Is depression really the curse of genius? Research shows that writers and other creatives do suffer from depression at a higher rate than the rest of the population. And they, along with others born with creative gifts have a much higher rate of suicide.
Writing is not the glamorous profession it may appear to be. Rejection, deadlines, self-doubt and many hours spent in isolation can eventually push you over the edge. Plus lack of exercise and being stuck indoors staring at a computer screen all day doesn't help either. Success as a writer also means you have to rely on the opinions of other people such as editors, publishers and agents, which makes things even worse.
I'm not claiming to be a genius but I am a creative person and a depressive. My depression affects my creativity. Sometimes it is good for it, sometimes it's bad. Normally, when everything gets dark and gloomy for me I tend to go into myself and I begin to question everything. I can't deny that I've always seen the world differently, that I tend to see all the negatives about it rather than the positives. Sometimes I am aware that I may be too pessimistic and when I'm accused of this I always say that I'm only being realistic. I know that when I'm in this state of mind people don't want to be around me, but that's fine because I don't want to be around people. Pessimistic thoughts can ruin my writing though. Especially if I am doubting my talent as a writer, which is often.
During this time dark thoughts enter my head and I ask myself just what is the point of writing as I won't get published. Anyway, who would want to publish such rubbish? Me a writer? Ha! I'm just a talentless depressed person living in a world of make believe because I can't face the real world. I might as well end it right now. And the thoughts torment me all day, adding to the feeling of hopelessness, the future looking bleak.
But I don't give up. I don't kill myself, even if the thought does cross my mind. This is because I know from experience that this dark period won't last. In a few days my writing will start getting good again. The dark cloud will lift and I will think differently. I will start to believe in myself again. Of course I can write. Of course I can get published. If others can get book deals so can I. After all, there are worse writers in the world than me and they're published and successful.
And when I do eventually emerge from the pit of depression, to my surprise, I am struck by a short burst of creative energy that lasts from around three days to a whole week. Sometimes I'll have two or three projects on the go because the ideas just keep flooding in and I can't stop them. This is a great feeling and I can't wait to get out of bed and put in those extra hours of writing. It's not that my depression has worn off, it just gets a little more manageable. I still feel sadness, but it's not as intense.
Sometimes though I don't wait for this moment to arrive. Instead, I try to write myself through a depressive episode, even though it's the last thing I feel like doing. If I'm angry it's even better as I can use this anger in my fiction.
It is said that writers are depressed because they work for long periods alone. But this isn't my problem because I actually enjoy my own company. I accept that this is part of a writer's life and if I spent all my time socializing no writing would ever get done. It's nice to have other writer friends though, so I would recommend joining a writers' group or participating in one of the many writers' forums on the Internet.
I do sometimes wonder if being a writer is a curse, but then I think how would I be if I didn't write? It's such a large part of me. It's what makes me who I am as an individual. I'm sure other writers can understand what I mean. I don't think you choose to write. It chooses you. And I do question what type of writer I'd be without my depression. Who knows? Maybe I wouldn't be a writer. That's something I can't answer I'm afraid.
If you are depressed please don't suffer in silence. See your doctor for professional medical advice.
About the Author: Marie Seymour has written articles on alternative health, writing and music and is currently writing a vampire novel. She lives in London but dreams of escaping all the pollution, litter and noise to live in the countryside where she can write novels for a living in peace.