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Hello! I'm a writer from central New York who has bipolar disorder. Among other topics, I write about mental illness and writing. I have short stories published in Lynx Eye, Lost Coast Review, The Outrider Review, Sliver of Stone Magazine, The Mondegreen, The Linnet's Wings, Cobalt Review, Breath & Shadow, The Round Up, Postscripts to Darkness, and several other journals. I have essays about mental illness in The Ram Boutique and Amygdala Literary Magazine, and an essay in Parts Unbound: Narratives of Mental Illness & Health, a book that was published by Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective. In December of 2016, The Mondegreen nominated my story "Santa Lucia" for a Pushcart Prize. I've written a novel entitled Purple Loosestrife and a novel entitled Hoping It Might Be So, both of which I am submitting to agents and publishers. I'm working on a novel called Dark and Bright as well as a book called Violets Are Blue: Essays About My Bipolar Life. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in English from SUNY College at Brockport. I hope you enjoy your visit to my blog!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Writing Through Depression

I'm just coming out of a bipolar depressive episode, and I was able to write through it. This isn't surprising to me because writing is a form of escape for me when I'm feeling depressed. I actually wrote a new short story called "The Affair", and a new chapter to insert into the middle of my novel, all while suffering depression.

There are physical symptoms that come along with depression in addition to the mental ones. One of the ways in which I experience it is that I feel leaden and immobile. It's immensely difficult to move around and get things done--even things as mindless as laundry or as insignificant as washing dishes. But since writing is a sedentary activity (except for when I pace!), I can do it when I'm feeling really low. It takes me away from how I'm feeling.

What is the nature of my writing when I'm depressed? Well, it can be a bit dark. "The Affair" is not a happy story. However, the chapter I wrote, which is entitled "Plain Land", is more hopeful and happy compared to other parts of my novel (which is overall a somewhat dark piece of work since untreated mental illness is a major theme of it).

I'm coming out of the episode now, and I've uploaded "The Affair" to be critiqued by my writers group, the CNY Creative Writers Cafe, plus I've had my parents and Michael Canavan, my critique partner, read it. So far the response is quite positive. As far as the chapter goes, I think it works. I believe it helps to develop the characters more and provides a bit more magical realism to the novel (which contains magical realism).

3 comments:

  1. That's great that you manage to use writing as therapy. It is always said that writing about it helps get over grief, so I suppose it should work for depression too.
    I can relate to what you describe as inertia and leadeness. I suffer from a rare auto immune disorder that causes anemia as a side-effect. When I get really low, the anemia brings on a condition similar to depression. Unfortunately when I got it really bad, I had too many household tasks on my plate to have any time for writing. Duruing that period I certainly planned out the books I have since written, so maybe that is what the system craves, a sort of safety valve.
    So glad what you wrote has turned out to be good.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Jane! I'm glad that you were able to plan books when you were feeling down. I think that creativity can really help a person through rough times. I, too, am glad that what I wrote while depressed came out to be usable material. Always a good thing!

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  2. You know, I don't think this is the first time you've written of personal challenges. It always takes some courage to reveal personal challenges that you may be going through. Well, keep going, and keep writing! I wish you much success in life, and in writing.

    Stan
    (SS Hampton, Sr., Musa author)

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