Writing and depression…

Writing with depression

This is a post that has been swirling in my head for the last couple of weeks, and is a hard one to write.

I have a history of depression. With both my kids I had both post natal and ante natal depression. It’s a hard illness to deal with, both for myself and those around me.

A few weeks ago, I was diagnosed with depression once again. I’ve been on medication and one of the hardest side effects is a lack of energy and general exhaustion. I have been going to bed early and haven’t been writing as much as I would like.

Apart from tiredness breaking into my writing time, the other issue I find is the feeling my writing simply isn’t good enough – not for me, not even to send to critique partners to read. This is not to say the quality of writing is any worse than what it would be otherwise, usually it’s no different, it’s more my perception of what I write.

This skewed perception then goes on to me questioning whether or not I’m cut out to be a writer, or if my dream is just a pipe dream and something that I shouldn’t be pursing. It doesn’t matter that I get others reading what I write, enjoying it, and telling me that it’s great. I still think that I’m heading down the wrong path.

The ideas don’t stop and my characters still carry on their lives in my head. Their stories won’t leave me alone and they want to be told. There is difficulty in getting those stories out of my head and onto the page. Part of this has to do with time as I just do what I have to in order to get through the day. Another part has to do with confidence and my skewed perception of my own abilities.

As medication kicks in and I start feeling more normal, I start writing more and my writing generally improves. I can work on projects and get drafts done. I’m also more confident in sending work to critique partners, and acting on the edits.

When things are really bad, any suggestions or edits seem like a personal criticism and I can’t do anything about them. It takes a huge effort on my part to recognise these suggestions for what they are and then act on them.

For me, it also seems like it’s mostly my creative writing that suffers. I can still write a passable blog post, especially if I’m taking part in a challenge or have blog prompts to get me started.

I’m not sure how to end this post, only to say that things are looking up, slowly but surely. One day, my name will be in print in the bookshops and on bookshelves in homes and libraries.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing so openly with us, Melissa. Kudos to you for you for dealing with this in all the right ways. Would it be best to hold off on asking for feedback when you feel really low, just to avoid it adding to the downward spiral, or is this impractical? Big hugs to you as you work through it and wishing you the best. Your health has to remain your biggest priority, even if it means you are less productive than you would like. You’re a good writer, hang in there!

    • Thanks Joanna. Holding off can be impractical – especially if there is a deadline coming up. Recently I asked for feedback on a story – I’ve just filed the replies to deal with when I’m feeling better.

  2. Big hugs to you. I’ve been there and I know how horrible and worthless it makes you feel. I had depression after I miscarried and my writing, which had always been an emotional release, got stuck inside me. I just couldn’t make words flow onto paper. Put those critiques aside for now until you are better able to deal with them with a more positive perspective. Know that these feelings won’t last forever and in the meantime find things that bring you joy to help pull you out of your depression. xxx

  3. Melissa,
    I read a wonderful book about depression, written by my mentor, if you’re wanting some inspiring book help. In my blog post this past week I wrote about keeping a writing scrapbook, so when writing despair hits, we can refer to our notebooks and see encouragement to inspire us to keep going. Praying 4 u!

    • Thanks Tina. I haven’t had anything published yet… at least not recently. I’d be interested in finding out more about the book you read.

  4. Melissa, how generous of you to share this – your honesty will help a lot of people! Those who already know they have depression will feel less alone and those who don’t know it yet will recognize themselves in you and seek the help they need! Kudos!!

  5. Oh, how well I know the struggles of depression. Thank you for being so open with us. I’m grateful that you know that “this too shall pass” as the medication does its work, and your mindset improves. Until then, do what works for you, and set aside other things until you’re ready for them, whenever that’s practicable. You’ll be in my thoughts.

  6. patientdreamer says:

    Hang in there girl! I too have felt my writing worthless, and life getting in the way, and look for that one word of encouragement to get me through. It happens to most of us at some point, some more than others, we just have to hang in there! Take care!

  7. I’ve been there, too. Take your time getting back into full swing. In the mean time, know that you are loved. You are good at what you do. Things will get better.

  8. Melissa, I too get the same fears about my writing. It’s something that happens to us all. But you are a wonderful writer! You won the Princess Parade writing competition, and you know so many people who love your writing! I have no doubt that you will be published and on bookshelves everywhere, probably sooner than even you think!

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