Why We Write, part 5

I have not posted here since April 29. 18 days without a post. To be fair to myself, I have been frightfully busy with work — both my day job as well as some freelance. But that is really no excuse. There is always time to write. Always. There is always 20 minutes or an hour. All one needs to do is get up a little earlier, or stay up a little later. There is always time, always more time.

But I just have not written here. I have not written anything, save my journal. Not a letter, not a blog post, no work on my novel, nothing. And no desire to either. Which is the scary part. I want to write, mind, but I just don’t have the desire to, and yes they are two different things. The desire, in fact, for a lot of things, is missing. I feel clouded over, dulled, distracted.

And that’s the thing about depression, sometimes the cure is even worse. When I could barely lift my arms because I was so sad, I could at least still write. Now I still can’t lift my arms, and I am not even writing. It’s a disease that doesn’t make any clear sense to anyone: the depressed, the people around them, or the people that treat them. Everyone tries — well, some people try — to get better, or to help others get better, but there is no silver bullet, and sometimes the proposed cure is worse than the idea of spending the rest of your days unable to lift your arms.

I write about suicide now and again on this blog. Suicide and its sad connection to this game we love. And whenever I would write about it, I would write about how I could never understand that level of darkness. When it’s so dark you truly believe you will never see light again. I understand that now. I also understand loneliness and why it kills people. Don’t worry, I am fine, well, I will be fine anyway.

So I am here. Again. Forcing the laptop open, tying myself to a chair, wrenching open WordPress and trying to get back what the drugs have taken away from me. There’s been this thing that’s been around forever, this glorification of the depressed writer. Or writers who are scared to get better because they think they will stop writing. Or their writing will get worse. That they will become just another happy joe schmoe. Well I am here to tell that that is all bullshit. And if a writer believes that — truly believes that — then they are a fraud. I cannot tell you how badly I want to get better.

Hanif Abdurraqib wrote about the not-so-tenuous relationship between writing — and writers — and depression. He likened depression to a game of tug-a-war: sometimes you are on the losing end, sometimes the rope is slipping through your fingers, sometimes it is burning them, sometimes the opposing team is dragging you through the mud. But you are always — always — doing your best work when both your hands are on the rope. Lose that grip, and the work suffers, maybe even stops altogether, maybe even you stop altogether. And so we are all better off when we keep our hands on the rope, do what it takes to get better, to keep that grip, because that’s when we are at our best, as writers, as people. And because dead people can’t write.

And that is why I am here. Because not only do I do my best writing when both of my hands are on the rope, but because writing is how I keep that grip. It’s what keeps me going, what excites me, what motivates me. Even if no one ever reads it. It doesn’t matter. I am here. I am writing. And both of my hands are on the rope. I might be sad today, and I will probably be sad tomorrow, but I am not going to be a better writer if I stop taking these pills. Because if I do, not only might I stop writing, but I might stop altogether.

More cricket soon.

***

Other posts in the Why We Write series.

Why We Write

Why We Write, part 3

Why We Write, part 4

No idea what happened to part 2, or if it ever existed in the first place.

2 Replies to “Why We Write, part 5”

  1. As someone who is living with a debilitating disability I can relate to the affect mental health can have on a person. It is extremely important that people get the help they need and that they talk about the problems they are facing.

    Stay strong!

  2. Stick with it, Matt. I’m fortunate enough to have never suffered from depression, but I know all about the loss of desire and motivation to write. It always comes back, though, even if only intermittently and unpredictably.

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