A large scale study by the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has found a link between creative professions and mental illness. Writers in particular are more likely to suffer from psychiatric issues including clinical depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, and substance abuse. We’re also nearly twice as likely as the general populace to commit suicide!
Researchers seem to think that all this misery has a genetic component. We’re more likely to blame the collapse of the print industry, lousy wages, and shit like this. Either way, all you writers out there may want to think about seeing a psychiatrist. Assuming you’re lucky enough to have health insurance…
There is a silver lining to consider — mental illness may in fact be helpful to the creative process. From BBC News:
Lead researcher Dr Simon Kyaga said the findings suggested disorders should be viewed in a new light and that certain traits might be beneficial or desirable.
For example, the restrictive and intense interests of someone with autism and the manic drive of a person with bipolar disorder might provide the necessary focus and determination for genius and creativity.
Similarly, the disordered thoughts associated with schizophrenia might spark the all-important originality element of a masterpiece.
And if crippling mental illness is standing in the way of you working on your masterpiece, please remember that help is available.