Thursday, June 18, 2015

Writers and the Doubting Blues

       … and one small measure that might help, aside from a good night’s sleep.

Writers, we go along this path impassioned by our thoughts and inspirations, characters, and twisting plots. We read as much as we can about writers block, contract mishaps, predators, friends struggles, long journeys, and depression. We might begin writing as the most optimistic person and still things happen that can bring you down.

Take depression, the blues, that low-down isolated feeling. Writers are isolated.  No matter what, you are going to find yourself alone at some point—because, hey writers take what’s in their brains and put into the world in physical form, and that needs a little think/inspiration/muse time.

You can either embrace the aloneness, which many of us do, or become swallowed by it. And many of us do. I’ve certainly had my days of doubt. Some days I’m better at moving through it. I’ve had to develop skills for this. My mother has suffered depression all my life.

Maybe you experience mood swings, and who hasn’t, whether from cyclical body rhythms, diet or life events. You may feel physically alone. That’s par for the course, the weight of responsibility and anxiety for the future, or fear.  It’s human. We go there. We can visit or we can stay.

In the beginning of my writing journey— not all the way to five years old, but during my definitive push for publication I read so many stories of others and the pitfalls, the things that can go wrong, I thought I was prepared mentally. I wasn’t going there. It can’t happen to me because I “know” better. It’s an illusion and I’ll push it away, I might tell myself.

On a few accounts, I’ve felt the wall of the blues pressing on me in physical form, at times when I had no reason to feel blue.

I found my diet at the time to be rich in sugar and processed foods. I unwittingly experimented with this idea, by eating most of my children’s Halloween candy and for the next two days felt glum and downtrodden. When I figured out the diet connection, many of my mood swings, and much of my anxiety calmed down or disappeared completely.  My diet was key to my feelings, and how well, strong and energetic I felt. Now I’ve become gluten intolerant. As I grow older I find I must constantly fine-tuning my diet. I steer clear of chemically produced produce as well. Trial and error worked for me.  It’s heredity. Many in my family have health issues, and never make the diet/food connection. They keep on their habitual food path and continue to suffer.

Guess what I want to say is depression, blues, low-down feelings are real, and it never fully goes away. What I mention here are blues with no known reason, not the stress or depression of dealing with life’s unexpected burdens. Life is filled with ups and downs, all the gorgeous and messy fodder we need for our stories. Writers are like warriors, taking life’s blows and reliving them on the page for others to experience.  Maybe we can ride the fear like a wave, knowing the doubts will pass eventually if we can float above the waters of emotion.

Some days I can dissolve the blues by running outside, along the Hudson River. It’s the best to help me de-stress, and I usually follow it up with a thirty-minute meditation on the pier, weather permitting. That’s my perfect day.  Most everything rolls off of me after a 5k run -- even my teens’ maniac bickering the moment I walk in the door.

What are some of the ways you beat the writer-low-down blues or writer-isolated-doubts?  Because we’ve ALL been there. But we sure don't want to stay.