Writing with depression and battling writer’s block

When you are a writer and you struggle with depression, writer’s block isn’t just writer’s block anymore. Writer’s block is something that can be easily swayed when you put your will to it; but when your writer’s block comes from depression it is significantly harder.
I have experienced this first hand. In the past I’ve had writer’s block, and I’ve dealt with it. The best way to battle a block is to just sit down and write. The last few years I have struggled with clinical depression, to a degree where I have been on medication. As I write, I do realize that this post should have been written in May, during mental health awareness month, but mental illness is here for all the other months too. For us all to help remove the stigma, we need to be talking about it, not only in May.

The problem with a Writer’s block when you are depressed, is that the will to something about it is far away. For me, writing has been a sort of therapy. My writing is where I write out my anger, my hatred. It is where I can be anything I am unable to be in my real life. Two years ago, I just stopped writing, and writing has been a constant struggle since, and my depression has turned worse. It is a downward spiral; I can’t write because I’m depressed, I’m depressed because I don’t write.
Because of my illness I was unable to finish my Creative Writing Degree, I had to defer my third year and will be doing it over this year. And I do claim to have all the answers to fix it (I’m still not writing the writing I need), because there is no magical cure and it might not get easier.
To battle the writer’s block, the first step is to realize what’s the problem. In my case depression is the reason or my writer’s block, and eventually the writer’s block became a contributing cause for my depression. It was already too late for me to turn things around when I realized this, a whole semester had passed and it was three months until my dissertation was due.
When you realize what the problem is, you can take steps to fix it. In the past my writing had always been linked to my reading. If I read a lot, I would write a lot. At my writing peak I wrote 5000 words a day and I read almost 100 books that year. It is my belief that all writers need to read. To quote one of my favorite Lannister: “A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone.”

I think what I am trying to say here is that it is important to see things in context. As writers we create context in all our little pieces of work, but while we are doing this we forget to take a look at our own, very real, life. So my advice would be: read wide,  read often, and read to expand your mind. Also, remember it is no shame in putting down a book that just doesn’t rub your back.

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