So I’ve been having fun with depression lately. It’s one of those things that a lot of writers seem to struggle with, and I think there’s a reason.
When you have depression, you start recognizing that here is not a good place to be. It doesn’t matter if your perceptions are off or entirely accurate. It doesn’t matter if here is your own skin or your own century. As soon as here isn’t good, you start longing for there.
And that longing seeps out in words and phrases and paragraphs and… stories.
There’s this yearning for something different. And it doesn’t matter if what ink leaks onto the page paints a picture of despair or joy; it reveals that the writer wants to escape here for someplace else. It’s not that depression creates writers; it’s that depression creates this desire to be elsewhere, and that desire must flower in some way.
Ah, depression! When you are falling apart, you search out for some way to express your hollowness, and you fill it with adventure or wonder or angst, and then new worlds tumble out of your hollow chest that are different from here and they are wonderful because of that difference.
It’s not just writing. Walk through an art gallery. Those paintings, those photographs, those sculptures… those artists knew in their bones that something here was not right, and they wanted something different. Listen to music that touches your heart. The composers and the artists that play those notes stir you because they want the same thing you do.
There is something inside that screams, “This can’t be all there is! This broken place mirrors some place that is whole!”
And so we dream.
But these dreams only come for those who recognize this brokenness. We are a society that is adept at distractions, at business, and numbness, at anything that can keep us from recognizing that perhaps our lives are not that great.
Ah, but depression so often bursts past paltry distractions, and business can only keep it at bay so long. Of course we medicate, and I will not call medication an evil. Yes, perhaps medication is turned to too quickly or perhaps overdone in cases, but in general medication is a blessing and I recommend that if you suffer, you explore the possibility of medication with a doctor.
But when we are broken, we see the brokenness of the world, and we long for something more.
And so worlds are born from our longing.
And what do these worlds reveal? What stories do you tell? What do they tell about you? What is it you long for? A place where things make sense? Perhaps a place where heroes struggle and at last win? Or do you just want to watch it all burn, so that everyone else hurts like you do?
Our stories reveal what we long for, if we know how to look. But the very fact that we tell stories tells us that here is not good enough for us. That we want something more.
We long for there.