Guest Post: A Natural Antidepressant
Hi, pals. Today, we welcome a guest writer into the garret. Christine McDonnell is an author of YA fantasy. She’s here today talking about a subject dear to our hearts: mental health and the arts. Take it away, Christine!
Darkness. Imagine pitch darkness. You’re cold, wet, probably shaking. Your mind runs through all the negativity in your life, screaming thoughts overlapping and snowballing to every worst case scenario possible. You could find it hard to breathe, eyes stinging with tears, wishing you didn’t have to deal with it all.
That is a simple way to illustrate depression. For lots of people, there might be added variables to that scene that show an even darker side of depression. That hopelessness only fueled by the negative thoughts, building up inside until you want to explode in a geyser of tears in a fetal position.
For me, I’ve struggled from chronic depression my whole life. I have mastered the art of putting on my best face and fooling the world. On the outside, I’m smiling, laughing, running, caring. On the inside, I frequently feel lost, cold, and alone, abandoned in that dark cave and thinking no one could ever even begin to understand.
These moments hurt me as a child, and I always feared the other kids would find out. It wasn’t until recently that I decided to be open about my depression and anxiety, and a huge weight fell off my shoulders, lightening the load I’d carried for years. There are millions of people who suffer like this, but for those of you reading this who are struggling, hold on, and wait until I get through this post. I’ve got a tip to help ease all that: find an outlet.
In my Chaos Accounts saga, the first story’s POV character, Blaine, suffers from anxiety, ADHD, and sporadic depression. When he learned he had a talent for impersonations, that was his outlet. He could hide from his own doubts and insecurities by pretending to be someone else. While those talents were linked to magical DNA he wasn’t even aware he had, he still had an outlet.
So, coming away from superhero fiction back down to reality, I had a similar epiphany when I was in middle school. I learned how to turn my wildly active imagination to good use: by writing stories. Not only was I a decent writer at that young of an age, writing served as a relaxation technique. Whenever I needed to calm down or “take a chill pill”, the computer got booted up, headphones slid onto my head, blasting music, and I wrote at the speed of sound. Before I knew it, I’d been writing for four hours, and needed to get in bed so I’d wake up for school the next day. Whenever I was in writer’s block and couldn’t write, I was able to get to sleep by brainstorming for my stories, which has now become a bedtime ritual.
To this day, writing in my natural anti-depressant, stress reliever, and passion. If you struggle with anxiety or depression or any hurdle that causes you to stress, here’s my advice: Find something you are passionate about. Something you can focus on that diverts your thoughts away from the stressors in your life. Carve out time everyday to work on that passion. Whether it’s exercising, painting, recording music, reading, or, like me, writing. That passion, if cultivated right, will bring a lantern into your pitch-dark cave. Just find your light, and hold on tight, because this ride will make things right.
NOTE: Also, I started a campaign called #FearlessChaos that accompany the release of “Account of Anxiety” (the story following Blaine,). For each download AND review that I receive between now and February 14th 2017, I have a pool of money out of my own pocket that I will be donating to an organization called Freedom From Fear, a non-profit to help with awareness and help for mental-health. I felt this cause not only mixed well with my struggles, but coincides with Blaine’s struggles as well. If this campaign does well, I may do something similar for all the stories in The Chaos Accounts.
What Christine is Listening to This Week:
The song I’ve been listening to this past week has been “Lullaby”, by Nickelback. I recently had some earth-shattering news hit me, and whenever I’m depressed, I listen to this song. I also know the acoustic guitar chords for it, so sometimes playing it calms me down too.
This song tells people that nothing that happens is worth risking your life. It reassures you that other people have been where you’re at, and they’ve gotten through it, so you can too. Listen to the words carefully, and believe in them. Because everybody could use some perspective when things become grim. It has helped me through a number of hard times, and I hope it can do the same for you.
Keep Faith, everyone.