1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This painful condition of the hands is caused by the pinching of the median nerve, which passes through a bony tunnel in the wrist. Symptoms include numbness, pain, swelling, and tingling, and normally the index, middle, and ring fingers are affected, though sometimes people experience symptoms in the thumbs, forearms, or shoulders.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can sometimes be treated by splinting the wrists at night, by taking anti-inflammatory drugs, or by doctors with steroid injections. Severe cases sometimes have to be treated surgically. To help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, make sure your desk and chair are situated so that your wrists remain straight as you type, and take regular breaks from keyboarding. (Surfing the web doesn't count as a "break" from keyboarding.)
2. Mental Illness
For years the debate has gone on over whether depressed people are attracted to writing or whether writing causes depression. Whatever the answer to this chicken or egg question, there is no doubt that writing as a profession brings along depression triggers: bad reviews, long periods of working in isolation, and near-constant introspection. Many writers are perfectionists too, and carried to an extreme, perfectionism can be depressing and crippling.
Fortunately, there are far better treatments for depression today than there were a generation ago. Furthermore, many of the most common and effective medications are off-patent and more affordable for those living on a writer's income. If you believe you may be dealing with clinical depression, seek help. Few things sap productivity like depression, despite conjecture by some that depression feeds writing.
3. Substance Abuse
Carson McCullers, Jack Kerouac, Mary Karr, and Hunter S. Thompson are just a few famous writers who have struggled with alcohol abuse. There are many theories concerning writing and alcoholism. Kingsley Amis said, "A writer's audience is and remains invisible to him, but if he is any good he is acutely and continuously aware of it, and never more so while it waits for him to come on, to begin p.1. Alcohol not only makes you less self-critical, it reduces fear."
With writers, substance abuse is hard to tease apart from mental issues like depression. But like depression, alcoholism and other addictions can be successfully treated, as the popular genre of "recovery memoir" can attest.
When the writing life is going along swimmingly, nothing could be better. However, when problems arise, like physical or mental illnesses, few things are worse due to the isolation many writers experience. Asking for help is often extremely difficult for writers, but it is an absolute necessity for those who want to continue to enjoy the benefits and joys of this unique profession.
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