Tag Archives: Depression

A Word of Encouragement

This isn’t going to be your typical blog post, but I kinda wanted to touch base with all of you because I haven’t lately. And the reason I haven’t lately is because I have been slogging through some serious depression.

I’m talking about the kind of depression where you curl up and wish you could cry, but you don’t because you don’t have the energy. I’m talking about the kind of depression where some hateful part of your brain dredges up every failure, every disappointment, every shortcoming you’ve ever had and throws it at you in an unending barrage of “you’re not good enough”.

I’m not writing this to whine at you, but rather to let you know that if you should encounter these dark days of doubt where even getting up out of bed seems like an insurmountable task, that you are not alone. The failures you’re obsessing over don’t define you as a person. And, more importantly, they aren’t the real reason you’re depressed. That’s just some wacky chemical imbalance in that skull full of meat we jokingly call a mind.

You are more than your failures. You are more than your loneliness. You are more than your depression.

And you are not alone.

All Hope Abandon, Ye Who Enter Here

Yesterday my blog turned two hundred posts old. As milestones go it’s not earth-shattering by any means, but it did get me to thinking about some of my early posts, (the ones that actually had a focus anyway, when I started this blog I was just doing it for fun.)

One of them was a sort of introduction to myself and why I was a writer. I mentioned in the post that I had written six long-form works of fiction and even though I wasn’t published yet, I had made a promise to myself that I would keep writing until I was published or I died, whichever came first.

And as I recall someone was actually encouraged by that. Which got me to thinking. Are you people insane?

Wait, don’t answer that. I really don’t want to know what medications you’re on. Just, you know…keep that to yourself.

But I mean, seriously. This is not a good thing. Writing is not a wonderful Mecca of muses and money. (See what I did there? See that alliteration? I’m just a tiny bit proud of that.)

Writing is hard. And there’s no promise that you’ll get anything out of it.

By my estimates I’ve spent close to two thousand hours writing at this point in my life. I’ve worked very hard on books that will probably never see the light of day. I’ve banged my head against the wall trying to get wordcounts for stories that just didn’t end up working. And for all of that I have yet to be paid one cent for my work.

And then there’s the depression. I saw a statistic recently that said that writers suffer from depression more often than people in any other profession, and I can believe it. I’ve gotten over a lot of it now, but in those days when I was trying to get an agent for my first book, and I kept getting rejection after rejection I felt lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut.

I would ask myself, “What are you thinking, Albert? You’ve read all those hacks that turn to putting their work out online. You know it’s all garbage. That’s what you’re writing: garbage. You call yourself a writer?” And so on.

And then came that fateful day when I threw up my hands and said, “I don’t care if what I’m writing is garbage. I’m going to keep doing it, and keep doing it, and keep doing it, until I’m published. Or dead.”

My point is this: this may not be a good thing. I may get to the end of my life with millions of words to my name and not a single one of them in print. I may die, having written nothing but garbage.

I tweeted recently about how writing is like a drug, and quite  a few people got a kick out of it, but it’s really true. It hooks you in and makes you feel all happy at first, but then comes the realization that this thing is slowly taking over your life. You tell yourself you can stop anytime, but in reality you’re stuck in a quagmire of your own design.

So I’m writing this as a warning. There’s no hope for me. I’m already too far gone. But you should get out while you still can. There are no riches here, no deep sense of fulfillment. Nothing but the all-consuming flames of passion.

Turn back. Do something else, anything else.

And if you can’t…well, then you’re a writer.

May God have mercy on your soul.

What To Do When You Don’t Feel Like Doing Anything

Today’s post is going to be a tad short, but I don’t need a lot of words to say what’s on my mind, which is this: life isn’t always happy-happy-joy-joy-super-fantastic-funtime. Sometimes you’re not going to feel that great, emotionally speaking.

It may not even be anything in particular that’s bringing you down. Sometimes you just get into the blues.

This is perfectly okay.

Life is about ups and downs. There are going to be some days from time to time when you look at that things that you have to do, or ought to do, and just don’t want to do them.

I’m saying this because I’ve been going through one of those times lately and I know how they can bring me down. I think I’m on the upswing side of it right now, but in another month or two, I’ll probably be headed back into the dumps again.

If you’re having one of those times, I have two pieces of advice:

1. Give yourself a break.

I’m not necessarily saying to turn your back on your responsibilities, but don’t let yourself get depressed about feeling depressed. You are not obligated to be happy every day.

2. There’s a nap for that.

Oh, it feels so good to get that out. You have no idea how long I’ve been wanting to use that pun on this blog.

Anyway. Most of the time when I’m feeling like crap I can trace it back directly to fatigue. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it. Lately My schedule has simply demanded that I get up early and stay up late. But the amount of rest you get can affect really your mood, so if you get the chance to slip in a few winks here or there, do it. You’ll probably feel better afterwards.

And that’s all I’ve got for today. It didn’t stay quite as short as I first intended, but…whatever. I hope it helps. I know it makes me feel a little better just to write it. Then again, I just took a nice nap, so that might have something to do with it too.

Dealing With the Doldrums

On the day before yesterday, I had a horrible, horrible day. Actually that isn’t quite true. The day itself was fine. The weather was nice, nothing major had gone wrong with my life, no unforeseen problems forced me to change course from what I had planned. And yet, in spite it all, I was in the doldrums.

You’ve experienced it too: that funk that just won’t let you go no matter what you do, that swamp of  depression that  just keeps pulling you down into its muck and mire no matter how you try to fight it, that shadow that lingers in the back of your mind, darkening a perfectly sunny day.

I can’t tell you how to stop it. Believe me, I would if I could. But I can give this little piece of encouragement. Yesterday, after fighting off the blackness inside for the entire day. All day long I struggled to get through the most basic tasks, and when I went to work I forced myself to smile at the customers while the minutes crawled by. Finally, just as the day was done and I was getting ready to go home from work, an idea came to me.  It was a story, perfect, simple and fully formed.

I looked up at the heavens and said, “Hey, couldn’t you have given me that little nugget a few hours sooner?  I really could have used it back there.”

I’m not going to tell you that every black day is going to bring you a great story idea, but I will tell you that you can push through it believing that there’s something better on the other side. It may not make you feel any better now, but there is hope around the corner. Don’t give up.

***

For further advice on dealing with the hard times I highly recommend Mike Duran’s latest blog post about the importance of the wilderness times in our lives.

Also, if you’re interested, I’ll be posting the story I was inspired to write in tomorrow’s blog. It’s a short tale of cruel fate called “A Many-Fingered Demon.”