Writing with Depression

Depression-depression-18086997-394-500You’re probably familiar with the old cliché of the writer consumed by depression and drowning his sorrows in alcohol and drugs. If you’re not, do a quick Google search, and you’ll have reading material for a lifetime.

I’m not going to bother re-hashing the obvious link between writers and depression. I honestly don’t care about why this link exists. I just want you to understand that when I say I’ve been suffering from depression these last two months, I am only one of many in a long-standing tradition.

These past two months are the worst I’ve felt in years. To be frank, “felt” doesn’t even really apply here. Numbness has been my constant companion. I’ve been cut off from my emotions, my ability to care about even the most basic things, and — worst of all — my writing.

For instance, a few weeks ago I discovered that one of my roommates had accidentally left the oven on when they left the house. Under normal circumstances, I would have been furious. I do not want to come home and find my house in flames, thank you very much. But thanks to my depression, I didn’t feel anything. I couldn’t get upset. I could say the words, but there was no emotion behind them.

It’s a scary feeling, believe me.

And then for the writing, it wasn’t anything like my experiences with writer’s block. My mind wasn’t blank. I knew where I wanted to take my story — I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t physically pick up a pen or type the keys to tell that story. It was like my limbs had refused to cooperate. Forget every motivational quote you’ve ever heard — they don’t do crap in the face of depression.

Depression on its own sucks. But wanting to write and not being able to? It’s crushing. I would just stare at the blank page or blinking cursor and crumble inside.

And if that wasn’t enough, my inability to write would feed back into my mood, sinking me lower and lower until I was just a sobbing mess.

This week I’ve finally been able to try new medicines (since my current one just stopped working for some reason). They must be doing something, because I was finally able to write on Saturday. It was very slow-going, like I had to dredge up every word from the bottom of a very deep well. But my story is moving again, and that has helped my mood more than I can say.

I’m not out of the sinkhole yet, but I’m making progress. And I’m grateful that I’ve been able to take that small step forward.

Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.