by Normandie Fischer
This month, I’m hitting the pause button and taking a deep breath. Maybe you’re in need of the same thing.
Since the re-release of my 2013 novel, Sailing out of Darkness, readers have begun chatting with me about the book’s issues, specifically, depression. Which brought this essay to mind, because I don’t think depression only exists for my characters or my readers.
I’ve heard from writers as well, from those who have published and those yet to be published. I’m not a psychologist, and I’m not writing to the clinically depressed or to anyone in need of professional help. Right now, I’m addressing those of us so caught up in our particular life issues that we’ve failed to pause and regroup.
ON FINDING HOPE
Our worlds narrow. As we focus on the now around us, on our limits and our needs, it’s hard to look past them to see the more that graces us, just out of reach.
The news threatens us with joblessness, with homelessness, with the falling dollar and the possibility of war. Politicians sit in their cushy chairs and make promises, but the reality of their world barely touches ours.
We forget to look outside. We forget to take walks or just sit, listening to the bird sounds, to crickets at night, to the call of a loon, the hoot of an owl. We forget to stand in a drizzle and let it wash down our hair and over our face. We forget to let the sunrise welcome the day or the sunset ease us into night.
Our surroundings pale because we’ve stared at them so long: at the grind of job or home or health. The people sitting across from us at the table—or missing from that table—no longer offer what we need. Their blandness equals ours because we’ve forgotten to look beyond the fear and the hurt and the sameness.
If we live in the city, we forget that there are stars in that night sky, not just city lights. But even the city holds wonders: the subway street musician blowing his horn, the smile of the vendor when we bother to look and offer one of our own, the bustle of humanity with stories so different from ours. We forget to sit and sip and watch, because there’s always that worry, that need to hurry. We forget to listen to someone else’s heart—not just a lover’s.
Depression happens. Deep, debilitating depression needs more help than merely an attitude change. Don’t think I take that lightly. I’ve known depression, and I’ve known of those captured by it to the point of suicide. But most of us can recognize the state and consider our focus enough to pause and reconsider.
I grew up in the sixties when we were just coming out of the Jack Kerouac “beat” era and becoming flower-children. We wrote and spoke a lot about self, especially in the art world I frequented. Self-actualization. Self-awareness. Self-self-self. It’s very easy to get caught up in that: we want it all. We deserve it all. We can and should be able to control it all.
And then something happens, and we discover we can’t. Someone gets sick. Someone loses a job. Someone fails. Someone leaves. And we want to know why, how, what? Even if the bad doesn’t happen (and, honey, if it hasn’t happened to you, well, I’m thrilled for your escape), we can still lose sight of the bigger, glorious world. The one in which our Creator beckons with that sunrise, that fish plopping, that bird singing, that wrinkled smile on the subway flutist.
Let’s try to look at the horizon a few times every day. To take that walk and let the endorphins do their work. To look around and see past our tiny little world to the one that offers hope.
And let’s reach out. If you’re not the one hurting, maybe someone around you is. If you hurt, someone around you wants to listen. And if they don’t, I will.
No matter what happens. In time of sickness and pain. In time of loss and loneliness. In time of war and disaster. There is hope. There is joy. We just have to look up.
Writers, do you ever find yourself locked in fear or paralyzed by depression? Unable to write or market your book?
How do you handle it?
Will you share your solutions in the comments? A lot of folk are hurting today. Maybe you have something to offer them.
Sailing out of Darkness is the haunting story of mistakes and loss…and the grace that abounds through forgiveness.
Normandie Fischer studied sculpture in Italy before receiving her BA, summa cum laude with special honors in English, and as well as being a writer, she’s been an editor, a teacher, and an artist. She and her husband spent a number of years on board their 50-foot ketch, Sea Venture, sailing in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. They now live in coastal North Carolina, where she takes care of her aging mother. She is the author of six novels. Read more on her website, Facebook, and Amazon.