Do writers get depressed more than--other people? I was going to say--normal people, but who's normal? A writer on one of the lists I'm on recently sounded depressed and we all jumped in with our remedies. Is there a writer who doesn't have his own closet of depression aids?
Maybe it goes with the territory. After all, the reason I write is to stave off depression. It's one of the tools in my closet. It just dawned on me, while reading the aforementioned online list, that maybe the reason I'm writing humor is because of the value of funny books for me.
Here are the weapons in my anti-depression closet.
(1) Writing. It doesn't matter what kind. Any kind. A therapist once asked me what I'd be doing if I could do anything I want. Without hesitation, I told her I'd write. She ordered me to carve out at least an hour every week to write, with the door shut, not answer the phone or doorbell, tell hubby to tend the kids--and write. It was pure heaven and saved my sanity!
(2) Reading funny books. I keep funny books together on a shelf. I used to use James Thurber exclusively. Then I added the Jeeves books by P. G. Wodehouse. Then I discovered David Sedaris. Any of these will have me laughing out loud eventually, no matter how far down I've gone. When I was a young child, a doctor had a column in the local paper (although maybe it was a national column). People wrote in with health problems. Most of the time, the recommended cure was "belly breathing", whatever that is. (NOTE: I LIKE the punctuation outside the comma--so shoot me.) Well, my recommended cure is belly laughing.
(3) 250 mgs. of magnesium daily. Don't ask me why, but this seems to help. A lot.
(4) My Attagirl list. I keep this on the computer. I label emails with this and keep them in a folder. Whenever someone says something nice about my writing I put it there. So when I'm having those days when I KNOW my writing sucks and no one would ever want to read such sludge, I can pull those emails up and re-read them. Know what? I never do. But I know they're there, and that's a help.
(4) Therapy, of course. When I go over the edge, that's what I know I have to do. I'll share a funny "depressed writer" story about therapy. My therapist asked me to write a piece personifying my depression and bring it to our next session. My depression turned out to be an adult male (who knows?) who was constantly beside me telling me those things depression tells a person. About how I'm useless, don't bother, no one cares about me, why should they, I'm not worth it, etc. I was driving and he was in the passenger seat berating me. I knew I had to murder him (I'm a mystery writer, after all). So I drove onto a high overpass and went over the rail. As the car plunged down, carrying both of us with it, I knew he'd be dead at the bottom. It was a good feeling. My therapist was a little alarmed, but I assured her I wasn't suicidal at the moment. I'd just killed off my depression. I, as the writer, survived.
Are you a writer? Do you get depressed? What's in your closet?