** This is my own personal journey. I’m being as open as possible with my current situation and just because my depression looks one way doesn’t mean that everyone will have the same experiences. This is just how my depression and the dark thoughts that follow manifest. Everyone is different, every form of depression should be taken seriously. And if you need someone to talk to please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 **
P.S. This is a long post. A very, very long post. I apologize ahead of time.
I’ve suffered from depression all of my life, from the time I was very little, all the way through high school where it became exponentially worse, and into adulthood…Here I thought after all these years, some really rough years, I had it all figured out. I know the cognitive behavioral tips and tricks, I have the tools (as my therapists have told me time and time again), and yet that familiar old darkness started creeping back in around January of this year. At Christmas time I was fine, I was excited about the new year and looking forward to all the stuff I was going to accomplish in 2018. Needless to say, it didn’t happen. This wasn’t my year, just like the years before. I failed. But this time something was different.
I didn’t like me anymore. It was a small loathing at first. Just nitpicking myself slowly, quietly. And then one by one bricks started falling on my head that just re-affirmed to myself of what a loser I really was. I started to pull back, I stopped writing, I started sleeping more, my eating habits became very disordered. But I pushed it all aside and told myself “I’m fine” “It’s the weather” “It’s just stress” “I’m just a moody bitch”.
I know what to do if my depression gets bad, I know to talk to someone about it and to ask for help, but something inside me didn’t want to ask for help this time. Maybe I was tired of asking, maybe I wanted someone to see that I was drowning in this fucking world and have them reach out and ask “Hey, are you doing okay?”. But no one asked. And it’s not their job to be concerned, I fully recognize and acknowledge that. But each hit I took knocked me a little further and further down the ladder and I was tired of asking for help.
In June I fell and potentially broke my wrist, which has made writing/typing anything damn near impossible and dictation just hasn’t worked out for me. I was supposed to go in for a follow-up x-ray to see if it was broken or not, but in my state of self-loathing, lack of self-care, and generally not caring about anything I decided to not go and just deal with the injury on my own. A few weeks had to pass to see if a fracture would show up later, but by that point of being in a brace for three weeks, I didn’t care if it was broken because, in my dark mind, it didn’t matter, nothing was going to get better. But I still couldn’t write, at least not without pain or going really slow, that was yet another hit.
Then I started to really resent certain things around me. Little things about being an author. The fact that I couldn’t write with my wrist and I definitely was going to miss the rest of my 2018 deadlines. The elitist crowd that has formed in the wake of the whole copyright disaster, the Mean girls crowd who only wants to help other “successful” authors. And then there’s the influx of “Pay Me $$$ and I’ll make you a six-figure author club”, some even give you a payment plan. Huzzah…but the payment plan will take you 5 years to pay off, so strike that off the list of things I could do to help become “successful”.
Those things started to grind on me. Scammers, copyrights, mean girls, the whole business started to feel like yet another Ellora’s Cave shit storm brewing and I started to not want to be a part of it. But the straws really began to bend when I was being booted from marketing groups because of purging, not being successful enough, or being too quiet (but with my depression worsening I didn’t want to be talkative) and I do understand their decisions, but it doesn’t mean it didn’t hit me hard. And it wasn’t just one group. I am in groups to learn so I can become successful, but in this new era, only the successful deserve help, or so it seems, judging by my personal experience with Facebook groups. Self-doubt and self-loathing started creeping in. And I found myself questioning where I belong in the writing community.
Then came the straw the broke the camel’s back…and it really wasn’t even a big deal. It was an Instagram thing, something small and trivial but it hit at just the wrong time and the entire bottom of my world fell away. I was left wondering “well, why are you even bothering to stick around here?” “you aren’t welcome, you aren’t a part of this, you try to make friends, you put trust in people who say they know what they are doing and look where it gets you?” “you should quit” “you are a loser”.
And at that moment I decided I was done. Done being an author, done caring, done with everything. Done with life.
My husband got home from work and I curled up with him and cried myself to sleep at 5:30 in the evening. I didn’t care. I didn’t eat, I didn’t bother to attempt to feed anyone else. I just didn’t care. I slept and I cried. And two days later I still didn’t care to eat or do anything to take care of myself. I just cried. And slept some more. Shower? Nope. Exercise? Nope. Brush my hair? Nope.
When I started giving away my important mementos from my life as an author (cleaning house is what I called it, that was a lie, I was giving away things that were most important to me because I didn’t think I would need them anymore) my husband was pretty certain I was in crisis. He repeatedly tried to remind me that nothing in this world was worth hurting myself over and not to make a “permanent solution to a temporary problem”. I didn’t really care about the words, I could barely hear them, I was in my own personal darkness. It was a familiar place, one I’d been deep inside a few times in life. I could curl up there and ignore the world, it hurt a lot less down there. Self-hatred is like a warm familiar old blanket to wrap yourself up in. Loving yourself is much harder.
Quick little backstory: In the 8th grade I tried to commit suicide, it’s been a decision that I’ve regretted my entire adult life and one I was grateful wasn’t successful, but as I started giving away my important belongings, making sure my kids knew how to take care of themselves, and all that stuff I started to remember the feeling I had back then when I had made my attempt I thought “Nothing will hurt anymore”. This time the same thought came roaring back in my head “nothing will hurt anymore”, but I also kept trying to remind myself that my kids and husband need me so I told myself I was fine, they are my anchor so of course, I wouldn’t do anything…because they need me…And then I had the very sobering thought “all those people who’ve ended their lives had anchors too and one day those anchors stopped being enough to hold them together.”
At the core of my depression is feeling like a failure, but not everyone’s depression is the same, some people are highly successful people and yet they are still depressed. Everyone is different. Everyone has different triggers. Mine is failure and feeling alone. I am always alone here, and the feeling of failure is never far from my thoughts.
I have no external pressure to succeed. It’s a pressure my brain puts on itself. My husband is willing to do whatever it takes to help me succeed, but all I see is that I’m dragging my one-income family into debt in my attempts to be an author. And while my husband tries to remind me that we are still getting by it doesn’t always feel like it. My brain equates success with being worth loving. Not being worth loving just because you exist. My brain tells me that unless I’ve achieved something I’m worthless, which is probably something I picked up very early in life from my dad. He was only ever proud of me if I had done something amazing in art class or if I’d won an award, but that was the only time I had worth. Unfortunately, those are the lessons some of us carry with us into adulthood.
After much prompting and a growing fear in the back of my mind, I went ahead and made an appointment with my doctor. We talked. I ranted and raged and cried, she hugged me, and sent me on my way with a prescription for an antidepressant.
And so, that is where I am at. I’m not sure where I’m going, what will happen, but I know I don’t like it here in the darkness anymore. I don’t like hurting myself. I don’t like scaring my family. I don’t like feeling the way I do about writing. I don’t like the stewing anger. And most of all I don’t like feeling alone. But I also know I have to work hard to fix myself and make this darkness disappear and if it takes antidepressants to help me do that then that is what I will do.
I’m taking my doctor’s advice and doing what makes me happy at the moment. If I am happy just doing art, then I will do art. Currently, I am working on some plastic canvas, working a lot with vinyl and heat transfers, working on book covers, and trying to keep my mind busy so that it can’t wander down that dark path and get lost in my depression. I’m reading, but not craft/writing books, I’m reading Undertow by Michael Buckley and so far, I’m enjoying just reading for the sake of escape instead of trying to master AMS ads or the newest marketing trend, or a new way to structure a story.
And I’m taking my new meds, religiously. Because the bottom line is, I don’t want to go anywhere, I just want the pain to stop, I just want to feel normal (whatever that feels like). I want to be happy. I want to feel excited again. And at the end of the day, I want to still want to write and publish. But I’m taking it one day at a time.
One month on my new medications and I’m feeling so-so. My doctor said they like to see your mood improve by 50% within a month, I’m not at 50%, but maybe closer to 25-30%. Since I’m not quite to the level the doc wants me at she’s upped my dosage and I go back in another month.
I never did go back to get my wrist looked at but I’ve been out of my brace for a few weeks not and it only occasionally gives me trouble and when it does I put the brace back on and take it easy. I’ve written a few hundred words, but nothing significant. I’m trying to stay optimistic that I will get back to writing because I still have stories popping up in my head. So that’s encouraging. I’m still isolated, but there’s nothing I can really do about that seeing as how I live in no man’s land and have no friends here. I did travel up to the Springs two weekends ago to visit my partner in crime (writing partner) and do a convention which really did help my mood a lot more than anything else has.
Support from friends and family, my animals, nature, and art therapy have been the best things for my mental health this past month along with taking my medications every day. Self-care is still hard, but I’m trying. Accepting my limitation and allowing myself to fail is harder but I’m working on it. All I know is that everything in my past has made me stronger, I’ve struggled and fought for everything I have, I’ve clawed away at life until my fingers bled and I’ve survived. I will keep fighting because I don’t want to go anywhere. I love the beauty in life, I love my kids, my husband, I love finding magic all around me, and I want to enjoy it for many more years so if that means I have to ask for help, even when I’m tired of asking or don’t think anyone will care, then that is what I will keep doing.
I love creating, it is my passion. Writing, art, design, anything that lets me express my ideas is what I love to do, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let this dark cloud of depression rob me of that.
Lastly, while I struggle with this, I also know I am very fortunate to have the people around me who pick me up when I am down. And I appreciate them and all that they do. I am also extremely lucky that there are people, programs, and organizations out there to help me as well. If you are suffering from depression, if you feel off but can’t put your finger on what is going on, if you are in crisis and are thinking about harming yourself, PLEASE reach out for help.
Here are a few resources if you need to talk to someone, these people are here to help, they won’t judge you, they understand what you are going through.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number
Better Help (online counseling)