Last month, we invited readers to share their responses to a writing promptinspired by Meagan Schultz’s essay, “A Love Letter to My Tribe,” and Lisa Katzenberger’s essay, “Writing After the Storm.” We invited readers to tell us what motivates them to write. Below is Lorren Lemmon’s response.
Writing Through The Clouds
By Lorren Lemmon
Joan Didion said, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.” This has always been true for me. My mind is a thick tangle of emotions and racing thoughts and random pieces of information, and only when I sit down with a pen in my hand am I able to unravel clarity from the muddle of my brain.
My first episode of depression struck when I was ten years old, on the cusp of puberty. Confused by the darkness descending over my mind, I spent hours writing in notebooks, preserving the self that at times seemed completely overshadowed by the strange invader that was sucking the brightness out of my life. As the years passed, I filled notebook after notebook, regardless of whether depression was a visitor in my mind or not, and for a time, the depression receded. I fell in love and was married. It had been almost three years since I’d felt depressed for more than a few days.
After my first son was born, the depression returned with full, shocking force, more powerful than I’d ever experienced it. The cloud of emotion and fear and racing thoughts was so thick I could hardly get out of bed in the morning. Mostly I bounced my baby, trying to soothe him, and cried with him. I couldn’t tell my husband or my family what was wrong. I couldn’t even pray. I couldn’t make sense of anything.
I can’t remember the exact moment when I started writing again, but I know that it opened the clouds a little. Instead of drowning in confusion, I could frame my thoughts, and then try to understand them. I returned to the blog I had neglected for months, describing my traumatic birth, my troubles with breastfeeding, my fears that I wasn’t a good enough mother – but also the moments of light: my son’s first giggles, falling asleep with him, watching him gradually discover the world. When I wrote, I could order my thoughts into something manageable, something I could work with, and I could discover the filaments of light that had been lost in the cloud.
Now, five months after the birth of my second son, I am again coping with postpartum depression, armed this time with weapons to fight it back. This time I know I can tease out the good and beautiful from the fear and darkness. I keep writing, even when the laundry and dishes pile up, when exhaustion blurs my vision, because when I write, I excavate my identity, my love for my children, and my hope for release from the disease that would quench all the joy in my life. I keep writing, and each time the darkness retreats just a little, and I know someday I will stand in the light again.
Lorren Lemmons is a mother to two boys by day and a pediatric oncology nurse by night. Currently living in sunny Los Angeles, California, she will be moving to Washington state this summer. Lorren blogs about books, motherhood, and her undying love for Trader Joe’s at When Life Gives You Lemmons. She has been a guest contributor at Segullah.