Wednesday, March 17th, 2004 • No Comments on If I Wasn’t Depressed Before…
I was going to write something deep and thought-provoking about writers, creativity and depression, but then I ran across this little nugget of research online:
Recent studies have shown that poets and writers are four times more likely than others to suffer from affective disorders, particularly manic depression. Dickinson, Eliot, and Poe are among the many poets who suffered from an affective illness. Writers such as Balzac, Conrad, Dickens, Emerson, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Ibsen, Melville, and Tolstoy also suffered from the illness. In many cases, the writer’s depression led to suicide: John Berryman, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf. (Excerpted from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention?s “About Suicide”)
Obviously, I can’t be depressed while I’m just a struggling, unknown, hack writer. I’ll have to wait until I’m a success (ha!) to allow myself that luxury. But there is something depressing—and perhaps ironic?—about aspiring to follow in the footsteps of troubled, damaged, suicidal individuals who were incredibly gifted but too tormented by their own demons to enjoy their success.