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When you are a writer and you struggle with depression, writer’s block isn’t just writer’s block anymore. Writer’s block is something that can be easily swayed when you put your will to it; but when your writer’s block comes from depression it is significantly harder.
I have experienced this first hand. In the past I’ve had writer’s block, and I’ve dealt with it. The best way to battle a block is to just sit down and write. The last few years I have struggled with clinical depression, to a degree where I have been on medication. As I write, I do realize that this post should have been written in May, during mental health awareness month, but mental illness is here for all the other months too. For us all to help remove the stigma, we need to be talking about it, not only in May.
The problem with a Writer’s block when you are depressed, is that the will to something about it is far away. For me, writing has been a sort of therapy. My writing is where I write out my anger, my hatred. It is where I can be anything I am unable to be in my real life. Two years ago, I just stopped writing, and writing has been a constant struggle since, and my depression has turned worse. It is a downward spiral; I can’t write because I’m depressed, I’m depressed because I don’t write.
Because of my illness I was unable to finish my Creative Writing Degree, I had to defer my third year and will be doing it over this year. And I do claim to have all the answers to fix it (I’m still not writing the writing I need), because there is no magical cure and it might not get easier.
To battle the writer’s block, the first step is to realize what’s the problem. In my case depression is the reason or my writer’s block, and eventually the writer’s block became a contributing cause for my depression. It was already too late for me to turn things around when I realized this, a whole semester had passed and it was three months until my dissertation was due.
When you realize what the problem is, you can take steps to fix it. In the past my writing had always been linked to my reading. If I read a lot, I would write a lot. At my writing peak I wrote 5000 words a day and I read almost 100 books that year. It is my belief that all writers need to read. To quote one of my favorite Lannister: “A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone.”
I think what I am trying to say here is that it is important to see things in context. As writers we create context in all our little pieces of work, but while we are doing this we forget to take a look at our own, very real, life. So my advice would be: read wide, read often, and read to expand your mind. Also, remember it is no shame in putting down a book that just doesn’t rub your back.
Luna’s Red Hat takes up the important subject of suicide, a little discussed taboo topic in our society. Following a beautifully illustrated story of one day in Luna’s life, we get to know how she lost her mother just a year ago and we see a father who is struggling with helping Luna understand what happened as well as coming to terms with his loss.
Through the story Luna behaves realistically, though her thoughts might not be as genuine as her behavior. The loss and the lack of understanding of what happened, has made her frustrated and angry. Her father pulls er through and help her understand is small, clear words what happened to her mother as well as explaining that it was not Luna or any one else’s fault.
As well as containing the small story of Luna and her little family the book ends with an informative essay by Dr. Riet Fiddelaers Jaspers. The essay outlines how to tell a child about such a thing as suicide, and why it is important to actually let the child know what happened.
This book is designed to help children deal with loss and suicide, but I believe adults also could benefit from reading it.
A story about schizophrenia and other illnesses that can cause hallucinations Author: Alice Hoyle Jessica Kingsley Publishers Published: 21.02.2015 Amazon.co.uk || Waterstones.com
“Pretend Friends” paints a good picture of psychosis, what it is and how it works. It is written in simple words and uses “pretend friends” as a simile, which makes it easier for a child to relate to and understand the subject.
The story is short but it still gives a lot of information, both for the adult and the child. The child’s pretend friends and the “pretend friends” that portray adults are drawn differently as to better distinguish between the two (without making the latter one look scary).
Also the book features and introduction for adults as well as a F&Q at the end with questions that children might ask after reading the book. The F&Q is very informative as well as being formulated in a way that a child also can understand (with some help from an adult).
I did really enjoy this book and I would also like to see more of these kind of stories to explain other mental illnesses. As the lack of understanding of mental illnesses is evident in out society, I think we could hugely benefit from more books like this one.