The Anxious Writer
I've always been an anxious person - a worrier. It's not unusual but a few years ago my anxiety started to get the better of me. I was struggling to function properly at work mainly (my day job). I finally sought help from my GP, and along with some counselling I was prescribed some medication. It was, strictly speaking, an anti-depressant though it is used for anxiety - and it works. It works really well for me. I felt like a different person and people noticed it too, they agreed - I was better. Of course, there is a 'but' - and in my case it was that it seemed to slow me down creatively. I honestly can't say it had any negative affect in any other aspect of my life - but - I stopped writing.
At first, I didn't mind. Publishing my first novel was a bit of rollercoaster (which I will keep for another blog), but I felt a little disillusioned and I thought that actually - if it meant I could function in a more effective way the rest of the time - it was worth the loss of my writing. At the time I was editing my second novel 'Margaret' with my editor and she was waiting for me to send her the latest draft. I made excuses for a while, and then I came clean, 'I'm taking a break.' I told her and to her credit she told me to take my time.
I'd love to know if this is something that other people have experienced. Is the anxiety, the sense of my brain working overtime - ALL the time - intrinsically linked with my creativity? Is it the anxiety that brings me ideas and keeps me motivated or, is it that the tablets dulled something else along with the anxiety? Other people have told me that the same tablets have left them feeling flat. Ruby Wax brilliantly describes the way that on medication emotions don't 'hit' the mark in the same way (I'm paraphrasing but you get the gist). Is it just a coincidence that I lost interest at a time when other things were demanding my attention? I'd love to know if anyone has had a similar experience.
Now, 2 years in and I have started writing again. I have finished editing Margaret - and it is due for release in October - deadlines help. I am finding that my writing is a bit better, it feels stronger and calmer, and I wonder if that is the medication too - giving me time to think and space in my brain that I didn't have before because it was full of worries all bouncing around together causing chaos. Either way, for now at least, I'll keep taking the tablets.
Let me know your experiences in the comments.