As I’ve said before, I don’t have writer’s block, it’s just that my writing is deciduous. My creativity lies fallow through the winter months and comes bursting forth in the spring with deeper and stronger roots.
So too my emotions.
You see, I get the winter blues or, as my diagnoses from 1993 calls it, “Recurrent Major Depressive Disorder with Seasonal Pattern.” Otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD? Can you believe that? I was a teenager wondering what the hell was going on and a doctor told me I was SAD.
“No shit doc, I know I’m sad. That’s why I’m here. I want to know why.” Well, that’s not true. I didn’t give a shit why I was depressed. My mom wanted to know. She had noticed that her normally enthusiastically cheerful son (minus the periodic episodes of blind rage, but that’s a story for another time) would act completely different in the winter. She could see the pattern of danger from the outside, but to me it felt like a gradual, annual awakening to the tragic realities of the world, and with it came the crushing knowledge that I would never be able to make it better.
As autumn waned so too my dreams. I wanted (want) so desperately to be a hero. I wanted (want) to save the world, help people, lessen their suffering, make them smile, laugh, and enjoy every moment of their lives. Never one to go to sleep easily, if I wasn’t spending my nights playing hide and seek with my older brother and cousin (my mom worked graveyard shift) I’d be saving mankind from aliens, or rabid dogs, killer cars, vampires, werewolves, or C.H.U.D’s, until the wee hours of the morning, catch a couple hours sleep then get up for school. Then, at 12/13 years old, the long winter night, my dear friend for so long, had turned on me. The monsters began to win. They had traded their fangs and claws for diseases and bullets. Fantastical creatures became fanatical crusaders. Night-time no longer hid demons to fight, they revealed truths to fear. I could (can) feel the pain of the world like a wound that wouldn’t heal.
Every winter now, for over two and a half decades, my head becomes an echo chamber of self-doubt and self-flagellation. State dependent memory kicks in and my mind latches onto every other time it felt the same way. Every pain I’ve inflicted, every disappointment I’ve caused, every failure comes back in a deluge of self-loathing. I’m not really a hero. I can’t do anything to help people, not really. I’m just a high-school dropout with no real skills that matter. How can I call myself a good person if I can’t do anything that matters? I can’t help anyone.
But slowly the winter recedes, and little by little I remember.
I can do something.
I do have a skill.
I am a writer
I. AM. A. WRITER.
Words are my weapons. Words can tear down tyrants and build up liberators. Words can banish fear and engender courage, dispel lies and reveal truths, lessen suffering and heighten love.
Spring has returned, and I gain strength with the sun. Light fills my mind and my power blooms.
Goddamn it SPRING HAS RETURNED, so too have I.