I love writing. I love creating characters, plot lines, seeing my name on the cover of a book. I feel incredibly blessed to do what I do.
Having said all that, there is a downside to the author world you, as a reader, might not be aware of. Writers are listed in the top 10 professions most likely to experience severe depression according to US World’s Website. The reasons listed for that are:
- Erratic pay
Generally I’m a pretty cheerful person, in part, because I’ve learned to guard myself against the third on the list. The first two I’ve accepted as part of the job. But I had an unusual three weeks due to deadlines, support people being out of town, and just general poor planning on my part. Consequently, I was alone a lot.
The “Big D,” as my father calls it, came knocking on my door. After two weeks of hanging out in the doldrums, I realized I had to take action. I thought about joining a church group, but I’m already in a church group. I thought about finding other writers to hang out with, but I already have a big group of writer friends. Then, I had a brainstorm.
Instead of looking for people to support me, what if I went out and found somebody I could support?
I signed up to help at a local food pantry that week. I assisted low income women choose and load their carts with food, helped them carry to their cars, and took a moment to listen to their concerns and pray with them. I left there on cloud nine.
The next step in my anti-loneliness plan, I stumbled into.
I noticed some beautiful, fresh produce when I was stocking the pantry that morning. It didn’t look like it had come from a grocery store, so I inquired. Turns out the pantry has an organic vegetable farm on the property where volunteers grow produce to add to the the pantry’s offerings.
That Saturday I went to the farm and helped trim cabbage, harvest lettuce, and turn the beds. What a perfect way to counteract depression. I had sunlight, exercise, and the camaraderie of lovely people.
The literary world is a wonderful one, but writers and readers alike must spend time alone to enter it. I believe alone time is essential for mental health, but so is community. How do you find the balance in your life? I’d love to hear. Please share in the comments below, or join the conversation in the 7 Deadly Book Club on Facebook.