Friday, 30 December 2016

Writing with Depression

For those of you that don't know, I suffer from depression. It makes life harder than it should be. Why? Almost everything becomes a chore and, if not difficult, certainly less appealing.

Getting out of a warm, comfortable bed is made more difficult becasue you ARE warm and comfortable. A situation you'll only rarely have when out of bed.

Likewise when writing. When you're in the flow, it's much easier, but getting into the flow is the hard part. For example, I'm writing this blog just after I've written another for my own blog, taking advantage of the flow. Yet I haven't written a 'blog' as such (Friday Fun doesn't count as it involves little if any writing) for over a month, even missing last months slot on the 30th. (Apologies Wendy)

Yet despite that, deadlines can be helpful for a depressive, providing they are not so far down in the pit of despair that all they see is the gloom not the light above.

It's also why I haven't progressed a short story I began last month, even though I really want to. It's a good story, but when I get round to thinking about writing, it's too late to begin as I have work, or something else is going on.


Emptiness. Depression isn't sadness gone wrong, it's an absence of feeling. Some of you may have seen the film Inside Out. Over the course of the film it shows how useful sadness can be and to block it out causes problems. For me, the most applicable part was when the control panel went grey, when Riley felt nothing. That's depression. Greyness.

When you're sad, you're feeling something. When you're depressed you fell nothing. Everything is grey. It's why I dislike November and grey days so much. The rain I don't mind, as something is happening and I know it will pass. But grey days are terrible.

I've learned not to persecute myself for not writing and have acknowledged this means I am unlikely to win any awards or even get fully published, at least for now.

The climb out of depression is long, hard and, mostly, lonely. I'm the one who has to let go of things, to make new core memories, to look at the grey and actually feel something. I'll never make it on my own, but I can climb part of the way.

Which brings me back to writing. It's a lonely calling for the most part, sitting with a computer, a pen, a piece of paper and no idea what you're doing. But it can also be a rewarding one when someone voluntarily reads something you've published either traditionally or indepentantly.

Sometimes all a depressive needs is a physical hug. Other times, they need to be rolled in a blanket, given tea, biscuits and allowed to just 'be'. A loving kiss doesn't hurt either. Other times, a word of encouragement will do nicely.

Depression is not sadness writ large, nor is it emotional or spiritual pain. It's emptiness, loneliness and greyness.

A depressive feels nothing, yet can write profoundly when the emptiness is filled, even if only partly.

If you know a depressive, give them a hug and a cup of tea....or cheesecake. Listen to their silence, be a friend, care. They'll rarely respond, but when they do, there'll be love in ther eyes.


  1. Thank you for your honesty Martin. Also the insight into what depression means to you. I appreciate your taking the time to share

  2. Thank you Martin, very well put and I utterly agree, having recently found myself back in depression's grip again. It is horrible, but it is not forever. Deadlines certainly help, but for me only manageable ones. God bless

  3. Bless you Martin, I do know from past experience what that nothingness and greyness is like. Thanks also for the advice on helping depressed people, that is really useful. Virtual hugs. x

  4. Replies
    1. I've never thought of myself as a depressive but I've experienced things you've written about. I've lived in an emotionally abusive marriage for 46 years... I ignore the abuse and get on with life. Thanks for your words

    2. What an honest and accurate description of the nightmare that is depression! It's not feeling anything, and having no emotions that I suspect often propels people to suicide, because you feel as if you have no future, as your present is so bleak. When I have been depressed, I have often thought about this devastating option as a way out.
      A friend of mine has researched the cause of illness for the past thirty years, and I have been taking his advice to prevent another episode of depression, so far with great success.
      I am using a light box, even though I suspect that my depression wasn't light-related, and I use it every morning during my quiet time.
      I also read 'Potatoes not Prozac' which shows how toxic sugar is for the system, and gives advice on diet as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs.
      Since following the book's suggestions, I have been free of depression for the last six months, at a time when I am normally so depressed that my life becomes a shadow of what it normally is.
      I also take Vitamin C in much larger quantities than normal, as it is essential for the healthy functioning of the body. Niacin, Vitamin B, is the only other supplement to be included in this depression proofing experiment.
      I recommend this to others who are suffering. Scientists are also finding something I have suspected for a long time, that there is a physical element in the cause of depression, another reason for taking the supplements.

  5. I know that I don't have quite the problems you mention, Martin but I always feel sad and down at this time of year. Christmas is over and my sons have gone and all the family have gone. A new year stretches before me but I always feel dissatisfied with what I achieved in the last and can't imagine doing much better in the next. Hopefully, this feeling will pass.Probably just tired.

  6. Lived with this all through school & Uni. (I expect you ACW's didn't know that!) It's a life of constant 'glass half empty' and it's not nice, and thankfully the Christian view is changing so 'conversion' etc is not seen as the answer! So understand that grey weather thing. I need sunshine. Though have met people with worse depression who actually say they prefer it as it suits their mood. Good to bring it into the open, Martin, and we can all, if we share this, admit that though we are believers, we aren't always smiling, happy, praising God and loving to be writers, and generally finding faith equals up-beat.

  7. Thank you for sharing this. Along with the emptiness can come the feeling of being totally alone (even though you may be in company and/or know others have and are going through similar dark periods). I've learned over many years not to expect too much of myself and to be kind to myself during the dark days. It seems to help.

  8. Thank you. Virtual hug flying over to you. x