Dealing With Depression: An Author's Look At Life
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:
- A first person daily journal, in which you write about your circumstances and responses to them; your feelings; your behaviour.
- A letter to a trusted friend, describing what's happening to you. You need never send the final missive.
- 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
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