Writing and Depression: Strategies on Coping | Ryan M. Williams
Writing Depression

Writing Through Depression

Writing and depression both factor into my life. For the longest time, I didn't know that I suffered from depression and anxiety. It showed in many ways, the worst that I presented a positive face in public but my family saw the downside of keeping up that smiling depression. Fortunately, a couple years ago a major depressive episode actually helped me realize I needed assistance, that doing so wasn't a sign of weakness.

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Recognizing Depression

At the time when I struggled with depressive thoughts, if asked I wouldn't have been able to recognize that I was depressed. What reason did I have to be depressed? I had a loving family, a great job, things I was interested in—I couldn't be depressed. I didn't know exactly what it meant to be depressed, other than associating it with suicide, sadness, and problems more serious than mine. 

Not everyone experiences depression in the same way. Some might not even realize that they are depressed, especially if they seem like they're managing their day-to-day life. Smiling Depression, Psychology Today

Sadly, there's a stigma associated with depression, and mental health issues. We don't talk about it—which makes it very difficult for someone to recognize it and get help. There are things you can do to manage depression, however it manifests. A major barrier to getting help, and a reason for the stigma around depression and mental health is that we term it mental health instead of just health. No one is blamed if their eyesight requires glasses. When it comes to the brain, however, we tend to ignore the organic root of the issue and can become critical because someone takes antidepressants to help with their condition. Each person is different. That one needs medication and another doesn't is unimportant. What matters is that they get the help they need. 

If you think there's any possibility that you suffer from depression and anxiety—get help.

Writing and Depression

We've faced a number of life rolls in this new year. Money stress due to unexpected expenses, and lately, one of our dogs hasn't been well. He's a big dog, 7 years old, and suddenly has had a number of medical issues leading to vet visits. My doctor had also declined to refill my medication pending a check up.

Yesterday my depression hit me upside the head. One of those I just want to crawl under the covers and stay there sort of days. I didn't. Instead, I used techniques that have helped me keep going and writing despite being depressed.

  • Meditation. I meditate each day using Headspace. I find a regular practice helps. 
  • Journal. I also keep a (brief) journal. It's a few comments each day, notes on emotions, sleep, and a gratitude statement.
  • Routine. I went to work despite everything. I worried about our dog, anticipating the vet calling, and did my best to focus on my routines.
  • Create. I tackled creative tasks I could manage and wrote the new description for a novel as well as some other notes.
  • Kindness. Finally, I treated myself with kindness. I recognized my depression. I identified it, noted it, and was gentle with myself.

Depression is hard. None of this makes it easy. All this does is make it possible to deal. These are a few of the things I do to handle days like yesterday and still manage to write. Writing itself helps. 

I'm doing better today, not 100%, but better. If you have techniques that help you write through depression, please share in the comments below.

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About the Author Ryan

Writer, librarian and illustrator, Ryan M. Williams, author of more than twenty novels, writes across a range of genres including fantasy, science fiction, romance, paranormal, and mystery. He earned an M.A. in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University and an M.L.I.S. from San Jose University. His short fiction has appeared in anthologies from Pocket Books, WMG Publishing, and in On Spec Magazine.

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