It happens if I'm not writing. Maybe not over night, but over the course of a few days, a week, a month, I become something not quite human.
Initial symptoms are subtle - periods of irritability, a general malaise, restlessness, increased bouts of snacking behavior. Nothing that can't be managed. Nobody gets hurt.
And then things progress. Self esteem plummets. Life becomes meaningless. Everybody hates me, I can't do anything right, my life has been a wasteland of unfulfilled expectations and dreams and there is no hope that anything will ever be better.
Tears. Lashing out. Self recrimination for being such a horrible person, who cries so easily and then takes things out on loved ones. Self hatred proliferates.
Inevitably, driven by despair, the creature picks up a spiral bound notebook, grips a pen in a hairy paw and begins to spill the poison onto the page.
This is magic. Humanity begins to creep back in. The creature fades a little. Still growling and hairy, but tameable enough to progress from journal free writing to a structured project.
I must be vigilant.
Regular writing keeps the thing at bay, but it is never entirely vanquished.
Always, it prowls the shadowy corners of my psyche, and it knows the moment of weakness - the day I come home tired and decide that writing takes too much energy. The moment I indulge the belief that everything I write is trash and maybe I should give up entirely.
It knows, and it pounces.
An ongoing battle, between the creature and me. Like the battle between light and dark, it will probably never be over. In the end, I suspect that the two of us will leave this world together. Hopefully, we'll leave some readable work behind us when we go.