Writing and Depression


I’ve hit this odd intersection in my writing. See, I’ve heard a lot about anti-depressants/anti-anxiety meds and whatnot, and that creative sorts (writers, musicians, etc) have had a lot of trouble with them. They don’t have the drive anymore, they don’t have the juice to continue. They’ve had to stop writing if they’re on the meds. I’m not keen on this; not with my grad school deadlines and how much my writing is important to my sanity.

Also worth noting, the vast majority of my writing, when it started, was borne out of the beginnings of my depressive swings.

But…here’s the trouble. What happens when the depression is hitting hard enough that you can’t write anymore?

I still don’t want to take meds. I don’t want to know how they change me. As odd as it sounds, I haven’t been not depressed in so long, I don’t know what the not-depressed me looks like. I don’t know if they write. I don’t know who they are, and I’m not quite ready to go through that level of shift right now.

But it’s not working. I can’t write. I can’t do anything. I spend most of my day in bed thinking about all the things I’m not doing and how much I hate myself for not doing them, but “knowing” that if I get up and try, I won’t do them anyway. It’s a lose-lose situation, and I don’t know how to break myself of it.

I don’t want to go to therapy. I hate talk therapy, even in the non-professional settings I’ve seen it in. I don’t want to spill out everything to some person and pay them for it. I don’t have the money for it–but I don’t have the money for meds either. So I try and combat it the way I always have–distraction and my friends. But that’s not working either. If I can’t get up the energy to distract myself, I just sit and do nothing…like I’ve been doing.

It doesn’t help that I’m still unemployed, so I don’t even have a job to distract me. That was one of the nicest things about having a job during these times; even in the worst depressive swing, I was raised with enough ethics in me that I couldn’t find a justification for calling in sick when I felt like dying. So I got up and went to work, each and every day. And usually the depressive swing would pass, and I could continue on. I’d find something new to latch onto. I’d find a new distraction.

I’ve had lots of new things to hold onto lately, and none of them are pulling me out of this. I don’t know what else to do. I’ve spent the past 48 hours in a haze of blah and I can’t figure out what to do about it. The worst part is, that I’ve been told my work is slipping. I got critiqued about my last piece of work being “sloppy”–and I know why. I wrote it in a rush because I ran out of time, since I couldn’t convince myself to write anything for weeks, and then turned it in without having a chance (or interest) in looking it over.

Clearly this can’t continue. But I don’t know what to do.

Any ideas, from writers who have been here/known others that have?


2 thoughts on “Writing and Depression

  1. I know there’s this theory that the best artists starve, that if you want to write like Poe or paint like Van Gogh you have to have as many problems as they had – but there are amazing artists and writers who have taken dark times and used them, later, to write with. You won’t forget your dark times just because you’re in lighter ones. For example, Tolkien used his experiences with the World Wars and PTSD stuff to write Lord of the Rings. I’ve heard as many anecdotes of people who have had the words or their sex drive come back as gone away – and it’s not like there’s just one medication. If you get one that keeps you from writing, you can stop taking it, try something else, or just go back to working through it in your own way. Which is not me advocating for a particular thing – it’s your body. You get to decide what to do with it, no matter who tells you What You Should Do.

    I would make an appointment with your regular doctor, just in case it could be intersecting with some illness or vitamin deficiency. Plus, your regular doctor is allowed to give you antidepressants should that be something you want, and probably covered by your insurance that way?

    I’ve had my depressed and suicidal periods. I’m on gchat if you’d like to talk about home remedies.

  2. If you can write at all, keep going. 100-word drabbles, fancy excersises writing entirely in monosyllables or rewriting a favourite literary scene in the pastiche of another author…do it. If it’s rubbish, call it practice, and practice until something breaks and you can write again.
    Part of this worried me…at the risk of sounding quite the ass, I’d like to remind you of this, which you probably know very well already: don’t forget depression is a parisitic disease and will do anything to keep itself alive, including trying to convince you it is an essential part of you.
    It very nearly killed me that way, so…I’m saying this badly, but as a plea from a Random On The Internet to a worthwhile human being, whether you choose consider professional help, medicine, or neither, please don’t shut out healthy-you on principle. If you have time for volunteering (outward focus), that can help, as well as providing experience for your CV, and if you can meditate, that turns doing nothing (and then beating yourself up about doing nothing) into at least some rest and a sense one’s getting better at something.

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