With one in five Americans dealing with mental health problems, mental well-being is becoming a bigger and more important topic than ever before. Mental illness has been suggested to share a link with creativity, with famed cases such as Edgar Allen Poe, Sylvia Plath, Mark Twain, and Stephen King, and a plethora of scientific evidence and research back up the theory, according to the Writing Cooperative (https://writingcooperative.com).
While the story of the tragic artist becomes almost romanticized in books and movies, it remains a serious issue for those affected. Writing can sometimes provide catharsis, but on days when symptoms make creativity too difficult, you can manage a mental health condition in many ways.
First and foremost, seek professional help. Find a psychiatrist to work with you on medication if necessary, and locate a therapist you are comfortable with—both go a long way in getting your mental health back on track. If you’re not comfortable with face-to-face appointments, consider resources for therapists online, such as “Better Help” and “ReGain.” The American Psychological Association offers great information on what to look for in a therapist. Some therapists specialize in specific areas of mental health, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, or others, and finding a professional who works almost exclusively with your diagnosis can help with managing your health.
Beyond seeking assistance, find an activity or event to look forward to. When suffering from depression, for instance, you can easily spiral with debilitating thoughts of worthlessness, and as a creative, any negative reviews can feed that notion. Looking forward to something can ease one’s sense of doom. Schedule a trip, a dinner with friends, or a day out with kids or your significant other. Plan to see a movie at the theater or even via a streaming service, although getting out of the house can boost your mood. Caring for plants, spending time in your yard, a walk in the park, or a short trip to the corner store can also assuage your depression. Even the smallest event can be the key to moving from day to day.
Finally, always remember your importance. You are valuable, loved, needed, and wanted. You are beautiful inside and out, and you provide entertainment to others with your talent. Constantly remind yourself of these and other affirmations. Write encouraging notecards to place in your office or your writing area, surround yourself with inspirational sayings that help build self-esteem, and never forget your worth.
As always, if you suffer from mental illness, these tips are not in lieu of seeking proper professional treatment. If you are in immediate danger and dealing with suicidal thoughts or tendencies, please contact the National Suicide Hotline at 988. or a local hotline. Call 911 to have an ambulance sent to your location, or seek immediate treatment at the closest emergency room. You can also contact NAMI at 800-950-NAMI (6264) or live chat with a professional on the organization’s website, https://nami.org.
This is the second in a series of articles discussing mental illness and the role it can play in an author’s career.