Writing for liberation exercise: dealing with depression

The battle against depression (short or long term) has many fronts, including, in my opinion, the battle for a humanity and environment-first world where we are less alienated at work and among each other.

But what makes writing such a powerful tool for both personal and political problems (which are invariably linked) is that we take the turbulence out of our head, out of our streets and surrounds and we name it, with words. We unravel it, perhaps share the unravelled, clearer thoughts with others, and then this small step makes action easier. Or, if appropriate, it makes acceptance easier. Our nightmares are no longer unmanageable and spiralling out of control inside us. Now they are grey and flat, or even, interesting and beautiful.

For hardships like depression, you can try just journaling, or writing whatever you need to. Or you can use some of these prompts to help.

  • Be curious about your emotions. Start your writing with phrases like “I wonder why I feel … ” “Where does boredom come from… ”  “If someone had invented sadness…” “If someone were to conduct an investigation into how my sadness works, they would discover…”
  • Think of one small thing that you need (anything from a hot chocolate, to relatable video content), and write about that. What is it? Why do you need it? How does it feel to go with out it? How would it feel if you had it? How would things change for you if you had it?
  • Describe your depression or what you’re going through in terms of other things: colours, sounds, land forms, buildings, a monster (what is that monster like?), an animal, a weather event..
  • Make depression or your other battles a person, and write a dialogue where you have an argument with them. (This is a great way to separate these things out from you so they are no longer part of who you are. Plus, you can get really angry with your personified depression).
  • Write a letter to someone you look up to (famous or friend or book character) about what you’re going through, or how your day went yesterday or today, or about how you’d like your day to go today.
  • Shift perspective. Write a story about someone who is sad or angry for some reason, but up the anti. Give this character multiple big reasons to feel what you’re feeling, and make them handle it messily, but with strength. Have them handle it in a way that you would admire.

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