Most of us have demons we grapple with. Some are mighty, while others take the form of a package of chocolate zingers. Lately, it seems like that struggle has bled out into everything I do. I've written before about how important mental health can be to the writer, even if the act itself is a compulsion. I'm compelled to write about it again.
The struggles I endure and bear witness to in my personal life have taken a toll on my work recently. Sorrow can be a powerful creative fuel... particularly for the things I like writing about. Some of the best works depict the full landscape of human tragedy. Read anything Shakespeare or the poetry of Leopardi and you'll see what I mean.
If you've ever grappled with depression that borders on or crosses over into the clinical definition, you know how debilitating it can be. Like any crippling physical malady it severely limits what you can do and a person's will to persist is ultimately finite. Speaking from experience, understanding our own finite nature does not preclude the guilt that comes from lost time... because you couldn't get out of bed on a particular morning.
I can always tell when I'm depressed by my sleeping habits. My worried mind won't let me sleep, and when I do achieve a restful state... I'm loathe to depart it. During the last week, I've risen barely in time for my 11 AM workout with a friend. The bulk of my writing has been from a beanbag chair on my iPad or iPod Touch using PlainText. Thank God for small mobile devices and well-made text generating applications.
The blissfully personal feel of the devices and the fact I can use them comfortably wherever I happen to be has allowed the bulk of my works to continue in spite of my depression. In my mind I know it's dumb to feel occupational pressures while sitting at my designated workspace (in my own home no less), but I can't help it. To that end, alternatives that allow me to be productive elsewhere are a life saver... throwing salve on the guilt I feel wasting even a minute that could have been spent writing.
The sun came out yesterday and it was warm. Even if it was only for a few hours I felt like I was able to perform getting a lot done in the afternoon at a favorite coffee shop. I even exchanged pleasantries with a fellow MacBook Air user. I used mine to arrange a PDF and generate a couple thousand words. She used hers to teach a child about math and science.
I woke up at 5 AM this morning feeling ready to sit at my desk again.