1. northernadams
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    northernadams Member

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    Writing through Depression

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by northernadams, Jul 2, 2013.

    Any suggestions?

    I have a paralyzing case of severe depression. Have had it now for three years, and it does for my writing what cement dividers do for cars that stray left of the line. I can't concentrate, focus is completely shot, and I'm angry most of the time. Counseling is not an option--I have no medical coverage and can't afford even the sliding scale docs. Whatever black cloud I've got hanging over me, it's not lifting. How do you write through this? Anyone have experience with this sort of thing?
     
  2. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    ive been there to an extent, i dealt with it, by writing all of my emotions out onto a page, i didnt pay any attention to the rules of writing and just did, if i had to do it all again from your perspective, i wish id started sooner, just get all those dark thoughts out, there may be something in there that could be used for a horror piece, which is what i did for the start of mine Twinsanity.

    trust me, it does get better, have the patience to know it takes a while, and feel free to contact me if ever you want someone to talk to
     
  3. northernadams
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    northernadams Member

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    If I wrote mine out, it would fill an entire book, and it would be nonfiction. You might have an idea there.
     
  4. nhope
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    nhope Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Yup. Very easy to fall into that rabbit hole and very difficult to fly out of. What worked for me? Writing about a character with the life that "everybody envies" then making her slowly go insane. It was awesome. I felt so much better knowing that I could control her and it gave me a little superhero complex - I could save her at any time, or not. Right now she's passed out on the floor, has been for 4 years. She's fine right where she is.


    btw, great line --> what cement dividers do for cars that stray left of the line

    As far as depression goes, don't make things all about you. Difficult I know, because things should be personal and those of us that could use a vat of self-confidence have a harder time not thinking the universe continually conspires against us, but try, one event at a time. And make a list of all the favorite lines you've ever written, the ones that you love or are so proud of, and read them regularly. Then make a list of 100 things you love. It's easier than you think. Then go back and read that. Just try it.
     
  5. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Writing through depression can be done - but I found it was a balance between rants against everything (anger is definitely a component of mine) and very short bits of actual creativity. Add acceptance that some days you just can't write - hell, can't even get out of bed!

    As to professional help, don't know where you live but there should be some local support groups close by - check out the National Alliance on Mental Illness (http://www.nami.org/ - they have a lot of resources, including locally, and may point you to financial assistance or free programs you can utilize.
     
  6. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    do it, trust me, you will feel better for doing so, i did, things arent so dark for me any more... i have my days, but i just write, and it takes the darkness away
     
  7. Mot
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    Mot Member

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    God, I have been there so many times. What actually helped me was writing about things that had no connection to my own life. My characters included a 50-something Queen's Messenger and an immigrant chambermaid at a Premier Inn Hotel.

    The stories I wrote are unpublishable, and I don't like reading them, but they allowed me to escape for a little while.

    Also: Alcohol will make depression worse.
     
  8. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I do. And it's difficult. In terms of writing through tough times, set the limit. Two hours, or half an hour, or two hundred words, or whatever is easy and minimum effort (do the same with exercise). And then do it religiously, at least five days a week. Eventually, it'll become second nature.

    However, you have to keep in mind that when you are depressed, every idea or a suggestion seems impossible to achieve, precisely because the black cloud is affecting everything. It's like an extreme case of pessimism. The thing is, you need treatment if you are sick, and there has to be a way. Just make sure you don't give up before you try, kind of thing. Because the best thing you can do for your writing in the long run, is to start feeling better.
     
  9. Acanthophis
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    Acanthophis ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Contributor

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    I've been struggling to write through depression for almost a decade now. One of the best things you can do is basically do what these people above me have said - write how you feel, forsake all rules which can easily prohibit you from getting your emotions out. But most importantly? Write outside, in a park, or a coffee shop, or somewhere public. Part of the reason depression has such a grip on us is because it wants to keep us in a comfort zone which really isn't a comfort zone at all; and I'm guessing your 'comfort zone' is in your room? I know it is for me, and many other depressed people.

    I've started writing in public recently, and I've noticed a bit of a positive change. :)
     
  10. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    I've been fighting (I use the word liberally for some periods) depression for half my life. Even after considerable help I have bad days and weeks. Sometimes I just want to ball up in a corner and cry for no good reason (and I'm not normally prone to crying). It doesn't help that, having grown up with it, I'm addicted to the feeling. If I'm not careful, as soon as I start to feel down, I'll just chase it deeper into despair.

    Through the worst of that, though, writing was my escape. I could go somewhere else where I had control of everything. It was the one means of expression I had. My main characters were almost always an expression of me, of what I wanted to do or what I wanted done. The fantasy I wrote was literally my fantasy. I managed to complete a 500-something page atrocity of a novel and got it self-published when I was 19. Some days I just didn't feel like writing but I forced myself through it. I sometimes took breaks to watch TV or something to clear my head but I'd always get back on the computer and push out words.

    Don't get me wrong, though. I completely understand the lack of will and/or patience to write. Sometimes there's just nothing you can do. Find a different outlet. Maybe you need input rather than output. Or maybe you just need to buckle down and produce something, anything. There was one point recently where I just couldn't do anything to my satisfaction, no matter what, so I just wrote something absurd and stupid simply so I would write.

    But at the end of the day, you need help, in whatever form that may end up being. There are support groups (as shadowwalker mentioned), supportive friends, and clinics specially catered to those without insurance. I find tea (brewed fresh from loose leaves... the bagged stuff is generally cr*p) an incredibly soothing and calming addition to my life (I recommend Teavana). I was also referred to an herb called kratom, which is completely legal and harmless (unless you're sensitive to massive amounts of fiber), that is a natural mood booster. I can generally kick bad days with a few of those and the results are noticeable by those around me (try ordering a sample pack of Bali or Thai capsules from here if you've got the money). Just don't take too many too often or you'll develop a tolerance for the effects. I lucked out and found a best friend with a natural talent for psychology who's thankfully had the patience to rehabilitate me.
     
  11. Allan Paas
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    Allan Paas Contributing Member

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    Depression and sadness have a cause. Or, instead, there's no cause to the contrary.
    Look into yourself, at your life, your past, yourself at present. If you know yourself, and if you can see yourself any moment, then you should be able to identify what creates your depression. Still, finding the cause is one thing, it's easy. But fixing, removing it, or adding something you need to your life, or changing something, so there would be no reason to be depressed is different, I'd say even harder.

    Happiness can be sort of generated even if there's no real cause for it. It's similar to acting, just "smile". But will wear you down in another way, eventually.

    As to professional help... that's a waste of time.
    If you want help, if you care about yourself, then simply look into and at yourself, get to know yourself. The only way you can do that is taking a part of yourself and asking "why", then you answer it, then you ask again, and answer that one as well, and so on. If you know yourself, see yourself, then depression won't come, and if it does it will be very easy to deal with because you'd see what causes it.

    One major problem with most humans is that they don't know themselves, they don't even see themselves. They've never had a reason or motivation to begin that extremely important journey. To make it even worse, they don't even see what is around them, not truly.

    Writing outside, in public places. The "positiveness". It comes from being around other people, seeing them even in the distance, moving or talking, or just knowing they are there is in some cases enough. There's probably as well the notion "Look. At me. I'm doing something!" After all, we are a "pack" species, or something similar, we aren't evolved to living in individual isolation.
     
  12. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    Not sure why this didn't come to me earlier but I have a bit more to add. Thanks, Allan, for making it click. :)

    Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Plain and simple. Whatever the cause, that's all it is (particularly when it's long-term depression lasting longer than two weeks, which is definitely the case here). It's no different than any other emotion. Chemical imbalances are hard to resolve and sometimes nothing we externally do can correct it. Sometimes we have to fight fire with fire and that means medication (which can correct the problem over time, thus removing need of it).

    There are, however, a number of things that can be done to affect those chemicals. Improve your diet. Incorporate more fatty fish (with omega-3 fatty acids), like salmon, into your diet or find supplements. Vitamin D (from more sun or supplements) deficiency can cause a lot of problems in the body, including affecting our mood. A quick Google search will produce a plethora of dietary options to help with your mood. Also, exercise.

    I know it can be a tall order to change your diet and habits, but how much do you want to get over this?
     
  13. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    As pathetic and "first world" as it sounds, the thing that depresses me the most is worrying about money.

    And letting the house get messy. I am not sure which is the cause on that one. Does the house get messy b/c I am depressed or do I get depressed, when the house gets messy?

    Either way, cleaning even just the counters makes me feel a LOT better.

    Then getting my finances in order. That helps me sleep better.

    I have the same style of dreams, when I am worrying about money and am getting depressed. I dream I am being eaten by sharks. Or in an airplane that is crashing. Dreams about things things I cannot easily control. Once money is taken care of, I am so much better!
     
  14. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    All this because it cannot possibly hurt. And next time you go in for a checkup, have the doc do a thyroid level test. It is the #1 cause of depression and is treatable for about $6 a month, if your levels are low. You will feel 100% better, if that's it.
     
  15. northernadams
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    I've found an abundance of great suggestions in the replies in here, particularly the post quoted above.

    Heal41hp, you have no idea how miraculous it is to have a friend like that. Most of us don't, and it makes all the difference in the world. I have no support system. You walk around like that guy screaming on the bridge in Edvard Munch's painting, and when you reach out to someone--especially to a friend--and get a few bumper stickers and a shove, it's like getting hit by a truck. That was my experience, and it made everything infinitely worse. In addition to the depression, which was already feeling insurmountable, I also have the pain from having a friend (that I considered my blood-sister) do that to me. Just scrape you off and leave you for dead.

    I have a clinic near me that uses sliding scale, but I can't even afford that right now. I've been without medication for a year, and it was only marginally effective to begin with.

    I've never been a tea-drinker, but I'll try it. I'll check the local health food store. Is that website the only place I'll find kratom? I hope not.

    @ Mot--thankfully, I have no alcohol or drug issues. I don't drink or use. A year ago, I got a prescription for 90 Hydrocodone for chronic back pain--spasms that have me in tears. I still have 80 of them left. I only take a half at a time when ibuprofen doesn't work. Getting drunk and getting high don't work. They actually complicate things. I wish more people realized that. Very good advice, thank you.

    I'd love nothing more than to get my life back. This is a nightmare.

    Thank you so much for all your suggestions, and hearing what others have gone through reminds me I'm not the only one. Thank you all so very much.
     
  16. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    i was very much someone who didnt realise that energy drinks were part of the issue, what most people dont realise with them too, is that they can have similar effects to drink or drugs if drunk in excessive quantities (trust me, i know, ive been there and im glad to have booted them, just another month and a bit and ill have been off them a year)
     
  17. George C K Wardini
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    George C K Wardini Member

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    I had the same kind of writer's block, and it lasted an entire summer, due to a love story gone wrong. I would advise you to write how you feel down on paper, and not worry about the technicality. your emotions right now are kind of your raw material. do not waste them. and later on, you could use them and incorporate them into your writing. you are also very much welcome to speak to me, any time you like. I can help, I hope.
     
  18. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    To cure yourself of depression (which is the hardest, but also the BEST way), you have to make yourself get out of your comfort zone. Comfort kills a LOT of things. Progress being one of them. Depression holds a bit of comfort for me too.

    I totally hear what you are saying about chasing your depression. I do it too. When I start to feel bad, I seem to endeavor to feel as bad as I possibly can, as soon as possible. Like I was depressed for so long, that depression is what I know and what I am comfortable with. It's easy.

    Fighting back is not easy.

    You have to make yourself do it and not give up, when it is tough and doesn't seem to be working, right away. Your depression will say (in the voice of Eyore) "Good. It's not working." because while we don't love depression, it is comforting, for some reason. Familiar.

    Also, being brutally honest with yourself and being aware of your motivations makes an extraordinary difference. If you feel down and are able to do so, mention it to yourself. "I feel like crap today. Why am I so grumpy?" and try to figure out if something set you off, today. If someone got you angry and you are arguing with them, in your head (this part sucks) see what it is about that person that is like you. I hate, so much, when I realize that I deeply dislike someone because they are acting in a way that I am tempted to act.

    Realizing it helps me move forward and it is deeply uncomfortable. :( Essentially, I have to say to myself "I hate the way that person acts, because it seems I, myself, am an ass."

    Forgiving people who have wronged me is also cathartic. Arguably not as cathartic as being present when they caught on fire or something, but still pretty good. It is AGONY to do it. Here's how... (it blows, I'm warning you!)

    Pray for them.

    Pray that [the god of your choice] will bless them and lift them up in his hands and fulfill their hearts and all of their dreams. Answer their prayers and guide them to greatness.

    You will especially die if you see your prayer answered. But the prayer is not to help them. It is to help you. And like any spiritual surgery, it is painful! You will understand people who cut themselves. Physical pain is something you can understand. Emotional pain is not visible or able to be patched, salved or bandaged. You can't even treat it. You have to identify the cause and work on curing it. Or as in the case of the death of a pet or close, loved one? Learn that you must live with it forever and let it gradually fade to a tolerable level so you can function in the world.
     
  19. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Let us remember that there is a difference between being depressed (which everyone experiences at some time) and clinical depression. There is no cure for clinical depression; there is no thinking your way out of it. One can learn coping mechanisms, but those only help - they don't cure. Episodes of clinical depression are not always caused by something bad happening - stress of any sort can bring it on, including a wedding, a birth, a promotion, a raise - anything. Or nothing. It just happens. Those of us who have been dealing with this illness for a long time (in my case, decades) understand that we can alleviate some of the effects because we recognize what happens when it starts. We also know it's going to run its course, regardless.
     
  20. Savant
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    I've had to deal with severe depression for a few decades now. (yes decades) Although I've only started writing in the last few years, I've quickly learned that with depression you just have to take what you can get and grab those lucid periods when they happen.

    Are you 'worse' in the morning or at night? (Depression that has a strong bio-chemical basis usually makes it worse in the morning, while more psychological based depression tends to get worse at night.) For me I'm worse in the mornings, so I leave typically leave my new writing until the end of the day.

    However, what I will often do is just use my state to determine what I'll do. If I'm not in great shape, instead of trying to write new work, I'll review what I've written and revise sections. When you can't write, read.

    In the end though, don't torture yourself. If you can't accomplish anything in 15-20 minutes, do something else and come back to it. Otherwise you may only make yourself more annoyed and irritable - which may make you adverse to writing in general.
     
  21. Savant
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    I see, so your solution is to think positive? All this time people should have just been told to snap out of it and think positive and it would cure depression instantly. Thanks for the tip.

    Depression doesn't have to have ANY cause. It's an illness, not a state of mind.

    Depressed=state of mind
    Depression=mental illness

    Only once you understand the difference can you understand how a person is supposed to cope with it.
     
  22. Allan Paas
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    Not to think positive, but to know and see oneself. Not that thinking positive would be bad.
    Everything has a cause. If someone is depressed or has depression, then there is a cause, fact of reality. There is no "it just is so", if you truly think it can "just be" then you might as well say "it's magic".
    As to finding the cause, and the "cure", that's the hard part.

    Honestly, it's not nice, not to mention disrespectful, to pick some points out of someone's text and disregard all the rest, and say the few points are all the person said and meant. I've had to deal with the same before... and with misinterpretation. Not smart at all.
     
  23. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    I do understand how lucky I am to have this arrangement, as I didn't meet him until I was about 20. Before then, I had no one. I didn't even have family I could turn to (as family was a large part of the development of my depression, via environment and genetics). I never had the courage to reach out to people, so I don't understand the pain of rejection your describe. I can't imagine what that would be like and I'm sorry you've had to go through it.

    There are a number of different medications out there. Don't discount them just because one (or two) didn't work. When the funds become available and if you're still having problems, I suggest you give it another go with something new.

    I believe tobacco stores and head shops might stock kratom but I can't in good conscience withhold information I discovered in my search for that. While legal, it is (as an herbal substance) unregulated by the government and thus its effects have not been scientifically explored. I even found out it's on the DEA's "list of Drugs and Chemicals of Concern, a watch list of substances that government chemists are studying" (source). Also, Thailand, where kratom comes from, has banned its use. While this may sound worrying, there are legitimate arguments against at least some substances the government has banned via the Controlled Substances Act. I, personally, will continue using it as I have (unless reliable research provides reason to not do so) and will simply repeat that you shouldn't use too much.

    Regarding tea, I wasn't a tea drinker at all until I realized the health benefits. In fact, I despised tea and felt the health benefits outweighed a miserable experience. I started with bagged green tea of the store brand and hated it. I figured I had to have been doing something wrong, since tea is the world's choice of beverage second only to water, and did some research. After only a few hours, I understood my mistakes, remedied them, and have since fallen in love. If you'd like any guidance in this area, I'm happy to help. :)
     
  24. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I have Biploar and write. Been depressed the past three weeks (combination of personal issues and some things at work) but I keep going. The only way clinical depression will get better is treatment. There's nothing, I'm afraid, to make up for a good anti-depressant. And please don't hit me with the 'organic' angle. I've tried St John's Wort, which worked ok...but never very well.

    Some of the meds are generic. Welbutrin is one I take and it's only 12 bucks at my little country pharmacy at full price. My recommendation (as someone who suffers from it) would be to go to one of the free clinics in the area and try to get treatment. Try a google search on them and see if any are in your area.

    As for writing...it's tough for me when depressed but I manage because I've gotten effective treatment. I couldn't imagine trying to write without being treated or it would be twisted prose.
     
  25. Savant
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    First off, it's not an issue of whether there is a 'cause', let's not play semantic games here. The issue here is that you are attempting to blame the victim of an illness for his/her illness. As for a cure, there is no cure for depression. The world's brightest minds have not yet found one.
    Your words are there to see, I make no apologies for going after those who perpetuate the stigma that somehow those with depression somehow caused it themselves. You remarks represent the epitome of prejudice. Let me quote from "the rest" that you suggest I overlooked.
    Professional help is a waste of time? People can think their way out of depression? I consider that HIGHLY offensive. So we can scrap the psychiatry profession, you've got it all figured out do you?

    I guess people can think themselves out of being gay too? Surely there is a 'cause' for homosexuality, so by your logic it would be simple to fix by "knowing yourself".

    On average, one person dies to suicide every 40 seconds. Are you saying that their deaths were their own fault? Surely by your logic if they are their own cause for depression then they are responsible for their own death. I consider that HIGHLY offensive.

    You are digging a very deep hole here, you would be wise to consider how you plan to get out of it before you dig any further.
     

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