Depression and Writing: Volume Whatever

by krstaten

I’m sure it will come as a shock to some people that using mindless Facebook games and terrible pop music from the mid-2000s to distract oneself from overwhelming executive dysfunction is not conducive to a life of writing. Please try to work through your surprise as I carry this discussion forward.

Every so often I make this post. The one where I point out that I’ve been posting really sporadically, and I assure everyone that I am going to start writing more often, and I promise to maintain this blog better. I even believe it.

But forming habits is even harder, I would argue, than breaking them, and when you throw depression and executive dysfunction into the mix it becomes all but impossible.

So I’d like to take a minute to discuss depression from the perspective of a writer. It’s something I’ve touched on a few times before, and I think there are a lot of misconceptions out there about it.

The pervasive one is that depression should fuel creativity. This comes, I think, from the misunderstanding that depression is never-ending negative emotion, and that emotion–especially negative emotion, for some reason–is a powerful fuel for writing.

Well, half of that is true. Emotion absolutely can be a powerful fuel for writing. The problem is, that’s not really what depression is. Depression sometimes instead makes things muted. Instead of feeling ALL the feelings, it’s like you’re feeling none of them. And sometimes it just makes you tired, lethargic, and, well, to the untrained eye, lazy.

Obviously depression is not laziness, and I don’t really want this to turn into a blog about what depression is or isn’t anyway. I’ve written enough about that.

The hardest part of when depression takes away emotion is that with that, it takes away my passion. And so I’ve fallen behind in reading. Have hardly picked up a book in about a month and a half. Haven’t read any poetry at all since January. And of course, naturally, I haven’t written a damn thing.

And it’s scary, because in those moments I start to wonder: Do I actually like writing? Do I care about the written word? Is this a thing that still really matters to me? I’ve built my identity around a love and respect for what language can do for such a long time that if I have to stop and question those things, then I have to stop and question who I really am or if I really am anyone at all.

And maybe that in and of itself could be fodder for a poem, if I felt up for it. Maybe I will soon.

This is equal parts yet another “I’m sorry I haven’t been posting, I promise I’ll try to again real soon” post AND an explanation of why posts may continue to be few and far between for a while, though I do have some things I look forward to sharing in the near future. In the meantime, I’m going to keep posting as I can and focus on taking care of myself.

If there are any other writers with depression who’d like to share your tips on how you break through it to Write a Thing (when nothing feels worth writing), please let me know!