Writing as Therapy
I have been writing a fair amount about being depressed on this blog. I’ve always tried to be open and honest in chronicling my struggles with mental illness and depression. That’s particularly true here on this website, and this blog, where I strive to be as brutally candid as humanly possible.
Alas, there may be such a thing as being too candid. Some of the sentiments expressed in my blog posts about depression have concerned loved ones and readers alike, so I went back and re-read two of my more recent blog posts about feeling depressed and discouraged and I’ve got to admit: they were pretty fucking depressing. I genuinely got a little bummed out by something that I’d written about myself and my emotional life fairly recently.
I understood why my articles might worry friends and family. A big part of the reason I wrote those articles, beyond having a whole lot of holes to fill in Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place’s demanding and exhausting weekly schedule, is because it is cathartic for me to write about depression. It almost always has been that way. Writing about my depression and despair and self-doubt and confusion has been a way of processing that depression, despair, confusion and self-doubt.
It’s a way of transforming a negative into a positive, in taking the ugliness and pain of being a lifelong depressive and trying to create something that other people will be able to identify and empathize with, that might make them feel less alone. But on another level, I’m doing it for myself.
Writing about depression and discouragement is a form of therapy for me. Indeed, writing about feeling depressed and discouraged and filled with doubting and discouraging internal voices helped me deal with those emotions. I felt better after writing those essays, but when I was writing those essays I was living in those emotions, living in that pain. They were honest and genuine reflections of how I was feeling at the time that I wrote them but I’m pleased to report that I am doing and feeling better than I was when I wrote those pieces.
In that respect, this blog is an ongoing online journal of my ever-fluctuating psychological state. There was a time when my repressed Midwestern brain would have been mortified to be embarking on such an emotionally exhibitionistic endeavor but now I see a lot of value in laying it all out, within reason.
We are forever changing. I am not the same person I was last week, let alone a decade ago. And the sides of myself I choose to share with the world are just that: sides of myself, not the complicated, fundamentally unknowable whole. It’s true that in many, if not most ways, I am doing very, very well.
I love this site and you readers. I feel like I’m doing some of the best work of my life. I’m able to make a living and feed my family doing what I love. That is a beautiful thing, and something I never want to take for granted. Sure, I still struggle in a lot of ways, but struggling and doing well are not mutually exclusive. They go hand in hand. Part of the reason I’m doing well is that I’ve accepted that trying to make a living as a freelancer entails a certain amount of struggling and uncertainty.
So when you read blog posts where it seems like I’m in pain, that’s probably because I wrote them from a place of pain but that doesn’t mean I see that as a permanent state. On the contrary, it’s a state I’m pleased to say I’m in as infrequently as humanly possible, and writing about that pain, thankfully, is one of the ways I’m able to keep that pain and that depression in check.
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