A month and a half ago, I said that I’d be writing more about games again. The jokes on me. because I haven’t written anything since. That’s not quite true; I’ve edited well over a hundred articles for work, mostly on selling and buying businesses. But I haven’t written at all, not creatively anyway. The truth is, I’m starting to believe that writers and depression go hand in hand. I’m still a writer, of course. I always will be. But being a writer is depressing, and I think that’s why I’m less and less inclined to write anything anymore.
Even now, writing these words is kind of putting me in a bad mood. I often feel like I need to live up to these expectations of being a writer that I arbitrarily created for myself when I was younger. Having an innate talent helps, of course, and I do have a book coming out next year after all. But for me, the stigma of writers and depression has followed me. Most of the writing I’ve done has been when (or even because) I was depressed. I used to think it was just the writing industry that got me down, and that I just needed to be patient and bide my time. But now, I’m not so sure.
Embarking on a writer career is obviously a slog, an uphill battle in a society that has commoditized the written word as content to be consumed via search engines and social media. Even this article is peppered with keywords like ‘writers and depression’ in an attempt to rank better and have more people read my words in the ever-shifting void of the internet. But that isn’t what really bothers me. If it was, then I couldn’t work as an SEO professional. No, what bothers me about writing is that it’s a form of communication that doesn’t resonate with me as much anymore. Creating depresses me, it doesn’t bring me joy. Really, I don’t think it ever did, at least not in the way that I thought it would.
You can be talented at something, and even derive pleasure from the completed product, but not enjoy the journey. It’s not a matter of work; I’m willing to work hard if I thought the end result would bring me meaning. But if it’s just causing me arbitrary suffering, and causing me to be depressed, then it seems pointless. The point of writing, or anything really, is to bring meaning to your life. That’s why we join communities, build relationships, and strive to excel in our careers. In a sense, we all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, even if that something is a made-up world or scenario that is being used to communicate something entirely different about our reality.
I guess I don’t feel the need to do that anymore; I’m actually pretty happy. I’ve traveled most of the world in the past few years with my awesome fiance, have great friends and family, and excel at my job. Writing sometimes feels like something tacked on to that, a shackle that’s holding me back from finding meaning in anything else. That doesn’t mean I want to entirely stop writing. I’ve come this far, and there’s no reason to just give up.
But I don’t really want to take stock in it anymore. I don’t want it to affect my life, or cause me to be depressed. Being a writer is about observing the world in a certain way, and seeing the stories in everything you experience. That’s why writers and depression have such a prominent connection. I remember my senior quote from High School from Aldous Huxley: ”
“The trouble with fiction that it makes too much sense. Reality never makes sense.”
There’s a lesson in there for all writers. That fiction is almost a more plausible way to explain the world than what it is. It might not be real, but it gets to an emotional truth that is deeper than reality. But being tethered away from that reality is depressing, and it’s not something you have to do. Maybe it’s just growing up, but I like reality now. It’s pretty fucking good. I don’t have to turn to writing to bring meaning to my life because it’s already there.
I experience it every single day.