The Ups and Downs of Writing With Depression

Author: Ryan Brown, URMND Founder

“You are my new favorite journalist. I posted your story on my Facebook,” my editor messaged me the morning my bullying story came out.

It was the confirmation I needed because it was something that I never considered myself before that moment: A journalist. A writer, sure. People write for fun all the time. I keep a moving box full notebooks of different ideas. I have written short stories since I was about seven and wanted to be a novelist until I was about seventeen. Even in college, writing raps was something I did to keep my mind sharp outside of classwork.

But being proclaimed a good journalist was a completely different animal in my mind. I wasn’t an English or Journalism major like my dad. You have to hold yourself to a higher and more professional standard. I was no longer just writing for fun. There are people who worked their entire lives for the opportunities I was given and it felt kind of wrong that I was just putting my trials and tribulations as a black man into a Google Doc and in return I was getting paid and worldwide exposure.

But there I was, an eager writer with an alternate career path after investing over a hundred thousand dollars in my post-secondary education and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep writing professionally or be a therapist full-time anymore. Dabbling in all of it seemed fun, but how would all of that work? How could I consistently pitch/write stories, travel, work my nine to five, run a business and stay on top of my family and personal life to the point that I wasn’t going insane?

I could tell you, but even now I don’t have all the answers. The same week that I wrote that bullying piece over a year and a half ago, I wrote a suicide note for myself. A note for me, by me that explored where I was and why I needed to follow through with ending my story before reaching thirty years old. I wrote about my upbringing, every damaging thing I have done to myself or others and explored my passion for caring for others when I had no interest in taking care of myself. Going back and recapturing how much of a fuck up I was between the ages of 16 to 22 was difficult and I know I didn’t deal with that period of my life in the right way.

It sometimes reflects in my present.

So my depression and anxiety crept back and I didn’t address it. I continued to crank out stories to help push my own life narrative to a more positive place. I took days off to lay in bed and cry about my dad’s near fatal car accident  I wrote about my fear of not being an adequate man and my homophobism as a teenager. I wrote about cancer even though I have lost plenty of family to it. Even with all the amazing stories that were being published, all the traveling I was doing and having the opportunity to create income for myself and fund my business, I was struggling with the actual writing because it opened wounds that I never actually deal with.

Once the stories were in the universe for people to read. I felt much better. I felt accomplished. All the positive affirmation from my friends and family put me into a higher place and I felt more willing to deal with unaddressed issues more head on. I had no idea the issues and experiences that I never worked through were driving my depression and anxiety to new heights as they were brought up again. The suicide ideations continued, I made terrible decisions and heavy drinking is always my go to vice which led to even more bad decisions. But, here I am. A little stronger, a little wiser and an even better person because I had to build myself back up when I was down.

Writing becomes easier and easier every day. It makes me confront things that therapy sometimes doesn’t even touch on and allows me to be creative at times when I feel unmotivated. Pushing myself to reflect is something that I always struggled with and putting my fingers to the keyboard of my MacBook (or even old school putting pen to paper) creates opportunities I never would have thought I would have.

I’m in the middle of writing my first book, my first official television screenplay is finished and is being pitched to production companies and writing for publications and producing for television will always be in my repertoire. Writing whether it is providing clarity on my own life or breaking stories gives me the passion to see what’s next and motivates me to try to be your new favorite journalist.

 

Read Ryan's published work HERE.


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