This is my personal blog and does not necessarily reflect the collective views of Hard Limits Press

Thursday, October 7, 2010

On mental illness and creativity

The final world on romanticizing the locus of suffering and art:

"No one is creative when paralytically depressed, psychotic, institutionalized, in restraints, or dead because of suicide."

--Kay Redfield Jamison

Touched With Fire

Betsy Lerner weighs in


  1. So absolutely and heartbreakingly true.

  2. One of my favorite writers on the topic of mental illness. Touched With Fire inspired me to do a fair amount of my grad school research on bipolar disorder. I still need to read An Unquiet Mind.

    Personally, I can't write when depressed, though I found journaling to be an incredibly powerful way to pull myself out of depressed moments.

  3. Mdal,

    I think writing in a journal was one of the first ways I ever attempted to purge myself of bad feelings. I have pages of entries across ten years. Now, I can look back and clearly see the pattern of my rapid cycling. I write about the same things over and over. My handwriting changes--depression to hypomania to neutrality to depression--as well. I've thought of posting some journal entries here; have you ever thought of doing the same on your blog?

  4. Tiger, I actually hadn't thought of posting any of the entries. That's worth considering. I was told by a couple of my very close friends that the journaling I was doing as I climbed out of the depression of a major health crisis coinciding with a divorce was some of the most honest, striking writing they'd ever seen from me.

    It's strange that I can immediately identify the single most helpful, therapeutic post I ever wrote, but I recognize immediately that it would probably hold minimal interest for other people. It sounds so pathetically pop-psychology, but I acted on the suggestion one day to spend 15 minutes listing everything I had to be grateful for, no matter how small or inconsequential. I was stunned at how much better I felt afterward, even with big aspects of my life in disarray. It seemed like such a simplistic, trite suggestion but the effect was astounding.

  5. You could even split the list up in to separate posts, really get in to why each thing felt meaningful to you. That would certainly help others. I think sometimes as ill people we get caught up in that feeling of isolation, the no-one-can-reach-me, and it's easy to forget that there are millions out there suffering along in very similar hells. Writing about it can be an open hand reaching out to someone else.