Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Writing Project

This blog is inspired by a group writing project called "Can Writing Keep Us Well?" over at Confident Writing. Its a major departure from the usual blog set-up. If you like it, let me know.

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I don't remember a time in my life before my diagnosis with clinical depression. From medical records I understand that the first tests were done around the time of my Little One's birth in 1988. Since that means I was a grand old age of 8, I don't remember a time when I wasn't speaking to medical professionals - doctors, nurses, specialists, and therapists - about depression in all of its many names: sad belly; the illness; the hormone imbalance; the situational sickness, or (my personal, all-time, I-can't-believe-this-guy-in-a-white-coat-just-said-this-to-me favorite) 'the darkness'.

The last one led to great amusement at the time as well as when the band, The Darkness, arrived with their camp rock on the scene years later.

But, I digress.

I also don't recall how many depressive episodes or, more specifically, "significant" episodes I have personally had throughout my life. I have much nicer things to do- like cleaning the bathroom, flossing my teeth, and paying bills - than trying to revisit them all and come back with a count. Because regardless of how many, the illness that is depression, one that I inherited as well as earned, has, is, and will continue to be a part of my life. Sometimes greater; sometimes smaller, but always somewhere there.

What I do know is that I have never gone into or come out of a significant episode during a time that I was regularly writing from my inner dialogue, that special voice that only I alone have. I have never tumbled or slid or fell or crashed into an episode nor have I dragged along the base of living for weeks or even months when I was writing. Never. Ever. Instead when I'm writing I see the warning signs and react: the sleepiness, the spiked anger, the strange patterns of hunger, or, the worst for me, the missing words. Depending on the symptoms, I take action. Maybe I cut out all alcohol; maybe I sleep more; maybe I chat more frequently with my dear friends in the US; maybe I have my medicine reevaluated; and maybe I have walk and then ice cream with a friend here in Germany.

As the one year anniversary of my Papa's death approaches, this is another time in my life when writing is especially important for me and my well being. Although we never discussed our shared illness in length while he was alive, I know from the sparse conversations we did have that we shared this path and that he wanted something much better for me. We both experienced 'the darkness' and we both didn't give up.

Instead, sitting on a strange balcony in Las Vegas, he told me that I was either going to be part of me, or just me, and I got to make that choice. So, I have. My depression, my 'darkness' is one part of me along with the crazy humor, the passion for excellent books and red wine, the untidiness that drives the Mr. crazy, the deep loyalty for my two siblings (who are among the greatest people in the world), the natural desire for girl time with dear friends, and so much more. And writing helps keep it where it belongs, one part that helps creates the kaleidoscope that is me.

So, yes Confident Writing, writing can and does keep me well. Thanks for the reminder.

4 comments:

Erica Lynn said...

Your courage for posting something like this is inspiring :)

ANDRAXIA said...

This is very insightful and it is so wonderful that you can post this. Just sharing this memory is a great things, thank you so much for having done so.

Joanna Paterson said...

Nicole, thank you so much for sharing this. What a beautiful kaleidoscope you are.

Teresa said...

you, my sister, are amazing

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