In addition to the busy-ness of December, I’ve been dealing with depression, have been sick for a couple weeks, and am trying to get things back on track. I’ll update on book stuff later this week. Right now I want to talk about how depression affects me.
My family on both sides has a long history of extreme depression to the point of suicides. While I’ve never been a user of drugs aside from occasional pot (which many people don’t see as a legit drug, and is now 100% legal where I live), there’s been plenty of use on both sides. I don’t recall a time in my life when someone in my close family wasn’t dealing with depression. I was 15 when I was diagnosed.
Since then I’ve been on meds and I’ve been in therapy. Therapy did no good. Drugs did nothing more than dull my emotions, which not only dulled my bad feelings, but my good ones. It made me apathetic to most things. However both meds and therapy made “depressed person” part of my identity. Since you continue these things even in good weeks, it’s hard to shake this being a part of who you are when you have to take weekly or daily time to remind yourself, “I’m depressed.” Even in happy weeks, there is that time each day for meds, or however frequent for therapy, that you have to remind yourself. For me, this dragged me down and made me dread certain times.
When I’ve been on meds, the apathy exhausted me and nothing would get done because I’d sleep. This often led to stress because I had stuff to do that wasn’t getting done, and stress fed back into the other negative feelings.
What I’ve found has helped me more than anything is to constantly have projects going on. The feeling of accomplishment gives me an adrenaline rush, and having a project underway helps distract me. Often I’ll have several things going on at once, and don’t sleep much. I’d much rather be productive than lay in bed, and so might get three hours of sleep per night. This makes me happier. I also have a drive to finish whatever I start, and so having something I’m in the middle of doing drives me forward.
Unfortunately sometimes I’ll finish my projects and not have another underway, and time pretty much stops. This is bad. This is what happened in December. Sacred Blood was published, and I got distracted with Christmas stuff. Christmas stuff has an end, and it’s abrupt. Suddenly I found myself with time on my hands and nothing I was already working on, nothing to look forward to finishing. And full depression slammed back in. I have things to start, but without something already underway, I’m overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. I want to start everywhere, and can’t pick a place. It’s not metered. The funnel in the hourglass is plugged, and the backed up sand is weighing on me. Nothing wants to shake loose.
When this happens, I often start responding in one of two manners. I stop eating altogether, or I throw up everything I do eat. And then I get sick. And because I get sick, I feel even less control in my life, and so fall harder into this eating disorder I’ve dealt with for several year. Like the meds-sleep-depression worse-med cycle, this one is hard to break. This is a spiral, and it’s what I’m trying to break out of right now.
I have no motivation to do anything, even if I have things to start. I’ve got Sacred Honor to start editing, and some commissions for my business to start (I never miss deadlines, but more on that later in this entry). I’ve got a couple books to beta edit for others. I’ve got cover reveal parties to do. Cleaning. Following up on e-mails and messages. But I don’t have energy to do anything, but I can’t sleep. I toss and turn all night and might get half an hour of real sleep with a couple hours of forcing my eyes to stay closed. The days drag.
Normally I’m very organized. I have to be, with everything I do. But I can’t keep things straight. Dates get mixed up and I want to go cry. My normally clean home gets messy because I don’t have the energy to do anything, and that makes me want to sequester myself in my bedroom. E-mails and messages get backed up. I feel like I’m letting people down, and don’t want to just pop back in like I didn’t disappear for a few days or weeks. I don’t want to be where I am, but I also don’t want to wander through the front door. I feel like there’s no point to anything I do, so why bother trying? I feel worthless and like I’m nothing but a drain on my friends and family, though they don’t tell me that.
Often the one and only thing that really helps pull me out of this is if I have a deadline that is finally approaching for a commission I haven’t started. There’s finally a finish line, finally a challenge I can focus on, and one I have my sights set on the line, I can start getting other projects underway. My next deadline isn’t until March. Over six weeks away. Another five weeks of waiting. And waiting. And dreading the time I wait. And feeling broken and worthless and hating myself because I tell myself I just need the willpower to put one foot in front of the other and to start, which would be a piece of cake if I had the physical energy to do it. My brain is working and going a mile a minute. My body has no energy. I’m like a car that ran out of gas and can’t get gas without getting tot he station with required gas. Stupid circles. They overwhelm me and make me want to hide away. And then nothing gets done. More spiraling.