Tag Archives: anxiety

A Glass Half-Empty: Dealing with Depression during THE HOLIDAYS

It’s not exactly a secret that THE HOLIDAYS are hard for me. They’re difficult for a lot of people. There’s something deeply unsettling about the inability to be happy, which compounds itself when JOY and HAPPINESS and CHEER are basically shoved down your throat. I survived Thanksgiving, and I thought it was okay until a few weeks ago. The depression and anxiety reared up and hit me HARD.

What was supposed to be a nice afternoon of Me Time ended up being a two-hour breakdown in my car in front of a Barnes and Noble.

I reached out to two of my dearest friends, who both helped me calm down enough to at least be able to drive home. I felt wretched. I felt useless. Even knowing it was just in my head, just the season, just a reaction, didn’t make me feel better. I felt weak. And I hate feeling weak.

I was urged to simplify. To say no. I cut out Facebook and Twitter. I deleted the apps from my phone and limited my internet time to an hour in the morning and an hour at night. I do still have jobs, and email communication is essential. I have submit invoices and articles. I have a forum on Facebook where I figure out if I have class or not. It’s been tough being without dance class. After the show in September, the studio flooded. The floors were destroyed. Then one thing after another happened, and well… now it’s December.

I was never much for Facebook in general, but I do feel relieved to not have it in my life. There’s so much… STUFF there, and it’s not a place I want to give my time.

Katie Locke, another of my dear friends, wrote a great post about making Twitter her space again. Immediately, I weeded through the number of people I follow on Twitter and Facebook and unfollowed or unfriended anyone I didn’t speak to, or haven’t spoken to in years, or people whose presence I no longer wanted in my life. It’s okay to not want people in your life. You control your online experience. It’s not personal, unless you want it take it that way.

I came back to Twitter, but I post far less.

I tried to take care of myself by saying no. No to going out, no to taking on more than I already claimed. If I didn’t want to do it, I didn’t. I took on nothing I didn’t have to, which included driving other people around and bothering to put on pants. In fact, I did the scariest thing I could think of: I quit. It’s certainly nothing new. I’ve quit before. I’ve quit writing. This time, I quit querying. I didn’t send out more in reaction to rejection.

I just stopped.

And weirdly, some of the pressure I felt just evaporated. I hadn’t realized how much stress I was putting on myself. I was digging myself into the ground.

Edit: I’d like to note that just because I’m not currently sending new queries right now doesn’t mean I’m done forever. I want to send them feeling like myself, doing a thing I love.

I shifted my focus to art. I’ve been drawing a lot more since #Drawlloween, which, sadly, I never finished. I missed it. Inking helped me slow down because it’s something that demands my concentration. It’s precise and delicate and I have to breathe in order to steady my hand and control the lines.

I wanted to make Victorian Christmas cards for a few of my friends, and one Victorian Hanukkah card because one of my dear friends is Jewish.

Very slowly, I’m picking up the pieces. I’m trying to take care of my mental health. I love art. I have the best friends a girl could ask for. I’m going for walks when I feel unsettled. I talk to my close friends, who know what’s going on, who don’t mind listening to me cry and helping me pick myself back up.

Monday, I checked things off my list: two freelance articles (written and submitted), laundry done, cleaned my desktop, updated my bio, went to the store for envelopes and stationary. I’m 1/8th of the way into a super secret commission project. I’m still podcasting and I have more ideas for future radio-things.

Delilah Dawson held a twitter chat the other day about dealing with depression as a writer. She’s far more articulate than I am.

Writing is still hard. It’s hard to channel someone charismatic and charming when you just want to get through the day. I might be one of those people who just needs December off. That’s okay. I have to take care of myself. With that knowledge comes the realization that saying no is sort of what happened to this blog.

I don’t have a week’s worth of material to post about. That’s okay. It’s fine that I don’t generate weekly content. I post episodes of Courting Casualties, I update my appearances (I’ll be at AnachroCon 2016!), and if I have nothing to say, well, that’s fine. If you like my writing, I’m over CriminalElement.com and GirlsInCapes.com. I have a tongue-in-cheek Christmas gift-giving guide coming on and CE just posted my latest American Horror Story reaction.

I’ll try to cross-post or link articles here as well, sort of like one-stop shopping.

I can weather this storm. I deserve to take care of myself. I deserve not to feel crappy. If you’re depressed, you’re not alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.

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what happens when your fierceness fades

World Horror Con was great. I got to spend time with my friends, get out of my own head for a bit, and I even got to sit a panel with Kami Garcia, co-author of Beautiful Creatures. The Women in Horror panel was particularly amazing. I wish we could have had two hours, or a whole day devoted to talking about what it’s like taking on horror in heels. The words from my fellow panelists were inspiring:

Surround yourself with positive people. Be bold. Go after what you want. Be courageous.

Be bold, be bold, be bold.

We only had time for one question: “What do you do when your fierceness fades?”

I answered. The Friday before World Horror Con, I received some disappointing news. I was upset, I was disheartened. I reached out to my friends and asked them to help me up. They did. I shook off my bruises and went to WHC ready to be re-enlivened. I love conventions because as introverted as I am, I thrive off crowd energy. I love being around people who share my passions. I wanted to go and come back ready to fight.

I said that your fierceness will fade. Our moderator, Linda Addison, added that we’re only human. Of course our fight will fade. I said the best gift you can give yourself is a group of friends who understand, who support you, who will help you back on your feet when you fall to your knees.

And when I came home from convention, I felt worse. I realized that yes, I’d dusted myself off, but the fight had gone out of me. I reached out again and came up with comforting words I couldn’t feel. The bad news couldn’t hurt me. It couldn’t kill me, or threaten my family. I thought I would be fine. Take the sting, move forward.

I didn’t expect to be laid so low. I questioned my strength, if I had what it took to push forward.

maybe i’m not as strong as i thought i was

If you’ve kept up with me over the years, you know I struggle with depression and anxiety. Like everyone, I have my good days and my bad days. The last two years have been mostly bad days rolled into each other. During that time, when my world fell apart in the worst ways possible, I threw myself into writing. Every subsequent explosion I subverted with art. In order to keep myself together, I took up my sword and slashed my way through a new draft, a rewrite, short stories; I blogged for myself, for my freelance job. I didn’t stop writing, and I waded deeper as things grew worse.

I make a habit of avoidance. I don’t let myself feel because I don’t like appearing weak. I don’t like feeling weak. I won’t cry. I won’t scream. I keep everything like a hurricane brewing in my chest. I used that pain to put strength into my strike. I fought. I was bold.

I stood on top of the rubble and grinned because I’d made it. Things were looking up at last.

I thought I’d finally crawled out, but that’s the tricky thing about depression: it just slithers up next to you and holds you down. And no, one disappointing email doesn’t undo my hard work; I still have things in the wind. I’m not finished. But I broke my sword against that invisible wall. I hammered at it until my fists were bruised and I broke my nails against the bricks. This last time, when I fell, I couldn’t pick myself up. I asked for help, but my friends couldn’t get me off the ground.

I poured so much of myself into my work that I have nothing left to give. And with the nothing came all the harsh words and self-doubt and fear.

This is a difficult industry, and it’s easy to feel low when all you see are people putting their best selves out there. It’s hard to be happy for those with happy news when you don’t remember a time when breathing was easy. It’s isolating. You want to be happy, but you can’t remember how.

I don’t have the will to fight right now. It was suggested to me that I stop writing. I said I didn’t want to stop because I knew I wouldn’t go back. A friend told me she was afraid that if I didn’t stop, I’d burn out.

At this point, I think I need to finally honor how I feel. If I want to repair my sword, if I want to get to my feet, if I want to push myself up again, I need to acknowledge what’s happened. My fight is gone. I’m exhausted. In two years, I have taken little time for myself. I know this; my subconscious knows it.

I made myself scarce on Twitter. I barely responded to texts.

I stopped writing.

It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done. The uncertainty of it is more frightening than thought of putting my pen down. Occasionally, Henry sits beside me in companionable silence. He knows why I can’t fight for him right now. He understands. He knows anything he says won’t heal me, but he wishes me well. He hopes that sooner (rather than later), I can fashion a dagger (a scalpel?) to cut my way out.

For now I’m going to stay down. To wait and heal. To get my strength back.

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