This is my depression journal. I’m starting this journal at a quarter to 5 pm on December 13 because I don’t know what else to do with myself. That’s typically how things are going with me—and this has been the case for the entire 28.5 years of my life. It’s also typical for me to journal when I’m depressed and don’t know what else to do with myself. So that means I’ve been doing a lot of journaling—a lot of shitty journaling. I currently have about a dozen books that I filled up with my hand-written journal-entries; tacky, decorated, bound stationary journals that date back to middle school. They’re in a torn pillow case in the trunk of my car. I figure they’re most secure there. Those journals are basically my depression journals as well, because I’m always depressed, and I almost always journal to a painstaking degree about the nuances of my depression . . .
So, deep inside the hard drive of my computer, I have a folder titled, “moral support.” I think of it as my spiritual scrap book or junk pile, in electronic form. It’s got all kinds of miscellaneous crap that I’ve saved in Word files with such titles as, “poems, etc. I like,” “Things I’ve done wrong with my life 2-26-2008,” “procrastination jottings beginning 3-2-2008,” as well as “finding a shrink” (don’t even ask…). The folder also has My Depression Journal, an experiment I began at the very end of last year. It was around this time, almost 4 months ago, that I decided to become A Serious Writer.
By being A Serious Writer, I mean that I decided to write for a live, literal audience, not just for my alter ego, if you will. I’ve written all my life, but it has always been a secret. For me, the true pleasure of spilling my guts via an endless litany of written gobbledygook has lied in the sheer, blissful abandon and impunity of unrestrained privacy. I really don’t see the point in writing for the vitriolic and apathetic world when you can write for your ever-loving alter ego. Your alter ego pseudo-audience of 1 isn’t scrutinizing your litany of gobbledygook with a red pen. Mine isn’t, anyway. I have never called myself “a writer” and have had no interest in carrying the authority borne by the title.
But because economic and personal circumstances have trapped me in a position with absolutely nothing else to do, I felt I had no real choice but to hazard into the territory of an actual readership and attempt to be A Serious Writer. My Depression Journal was supposed to be a way to facilitate a more varied genre and form of writing, one in which I move beyond my ongoing one-way, meandering and redundant conversation with my alter ego to something more…I don’t know, purposeful.
I started my first entry of my depression journal at dusk on December 13 with the above unremarkable and slightly creepy passage. The plan felt so promising, so novel, so encouraging: I was finally, at nearly age 30, going to channel and transform my irrevocably languid and listless soul into, perhaps, something tangible, something worthwhile; into the cliché of “creative energy.” As I watched the sky change colors outside my bedroom windows, I sat down with the cats on the pile of blankets that I pretend is a bed in the corner of my room, wearing 7 layers of ratty sweaters to keep warm in an unheated house, and opened a blank Word document. After about 40 minutes of sitting and contemplating with terror the question of how I’m supposed to now be writing with a purpose, I forced myself to start the damn journal entry.
My depression journal has two-and-a-half entries. The last half-entry, from January 16, consists of the following:
So, guess who’s hungry once again, as well as both restless and listless, and depressed and doesn’t know what to do with herself? And who had originally begun with this depression journal with the intent to write in it every day and the corollary idea that if she wrote in it every day eventually something brilliant would come out of her, or at least she’d dream up something brilliant to write and/or do. And then who eased the every-day mantra for her Depression Journal up to every week, and then just, finally, “whenever the urge seizes me to write in my Depression Journal?”
Oh, well. Moving on to bigger and better things.
My experiment failed. Or rather, my writing has not flourished when I try to write anything other than stream-of-consciousness rambling gobbledygook. (And if you think my blog is so far a bunch of stream-of-consciousness gobbledygook, you haven’t read anything yet…) If my prospective audience is anyone other than my silent alter ego, I simply lose interest in writing altogether and don’t do it. For example, even now, as I write this really lousy blog post, I am completely revolted by the tedium and loathsomeness of the task. I honestly can find nothing to be more unfulfilling and uninspiring than writing a blog post at this very moment.
But that’s the idea. This blog is intended to be an extension of my depression journal. It’s supposed to be the bigger and better thing. Or more accurately, it’s plan B because Plan A to force myself to try writing stuff that’s coherent to someone other than me and maybe even useful (though I don’t want to be too ambitious) felt so nauseating that it threatened to sear away what’s left of the lining of my recovered bulimic’s stomach. Instead of writing for my computer hard drive, I will try writing instead under the guise of a gender-neutral pseudonym for the 2-3 passerby who have the misfortune of chancing upon my crap shoot of a blog.