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...