I write better when I am unhappy. I can’t prove it with statistics or numbers. But when I am unhappy… And I mean the kind of unhappy where I get in my car and cry the entire trip and have to spend two to five minutes cleaning my face before I go into wherever I’m going. Those times in my life where getting out of bed seems like waste of time. Unhappiness that makes me want to drown my mind into a bottle of booze so the fog takes the edge off.
Depression runs in my family. I’ve never been diagnosed though I feel confident there were at least two times in my life I probably should have been on some kind of medication.
I think writing is one of the reasons I haven’t ever been on anti-depressants. When I might be diagnosed as depressed people don’t see it because my pain, my grief, my depression gets lost in a sea of creativity. I keep being told I am holding together so well. I keep being told how strong I am. I’m not. I’m weak.
Writing is escape for me. I can pour my soul into the paper. When I am writing a character who is braving vast dangers utterly unprepared – I don’t have to brave my own dangers. I don’t have to feel my feelings. I can feel their feelings instead. In greatest despair, they are happier then I am.
When a relationship spirals out of control and I feel like no one will ever love me – I can write a love story to rival Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. I can write the story of the man I want to find. Thus far every time I wrote him, I found a man a lot like the one I wrote. Terrifying as it sounds, it’s been my pattern.
I keep being told how “happy” I am when I know I’m not. People are always surprised when I tell them I tried to commit suicide. Why does this surprise people? I guess don’t seem the “type” to be driven there? Well, I’ve been there. I’ve seen the bottom of the well. I was wracked with the pain of existing. I have said the prayer at night “God, please don’t make me wake up tomorrow. Just let me go to sleep and don’t make me do it again tomorrow.”
When I started writing, most thoughts of “final escape” disappeared. And those first few years as I started writing – damn I was prolific. The summer between high school and college I made a Word document of everything I had typed and it was over eight million words. That isn’t the stuff on notebook paper that I wrote between/in classes. Now, most of those words were/are total crap. But it helped me to explore my pain. It gave me a place where I could hide and heal.
I get Poe. I get Plath. I get Twain & Thoreau. Pain is a bitch of a muse.