How Writing Fiction Helped Me “Cure” My Depression
After four years of working consistently on personal development, depression found me once again. It was like your abusive ex-boyfriend trying to get back together with you. You thought he was completely out of your life. He’s moved on. You’ve moved on. Then, one day, he just shows up on your doorstep with his luggage. How did he manage to find me? I’m thousands of miles away living in this magical place called Israel!
Dodging Depression in Search for An Adventure
Besides trying to dodge depression, I wanted to escape my physical location. You see, I lived in a kibbutz in the Northern part of Israel. In a nutshell, a kibbutz is like a private village surrounded by a fence with its own private pool and club house. It’s located in a remote area and there are only three ways to get out of it if you don’t have a car: hitch a ride, wait for the the bus or get a taxi. Hitching a ride requires timing. Getting a taxi is not only expensive but taxis in this area are also quite rare. The two places I only ever go to during the week is the office and my apartment.
On the weekends, I love to explore new places. But my sense of adventure disappeared the moment my husband was sent back to the Philippines because of visa issues. On top of these restrictions, I was extremely stressed at work. I was desperate for some sort of adventure.
A Flicker of Fiction
A few years ago, I had this idea of a science fiction world where you can teleport. But every time you teleport, it shortens your lifespan. This idea resurfaced. Before, it was just a vague idea. It was just a black dot. With the feelings of restriction and losing my sense of adventure, suddenly, this black dot started expanding. It started to change from black to a faint red. Blinking. As if coming back to life. One night, before going to sleep, I opened Evernote and started writing:
People can now teleport to anywhere in the world. But there’s a cost. Every mile costs one minute of their life. Would people teleport knowing their life is going to be shorter? And if they do, how far are they willing to go?
Two days after that burst of inspiration, I got stuck again. I couldn’t write anything. What are you doing, Irene? What makes you think you can write a science fiction story? You’re never getting this story published. Publishers will turn you down and people will make fun of you. When self-doubt creeps in, I usually abandon the idea and jump into the next one. Most times, I start writing a blog post. In a way, a blog post has become my safe falling place. I am confident in my ability to write a blog post. Mainly because I have made a living writing blog posts. But safe wasn’t what I needed.
Natural World Builder
The thing is, writing fiction isn’t a new thing for me. When I was growing up, I’ve built dozens of fictional worlds. I built a world where my father was a CIA operative. But he didn’t know that I discovered the true nature of his work. I kept his secret a secret. And it was when I decided to follow his footsteps. Building fiction worlds — either in my head or on paper — was as natural as breathing.
As I grew older — when Fear introduced itself — that’s when I had trouble writing fiction. But during this night, I was desperate to go “somewhere.” My young self somehow stepped in and said: What if you write fiction for fun? You don’t need to publish this if you don’t want to. Just build this world as a hobby. No one has to see it.
That thought set me free.
After the initial synopsis I wrote, I started building the rules of the world. I researched teleportation movies and real research done by scientists about the subject. I watched YouTube videos of teleportation “caught on tape.” I was engaged in the moment. I was engaged in the creation of a fiction world. For a moment, I forgot about being roommates with Depression.
While writing fiction did not instantly revive me into a mentally healthy human being, it served as the CPR that breathed life back into my hollow body. It helped me manage the dark, long days.