This time of the year has a tendency to include the most deaths and the most cases of depression. Last year, I wrote a blog about Sad Days with little tips to boost your mood. But we really can’t ignore the fact that depression is a real thing. Sometimes caused by a chemical imbalance in your body that can only be helped by professional medical help.
Being Honest about Depression
I want to share a little about my experience with depression. I began struggling with depression when I was thirteen, but I didn’t know I had depression until I was Sixteen. Even then, I had an adventure finding the right medication that helped me, and not until I was Twenty-Two did I feel like I had a good grip and understanding on managing my depression. That’s my story in a nut shell.
The truth is, depression doesn’t ever fully go away. I have moments when I struggle with it, and many probably do this time of year. The difference is that the details change. What is dwelt on, and what specific actions or goals are the key to pull out of it.
As a teenager, what got me to come out of the depression was figuring out what was “wrong with me”. Later, as I understood that I struggled with depression, the key was understanding that I had a choice. More recently, defining my goals is what pulls me out.
Depression and Writing
I think there may be quite a few links with writers and depression. One is the semicolon that has become a symbol of suicide survivors. About choosing to continue the story. But I think a lot of writers and creators spend a lot of time in their heads. This can be a good thing, and can also lead to some issues. However, I believe that experiences, stories, and life are all to support and build off each other.
In the growth arc of a character, there is always a moment of depression or being down in some kind of low place. The details are what make the story. Each character has certain things in their lives that will become depressing when they dwell on them, and goals and actions that can pull them out. What I’d especially like to mention, is that the significant details change as the character progresses.
As a character progresses, their challenges should as well. Sequels don’t do well if a character is just repeating the same growth in a different scenario. The growth of a character evolves as time goes by. Just as everyone’s battle with mental health, or any challenges in life, evolves as they learn and grow through life. This is a concept that many writers have missed. A character needs to keep growing in different ways, even if they do keep falling in a low spot. We all do.
Back to Life
There are a hundred different suggestions to overcome depression, one of them does happen to include writing about it. But essentially, understanding yourself, how you think and choosing to pull yourself out, is the key to overcoming the depressing days. Maybe you can use it as a writing prompt to help others understand depression better. But really, just continue the story.