On Writing

On Writing – Build Your Shelter

Wherein I discuss how and why depression is a reason to work rather than an impediment.

When I was younger, my Uncle asked me a theological riddle (my family is full of nerds of all sorts, and my Uncle is a nerd of the religious ilk):

When a man asks the Lord help with his load, the Lord responds by giving him more weights to lift, what does this mean to you?

My Uncle cautioned me that a faithless man would say it was just the Lord testing us or punishing us for lack of faith. There’s no single and simple answer to this one, but it sticks with me when the old aforementioned depression swings on what I affectionately call “the bipolar coaster” start getting uppity.

My religion plays a part in why I write: it’s a talent given to me by God supplemented by the passion for it I was made with. Riddles and platitudes don’t do much to conquer the feeling of despair and immobility that comes with a good one-two of anxiety and depression.

I think there are a few things that keep me steady at the desk when depression washes over me. The first is the sense of control my discipline gives me. All the things I fear are ineffable variables of humanity and how people and the world must view me, but by sitting at the desk and putting page after page onto a project, I’m in control of something. I am a writer. Nothing I’ve said, or messed up in my interactions with other people will change that. I control that and control means a lot.

Then there are the deeper despairs. The existential diaspora of how pointless anything I do might be. That it’s all a schadenfreude I’m just dancing along to.

Again comes the deeper truth: even if so, that doesn’t negate my personal pride in the aforementioned control and pride at producing my art and work.

Friends, brothers, sisters, if you’re struggling with depression, I don’t know if this is a universal truth, but for me it’s been the rock on which I’ve stood and walked on for years. Find what you believe in, what you’re passionate about and what you can make in the name of it. Don’t wait for someone else to be your rock. Make your own. Make it for yourself and by your own hand.

That way, when the world, its institutions and people seem to bear down upon you with the punishing stranglehold of your weakness and inability to move: you can stand up and build something of your own to stand and take shelter in amidst that darkness.

I’ve said before, and I’ll say again:

We move forward.

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