Writing and depression go hand in hand. There’s a long history of writers being plagued by mental health issues, which contributes to them being brilliant creatives but tragic figures. There’s this notion that if you suffer from some kind of mental health issue, you’re destined to be a great writer.
On the other hand, there’s also this idea that writing can help alleviate some of the symptoms of depression. In this case, you’re encouraged to keep a journal so that you can keep track of things that trigger your depression and find a creative outlet to deal with it. Writing can be a way to cope with negative emotions and improve overall health.
I’m a writer. I also have depression. I also deal with anxiety. Writing has helped me deal with my inner issues, and it absolutely gives me a creative outlet for the worst-case scenarios that course through my mind when my anxiety runs rampant. However, as much as depression helps me write, it can also hinder my writing.
Anyone who has suffered from depression knows that it’s not only an overwhelming sadness that overtakes you, there are physical issues that accompany depression. Depression can cause issues such as extreme exhaustion to pain to lack of interest in daily activities—including writing. When these symptoms take hold, it’s incredibly difficult to find the energy or desire to do anything.
Writing can be an incredible outlet for depression and allow the writer to release and deal with a lot of things that goes on in their mind, but it can also drain away any desire to put words on the page. This, in turn, can start a vicious cycle.
If you’re a writer like me, you are compelled to write. It’s more than a desire, it’s a necessity. You feel bad when you can’t create worlds and characters—like part of your soul is withering. But when depression has you in it’s control, even if the desire is there, you don’t have the energy, which then leads you to feeling guilty. This, of course, can make you feel worse.
Being able to write means you have to be in the right frame of mind. You have to be able to let your mind block out all distractions and delve wholly and completely into the world you’re creating. It’s incredibly hard to do that when the distractions come from inside your own mind.
When you’re depressed, it sometimes feels like your thoughts aren’t your own, that you have no control over what runs through your mind. If you have no control over them, you can’t stop them to write. Sometimes you regain control, but sometimes you don’t.
At times, writing can cause depression. The publishing world is becoming more and more competitive and is being flooded with millions of books every year, so it’s hard to get noticed. Rejections and bad reviews are par for the course in publishing, but they can weigh you down and make you question whether or not you should be writing—which leads back to the issue of needing to write. It can be difficult to deal with these emotions.
Every so often, we all need a break. We need to take some time to step back and look at what we’ve done and what we’re doing and decide if it’s right for us. When depression sets in and knocks you down for the count, it’s okay to take a moment to recuperate. If that moment means you need to sleep in and binge watch shows, then do it. If that moment means you need to write furiously about what is going on in your mind, then do it.
Writing and depression go hand in hand, and some of the best stories have been created by authors who have been plunged into dark places. Writing can be great therapy, but depression can overtake any desire to be creative. When it comes down to it, you need to do what is best for you and take the road that is going to make you feel better. The most important thing is how you feel and making sure you’re doing what’s best for you.