Living in a Writer’s World With Mental Illness
Have you ever wondered about the process of how the blog you are reading came to fruition? What’s behind it? Just because I have depression doesn’t mean my experience is any different from other writers. But then maybe it does. Maybe the world of each writer is different and unique, just as no one human is like another. I don’t know.
A Journey of Its Own
Please allow me to explain to you what being in a writer’s world is like for me. Writing is all-consuming. You can never get away from it and you never want to. Inspiration for a new piece, whether a poem or a blog entry, is everywhere. While members of your family are playing board games at nine o’clock at night, you are sitting with them but apart from them, calmly yet frantically writing down the next word, the next sentence, before that inspiration leaves you. You never know which course your piece is going to take until it’s actually happening. Each completed piece was a journey of its own. You never plan an ending until it comes about and you always have confidence that the ending, the entire piece, will be great.
You fall in love with each piece that you write. After a read-through you think, “this is brilliant” for every new piece. In spite of what anyone else thinks about the piece, you are proud of having accomplished the completion of yet another piece of art. You don’t really like it when someone else suggests a way to modify your piece. This piece of writing is a part of you and has personal significance because it came from within you. Nobody else has ever put words like these together in this way because your creation is original.
If writing is not your full-time job, you spend your lunch break writing as much as possible within a given amount of time. Sometimes your lunch breaks run a bit over because of this. Time seems fluid and you can’t wait to get home, walk your dog and feed yourself so that you can finish the piece you started. Sometimes life gets in the way. Your dog is very used to sleeping on your lap on the couch with the bright reading light on ahead.
Depression into the Mix
You sleep a lot because writing exhausts you. Instead of cutting down on the writing you add time to your sleep. You need at least eight hours of sleep per day but sometimes you have to subsist on less. If you are not writing, you are typing up what you wrote, doing read-throughs, and adjusting the formatting.
Sometimes on weekends, you spend time photographing verses of your handwritten poetry, making it into art so that you can post that onto your social media pages to share with whoever might care to look at it. After 90 minutes of being crouched on the ground with your professional camera in hand, you are exhausted from the intensity of the concentration and your back hurts. You realize you have been sweating. Your acrylic paints, watercolours, and coloured gel pens are strewn about all over the ground around you. You are once again exhausted and so you choose to take a nap. On Monday, when you are back at work, someone asks you if you did anything fun over the weekend. You answer politely saying you just worked on your poetry, knowing that they have no idea what “working on poetry” entails for you.
The next weekend comes around. You settle in with your usual two cups of coffee in the morning and start writing a new piece. Even though it takes well under two hours to complete one piece, you are exhausted because of the emotional process you went through while composing that piece of writing. You force yourself to eat a defrosted bagel for lunch because you haven’t been to the grocery store in two weeks and that’s all you have. The other option was to open a carton of bean soup. You don’t want to touch the frozen meals because those are reserved for lunches during the week.
Everything Else is Surreal
It’s Easter Sunday and instead of celebrating, you remain in your reclusive retreat. The sun is bright but you don’t notice it until you take a walk outside with your therapy dog. Being outside feels surreal because you have been immersed in your writer’s world all day in your mind. The world seems to have stood still but in reality life for everyone else continued. There are children playing outside. You sit down after your long nap to compose your second blog of the day only to realize by the end of it that you are hungry again. The two bagels with cream cheese you had in the morning and at lunch weren’t quite enough sustenance. You give in to the hunger and quickly finish the blog.
That’s what writing is like for me. I don’t know what it’s like for anyone else because my experience is all that I know. It is difficult to force myself to take breaks from writing but I’m realising that I have to. Other aspects of my life need attention too. There is a pile of unopened mail which began accumulating, shockingly, about six months ago that I need to one day go through. I have to get the smog check done on my car.
Relax a Little
There are so many things to do which just aren’t getting done. I take a hint from my dog who sleeps all day and through the night. Life doesn’t have to be this intense. If I can just step back and have some perspective, maybe the other things I’ve been putting off might get done. Maybe I might have a little more room for self-care, which I am in need of.
Nunn, A. (2018). Living in a Writer’s World With Mental Illness. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 26, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindful-recovery/2018/04/living-in-a-writers-world-with-mental-illness/