It’s not a beautiful topic; it just resonates.
A quick jaunt through writers groups and forums is all it takes to see how pervasive depression is within the industry. I guess it’s the nature of the creative industry to attract introverts. It takes a particular breed to enjoy sitting in front of a computer for hours on end or at least willing to put up with it enough to make a living; that breed simply seems prone to depression. Like me.
I’ve heard a hyperbolically enormous amount of remedies and cures—be active, go outside, do yoga, do hot yoga, meet people, hike, smoke weed, drink coffee talk to someone, take prescriptions, eat healthy, etc. Usually, the people that say those things are people who equate sadness with depression, which is like equating Tic-Tac-Toe to a game of 3D chess while reading Plato’s Republic and fending off a 3-year-old with her new lightsaber. News Flash—people can be depressed and not feel sad. For those of us who suffer from depression, Nike’s famous slogan “Just Do It” is about as simple as trying to explain why it isn’t that simple. I’ve tried all the “remedies”; I’ve tried to “Just Do It”, and what I can say is: They really do work! But not exactly the way I thought. I still suffer from depression, but I’ve learned what I need to do to manage it.
As I followed the advice of my doctors and loved ones, I found that the activities they wanted me to do only made me more frustrated. The gym worsened the pain in my joints; meeting new people already makes me anxious; I already try to stay active (getting up to walk every 15 min, etc.); I tried a vegetarian diet; yoga made me feel self-conscious, as did humming and meditating in front of a statue or attending most ritualistic events. I’d written my first book and gotten my BA in philosophy, so obviously reading and writing weren’t fixing me (although they
were do bring me happiness). What I discovered was that I needed to find my own method. The gym was too painful, but swimming wasn’t and there’s always work around the house to be done. I found that it wasn’t really the big things that made a difference (e.g., going to the gym, hiking a beautiful trail, going to social events, etc.); it was the everyday small things that kept my spirits up—watering the plants, washing the dishes, making the bed, taking a minute to cook food rather than going to a drive-through. I stopped pretending that the things that used to make me happy when I was 10, 20, 30, would make me happy at 40 and I set out to discover what those things were.
The fact of the matter is, there isn’t a panacea for depression. Some of us have social anxiety disorders, PTSD, phobias (legitimate, not self-diagnosed), etc., in which case meeting new people might exacerbate depression. For me, my time in the military and in combat did a number on my hips and knees, which makes hiking an effort. That in-and-of-itself is tragic to me because it’s an activity that I love that I can see slipping away.
But what about the part where “Just Do It” isn’t that simple?
Good question. I don’t know what to tell you other than, “Life’s not fair”. I wish I didn’t suffer from depression, I wish it wasn’t so hard sometimes to put one foot in front of the other, but these are the cards I’ve been dealt. Wishing it was different won’t help me now; however, accepting it, swallowing that hard pill, and forcing one foot in front of the other will.
So, what does this have to do with writing?
I was in a funk when I started this post. I really had no intention of writing, and I’d come up with some dandy excuses: we just moved from out of state and there’s just too much to do; if I’m not inspired I’ll just end up deleting and rewriting it anyway; it’s almost lunch and I need to cook food to keep my spirits up. Now I’m 682 words into this blog and the motivation I lacked is now burning bright. I don’t know what will work for you, I just know that you have to discover what that is and do it.