Posts Tagged ‘depression’

hurts
I don’t often reveal much of my personal life. Please don’t be offended by this, I was raised to believe that showing any of your vulnerable underbelly was a weakness should be avoided at all costs. My family taught me that I had nothing of value to say and that none of my emotions were valid.
Perhaps this is why I ensconced myself in books. In their worlds I got to see what it was to have a parent who asked a child about their day or hugged them, something that I didn’t get at home. Fiction was a safe place where anything could happen because it was pure fantasy.
As embarrassing as this is to admit, it’s only really been in the last few years that I’ve realised some people out there do reveal themselves to others. Sadly, I have been conditioned for three decades and so my learned behaviours are fully engrained; opening myself to anyone in person won’t be happening any time soon.
Please don’t feel sorry for me, or laugh, at how pathetic my upbringing was. My father left when I was a child and I lived in a cold environment with my mother where feelings, or discussions of them, were bothersome. You do what needs to be done and that’s it. You get up in the morning, go to work, eat and sleep – that’s about it. There is nothing more to life. At least that’s what I spent my childhood believing.
All of my pitiful ramblings above are the prelude to how I feel this evening, which is why I am chattering. Sometimes I do feel alone. Being estranged from my parents was nothing in my youth when I had a million friends (rather superficial acquaintances) and a frantic social life. But I don’t have that mask disguising the truth anymore.
As luck would have it – or not – when I did find a man to settle down with it turned out that man was an abusive alcoholic who thought only of himself and not of me or our child. Eventually I freed myself from him and now I have a lot to be proud of in my life. My son is smart and beautiful and keeps me going every day. I built a business that I run from home so that I can be there for my son when I need to be and never miss a school show – even if it means working until the early hours when he is asleep.
Writing has been in my life since I was a child, as I said before it offered me an escape and let me explore the emotions I felt but was not allowed to express. But it was my grandmother’s death that prompted me to publish. The woman was a tower of strength, the most incredible person that I have ever known, and one who would give her last to those in need. I’ll admit that she was from a different generation and wasn’t exactly the tactile, warm and fuzzy type, but she cared for my sister and me in a way that no one else ever did and she never made us feel like a burden.
Through the years I have loved and lost in relationships of the romantic and platonic variety. I’ve stood up in courts to defend what is right, even when it broke my heart. What family I did have left I lost when I defended my niece and nephew against the only sister I have, in order to prevent them being subjected to her abuse.
I’ve proved to myself that I have integrity and I have proved that I can, and will, work hard and do what it takes to care for the children whom I love so much. I imagine sometimes that my grandmother watches over them, as she watched over us, and that I have to do for her what she no longer can, because she is not on this earth with us anymore.
But it’s hard, oh god, it’s hard. Tonight I’m feeling blue, as you may have guessed. Having struggled all of my life with depression and anxiety issues I recognise that this will pass, sometimes life slaps you down just to remind you of the strength it takes to stand back up.
Why do I bother? No one in my real life knows that I publish. I was taught to never expose my emotions or inner thoughts, and there isn’t a place more personal or revealing than the words I put onto paper. No one would understand. If they read and saw just what went on within me I’d never be able to look them in the eye again. I’d be embarrassed and ashamed, not because of the explicit content of my novels, but because then they would know that I feel.
But when no one in your real life knows that you publish and you have no one to share your frustrations and triumphs with online either the whole experience becomes so isolating. There’s no one there to say, “Wow, look what you did…” Only writers know how many hours (see months and years) it takes to hone your craft enough to publish. Only writers know how invested we become in our characters and their worlds, and how much of yourself you pour into them.
Spending all of that time writing is one thing. But to publish is a whole other ballgame. You have to learn how to make covers, write your own blurbs, and fill out acknowledgements. Believe it or not, those are the fun parts. Learning the ins and outs of formatting was fun (not) and each platform has its own rules, so getting the hang of KDP means nothing when you head over to Smashwords.
KDP, there’s a laugh. You think you know what that’s about? No one does. And they keep moving the goal posts. Should you give Amazon exclusivity and enter KDP Select? What the hell is KDP Select? Right, ok, so I can’t publish elsewhere and they let me choose promotions from either free days or Kindle Countdown Deals… wait, what? What the hell is Kindle Countdown and do I want it? Ok, pick your dates and how many increments, and fill out all the—pop-up box, “Your book must have been…” and there’s a list, the same price for thirty days, and then you can’t change the price for two weeks after it’s done and… forget it, let’s go with the free days.
I could write a novel on my experience of self-publishing alone. I can’t even count the number of hours I’ve spent reading blogs and Googling terms I’ve never heard of before in my life.
Learning how to publish is a steep curve, but the promotion racket is worse! Then you have to build a website, make teasers and banners, and adverts. You have to run all your own social media, even when you know no one, and have no clue what you’re doing. You sign up for everything that’s going, and never use half of it again, but you sign up anyway.
After all those hours writing the book, formatting and publishing the book, then promoting (making a nuisance of yourself everywhere) the book – all the while wearing your cheery, plastic smile – you look up and realise… it all means absolutely nothing and has gotten you nowhere.
The truth is, the world is too big. It doesn’t matter if you write the best novel in the universe, if you can’t get it out there then no one will ever see it. For the girl who was taught that every time she opened her mouth and uttered a word she was an irritation, it’s very difficult. I am proud that I’ve worked hard and learned so much. I am a grown woman. So why do I still feel that I should apologise for existing?
“This too in time shall pass…”
“Ours is not to wonder why…”
The clichés mount up until you find yourself sitting in the dark at four in the morning wondering why on earth you bother. No one can take writing away from me, but why do I work so hard to do the best I can? I can’t answer that.
I’m a strong person, but I’m not a social person, I’m an observer. I was sent here to watch the world, not to participate in it. I love to watch and to wonder. The trouble is, I’ve spent so many years learning to be invisible that now I’m in a situation where I want to be seen, I don’t have the first clue how to do it.
Anyway, sorry for taking up your time. I’m sure that most won’t get this far in my blether and I’m sure that I’ll be embarrassed tomorrow for writing this. But getting it out there, freeing these words, somehow makes me feel less alone. So thank you, it might be feeble and pathetic, but gratitude is all that I have left.

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

stars

alone_by_miaboas-d4dwimh

Imagine waking up in the morning and feeling nothing. You’re not hungry or thirsty. You’re not dreading the day or eagerly anticipating it. You feel nothing. Now imagine this was a good day.
I should say up front that this isn’t a typical post. So if you’re looking for novel or publishing information this isn’t the post for you.
On the eleventh of this month we tragically lost a comedy great, Robin Williams. He was a bright star who accompanied us through life. From childhood when he was Mork, and the genie in Aladdin, through to the greats like Good Will Hunting and Good morning, Vietnam. He proved his breadth as an actor and never disappointed us. He was greatly loved and under-appreciated. As with so many things, we took his light for granted.
But why did we lose him? I began to list the victims of this disease and found that the list was too great. I’ve struggled with the idea of this post. Mental illness is one of the last great taboos. Even now we hear talk of not focusing on Mr. Williams death, we should focus on his life. Yes, we should. We should celebrate him and his talent now and for as long as we can so that our children and their children can embrace his genius.
These things happen, right? Except they don’t happen on their own. Picture yourself as he would have been, alone in that room, contemplating the end of your life. Feeling such hollow despair as to have it permeate your bones. I can’t tell you what happened in that room. I can’t tell you what went through his mind. I can tell you that he is not unique.
Depression and other mental health issues are vastly overlooked. People who are already vulnerable and insecure do not always have the courage to stand up and ask for help. They do not believe that they deserve it. Everyone else seems to be doing fine. This quaking fear that resides in your throat constantly reminds you that everyone else is doing great. Every other person on the planet can cope but somehow you can’t. You might look at your life and think that you have nothing to complain about. You may be married, employed, financially secure, so why does the darkness surround you? And it is darkness.
Sometimes it’s despair, sometimes it’s anxiety, more often than not it’s apathy. Sitting on the floor maybe considering your life and relationships, or your daily duties, nothing seems to matter. You don’t matter. Your life doesn’t matter. What difference does it make if you take out the trash, pay the bills… wake up tomorrow? Nothing matters. You don’t matter. No one wants to help you because you’re pathetic. Everyone else can go about their life and here you are feeling sorry for yourself. Is it self-pity? No. It’s the demon in your chest squeezing your heart telling you that no one is here to see you like this because you don’t matter. Maybe you would push them away if they were here but the truth is, it does matter.
But you’re ashamed. Oh you’re so ashamed of yourself. When the door opens and you have to venture into the world you paste on a smile because otherwise they’ll know. You have to be happy. You have to laugh at jokes, and offer some words because if you don’t, they’ll know. The world will know how weak you are, that you can’t help anyone, you can’t help yourself. If you don’t smile then society will notice the gaping hole within you that desperately wants you to open your mouth and scream. Scream out the pain and the hurt and the empty abyss that everyone else avoids but you spend your life teetering on the brink of.
Your hands shake, your sinuses sting, your throat closes, and the pressure in your chest is the warning that you need to get out of here now. If you’re lucky you make it to the bathroom where you can hide the torment. If not, you fake a physical illness and make your excuses. No one would accept anxiety as a reason. That clawing claustrophobia that urges you to cast aside all in your path to gain the freedom of air, outside, in the world where you can breathe again.
Except then you’re outside and breathing doesn’t get easier because nothing around you is familiar. Suddenly you’re lost and tired and you just want to be alone again.
Those are the good days. Some days you feel nothing, think of nothing, breathing is a chore, forget getting up out of bed, forget eating. It’s not a burning desire to die, it’s not a quest for redemption on a higher plane. All you want is to cease to be. You don’t want to go through the possible pain of death. You don’t want to cause your love ones hurt. You certainly don’t want to cause an international uproar of shock and surprise. All you want to do is cease to be.
I told you this wasn’t the typical post. Ignore it if you will. I know this is a sensitive subject. But how many times must we hear of deaths resulting after a battle with this disease? And it is a disease. It can be physical. A lot of mental illnesses are to do with chemical imbalances in the brain, that’s what the medication tries – though often fails – to compensate for.
Do you know many people ashamed of having cancer or other horrific diseases? It’s a disease you can’t understand until you have experience of it. Maybe it will surprise you or a loved one. Mental illness comes in many forms. It’s a secret, a private, personal struggle within a person screaming out for help without ever uttering a word.
Talk about it. Please. I’m not appealing to those with the disease to talk, though of course they should, but it’s not as easy as that. I’m appealing to those who don’t have the disease to talk about it, with each other, with a friend, with anyone. Get talking so that we can bring this disease out into the open. It has to be ok to talk about. It can be terrifying and daunting for those suffering, who already feel alone, to discuss and educate their loved ones about it.
We all have to talk about it. As often as we can. Talk about what you know of the disease, what it must be like to experience, talk about how you might help someone with the disease, research it online, educate yourself. We cannot allow this clandestine killer to proliferate amongst us.
Talk about it. Read about it. Write about it. Don’t be surprised, because next time it could be someone you love who needs help, do you want them to be alone?

xSx

Mind UK

NAMI

Rethink