Writing Words With the Tips of My Toes
“As a writer, I believe depression is necessary. By going through these dark places, we are able to come back and illustrate just how beautiful the light really is.”
I found this post on Tumblr and almost wanted to scream. The poster and I got into a spat and she tried to explain what she actually meant, but anyone reading the above quote is going to get the exact same implication regardless: that depression is being romanticized and only those who are depressed and heal from it can become truly great writers.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong!
I don’t care that the writer told me she meant depressed writers should seek solace in writing and should not take the good days for granted to better their writing because that is not at all what she said in her writing. This is a lesson in writing, that you need to write clearly so there is no miscommunication between you and reader. Granted, even the most obvious sentences can draw miscommunication, but it is not my job as a reader to read your mind in order to understand what you actually meant.
In any case, let’s backpedal to the original statement. I wanted to scream reading this. I will admit upfront my depression influenced the latest book I am working on, but it was not worth being depressed for. I would have traded my depression for anything. However, I might as well use my past experiences with depression to create a story about a treatment-resistant teen that will hopefully inspire teens struggling with depression to seek help. But, again, I neither need nor want depression to create stellar story ideas.
There is nothing romantic about sleeping more than half the day, no longer having the ability to enjoy what you do, being unable to eat because you have zero appetite and can barely eat because your stomach can’t hold much, having breakdowns several times a week, wishing you were dead because the pain feels unending, existing with an unquiet mind that wants to destroy you, and having to work 100x harder than the average person to get anything done. It is grueling, and I would have been happy to give my depression to anyone who feels the need to romanticize it.
You don’t need to go through dark places to understand the light–that cliché bullcrap. You simply need to be sensitive with an honest mind and an honest heart.
When Stars Die did not come out of any depression or even past experiences with depression. Yet, that is, thus far, the best book I have ever written because I used my sensitivity and the humanitarian aspects of myself to create Amelia and her story. I am a naturally sensitive person. Depression has made me more sensitive, but that isn’t a good thing. It’s because I’m still raw, still healing, from being depressed, and depression itself is honestly traumatizing, so I’m still trying to shake that off. The only thing depression has done was inspire a story. It does not influence my writing or my ability to create a troubled teen. It did not make me a better writer or storyteller. It just gave me an idea. That’s it. And I’m pretty sure for most writers struggling with depression or who have struggled, they can attest that it neither made them a good story teller nor a good writer. It might have just given them a story idea.
So the above quote enrages me because now vulnerable teens on Tumblr are going to read that and think depression is somehow romantic.