So I have talked a bit before about depression and how it affects me, not in any great detail or anything, but I think people are aware that I have it. It’s something I’ve been officially diagnosed with for fifteen years now, but it probably goes back further than that. It’s also not alone.
I have depression with anxiety. What does that mean?
I’m not going to give the medical explanation, that’s something google can tell you. I’ll tell you what it means for me, though.
Nothing I ever do is good enough.
For a writer, this means that even things that are published are not worth it, should never have seen the light of day, should be burned in protest of how horrifically bad they are. There are thousands of other ways this has manifested itself by either cause (depression or anxiety) but as relates to the writing, it’s a hard thing to finish anything, harder to edit it, and publishing can be nearly impossible. The amount of stress going along with publishing usually means actual physical symptoms, showing up in stomach trouble, migraines, and insomnia. There’s also some very, very dark thoughts that go with it.
Being around people is incredibly stressful.
I am an introvert, and people are draining on my best of days. That said, I am also socially backward, and while I can occasionally fake being okay, ninety percent of social interaction makes me want to panic. Meeting new people is terrifying. Being in crowds leads to panic attacks. I’m constantly on edge and tense around people. As my main job these days involves retail, I have pretty much nothing left when I get home, even on days with a short shift.
Obsessing over past mistakes or criticism is endless.
I have a tendency to remember the bad, not the good. And the bad will come up and replay with all the same emotions that it had at the time. Did I embarrass myself twenty years ago in school? Yes, and I can still feel every second of it if that memory surfaces. If someone says something harsh about me or my stories, I can almost always repeat it word for word. That thing you said you thought was helpful? Not so much. It’s been rattling around my brain tormenting me for fifteen years, so thanks for that.
Adding the social missteps to the obsessive bit creates huge problems.
I am a lightning rod. I don’t mean to be, but I am. I don’t tend to speak up at first when things bother me. (When ninety percent of what goes on bothers you, there’s no point in saying anything.) I try to let things go or get some distance from them if I can. However, that thing that got said that hurt and damaged me… that never went away, and so then it can resurface, and if it does and I’m talking to you… Then there’s a good chance I’ll make things very much worse, whether it’s about that or not. And since I’ve buried other things, they can add to it. I might lose my temper. I might lash out. I might just crawl off to hide and cry bitter tears because I can’t handle it anymore, but usually the hiding comes after I realize I’ve done a bunch of hurting others myself, and it wasn’t what I wanted, but it happened.
When I say I’m fine, it’s more often that I just have no way of explaining the things going on in my head.
I don’t vocalize these things. I’ve tried, and those efforts seem to always backfire spectacularly (not just because I lightning rod, but because people who haven’t been in this situation don’t understand, people who have been and are past it seem to think they know the cure, and others really never wanted that much detail in the first place.) It doesn’t help that I’m a chronic multi-tasker who has the unfortunate tendency to obsess over multiple things at any given moment, whether it be story stuff or personal crises or even the mundane and ordinary.
When it is bad, it is really bad.
There are times when I have absolutely no desire to be in my head. When that stuff scares me. When I shouldn’t be left to my own devices.
So that is a bit of life with depression and anxiety, for me. In the past week, it’s made a real mess of things, again, per usual. I almost didn’t get all the work for my day job done. I had migraines all week. I got into a couple arguments with friends. I just about burned one of the proof copies without even reading it because I can’t get a negative comment out of my head. I stressed out about every step of publishing new things, be it laying things out or proofing them. I haven’t written anything in two weeks. I was supposed to go somewhere important today, and I didn’t make it. I stayed home, and my efforts to distract myself ended up being futile… I broke the sewing machine, ordered the wrong part for my car, and couldn’t fix more than one of the other problems with it even after going to multiple auto parts stores.
And I’d rather die than do a book signing, but I have two coming up.
In spite of myself, there is a new book out in print. It was just an ebook before, but now it’s both. The plan was to have them all done, all the older releases, but obviously, that hasn’t happened. One isn’t quite to the proof stage, and the other is the one I can’t even look at, so… yeah. That’s where things are with me and my ability to wreck just about everything.