Monday, July 20, 2015

Last Chance

961 words written today. I am making slow, but steady progress along the theme of "getting my words per day count" back up to something resembling "might actually finish this fucking novel on time." -- posted to my Facebook account 

I started a few weeks back trying to get back into writing regularly, after taking some time off to be depressed and say "fuck my life, fuck my writing, I'm going to play Star Wars" and then trying desperately to pretend that I wasn't doing that. Because I always pretend that I'm not doing that, because I am crazy and stubborn and depressed, and all three of these things are a bad combination. In this particular circumstance, I am defining crazy as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

My thing that I keep doing is pretending to be fine when I am not fine. When I am nowhere close to fine. Where fine is an 18 hour flight and lost luggage away from where I am. And I pretend to be fine because admitting that I'm not fine always seems -- from the headspace of not being fine -- to be a "quitting" scenario. If I admit to not being fine, then I'm not fine, and I give up.

Except I'm not giving up, I'm never giving up. And every once in a while, I can take a few days off, relax, get my head back on straight and keep right on doing what I'm doing. Without, and here's the kicker, feeling guilty about having taken the time off for self care.

Which I know is not the case. I know this. I even, most of the time, KNOW that I know this even when I'm doing it.

I swear to you (and to me, and honestly, right now, it's me that's important and not you, because none of you out there are judging me, and even if you were, I honestly don't care that much about random person on the internet's disapproval.) that I plan like a master these days. I write into my schedule at least two or three weeks worth of FUCK THIS SHIT time into everything I do.

Well, at least into every novel. Short stories have a higher rate of "I am not going to finish this by the deadline, so fuck it." Also, I know for a fact now that MANY editors will give you a break to get a story in, if they know you're working on it. And even sometimes when they know you're not working on it, because if they give you to the 15th and you still don't get it done, they're not out anything, and they've made you more likely to write for them again, because you're not mad at them. (This applies to me. If you have a shapeshifter story and you need extra time, just ask. I'll probably say yes. Because if you don't turn it in, I'm not out anything, and if you do, I have another story... if you don't ask, however, I can't say yes. And I won't take late stuff if you don't ask because that's just rude.)

One of the benefits of working for myself is that I can take time off when I need to. One of the drawbacks of working for myself is that I can do this. Sometimes, when I'm in the middle of a few days worth of "god this sucks, I suck, will somebody just give me a cookie and $100,000??" that it feels like 1) it's going on forever and 2) I won't stop doing this.

Every time I get depressed, I wonder... is this going to be the time where I don't come out of it... is this my last chance?

When I was 25 and got dumped by my ex boyfriend, I was concerned that I was getting TOO OLD to find a new boyfriend, get married and have a family. I say this from the point of view of a 43 year old mother of an exceptionally cool kid who wonders what the actual fuck her 25 year old self was thinking...

I thought it was my last chance then. And sometimes I think it's my last chance now. And I look forward to 60 year old me saying "God, I was an idiot then, too..."

But I'm less of an idiot now than I was then. It takes LESS LONG to come back from the depression. To the ex's defense, he broke up with me while I was in one of the longest depressions of my life, and while this doesn't always say wonderful things about him, I was pretty damn hard to deal with for someone who's several years younger and not so well-versed in therapy as I was, even at that time. And it's quite possible that he didn't even know that I had a different, non-depressed personality.

I'm not sure I knew that I had a very different, non-depressed personality.

The other thing about being depressed is that it's sometimes hard for me to recognize that I am depressed.

Sometimes I feel like my default state is FUCKING EXHAUSTED and all the coffee in the world is no help at all. I feel like I don't get enough sleep, that I'm doing too much, and at the same time, I'll feel incredibly lonely. Like I haven't spend any time with people I care about. (Side note: Doesn't help to be the only freaking extrovert in a group of fucking fucking reclusives!) And honestly, I don't get as much time with people as I need. So there's the part of my personality and energy that gets wasted away and then I don't get it back because everybody's busy or peopled out.

(I am now taking applications for a new local best friend. I miss having someone to regularly hang out with. Social media is nice, but it's still like putting a cellophane wrapper around me and my energy.)

(side side additional note: when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was also diagnosed with "situational anxiety" which sounds stupid. If there's a situation, of COURSE I'm going to be anxious about it! Isn't everyone? -- short answer, no, everyone isn't. That being said, my husband is stressed out recently about some work stuff that's stupid and long and complicated... which is fine, he's allowed to be anxious, too. But his response to being anxious is to pull back, to protect himself. This has the unfortunate side effect of making me feel even more isolated, since he's one of the few actual humans I interact with on a regular basis.)

Right... what was I talking about?

Depression. Yeah, it's easier to see looking back, than it is while I'm in it.

And sometimes I will think I'm coming out of it when I'm not, or when I'm just having a little bump on my stupid mood-o-meter.

Honestly, there are times when I wish I could take pills. I really, really do. And I've tried... a bit. (doesn't help that I pretty much distrust and hate therapists, which is also something I've tried... a bit... to work on...) But they get in the way of my being a creative person, and since most of my self-image comes from me being a creative person, pills just make me... less me.

Okay, so I'm less me who doesn't break down crying at the death of a flying ant in a movie (sorry, spoilers for Ant-Man. Suck it up, buttercup, you should have been there on opening night.) And less-me might have a cleaner house and less tasks on the "I ought to do this eventually" list....

But I am getting better. I think at this point it's part of me and my life to have these phases, and it's more a matter of how I deal with them, than it is a matter of being perfect, or putting a stop to it entirely.

So... I think I'm doing okay right now....

And I've written a little over 10k in usable material in the last 3 weeks... (not including the 3k I wrote of a story that I threw out for being awful...)


  1. it's like you're in my brain....

    this is where I was this weekend (thanks for noticing, and being sympathetic, btw). My thing is no longer to pretend I'm fine; "pretending everything's okay when it's actually really dysfunctional" is a family tradition I decided wasn't worth preserving.

    Having a name for what I go through periodically helps; admitting it and talking about it does too. I kind of push through the episodes, occasionally breaking out in tears, but trying my darnedest to tick all the baseline "functional adult human" boxes along the way...sometimes with an actual list. Knowing what it is, and knowing that it will pass provides some piece of mind,'s rather hard to describe what goes on in your own head using language, you know? Luckily for me, the pills help a bit, at least with knocking off the sharp edges, if not making it all better.

    Hang in there - we're not alone in this.

    1. It's one of the reasons I like to write this out -- the other being that I need to keep track, sometimes, that I'm doing better -- is that the first time I read about someone else's bipolar experiences, I had a moment.

      It was so much of a relief to find out I wasn't the only one. If I can help, encourage, or just listen to one person with depression or bipolar disorder and let them know they're not alone in their heads, that other people live in that same space and while it can be an ugly space, just sharing it with someone else relieves a lot of the burden.