Half a year ago, I struggled with crippling depression and anxiety. I was head over heels in love. With someone — a fantasy version of someone, more like — so far away from me, physically and existentially and personality-wise. Just thinking of that person consumed my life, my mind and my self-esteem. I was no longer myself. I was living through someone else, and even then, like I said, a fantasy version of that someone.
The nightmarish pain I had getting two bags of ice tied by my coach onto my sore feet after a cross country workout the other day (*Screeeeeeeeeeeeech*) was nothing, nothing, compared to my emotional torment. Last semester, I hobbled through school without much direction. Every day was a matter of surviving, not living. I spent my energy dodging the worst anxiety attacks…if I was lucky.
The scariest part was knowing I was enslaved within the snares of my mind because of something that’s supposed to be beautiful but instead made my life a living hell: infatuation.
Luckily, I am aware that I have a rational side. It calmly took note of what I was feeling and all the sensations and thoughts that came with it. It assessed the situation but didn’t get pulled in. It calmly told me,
“Allll righty. Tiff’s in love — how poetic. Let’s milk it. Milk it, I say. We’ve got a lot of material to work with! Get to work, now!”
And within time, my feelings became translated into several heartfelt poems, which by the way I felt proud of. And trust me, “proud of” myself isn’t a feeling I’m used to.
Another time I was hiking up Mt. Tamalpais with my family. I was surrounded by nature, loved ones, and a whole day of fun, but I was feeling none of it. Depression struck, and I never felt so alone.
At least you have family by your side, I mused. Like, some people have no family. Be glad yours are alive. Gee, I wonder how what kind of depression orphaned people go through? What is it like for those whose parents have died when they were still children?
Wait. What if…?
A light bulb went off. Okay, multiple to be more accurate, because ideas upon ideas were pouring into my head all at once, cluttering the space until I was fervently collecting the shards before they disappeared from memory. Because at that moment, an idea for a novel dropped into my head. My protagonists would feel the same depression as I did, only on a much, much deeper level. They’d feel the same hopelessness, think the same distorted thoughts, suffer the same pain. Throw in some murdered parents Peter-Parker style and a whodunit mystery. Oh, and clinically diagnosed psychopaths. That would be interesting. My head teemed with the potential my new inner life promised me. Isn’t it the most relishing experience, to think up of groundwork for a novel, and you’re so in love with it?
The rational part of my mind must’ve had a field day.
“You’re depressed? Again?! Hmm. Let’s use that to your advantage. Look — look! Somebody more depressed than you. Your protagonist. Guess what? He has a story to tell — because you were the first one who came out with one. Yeah, you can thank me when you gets published. Kiss my boots when your become famous. How ‘bouh dah?”
To think that my darkest shadows, my worst demons, and my murkiest ponderings have been fuel for some of my creative endeavors. Do you believe suffers happen for a reason bigger than ourselves, even when it becomes too unbearable?
Perhaps the world’s blessings and torments are interconnected. And it’s up to us to own our torments and turn them into something beautiful. It’s why “art” exists.
Funny how the world works.
And funny how creative writing ideas come about.