Mental health, medication, and creativity

So, apparently (read: according to my wife), it’s a Thing (read: trending a bit on Twitter) to claim that untreated mental illness is a font for creativity.

Holy wow.

Okay. To be fair, sometimes it very well may be. There are those whose art IS their mental illness, or more precisely their illness is the inspiration for their art. For these folks, I suppose, it’s reasonable to assume treating the illness may hamper their art. Would Stephen King write the horrors he does if he were medicated to cope with his nightmares? (Is that even possible?!) I mean, obviously, until he ran out of the memory of any not-yet-written nightmares … but after?

A frequent example is Van Gogh … no idea why. For one, in some respects he WAS medicated. Not well, but he was. And even modern meds … well … in some ways there’s no difference between using opium and using Xanax besides the side-effects. But never mind that he blows the argument that way, which can be counter argued that booze and getting high aren’t medicating, how about the fact he painted such beauty and life in spite of his “tortured soul”? I’m pretty sure his depression didn’t create his work, it just cut it off at the age of 30.

My wife, is less creative unmedicated. Without meds she can not write. She’s also arguably not a functional adult or even a strictly function hominid lifeform, but she can’t write for her anxiety issues.

Me? I can’t actually say. I mean if my oestrogen levels sink below some threshold it triggers depression (this is a woman thing … cis/trans doesn’t matter … men suffer similarly for low testosterone … fun fact for the day) so I suppose my HRT is medication for depression, but my depression is far more complex than that. I don’t medicate, though. Not really because I l’m afraid I couldn’t write without depression. If I’m depressed I avoid writing, after all … partly because it goes in dark directions and I’m not into goth fic so generally hate what I write, but also because I can’t seem to get the motivation and focus to. But when depression isn’t dragging me down I quite enjoy writing. So, arguably, meds would be a Good Idea. I just look at the side effects of anti-depressants and figure I’d rather cope because they would make me depressed.

I’m not going to take a side in the argument. There shouldn’t be sides, nor should there be an argument. Mostly, I think, the ‘illness is art’ are quite mad and part of a group I wrote about before who feel Art Must Be Torture! (Load of bollox).

Thing is, we’re all different. Maureen in Ready or Not has very firm opinions on not taking meds for her depression. Because for her they are more torture than benefit. She knows her little sister enough to advise her against them as well because it’s a likely point in commont betwixt the siblings to hate the sensation of being confined to a certain parameter of mood; it’s too suffocating. Now, trial and error with other medicines, other doses, may have been good but she couldn’t tolerate the way they left her feeling until that magical cocktail is discovered. She does actually use medical marijuana for insomnia and her depression it’s later revealed (uh … spoiler alert?)

The flip side of the coin are people “meds are why I’m alive now! Meds are miraculous and everyone should medicate!”

No. As is my wont I’ll stay right here in the realm of reality and rationality. Each human is unique. That uniqueness is important. Nothing works universally. Some people should definitely medicate, some definitely oughtn’t, still others can take it or leave it. Let’s chill and let it go.

My single point of firm belief is that some drugs are over prescribed. Many psychiatrists and psychologists do feel too many GPs will see someone seems stressed or down and give them a psych drug with no further evaluation, no actual attempt at therapy. Some GPs and psychologists alike are a little too happy to give Timmy and Suzy a Ritalin script … even when they don’t need it and thus a creative child becomes a zombie. But this is not a mental illness thing, this is a modern western (especially the for-profit American) medical profession thing and pathologicalising and medicating everything & sundry. So, ultimately, I suppose it comes back to moderation.

It’s amazing. Nothing is good in extremes. Change for the sake of change can be as terrible as holding onto tradition too strongly. Even rights have an interesting point of moderation: your rights and mine should not impede each other. Thus laws against theft, murder, wanton discrimination … these are sensible. Your right to religion shouldn’t impede my right to service BUT my right to service shouldn’t impede the rights of a church or church affiliated service (but that service shouldn’t get anyone’s tax dollars either, it’s only fair after all).

I ramble. If you haven’t caught on to this you’ve not been paying attention. But really, this is one of the internet’s more colossally asinine arguments. Let artists medicate or not. And if an artist may be in danger for their mental illness, let’s recommend they may want to seek help … conversely those suffering for their treatment should be encouraged to cease or reevaluate said therapies. It’s balance, baby.

Goodnight.

P.s. I can’t concentrate to go back over this for proofreading, so hopefully my recent bouts of extreme dyslexia this week won’t have impacted this too badly.

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More Sports Journalism!

I tried to live-tweet a hockey game tonight. It was, unfortunately, actually the lead up to a hockey game that started after I was ready to go. But I did my best.

Ready for my new career in sports journalism!

Last night I live tweeted a football game.

I think I did really well!

Someone start a letter writing campaign to ESPN, I’m totally ready for that journalism salary.

(Psst it’s a whole thread for those unfamiliar)

The wrongness is strong …

So much absurdity 😱[

Okay folks, this is a thing that was found on Pinterest. It has so many wonderful things so tremendously wrong with it I think I’m going to have to break things down and enumerate them.

I think, for starters, I should be literal and actually break that graphic up.

No. Just … no.

Look, I grok, some folks plan. Some people construct. But this is not the way to present writing to new writers. This is a method (frankly a completely mad looking one at that, but some folks juggle geese) but it’s presented with a tone of absolution.

No. In fact I can think of no successful writer I’ve encountered who has a process like that. So that’s a suggestion it might even actually be a bad method, but no method is good or bad if it works for you. All methods come to “write your story”. That’s the method that matters.

Whether you prepare by complex world building or by trying to wrest the pen from the kitten the only step that matters is “write your first draft”; prior to that is only so much extemporaneous detail.

Personally I shudder at these kinds of lists because, unless you build it through your own trial and error it merely represents a barrier to writing. It’s these things, often quite unpleasant or unfun (for most people) things. Things that, if you feel you must do them before you write likely means you will never write because you’ll be years or eternities at steps 1-8 and “unable” to proceed to 9. To say nothing of the likelihood that such chores would suck the joy out of the creation. I mean … if you’re someone who is glowing at the prospect of using these 9 steps (or any of their infinite variations available on Tumblr, Pinterest, et al) ask yourself “how many people have I met who would agree this sounds great?” Not many? Yeah. You do you, sure, but trust me … statistically this is like inverse Literature Class which has been studied to indicate likely impairs love of reading and of literature. Food for thought.

Surprisingly this part isn’t bad. But it isn’t good, either.

Again with absolutism. This works for an organised, scheduling person. This works for someone who, if they don’t make a literal to-do list that they mark things off of, do nothing without the external motivation of the check mark.

My wife is such a creature. Even she is wont to start cursing at this kind of list. Apparently it goes to far and makes her OCD (or maybe it’s the Anxiety) itch really bad.

Look. Trust me, you don’t have to do anything to be a writer but write.

To reiterate, if it works for you, that’s swell, but no one will revoke your literary license if you don’t.

This is the meat and gravy of the horror of this “infographic”.

Class, this is not a list of questions to ask you publisher. This is a list of questions to ask of a vanity press company that will print your book. In this scenario you, my sweet, are the publisher and the other guy is just someone you’re going to pay to produce (and possibly distribute) your book. How kind.

A publisher of whom you feel the need to ask these questions is a “publisher” you should collect name and url, run away from at full gallop, bolt the doors behind you, and report them to The Authorities.

This one stands apart. While it ignores the option of self-publishing, it is relatively accurate if a touch outdated. For example I can’t recall the last time I saw an agent or publisher for whom stamps and envelopes would come into play. True, the publishing industry is still trying to decide how it feels about the printing press, and a committee is being formed to assess this “moveable type” notion they seem to have discovered that there’s something in the universe called “email” and some more avant-garde ones even use website submission forms. It’s pretty wild.

Seriously, this sort of stuff steams me. It’s never made by a writer. Or if it is, they’re an example of why fanfic or self-publishing have bad names (well, they’re a writer … they wrote … they maybe need things like an editor and/or talent … but they put words on a page b’gum!).

If anyone says anything about writing other than “well, what I do is …” or “have you maybe tried …” preferring instead “you really should …” or “a write must …” just back away slowly and don’t make eye contact. They’re criminally insane or something, I’m sure.

That was fun

It looks like the amusement is wearing off but I seem to have attracted the attention of some sort of men’s … thingy. For want of a word, movement.

So that’s the Twit I made that got their attention.

Yeah, it wouldn’t have if I hadn’t made it a hashtag but I honestly didn’t really care. I think part of me held out hope it might spark conversation.

The first replies were pretty typical apemen on Twitter fodder so I sassed.

I will provide the context to my introduction to the term too because, frankly, Ursula Vernon has a remarkable way with words (Castle Hangnail is a favourite of mine)

Anyway … I’m probably going to mute the thread soon because I’m getting bored with it. But who knows 🤷‍♀️ maybe it’ll get fun again.

[Reblog] What I’ve Been Reading And How It Disproves Some Common Self-Pubbing Wisdom

I’ve commented on this quite a lot myself.
I don’t believe that a great many bits of “self-publishing wisdom” are anything but nonsense.

I’ll admit, I’ve a photographic memory, so I don’t have to hear of something multiple times to remember it.  And hearing about something multiple times doesn’t make me read it.  I’ve heard of Name of the Wind several times.  My wife has a copy and has informed me repeatedly that I really ought to read it.  I haven’t yet.  I intend to because aspects and quotes from it seem interesting, and I’ve found Pat Rothfuss to have a rather charming and engaging way with words that I hope translates into his fiction (not everyone’s does; I rather like John Scalzi‘s blogposts more than his fiction, for example).

I strongly suspect that, in reality, most people select a book because

A) Someone whose tastes in books they respect recommends it.  This is why I read about half of what my wife recommends to me: she has peculiar tastes that sometimes overlap mine.  I give her time to tell me enough about them first.  I don’t know why she so rarely reads what I recommend as she is wont to loving anything I finally convince her to.

B) They notice it because it’s interesting looking.  AKA: Browsing.  Neat cover art, catchy title, whatever.  It calls to them.  I suspect that, unless the person has disposable income to actually impulse by us$10+ that this works better in libraries, or bookstores conducive to sitting down and finding out if you like a book first (yay ebooks and the sample thing!!)

C) They saw the movie/tv series.  Hey, it’s why I read Game of Thrones.  Now, I need to get around to reading the second book … though it’s been a few years since I read the first or watched the first season … as in … did I ever watch series 4?  I know I haven’t 5 and 6 and what are they on now?  It was back then I read it.

D) They love the author.  I love Terry Pratchett and search for his books when I’m eager for something to read.  I have other authors with books I love that I approach with caution because they have books I do not love.  Spider Robinson, J R R Tolkien (I really don’t like LotR that much, except for Fellowship of the Ring), and others.

E) I forget.  I’ve been ill and my head aches so I’m going to just stop writing, format this, and go have some coffee.  Don’t forget to read Ms Haddock’s blogpost which inspired this, excerpt is below and there is linkage to the rest … which is about 3-5x the excerpt … no, seriously, it’s a little long.

What I’ve Been Reading And How It Disproves Some Common Self-Pubbing Wisdom

(Damn, am I good at short and pithy titles or what?)

Long story short, I live in a place that is not exactly conducive to either reading or writing. To somewhat mitigate the negative effect this has on my sanity, I’ve been spending a couple of afternoons a week at the library.

Now, was my OCD still completely out of control, I have no doubt what I’d be doing is working my way through my over 1400 book long “to read” list on Goodreads. Since my OCD is more-or-less managed right now though, instead I’ve been wandering pretty aimlessly through the library and reading whatever grabs my interest at the time.

So, here’s a list of books I’ve either read or at least read a significant portion of in the past few weeks (There’ve been others I’ve tossed aside after a chapter, usually non-fiction that was blatantly stupid or dry enough that the subject matter would have to be something I found very interesting for me to push past it to read the damned thing.) (Goodreads links included, in case any of my readers may wish to find out more about any of these.):

Source: What I’ve Been Reading And How It Disproves Some Common Self-Pubbing Wisdom

An awesome I found on Twitter

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Your Silence Is Deafening: An Open Letter To the Target Boycotters

Drifting Through

target

I hear you.

You’re angry.

I get it, I’m angry too.

I’m not talking to the people who are angry at Target because their Pro Transgender bathroom policy flies in the face of their cherry picked moral compass. I’m not under any obligation  to respect their beliefs. 

I’m talking to you… the people who have no issue with sharing a bathroom with LGBT people. I’m talking to those of you who are speaking out about this bathroom policy, expressing concern over the women and children who you fear will be in danger because of this policy.

You’re reasonable people. You aren’t expressing hate or bigotry. You just worry. You worry about your kids, your wives, your sisters. I worry too.

I probably worry too much. I have always accompanied my younger kids to the bathroom in public places. When my son was too old to go into the women’s room, I…

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