I have talked before about my battle with depression. This fight is never truly over. Even if depression itself is fought into submission, it simply changes forms. A few years after I moved to Florida, I spent every waking hour in each day fighting my mental issues. When they finally seemed defeated, I took a rest.
But then, only four years ago, my depression appeared again in a new form. Despair is a variant of depression where even after the pain has vanished, the fear that it will return never quite leaves. Me being afraid that I would relapse back into the dark place I had once been, left me mentally crippled.
This was a different form of depression and far more subtle in how it worked. I was not having suicidal thoughts like in the past. However, I was not afraid of dying. This was not healthy considering I was and am still young and with many goals that have still been unmet. It was almost like I would not be upset if i suddenly dropped dead at any moment.
This lethargy was extremely dangerous given where I was living at the time. I stayed in an apartment complex that required me making a very dangerous U-turn on a six-lane highway whenever I wanted to go home. Having little to no self-preservation at the time, it is a miracle that I did not die in a fatal car crash. Even more impressive, was the fact that many people did die in fatal car accidents on this very stretch of road.
There are those who told me to attribute my luck to a higher power. However, part of my despair was feelings of isolation from Judaism. To this day I do not feel connected religiously to Judaism. Though of course, this has not stopped me ethnically as I mentioned in a past article. All in all, this was not a factor that would help me break out of this rut.
Therein lies the real miracle. I was around twenty-four years old at the time where I was paralyzed by despair. However, there had been a pet project of mine that had been in development for almost ten years by that point. I had been working on a Dark Fantasy book series with the working title: The Tree of Knowledge. Obviously, I had every intention of changing this name since it exists everywhere, but that is not the point. What mattered that despite depression hitting me on almost every front, this series of fiction had been one of the few constants in my life that I saw as positive.
Something truly remarkable happened that year, while I was mired in darkness. I managed to finish a story. This stage of writing as I realized later is much harder to come by in the writing community than I ever could have realized. And although the book needed serious edits, I was not in a state of mind to be that critical of my work. Instead, I somehow dragged myself all the way through the many self-publishing prompts until I was at a screen that many wished they could reach.
I started facing a menu with a single button. And on that November 17th, I took the scariest leap of faith in my life. I hit the publish button on Amazon. Now one of my stories was in the public realm. I was placing my hopes and dreams into a realm where it could be judged and critiqued. And that is exactly what happened.
There were two different responses to this story, and I will get to them in a moment. The purpose of me talking about this pivotal moment in my life though is that suddenly, I was armed with the weapon I needed to fight back despair. The transformation was immediate. Now that I had published a novel, or rather a fragment of one, I needed to stay alive long enough to write the rest. Given that this series was planned to be at least seventeen books long and I had only published the first third of the starting book, I now had a purpose in life.
The very next day after I published the book, I began to be more careful of my surroundings. That deadly left turn that should have been the death of me suddenly was a wake-up call. I constantly told myself that I could not die until the series was complete. I had found my defense against depression – a reason for my existence that no one else could replace.
Anyway, the criticism was important. I was told by many that the story and content were great. But the grammar and presentation were a complete disaster and took away from what would be a quality tale. Now filled with resolve to make this series the greatest Dark Fantasy tale ever told, I sought out a real editor.
Thanks to that event, what was once going to be seventeen books has become thirty-four. This project will take a major part of my life to complete and I refuse to give in to despair until it is complete. Best of all, given the genre that this series is being written in, I can channel my inner pain and sorrow to empower my writing. Dark Fantasy has gained its name and notoriety thanks to the real danger the characters in those tales face. Not only had I found a reason to live, but misery was actually making my novels better.
It has been four years since that part of my life. The series is much more fleshed out now. With the title of the first book being "The End of Utopia", I have found better names for this series. The grander scale name of this great undertaking is "The Search for Eden" This Dark Fantasy story is both a corrupted bible story and possibly a psychoanalysis deep into my twisted and corrupted mind. The themes of self-discovery and fates worse than death are ever present.
These things might seem oddly specific to my life given all the strange circumstances and experiences I have been through. However, it is my opinion that we write best what we know. And what I seem to know best is Dark Fantasy with a touch of Cosmic Horror. As I continue to make this project my mark upon the world, I continue to prove every day that fiction really is stranger than reality, one keystroke at a time.