I've been in a weird, tired, cranky mood lately, and it's doing some not good things to my writing. For one thing, I haven't touched my WIP in almost two weeks. For another, I'm having a really rough time composing blog posts. I started at least three or four this week, but for some reason I couldn't finish any of them. Even writing about how much I don't feel like writing is proving difficult.
I'm convinced this is a nasty phase that will pass in a few days, but that doesn't make getting through it any easier. I don't care for myself when I feel this way--and I'm sure my DH doesn't, either! Coincidentally (or not), Colleen Lindsay posted a link to writer Colin Rowsell's blog, where he started what might be the most thought-provoking discussion on writers and depression I've ever seen. Many of the stories told there were deeply moving, mainly because I could relate to everything my fellow writers said. Reading their words was like walking through a funhouse of mirrors; the images I saw took different sizes and shapes, but in the end, they were all very much like me.
There. I said it. I am one of the thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of writers who has struggled with chronic depression. It is the gloomy cloud that has followed me throughout my teenage and adult life, and it has taken me to some devastating places. Over the years, I have fought hard to overcome this invisible nemesis; some battles I've won and others I've lost. Ultimately, it is my belief in Jesus, support from family and friends, and some occasional professional help that keep me from falling headlong into the darkness.
Surprised? Don't be. Chances are, if you don't suffer from the same thing, you know someone who does. Especially if you're a writer.
Ours is a lonely, isolating craft. We have a unique ability to see the beautiful and the ugly parts of humanity, and like a mirror, we reflect what we see back to our readers. It is both a gift and a curse. The loveliness is exhiliarating to witness and thrilling to capture--I could spend all day writing about the birth of my son, for example--yet the evil is equally disturbing, and that is what drives so many of us to pills, to the bottle, to despair, to suicide. We must have both sides of the coin. It would be impossible to for everyone to write about sunshine and rainbows all the time; the challenge is for us to observe the shadows from a distance without becoming consumed by them.
I don't have all the answers. I wish I did. I only know what I do when depression rears its disgusting head and tries to take away all that I have worked to obtain. I breathe, step away from whatever I'm working on, regroup and try again later. I allow my husband and son to make me laugh. I eat really good chocolate and drink delicious, satisfying tea. I seek support from other writers who have felt the same pain. I pray until the storm passes. And it does. Every time without fail.
Because in the end, it's all just shadow play.