Let’s begin with some stupid advice. I don’t have time to write a lot today because the Princess is ill and must go see the doctor in Plano. So the advice is; Set aside time for writing and always allow plenty of time for it. You will probably notice already that I am giving you advice that I am not taking myself this morning. So don’t follow that advice. It is stupid advice. I have given it to creative writing classes for years and thought I meant it. But looking back on real life, I realize, it has never been true for me. My best ideas, my best writing, always seem to come in the middle of the pressure-cooker of daily struggle and strife. I have battled serious illness for most of my adult life. I have the luck of a man who tried to avoid letting a black cat cross his path by crashing his bicycle at the top of a hill covered in clover with only three leaves each and then rolling down the hill, under a ladder, and crashing into a doorpost which knocks the horseshoe off the top. The horseshoe lands on my stupid head with the “U” facing downward so the luck all drains out. Bad things happen to me all the time. But it makes for good writing. Tell me you didn’t at least smile at the picture I just painted in your mind. You might’ve even been unable to suppress a chuckle. I am under time pressure and misfortune pressure and the need to rearrange my entire daily schedule. So it is the perfect time to write.
This essay, however, is about bad advice. And I am a perfect person to rely on as a resource for bad advice. I am full of it. Of course, I mean I am full of bad advice, not that other thing we think of when someone tells me I am “Full of it!” So here’s another bit of writing advice that is probably completely wrong and a bad idea to take without a grain of salt, or at least a doctor’s prescription. You should stop bird-walking in your essay and get to the damn point!
I know a lot about the subject of depression. When I was a teenager, I came very close to suicide. I experienced tidal waves of self-loathing and black-enveloping blankets of depression for reasons that I didn’t understand until I realized later in life that it all came from being a child-victim of sexual assault. Somehow I muddled through and managed to self-medicate with journal writing and fantasy-fixations, thus avoiding a potentially serious alcohol or drug problem. This is connected to my main idea, despite the fact that I am obviously not following the no bird-walking advice. You see, with depression, Bad advice can kill you. Seriously, people want to tell you to just, “Get over it! Stop moping about and get on with life. It isn’t real. You are just being lazy.”
I have been on the inside of depression and I know for a fact that not taking it seriously can be deadly. In fact, I have faced suicidal depression not only in myself, but in several former students and even my own children. I have spent time in emergency rooms, mental hospitals, and therapists offices when I wasn’t myself the depression sufferer. One of my high school classmates and one of my former students lost their battles and now are no longer among the living. (Sorry, have to take a moment for tears again.) But I learned how to help a depression sufferer. You have to talk to them and make them listen at least to the part where you say, “I have been through this myself. Don’t give in to it. You can survive if you fight back. And whatever you have to do, I will be right here for you. You can talk to me about anything. I will listen. And I won’t try to give you any advice.” Of course, after you say that to them, you do not leave them alone. You stay by them and protect them from themselves, or make sure somebody that will do the same for them stays with them. So far, that last bit of advice has worked for me. But the fight can be life-long. And it is a critical battle.
So taking advice from others is always an adventure. Red pill? Green pill? Poison pill? Which will you take? I can’t decide for you. Any advice I give you would probably just be stupid advice. You have to weigh the evidence and decide for yourself. What does this stupid essay even mean? Isn’t it just a pile of stupid advice? A concluding paragraph should tell you the answer if it can. But, I fear, there is no answer this time.