I have depression.
It’s a medical condition, hereditary, I’m not medicated because most of the time I wrestle it to the ground, muzzle it with some good music and try to live by the rule of “fake it ‘til you make it.” The words “I’m fine” are ones I state often during the times where my depression instead muzzles me and wrestles me to the ground, and are often untrue. I’m very rarely fine when I say that. I am usually moments away from melting into a puddle of useless goo, or am strung together so tightly that I could either break into a million pieces or scream myself hoarse.
Very rarely do I allow myself to decompress in a way that would be unhelpful to those around me. I tend to hovel myself away where I wallow and work things over in my mind to an unbearable level, have a good cry and start the upswing.
Being a writer means that these downticks of depression really get in my way. I mean…they really get in my way. Everything is horrible, the world is ending, I’m never going to get anywhere, no one cares to read what I write…and all of that may be true, but if I do what my depression asks me to, it absolutely would be.
Throw in the towel, it says. You’ve published two books, it’s a good stopping point, it lulls. You’ve set out to do something, and you did it, now you can just…stop.
It’s like there’s a shadow that is comfortably sitting on my shoulder, hissing the words into my mind, which then repeats the words to me over, and over again, because in these moments my brain is nothing but a parrot for the negative.
I guess it’s ironic then that my author tagline is “pulling stories from shadows”, because I have my own personal shadow that I really should start funneling off of. Only if it were that easy, only if I wrote something that could be entwined with these strong emotions and this negative energy to twist it into something tangible, something other than whispers and grating emotions that could wear a person weary, all the way down into the bones.
If I could manage it, I’d like to write my depression, bind it into a book and every time it decides it’s going to sit on my shoulder I’d be able to take that book and hurl it across the room.
Yell at it.
Tell it no — very sternly, like speaking to an animal. Finger pointed and everything.
Things aren’t always that simple, however, and though my depression makes me think of a great many things, writing those things takes energy that I never have in the moment. And when that moment is gone? No one wants to go back to it, they just want to run away from it, put it behind them, leave it in the dust and the dark where it belongs.
Take their moments to breathe, while they can.
You see the thing is my depression is right. I set out to do something. I set out to become a published author by the time I was thirty, and I’ll be thirty-one in about three months and have published two books and written in an anthology for charity. It’s over, thirty came and is on its way out, my books are at a good stopping point, I could just quit.
But what my depression doesn’t understand, what sometimes I feel like I don’t understand about myself, when I know that I’ve hit my goal and it still feels like there’s nothing to celebrate, and I’m left wondering why I’m doing this then? It’s because I’m not done.
I want more. I want to write more. I want to see more of my books on my bookshelf. I won’t be pinned down or settled until I write the words down into my bones where the weariness has set in, until they can snuggle right down in with the cracks of depression and give them a pat, a nudge, the finger, anything.
I want my writing to define me, for myself. When I wake up in the morning, even on those depressed days I don’t want to hear my mind whisper first “I’m depressed”, I want it to whisper “I’m an Author.”
And if the depression comes after it? That’s okay, because it will no longer be what defines me.
The question that you must ask yourself at the end of the day, when everything is feeling hopeless, pointless, dark or muddied is…what do you want to define you? And whose ass do you have to kick to get there, even if it’s your own?