Dealing With Depression: An Author's Look At Life

Posted at 23:41pm on 12th July 2011
Photo: Dandelions At Dusk

Forgive me, those of you who come regularly to An Author's Look At Life to learn about creative writing techniques and writing and publishing a book.  I feel I've let you down, lately.  The fact is that I'm at something of a crisis point in my life.  And although it's fashionable to present oneself as a successful and all-together person, I've decided to come clean and admit that I'm battling with depression.

You might not recognise it as such, if you met me, but for me it's a case of déjà vu.  Been there!  Done that.  Got the T-shirt, the movie, and the instruction manual.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

In other words, I know the signs of depression.  Currently, I'm skirting the edges.  This is not a full-blown, clinical depression.  I can function publicly – but then again, I choose not to be often in public.  I choose solitude, and solitude can be a symptom of depression.

As an author, writing is my life.  It's not what I do.  It's who I am.  And that's part of the problem.  At the moment, even when writing, I lose my concentration.  That, too, is a symptom of depression.

I switch on my computer.  I check my e-mails.  I follow a lead.  I flick from one website to another.  I play freecell.  Endlessly.

At the end of the day, I find I've achieved nothing.  That adds to my depression.  I'm depressed to find that I'm depressed. 

Depression, for me, is as if I am lost in a maze.  I feel forlorn; vulnerable; abandoned - and it's mind-numbingly miserable.  Abject.  At the centre of it, there's nothing but sky above and endless hedges: pressing you down; hemming you in.  The temptation is to give in.  To sit down and never get up.  To be swallowed, whole, in the maze.

STRUGGLING WITH DEPRESSION

Writing has always been my preferred method of communication – with others, with myself, and with my God.  It helps me to distinguish patterns – in my circumstances, my thoughts, my behaviour.  It's my life-blood.

So, despite my current inadequacies, I attempt to write.  The idea is that, once I can decipher the pattern, the blueprint, I can then find my way out of the maze.  It's only a glimmer of an idea.  It may take a while.  After all, I now know that this has been coming on for some months.  But I'm a fighter, not a quitter.

SOLUTIONS: WRITING YOUR WAY OUT OF DEPRESSION

So I continue to write.  And I suggest that if you're battling with depression, you do too.  Choose a method of writing that's best for you:

  1. A first person daily journal, in which you write about your circumstances and responses to them; your feelings; your behaviour.
  2. A letter to a trusted friend, describing what's happening to you.  You need never send the final missive.
  3. In the form of a story about a third person.  Choose a name for your fictitious character, then let them show you (not tell, as above) how they're feeling as they encounter their circumstances and act out their thoughts, responses and behaviour.

 Try all three and see which works best for you.  And do let me know.

MORE COMING SOON

In this Series: Dealing With Depression Caused By False Accusations

Your Comments:

3rd August 2011
at 4:23am
Dear Mel

I feel for you and recognize all the signs. I have spent many difficult years struggling out of depression - am much better now on the whole but I did find the daily journal a huge help - have kept it for c 10 years and in my worst moments it has always been reassuring to be able to go back over the months before and see that the black days do pass - in place of your sky above and endless hedges all I see is blackness in the worst days - and then suddenly one day it is as if someone has drawn back the curtains and let sunshine in again. One day I think perhaps I will draw up my journals into something for public consumption. I wonder!? Take good care of yourself! All the best Eleanor (ACW member)
5th August 2011
at 7:52pm
Thank you Eleanor for your frankness and kindness. I think there are many people "out there" who dare not admit to feeling as we do.


My current malaise is due to specific circumstances which have gone on for years. I'm just plain tired with the onslaught.


However, I also think that creative people are prone to depression; that it's part of their psyche. Much of my best writing has come out of the dark periods in my life, and other people's lives have been touched and changed. Your journals may well have a similar effect on others, if you publish. It's very rewarding to share in this way.


You're so right: the sun will shine again. May it shine on us both today.

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