Friday, January 8, 2021

Depression - Writing Through the Haze

With New Year's Day in the rear view mirror and everyone returning to an ordinary life (current events notwithstanding), as writers we need to resume our usual schedules. However, this is not very easy, given that returning to life means going back to winter weather, social isolation, and often credit-card bills from our holiday excesses. Given all this, it's not easy to just pick up the pen and go back to work. For some of us, it's even more difficult.

In this short post, I will discuss something that affects a lot of writers, and that plenty of creatives experience. It's not writer's block, but something similar that can suspend the process of our work. It shows up a lot in this time of the year, but for some of us it exists during all seasons. It can be worse than writer's block, and for an unseen problem it is all too visible to those afflicted.

Despite my generally happy demeanor, there is a darkness that follows me around constantly. It's not the usual sadness that comes with life's bad news, but but an ever-present cloud hovering about me. On a good day, I can ignore the mist and go about my business without too much difficulty. On other days, the darkness settles around me, immersing me in an obscuring fog that makes it difficult to even function. By function, that means more that just doing my writing, it means being able to get up and do anything. Given this, how can someone accomplish all their writing goals and meet their year's resolutions?

One thing I have learned over the years is to try and make my problems real, or at least recognizable. It's an old meditation trick to try and envision those things we cannot see, and by doing so, we can claim some control over them. This is where I bring out my writer's toolkit, and apply my creative skills to try and contain the beast.

A problem like depression does not have shape or form, so our first task is to try and feel what its physical traits would be. In my situation, my feelings envision depression as a dark cloud, a purple haze (and not the cool kind in Jimi Hendrix's psychedelic love song) that, at its worst, can blind my vision entirely. It is not like a wispy, feathery cloud but rather thick and solid, clumped like a heavy storm cloud on the horizon, the kind that makes you go inside and close your windows just in case. 

Now, what does it sound like? Feel like? If I were to think about it, it is not like a storm cloud, thunder growling from within. Rather, it smothers all sound, dampening any and all voices from the outside. It's cold and damp, as chilling as wet clothes. It covers every inch of my body, draining my energy and leaving me seeking the warm refuge of my blankets.

These little techniques are far from a cure - my purple cloud still hovers about me, shrouding me like a wet blanket. But sometimes, when I try to make it real and tangible, it can be a little bit easier to manage, and maybe, just maybe, I am able to write past the problems.

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  3. I know that challenge of “company” that depression can keep. You enter into a dark black arena that’s so dark, so black that you can feel its dark blackness enveloping you and penetrating your skin. I see myself having stepped off the edge of life into a bottomless pit, silently screaming with a voice that cannot be heard as its owner tumbles over and over, deeper and deeper into a paralyzing essence of existence.
    Writing, journaling, doodling help to release me from depressions grip... when I can find the ability to get ink from my mind and onto the paper. Sometimes I just need a nap. And it also helps when your inner “realizer” realizes that you are not alone... that people do love you... that your life DOES matter.
    If you’ve never dealt with depression it might be hard for you to understand the defining words of the depressed. Sometimes you can’t explain yourself to the point of being understood. I “lost” a couple friends that I thought were as close and committed to me as the line in marriage vows... “til death do us part.” I couldn’t provide an adequate explanation to/for them of what I was going through. They labeled me as strange... hard to get along with... no fun anymore... and walked out of my life like I was a plague.
    I’m thankful that since the late 90’s I no longer have suicidal thoughts or tendencies. Now those were some extra extra dark black days.
    I share with as many people as I can to please be compassionate if family or friends start to act a little “odd”. They might be going through something that can’t explain to you... depression.

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    1. Thank you. I often say that it's something you can't understand unless it inhabits you, and I would rather people not be able to understand rather than know all too well what it's all about.

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