• The Beasties Return

    First up: I have no idea what I’m doing. I am just a human being hurtling through her life doing her best to not destroy all the things and people around her. That’s basically what we all are.

    Second up: There’s that creeping feeling in the back of my head again. It’s settled right around my neck and snaked into my brain. And I’m trying not the panic.

    On the one hand, I’m not surprised. Of course this feeling would come back. I’ve been compulsively scanning for this feeling in the hope that vigilance would prevent it from staying. I’m still hopeful, but who am I really kidding?

    Two step forwards, one step back.

    But I have seen the light, and I’m not willing to fall back down without a hell of a fight. Ignoring my current predicament is not going to be what saves me. Faking it until I make it isn’t going to do it either.

    Instead, I choose to face my tormentor with eyes open and teeth bared. This brain and this body belong to me. This is my life,   and I’m not ready for another two decades of despair. I can take a few days. Maybe even a few weeks. But we’re not backsliding all the way back to the beginning. I’m not going back into the corner. I’m not laying down.

  • Removing the Emotional Filter of Depression

    I thought back. I thought back hard. I was eight years old the last time I can definitively point my finger to a time when I was not depressed for a consistent period of time measurable in…weeks. That’s 1995 for those keeping score. For every interceding year, from 1996 to 2017 (oh god, 21 years), I can actively recall the sense of impending doom that’s always been there. It reared its ugly head sometime during the year I turned nine, and it never went away. Ever. For 21 years.

    Why am I talking about all of this? Because I’m trying to figure out why I’ve been getting so mad lately. Outrageously mad. Over ridiculously stupid shit. To be honest, I’ve been prone to rages in the past. But nothing like this since I left my teenage years behind. And it’s been very confusing, because shouldn’t I have a better handle on things now?

    Depression is like a very heavy wet blanket that gets thrown over your head and then lashed to your body. Everything just seems very far away, including everything that resembles normal human emotions. Normally when we speak about depression, we speak of not being able to feel the better things in life, like joy and happiness. But to a certain degree, it also applies to the worse things too: anger, rage, pain, sadness. I’m speaking of regular old sadness, because that is a very different feeling than the sadness we speak of with depression.

    My blanket got pulled off my head. And all these feelings started flowing through me dialed up to a relative 11. And when it came to managing my emotional landscape, I’d very much utilized my depression to help filter them out. Without that filter, I’ve been reverting to coping mechanisms that worked for me when I was eight, but not so much as a grown-ass adult.

    So now I get to sort through the last 21-years worth of coping mechanisms I’ve developed, and figure out how to tease them out from my depression. Which I can already tell is going to be a lot of work. But this is the righteous path. Like Gavin Rossdale, I don’t want to come back down from this cloud. I will do anything to stay here. Even when it does get weird.

  • Am I really just so ordinary?

    Life as a perpetually depressed person really distorts your view of the world. Also your view of yourself, your self-concept.

    As a not-depressed-person, it can be a lot to navigate. Especially when the story you told yourself about The Person I’ll Be When I’m Not Depressed is nothing like The Person I Am When I’m Not Depressed. It’s a little weird. Let me explain.

    I bought a planner. I purchased it somewhere between not being depressed, and realizing I wasn’t depressed. Shipping took awhile, so it arrived after the realization. And I’ve been using it. Effectively. And it makes me happy: sticking stupid little stickers in my planner, and color-coding all the shit I’m going to do, am doing, have done.

    And it’s kind of a lot like “what the fuck?” The Person I’ll Be When I’m Not Depressed was not the kind of person who used a planner. Not like this. And she certainly wasn’t going to get excited about it, or spend an embarrassing amount of money on stickers to do it. So what gives?

    I once read somewhere that the depressed had a more accurate self-concept and view of the world. The brains of the depressed didn’t sugar coat the world for them in the ways the brains of the non-depressed do. I’m not sure how accurate that is, but I’m starting to think that’s kind of bullshit. Because I’m not depressed anymore, but I am acutely aware of just how ordinary I am.

    And that ordinariness? It’s kind of depressing. Or perhaps more accurately: disappointing.

    Maybe I’m still on the crawl upwards. It took what? 18 years to dig a hole so deep in my psyche that no sunshine ever found me. I have to assume it might take me a little time to get out of that hole than a few weeks. But at least I’m not going down any further. I’m climbing out of this bitch. And maybe I won’t be so ordinary when I get out.

  • There are a lot things they don’t tell you when you stopped being depressed.

    No one ever tells you what happens when you suddenly find yourself in recovery from a decades-long depression. Recovery. That’s not the right word. I want to say remission. Am I allowed to use that word?

    Anyway, no one tells you what’s going to happen. When you’re in the throws of said decades-long depression, you just figure that when it’s over, you’ll either be dead or happy. And happy just sounds so wonderful and easy.

    Don’t get me wrong. It is.

    But there’s also a lot of other weird shit you get to wade through.

    1. Your relationship with food is about to change. I suddenly can’t eat the absurd amounts of sugar I used to. I feel betrayed by all my favorites. I purchased a chocolate milkshake from a local shop last week. Normally I can eat mine and finish off someone else’s. This time? Got halfway through and thought I was going to vomit from sugar overload. The other day, I ate two bites of cake and felt that was plenty. The food that used to soothe me no longer does.

    2. The fear of relapse is real. I find myself at random times assessing myself for signs I’m depressed again. I check on my mood. Check on how my body physically feels. Try to anticipate things that might pitch me over that cliff again. Why? Because I’m terrified. I’m terrified this isn’t real. That I’ll get swallowed by depression again. That maybe this is all a lie. Somehow I’ve convinced myself I’m not depressed, but I actually am, and that reality is going to come crashing in again.

    3. All the things that used to be hard are now easy, but what does that even mean??? I’m used to things being hard, especially initiation. I have a doozy of a ADHD diagnosis to deal with always, anyway. When I was depressed, nothing got started, and if it did somehow get started, it never got finished. Now, when I decide to do something, I, uh, just do it. It’s easy. Too easy. And I’m not sure how that’s supposed to put the last eighteen years of my life into context. How am I supposed to contend with all the things I could have accomplished were it not for the sense of foreboding that kept me paralyzed? What does that say about the things I did accomplish? Is the book I wrote more worthy now? I don’t know. I just don’t know.

    4. There are no scripts in our culture to help anyone navigate this, including you. I beat my depression. And I don’t know how to talk about it with anyone, even though I really want to talk about it with everyone. I did the impossible. I beat the odds. Any time I have brought it up, it gets promptly ignored in 90% of all conversations. People don’t know how to respond. This just isn’t part of something we as society have decided to deal with. And that sucks. It’s also possibly why the symptoms of this disease are easily ignored, and the amount of victim-blaming surrounding it is absurd.

    5. Your brain doesn’t know what to do with all the extra space it used to use contemplating your own demise. Seriously. What is my brain supposed to do now? If it’s not telling me to kill myself, what is it supposed to do?

    6. The anxiety sure is still here! It’s more manageable, sure, but it’s still here. I’m still worried about putting this post out into the world. It feels like a lot of navel-gazing. It is a lot of navel-gazing. And there’s a whole lot of bad shit going on in the world. Someone will call me out. Someone should call me out. But this still feels important. Important to me, and therefore it might be important to someone else.

    Also, on an ending note, finding yourself no longer depressed in the Trump Era sure is a trip. Sometimes it feels like my depression left my body to infect the whole world. There are times the world-at-large feels like how my internal-life once felt. And it’s especially weird to say “And I feel great!” in the middle of all of it.

    Strange times.

  • It Sneaks Up On You Quick

    I last wrote here over two years ago, speaking of my depression. It’s a post I have had stand by frequently in these past two years. Even when my Super-Boss suggested I take it down because, well, what if a parent googled me?! To which I said, well that’s kind of the point. Low and behold, my Super-Boss is now a different woman two times over, and I’m still here.

    Little victories.

    Except I’m here today, right now, because of a larger victory. Or more of a realization.

    I was drifting off to sleep last night when it hit me. It was subtle at first, like dipping your toes into warm water. And then it roared in like a freight train.

    I’m not depressed anymore.

    I don’t know when it happened. It could have been a week ago, or a year ago, I’m not really sure. But I only came to the conscious awareness last night, as I was snuggled warm in my bed with the man who will be my husband, and our fattest of cats. I’m not depressed. I might even, dare I say, be happy.

    I can’t even remember the last time I could definitively say this about myself. I don’t know when the last time I could honestly say “I’m not presently depressed” would be. Probably somewhere in 2007? Or maybe there was a flash of such a time in 2012? It’s hard to say. It’s really hard to say.

    My depression has been a constant companion of mine since, well, always. I was never a happy or content child. Puberty roared it into full effect. It’s always been there, sometimes just the a general feeling of malaise that persisted for years. Sometimes a more active struggle to just stay alive. Also for years.

    And now here I am. I am thirty years old and I am just truly here on my own. Happy.

  • For Your Reading Pleasure

    I doubt this is much of a revelation for anyone, but I’ve been neglecting this space. Badly. And badly is perhaps the largest understatement I’ve made all year. It’s been over a year. I’m too embarrassed to actually check, and I’m not going to put in some note for me to fix this post later with a more accurate length of time.

    So what happened?

    Well, to be blunt, I got a Job. A real, grownup big person job with health insurance and a pension and all the other things that make a job a Job. And having that Job made me want to die.

    We aren’t supposed to talk about that. I can hear my mother already hissing into my ear about how You can’t say that on the internet! What if you need some other Job in the future? What if they reeeaaad what you said? Which, I suppose that could happen. But does it really matter?

    I had a Job. And having that Job made me want to die. That is not an understatement, nor is it hyperbole. The Job that I had seriously made me consider taking my own life. It made me feel trapped and discouraged and like the person I am didn’t matter.

    I’m doubly not supposed to say that because that Job was teaching. Like, little kids. Like, this is how you multiply numbers together and why you might want to read for pleasure. I’m triply not supposed to say that because, despite everything, I like teaching. I might even want to do it again someday.

    But my teaching Job made me want to die.

    I have struggled with depression for more years than someone who is only 28 should. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t struggle. Suicidal ideation is as novel to me as eating cereal for breakfast.

    What if they reeeaaad what you said?

    Yes, what if they read what I said. What if someone finds out that I struggle with depression. That I have pondered the various ways I could end my life, both in absurdly creative manners and in ones so cliche they’re boring. What if they read what I said and realize I dare want to be around children. Around people. Around life.

    To which I say: that’s exactly the fucking problem.

    We live in the era of social media. We are to curate our lives into this rosy, perfect package. We project our best selves. We are eternally successful and happy and doing exactly what we’re meant to do.

    But what happens when you suddenly find yourself not living your best life? It’s not enough to curl under the blankets because it is just too much to get out of bed. You cannot just hide. You must disappear.

    And so I did.

    I carefully stopped talking about myself anywhere. I neglected this blog. I let my business venture die. I stopped responding to email. I ceased updating Facebook. If anyone asked, I said I was happier living my life than documenting. Never mind that I was barely breathing, let alone living.

    Saying ‘I am depressed’ is the unspeakable secret. I’m not living the best life. I’m not doing okay. It’s not so much that I want to die, I just wish I didn’t exist.

    What if they reeeaaad what you said?

    I think being a grownup with an important Job is the loneliest I have ever felt. It brought me the furthest I have ever been from myself. The depression that settled over me was unlike the depression I have come to call ‘normal life.’ It sucked every ounce of desire from my body. I no longer cared I hated my life. I no longer cared the artist in me was choking. I no longer cared to be seen. I made myself smaller. I stripped away everything, including the thing that has always been my greatest asset: my voice.

    And fuck that.

    What if they reeeaaad what you said?

    Fuck all of this bullshit. I don’t want to be silent anymore. I don’t want to sit here, biting my fingernails, worrying about what if someone reads something I wrote.

    Isn’t that the whole point? Isn’t that the whole goddamn point?

    In case you’re wondering, I feel a lot better now. Now that my Job is not my job. I am slowly finding my way back to a place where I can confidently say my name and say I am a writer.

    Mom, you don’t understand. I am not ashamed of myself anymore. I want them to read what I said.

  • Hallelujah, Summer is HERE!

    By far, the single greatest perk to working in the public school system is the temporary unemployment we call Summer. After a particularly brutal winter, (and I say this as someone who spent three beyond-brutal Februarys in Northern Michigan), it has often felt like this day would never come. But my backyard is full of greenery, and my Summer Non-negotiable is in the mail.

    I made the decision back in April that summer without a hammock would be a total failure. By this time next week, I should be lounging under the trees. Hammocks have always been my favorite. When we were in Key West three years ago, we spent more time in the hammock at our B&B than doing anything anything else. Since my schedule with Second City (oh right, I’m doing some writing workshops with Second City this year, heyo!) precludes any real summer trips for us, I decided investing in a hammock could bring the serenity of travel to us.

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  • 2014 First Quarter Update

    Oh man. Sometimes you blink and suddenly the year is almost a quarter of the way through. How did that happen? No seriously, how?

    In my attempt to be more organized and more adult-like, I think I’m going to start regularly summarizing all the good things that have been happening to increase gratitude, and take stock of all the challenges I’ve overcome to feel awesome about doing stuff. Because I’m beginning to realize I’m a lot more capable than I give myself credit for. So here we go. Read more

  • Three Days of Night is Now Available!

    I’ve been attempting to play the slow game of book-selling. In what may or may not be viewed as somewhat dickish behavior, I have purposefully been letting the news about my novella release come in dribs and drabs. If I’m completely honest, this may be rooted in a bit of fear. Fear of what, I’m not sure. But sometimes we get afraid of our successes, and this might be that for me.

    Anyways, the happy news is that Three Days of Night is available on Amazon. I’ve already had some success with it, which is incredible. It’s been on two Top 100 lists, and still clings onto one of them. I’ve also already made back a little more than 10% of the money I sunk into its publication, so that’s reassuring. I’m optimistic that I can break even on it before the year ends. What? I never said I was an optimistic optimist.

  • A Cover for Three Days of Night

    No time like the present, I suppose. I’ve been sitting on this for quite awhile now, and I’m not really sure why.

    I think it’s about time I share this with everyone. It’s here! My cover for Three Days of Night is at long last here! And yes, that means the book itself is almost here, too. We’re talking February. And that’s real. The proof is back, the back matter is written, the appropriate paperwork is complete. All I need is to find the courage to kick the book out of the nest and hope it flies.

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