself.

Hans Christian Andersen suffered from depression.

Ernest Hemingway also suffered from depression and killed himself with a shotgun.

And finally, Graham Greene suffered from bipolar disorder.

The article ended by saying – “We know that one in four people will be diagnosed with a mental health problem this year and that these individuals will come from a range of different backgrounds, professions and walks of life. Our main concern is that they get the information and support that they need and deserve.”

Ok, if that’s the case, where’s the help I supposedly need while I sit here agonising over a storyline. Where’s the help when a story I’ve written and published gets rubbished?

Talking with other writers of my acquaintance, we all suffer from depression. It’s an occupational hazard which goes with the territory. Without exception we all fret and worry over how our latest book will be received by the reading public. We all privately suffer when we get bad reviews. We are all concerned over the book’s ratings in the marketplace. We constantly talk among ourselves about sales, usually moaning about why one particular book is doing better than the one we personally prefer. 

One thing is certain; none of us can predict which of our books will be popular, nor can we dictate which of our books the public should buy. If that’s not enough to bring on a bout of depression, or an anxiety attack, I don’t know what is.

Now if you will all please excuse me, I must go and lay down in a darkened room to contemplate my navel. Too hell with that! I’ll get drunk or high instead.

14 thoughts on “Writing is an illness?

  1. Reblogged this on K Morris – Poet and commented:
    One of my favourite poets, Ernest Christopher Dowson was an alcoholic, a frequenter of the world’s oldest profession and died at the age of 30. Did he have a mental disorder? Quite possibly. However, in the final analysis what matters is that Dowson composed some fine poetry.

    Mental illness is widespread. However the vast majority of those with mental health issues do not write and are not creative in other areas (for example as painters).

    Many factors may cause a person to be creative. An appreciation of beauty coupled with parents who helped to foster creativity in the growing child may lead to him/her putting pen to paper. The creator may or may not have a mental health condition.

    I also wonder whether one could conjecture (on the basis of this research) that anyone with an obsession (and writing is an obsession) has a mental health condition? Does the person who scours the internet for hours in search of rare stamps or coins have a mental health condition?


    Liked by 4 people

  2. Re-blogged this to entertain my readers. If you watched BBC during the pandemic, if you were feeling good (as a writer I adored the peace and quiet and wrote two books) then they were there to tell you differently. In fact, if you weren’t suffering a mental illness then there was something wrong with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, fiction writers do regularly invite made-up people to take over their minds and talk to them. I guess that’s a little bit mental-illnessy. Then again, maybe we’re the healthy ones because at least our multitude of voices have an outlet on the page.

    Liked by 2 people

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