World Creation and Other Therapies

The slide probably started Sunday, but I didn’t notice it then. Monday I canceled an appointment. Just didn’t feel like going out. Tuesday it hit hard.

I have depression, by the way.

I suspect a lot of writers do. Many of us struggle with melancholy in various ways. We cope through creation. We take our pain, our loneliness, our fears, our struggles, and splatter them on the page in ink and syllables and screams.

I forgot.

I had forgotten how writing bled the grief out of me. How seeing it on a page, a screen, helped me to focus and evaluate and realize that this truly was a season of sorrow, yes, but it was only a season.

I hadn’t written purely for creation since… well, probably since my little worldseed, my youngest daughter, was born. I think I may have dabbled with something here or there, but nothing really took. After all, it’s hard to create stable worlds of words when you can’t string two sentences together for the sheer exhaustion of getting through the day when you didn’t sleep with the screaming of a certain little someone.

That’s five months without my coping method of choice: Creating worlds.

And so Tuesday, as I wandered dark roads of the mind, I opened up the word processor and started again.

I found music. In the past, I needed an invocation of music to help me begin. My offerings of choice were “Into the West” from Return of the King or “Test Drive” from How to Train Your Dragon. One song that keyed my feelings of melancholy and farewell, and the other that awakened wonder and adventure. Both worked well in the past.

Not this time.

I found that Malinda Kathleen Reese’s originals channel seemed to be fitting my mood. The words were hard to work through – orchestral usually works far better for me – but it helped open me up enough that words could escape my heart and make their way through my blood to my fingers and out onto the keyboard.

It wasn’t like taking a drug. I didn’t feel muscles uncoil. I didn’t experience a lightening of the weight.

I painted another world. One with few survivors suddenly realizing how alone they were. A claustrophobic little tale. Not exactly happy fare.

But after working for a few hours and slapping some words on a screen… I was better. Not happy. Not gleeful.

Sated.

It was what I needed. This release. Putting pain on the page meant it didn’t dwell in my veins.

The next morning I continued my voyage out of darkness. And every night since I’ve gone back to the page to work on world creation as I write more and more stories, refining old stories, exploring new earths and simply escaping this dark world for one of my own making.

I have been reminded. World creation, whether in ink or paint or charcoal or music, it releases what hardens inside our hearts.

I’ll forget again. That’s how depression works.

But for now, I have been reminded, and I have returned to this therapy that helps so, so much.

You. Create. Explore new landscapes. Suss out new melodies and give life to pictures that have never been seen before.

Don’t forget like I did.

Create worlds.

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