How to Write When You’re Depressed

No really, does anyone know?

If you came here looking for answers, you’re probably going to be disappointed. I’m not sure there are any answers. Depression is a terrible creature. It rears it’s head at the most random moments, leaving you with a terrible feeling of inertia that’s almost impossible to explain, even for a writer.

I guess it all depends on how depressed you are. Is it depression with a little d or Depression with a capital D? If it’s the latter, reading a blog entry or trying to psych yourself up probably won’t do anything. Then there’s situation depression vs chemical depression. Each requires different approaches, many requiring professional help. (Seriously, don’t suffer alone. Get help. There are so many places that can help you. No one should have to go through depression alone.)

Today I wanted to write. I really did. I’ve been busy with stuff related to a family wedding (congrats Cal and Amberlyn!) but now that it’s over with I finally have the time and brainpower to write.

But I couldn’t. It really is the weirdest thing. I know what I want to do, I know what I want to write, but somehow I just can’t make myself pick up my laptop. It’s right there but my body doesn’t listen to my brain and I just CAN’T.

Today I didn’t write. Sometimes it’s better to recognize the feelings and give yourself permission to just take care of yourself. I went on Twitter. I talked to my mom. I identified today’s depression as situational (I miss having a cat) and took a step to change that situation (I put in an application for adoption at a shelter. Don’t tell my dad!).

I even did something writing related. I picked out a notebook to make a ‘story bible’ of sorts in. I looked at articles I’d saved on Pinterest and made a list of things I want to include. I made a list of characters that need profiles or short bios (Dang this book has a lot of characters).

After all that, I felt a little better. I decided to write the blog entry I’d jotted down an idea for earlier. I’m ignoring my perfectionist side and posting this without a fancy graphic or making sure I share with every social media page I have. I’m just putting the words out there and maybe I’ll come back later and do the rest.

I don’t know how to write when you’re depressed. I don’t know how to write when you aren’t. All I know is what I do and whether or not it worked for me on any given day.

Do you suffer from depression? Or any mental illness really? How does it impact your writing life? Is there anything that helps you when you’re having a bad day? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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This is why I don’t people…

(Disclaimer: If none of this makes sense, I blame the cold medication.)

I went out and peopled and came home sick. (see? People are bad.) Not very sick, but sick enough. Sick enough to be exhausted and miserable but not sick enough to get sympathy. Just a general bleh. It’s been a week now and it still hasn’t gone away.

I haven’t felt up to writing, so I’m probably not going to make my 10k Camp Nanowrimo goal. I’m okay with that. I’ve mentally written a few scenes and at least know how my story is going to end.

Just to add insult to injury, I have an eye infection. I caught it early so hopefully it will be gone by Saturday, when I have a family wedding to attend. And for fun I forgot to take my pills yesterday so I spent a long morning anxious and twitchy, waiting for the withdrawals to go away.

I really hate weddings. I love my nephew, but I hate weddings. All the details have kept things busy this summer and I’m looking forward to it being over. I’m super anxious that I’m not going to feel better. Or that I’ll have a red swollen bump on my eye that will get immortalized in family photos.

I’m fairly certain I’m not making a lot of sense right now. This is why I haven’t been writing. Or blogging. I keep thinking of stuff I need to do, but then it either floats out of my head or I’m too tired to do it.
I do have writing plans. I want to finish my prequel of course, but I’ve also realized I need to do some backwards plotting. I need to re-read my novel and fill out a notebook with character details, events in order, ect.

But my brain is shot and I’m feeling very sorry for myself right now. So instead of doing that, or preparing for the trip this weekend, I’m going to read fanfiction and/or binge watch Psych.

Oh! Wait, one cool thing did happen. I reached 500 Twitter followers! *throws confetti* I have no idea how that happened. Wasn’t it just yesterday I got to 100? I love that there are that many people in the world interested in my rambles and talking with me about writing. So a very special thank you to each and every one of my followers. May that many people someday read this blog.

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I saved Tom’s life today

I saved a baby robin’s life today.

Actually, it was a fledgling. Big enough to get kicked out of the nest but still can’t quite fly. It’s mostly a lot of flapping and hopping.

We have an old cast iron tub on our porch that we put plants in. It has a wooden pallet cut to fit inside so the plants are raised about six inches off the ground. One of the plants is a small catnip I got to plant when we finally bury Mr. Muggles ashes. It keeps getting knocked over by wind and rain.

And boy have we had a lot of rain. This morning we had another rainstorm, the kind that pounds on the windows and makes it near impossible to hear anything else. Then it stopped as suddenly as it started and the sun came out. 

I stepped out onto the porch to right the catnip pot. I heard splashing coming from under the plants. I thought maybe there was a frog or something inside so I peered between the leaves.

It wasn’t a frog. It was a very scared, very stuck, baby robin. I moved two of the plants to get a better look. There was about 3 inches or so of water in the bottom (the drain had gotten clogged during the storm) and this little guy was flapping and hopping as hard as he could.

He couldn’t gain purchase on the smooth sides of the tub. I was a little afraid he might scratch me, but I couldn’t leave him there so I reached inside and closed his little body in my hand.

I lifted him out and he immediately stopped struggling. I looked him over a bit to make sure he hadn’t gotten hurt while he was flailing about. He appeared fine so I set him down on the porch.

The poor little guy curled up on himself and stood still, except for the shivering. He made no effort to move, even let me stroke his little head without budging.

I saw the shadow of a few adult robins flying around so I went inside to see if his parents were going to come around. But right before that, I took a couple pictures of him. (I named him Tom)

After a little while, one of his parents came by and fed him a worm. Then another. And then another. He moved around a little and stopped shivering. Then he pooped, so clearly his digestive system was working properly.

As time passed, his feathers dried out and he appeared to fall asleep. His parents kept returning with food and he continued defecating all over our porch.

It’s been a couple hours and the last time I looked outside he’d finally moved. He was standing at the edge of the porch, next to the wisteria, likely working up the strength and courage to hop onto the vine and make his way in the world.

And he pooped again.

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Why I Medicate My Mental Illness

Why I Medicate My Mental Illness*

pills photo
Photo by .v1ctor Casale.

Every morning I take four pills. Three for Anxiety and one for Depression. I’ve been taking the first three for nearly a decade. I have no plans to stop.

Medication for mental illness is a hot button subject. Everyone has an opinion, including people who have no experience with which to form said opinion. Some are for it, some against it, and some think it only should be used in the direst situations. 

I, for one, am pro-medication. That doesn’t mean I’m a pill pusher, or that I think it’s the answer for everyone. It just means it’s worked well for me and I would never advise someone to avoid it.

A year or so before my seventeenth birthday I had finally hit bottom. The anxiety disorder I didn’t know I had had been stalking me for over a year, manifesting in near constant nausea and the inability to focus on anything but the unpleasant physical sensations that were plaguing me. I followed my mother around the house, terrified to be alone. At that point, it was obvious something needed to change.

My doctor prescribed Paxil. It was new to the market, the new miracle anti-depressant. I was so convinced there was something physically wrong with me that I agreed to medication without even realizing what it was for. It wasn’t until I left that I realized she had prescribed me something for my anxiety.

Paxil was like a miracle to me. Within a month not only had I been pulled out of the deep hole I’d been living in, but I felt better than I ever had in my life.

Suddenly, my whole life made sense. All those little eccentricities I had as a kid? Anxiety. The strange fears that cropped up? Anxiety. The way I’d never been able to handle anyone being angry at me? Anxiety.

I remained happily on Paxil for a few years until the side effects prompted me to find an alternative. On the second try, we found one that worked for me nearly as well as Paxil had.

I take that medication to this day, along with the two others that were added over the years (if you’re looking back at the first paragraph and wondering if one of the side effects is losing the ability to do basic math, I take four pills but only three medications. Two pills are the same drug.).

I am one of the lucky ones, someone who responds well to most medications. They don’t cure me, they don’t change me, they just give me the ability to get up in the morning and be me, not Anxiety.

I will take these pills for the rest of my life if I need to, the same way my father will likely take heart medication for the rest of his life.

And I will never be ashamed.

 

*in addition to therapy, which is an integral part of treating mental illness. I’m very lucky to have found a great one. (Hi Julie!)

 

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Introducing LydiaEWinters.com

Welcome to An Anxious Author. I am said anxious author, Lydia Elizabeth Winters. I thought I’d take a few minutes with this first post to give you a little background information and a mission statement of sorts for this blog.

Biography:

I was born and raised in Southern New Hampshire. I currently reside in a small town on the Vermont border (I can see Vermont from my window!). I have an upstairs apartment in a house I share with my parents and the memories of my tempermental kitty, Mr. Muggles.

Mr. Muggles
October 2007-May 2017. You will be missed.

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. An avid reader from a young age with a big imagination, it was a natural transition. As a teenager I began writing fanfiction, something I’ve continued to this day. I ran a website for many years where I posted all my writings and where I made a lot of good friends I still keep in touch with.

LitTrip 2015. Wish I could have been there!

I’ve never been bored a day in my life. My current hobbies include knitting, spinning (as in yarn, not on a bike), memorizing the Nations of the World song from Animaniacs, reading, and of course, writing.

One laptop for writing, one for procrastination.

I’m a thirty-something proud aunt of five and great-aunt of three who is trying not to feel ancient when I remember those things. My mom is my best friend in the world and we are freakishly close.

Youngest Nephew is getting married in July. See? Ancient.

My apartment is full of geeky memorabilia, including my large Funko Pop collection. My bookshelves are overloaded.

old pic of the collection

Goals:

1. I admit, starting this blog is at least partially in the hope that a little accountability will help me keep in a good writing routine. After all, if I don’t write anything, I won’t have anything to post!

2. Making some new friends. You can never have enough writing friends. People who understands having a search history that could probably get yourself on a terror watch list.

3. Share what it’s like to live with chronic mental illness and how that impacts my daily life, including how it impacts my writing.

4. Generally be an outlet for myself to talk about life and whatever else is on my mind.

If you made it this far, I’d like to say thank you in advance for giving my little blog a chance. Please forgive me while I figure out what the heck I’m doing.

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