There are two aspects that have come to define who I am, in my own mind at least: I am a writer. I am depressed.
The way these two identities interact and play with each other in order to create who I am on a daily basis is...honestly, I think I could write an entire thesis or dissertation on it. Not that anyone would necessarily want to read that, but I could still write it.
In lieu of a dissertation, I thought I would use this platform to regularly explore what it looks like to a be a writer who is depressed. I should note that this is my experience only: I'm not trying to claim some sort of universal depressed writer way of living; and the things that work for me may not work for someone else! I do hope, though, that my openness and exploration of this topic will help you as you seek to make sense of your own life, calling, and illness.
I've considered myself a writer since I was a small child. I think I was in second grade the first time I told someone I was going to be an author when I grew up? It's just an aspect of myself that I've accepted and grown comfortable with for a long time now. I write not just because I have something to say, but also because, well, I have to. It's a compulsion, a need, a fierce burning in my chest that only grows hotter if I don't let the words come out.
That said, it took years for me to call myself a "writer," not just "aspiring" or "someone who writes." But once I accepted that this is who I am, not just what I do, it became so much easier to fall into this identity.
The depression was a different story. Not that it took me a long time to accept it, because I think that as soon as the symptoms began and the thought occurred, "maybe this is depression," I allowed it in. More that: I have a significant trove of memories that are un-depressed. I actually lived a life before Depression.
It's been about 10 years since the two have converged. Writer Karis met Depressed Karis and the two became one. It's not a happy marriage.
See, both of these selves want to be the one. The one [self] to rule them all. The king under the [brain]. (Listen, I don't know if these references are working so I'll just come out and clearly state: I am reference The Lord of the Rings. I am doing this for the laughs. Please let me know if you do laugh, as that will be a great boon for my Humor Self.)
There are periods in which I give myself over to one identity. I write and am not depressed. I am depressed and I do not write.
Most of the time, though, I straddle both identities. I write in spite of my depression. I am depressed despite my writing.
It's...a monumental struggle. When things are super bad, depression-wise, it's honestly the hardest thing in the world to do the bare minimum of getting out of bed. Eating, putting on clothes: those are worthy of a medal. Then if I'm actually productive? At that point, I may as well award myself the Nobel Prize for Achievements through Depression.
Through this series, A Depressed Writer, I want to explore the different nuances of writing while depressed; chat about a few things that have helped me cope with depression while remaining productive as a writer; and generally dive into this subject which is so personal to me for so many reasons.
I hope you'll enjoy, learn a lot, and be encouraged!