This past September my piece “Blank Page” published in Chicago Literati. The theme of the issue was mental illness and I chose to write about my struggles with depression and how I have learned (and not learned) to cope. You can read it here.
While I was nervous about submitting a piece about such a stigma-ridden issue, I was touched at the response it received. Thank you to everyone who reached out to me to give feedback and to share their own story.
I tried hard to take care of myself physically and emotionally while writing the essay–something I’ve learned to do over the past few years. If a writing a piece is causing strong emotions, just ignoring them usually backfires and ends in me avoiding the piece or rushing through it. It’s important for my writing process to acknowledge whatever emotion bubbles up and to try to create an environment in which I can handle feeling sad, angry, disgusted, regretful, etc. and keep writing through it. For me, creating that environment means getting enough sleep, moving around, reading the news in the morning, not the evening (I have a terrible habit of reading lots of awful news right before bed and spending the night worrying–which doesn’t actually help anyone), and trying to eat things that make me feel better, not worse. I used to think of that kind of self-care as self-indulgence; now I think of it as filling the tank of my car with gas. If I’m going to take a long trip I wouldn’t do it on a half-empty tank–writing something hard on half-empty isn’t any more feasible.