If you have depression issues caused by child abuse or domestic violence, I’m not going to pretend that what has worked for me will work for all of you. Still, I think it necessary to at least give you the chance to use this powerful tool to your advantage.
There was a time before my book Informally Educated came out, when my life was much different. I was a good man, a loving father and a faithful husband, but was still writing bad checks on the incredible negative balance my step father had deposited in my life’s checkbook. Somehow I had broken the cycle of child abuse and did not visit his sins on my wife and child. Hear this; if I do nothing else notable for the rest of my life, I have been a true success.
Telling is the first step in healing and one most can never take. I was always telling, it helped that my step father had been killed when I was fourteen; I had no fear of facing him on a daily basis. I might be trucking along for a year, with everything going well. Then it would happen, I would tell someone my story and like an incredible cloud of doom my own past would settle over me and refuse to leave my side for several months. I was never a person who considered suicide; I had fought too hard to live, to die by my own hand.
However, the depression caused by simply verbally reliving my childhood would suck my soul into a deep, dark pit from which it might take months to climb out of. Thirty minutes with the brush, painting my story to someone would lead to months of walking through the hell I had created on the canvas with my words.
All forward progress in my life would come to a halt. I might quit my job, let my business fail, stop attending church, drink heavily, try a few new mind numbing drugs, lose old friends or gain some new ones that were not too desirable. Thus, my life moved on, I would write that bad check with my mouth, and then do a kind of nasty reset of my life which it would take many months, to get over. In days, I might lose everything positive it had taken me years to build.
At least once a week the incredible cloud of doom would visit and strangle me in my sleep. I would walk among the living, but would be dead inside. Most times there was no apparent reason for its visit, but it was real just the same. Somehow even with all this, I excelled in most jobs and was married to the same wonderful woman for twenty-seven years.
Then in my thirties the idea occurred to me to write Informally Educated. It was more like ripping out my soul and regurgitating it onto the screen of my computer. I pecked at and cried on the keyboard, late into the night for several months. For a time, things seemed worse, but gradually they began to improve. I may not have noticed it for quite some time, but eventually I noticed the cloud was coming less often and stuck around for far less time, when it did. For the twenty years since, I have continued to make progress, those bouts of depression lessen with each passing year.
I see so many of you who struggle to cope every day of your lives. I see so many who try to commit suicide, only to survive and spend the next few months working up the courage, to try it again. Write it down, even if you never show it to anyone. Write for your life, your life is worth it and, in fact, your life may well hang in the balance. Your miserable life is your abusers reward for all the crap he or she heaped on you. Your silence gives them permission to do it again, encourages them to continue their evil work.
I’m not saying that this will work for everyone, but I am living proof that it might work for some. I now live a vastly different life than I lived for many years. Even with that I must continuously be on guard against that incredible cloud of doom which hangs out there looking for people like you and me. We may never be as normal people and cannot afford to allow depression to gain the slightest foothold in our lives. Thank God that my writing has been my best therapy and that my bouts of depression have increasingly lessened in intensity and duration with the passing of time.
Write as your life depends on it because it truly might. You write it and if you feel it appropriate, send it to me, and I’ll post it on my blogs and webpages, if not keep it to yourself, but write it, bleed it, release it through the ink of your pen. It will help you, and remember, you might save the life of another, in the process.