In the 2013 documentary about author J.D. Salinger, distributed by Weinstein, his nervous background was featured. Almost like a presence.
After his horrific experiences during World War II, Salinger became undone. He spent time in a mental hospital. During that stay, the film contended, he put together his vision and determination about becoming a brandname writer.
Among writers, crackups can either be a rite of passage for our important work or a long-term ticket to marginal living, including homelessness. That issue is one of the several Mark Vonnegut, M.D. tosses around in his 2010 book "Just Like Someone Without Mental Illness Only More So." Here you can order it from Amazon.
After his three psychotic breaks, Vonnegut figured out he wanted to be a medical doctor. The son of famous writer Kurt Vonnegut, he already had had success in having his writing published. The odds were against getting into medical school. After all, his undergraduate GPA for math and science was under 2.0. He was heading toward 30. And, there was his mental-illness history.
But he returned to school to take a whole bunch of pre-med courses and aced them. His MCAT score was high. He monitored his triggers to avoid another crackup. After 19 medical schools turned him down, Harvard Medical accepted him. He did have one more breakdown after he was an established medical doctor. But his career couldn't have gone better. In addition, he learned how to navigate relationships. The 2010 book, like his earlier "The Eden Express," was a success.
Men Vonnegut knew who also had their leap into the abyss, though, never had the whatever to exit that mess. Why? Science and even spirituality seem to know so little about recovery from mental illness. Those who have managed to leverage mental illness as a platform for What's Next may have more insight into what it takes than the supposed experts.
What Vonnegut had going for him was an atypical background. Therefore, from the get-go he had to figure out how to emotionally, socially, and financially (his fathers' books weren't money-makers until he was an adult) survive. That was without much help from adults or experts. He had drive. He had compassion, which helped get him voted in Boston Magazine the best baby doctor in the area. He was an open system. And, he believed in his dreams with an odd optimism. Despite three emotional crashes, he still opted for a normal life.
Perhaps if healthcare professionals, social workers, and family would just be there for those of us who become undone. Then we could draw on our own resources to develop takeaways from that brutal experience. In 2003, when I entered the seventh level of emotional, spiritual, and financial hell, I allowed other human beings in. That started me on this 11-year journey to becoming a known blogger (which has been a major new-business development tool) and holding on to a small patch of inner peace. My other two sites are here and here.