Shattering Stigmas: On Sadness

Shattering Stigmas is an annual two-week long mental health event aimed at breaking the silence that surrounds mental illness. It is hosted by myself as well as the lovely bloggers behind  Of WonderlandNovel Ink, It Starts At Midnight, and The Fox’s Hideaway. If you’d like to be notified when there is a new post for Shattering Stigmas, consider joining the love letter list.  



It is four in the morning as I write this, and I am aching.

I read somewhere once that all writers are, in some way, deeply sad. This concept strikes something soft & bitter inside of me: I am a writer, after all, the most fundamental part of my being. And I am, in so many ways, in so many variations & shades & infinities, deeply, hopelessly sad.

In conversation, we skirt around the topic of sadness as one does with the homeless man sitting, bedraggled & alone, on the street corner. We flirt with it, tickle its ankles, but never once look it straight in the eye - perhaps because we are afraid of what the notion holds or perhaps because we know it far too well already.

It is the latter for me. I hate talking about sadness. Even when Six Impossible Things grew & people at home learned of this small space where I share my thoughts, even when they brought up in conversation the topic of the sadness I write & write & write about until I can find no more words, I shied away from it. And it is not their fault, of course - for as much as writing about sadness comes as naturally to me as all of the other words flowing silken through my veins, talking about it somehow seizes me up. Makes me feel raw & shiny, too broken for public consumption.

All writers are, in some way, deeply sad.

I hate feeling helpless. And sadness is, for me, the ultimate kind of helplessness: every other thing I know how to speak of, every other thing I can stare down, but depression eludes me still. All writers are deeply sad. I feel it - this endless sadness permeating my soul - yet somehow I cannot put words to it.

How heartbreaking it is to make small talk with the deepest parts of myself.

Depression is so many pluralities, and perhaps this is why I write so much about it yet somehow still have never learned how to face it head-on, to speak of it in real life, no metaphor to hide behind. One would think I would know such an old friend by heart, yet no matter how much time I spend with it, I cannot seem to find enough words to encompass all of its depths.

It terrifies me, to be honest, that there is something my words have not found a way to explain. Words are the only weapon I have ever known how to wield. Without them I feel powerless, helpless (and there it is again, that feeling, the only one I have ever known that is worse than sadness).

I write to understand the parts of myself that are too deep within, too close to me, the ones that I know too well to fathom. I could never be content without words and yet: I feel, paradoxically, that lingering within the sadness, spinning metaphor after metaphor in some attempt to find beauty where there is none, may be no better.

I've begun to feel this quiet, growing resentment to those who tell me that at least I have talent in writing, or at least I'm able to share my experiences with others. Art is everything to me, but I have never felt it is worth suffering this much to create it. Is it too arrogant of a parallel to think of Plath or of Da Vinci, artists who inhaled their sadness till they drowned in it, who made beautiful things all the same?

If they had had antidepressants in their time, would they have taken them?

And what if, like me, their sadness was too big for medication? What if the pills did not work?

What then?

Perhaps I am venturing too far into this, yet I cannot let go of the lingering, aching thought that words must be able to fix things. Somehow, in some universe, the way that they always have been able to fix my deepest fears & insecurities, if only through seeming them as words on the page.

From the beginning I have turned to words for comfort & light, but now it is four in the morning and I am running out of metaphors for sadness.

It is four in the morning and everything I have ever known about myself is wrong. Depression steals my words from me, and it is four in the morning with the fluorescent lights of my bedroom glaring down at my computer screen, and it is too bright for a time before dawn has dawned, and I can see everything, and this is the blindest I have ever felt.

So what am I supposed to do with this dark, violent sadness? This thing that words cannot hope to fix?

I don't have the answer. And no matter how much I write about it, I can never seem to build enough words to escape this tide.

I'm scared of inhaling too much of the sadness.

I'm scared of what happens if the words are not enough of a life ring to pull me to safety. Of what happens if I drown.