My Antidepressants Make Me A Better Writer

“I find that stability is good for my creativity.”

– Ellen Forney, author

I know my antidepressants are working because I’m writing as much as I used to.

Reading, too. Consuming books like mad.

But it’s writing I want to focus on, since that’s where I first noticed this effect. I’ve been writing all these years, but not with nearly the same amount of passion and intensity as I am now.

I’m writing more these days, too. Fiction and blogging and stuff for school assignments. I expect that if I were to experiment with poetry, as I did last spring for my Literary Retelling & Impersonation course, the same thing would happen.

It’s exciting. It’s a little scary, too, since it hasn’t happened in so long.

Since, as I said, I’ve been writing all these years despite depression and anxiety and everything else, my writing has naturally improved. But I don’t think it quite reached the sheer volume of writing I produced when I was… what? fourteen? Somewhere around there. I fell into a deep depression around age sixteen, which definitely stunted my growth as a writer in the second half of high school and into college.

I kept at it anyway, determined. And, well, let’s face it – sometimes because I was required to do so. There’s nothing like 40% of my grade hanging over my head to make me write a fifteen-page, meticulously-researched essay even when all I want to do is curl up and disappear!

So, yeah, my writing did improve over the past few years, simply because I never stopped. Buuuuut writing more – not merely writing, but writing A LOT – also helps. And until late last year, I wasn’t doing any of that.

I kind of wish I had pushed myself harder during high school and the first few years of college. But I can’t do anything about that now, because I don’t have a time machine. Unfortunately. (Or maybe it’s for the best? IDK if I really wanna go back in time and see my cringy teenage self.)

So I’ve been trying to make peace with reality and focus on doing the best I can right now. Forget that nonsense neurotypicals spout about medications dulling your creativity; if I didn’t have the increased energy the pills I take each day provide, I wouldn’t be able to do any of this. My world – and my mind – would still be just as gray, flat, and empty as they were in high school.

In Marbles, Ellen Forney’s graphic novel memoir of life with bipolar disorder, she spent years avoiding meds because she thought they would dull her creative spark. Eventually, however, she realized that depression doesn’t draw profound work out of you: If you have no energy anymore, you can’t exactly communicate what your sadness is like to the rest of the world, complete with crowds oohing and aahing at your genius.

My writing didn’t improve as much as it probably could’ve, but at least I kept going. Kept trying. I definitely don’t feel that depression is weighing me down and stopping so many ideas from being seen through to completion, so that’s something.

Whatever this feeling is, I like it.

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About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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