This week I almost gave up.
I wanted to stop writing for ever, to abandon this place and leave it to rot – a soon-forgotten archive of pieces by someone who used to write a little, once upon a time. I wanted to unplug my heart and distance myself from the World Between the Wires. I wanted to never tell another story ever, ever, again.
Dark clouds, which had gathered slowly on the horizons of my mind, had built up into towering storms of depression, which spread across my psyche. Cumulonimbuses of self-loathing were roiling across the skies of my inner self, and supercells were forming, replicating depression, worthlessness, self-pity, and that monster of all, doubt. Doubt, which whispered silvering sheets of freezing rain, telling me my words are no good, drenching my desire to express myself here. Doubt, which shivered itself inside my bones, quenching my thoughts of connecting, for I could not, I would not, and no-one would care. Doubt, which rose like flash floods of ice-water, crashing through the carefully crafted valleys of my World Between the Wires, ripping trees asunder, drowning gentle meadows under the force of its fury, dissolving the bonds I had to this place, to my people, to you, and casting me adrift in a torrent from which I thought never to return.
I also wanted to be dead, and spent more hours than I care to remember, with images piling into my mind of how it might be done. Images which were unstoppable, seductive, terrifying, liberating, and horrifyingly permanent solutions to a short-term dose of a longer-term problem, and THAT is one reason I’m writing again.
Mental illness. Depression. The probably-diagnosable kind, with a side-order of anxiety and constant nightmares. The kind which can isolate and cripple and kill. The kind which is oft-hidden for fear of discovery, for fear of consequences, whether those be loss of confidence in a colleague, or a new distance entering into a friendship, or the ultimate betrayal – a casting out, upon learning that someone is afflicted by an illness of the mind.
Real problems we face in our world today – alongside all the others which clamour for our attention; suicide bombs, prejudice, bullying, social injustices. Real Problems such as I’ve written about before – grief, infertility, miscarriage, relationship break-down, abuse – those too, are important to write of. Real problems, which I hope are peripheral to as many of my readers’ worlds as possible, but which, by their prevalence according to gathered statistics, are likely to be featured in far greater numbers than I could imagine. Like outlaws and bandits, these problems, and the stigma of them, hide in the forests of our society, leaping from the branches in dark moments, to strike and leave baffling agonies; time, capabilities, and lives stolen. In the ensuing chaos, they melt into the shadows, all too often unidentified, unacknowledged, unchallenged.
Writing, I challenge them. Writing, I (and others who take up the sWord against their ravages) shine light into the twisted thickets and nightmare caverns of our life experiences. Writing, we bring awareness, acknowledgement, engender compassion, encourage education and perspectives, which are first and foremost kind and seeking to better understand. Writing, we fight back.
Yet that is not all, for storytelling itself is a draw.
The chance to beg your ear (or mind’s eye) for a time, to bid you rest and open your imagination whilst I bring velvet-nestled offerings of madonna-blue skies and the sculpted, white perfection of a freshly-opened magnolia blossom, its outline crisp and soul-shiveringly delicious against the vista provided by just looking up…or the waterfall notes of birdsong tumbling through the air on a bright spring day, of secretive rustlings in the undergrowth, of sooty blackbirds eyeing the rich earth for tiny, soft morsels for their downy chicks, of goldfinches like winged Fabergé eggs flashing bright aerial paths between branches, and high above the woodlands on burnished, brown wings, the breathtaking presence of a hawk rising slowly on invisible thermals…or to rush you to cold shores where the wind whisks your words from your lips as you form them, and tears well in your eyes against the sharpness of the breeze, letting your feet crunch musically through the shingle in time with my own, your gaze now bound with mine, scanning, scanning, for those elusive shapes, those precious shells, larger and more exotic than the others, coated in swirling pinks and greens, gilded with nacre, rewarding numb fingers with the reassurance of their precious solidity – those shells so few in number and carefully secreted in pockets ready for passing on to the chosen ones…or your hand enclosing the sun-warmed warmth of autumn fruit, the shine of apple skin against your lips, its snap as your teeth bite into white flesh, its sweetness filling your mouth, its scent filling you, almost overpowering for that first, juicy second of eating that which was still growing only moments before…
Yes, this too, is why I write; to weave and earn the embroidered mantle of the raconteuse – to make reality fall away around you as you immerse yourself in my words, to bring to your mind things I’ve seen, heard, felt, or imagined, with such vivid richness you cannot help but feel, hear, and see them with me – that together we can almost lie in the clover-fields of imagination, sun-drugged and drenched in honey-scent, the vibrations of reader and writer so attuned they hum audibly, like bumble-bees in the hot air.
I write to tap into things which are far bigger than I could encapsulate alone – gratitude, thankfulness, compassion, community, friendship, connection, love, unity – hoping my words will join with those of others, generating unmissable choruses of Good throughout the world, travelling beyond the Between the Wires, changing thought processes, attitudes, lives; assisting the evolution of our world into one which sees worth in every individual, values every positive contribution, cherishes differences, embraces warm, reciprocal relationships, encourages us to #BeReal and which recognises above all else that we’re more the same than different, that we all matter, that we all can make a difference – that #LoveWins.
And I write to convey the minutiae of my life. To express thanks for the persistence of those who checked in with me while I was checked out. To convey profound gratitude for the option of sanctuary from my reality this week. To warn against drinking alone as a response to depression, but to thoroughly recommend drinking with a good friend in the same situation. To reiterate how wonderful it is to know there are people in this world in whom I have found my Home. To advise always having a contingency plan prepared against unexpected expense. To explain that I am inconsistent, but that I still have plans to TRY. To demonstrate my commitment to hoping that in spite of their lack of fiscal profit or world-wide recognition, these words, these stories I tell, hold meaning, hold worth, for at least some who come here to see what I’ve written.
And to thank YOU, so much, for reading them.
So, as per either the above or below blog hops – both of which seem to involve the highly famous Kristi Rieger Campbell – what are you thankful for, and WHY do you write?