Depression is generally invisible. It also doesn’t just happen overnight, most of the time. It usually takes years of build up. Outwardly, someone may be functioning very well, but inwardly, they are getting more and more tired and weighed down and hopeless. They usually don’t understand why, and they usually don’t think “I must be depressed”, and they very rarely go get help. In fact, they may even be thinking “I just don’t sleep like I used to. I just don’t have energy anymore. It must be all this stress, or my kids keeping me up, or I’m just getting older and things are changing. I just need to get my crap together and do better.” so they eat better, go to the gym, adjust their sleep schedule, or try to power through it all as they maintain the same patterns and habits.
So, if you’re an author trying to write a character who is depressed for reasons other than a crazy dragon burning down their village and killing all their family, how do you write what’s invisible?
Don’t immediately jump to making your character want to commit suicide! While suicidal thoughts are a sign of depression, it’s not the only sign.
There are nine signs of depression, and for a doctor to diagnose you or me with depression, there must be 5 of those 9 signs that need to have been present for at least a couple of weeks. I use these to write depression in one of my characters.
Now, like I said, don’t be a slacker and immediately make your character want to take a quick trip off a bridge, AND don’t make your character have all the symptoms. Depression is a complex thing happening to a unique person, taking weeks or years to break them down, and it should be respected as such, even in our writing and storytelling.
When writing a depressed character, take a step back and look at the events that have made them depressed over a period of time.
Remember, depression takes time to build up, and it takes time to break down. It wasn’t created overnight, and it won’t be cured overnight either. So, don’t throw a “cure” at your character and immediately make them better by the end of the story. They should absolutely be on the road to getting better by the end of the story, but there is no quick cure to depression. Even if all of their problems were to fade away and all their dead loved ones were to resurrect and be in perfect health, they would still have to work to heal their brain from the damage that depression has caused. Even the Bible says at the end of all things when God creates the new heaven and new earth He will still have to wipe some tears away (Revelation 21:4). Yes, there won’t always be crying or mourning or pain. Those will go away. They won’t last… just like depression doesn’t last forever, especially once we get help.
September is Suicide Awareness Month. September 10th is Suicide Prevention Day. If you would like to quietly bring awareness to this growing issue in our society, and lovingly remind people that there is a better way to overcome their struggles and mental health without judgment, then there are tons of ways to share hope. I will link a few items below using my Amazon Affiliate Link. So, if you click on the images and purchase any of the items below, you will be helping the artists/authors who created it AND help me pay a few bills at the same time. ☻
There are also some great books that I highly recommend reading to learn more about depression, how it affects the brain, and how to start healing from it - whether you think you are depressed or not, I recommend reading (or listening!) to these books. They are also Amazon Affiliate links.
If you are someone who struggles with depression, know that you are not alone. You are loved. You matter. You are precious. There is hope. There is help. You were never made to do this alone. Please talk to someone who will listen and help. ♥
Suicide Awareness & Prevention
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The beasts of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls. - Isaiah 43:20
Self-published author of the fantasy series, Tales of the Wovlen, Kathryn spends a great deal of time in the world of her imagination, having tea with fire breathing dragons, writing books on flying space ships, and practicing her mad scientist laugh with gusto. However, on occasion, she returns to this world just to play with her dog, blog about her fun, and coach people through writing self-doubt.
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