Writing and Depression

The stigma about depression and medication is very real.  The openness with which some of my favorite YA and non-YA authors have talked about dealing with depression, anxiety, or other mental illness is one of the reasons why I’m making this seriously personal blog post.

I’ve dealt with some amount of depression for a very long time, and counseling that I went to in my early twenties helped me learn techniques for managing it.  Normally, I’m able to handle my depressed moods very well, battle the cognitive dissonance with logic, and function normally.  But a variety of factors, including the recent deaths of two grandparents (one of whom I was very close to) and some other family stuff, have apparently upset my usual equilibrium.

I’ve been bouncing in and out of depressed cycles.  Jared has pointed out several times before now that they have been coming more frequently and each time has seemed to be worse; meanwhile, every time I started to feel better I had convinced myself that I was finally snapping out of it.  I really wanted to believe I was snapping out of it.

In retrospect, one of the things that was holding me together was submitting, revising, and resubmitting the plague novel.  When I finished that, I had a huge moment of ‘what now.’  There is a whole list of things that could serve as ‘now,’ but as I was going through that list, I didn’t want to do any of them.  Writing fell into the other list of things I ‘should’ do but haven’t been doing lately.  This had become a theme in my life–boredom, restlessness, insomnia, and not wanting to do the things I normally find fun and exciting.  Without that thing that had been taking up 2+ hours a night and weekend days it was like a giant gaping chasm of indecisive boredom opened up in front of me.

Meanwhile, I’ve run my blogging buffer ragged.  Resubmitting and generally being depressed have left me without any buffer at all.  Last weekend, when I should have been preparing my Monday blog post, I was dragging myself to social activities in an effort to combat my feelings of isolation and desire to further withdraw from my support structures.  And Monday, I was curled up in bed feeling that familiar crushing weight on my chest, but this time considering how I would kill myself (if I wanted to go about doing that, which I did not), while thinking about how screwed up that whole line of thought was.

I want to be very clear that I didn’t actively want to kill myself.  But this is a HUGE RED FLAG and a boundary that I set a long time ago.  So I made an appointment with my primary care doctor and last week I spoke with her about maybe going back to counseling, since I need a referral from my PCP for my insurance to cover it.  I really didn’t want to, but I made myself tell a couple of my loved ones what was going on to hold myself accountable, so I pretty much had no choice but to follow through.  My doctor very firmly insisted medication because of that whole suicidal ideations issue.  I’m not really sure that it’s working yet, but the act of taking action has turned this into feeling like a forever-slog until something I’m holding out against until help arrives.

And I actually wanted to make this blog post.  Writing out of desire instead of out of a sense of duty is, I think, a good sign.

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