Depression is not fun. I know because I have dysthymia, a mild form of depression for which I took a prescribed drug for many years, but I stopped due to side effects and I wanted to battle it on my own. People with dysthymia are apathetic (not always a bad thing), both mentally and physically and tend to be negative and passive. Now blend in two of the four Greco-Roman humors, those being melancholy (analytic and quiet) with choleric (short tempered and irritable) and you know more about me than I want you to know. As you may have surmised that being apathetic, negative, short tempered, and irritable I have no friends. But then I also have a twinge of paranoia.
Let me be clear. Depression is not feelings of sadness. Everyone feels sadness, not everyone is depressive. Depression is a disease. In my case and in most forms of this depression, it is a problem with the flow of serotonin in the brain. “Beating the Blues”, paperback and Kindle was helpful to me.
Now that you know I have depression and if you a writer suffering with this disease I can tell how I battle my apathy to get going. I try to write everyday, yet I fail. It is not that I have places to go, though sometimes that is true, but there is no excuse other than I can’t overcome my apathy. What does help, though not always, is drinking Chinese tea. I suppose it is the caffeine, but it does simulate my brain. I am writing my third blog today, all drafts that will appear in the next week or two. I may do another draft as my brain is active. In other words, strike when you can. One day, full of Chinese green tea, I wrote 2,410 words of my novel in progress in three hours. I drank three cups of the same tea today and now, as I said, I am working on my third post draft.
One other thing to overcome is the quilt if you are not writing. It is hard to forgive yourself, that you are wasting valuable time, that you should be writing, but can’t. That is the hardest thing for me, as the guilt festers, multiplying the apathy, increasing the feelings of futility. Then you have to forgive yourself for the guilt over the guilt. It can be a never ending cycle.
I can tell you what doctors will say. Exercise the body, you will feel better. When I do that, I do feel better. But being apathetic, like writing, I fall away, not able to keep it up every day. It is interesting in listening to those who do not suffer from depression, who do not, can not, understand it. They say, ”Well just do it, just sit down and write.” Ah, if only it were that easy. Even with depression and understanding it, I still don’t know why I can’t just sit down and do it.
So if you are a depressed writer, do something to stimulate your brain, whether coffee, tea, exercise, running, walking, swimming, and then remember to forgive yourself if you are not stimulated each and every day. And of course it does not hurt to just sit down and write one sentence and see where it leads. Just tell yourself, just one sentence. You never know, it may lead to another, then a paragraph, then . . .
just keep trying.