Words as Salvation

Wow, it’s been a year already?  Where did the time go?  Oh, right, into the stories.  Silly question.  For today, the approximately one year anniversary of me working seriously as a writer, I’d like to share something with you, something important to me.  But I warn you, it’s going to be far more serious than usual.  Call it a sign of how much this means to me.

I’m fairly open about a lot of things in this blog, writing it very much as myself, rather than a person I think I should be. But there’s a part of me you don’t know. There’s a darkness in my heart I don’t normally share. You see, I’ve suffered from depression for so long that the actual number of years has ceased to have meaning.

I suppose that makes me a statistic, part of the legion out there with a label and all the assumptions that come with it, but I refuse it all. I’ve always lived with that darkness my own way, and I have dealt with it in my own way. Most of you have only known me at this, one of the best times of my life. I decided to share the other side, the shadow that makes me appreciate the hope and light in my life so much more, that I might pass on to others a bit of that hope. I know well that on a bad day, even the faintest, most ephemeral ray can be the lifeline you need to keep breathing.

If you’re looking for the details of that decade-and-a-half long struggle, I’m sorry, you’re not going to get them. It would take too long to write and would hurt too much.  There’s also no point, writing it out wouldn’t change the past.  I’m trying to live my life these days in the moment and the future, because hope lives there. But if you exist in that stormy sea in this moment, know that it can get better.

What made things better for me? That I will share. Words. Characters. Stories. They were the only real respite I had for years, the stories of others, and I’ve been blessed in recent years with two friends who not only helped when things seem darkest, but have encouraged me to embrace the stories that are in me to tell. It’s writing that turned it all around for me, you see, that put the depression more or less into remission, rather than having only moments of relief.

There are a number of reasons why I say that I write because I can’t NOT write. One of them is that I think it would be easier to cease breathing, and another is that my characters and stories would give me no rest. But more than that, I know the darkness will return if I stop entirely. The flow of words is what brings brightness to my heart, the blossoming of stories and the worlds they take place in. Even on my worst day, I can fall into the arms of whatever tale I’m telling and be comforted. I can feel like I am myself again and whole.  In the words, I am renewed.

For any of you who live under the deep shadow, look up, find the thing you can’t NOT do, the thing that whispers to you and draws you, even when you don’t think you can do it or be good enough.  Do it anyway, dream regardless. Reach even when your arms and heart are tired.  It will be worth it.  No matter how long since you’ve seen it, light still exists. It can fill you again.

Happy Writer-versary to me. I wish you all light and hope and all the time in the world to do the things you love and which heal your heart.

About Julie

I'm a writer and photographer. I always have something with me to take notes for ideas or writing projects I'm thinking about or have on the go. I also like to go around with my camera and take pictures of anything that strikes me as beautiful or evocative. I'm perpetually working on one story or another, while waiting for enough distance to judge the last one (or more). I'm always working on several projects at once, developing the next book, even as I'm editing the last. Beyond that, there's always plenty of scraps and twists of ideas rolling around in my head, eventually turning themselves into full blown stories.
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18 Responses to Words as Salvation

  1. wordsurfer says:

    A very, very happy writer-versary from me as well! Well done, both on writing this post and getting to the place where you could write it. And for the courage to do it. I really can’t wait for your books – any and all of them – to be officially published, because everything you say and write about yourself only confirms my belief that your stories have to be amazing.

    • Julie says:

      I’m not sure about amazing, but then I will admit to being hard on myself. It helps me grow as a writer. Thank you very much. Happy Writer-versary to you!

  2. Subtlekate says:

    What brave words to send out today Julie. They are beautiful and heartfelt. You know you’re not alone, that sounds prosaic I know, but still true. I too wrote to ease the depression and it is a soothing element of my life. I am doing that very scary thing ( moving) and I don’t think I would have had it not been for the words.
    Happy anniversary to you and your wonderful words. There will be so many more and I’ll be fortunate enough to read about them.

    • Julie says:

      *blush* Thank you!

      I think a lot of people who suffer from depression engage in an art of some sort for that soothing aspect. A lot of people I know fit that, which I’ve always found interesting.

      I hope your move goes well and that the unpacking at the other end is swift and easy.

  3. quix689 says:

    That was a very heartfelt post. Thank you so much for sharing! I’m sad to hear that you’ve been depressed for so long, but I’m incredibly glad that writing has managed to help you so much. And I completely agree with wordsurfer’s statement that “everything you say and write about yourself only confirms my belief that your stories have to be amazing.” I was trying to think of a good way to word pretty much exactly what she said, but she managed to say it so much better, so I’ll just borrow her words. 🙂

    • Julie says:

      I look at the depression as something that just had to happen. I will say, it helps me write the darker parts, the times when my characters are on their knees. I know the inside of that and so many other things. Since I can’t change the past and view regret as a waste of time, I’ll take these sorts of things that I learned from it and move forward with my life. It’s all I can do, to be honest.

      Thank you. 🙂

  4. Peggy Isaacs says:

    Happy Anniversary, Julie. Thank you for sharing your struggles- and your journey. I know that must have been very difficult. Keep writing, keep sharing. Your posts give me much joy and light.

    • Julie says:

      Thank you. I feel the same about yours. I love the way you look at life, and the way it makes me examine my own perspective on things. And then there’s the “Things I’ve learned” posts. 🙂 Sure to make me laugh and nod every time.

  5. Em says:

    That was a really gorgeous and very brave post Julie. Very resonating and very inspiring. I can completely relate to the not being able to not write….the short time that I spent away from it, where I let “lfie get in the way” was very dark indeed.

    Happy writer-versary certainly – you’ve accomplished an incredible amount this year, not just in the number of words you’ve put onto paper but for yourself, for your own personal growth. I’m so proud of you. xox

    • Julie says:

      Thank you! I think that it’s the first time I’ve looked back at a period in my life and been satisfied with what I’ve accomplished. It’s an odd feeling, but I think I could get used to this 😉

      I’ve been tossing around the idea of this post for the last six months, and I think it took me that long to be comfortable sharing something so personal. But I decided that it would be worth it if even one person took something from it and was helped.

  6. jmmcdowell says:

    Happy writer-versary. 🙂 I’m glad writing has helped you find a way to harness the darkness. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the characters and stories (and new characters and new stories) in the upcoming year!

    • Julie says:

      Yeah, I’m looking forward to the next project, and the next and… Yeah, endless story basically.

      Thank you for the kind words. To be honest the way writing helps me is part of why I never stop or pause. I don’t want to go back to that old life.

  7. Celtic Forest Dweller says:

    *hugs for Julie*

    I’m glad writing has helped you so much — that’s truly a wonderful thing. I wish you more joy and success in your future writing years! Happy writer-versary! 🙂

    • Julie says:

      *hugs back*

      Thanks. Sometimes I sit there and think, “If I’d only known then…” but then I realize I needed to go through all of that to become the person I am. It’s at least given me a deeper understanding of emotions, both good and bad, a breadth if you will in my ability to write emotions and scenes that play on the reader’s emotions. At least there was some purpose to it. 🙂

  8. Silvia says:

    I suffered from depression for more than two years after having my baby (now he’s eleven years old) and I know how hard it can be. Writing was my way out too. Now I can’t even remember how I felt back then, but to stop writing seems somehow inconceivable.

    • Julie says:

      I feel the same. I really think it would be easier to give up eating and breathing. It’s comforting, in a way, the number of people who have said that writing helped them too. 🙂

  9. 4amWriter says:

    Happy Writer-versary. I know exactly what you mean, Julie. It’s amazing how creating netherworlds can heal our souls.

    • Julie says:

      Thanks. The more I do this, the more I realize that the writing heals me, but the past also allows me to write better. I find I understand the pain and difficulties my characters go through better because of what I’ve been through. It lets me connect with them on a deeper level.

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