Coming off Tuesday’s post, I wanted to write more on the topic, not only doing a deeper dive into the actual links between anxiety and procrastination, but also on my own emotions. Honestly, last night it came to a head while I was sitting in front of my laptop with the full intention to attempt a writing episode. I felt terrible. Not sick; only miserable. I had no reason to feel that way, yet there I was, ready to cry.
I didn’t cry, as if that is something I should be proud of, but I ultimately turned off the computer and went to bed, switching on an ASMR video from WhispersRed to calm my nerves, putting me to sleep.
This morning, it took me nearly an hour to drag my sorry ass out of bed after my alarm went off.
I am a mess. Or at least I am in a lull. I don’t feel that I have any legitimate reason to be in this lull, nonetheless, here I am.
Writing has always been a form of therapy for me despite my not using it to its fullest extent. After last night, I decided I needed to write something more on it. I needed to write my way through another problem; my problem being depression.
Interesting enough to me, this episode follows Will Wheaton’s recent admission on Instagram where he admitted that he had been going through an episode of deep depression, admitting himself that he also knew that he should have been happy given the evidence around him. Here we all are though, feeling depressed while the world moves on around us.
I do not talk about this enough. In fact, my own family knows very little about this. Many only found out recently of my deep seeded social anxiety, reinforced by the fact that I am very introverted with many of my favorite things to do being solitary activities: writing, reading, and playing video games being some good examples. (I hate online gaming too and have always avoided doing that.) These are all things I can do perfectly well while being completely alone. It’s gotten better over the last few years, although it is still there. There is yet much to continue to do.
Depression is a rough and simultaneously abstract mental condition that affects a large group of Americans (I am focusing on the USA as that is my home country). According to the CDC “During 2013–2016, 8.1% of American adults had depression in a given 2-week period.” That means that nearly 1 in every 10 citizens suffers from depression. I would certainly be one of them.
There are plenty of books on the topic, but to me the one that scored the most understanding headnods was “Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions” by Johann Hari. In a lot of ways, I knew that I fit the bill on multiple items on his list of the 9 causes. (To be more specific, the cause of depression is disconnection, and there are 9 forms of disconnection.) Usually, I could push past them, being one of the roughly 20% that claimed no impact to my life. How wrong I was though.
What I am coming to understand is that I have been dealing with more than a few random episodes. I often have brief feelings of hopelessness or similar emotions each and every day. It could be the explanation I was after as to my often having no motivation. Often, I can snap myself out of it by diverting my focus onto another interest. In other words, I ignore it. Occasionally that does not work, and these last few weeks it has been building to a greater and greater degree.
I used to shrug these occurrences off though as separate from depression. In other words, these daily slumps were somehow in a different category, disconnected if you will.
When it is as pervasive as it is, I shouldn’t ignore it, I should attack it.
An interesting approach I heard was the idea of taking on more responsibility. In the past, I would look at that idea, shaking my head with the idea that it was only inviting failure. More responsibility? I can barely handle what I have now!
Ready to dismiss it, I almost dropped that idea off entirely. A change in how I’ve been looking at the world made me change my mind though: taking a second look at ideas I don’t agree with. What it meant for this was that I needed to really look why I thought it wouldn’t work, why doing more would somehow only lead to more depression rather than fight against it.
Well, in the past, the more I do try to do, the more I fail. Two things were stopping me from getting a chance for success, much less looking at it with the objective of learning.
Looking back, I can identify so many occasions now where I had allowed my depression dictate actions that ultimately led me away from tasks. Even this posting once a week on Tuesdays was bred out of my trying to recover from when I had been posting regularly, only to slide back into a sporadic, random posting schedule.
After today though I decided that I needed to face this. While I was doing OK (not good, and maybe not even OK actually) in keeping my depression from impacting my regular, non-writing routines, my writing was wrecked. To me, this is something I have to fight against. Almost 7 years have passed since first attempting to sell stories online, since choosing the path of an indie writer. Little progress has been made since then, though I have made progress. The thing is, it’s so difficult sometimes to justify continuing onward with this venture. The tag team of depression and anxiety do not help. Even as I outwardly write posts about my wanting to continue writing no matter the outcome is marred by the effort I am applying to spin my tires in the writing world. Feeling like I am getting nowhere is frustrating. But I have to acknowledge that it is all me. It’s my fault. It’s my problem. I have to own it.
Ownership over it is one area I have shunned responsibility from. Sure, I talk about it, but I don’t show it. This is the area of responsibility I need to take. I need to take up more responsibility in my writing, such as that awful idea of learning to sell my work, or to get active in my learning to plan or outline. Any and all of these things.
Knowing that I am depressed, I’ve been depressed, and that I am indeed battling depression is a good first step in figuring out a way beyond this mess I’ve made of myself. While it may never go completely away, possibilities of learning to fight against it could arise.