Sorry for the lack of posting. It’s been a rough couple of weeks. The short version is that some things fell through that I was counting on, my beloved cat is going to have to be put to sleep, and I just haven’t been up to blogging. Or writing. Or showering.
Last month, when I published Grey Magic, I crossed the line from amateur hobbyist to professional for-real writer. I may not have lit up the bestseller lists, but I’m a full-time writer. Even though I set them myself, I have deadlines. In fact, I’m supposed to be getting a new book out in a month’s time. I should be writing, blogging, networking, and researching for a minimum of eight hours a day, five days a week. What have I been doing instead? TV and craft projects.
Creativity seems to go together with mental illness. They’re like peanut butter and chocolate, except replace the peanut butter with despair and eat all the chocolate in a dark room while crying. I’ve struggled with depression since I was a teenager. If you’ve never experienced it, depression robs you of the ability to do the things that would help you feel better. While you know, academically, that exercise, healthy food, and socialization would improve your mood, depression makes even getting out of bed a herculean task. The awful paradox, of course, is that the longer you stay in bed, the worse everything gets.
I don’t have the luxury of wallowing in self-pity. Even though I’d much rather be curled up in bed with a stack of comic books and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, I have to get back to work. If, like me, you struggle with depression, here are some steps that have helped me.
1. Get some sunshine. Fresh air is good for you, and so is vitamin D. Your body can’t produce it without some exposure to UVB rays.
2. Take a walk. While you’re outside, you might as well take a walk around the block. Endorphins produced by exercise will elevate your mood, and the increased oxygen to your brain may help lift the fog.
3. Read. Even if you don’t feel up to writing, read a book. One of two things may happen: either the book is so good that you’re inspired, or else it’s so bad that you get angry because you could do so much better than the no-talent hack.
4. Write it out. In college, my creative writing teacher told me that sometimes you just need to write it out. Drain all the darkness and pain onto the page. Working out your issues in the safety of a fictional setting can be very therapeutic.
5. Get help. Mental illness is serious business. If you had a broken bone, no one would tell you to just get over it, and yet too many people in our lives can’t understand why we don’t just cheer ourselves up if we’re sad. If you can’t take it anymore, please talk to a friend or family member, visit a therapist, or join an online support group.
Believe me, I know how hard it is. But once you take the first step, the second becomes easier. If you need me, I’ll be working on The Ghosts of Evergreen.