On Staring at the Wall

You’ve been there. You know that feeling. When you have no energy. No focus. You just sit there. Your eyes zone in on something in the distance. You’re not really seeing it, though. You’re not really seeing anything. You’re just sitting there, staring at the wall.

I’ve been diagnosed with depression. According to the therapist I spoke to (disclaimer: several people have told me he offered the worst advice they’ve ever heard), I have episodic bouts of depression. It comes and goes; I’ll be weighed down and listless for a few days or weeks, then come back with huge bursts of energy. Staring at the wall is one of the things I do when I’m having an episode of depression.

(Side note: the outbursts of anger bordering on volatile rage lead me to believe I may also be bipolar, but the therapist said otherwise.)

I do some of my best staring at the wall at home, between the hours of 6:00-10:00 pm. This is when I’m usually at my least productive, usually because I’ve spent the previous five hours working, writing, or running errands. I’ll always end up with a surge of energy later at night, because that’s just how I am. I especially find that I get more energy when the sun goes down. Sunlight saps my strength, and I prefer to avoid it whenever possible. It leaves me irritable, exhausted, and drained. Also, I burn easily.

I’m not quite sure what the cure for staring is. Sometimes I try caffeine. Other times I go on Twitter and tell people about how I’m staring, and they try to snap me out of it. Today, I’m writing this blog post while in the middle of a bout of staring. I’m actually spending a good length of the time I’m writing staring off at a point in space, not looking at either the screen or the keyboard. This is actually a pretty common thing. It’s almost refreshing; it’s a state of mind where everything is blank. It’s a way to avoid being self-critical, judgmental, or worried about how I sound. This is the type of frame of mind many writers suggest getting into during a first draft, where you need to “turn off the internal editor.” While I doubt they recommend getting into a staring contest with inanimate objects as part of the process, it still seems like it works.

Hopefully, after finishing this post, I’ll stop staring. Then I can focus more, concentrate, and get back to work. I have a lot of work to do–a novel to publish, a sequel to revise, some short stories to polish up (I have one short story currently being read by about 6 different people, so hopefully they’ll provide some good feedback soon). I’ve also got to find a job. Speaking of which, if you know of any freelance and/or long term writing or editing work, I’d appreciate you sending it my way. I’ll try not to stare too much during the interview.

And in honor of staring, I decided it would be fitting for this post to include a poem by my main protagonist, Gabriella Palladino. Of course, in her case, she’s worried about a different kind of staring…


I’m staring
But why do we stare?
If she catches my eye
Then why do they care?
It’s not like it means
There’s anything there
It’s no more than a glance
To judge it’s not fair
Yet staring
Snags me in a snare
As I look at a girl
With golden blonde hair
I don’t mean to look
I just shouldn’t care
But I just want to cry
When caught in a stare . . .


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