I have had clinical depression all my life. However during a particularly challenging bought I was battling over the last few days I do what writers will tend to do. I researched it. And what I found is that I am far from alone in this deal.
What is it about writers and depression? Hemingway, Platte, Poe are a few of many who had it some lost the battle. Is creativity and madness a thin line? Is it the dark-side of creativity. The spiritual bargain made somewhere that the sensitivity given with being a keen observer, one able to capture the essence of humanity and capture it in some art form comes with it this dangerous poison of depression and anxiety? Is there a connection?
Either way I hardly know an artist that would give up the feeling of creating art. It is what I live for. That feeling of intense emotion that I place into my writing. It scares a lot of people off. Many claim either to me or in other ways they "can't handle it". I am deep and intense and too much to take by many. I used to feel bad about that though as I approach my fortieth birthday in a few months and I feel the shortness of life I don't feel the need to apologize for myself or hide who I am to accommodate the comfort of others in my presence. For people to be uncomfortable with me is a fair statement to make. That is why many artists and writers live alone. The muse of creativity is very jealous and wants no distractions from the artist's attention.
However, some of us choose to take on the challenge of balancing family and other aspects of life with art and depression. It's a huge task to undertake, but it is possible.
Some days depression wins and nothing gets done, yet many days I win. Every day I don't quit I win. And I notice today I have already surpassed what I didn't do in a week.
Being there for the next day is a victory that is so beautiful. Like those who survive a hurricane or tornado I would imagine, having that awesome appreciation of life the day after. Being able to play with my kids and to be there to love my family and try once more to see what I can do with my writing. I am glad I am here to try again and that which doesn't kill you makes awesome material to write about! :o)
Emotions are a writers "paint" the more rich the experiences the dark places of despair and heartbreak and the highs of love and bliss the more vibrant the colors to create with. That is our palette. It is not authentic unless it is experienced first hand it comes across as cheap and untrue. I think that's why those who are able to write and move people with words off the page. Are often ones who have experienced this broad palette of emotion and the vehicle with which that strong current of emotion moves often is depression. Like dealing with fire or electricity it can do amazing feats and make miracles happen...or it can kill you.
Today is the first day of my professional writing career. Because it is the day that I placed my writing in top priority right after my family being taken care of because that will always be my tippy top priority.
As I began to work on adding links to my Self Empowerment blog and interlinking them I began to think about my body of work. They spoke about this with President Obama in the beginning when he was getting Nobel Peace Prizes and then not getting an honorary award from the Arizona State University because they felt he had not shown a body of work to deem worthy or not at that time. So I started thinking about a body of work and what I would leave behind.
A writer's body of work is her immortality. Watching history channel and watching the dusty scrolls being unrolled by excited scientists we realize the power of the written word. What will I leave in the time capsule for future generations both for strangers and my family? Most of my work is online so who even knows if any of it will be preserved it's not written in stone or anything.
Even that term written in stone challenges my mind. What would I write in stone if I could? What would I want future generations hundreds possibly thousands or hundreds of thousands of years from now to know? I must contemplate that for awhile.
My words would be my immortality. If that were truly the case. They'd better be good!
Sophia Tesch is a graduate of the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University. Sophia is a community advocate. She lives in San Tan Valley, Arizona with her husband and children.