A shadow creeps along my muscles, pulling at every inch of my body, and climbing into the deepest recesses of my brain. The image of my neurons, once blue and sparking with energy, appears in the forefront of my mind. Dark sludge covers them, blocking their electrical communications.
This is my depression. It’s not sadness, although I am. My depression is a constant battle for control. The shadow moves into my brain, taking over my neurons. A tiny spark sets off a chain reaction, pushing the devil back from wherever it came. Biding its time, the horror regroups, collecting strength, before attacking once more.
It all started last night.
As a writer, I’m always looking for alternate forms of income and places where I can reach out to potential readers. My partner suggested I look at HubPages. After reviewing the site, I decided it was a perfect fit.
But, what do I write?
I have an overflowing well of writing topics, but I couldn’t pick one. Each one was perfectly valid, falling into a HubPages category.
I thought, “I can write about my spiritual beliefs.”
Then came the shadow’s all too familiar, “That’s too controversial.”
“I can write about the Fae.”
A dark voice said, “You know all about this subject, but others won’t believe you.”
“I can write a short story.”
The shadow devoured all of my story ideas, even those I’m working on. Stories, playing like movies in my head, stopped.
It’s not writer’s block. It’s an invasion. The ideas are there, but I can’t access them.
“I can write about my journey.”
A sinister reply, “No one cares about you.“
The struggle is real. There are plenty of others like me, many in worse condition.
I’m one of the lucky ones.
I know what my struggle looks like. There are weapons in my arsenal to cut the monster down. The creatures of my mind, creatures born of endless battle, are running along my neurons with their battle axes raised high, smashing into the enemy’s advancing legions as I write this article.
Years ago, those creatures were scrawny, weak beings unable to stand in the suffocation of the demon’s presence.
Now, they push the horror back. The tears welling in my eyes pull inside their ducts. A bit of peace reigns for a brief moment.
The demon pushes forward, and the battle wages on. Tears return, clinging to the edges of their home, but not falling towards the ground. The battle twists my gut, stiffens my neck, and darkens the edges of my eyes.
1. How writing fuels my soldiers, fighting depression, and giving me strength
When a neuron sparks, I remember, I always wanted to write about my depression. A vision of my counselor urging me to write, gives the soldiers strength. She tells me I’m built for this. All the signs are there.
When asked, “What would you change?” I answer, “My job.” A sadness grows over me.
I hate my job. That’s putting it lightly. I love the people I work with. Many think I’m passionate, but they easily confuse passion with the ability to work well with teams, quickly learn new skills, and perform your job beyond the ability of most in your industry.
My counselor asks, “Without thinking, what would you do?”
I answer, “I’d write.” My shoulders shrug. There is no reason to write. I attended school for computer science and mathematics, but I need a change.
Nothing I do helps people. My work doesn’t change people’s lives. Every day, it’s the same thing; build a website, develop an application, help the world be a slave to technology.
Granted, some of my work, though small, is for clients who help people become happier. By the transitive property, I should be happy.
My counselor works with me for years. Once in a while, she returns to the subject of writing, finally setting a homework assignment.
“I want you to start an idea book. Start writing every idea you have, no matter how mundane, and we’ll see where it goes from there.”
Bart Simpson stares at me, embossed on a moleskin journal. I pick him up, open up the first page, and write the first line, “Grotesque girl disappears…”
That will mean nothing to you, but it means a lot to me. It’s the first core idea behind a series I’m developing. It was also the first moment I sensed the spark return.
The spark shot into all of my warriors. Their muscles grew, and the axes doubled in size. They roared, pushing against the shadow suffocating them in darkness. A small glimmer of light grew behind their advances, growing as they fought for a foothold.
Writing gives me energy. It fuels my warriors, turning them into barbarians that fight my depression, even if it is only for a moment.
2. With every idea I create and every story I write, I win a battle against depression, feeling a moment of happiness.
My counselor continues to work with me over the next year, checking in on my progress. We set several goals in an attempt to give me the confidence to write.
I read 52 books throughout the year. They included a variety of subjects; fantasy, science fiction, classics, climate change, spirituality, religion, philosophy, and autobiographies. My goal was to answer, “Can I write like someone who is successful?”
With every book I read, my soldiers won a battle, pushing the monster’s legions back. With every book I read, my ideas flowed faster, pouring into an empty well, filling it to the brim, forcing me to build more wells.
The wells overflowed, compelling me to put a pen to paper (fingers to a keyboard) and start writing. In less than a week, I wrote my first plot line, location descriptions, and character biographies.
I discovered a way to beat the beast. Then, I found a tiny bit of… happiness.
Not sadness, struggle, darkness, despair… I felt happiness.
I continued writing down ideas, creating little plots, and eventually writing my first story.
The soldiers won a great battle. They cheered up and down, shouting cries of victory. The neurons flowed freely. My shadowy enemy retreated. A surge of happiness flowed through me. I celebrated with my warriors, looking at that first novella with a big smile on my face.
The smile wouldn’t last.
3. With every story I write, readers give me confidence and support, giving my warriors strength during their fight against depression.
The demon returns.
As I write this article, I’m constantly fighting. Each sentence gives the fighters strength. Then I pause for moment, taking a break to review my thoughts.
The shadow uses this as an opportunity to push back, sapping my strength, and decimating my army.
I start writing and regain my footing. Reaching into my arsenal, I pull out the amazing things people have said about my stories.
“Highly creative writing!”
“This short story was absolutely riveting!”
“I couldn’t put it down.”
The comments open a door above the remaining warriors standing on my neurons. The door bathes them in an energetic light, full of strength. Their muscles grow. Their axes shine.
They smile insidiously.
The horror pauses.
The warriors roared, pushing forward. They smash against the enemy to reclaim their territory.
Every positive comment gives me the strength to continue forward. It helps me fight the monster, the demon, writhing inside of me. It gives me energy and strength.
The negative comments help, too. They give the demon strength. It kills some of my soldiers, wounding others, testing their resolve. They call out to me. I reach into the arsenal, throwing more weaponry, more positivity into their hands.
Those supporting me help gain the upper ground. My stories fill the warriors with strength. The ideas pull more energy into the creative well. The well, the arsenal, never empties.
Winning the battle does not win the war against depression
My raging fighters, once weak and suffocated, are now barbarians; merciless, savage, warriors. They beat back the monster, winning their battles against depression.
It becomes easier.
But it never stops.
The battle against my depression always continues. I’m always struggling, even when I don’t seem like it. The barbarians are there, calling for more weapons, more fuel, more rage.
The depressive monster always fights back. Sometimes it breaches the line, rushing in, darkening my mind.
Depression is not sadness.
Constant, never ending war.
But, we can win the war. We just need to find those techniques to fuel our fighters, turning the anemic, frightened, skeletons, into tenacious, raging, barbarians.
My warriors feed off creativity.
I hope you find what feeds your warriors, gaining you the upper ground in the battle against depression.
If you haven’t yet, give writing a shot. I believe we are all a well of creative ideas. We just need to tap it and let it flow.
P.S. At the end of writing this, the darkness has disappeared, but my warriors, celebrating after their victory, are causing me to shake, physically shake, and I need to take a walk to burn off the energy.
I can barely type.
My body is vibrating, literally vibrating, with energy.
My legs are bouncing.
A walk should calm the barbarians, but as they calm, the monster regroups, waiting until the warriors keeping watch become careless, giving the demon an opening to reach in and fight once more.
I’m not sure what I’ll write next, but I’ll use HubPages to write about my depression hoping to reach out to those who also struggle, and maybe help them gain a foothold against the beast.
© 2019 Willow Shire