I’ve written and erased more words than I can count trying to compose this blog post. My mood has swung from defensive, to apologetic, to ashamed, with plenty of pit stops in between. One moment I feel emboldened to share my experiences, so that others who might be going through something similar can feel seen. The next, I tell myself that strangers on the internet care not a whit for my problems, and that I’m only opening myself up for negative attention by talking so frankly about something so raw and personal. In the end, I hope I’ve found some middle ground.
To put it frankly and simply: I, like many others, suffer from depression. Mine manifests primarily as major depressive episodes, which I experience three or four times a year. During these times, which usually last around three weeks, my chief symptom, apart from an emotional cocktail of all the usual suspects, is exhaustion. A normal day of waking up, taking my kids to daycare, a 9 hour work day, then coming home to care for my three littles literally feels like being in a state of perpetual motion designed to drain every last iota of energy from my body. As such, any waking moment of spare time I have not being used to keep up appearances at my job or to my family is spent in bed.
If I could form a list of all the activities that are sacrificed on the altar of my depression, creativity would be at the very top. It’s not a choice, but, logically it make the most sense. Writing is work, hard work at that. Squeezing it to a full schedule of work, kids, and a social life is a labor in and of itself. Trying to maintain it while your brain chemistry is trying to convince you of how worthless you are… well, I don’t pretend to know how other depressed creatives feel, but for me it’s damn near impossible.
It goes without saying that it sucks having to take a break in this way. It feels like I’m giving up on my dream, even if I know rationally that’s only temporary. At a time when my mind is already fertile ground for self-loathing, writing becomes yet another catalyst for guilt, which then turns into a sort of resentment for my project, which then morphs back into guilt and the cycle continues. In the end, the title for this post becomes a misnomer because in reality, for me, there simply is no writing while depressed.
Eventually the fog starts to clear and I feel a little silly for all the things I did and felt during the episode. I go around and make my apologies to my kids, my partner, anyone who I let down or was short with. And then I get on with my life, knowing that in a few months we’ll all be going through it again.
I wish it was different. I really do. Who knows what I could have accomplished this month off if I my brain hadn’t decided it was time to venture down the rabbit hole. Even now that I feel ready to get back to it, I’ve found myself having difficulty reconnecting to the project after such a long and mentally trying hiatus.
Ultimately, the only answer is to just… keep fighting through it. I have to pick up my pen and write the next word, the next sentence, paragraph, page, and chapter until it’s done. No matter what obstacles I face, that goal has ever been the same.
Thanks to those who read this, even though you don’t know me or perhaps can’t relate to this particular difficulty. And to anyone who’s going through something similar: I don’t have any advice, but I see you. And I believe in you.