I fight depression and anxiety on a daily basis. It’s a constant battle; a war waged for years. There have been many battles. Many defeats. Many victories.
One thing is for sure…
The war never ends despite the efforts of my ogre general.
It continues on and on, day in and day out. Those not involved in the war, those not dealing with depression and anxiety, won’t understand.
“Just be happy,” they’ll say.
If I could just end the war, I would. Any of us fighting it would. It’s not that we can’t be happy, it’s that we’re entrenched in a battle that consumes our lives. One day we’ll push the demon back. The next day it will push us back.
How do we win the war against depression and anxiety?
You have to know your enemy.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
- Sun Tzu, The Art of War
My enemy is depression fueled by anxiety. The demon lurks in the back of my mind. It hides in the gray matter of my brain. Sometimes it’s small, barely noticeable, trying to take control through stealthy guerrilla warfare. Other times, he grows into a monstrous, black giant bent on sucking the life out of every cell in my body.
At one time, I didn’t know my enemy. I didn’t know myself.
It took a long time to realize I wasn’t “just being sad” like others would lead me to believe. It took a long time to realize I was fighting depression and anxiety.
When I finally admitted that everyone was wrong, I found my way to a counselor. In my first session, she asked, “What are you most unhappy about in your life?”
Without thinking, I responded, “My job.” I am a skilled web developer. I’ve been freelancing successfully for ten years becoming a preferred partner with many agencies and single clients.
The ability to grow this business has given me a lot of freedom. It’s given me time… but it’s never given me happiness.
My counselor’s next question was, “What do you want to do?”
Without thinking, I questioningly said, “Write?”
It wasn’t a reality. Nobody can make money writing, I thought.
You have to understand where I come from. I had an unsupportive, emotionally abusive father who constantly put me down unless it benefited him. My schooling was in the middle of farm country. We didn’t have creative writing. We had your basics. Enough to get by and into college with a few exceptions.
I was taught to get a job. Computers, coding, and logic all come naturally to me, but they provide me no satisfaction.
My counselor and I delved into my experiences with abuse. We began recognizing and bringing awareness to myself.
I learned who I was…
I learned there was an ogre general jailed by the demon in my mind.
I learned I could set him free.
By understanding who I was, I took control of the battle. My ogre general, covered in leather wraps and emaciated from his time in captivity, heard my call. Using the power inside me, I distracted the shadow demon who fills himself on the energy inside my body like any vampiric glutton.
The demon had become lazy. It wasn’t used to a fight. For years it used my mind as it’s playground.
Distracting the demon, I opened a portal into the jail cell, reached in, and smashed the lock. The metal disintegrated from the force. The weakened ogre laid on the ground watching me in awe. His green skin, hanging from his bones, rippled as he moved. Pale, dull eyes stared back as I apologized for not finding him sooner.
He said, “There’s no need for an apology.” Struggling to stand to his knees as the door swung open, he said, “You didn’t know I was here.”
The light from the portal gave him strength. I acknowledged him, gave him my support, and promised never to forget.
The ogre general nodded. His skin slowly shrunk towards his bones. Walking forward he said, “Don’t forget about them.”
The light from the portal grew, lighting of the ogre’s cage, the floor of the cell, and the surrounding jail.
An army was trapped. An army ready for battle.
The ogre smiled, “We’re going to war.” Standing completely, he said, “All I need is my war hammer.”
A hammer laid at the end of the hall, piled on top of thousands of weapons. The ogre walked forward to the metal weapon with spikes on both ends of the square hammer. Picking it up, he reached it to the sky, and roared.
Thousands of locks broke in the light and darkness beyond. The screams of an army rose as prisoners ran towards their weapons-ogres, goblins, minotaurs, elves, brownies, and more. An army of my imagination sprung to my aid.
I let them fight fueling them with one thing… words.
My depression is always there. My anxiety is always there. I doubt the demon will ever die.
The ogre general smashes into the shadow monster, landing blow after blow. Thick, black blood sprays from the demon.
The war hammer drips with blood.
The army surrounds the demon, beating it into submission as I write my words and create worlds.
They win the battle, but never the war.
The demon shrinks, weakens, and slips into the quantum gaps of my brain. It waits as it refuels, waiting for the right time to strike.
But it when it does, when it eventually raises its ugly face and grows to monstrous proportions, I know the ogre general and his army are there. They are ready to fight. All I have to do is give them life, energy, and write.
If you suffer from depression and anxiety, find your ogre general. Figure out what fuels him, what aids his army, and fight back. We don’t have to feel depressed and pulled into the darkness. We can build our energy, build our army, and fight back.
Writing is my weapon.
Writing fuels the army. It was the greatest realization I’ve ever experienced. I hope you find your passion and your weapon to fight the war.
If you don’t suffer from depression and anxiety, please understand that it’s not just sadness and worry. It’s a demon. One that clings to your brain, sticks its fangs in, and sucks the life from our soul. Sadness and worry are only a symptom.
We need encouragement. We need to be understood. We need to find our weapons to fight back.
We need to not be dismissed.
Help us fight back. Help us find help and win the war.
Will O’Shire suffers from depression and anxiety. He writes about the demon, hoping others find their army of fantasy creatures to beat the monster into the abyss.
One day mental illness won’t be ignored. It won’t be dismissed.
Will writes the action-packed urban fantasy series The Fae Awakening to fuel the army fighting his depression. The series follows Hunter as he teams up with Fae creatures — ogres, brownies, goblins, and more — to take down unicorns covered in fire, chase their monstrous friends, and stop dangerous enemies at all costs.