Through my Depression
Realizing that my characters are embodiments of different symptoms of depression blew my mind and yet made absolute perfect sense. After thinking on it, it also made perfect sense why I’d had a flood of emails and reviews saying how much readers loved the books and identified with the message... but also a lot saying how they didn’t understand what was happening and didn’t care for my writing. Of course though! A matter of perspective changes everything! It changes my whole series! I didn’t write a happy ending where the villain is vanquished and the hero rides off into the sunset. I wrote books filled with magic but laden with real fears, real struggles, and real complicated relationships. Since I was a teenager I have dealt with bouts of depression alongside chronic anxiety. I have waded through my own emotions like they were marshes and pushed aside feelings that long have needed to come to the light... simply because day to day functioning required such. I have always done as needed- working hard, meeting obligations, and fighting ever forward. But in that fight, in that focus simply to live for one more day, I have been terrible about taking care of myself overall- especially on a mental-emotional level. So, with the intention of writing the next installment of the ‘Descendants of War’ series, I took a closer look at my characters, I dove deep into thoughts and feelings that I have not given attention to in a very long time, and I wondered “Why did these characters - these people - come to me the way that they did?” I could not help but wonder why I chose not to write in easy, poetic, happy-ending fashion the way that so many books I’d read as a child were. That’s when I realized that the characters have been my way of processing. They are the personification of traumas and fears. Each of them have their own weaknesses... but all of those weakness are ones I’ve felt. They are the reality within my fantasy. The aspects of depression I’ve had to deal with most intimately are sorrow, sufferance, irrationality, denial, anger, defensiveness, confusion, physical pain, negative consequences, guilt, insecurity, and isolation. And those traits/symptoms are precisely what I used for characterization. For instance, Bridget is constantly torn between duty and desire, and thought verses feeling. She ends up being a traitor despite her talents and sincerity. She is guilt. She is the embodiment of saying “I’m sorry”, of silencing feelings due to shame, and of acting based on pleasing others rather than tending to self. Every one of my characters is like that! Malcolm is denial. Eleanor is irrationality, Xenos is isolation, and so on and so forth. But at the heart of the story, there is Aurora, with not a glaring negative trait to found. Though! She still is not perfect. She’s been through trauma, she gets irritated, she’s terrible at love, and she is young and trying to figure out exactly who she is. However, her scars and her troubles do not diminish her strength nor do they tarnish her pure heart. She is balance. Stability. She is mental health. My series is written for those sorting out their own demons. For those who have hope despite having fears. For those who’ve been through hell and come out the other side with their jaws set and their shoulders squared, beaten up but not defeated. Your emotions - as the readers - are the driving force behind the story. I just set the stage and gave you the players. Be the hero. Be the villain. Let your imagination roam. And watch your magic grow.