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Creativity and Depression

I was listening to the recent Author Strong Podcast where Nancy talks about her battle with getting the words out now that she quit her day job. She took a leap of faith, and now she has to deal with her depression trying to assert itself.

I listened as she stumbled, trying to explain to Matt (a very cheerful and go for it type of person) why it was easier to say “do this to work around it” then it was to actually do it. And I saw myself reflecting back at me.

I’ve dealt with depression for as long as I can remember. As a teen I had school, and sisters to help pull me from it. When I got married I had the children to help. In the last six years I’ve been happier then I’ve ever been with a new life, a great boyfriend, a supportive family, and an outlet for my creativity. And yet for the last month I’ve had that old beast, depression, rearing it’s ugly head.

I know what’s causing it. I know what I need to do to make it shut up and stop all the self doubt and whispers in my head that I’m not worthwhile. But that doesn’t make it easy.

For creativity, this is horrible. Every time I sit down to write I have to talk myself into it. Not just the act of writing, but the act of sitting at the computer for anything other than playing a game or checking email. Just opening the files so that I can read through them is a huge stress when depression starts whispering to me, and it’s not always easy. When I do start to clunk away at the keys sometimes I can write, other times I will put down a few words before the whispers in my head telling me I’m not good enough, I’ll never get anywhere with this, I’ll never finish, get too loud for me to write anymore. I’ll get up, do something else, change perspective, but I simply can’t continue on with that work…yet.

I sent a tweet out yesterday that said “Depression is a lying bastard.” It’s a common refrain now, a reminder that all the whispers in my head are wrong. I am worth it, I will finish, I am stronger than I seem. All those things and more.

Someone replied “I don’t believe in depression.” I don’t know if he meant it as a joke, or he honestly doesn’t believe in it. It really didn’t matter why he said it. I looked at the tweet and all I could think was: “Man, I’d love to have the luxury of being able to dismiss depression as nonexistent.”

In some ways knowing what’s wrong, and why my creativity is floundering, helps me get through it. I can write a blog post, or tell Gregg about the things going through my head, and things tend to die down for a little bit. Sometimes. Other times I can’t seem to break free from the cycle. Even while writing this blog post I had a moment where I could not pull myself from the destructive thoughts.

If you think of the brain like millions of chemical reactions going off all over the curves of your cerebellum then it is easier to see how one miss fire could trigger a cascade effect that can run out of control sometimes. Thoughts that keep repeating themselves, destructive thoughts that keep cycling over and over, a lack of will because it is simply easier to avoid new things than deal with that destructiveness.

We do have some control over the chemical processes in our minds. There are techniques and medications we can use to lower certain hormones which cause the more harmful problems. But not all of us have access to medications, and the techniques aren’t effective 100% of the time.

How do you explain depression to someone who doesn’t have it, or someone who thinks it’s “all in your head”? I don’t know. I have trouble describing it to myself some days.

But I will continue to sit down at the keyboard and try to write, even when the chemicals in my brain don’t want me to, because this is important to me.

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2015 in On Writing

 

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Some days you’re the bug

LiesThere’s a song I use to listen to when I was younger… Some day’s your the windshield, someday’s your the bug. That’s how I’m feeling tonight.

Depression is this weird thing that we all know about. We just don’t talk about it. It’s anathema. Are we afraid we’ll catch it if we acnoledge it? It’s like we’re afraid that if we are broken then we can never be fixed again and no one will ever love us. But it’s mostly that way for mental illness. If you break a bone, or cut your arm, no one bats an eye. You get a cast, and people sign it. You tell awesome stories about how you rolled  your bike down a hill and had this awesome, amazing adventure.

But depression doesn’t have amazing stories. It has heart wrenching hurt filled stories. Sometimes it has no stories at all, it’s just there. Then it whispers in your ear and tells you how worthless and useless you are. It circles around your, slowly squeezing out all rays of light and leaving you in a dark passage trying to find your way.

I’ve struggled with depression for most of my life. It started when I was a teenager unable to find that basic thing we are all looking for: love. I wasn’t battered or beaten. I wasn’t called horrible names very often. Mostly our parents just left us alone to fend for ourselves. No matter how good I was I could never get their attention. Not even after I moved away and got married. They just weren’t that interested in me.

That crushing burden of being alone, it eats into you. Add to it the lack of friends, the complete awkwardness of a general teenage girl, the fact that I always wore hand me downs and no one ever noticed me except when they teased me. You’re set adrift in the world, lost, and no one to catch you.

Just before my divorce I hit rock bottom. I lost everything, including my children, and I almost jumped off a building. Oh I thought about suicide lots of times. The earliest I can remember was 14 drawing pictures of myself falling off a cliff onto rocky outcroppings. Then during my marriage to a husband who treated me as an inconvenience most of the time and liked to remind me constantly of how useless and worthless I was it just got worse.

Getting divorced saved me. I was able to get out of the depression, and the suicidal thoughts left. I had hope. Hope was all I ever needed. Being alone was a blessing after that marriage.

But now and then the depression creeps back in, whispers in my ear, and reminds me how worthless and useless I am. It’s been whispering for a few weeks now. That I never finish anything, that I never get anywhere. That I’ll never be good enough or concomitant enough. That no matter how hard I try no one will ever respect me or care about me.

I hate those whispers. I usually curl up in Gregg’s lap and he reminds me how much I am loved and wanted, but he isn’t home right now so I am writing a blog post and I am reminding myself. Depression is a lying bastard! I am worthwhile. I am creative. I am a wonderful person. And it might take a while, but by damn someone is going to love my books.

If you’re in that spot now I hope you know… Depression lies. Whatever it’s whispering to you in the dark, it isn’t true. Tell someone, let them know what it’s saying and they will tell you the truth.

It’s hard to feel worth while when everything is falling down around you. It’s hard to believe in yourself when life has been so hard. I know. I’ve been there. Life has kicked me and punched me and left me lying on the ground bleeding. All we can do is get back up, and say Depression Lies.

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2015 in Commentary

 

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That’s What He Said

I use to use google reviews as ways to check out new businesses. They aren’t scammy like yelp. But right now my company is trying to get google reviews. And boy are they pushing it.

“Look at this as an opportunity to practice promoting yourself” said my boss. He knows that I’ve published books, and that I’m struggling with getting noticed, reviews, and basically anything that says ‘hey look at me, I wrote this, you should read it’.

And he isn’t wrong.

It’s incredibly difficult to draw attention to myself, or anything I do. It goes against everything I was trained… stay unseen. Stay unheard. Your opinion isn’t valuable. No one cares. You’re not worth it. No one likes you. No one will ever love you.

So I find myself confronting all these things I heard for all of those years. And some days I make little breakthroughs and I can say ‘see, I did this and I think it’s good.’ (Well, mostly I say I think it’s ‘okay’ because I don’t want to disappoint anyone.)

And other days I freeze. The words get stuck on my tongue. I want to run, hide, cry, and just get everyones attention off of me somehow, anyway possible.

I recognize that this was caused by years of abuse. I recognize that the whispering in my head telling me that no one cares, and no one wants to hear what I have to say isn’t right. DEPRESSION IS A LYING BASTARD!

Half the struggle is recognizing this. Before I knew why this was happening I let my fight or flight system kick in and I would retreat. Get quite. Go unnoticed. After 30+ years of practice I’m really good at it.

But I don’t want to be that person anymore. I want to write, and I want to share my stories with people. I want to know that my words will live on even when I’m gone. I want to inspire others to follow their passions, and their loves.

And really… I don’t want to be broken anymore. I don’t want what he did to me to be what dictates my life from here on out. This is my life, and I am worthwhile, and I have something amazing to say. People do want to listen to me. They do want to talk to me.

So… I wrote a book. And I’m really proud of it. I hope you read it some day.

image

 
5 Comments

Posted by on March 11, 2014 in Commentary

 

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Hypercritical

I haven’t published ANYTHING in a couple of months. It’s depressing me a little.

Now, I realize I’m being hypercritical of myself. I am watching the word counts go up, the chapters get finished, the edits work… but the bar I placed, publication, isn’t happening. It hasn’t happened in a few months, and it bothers me.

Objectively, this is ridiculous. Other authors spend months writing, editing, and publishing novels. If you go through the gambit of traditional publication you may only see one or two books A YEAR come out. I did eleven, in six months.

I should be proud of myself. I should be happy with my progress. But ultimately, it isn’t enough.

But I think this is a good thing. If it were enough then I wouldn’t be pushing myself so hard to write more. If it were enough then I wouldn’t be striving to up my word count, fix my formating and spelling on older books, or attempting to come up with book covers that don’t suck too much.

I am taking comfort in the fact that this isn’t enough, because it means this is incredibly important to me. To go farther, write more, and tell my damn stories to everyone willing to listen.

My stories should be seen. They are worth it. It’s never going to be “enough”, so I’m just going to have to get better.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2013 in On Writing, Personal Notes

 

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Brains are weird

Imagine a person standing against a board. On the other side of the board is another person. As long as they both push against that board it doesn’t move.

The one on the nearside is just trying to hold the wall up. All they care about is keeping the normality at a steady level. Keep the wall strait. Hold on. Steady.

The guy on the other side of the wall… he’s an asshole. He keeps pushing on that wall. Pressing in, trying to demolish the house the first person made.

Sometime the ass gets tired, and he wanders away. Bored. Other times he pushes harder, or enlists help. Some days…. some days he has a tractor and he manages to knock the wall down.

The girl inside… she just wants to build her house. So she picks up the pieces and puts it back together, and guards the wall. Hoping to keep it up. Hoping to keep it steady the next time he attacks.

After a while she doesn’t leave the wall anymore. And when he stops pounding on the walls she gets nervous. Constantly waiting for the next blow.

The blows become normal. They become natural. They become her world.

So when you take down the wall and set her free… it’s so hard to just be normal.

And then something good happens. Someone actually pays attention, or god forbid, helps her build that wall. It’s shocking, even terrifying, because it isn’t normal. Not to her. Not to the life she’s lived for so many years, trapped inside those walls.

I realize these things. I know my brain is lying to me when a good thing happens and I start waiting for something horrible to happen. Nothing horrible has really happened in the last four years…

Like the Blogess says… Depression is a lying bastard.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 11, 2013 in Commentary

 

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