My Co-Author Is Depression (Using Writing as a Way to Express Myself)

There’s a running theme I have heard within the writing community that goes something like, “All the best writers are probably depressed.” While this statement can seem a bit bold and cliché to people who do not suffer from it, with an image of a tortured artist bound to his desk letting his pain out through pen and ink conjured in their heads, for some people, like me, it is a truth. I am a writer, and I am depressed.

I have been clinically depressed since I was twelve years old due to a combination of my childhood upbringing, being bullied in school, parental divorce, and other external factors. Additionally, my self-esteem has never been the highest, and to this day I still have depressive episodes of self-loathing and second-guessing my worth and ability as a daughter, friend, and human being.

There have been days during said episodes where I cannot get out of bed because the world just seems to be too much, and I am reluctant to face it. I look in the mirror and hate the little scars on my face, the discolored splotches on my skin, my slightly yellowed teeth, my stringy blonde hair.

The only thought in my mind during these times was, “You are not good at anything.” Until I realized I am.

For a time, things weren’t looking so great for me as far as my mental health was concerned. I took a semester off school about a year ago to focus more time and energy into getting over these feelings of worthlessness. I tried just about everything, including yoga, meditation, and daily walks. While these things helped me feel a little better, they weren’t quite cutting it as being something I could feel myself keeping up with and enjoying.

The fall semester of that year was approaching, and I knew I wanted to go back to school and finish my English degree. I always enjoyed writing, but it was mostly fiction writing about things that didn’t affect me, or term papers for class. Not really things that meant a lot to me. That semester I signed up for a class called “Creative Nonfiction” (which, I know, seems a little silly). In this class, our professor wanted us to write personal narratives about our lives, about anything that had happened to us which we found worthy of telling.

The night of our first assignment I remembered thinking to myself, “My life isn’t interesting, nobody wants to hear about me,” the old depressive thoughts creeping up yet again, trying to discourage me. But despite these thoughts, I got out my laptop and started typing. About how I’m not always okay. About how, as a kid, life was horribly rough at home and in school. About how half my nights in bed were spent crying myself to sleep. About how some days I wished I didn’t exist anymore. I felt open, honest, and free from whatever confines I had within me.

Ultimately, it felt so good to get my negative emotions and experiences out in writing.

As I reread my own words, it was almost as if I was reading about someone else’s experience and not my own. I was shocked at how I described myself as useless and without merit. I knew that I was none of the harsh things I said about myself, that it was the depression most likely speaking on behalf of me. When I shared my words with my class, I was even more shocked—they loved it. Everyone said they appreciated how real I was for sharing the not-so-good parts of my life.

As the semester went on, I kept writing about the sad, bad things and realized that maybe this was my style: using my personal experiences in my writing. Any time I would sit down to write, it was only during a time I was feeling down. Only then did my work seem to be…mine. My writing is so much better and emotional when I am depressed. Since I tend to focus on the sadder aspects of life in my writing, when I am feeling this way I can really tap into those dark feelings to produce works that people can identify with—versus writing about something sad when I am in a good mood, where it feels less genuine and comes across as an “outside looking in” type of writing.

When I can immerse my writing in what I’m feeling, those feelings transfer over into my words and strike a chord within me and the reader. I do try to write when I am feeling happy, or even neutral (I promise I’m not sad all the time), and what I produce seems okay; but, when I write while depressed I feel truly proud of what I’ve made and all the uneasiness I felt before I got the words out melts away. It relaxes me, and the positive feedback I get boosts my confidence as a writer. I suppose it’s my own cheap form of therapy.

I know my battle is never over, but using writing as my outlet has been a great help in overcoming the struggle I’ve dealt with all these years.

Using my depression to my advantage in this way makes me feel like I can find some sort of normal in my life. Of course, dealing with the feelings depression gives me is horrible and daunting, but by writing through those difficult times I can release some of those emotions into something beautiful, all while clearing my head and making those thoughts disappear for a while. My self-esteem and sense of worth flourishes when I go back to read some of the things I’ve written while in that state, and it reminds me that if I can make something positive out of something negative, then I can do anything.



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My goal with my writing is to inspire other people to tap into their creative sides and not be afraid to speak their truths. Personal narratives are important to write and talk about, and I want to show others that it's okay to not be okay all the time. If through my writing I can help one person feel less alone, I will have done my job. I'm currently earning my English degree, with a certificate in creative writing attached.

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My Co-Author Is Depression (Using Writing as a Way to Express Myself)

There’s a running theme I have heard within the writing community that goes something like, “All the best writers are probably depressed.” While this statement can seem a bit bold and cliché to people who do not suffer from it, with an image of a tortured artist bound to his desk letting his pain out through pen and ink conjured in their heads, for some people, like me, it is a truth. I am a writer, and I am depressed.

I have been clinically depressed since I was twelve years old due to a combination of my childhood upbringing, being bullied in school, parental divorce, and other external factors. Additionally, my self-esteem has never been the highest, and to this day I still have depressive episodes of self-loathing and second-guessing my worth and ability as a daughter, friend, and human being.

There have been days during said episodes where I cannot get out of bed because the world just seems to be too much, and I am reluctant to face it. I look in the mirror and hate the little scars on my face, the discolored splotches on my skin, my slightly yellowed teeth, my stringy blonde hair.

The only thought in my mind during these times was, “You are not good at anything.” Until I realized I am.

For a time, things weren’t looking so great for me as far as my mental health was concerned. I took a semester off school about a year ago to focus more time and energy into getting over these feelings of worthlessness. I tried just about everything, including yoga, meditation, and daily walks. While these things helped me feel a little better, they weren’t quite cutting it as being something I could feel myself keeping up with and enjoying.

The fall semester of that year was approaching, and I knew I wanted to go back to school and finish my English degree. I always enjoyed writing, but it was mostly fiction writing about things that didn’t affect me, or term papers for class. Not really things that meant a lot to me. That semester I signed up for a class called “Creative Nonfiction” (which, I know, seems a little silly). In this class, our professor wanted us to write personal narratives about our lives, about anything that had happened to us which we found worthy of telling.

The night of our first assignment I remembered thinking to myself, “My life isn’t interesting, nobody wants to hear about me,” the old depressive thoughts creeping up yet again, trying to discourage me. But despite these thoughts, I got out my laptop and started typing. About how I’m not always okay. About how, as a kid, life was horribly rough at home and in school. About how half my nights in bed were spent crying myself to sleep. About how some days I wished I didn’t exist anymore. I felt open, honest, and free from whatever confines I had within me.

Ultimately, it felt so good to get my negative emotions and experiences out in writing.

As I reread my own words, it was almost as if I was reading about someone else’s experience and not my own. I was shocked at how I described myself as useless and without merit. I knew that I was none of the harsh things I said about myself, that it was the depression most likely speaking on behalf of me. When I shared my words with my class, I was even more shocked—they loved it. Everyone said they appreciated how real I was for sharing the not-so-good parts of my life.

As the semester went on, I kept writing about the sad, bad things and realized that maybe this was my style: using my personal experiences in my writing. Any time I would sit down to write, it was only during a time I was feeling down. Only then did my work seem to be…mine. My writing is so much better and emotional when I am depressed. Since I tend to focus on the sadder aspects of life in my writing, when I am feeling this way I can really tap into those dark feelings to produce works that people can identify with—versus writing about something sad when I am in a good mood, where it feels less genuine and comes across as an “outside looking in” type of writing.

When I can immerse my writing in what I’m feeling, those feelings transfer over into my words and strike a chord within me and the reader. I do try to write when I am feeling happy, or even neutral (I promise I’m not sad all the time), and what I produce seems okay; but, when I write while depressed I feel truly proud of what I’ve made and all the uneasiness I felt before I got the words out melts away. It relaxes me, and the positive feedback I get boosts my confidence as a writer. I suppose it’s my own cheap form of therapy.

I know my battle is never over, but using writing as my outlet has been a great help in overcoming the struggle I’ve dealt with all these years.

Using my depression to my advantage in this way makes me feel like I can find some sort of normal in my life. Of course, dealing with the feelings depression gives me is horrible and daunting, but by writing through those difficult times I can release some of those emotions into something beautiful, all while clearing my head and making those thoughts disappear for a while. My self-esteem and sense of worth flourishes when I go back to read some of the things I’ve written while in that state, and it reminds me that if I can make something positive out of something negative, then I can do anything.



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