When you go to a doctor, they hand you a list of medical maladies to confirm or deny. For me depression is always on the menu. It’s the same for my mother. This past month I made the rounds of physicals and appointments connected with her newly-diagnosed diabetes and had to tick the DEPRESSION box a number of times. It was a gentle reminder that depression is kind of an heirloom in the sitting room of my life.
Decades ago when I started writing, a real knock-down-drag-out broke on a Persuasion discussion board about whether Anne Elliot was depressed and should be medicated. Those who thought she was made a good case for Prozac. Who wouldn’t want a few good mood-altering drugs with Sir Walter as your father and provider?
The other camp was less convincing. They were passionate that Anne wasn’t depressed but they had no arguments as to why they believed this. In fact, it all seemed to hinge on the fact that she still loved Frederick — as if a tall handsome Captain of the Line was the perfect antidepressant — and that … well … heroines don’t get depressed!
If this is the case, that heroines are immune, I am screwed.
All the memes that shout we have to be the heroines of our own life stories are not for me. And, if love is the antidote, I obviously don’t truly love my husband of 37 years, my kids or my grandkids. I AM the heartless twitch many suspect.
The worst part about my depression is it causes my emotions — except anger — to fade and recede. That makes writing tough. It’s nearly impossible to write a compelling love story when all the feelings are just a whisper away from my fingertips and keyboard, and all the actions of love are shadows in the gloaming.
MY latest thought is to write Anne depressed.
How fun would that be?
Still, it’s an idea and those have been thin on the ground for a while now.
What do you think? Anne and Frederick meet when they start going to the same therapist? Or meet in group therapy perhaps? Think of the trust building exercises! They are paired up for a depressives retreat by a famous mental health guru who is in actuality a serial killer.
Okay, we’ve gone from deep, thoughtful romance to a Criminal Minds episode. I’m not depressed, just unable to focus.
Anyway, have a great weekend. And let me know, Anne and Frederick moving slowly carefully towards the light of love or running for their lives with the sound of chainsaws in the background!