It's been quite a summer. One when I spent most of every day and night tucked up in bed, sleeping. I forgot what mornings looked like. In fact, I forgot what the world looked like.
Worst of all, I forgot what writing is like.
Depression is a dreadful thing. No-one can see you're ill, there's no limb missing or blood gushing, so most people can't see why you're not yourself. And since depression doesn't always have an obvious cause, there is often precious little sympathy.
My situation had been building for years. It wasn't a quick fall, and it wasn't a bolt from the blue. It had built up a head of steam, and when the lid blew off, boy, did it go up! And the whole world ended.
I couldn't go in to my job at World In Need. That made me feel guilty. I kept thinking, these people are far worse off than I will ever be, what is wrong with me? The children are starving, the people in Pakistan are drowning, and I am wallowing in self pity.
My doctor forbade me to go there, and now, with the benefit of hindsight, I can see he was right. I could not have coped with the emotions of it all, and I would have added to the burden of my colleagues. Not good.
I also couldn't go to church for several weeks. I couldn't face it. Nor could I face shopping, walking the dog, or even doing the washing up. (And yes, that is one of the best excuses ever.) I went to a friend's wedding, a place where I knew loads of people and had a panic attack about going there. I burst into tears for no apparent reason. I couldn't even read half the time.
But worst of all, was the inability to write. Writing is my life. And every day that went past wordless added to the feelings of failure and misery.
I tried. I really did. I tried starting the next of my romance novels. After several days, I felt it wasn't what I should be writing at this time, so I put it aside till I was feeling stronger. Instead, I started writing a pantomime. It took me three times as long as usual, and I was wracked with self doubt. I didn't think it was funny, it wasn't coherent, it was a mess. But when I showed it to people who would not hesitate to tell me the harsh truth, they loved it. Said it was the funniest thing I had written.
Bit perverse, if you ask me.
And now, I've been asked to write a play. With some trepidation, I sat down yesterday. I was so lacking in confidence, I thought I would try and sketch an outline before accepting the challenge of writing it. By last night, the treatment was done and the director is pleased with it. Maybe the drought is over. At last.
So now, like a seed at the end of winter, I am waking. It's not an overnight process, but then I didn't sink overnight. And if I am writing, at least I have hope.