Transforming Depression Into My Writer’s Muse — by Teresa LeYung-Ryan
What do I have to be depressed about?
I am blessed with friends, writing colleagues, housemates, spouse, family members, coworkers, a half-time day job, health insurance, my intellectual properties . . . and what friends call a sense of humor. But I don’t feel like laughing in my condition, maybe later. I may have inherited the depression gene (or genes) from my loving mother.
While I sympathized with my mother’s illness (my novel Love Made of Heart was inspired by her), it would take experiencing the illness myself before I could gain empathy.
Poor health of the physical nature (especially with overt symptoms) alerts us to seek help; poor health of the mental nature (especially the first occurrence) usually has no clear signals.
Depression snuck up on me, in my forties. The symptoms didn’t look like my mom’s. I had not lost interest in food. I thought I just needed more sleep (and later, even more sleep) when menopause came to stay.
Memories of my personal life during those years are foggy; evidence of their existence and my growth are the people still in my life and the books I still use.
If not for three other miracles — the half-time day job (where people needed my showing up to produce my share of the work) and my clients (authors who needed my identifying the core themes and archetypes in their stories) and my falling in love with blogging (where I have full control as to what and how often I publish) — I might have slept into another world.
Reading and writing have saved my life, more than once.
Two other groups of writers needed my help (which meant I needed to show up). Authors who had invested years crafting their books were being turned down by agents and acquisition editors at publishing houses; these authors were judged not by the quality of their intellectual properties but by modest size or lack of platform; who wouldn’t get depressed! Authors who wanted to self-publish needed help in growing their fans. I root for underdogs; thus the birth of my workbook Build Your Writer’s Platform & Fanbase In 22 Days. (video)
Honestly, even without the rejections, there are other matters that trigger depression – sensational news headlines; lack of rain; climate control; genetically modified organism “GMO” foods; knowing that friends are battling physical and mental illnesses.
Illness is a harsh antagonist, but, who is the protagonist of my life anyway? I am. I learn from all the other archetypes in my life. I need to help myself!
Even though I slip into depression (or depression slips into me), the only way I know how to deal with that menace is to show up for me and my writing.
The theme of “mental illness” shows up in all my work. Two years ago, I began writing “Talking to My Dead Mom” monologues. Last year, I began writing my first memoir. And that is quite exciting for me.
My prayer for everyone is this: May your muse show up for you when you show up for yourself in whatever endeavor you pursue.
For a list of resources, please visit my blog page and scroll down for Helpful Websites & Resources & Guides for Mental Health / Mental Illness / Depression.
Thank you, dear Marlene Cullen, for asking me to be your guest-blogger this week.
Sincerely, Teresa LeYung-Ryan
Teresa LeYung-Ryan author photo by Sasa Southard
Teresa LeYung-Ryan is 22-Day Coach Teresa; author of Love Made of Heart: a Mother’s Mental Illness Forges Forgiveness in Daughter Ruby (novel used in college courses), Build Your Writer’s Platform & Fanbase In 22 Days: Attract Agents, Editors, Publishers, Readers, and Media Attention NOW (workbook for all genres), “Talking to My Dead Mom” monologues, and Coach Teresa’s Blog.