Mental illness

So anyone who claims to be a writer or claims to have read many books (often those two go hand in hand, as it were), has likely heard of a number of conditions the likes of which famous names such as Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway have attributed to them. A quick Google search with things like “alcoholic authors”  or “authors with mental illnesses list” will quickly result in many many blog posts, each of which are detailed bullets of famous folks who ended up with untimely deaths or sad lives (or both).

Those lists are interesting and all but that’s not what I’m going to do here.

All I’m doing is just observing this fact. Today I happened to listen to the podcast of Writing Excuses ( ), where the hosts and hostess talk about their very real mental illnesses. These people clearly have it together, and point of fact quite a few people with mental illnesses do (ironically), at least most of the time in such a way as to pass off as “normal” individuals to the rest of the world.

Now, I had read and heard of the correlation between mental illnesses and writers in the past, but today my interest was reignited. After reading up on a few articles, several of which were merely different takes on the same Swedish study, the findings are interesting. It’s not just writers, of course, but creative people in general who tend to show signs of depression, substance abuse, schizophrenia and a host of all kinds of debilitating conditions.

There are arguments about this, of course. Is there a genuine correlation, for instance, or it just that people with mental illnesses are generally attracted to creative professions or hobbies? Is it the stress of writing, painting or performing that drives people to states that they reach, or are they like that before they ever pick up a pen/brush/pair of ballet shoes? Well, I of course, don’t claim to know.

But I do find it interesting.

It’s not easy admitting to having a mental illness (oops), let alone the extent or nature of it, but the fact of the matter is that they are real conditions, too easily confused with “being too sensitive” or “just not able to lighten up” or whatever.

So what’s the moral of this blog? I dunno. Go hug a writer or something.

Also! If you want to check them out, there is also an excellent organization known as the Take This Project ( ), a bunch of gamers and mental health professionals who take this seriously. I’m glad to know they’re around and that they’re helping folks. If you or someone you know has a mental illness, I’d sooner point to them.


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