The other day a friend of mine asked me why I write.
Torn between many responses, I asked her a question after some time, “Why do you love trekking?” Almost instantly, with a seemingly rehearsed tone, she told me how much she loves to visit new places, and at the end of the day, how the mountain air and the lush greenery calms her down. She said she enjoys any time she can spend away from the constant barrage of her irritating boss, and as such, it makes her level-headed.
With a smile, I said, “It’s exactly the same for me.”
Although my boss is quite like my avid traveller friend’s I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the main reason why I write. Having been a patient of Clinical Depression for over two years, I have had to rapidly update my weary lifestyle to pick up habits that can correct my mental balance since I was diagnosed. After a 6-month search during which I ventured into everything from learning guitar to practicing yoga, I realized that instead of learning a new habit, I should groom a pre-existing one. In came the pen and paper for the rescue.
Before that, I always considered writing a part-time hobby of mine, and although I had been published in many online and offline platforms, I never thought it to be more than a whim of an extreme introvert. However, over the past two years, I realized that it is one thing that gives me unparalleled and unending calmness without any side effects.
Through my conversations with my doctor, and through relentless research, I continue doing on my own, I have realized one fundamental truth. Being a mental health patient, I can’t depend on medication all my life and hence have to search for the same happiness and joy that the pill gives me in other activities. That is what writing has done for me.
As a long-time control-freak, I found writing to be the ultimate therapy one can hope to have. Fed up from this materialistic and selfish world whenever I start putting words on paper -or laptop screen sometimes- I enter a world of my own creation built according to my whims. In that world, I can do whatever I want: I can live close to my family, I can listen to old cheesy Bollywood songs, and play video games for as long and till as late as I want. I have my dream job in there, and my unrequited love is no longer unrequited. I’m a singer, a dancer, a hero, a villain, and everything else I want to be. Can it get any better?
Nobody in there judges me, and even though I judge them every now and then, my characters stick by me through thick and thin. When I return with my ailments and demons in the night, they give me comfort and motivation. My characters teach me that nothing is as it was before, and hence, this time of worry and stress will also pass us by. Just like their lives keep changing and evolving, under the constant pressures and ordeals I put them through, so will my life change for the better. When they are surrounded by evil from all sides, they keep faith in their creator, and so I should too put some faith in my mine.
I started writing after my first breakup, and initially, it was nothing more than my dread, which I used to pour on paper. However, with time, it grew into something beautiful, enticing, and pure. I realized that inspite of being dark and sometimes colourless, my words can bring colours to many lives, including mine. Unlike many friends, lovers, and acquaintances who feigned concern for my well-being, my words kept by my side even when I went through the worst ordeal of my life. It saved me from the darkest corners of my mind as it saved me several years ago from a love that was too rotten and deceptive.
After returning from the precipice of sanity, I chose writing as the weapon of choice against my mental health problems and brandished it in the society. I utilized my personal website (Suburban Wordsmith) and any platform I could get my hands on to spread awareness about mental health and the need to become serious about it. My own intelligence had turned against me, but that same intelligence helped me to defeat the enemy inside and come out victorious. Writing is what has helped me to break the cycle of anxiety, and thus, I recommend it to anyone who asks for my advice on mental health.
That is not to say, however, that there is no other form of therapy. I publicize creative writing because that’s what has worked for me, but there are undoubtedly endless ways to keep yourselves busy and happy without harming your body or anybody else. That might be as complex as doing something viable for your country or might be as simple as waving and smiling at a stranger. Pure joy is communicable, and all you have to do to become satisfied in life is to realize that happiness is inside you, waiting for you to find it. Watch cartoons, sleep in your mother’s lap, or hug your father. Everything works if you believe it does. Just don’t go, “silent into that dark night.”
Not a day goes by when I don’t remember how hard and anguishing it had been in the start or how difficult it still is to get out of the bed in the morning. However, I continue to persevere and get the covers off every morning, to make people understand what perils us depressed folks have to go through. I hope that one day, I won’t have to make people aware of mental health, and everyone in this world would be free of such diseases.
Every day I hope against hope that every one of my fellow warriors battling with a similar ailment comes back from the precipice and realizes that they have endless opportunities in front of them that they can use to present their true selves to the world. There is a plethora of platforms they can use to give the artist inside them center stage. Till then, I keep repeating the following lines of mine to everyone I meet:
“Every broken person has an artist inside them, waiting to come out. All it takes is to rise up from your ashes and free the beast inside.”