I've been talking for a while now to a friend of mine about living with depression, and how to live with it a little better, and the more I thought about it the more I thought, Here's a conversation, a big one. An important one. Many of my friends are writers and nearly all of us struggle with depression and/or other kinds of mental illness--chronic, ongoing, and for many of us debilitating. There's the myth, right, of the Tortured Artist, and then there's the reality, which is most often exhausting and difficult and not at all glamorous.
For most of us there is no getting well, no fix, no switch to flip in our heads so that we walk out into the world all bright-eyed and stripped clean of the weights that threaten to carry us back to the bottom. There's only learning to live with illness, and live with it as well as we can, and learning to love ourselves and take care of ourselves and get our work done--the real work, the work of living and breathing and making art and loving people and running around in the world, flawed, messy, human, real. Most importantly, alive. All of us live with illness in different ways, but I hope that by talking about it, by making space for a dialogue that is honest and hard and sometimes even hopeful, about what we do to manage and what we do when we can't manage, about how we're going to keep telling our stories for the rest of our long and glorious lives, we can learn more about what does and doesn't work for each of us, and that we can feel a little less alone.
And so I'm compiling an ongoing and open-ended interview series focused on writers who identify as living/struggling with depression and mental illness. While recognizing that illness affects us all in different ways, and that works for one person is not necessarily going to work for another, I'm hoping to open up an honest and practical conversation about being a working writer (by which I mean "anyone who works on writing"); living with, working with, and managing depression and illness; and finding a balance between the work we have to do, the work we want to do, and taking care of ourselves.
I'm deeply grateful to everyone who's volunteered time and energy and honesty and courage to participate in this project thus far, and I hope these conversations are as useful to you as they have been to me. The first interview will go up on Monday and I'll post future interviews as they're finished, in between my usual sporadically-updated book reviews and Deep Thoughts About Myself.
I'm particularly interested in talking to women of color and/or queer and trans* writers, freelancers/adjuncts/frantic hustlers, people without insurance, and/or other folks who may have economic barriers to accessing traditional models of care. If you're a writer and would like to participate, please contact me at mccarry.sarah[at]gmail.com.
In love, and in solidarity-- xo sarah