Sorrow and Art

Originally posted December 22 at joannehuspek.com. Please follow me there.

I’ve been Facebook chatting with several people who are experiencing difficulties in their lives right now.

Suicides, break-ups, aging parents, adult children with mega-problems.

In my previous post, I mentioned that I have difficulty speaking. It’s not that I can’t maintain a conversation, it’s just that I’m not as coherent as I wish I could be. I rarely say witty things on the fly. Writing is a much better outlet, because if the words aren’t just right, you can erase them, make them better, add some zing and pizazz.

There are some things in your life you don’t want the whole world to know, but there’s a desire in all of us to hash things out, try to analyze and puzzle through to a solution. That’s why I don’t post my sordid business on social media, whether because I’m ashamed or embarrassed or afraid of what people will think of me. I realize that the private chat is more intimate, like having coffee with a friend. My friend with his break-up, I could palpably feel how upset and hurt and depressed he was. (His lady friend, I’m not so sure.) I felt the same with my suicide survivor. My friend whose daughter suffered domestic abuse, yes, I’ve been there with my own children.

What can you do? These are situations that YOU can’t fix. All you can do is listen.

The experts say that if you’re depressed, you should work out, fire up those endorphins. I did that for thirty days straight, and would only feel blah while on the treadmill. The rest of the time, I could have burst into tears at some sappy commercial, or if I couldn’t get a damned weed out of my garden. (Yes, it’s that bad.)

If you’re artistic like I am, you try to channel some of that angst and sorrow into something creative. My best poetry was written right after breaking up with a boyfriend. However, getting creative after an emotional upheaval is sometimes easier said than done. I found it so much easier to force myself to run 6 miles than I could to sit at my computer and actually write.

But I have to.

Because that’s what I do.

So I have pledged to get through this damned edit of Virtually Yours Forever by Christmas. I’m going to sit here for as many minutes, hours, and days as it will take and conquer this, to the exclusion of all other things. I love my characters, I love the plot and where it’s going, but like all writers, I have a fear of not being able to accomplish my goals.

But it’s the final trimester, and it’s time to push this baby out. And I’ve done that before.

Wish me luck.

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Why Writing is Better Than Talking

My good friends know that I’m depressed this winter, partially because of SAD and partly because of family issues.

I think of myself as a warrior woman. Machine gun me with nails, I’ll spit them right back at you. Say I can’t and I’ll prove that I can. I create out of a deep need to express myself, and with a vengeance. You can try to chop me into pieces, but like the burls of a redwood, I’ll just multiply and conquer you a little at a time.

But not this time.

Depression has kicked my ass.

So I have sought out help. I have medications, which don’t seem to be helping one bit. I have a therapist, but confronting the things that are bothering me results in a sob fest. I’m not sure if talking helps.

I’m not good at speaking. I never have been. I signed up for Mr. Dionysio’s speech class in high school and spent the entire semester in silence. When I took speech in college, I had one successful speech, one that was rather “meh”, and one where I bombed completely – end grade, B-.

I couldn’t speak on the phone, and therefore gravitated toward factory jobs instead of those involving customer service. I thought I didn’t like people, and that people didn’t like me.

(Imagine me now, on the phone all the time. You can teach an old dog new tricks.)

I’m not stupid, I’m in the low Mensa range. I have coherent, cogent thoughts. I read smart books, funny books, inspirational books. But speaking, either publicly or privately…I’m the stereotypical writer, an introvert who’d rather hole up with my laptop or pen with a hot cup of green tea by my side.

So I have decided to write (again) about these deeply seated feelings. Get them on paper. Because I sure as heck don’t want to burden my friends and family with the intimate details.

Plus I can’t.

Last night, I had a Facebook “conversation” with a friend in a similar position. I received more insight in that thirty minutes of back and forth than I did the last time I saw the therapist. Why? Because we were typing. I don’t think I could have the same conversation in person. I cannot verbalize my sadness. Not yet.

And this is why writing is better than talking.