What It’s Like To Write Through Depression

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I let the black ink from a cheap ballpoint pen scratch the date on the off-white pages of my brand-new diary. I had picked out the gaudy bright blue fuzzy thing myself at an insanely crowded Claire’s in the mall of my small country town. I wrote the rest of the diary entry in cursive and dotted the “i’s” with unnecessary and time-consuming hearts. It was October 20, 2001, and within the same sentence of me mentioning my 11th birthday which occurred three days before, I spoke about the attacks that occurred on 9/11.

I was driven to write in the diary to preserve history from my perspective after reading several editions of the “Dear America” book series and thought it would be fun to have other kids read my diary after I was long dead. I barely understood the gravity of the attacks on September 11, 2001, and I included the devastating series of events in my diary like a footnote in a poorly-written high school paper. I was a morbid child who was obsessed with time capsules, mummies in tombs, and anything that involved people leaving things behind. I decided that I wanted to leave my viewpoint of major world events behind too. If anything, I thought that I could at least get a kick out of reading my diary when I was old, gray, and couldn’t quite remember everything that happened to me throughout my life.

I started writing in vain to be remembered in the distant future, but I continue writing in my diary till this day just for me. I took things a step further in college when I began writing for student magazines, the school paper, and a blog that started out as a Journalism project for a class. I carried on with that same blog until November 20, 2020, when I just stopped writing.

I kept my writing to myself and let my thoughts flow onto the lined pages of my latest journal with the assumption that no one read my blogs anyway. However, when I thought about it more, I realized that having an audience never mattered to me. I’ve never been the best writer, but I was drawn to writing and rewriting so that one day I could be somewhat satisfied with how I arranged words on the page. I couldn’t really pinpoint what was wrong until I heard a clip of an interview from Naomi Osaka, a Japanese professional tennis player who has been ranked No. 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association and who is the first Asian player to hold the top ranking in singles.

“How do I go around saying this,” Osaka began, while doing her best to hold back tears following a match with 18-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez at the US Open. “I feel like for me recently, when I win, I don’t feel happy, I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. And I don’t think that’s normal.”

“This is very hard to articulate,” she continued after collecting herself a bit. “Well, basically. I feel like I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match.”

It didn’t matter how great she did on the court. The four-time Grand Slam singles champion and the world’s highest-paid female athlete wanted to quit tennis.

Osaka told the world she had been experiencing “long bouts of depression” since 2018 brought on and exacerbated by the stress and an immense pressure to perform in front of the entire world. I was just dipped in and out of depression for no reason since middle school, and this began to illuminate a pattern. Nothing felt like anything when I was being crushed under the weight of the endless dark abyss. Climbing out of depression took time and effort which felt like clawing my way to the surface from the bottom of a freshly packed grave to find the warmth of daylight. I needed the year to step back before I could enjoy writing for myself again, and recording my perspective on historic events on the internet.

It took an entire war and twenty years of me writing and stopping and writing again to realize that, even if I truly sucked at it, writing was a technical train wreck of a hobby that I actually enjoyed perfecting. I could give myself a break during those times when I felt like I was drowning in a sea of my own tears, and return to the land of me talking to myself and recording it on paper. In other times, such as this, I could try to write through depression and just see what happens.

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