Depression and Empathy – the writer connection

The views in this post are solely my own and are in no way a scientific or medical paper. –Jill

Go to any writers group loop, bulletin board, or meeting and you will find a plethora of ailments; mental and physical. I don’t think it is a coincidence that writers suffer from a host of illnesses that I do not find in my non-writer family and friends.

I believe the connection is empathy. The better the writer, the more empathy they contain. Or that could be vice-versa. We don’t just write words. We write people. We write feelings. We have to feel the feelings to write them.

When you read a story with a character who had their heart ripped out, know that the writer got inside that character’s skin. She lived that moment, she felt that moment. She could tell you every nuance of the heart-ripping time.

Belinda pressed her hand to her chest as if it would stop the breaking of her heart. She gasped, the air trapped in her lungs. Gray hovered at the edge of her vision. If she could just hold on for a few more moments it wouldn’t happen. Is she could just turn back time and unhear the words from his lips. He didn’t mean them. He couldn’t mean them. If they didn’t drum in her head until she tried to rip them from her brain. He was leaving her. The thought pinned her in the middle of the room like a statue as the slamming door ripped a picture from the wall and it crashed to the floor. The glass shattered like the jagged edges of her heart. If she moved the pieces would cut through her ribs. She fell to the floor, her knees cracking on the tile. It would be hours before she knew she wasn’t dead, she just wished she were.

Been there, done that, have the T-shirt to prove it.

Empathy is great to write a story, it isn’t so great to wallow in day after day. I cry at Hallmark commercials. I can’t even watch a Hallmark Lifetime movie. To this day, I swear they were produced to rip my heart to shreds. I cry at happy movies. I cry at sad movies. I wear my heart on a sleeve. Sometimes it is so painful to FEEL everything, all the time. I have a friend who wonders where I put them all. That is why I really feel that writers suffer from so much mental anguish and all the ailments that accompany it. We need those emotions to put into our writing. We can’t just turn them off. They are with us, 24/7.

So, next time you are reading a book or watching a movie and the emotion overwhelms you, know that the writer is right there with you, feeling every tear, every laugh, every emotion on the page before you did.

Enjoy the read–tears and all!  Jill James






About Jill James

Jill is a self-published author with The Lake Willowbee Series and numerous other books in paranormal romance and zompoc romance. She enjoys reading just as much as writing. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter @jill_james
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17 Responses to Depression and Empathy – the writer connection

  1. Magdalena Scott says:

    Beautifully said, Jill!

    Liked by 6 people

  2. susanrhughes says:

    I’m not sure why, but I always cry at long-lost family reunions on TV, such as a mother meeting a grown child she gave up for adoption.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. jmichelemaurer says:

    I love a good ugly-cry moment in a book or a movie.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. E. Ayers says:

    Jill, you got it! Sometimes the mental drain as we write is probably impossible for non-writers to comprehend! It can be physically exhausting.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. You got it, Jill… My heart stopped at the thoughts… and yes, I cry at ANY sort of movie. 🙂 can’t even watch TV. 🙂
    For me, my writing is an outlet. In some stories, I have written people out of my heart, and in others, my little codependent heart let me fix someone who was probably never going to fix himself. 🙂
    Gave myself a little happy ending.

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Jill.

    Liked by 3 people

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  7. ginaarditoauthor says:

    Oh, this is so true. One of my dearest friends writes stories that make me weep–every single time. She also suffers from severe migraines and crippling writer’s block. I tell her it’s because she feels everything so deeply. It’s how she’s able to put so much emotion onto the page. If we didn’t feel, I honestly don’t believe we could write.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Carol says:

    You definitely nailed it, Jill. Writing from the heart is physically and mentally exhausting. Non-writers have no clue how much of ourselves are in our books. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. leighmorgan1 says:

    Empathy, in balance, is the key to living life in a loving way. That’s my hypothesis anyway. The best people—and the best authors—I know are empathetic and attuned to the nuances. Beautifully written, Jill.

    Liked by 1 person

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