Imagination is a wonderful thing. For a writer, it is the heart of our very being. It fuels everything we do. We use it to create our worlds from nothingness. It gives birth to our characters. It designs the events those characters experience. Without it, we have nothing.
I have always been blessed with a very vivid and clear imagination, as far back as I can remember. My daydreams were always sharp, rich, colorful and vivid. Even if I lacked the vocabulary to clearly express them, I saw them in high-definition clarity inside my head. It was so real that I could actually almost feel them as physical objects. A wonderful trait to have. Unless you also happen to have a chronic depressive personality.
Yeah, there’s the other edge to that sword. That wonderfully strong imagination, which fuels my writing, also fuels my depression. The imagination which allows me to dream up people, places, and events which never existed, also allows me to dream up events and circumstances in real life which never come about. Confused? Let me explain.
An all-too-common trait we humans have is worrying. We seem to love to worry. About money, our jobs, our status in the community, whatever is important to us, we worry about it. We especially worry when events in our lives are not going as well as we would like. We wonder, “What could happen?” “How will I deal with it?” We invent worst-case scenarios. We work ourselves up into a fever-pitch. Now, take one very strong, well-developed imagination. Attach to that, one very well-developed depressive personality. See where I’m headed with this? Wow! Can you come up with some real winners in the Worst-case Scenario Competition!
But it doesn’t stop there. That would be too easy. No, you see, that is like spraying high-octane gasoline on a bonfire: it just explodes all over the place. The Imagination fuels the Depression, which grows larger and fuels the Imagination, which swells to fill the Depression and the race is on.
For those who might have read earlier writings here, you will know I have always struggled with depression, my entire life. So, depression is a constant companion to me. This past week was yet another stress-filled week for me and mine and we were faced with an event which we did not want to have in our lives but which we had to get through, nonetheless. This was no surprise event. This was a scheduled item, which meant I had plenty of time to dwell on it and for my imagination to feed on it and for my depression to feed on that. By the day in question, my depression had reached such a state that I could barely function, even with my medications. And then the moment arrived. Weeks of writing novels in my head about the event and all the terrible outcomes that could possibly come out of it and what happened? Nothing. Nothing at all. Well, nothing wrong for me and mine, that is. In fact, the whole event played out quite calmly and benignly.
It’s easy to say “Don’t worry! Worrying accomplishes nothing!” That’s true. (But, it does give you something to do until the trouble starts!) Not worrying is just not something that comes easily to us humans, especially if you care in the slightest about yourself and those dear to you. As a parent (and a single parent, to boot), I do take my responsibilities to my children very seriously. So, naturally, I worry. I worry about their safety, their health, their happiness, their well-being in general, their future. I try to plan for as many outcomes as possible, so I can react quickly if something threatens any of that. “Plan for the worst, hope for the best” has always been the way I have approached life. Yeah. Trouble is, that meddling imagination always wants to dance with my depression.
Imagination: it’s a wonderful thing and I am blessed to have it, but it makes a poor bed-fellow for depression. It’s the double-edged sword, the one that can cut you as deeply as it cuts reality.