Writing Through Depression

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

I first got diagnosed with depression when I was in high school. At this point, it’s been with me, on and off, for most of my life.

Some years go by without any symptoms or depressive episodes. Other years, I’m not so lucky.

For the past couple of months, my depression has gotten bad again. Some days, it feels absolutely crippling.

I’m fairly confident that the change was brought on by my current attempt to quit smoking. Unfortunately, just knowing the cause isn’t enough to fix things.

When I’m feeling like this, it’s hard to get myself to do much of anything. My motivation disappears into a black hole, and I end up wanting to just lay in bed all day.

I’ve written more about this here:

One of the things I’ve been struggling with lately is getting myself to write.

I love writing, but it’s harder than ever to get myself to sit down and actually do it. I’ll open my laptop, open Word, stare at the page for a few minutes and then close it. Or, sometimes, I won’t even get as far as opening my computer in the first place.

Despite that, these past two months I’ve actually been writing more than ever. It’s paradoxically harder for me to do, and yet I’m doing more of it.

How am I doing it? Through sheer force of will. I’m pushing past the depression and lack of motivation, trying to write — again and again — until something finally comes out.

Why try so hard?

Why am I bothering to push myself so much to do something that I don’t feel motivated to do?

Because I truly believe that writing, in the long run, helps me manage my mental health.

It gives me something to focus on instead of getting lost in negative thoughts. It helps keep me distracted for a few hours each day.

On a deeper level, writing helps me to work through the emotions that I’m feeling. Not all of my writing is about mental health, but a lot of it is. And that writing allows me to go from vague, confused ideas, towards a clearer understanding of what’s going through my mind.

Writing isn’t just a way to express myself, it’s also a tool for understanding myself.

Even when I feel like I’m forcing myself to start writing, and even when typing out each sentence feels like pulling teeth, by the time I’m done, I’m feeling a little better.

Writing isn’t a cure.

I’m not expecting writing to cure my depression. It’s helpful, but it isn’t magic.

Getting through depression, as I’ve learned from past experience, never comes down to a single, easy solution.

Instead, for me, it’s about making an entire series of lifestyle changes. So, although writing won’t cure my depression, it is an important part of those changes.

I consider writing a tool to manage depression, but just one of many in my toolbox. Despite that, it’s still a very important tool.

For anyone else going through something similar, I recommend at least giving writing a try. It might not help everyone, but for those it does, it can be an invaluable aid.

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more. Buy me a “coffee” at ko-fi.com/benyaclark.

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