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.
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.