Is there a connection between depression and writing?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 him at that time, he also discovered from a blood test that I had suffered from an undiagnosed bout 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 blue at that time.

The only reason I mention all of this now is that during that tough time, and then over the following year or so 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 full novels!

Productive? Well, I didn’t have much else to do, did I?

Except to prove my doctor’s link between depression and writing correct.

That was all some years ago, and I can happily report that I am now 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 some years.

But.

I am left with one tiny conundrum.

In that one year of being treated for depression, 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 current 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!

Naa! There’s no link at all between depression and writing, is there?

Depression And Writing
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10 thoughts on “Depression And Writing

  • 29/05/2015 at 10:23 am
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    It depends on how depressed one it. A serious depression might not make it work. Doctors can be conformative. The medical discourse is maybe not the best one to lean upon. You could have had a creative depression as a reaction. In Japan they do not see depression as we do in the west. They see it as a maturing process. What does this tell you instead? The pills will probably not help you write better. Perhaps a strong experience from where you are transformed and this will lead you on to other forms of writing. Emotional intelligence is needed here.

    • 29/05/2015 at 11:13 am
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      It’s always easier to treat a cut finger, Phillipa. When it comes to the mind, doctors are probably not so much conforming, as groping around in the dark. All guess work. But as for emotional intelligence being required, I can only say that I manage neither of these with words any great aplomb. :)

  • 18/06/2015 at 2:49 pm
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    Gosh, that is a LOT to have to endure! I’m so sorry you had such a terrible time! I hope things are much improved!
    I went through something similar earlier this year (although nowhere near the extent that you did). During that time, I wrote like crazy, and at the time I wondered if I would have to be clinically depressed the rest of my life to achieve that level of productivity.
    But when I look back at the things I wrote during that time (from a much better place), I don’t see them as any better or worse than anything else. I think it was just the writing itself that helped me hang on and so I associate that feeling with the words.
    As far as the link between depression and writers (or musicians, or artists, or anything really) I can definitely say from my own experience that writing/art is how I make sense of the chaos. My family has a fairly messed up history that includes physical abuse, institutionalization, alcoholism, war-induced PTSD, and involuntary ECT so it’s an ugly legacy to carry. The depression and drinking will never really go away but I manage it as best I can, and I do that through writing. Seems to be working! :)
    Thank you for this post, it was very thought-provoking!

    • 18/06/2015 at 4:26 pm
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      I love your maxim that your writing makes sense of chaos. Agree 100%! And yes, things are very much improved for me now. Hopefully for you too. :)

  • 18/06/2015 at 8:54 pm
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    Now that I think about it, it was during the depression following my separation and divorce in August 2013 that led me to finish the last 500 or so pages of an 1100 page book by January 2014

  • 21/06/2015 at 11:22 pm
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    Just found this interesting piece of written article on Depression and writing . Personally I also feels it depend on the writer how they deal with stressors in their own life. Being depressed at one point as a teenager. I am now making sense of my journal …..I don’t know if it made my me a better writer or allow me to be more productive. I guess time will tell.

  • 20/02/2016 at 9:38 am
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    There has to be a link! I am actually shocked reading this today because I never put 2 and 2 together. When I was being treated for depression I first started writing in my personal diary then I moved on to write a blog. 3 years in and I’m much better and look forward to writing and managing the blog everyday. It’s now my outlet.

  • 03/05/2017 at 5:07 am
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    There probably is a link in a sense, but the inference is wrong.

    The connection shouldn’t be to show writing causes or is a symptom of depression; it should be writing provides a channel to direct depressive expression through instead of something worse … like suicide.

    Doctors looking to lay the blame on things like that deserve to have the tables turned on them. The strength of their denials is indicative of their lack of consideration and comprehension.

  • 06/08/2017 at 9:45 am
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    I’m not expert, my views are from experience and observations.
    In my opinion there are 2 main types of depression. There are those who are naturally have a chemical imbalance causing depression and those whose depression is caused by life events.
    As a generalisation those in the first category tend to have more creative personalities, writers, musicians, actors, artists and so on.
    Those in the second category, again a generalisation not everyone, focus on what they know what they are good at, to get them through.. By focusing on your writing during your awful time, you were not focusing on the hidious events. It sounds like you, productively, used your writing as an escape mechanism but also as a tool. The more you produced the more you gave yourself to cling onto as a positive to move forward. May people throw themselves into work to escape reality. Your work happens to be books. The tablets didn’t help you write, your grit, determination and want to get better (whether conscious or subconsciously) is what drove you.

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