Friday, June 5, 2009

Writers with Mental Illness © Megan Snider

Writers with Mental Illness

Charles Dickens--Clinical Depression
Sylvia Plath--Clinical Depression, possibly Bipolar Disorder
Ernest Hemingway-- Clinical Depression, possibly Bipolar Disorder
Tennessee Williams--Clinical Depression
Franz Kafka-- Clinical Depression, Anxiety Disorder
John Keats-- Clinical Depression, Bipolar Disorder
Leo Tolstoy-- Clinical Depression
Virginia Woolf-- Bipolar Disorder
Edgar Allan Poe-- Clinical Depression, possibly Bipolar Disorder
F. Scott Fitzgerald-- Clinical Depression, Bipolar Disorder
Lord Byron-- Bipolar Disorder
Samuel Taylor Coleridge-- Bipolar Disorder
Ralph Waldo Emerson-- Bipolar Disorder
Herman Melville-- Clinical Depression
Friedrich Nietzsche-- Clinical Depression
Kurt Vonnegut-- Clinical Depression, Bipolar Disorder
T.S. Eliot-- Clinical Depression (and the wifey, too-- Vivienne Haigh-Wood)
Anne Rice-- Clinical Depression
Anne Sexton-- Clinical Depression
JK Rowling-- Clinical Depression
Amy Tan-- Clinical Depression
Mark Twain-- Clinical Depression
Walt Whitman-- Clinical Depression
Jack Kerouac-- Schizophrenia

If you have anyone to add, please drop me a line with the author and his or her disorder. This list is in no way complete. It probably never will be. I dispute some of the folks and diagnoses on this list, but who am I to criticize?

It is not uncommon for Bipolar Disorder to couple up with severe Clinical Depression. When I began to study mental illness, I had trouble with this concept. Now that it possibly has happened to me, I have less of a problem rationalizing it and accepting it.

We must not forget that spectrum disorders like Schizoaffective Disorder have not been identified enough to be applied to this list. So consider the diagnoses you see here as broad labels, but frank confirmations of some mental illness present in the author.

Keep in mind also that severe emotional disturbance and depression can create psychosis-- just as severe fear can generate it. So, by no means marginalize these authors and say, "Oh, he or she ONLY had THIS."

Also, do not rule out drug use pertaining to these authors. Drug usage intensifies and antagonizes mental illnesses.

Mental illnesses link hands quite frequently and easily, sort of like a game of "Red Rover" gone out of control. Once they link hands and the more comrades that are added to the line, the harder it is for you to break free and the more painful the attempts become. Skinned knees, raw elbows, a bloody nose, a black eye, a chipped or missing tooth are the physical symptoms of the psychological scars we carry for trying to break through that damned line.

I had a professor who used to say in response to my confession of mental illness, "You are in good company."

I believe he meant that all writers and artists go through a similar journey through Hell.

© Megan Snider

So, don't despair for you are in good company.

Indeed. The thought of that is a lullaby that hums me quietly to sleep.

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