Monday, 17 October 2011

Mental health-y stuff

You know how it is...

Well, if you've ever had mental health problems, you probably do. When you're feeling well, it's the last thing you want to think about. When you're feeling ill, it's the last thing you want to write about. Result: it's quite rare for me to blog about my depressions.

But I'm in an in-between state at present, so here goes. It's been a week of alarms - sudden hospital admission for my OH, who, thankfully, now seems to be fine. I seem able to cope when I have to, but then go into meltdown afterwards, when things are OK again. I know I'm not alone in this.

I'm very thankful for my anti-depressant medication, which most of the time I'm taking on a low dose, or else I'm temporarily off it but have it on standby. Perhaps part of the effect is psychological, who knows? But of course it's psychological - it's a psychological problem. Sort of. Or maybe my brain just runs out of serotonin, for reasons known only to itself. Whatever the reason, my tablets always seem to sort me out. I know there are a lot of different views around on medication for depression - and I'm a great believer in counselling, too - but for me it really does seem to be a chemical thing that responds well to the pharmaceutical approach.

I'm comforted by the fact that lots of writers, past and present, seem to suffer from mental illness in one form or another. I suspect we are often people who 'think too much' - though why that should be is another question. I do get the feeling it's deeply endemic in me. I've always been a worrier, as long as I can remember. Throughout my life I've been told by the people who care about me to 'stop worrying; it may never happen', but I've never found the magic switch.

I'm currently trying, for the first time, to write directly about a character with depression, in my latest novel. Thrilling stuff (or possibly not). Though I hope to keep a good balance - there's a lot of other things going on, too - including some intelligent robots, who have problems of their own.

I'd love to hear from you if you're a fellow sufferer or if you have any thoughts on the subject of mental health - in fiction, in life, or anywhere else. And believe me, though the tone of this post is light, I appreciate that it is no laughing matter. Except that, just occasionally and when I'm feeling well, I can smile at myself and my slightly ridiculous brain...

6 comments:

Maxine said...

I've suffered in the past with depression and know that it's something that can always come back. I think it's great that you are writing about this. Too often the subject is hushed, and swept under the carpet despite more people gradually becoming aware that it's not something that people need to be ashamed of. It's a condition, a chemical imbalance in the brain. There's a reason, it's not that we just need to 'get a grip' or 'pull ourselves together'.
Good for you and I hope you and your OH continue to be well and improve.

Rosalie Warren said...

Thank you, Maxine. You're right that depression has often been swept under the carpet in the past, but thank goodness people are beginning to recognise it as a illness like any other. I don't find it easy to write about, but I believe it's what I'm meant to do, so I will go on trying.

OH continues to improve - many thanks for your good wishes.

Fiona Faith Maddock said...

The low light levels and cold of approaching winter don't help. My own view is that humans need lots of warm, wide, sunny open beaches to run over and warm sea to swim in and we don't get enough in this country. Good luck Rosalie. Perhaps one of those daylight lamps would help. I'm thinking of getting one this year.

Rosalie Warren said...

Agree with you about the sea and the beaches, Fiona. They would certainly help!

I'm going to try one of those daylight lamps too. Bought one this year but didn't use it much - this year I will.

Patsy said...

Depression does seem to be fairly common in writers compared with other groups (or maybe it's not more common, but writers are better able than others to explain their illness?)

Rosalie Warren said...

Yes, I think both writers and people with depression tend to belong to the 'think too much-ers' - though not sure who defines what too much is!