Monday, October 12, 2009

Refocusing To Achieve Wellness (Part 1)

Last November, I learned there are times when writing isn't healing for me. Although I have made my living as a writer for more than 20 years, I now realize that in the ebbs and flows of each year, there are periods when I don't feel like writing at all.

For much of my life, I didn't feel this way. But, for the last few years, I've realized that when I am experiencing a low-grade depression, I do. Last year this was a terrifying realization because being a writer is not just what I do, it is who I am.

For the last two decades, I have understood that I make sense of my life through writing. And it's the way I express my creativity. But last year, when I experienced such a devastating depression, I realized that I wasn't interested in writing about it. In fact, I wasn't interested in thinking about it.

In retrospect, this presented a huge conundrum because my lack of interest in writing made me question the very essence of who I am, and what my mission is. After working for so many years to become a writer and an author, I couldn't imagine how I'd survive if I quit. Worse, I couldn't imagine what I'd do to find meaning. (to be continued)

FYI...I'll be moderating comments and responding to them later this afternoon. I'm working on a gardening project and will be gone much of the day! But, know that I care about each and every comment, and, as always, I appreciate your willingness to respond to what I write.


Writing Works said...

Hope you had a great week off :)

I've never experienced a long depression, so I don't know how I would handle it. When I am low, I am angry and I don't want to do anything. But, I do find it easier to write when I'm sad, or pondering, or low, than when I am up and happy. I tend to write out of frustration.

But, like you, I can't imagine not being able to write... that must be a difficult place.

Wendy Love said...

I understand what it is like to NOT want to do the very thing that defines you. It is like NOT wanting to hold your own seems so wrong. And yet, that is the way it has been for me as well, with my artwork. Art has defined me for many years and now I don't even want to go into my studio and have no interest in picking up a paintbrush. I seem to be able to use my creativity for writing but not for painting. I am thankful for at least some creative outlet. I assume that there is a season for everything and since seasons come and go, they never disappear forever. I take comfort in that thought. I find that with depressin, which causes me to 'overthink' everything, half of may anxiety is over the thoughts surrounding the situations, not the situations themselves. I 'think' it into being something bigger than it really is. I need to be able to just accept things and say 'it is what it is'. Of course,this is easier said than done.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Writing Works,
Thanks so much for your comment. Actually, my two longest depressions--which were both medication-induced--lasted one year each. So, I know what it's like to feel depressed forever...and still be able to write.

However, the way I feel now is different, and I'll try to explain it in my next few posts.

Thanks for sharing how you feel. It's always helpful to know.


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Wendy,
I'm so sorry you're feeling that way about art. It is quite similar to the way I sometimes feel about writing.

And, yes, I used to think this was a terrible way to feel. In fact, this is the first year I'm more accepting of it, and it's because of my gardening, which I see as an "alternative avocation." I'll try to explain it this week.

I genuinely appreciate your sharing these feelings. I believe it's really important for everyone to understand that we may share certain feelings when we're depressed, and perhaps find ways that others deal with it--that may work for us.

Or, just feel relieved that we're not the only ones who feel this way.


marja said...

Hi Susan,

I've felt the same way about photography, when I still considered myself a photographer and that was what defined me. I would feel guilty for not feeling like doing it.

But I've learned that the worst thing you can do is to feel guilty and beat yourself up over it. I would rationalize to myself, "I do this for the fun of it, not because I HAVE to. When you do something for enjoyment, you should not have to force yourself." Gradually the desire to photograph came back.

You are doing other creative things now, probably just as good for you. Maybe this is your season to be a gardener. Sounds like you're loving it.

Love, marja

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Marja,
You're absolutely right, and that's the realization I've come to...

But, I do find it interesting that you felt the same way about photography, and Wendy feels that way about art.

I never knew that anyone shared these kinds of feelings, and it's comforting to know that!


Tamara (TC) Staples said...


You are a writer and will always be a writer even if you are taking a break for a while. There are also things you could write about besides depression if you really felt the creative urge to write but on a different subject. You probably have so much you could write about gardening or photography or any number of things.

Also, I wonder if your creative needs are being met right now by the gardening and photography and so you just don't have that drive to create by writing at the moment. It has taken my therapist years to teach me that it is good and okay to flow with my own natural rhythms and not force myself into doing something that doesn't feel right. (I still forget this regularly)


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Tamara,
You're scoring two for two:) What you've written is what I learned last year...and plan to write about in this series.

In the past when I was depressed and didn't feel like writing, there was a huge void in my life, which I couldn't fill. And, of course, it made the depression far worse.

But, now gardening and photography are filling this void. And, for me, they are both right brain activities and far easier to focus on when I don't want to use the more analytical side of my brain.

Maybe cooking does the same thing for you. But, I totally agree with your therapist.

Hugs back at you!