There’s this feeling, it can be like a burden strapped to your back or the slow subtle pull of the ground beneath you giving way. It strikes without warning or follows in the wake of something dire. Many times uncertainty, doubt and a myriad of its other companions trail behind it.
Time passes and the load becomes unbearable. The sand that was at your ankles is now up to your waist. You struggle, trying to undo the strap of such a heavy load or fight to dig yourself out, but in the end, you only sink deeper.
Helplessness follows is like a stranglehold and with it, comes a sense of pointlessness. Nothing seems worth it and ultimately even the effort appears fruitless and bitter. This feeling has a name. Many of you already know it. Its name is Depression.
I won’t be so audacious to say I am an expert but is it is something I struggle with. My moods sometimes shift like the tides because of it. I’ve hesitated writing about this topic, but it’s been on my mind for some time.
I’ve seen the responses some have gotten on social media about it, they weren’t the kindest words I’d ever seen. I understand it’s a personal struggle, believe me, I do. I have had days where it just couldn’t get out of bed, but I had to force myself.
Even at work, I’ll just be going through the motions, just trying to manage everything and smile. I’m good at wearing masks, I’ve learned I have to be. I’ve often found people only care as much as it takes to not get too involved. It’s probably why I keep so much to myself. I really hate being vulnerable.
But as part of my commitment to be transparent, and because this struggle also ties into my journey as a writer, I’ve found I can’t just keep it to myself. I’ve had a couple of writer friends encourage me to share my thoughts and honestly if this helps someone get out of the muck, then I couldn’t be happier.
Where to Begin?
That’s the question, isn’t it? As a writer there really isn’t a greater joy than sharing your story with another human being. To see something you love take shape and form. With that process comes a bit of vulnerability though.
We all want to know that what we do is appreciated. On some level, it’s a deep need. Writers and other creative, like-minded people, especially so. Each of us has a reason for why we do what we do. More often than not, we love what that thing is and want to share it with others.
There’s a sense of fulfillment that it carries. We’re social creatures after all. Sharing such things makes us feel connected. In the same way, when what we share is turned away, rejection and disconnection follow.
We end up feeling worthless and no matter how impersonal it was, we still take it personally on some level, even if we don’t mean to. I think it’s easy to forget that as the saying goes:
A prophet in his own land isn’t always the most well-received.
What I mean is, that the thing that makes you, you, isn’t always going to be the most awesome thing perceived by those who know you. It’s a weird thing that the people who know the most about you are often the ones who get the least excited by the thing it is that you are doing. To them sometimes it’s just your thing.
It’s just one facet of human nature. The reverse is also true. Those who know you least tend to be drawn in by what you do. Either scenario isn’t 100% concrete, but it’s the most common occurrence. I think this reality makes it really hard for people who find something to be passionate about to push forward.
Are there triggers?
Personally, and this is just my opinion, I think there are. I think that what starts us on a spiral is typically a need or desire that runs on empty or isn’t being met. The longer we go without it, the larger the hole inside us becomes.
For most, I believe it’s a social issue. We are wired to be social creatures. We have a need for community. In this day and age that’s so hard to find. Friends today are so fair weather and the connections we have flimsy at best.
The world we live in is so fast-paced and inundated with ways to ‘feel’ connected, but in all honesty, we aren’t. The pseudo-community we have created has so much emphasis on what you do determines your value. So the only way to continue to remain connected is to please others before yourself. Once we are cut off, the spiral starts all over again.
As I sit here, I have realized one of mine is social media. As writers, we’re constantly under the gun to perform. We have to continuously generate content to remain relevant. If not, then we fall away, forgotten and left behind. In other words, to the world, we don’t matter unless we offer them something they deem valuable.
In recent weeks I’ve found that it really does get to me. I’ve almost or rather I’ve had to say it simply isn’t that important (though it still is in the sense that it’s a tool I still have to make use of). Writing for me has always been about the work. Over the last couple of years, the marketing side of things has sometimes felt a bit overwhelming. I’m still learning, but there’s a sense of helplessness that it carries.
It’s left me questioning more often than not if I can even get anywhere. Sometimes it even robs me of the joy that writing brings. At worse, I’ve found I can’t even stomach looking at my laptop.
The fight is real and it can put you in a spiral for days at a time before finally managing to pick yourself up and start again. Netflix binges or long hours playing games usually follow in between. I may still write something, but more often than not the process is slowed to a crawl.
Yet, I know I have to push forward somehow. If I don’t I can’t get to the place I want to be. I can’t become the person I feel I was meant to be.
If I don’t post something, then okay. That’s the place I really want to get to. It might mean the process is slower and with it the attention toward my work, but if I can enjoy what I do without seeking the accolades of other people, then I’m much better for it. This journey is a marathon, not a race. I’ll finish in the way that I need to in order to reach the goal.
I could name other triggers but through it all, I’ve learned that on a personal note, all of mine revolve around wanting to find a place to feel connected. If I don’t, then the hole inside opens up and I get sucked in.
How do you cope?
I know that some people take meds for depression, I mean that’s what they are there for. I think the solution is different for everyone. There are things we just can’t help that are beyond our control.
I’m not a doctor or anything, but I know me. For me understanding what’s wrong, makes it easier to deal with the load I’m carrying. Something that has really helped me is I recently found a group of people to play games with.
It’s so strange that something so simple has made such a huge impact on how I feel. After the first night, I honestly felt like the load on my back had been tossed aside. I kinda felt normal in a weird way. But I was happy too.
I can’t speak to your circumstances but if you can relate to what I’m talking about, then I hope this helps. I’m not an expert. I’m just a guy talking about some of his struggles and is learning how to manage them. If you have the sinking feeling, the one where everything just feels worthless and unimportant, maybe finding a place to truly connect with other people is the solution.
It’s helped me. Maybe it can help you. Whatever the process, just know you’re not alone and it does get better. Even if it feels like it never will.