“I have to get this book done. I have to. I have to!”
“But no one’s going to read it. You suck compared to all the other writers. No one even gives a crap about you.”
“It doesn’t matter, this book has set my brain on fire. It needs needs needs to be written. Now now now!”
“Shut up, lay down on the couch, and do absolutely nothing. It’s not like anything matters anyway.”
“Everything matters! All the freakin’ time! I never get a break! I’m gonna explode!”
“You’re such a loser. You’ll never amount to anything. Just lay down on the couch and give up, because that’s the only thing you’re good at. It’s all you’ll ever be good at.”
“What if…what if you’re right? What if everybody hates me? What if I lose all my friends and end up a bitter loner for the rest of my life?”
“It’s bound to happen. You might as well just quit while you’re ahead.”
“No…no! I need to do this! It’s in my blood. It’s burning my veins! I need to get this done!”
“Ugh, you suck. You’re so wishy washy and weak. It’s no wonder nobody cares about your stupid book.”
That drama, combined with an occasional interruption from my voice of reason, is on a constant loop in my head all day long. Depression and anxiety is no joke, folks. That lethal duo can honestly drive a person to insanity. If you’re unlucky enough to suffer from either or both of these mental illnesses (or any others), believe me, I feel your pain.
Writing requires an extra burst of fortitude whenever my illnesses both rear their ugly heads at once. It’s paralyzing. I’m afraid to write, yet I have to write, yet I don’t feel like writing or doing anything else for that matter. Wanting to do something and doing it used to be so easy as a kid, and now it’s all I can do just to get out of bed in the morning.
Depression is mean. It sucks the life out of you. Anxiety has good intentions, but it ends up being a pain in the ass. Caring about getting things done and keeping your friends is great until it turns into excessive, out-of-control, panicky worrying. Reason is good. It’s grounded. But sometimes it’s hard to keep around. It fades into the background whenever it sees depression and anxiety stalking down the alleyways of your mind, ready to strike.
Mental illness has many causes. It could be a hormonal imbalance, a result of trauma from your past, or it could be just the way you’re wired. I’ve always been kind of an anxious person, and certain difficulties in my past brought that tendency out and magnified it. At least, that’s my self diagnosis. I’m sure there’s more to it than that.
It always gets worse when I have a deadline, though. Right now, I’m desperately trying to get pre-edits done, but it’s not going as smoothly as I thought it would, and I’m panicking. What if I don’t get it done on time? What if I ruin the book while I’m trying to fix it? What if I piss somebody off by cutting out a part of the story they liked?
Truthfully, in the end, all I can do is try my best to do right by myself, my publisher, and my future (and past) readers. If I mess up, I mess up. I’ve got the “human being” excuse to fall back on if some faulty detail slips past my perfectionistic eyes. Also, now that I have an editor, the pressure is not all on me. An extra set of eyes will come in very handy for catching small details and smoothing out the kinks in my writing.
The best thing to do as a depression/anxiety sufferer is STOP, take a deep breath, and let reason take the front seat. Reason won’t steer you wrong or make you want to tear all your hairs out one by one. Reason will guide you to the solution. Reason will save your life.
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