Editing to add/disclaim: This is probably a good reminder that you shouldn't angst and post. I want to assure people that I do manage my illness with daily medication and am doing better overall. This bit of navel-gazing and whinging is just another example of how depression narrows your world down to just you.
A fun (and by "fun" I mean "really not fun at all") part of living with depression involves low points when you least want them. For me, a terrible convergence of emotions happened during a particularly rough time in the romance industry's community relationship: when it turned out that Dear Author's Jane Litte was also author Jen Frederick and had been lying to her readership for years. Blame my hormones, blame my illness, but the same week the shit hit the fan, so did my paranoia. All of a sudden, I was convinced that my own community activism was poison, that what I frequently said as an advocate of diversity had made people hate me. I was DMing a fellow writer and friend frantically, worried that bestselling author and general badass Courtney Milan might be mad at me about something. What...? I have no clue. You laugh, but, dude, it's no fun. It's a guilt spiral you don't want to experience. And I made myself get off that Twitter account for a while and breathe. You know what? She might be mad at me. I say a lot of divisive, inflammatory shit. But do I need to be hyperventilating, crying, and taking Twitter breaks because of that...? Do I need to be that neurotic? No. Welcome to depression.
But, oh, we're talking about an illness that mainstream media thinks might be violent. One that they're implying might have caused the deaths of 150 people on an airplane.
What do you do, when you're trying to marshal your emotions and remind yourself that you're normal, when you see people saying depression makes you commit murder? I can't even tell you. All I can tell you is that it feels like someone is taking a melon baller and scooping through your guts. Because depression doesn't make me want to EVER hurt anyone else. It's internal. All I ever want to do is tear myself apart. I just want to curl up into fetal position and never leave my bed. I don't want to speak to you, look at your or even acknowledge you exist because it hurts too much. Kill you? Please. I don't have the energy to put on pants.
If I'm in a good place, I can go three weeks and be okay. Unfortunately, hormones mean that fourth week will turn into a pre-menstrual nightmare, and I will cry, hate myself and assume I'm shit. If I'm in a bad place, it doesn't matter because the entire span will be awful. And I was in that bad place for more than six months this past year. I don't recommend it. It sucks. I hated myself, I hated the world, I hated the future. And it was so bleak.
It's only recently that I've seen the sun again, felt hope and healing again.
So, I hate this.
I hate second-guessing my intelligence, my voice, my platform.
I hate making something about me when it sure as shit isn't about me. Jane Litte didn't betray my trust. I've actually been kind of transparent, if not a bit passive-aggressive, about the fact that Dear Author has been bad for me. She's hurt friends of mine, though. And people I respect. This week, I need to be focusing on them and not the fact that chemical bullshit in my brain makes me think I'm a victim.
But, thank you so very goddamn much, Depression, for making me the focus. Because all I can think is that I'm stupid and I talk too much and no one needs to listen to me. All I can believe is that I should just shut up for a while. Depression makes me narcissistic, thinking I have that much power when I am in fact powerless.
I'm not that important.
You know who's important? You.
I'm going to be messed up for the rest of my life, wrangling this tangle of emotions. But you? The reader, the fellow author, this amazing person outside the confines of my body and my internal turmoil? You have things to do. I want you to read and thrive and speak out. I want you to do what I can't: heal the people around you.
Romance deserves passion and it deserves honesty. Depression lies, but you don't have to.