A Writer’s Curse: Stumbling in the Darkness

So.  I’ve been away a long, long time and I feel like I owe you an explanation.  More than that, I feel like I owe  you some advice on what I’ve just come out of because I know from working with other writers that this isn’t an uncommon problem.  Things in my personal bubble got shaken violently back in the before times and I cracked under the pressure.  I was suffering from severe depression and anxiety due to the situation which is still near and dear enough to me that I can’t really touch it yet.

But today I’m back and I want to help you.  I live to help you, believe it or not.

I know, I was surprised, too.

A Long History of Writers and Depression

I’m not actually going to review this case by case, but there’s a weird sort of a romanticism of the tie between mental illness and creativity.  I don’t have any useful studies or stats on this, but I’ve noticed that most of the writers and artists I know personally suffer from some mighty unworldly demons.  Some suffer needlessly, others suffer gladly and the rest put the kibosh on that shit however they can.  This is why writers turn to drugs, drinking, even chain smoking and other unhealthy, obsessive behaviors.

This level of self-loathing is not normal.  But we live it every day and it tricks us into thinking it is.  We’re not super human, we’re just human.  There’s nothing about mental illness that makes you more creative than the next guy — so stop fantasizing about it, for fuck’s sake.

I had a poetry professor way back in the day who once told us that he admired people who were depressed because they obviously had so much to draw from.  So much what?  So much exhaustion and mental fatigue and sheer self-hatred?  He clearly had never suffered from a mental illness to say something so fucking heartless.  His wife had just killed herself by hanging, so I mean, I gave the guy a pass… but that ugly thought has stuck with me even though I’ve lost so many beautiful and lovely memories.

I was in a very dark place recently.  I was groping for anything in the nothing and although I was functioning, I wasn’t thriving and I couldn’t see beyond the moment I was in.  I was showering once a week and  neglecting my friends and connections and crying at the drop of a hat and it was just. not. right.  I’ve seen so many writers go through the same thing and I never really knew what to tell them — how to help them — because I hadn’t lived it.

But now I have and now I can.  I can see it so clearly because I just got pulled out of the fire.  Don’t get me crying again, but I had some very dear ones who never gave up on me.  And that’s the trick, I think.  When you’re groping in the darkness, finding a hand, any hand, that will pull on you until you can see even a slit of light is the biggest gift.  It feels like they’re nosing in, like they’re too much in it all, and maybe that’s because of how isolating the darkness is.  It’s a thankless job, but they do it gladly because they’ve been there, or just maybe because they love you.

I know you can’t feel it or understand it right now, but you are loved.  So, so much.  Someone out there is ready to throw themselves in front of a bullet for you or to endure you endless emotional jabs just to drag you to salvation.  They’re a little like tugboats that way.  Squishy meaty tugboats.

If You’re Stumbling in the Darkness

Writers, there’s no shame in suffering.  There’s no reason to hide.  Take a chance, scream it out — yell, “I’m fucking hurting!” or “I can’t feel any fucking thing!” or even “I don’t know what’s wrong, but I’m not myself!”  Someone will hear you if you yell it loud enough.  Like a man being chewed on by squids, you have to shout at the top of your lungs.  If you’re afraid to tell your friends and family, call a doctor.  Doctors are like firemen, they’re there to help you, even if you don’t believe it in the moment.

A lot of family practice Docs will set you up with a therapist and some anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds.  It can take a few weeks to adjust, but I promise they won’t change you forever.  Your creative spark will be there when you recover and it’ll be just as bright as it ever was.  Even brighter, because your focus will be back where it belongs.  You’ll find yourself in a new personal Golden Age.

It might not be right away, it might even take a long time, but your personal flotation devices will be there to lift you up.  Your network, your family, your friends, your doctor, your therapist, your pharmacist, your fucking internet forum buddies.  All those guys, they’re so incredible — and they don’t mind if you lean on them.  I promise.  And if they do, come find me on Facebook and I’ll introduce you to my incredible family of digital folks.

My friends — because you’re all my dearest dears –you’re never alone in this great big world.  You’ve always got someone worried about you, someone who cares about you, so let them hold you up when you can’t keep going.  They want to help.

I love you all and I hope you’re having a good day.  If you’re struggling and need a friendly voice right now, please call 1-800-273-8255.  That’s the suicide prevention hotline.  They’re pretty A-OK.

PS.  Sorry for the lack of “fucks” in this blog.  I’ll do better next go.