Living with Depression…
I have been diagnosed with depression and I have had to learn to live with depression. I did not know details about depression during the first twenty-years of my life, and until I was an adult I thought that I was just different than most. When I look back to the early days of my life, I see it clearly. I believe that childhood depression created the person I am today as an adult, a loner. Even as a child through my teen years, I had few friends. My mother did not believe in friends. I roamed the woods around my home most days since about four-years-old; my daddy had taught me what plants to touch, the names of the trees, about snakes, wild pigs that roamed the woods around my house.
He and my great-grandmother was Native American, Chickasaw. I learned quickly to not name the animals because many were raised to be slaughtered and I would lose a friend. Of course, I did anyway, it seems to me that the friendship I was given and the love from each animal was worth it. All too soon I had to go to school, which I did not care for, I had rather be running in the woods and in and out of the cave’s that dotted the hillside of Burleson Mountain, our home was below that mountain. Alone and depressed, a way of life that I have been living for decades, it is true that you can be in a room full of people and be alone.
Writing was hidden in my soul for many years. I kept journals as a child and teenager, these would be thrown away if found by my mother. Then I was too busy raising a family and working. Then, one day I found myself alone, on my own. Then this wonderful thing called retirement came along and I did not have to work to pay the bills. Oh, writing is work, harder that most things I have encountered in my life.
Some think being a writer creates self-absorption, not true in my case. I wanted to bring alive all of the thoughts that I had lived with for years, to give the people living within my soul a name, a reason to live.
However, with writing came setbacks that the writer cannot control. When I say writer, there are many writers out there, some are ultra successful making money with their books, their movies created from their books. There are writers that are successful in publishing, and there are those who self-publish, we all have the same goal, we just want to write. When the well of words goes dry or our books do not sell many of these writers get some form of depression, but we do not stop writing.
There is a book by Kay Redfield Jamison called Touched with Fire, it tells of a space in the writers’ time that lingers between madness and creativity. At one point, a study by Nancy Andreasen found that in a Writers’ Workshop approximately 80% of the residents displayed some form of depression.
Yet, published professional writers and those of us that just want to be understood with our chosen genre have moments of depression. Hemingway’s answer to the issue of depression was a shotgun, Sylvia Plath one of my favorite writers stuck her head in a gas oven. Seeing these methods as the only end to depression is prominent with creative types. Maybe it is the insecurity, lack of self-confidence, or low self-esteem. All of this is all too familiar to me.
I have been on the writing tight rope almost daily for fifteen years and I deal with depression and insomnia, sometimes these go hand in hand. I spend a great deal of time in my own head and in solitude, that is what as a writer, I do. I can easily understand why writing and madness may occupy the writers’ living space. If this is the price for creativity, I accept the challenge.