Friday, March 27, 2015

Depression Part Two: Electric Boogaloo

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.


  1. I so understand this. It totally sucks. The thing I fear the most in life is falling so far down the black pit of depression I ca't climb out again. Every time I have an episode I think, "this is the time I won't recover" even while I'm doing everything I can to not give into it. But depression often doesn't give us that choice.

    I teach The Huger Games to entry level college students and they often have a lot of anger toward Katniss' mother. Every time I find myself defending her.

    My friend Julie started a blog to chronicle her climb out of depression. She uses allegory, which isn't really my cup of tea all the time, but she is really good at explaining how these downward spiral thought holes work and how to climb back out. Maybe it will be helpful to you. Or not.

    Here is the first post. Keep on keeping on.

    1. Thanks, Cherri. I think many of us are afraid of that pit and scrabbling at the walls to get out. Sometimes it's easy to forget the pit is there because you're having a good day. And that's when it's easiest to trip and fall in!

  2. For the record, I'm not mad at anyone. I'm going through a depressive spell myself right now and it means I'm less communicative and am pretty flatlined myself. But I can't even imagine being mad at you, especially not now.

    Now I just want to give you a hug.

    1. Thanks, Courtney. Consider yourself hugged. Brains are tricky things, aren't they? We all flatine in different ways. I have this weird tendency to assume I'm awful and that everyone hates me and fixate on particular people. You got to be the lucky focus this time because I admire your leadership skills and how outspoken you are. (Once, I decided a soap opera exec hated me and I hid behind every freaking potted plant at the Daytime Emmys.)

      I hope you get through this spell swiftly and I get through mine and we both rise to kick ass another day.

  3. It's been a tough week for a lot of us. I know it's not the same as full blown depression, but I have anxiety. I get edgy when I'm stressed and not sleeping or relaxing enough. This post resonated with me partly because I spent half the day worrying about a longtime reader/twitter friend who unfollowed me. Like, obviously there are more important things to focus on! But I don't have that many dedicated readers, and losing one because I spoke out against disclosure hurts.


    1. I think we're all on tenterhooks in one way or another. It's been a volatile month and will probably continue to be shaky for a while. ::hugs:: back at you.

  4. I spoke out *in favor* of disclosure I mean. Of course! Take care.