April 29th, 2017

I first, knowingly, encountered clinical depression in the early ’90s when a co-worker shared that she was taking Prozac so that she didn’t need to spend her lunch hours crying in her car parked at the back of the parking lot. Since then I’ve known quite a few people who suffer from Depression, some so severe that they took their own lives. I’ve come think of the affliction as a spectrum, much like Autism, that affect many more, including, in my experience, writers and other creative types.

This is not to encourage you to have regular depressions, to be proud of the family disease. Get rid of it, if you can. I intend to try. i can at least know it for what it is, something I couldn’t do before. Again—I don’t want you to really dig the disease, so I shouldn’t tell you too much about my experiences with it. i have found, though, that I handle it best in solitude. People often find this insulting, the way we retreat. It’s a way of hanging onto dignity, though. there are better ways, maybe. I’ll ask a doctor what they are. —to Nanny Vonnegut on 2 November 1972, p. 190 Kurt Vonnegut: Letters.

In a conversation yesterday, I talked about the number of writers at conferences I’d attended over the years who openly discuss that they’ve gone off their meds for the duration so that they could write. The balance between mental health (often externally defined) and creativity is a terrible razor’s edge.

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