Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Depressed Writing

Film critics, like everyone else, have problems just like everyone else.  We rarely discuss them in our movie reviews, but there is no doubt that they affect our writing.  My problem is a major one that makes the daily tasks of doing this job unbearable sometimes: Depression.  This is a topic that many would say should not be written about in public, that it should be saved for a therapist or diary, but I'm going to discuss it now because I feel like I must.  I also want to discuss it because I'm feeling a little down right now and I'm hoping writing such a post will help sooth some nerves, but that is another topic altogether.  The bottom line is I suffer from depression and have for many years at this point.

Like allergies it's something you can learn to live with, but when it hits it hits hard, and it's not the least bit of fun.  It makes it hard to focus when you are watching a movie.  It makes watching the new SpongeBob Squarepants movie way more annoying than you might otherwise find it.  It's hard to put words to paper.  If you take notes I can promise you there won't be any at screenings where these feelings are overcoming you.  Heck, leaving the house just to go to work becomes such a monumental task that you sometimes find yourself blowing off work so you can stay in bed and pull the covers over your head.

And there's absolutely nothing you can do about this.

Yeah, sure, you can take medication (and I do), but clinical depression never goes away.  The medication only lasts so long before your body gets used to it and you need to have it tweaked.  All the while you will have a couple weeks before you find out if the tweaking of the meds actually does anything or has side effects that impose on your life for the worse.  While you fix this you still have to go to that stupid screening of "Fifty Shades of Grey" and actually pay close attention to it, collect your thoughts, and write a review.  Worse, sometimes depression can hit when you are watching "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," and it's hard to trust if the action sequences are just boring or if you personally are just unable to get into them.

There aren't too many movies about real depression that I see every year.  The reason is because depression is bleak, leaves the person unmotivated and in many cases broken without much to look at.  Movies about depression tend to make the depressed character emotionally unstable rather than a lifeless noodle.  Sure, that looks more like bi-polar disorder than depression, but it's more interesting to watch for the audience.  The best example of both these worlds (which also revolves around a writer, ironically enough) is "The Hours," where the depressed characters truly seem to just be going from situation to situation without much excitement or motivation in their lives.  While still motivated enough to keep things moving, rarely has a movie captured the pure lethargies depression brings to the table.

So what does the depressed film critic do?  Mostly, he just keeps writing.  It takes so much effort to write any little thing, but he tries to write.  Even if he has to write about the very thing that is making his life miserable.  That is why I'm writing this post now.  I am so depressed it hurts.  Thinking is hard.  Energy is low.  The last couple of movies I've gone to have almost been like blurs to me.  All the while the homepage of my website lists "American Sniper" as the latest review even though that movie opened three weeks ago.  Heck, I still need to do my voice actor Oscar's feature I do every year and who knows how long THAT will take?!

There was a spark though when I realized that I hadn't updated this blog in months.  This was a perfect topic for it.  So I sat down to type it.  It will not be proof read or "fixed" with a second and third draft like most of my writings.  To do so would guarantee that it never saw the light of day, and I can't even begin to hope to start crawling out of this hole unless something - anything - goes up.  If there is a point to this it's that depression attacks people regardless what they do.  Even people with relatively fun jobs like watching movies are not immune to it.  That doesn't make you a bad person it makes you a sick person.  So get help.  Write about it if you have to.  Don't let it beat you though.  That's what I'm going to spend the next few days doing: Fighting back and not letting it beat me.  Part of that fight will include continuing to write, even if the articles are as bad as this one I will write because that's the very thing my depression doesn't want me to do.

Well, though, because this depressed critic is going to keep writing anyway.


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