Depression and Writing: Instead of a Sacrifice

Depression is debilitating. How many days have I woken up with a deep sense of foreboding, dreading the day to come? How many times have I sunk down into my chair, staring at the computer screen without a clue which of my many tasks I should do next? How often have I thought to myself I have neither the skill nor the ability to accomplish what I want to accomplish? Depression steals my self-confidence and self-assurance. It convinces me that my dreams are far out of reach, that even normal daily life is beyond my capability.

Writing, too, is nearly impossible when I am depressed. Whatever I type seems to come out garbled and convoluted. What I intend as profound thinking instead appears obvious and crude. I cannot get out of my head and instead drown in self-criticism and self-condemnation. How am I supposed to write characters who are so different from me while trapped in a whirlpool of self-centered disgrace? With my gaze turned inward, I am blind to any perspective other than my own. No matter how many times loved ones encourage me to keep going, to keep writing, not to give up, I feel like I am slipping—slipping down, down, down into failure. I am determined to finish what I started, though. I am resolved to grind away at the millstone until everything lies crushed before me, until it no longer resembles the vision I had for it, but at least it is something different from what I started with. I have something to show for my efforts, for God forbid I have nothing to offer in the end.

 But what if it is not about having something to offer? What if writing is not about my deep thoughts or my cleverness or my insights? What if writing is not about me? I wonder if I stopped focusing so much on myself and turned my eyes outward, whether I would find something there. Might it be that the something I have been grasping to call my own only flourishes when I give up my possession of it? For ultimately, truth and beauty were never mine to own. They belong to Someone higher who allows me their use as a gift, a blessing. I have been so intent on offering something that I have forgotten what has been offered to me.

Depression draws my focus inward. It shrinks my world and threatens to choke me. Yet there is granted to me something to help me escape depression’s clutches. Writing—that wondrous fusion of truth and beauty—rather than being a stumbling block, can draw me out if I let it. Instead of being just another thing to make me feel incapable and small, it can expand my vision and remind me that indeed, though I am small, I am loved by Someone much bigger. His love is boundless, and I could spend eternity crafting words to convey just what that means. Maybe, rather than an offering, He really does require mercy. Maybe, instead of a sacrifice, He really does desire my knowledge of Him. How thankful I am for the gift of words by which I can know Him and be known!

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