Depression and the Creative MindNovember 14, 2014

On March 28, 1941, Virginia Woolf put on her overcoat, filled its pockets with stones, and walked into the River Ouse. In her final note to Leonard Woolf, her husband, she wrote:

"I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don't think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can't fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can't even write this properly. I can't read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good."

Woolf's case wasn't unique. Ernest Hemingway shot himself with his favourite shotgun. Guy de Maupassant spent his final years in a private asylum after he attempted to cut his throat. Sylvia Plath's nurse found the poet's head in the kitchen, dead due to carbon monoxide poisoning. These cases would discourage anyone with literary aspiration. And National Psychology Week (November 9-15) is around the corner. Before thinking of your other career options, you must continue reading.

It's time to put a stop on this romance

Woolf is one of many writers who have struggled with depression throughout their lives. The tragic demise of artists have been romanticised in books and films, which gave audience a wrong impression on them. Studies have shown that these kind of people tend to be the most creative. It was no surprise, then, that their works were linked to their turmoil. (If it was logical, then there might be less interest.) Then there was their unconventional lifestyle, which was due to their rebellious mindset. This doesn't mean that we must shun them off. On the contrary, we should show more empathy.

If you know one with literary ambition, then try to be mindful of what you say. (There are moments of a slip of a tongue. Apologise if it happens.) Talk about anything under the sun, but steer clear of literature. (In case of the inevitable, then you might want to know what genres you like.) Treat them like they're no different. (If you can't helped being curious, then ask.)

National Psychology Week is supposed to address psychological issues and the role of psychologist on community well being. But this campaign can be an opportunity to talk about writers. From a psychological standpoint, they make an interesting case. This belief didn't change during the last few centuries. Upbringing plays a part. Circumstances seal their fate. Many rose to the occasion, which their works would attest. Further studies could've convinced you, but it would be better if you talk to one.

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