Lost Days, Lost Time; Or, You Can’t Fill a Black Hole

I have struggled with depression my whole life. During the past 10 years it has improved immensely, especially the past few. I now consider myself a happy person, a content person. The black days which used to be the norm are now rare.

But they’re not gone.

Yesterday was one of those black days. Volatile angry sad frustrated pointlessness. When your emotions shut down your prefrontal cortex, you cannot use either. No emotions for art. No higher reasoning for technical work. And great googlymooglies don’t work with sharp objects or fire. Hands, without a brain to guide them, are dangerous.

No writing, of fiction or non or music.

No recording.

No web design.

No planning.

No special attention for Best Beloved or our Little One.

No forward movement, just a battle against the tide to avoid slipping too far back.

Today, as usual, is better. Yesterday my head knew there was nothing to fix, no cause or reason for the bleak black; it just was. But in the midst, it feels eternal.

Today, the sun reflecting off the snow, filling our office with light, is what feels eternal. Peace and contentment — they’re the new normal.

contentment

Lost (Writing) Days

You may not have days like this in life. (I seriously hope not.)

You may, though, have days like this in your writing.

Days when nothing you write is worth the wasted ink. Days when every idea sounds like you stole it from Nancy. Days when the only word worse than the last one you wrote is the next one you’ll write.

Days when writing seems like a complete total bleak stupid waste of time.

Those days, those rare “it’s really not going to happen” days: don’t. Don’t write. Don’t bother.

And don’t beat yourself up about it, either. You are not a machine which can run endlessly as long as there’s fuel in the tank.

Your tank fills with spirituality, dreams, fire and hope, not simply food and sleep. And that tank empties sometimes, no matter what condition your physical container is in.

In the Kalahari Desert, there’s a thing called “virga” where rain falls, but the desert is so hot and dry that it evaporates before it hits the ground. (It’s the opposite of snow.)

When you become the writer’s version of the Kalahari, don’t keep pouring water, hoping some of it hits the hot dry sand.

Rest. Look out the window. Do something physical.

And tomorrow, when sleep has reset the levels and planted lush grasses, fruit trees, fronds in that desert; when the stream is flowing and there’s a gentle dripping of words, ideas, hopes and dreams, capture that liquid life, as writers are designed to.

2 thoughts on “Lost Days, Lost Time; Or, You Can’t Fill a Black Hole

  1. Joel, I’ve had my own depression struggles for years, and you describe well the lost days, especially the sense that it just is, and at the time you are experiencing it, there’s no sense that it will lift.

    But I’ve dealt with these states for so long that I know they invariably DO lift—though it’s scary when they last for more than a few days, which does happen now and then. I just hunker down and wait them out.

    Keep smilin’, T.

    1. This happens to be one of those rare cases where I can point at this, that, and the other thing as sources of stress which I’ve suppressed a few weeks too long, leading to eruptions. But seeing the enemy gives me a plan to deal with it, and today is much sunnier all around.

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