I’m going to open up to you. I feel like I can trust you. You have a kind face (Flashbacks to the episode of I Love Lucy where they do “Slowly I Turn…”).
But in all seriousness: if you don’t want to get a little deep, go ahead and move on to one of my old blog posts, or one of my books. Or watch a cat on Youtube. Because today, I want to talk about the Depression, the Unfriendly Ghost (Note to self: write a children’s book about depression, maybe… probably not. But think about it.).
Okay, if you’ve made it this far, I figure you’ve made your choice and you understand what you’re getting yourself into. If at any point you wish to evacuate, emergency exits are located toward the back of the plane. I think we stocked the parachutes back up after last time. I take no responsibility if not.
Right. Putting it off. Well, it’s not fun to talk about. But I think it’s important. Especially if we run on the assumption that a writer will have some things in common with their readers, I feel like I have to say something. And I have to say something for myself. I like to be honest with you guys, and it’s time to unload a double-barreled shotgun full of honesty.
I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety since I was in middle school. It wasn’t because of some singular traumatic event or anything like that. It rarely is, at least as far as the people I’ve talked to. Not to say never. I don’t discount anyone’s experience with this kind of thing, because that’s annoying as fuck and totally not my place.
But yeah. I’ve dealt with these issues for quite some time, now. And you learn how to work around them in a lot of ways. I wasn’t always so good at it, obviously. I still have cutting scars on my wrists, though they’re mostly faded. It’s been a while, which is its own victory, for me.
The thoughts don’t go away. I’d like to be able to tell you that I haven’t considered self-harm in years. That would make me feel more accomplished. And up until a few weeks ago, I could have said exactly that. But it snuck up on me. That’s what no one tells you about depression. It sneaks up on you. If you could see it coming, you could maybe try to head it off at the pass. It probably wouldn’t work, but you could try (I should note, though, this is only my experience. It could very well be different for someone else.).
I don’t know if it was before Norwescon, during Norwescon, or after Norwescon. What I do remember is feeling really edgy when I was actually at the con. It was toward the end of the con, so I figured it was just me dealing with way too many people without a break. Which I went in expecting. And I was away from home longer thanks to the weather (Had to go over the Cascade Mountains to get between there and here, and it snowed. Like, it snowed a foot in a few hours.).
The very first thing I did when I got back home was completely clean my room. Clear off the floor, wash all my bedding. Make it look nice and neat and comfortable. And then I holed up in there for three weeks without even realizing it
If you’ve been through depression, you might very well be nodding your head. It’s not an uncommon story. It’s hard to do anything when you’re in the middle of it, even just getting up and leaving the room. I did it to eat and that’s about it. I didn’t even work during that span. I couldn’t. I watched Youtube videos for hours, slept a lot… and that was all. That is one good luxury of working from home. I was able to. I don’t know if it was helpful or harmful, mind you. Maybe if I had to get up and go to work, it would have been better. Or it would have been worse. I can’t say. That’s not how things went.
So about the three week mark, I realized it had been three weeks, and that I hadn’t actually seen, like, sunlight, in that long. Certainly not people. I wasn’t online. I just… wasn’t. And it’s one of the scariest things when you know that you’re feeling this way, and you know that it’s entirely irrational, but you can’t stop it. Because that’s what happens. You’re fully aware that this is ridiculous and without cause, but it still sits on your chest so you can’t get out from under it.
Even after I realized what was happening, it’s taken me several more weeks to fully pull myself free from the Swamp of Sadness (Stupid horse…). Part of that’s because some things just really have fallen badly (Found a tumor on the dog, for one.), and part of it’s because I was so damned deep into it again, without even realizing it. It’s super easy to fall into a hole. It’s a lot harder to scrabble your way out.
Why share what is objectively not a happy story? It’s not for sympathy or anything like that. I wanted to put it out there, because I think that sometimes, we need to know that other people are going through it, too. I think that’s one of the most comforting things that can happen. Knowing that you’re not the only one who has to decipher this mess. And you can know it intellectually, look at the statistics and everything, but maybe one thing that a specific person says will actually click. Maybe me. Maybe Chuck Wendig. Maybe someone else. Maybe not an author, but a celebrity. Maybe a blogger with one follower who you’ll never read again. But they aid exactly what you needed to hear to know that you aren’t alone.
It helps, it really does. And while I don’t assume that I’m going to be that one for anyone out there, if there’s a chance that I might? I can’t sit here and not talk about it. Because depression is a real problem, no matter what anyone else thinks. It’s not a matter of just cheering or just doing something. It’s pulling teeth until you get yourself out of it, and maybe you don’t. That’s the worst part, always, is “Maybe you don’t.” or your friend doesn’t. Or your favorite cousin. Your aunt. Your father. Whoever. It’s scary. Depression is scary. It’s not frightening or terrifying or any of that. It’s baseline, down deep in the core of you, scary. No better word for it in my opinion. Just scary. No pretenses or trying to filter it or gussy it up.
It’s scary, and I get it, and if you do happen to be reading this and you’re there right now, I hope it helps. And I hope you can wriggle away from it. And I hope you have someone to talk to, when you’re ready for that. And if not, talk to me. I’ll answer.
Deepness is over and the plane is landing. So tata for now.