It’s odd. I’m a writer. I should be able to explain this. But I’m depressed. It’s a hard time to write in the first place, and then, to write about how sad I am… I guess it makes sense that it’s hard to deal with.
Depression just isBelieve it or not…this is one of the millions of faces of depression. And it’s mine. That’s me on Saturday, after The UK Games Expo. My daughter and I had a ball, but I went to bed Saturday with the post-con blues, and woke up with full blown, not done this for a while, “oh, I thought I’d seen you for the last time, oh well,” depression.
I have CPTSD, I’m somewhere on the autistic spectrum, I have anxiety and psychosis. Depression is a MAJOR part of my life, unfortunately, but, I’m not particularly gracious about it. Depression isn’t something we need to be gracious about, but… as a mental health advocate, I kinda feel like a fraud posting photos and smiley selfies when I feel like rubbish. I do want to talk about that later – it’s important, and it’ll be linked from here when it goes live. But, I guess this is the other side of it. One of many sides, I feel. You won’t look at me and think ‘that’s a depressed woman’. Not unless you see me in what we call my ‘meltdown moments’. But just because I’m smiling, or interacting on social media, or Facebook, it doesn’t mean I’m ok. In fact, often, I find that’s when I know it’s coming. When I have to start forcing myself to open my laptop, I know things are getting hard. I know it’s really hard when I can’t find nice things to say to people when they need help. I know I have to step away when stupid incidents wind me up to spitting teeth, and I DO walk away when I’ve had a week like this, where I was bullied. It’s not overly common, but it does happen. Add all of it together – the post-con blues, bullying, sadness and inability to focus, and oncoming depression?
That’s kinda a perfect storm for me to get into real trouble if I don’t step away and let the darkness pass over me.
It’ll pass, but it’s not the bluesOne of the conversations I’ve had when talking about writing about depression of any kind is that it just is. A friend that talked to me last night, when I mentioned I wanted to make this post but I was struggling with it, suggested that I should call it ‘I guess that’s why they call it the blues’. Other friends have talked to me about telling people about how I battle, how it’s a fight.
I can’t do that. It’s not that I don’t agree that people frame it their way. I just can’t frame it that way. Depression just is. It’s a part of my fabric, and there are, when I’m in less bad places, I guess, upsides to it. I understand exquisitely the depths of darkness and the heights of joy. I know it’ll pass. It always has in the past. It’s not easy to keep that in mind right this second, but, it does. I know it does.
Depression just isn’t….It just isn’t something that goes away. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t really deal tell other people how to feel, but I’m not really comfortable with the stuff that comes with talking about depression. So, I’m going to say, if you’ve read this post, please remember three things:
- I’m currently *very depressed*. Be kind, because I’m not in a place where I’m very good at censoring myself.
- I don’t want to be ‘sold’ to. I meditate, I use essential oils, I read and write self-help books. I know all of the suggestions that I’m to follow. In the coming days, I’m going to start pulling back, start making space, start going back to basics. I’ll probably talk about that later, but less social media, more real life time basically sums it up. Eat properly, and go back to a rigid schedule till I feel more comfortable.
- Finally, if you don’t have anything nice to say, please don’t say it. No ridicule, no bullying and please, this is one of the few times I also ask that you don’t say ‘oh, I know how you feel’ and launch into why. Knowing others are depressed (which I *know*, believe me, I know) doesn’t help me. I will take advice without needing people to explain why they want to give it. But if you’re struggling right now, I’m sorry, I’m not the person to tell. It hurts more.
When I’ll be backUsually I am gone for a week or two when this happens. Sometimes I pick myself up and get back into writing, or find something that I can be proud of, or things turn around. My mood is related – a lot – to what I do, what I succeed and how I spend my time. I’m hard on myself, as many people are. You don’t need to have depression to be tough on yourself.
But, living with depression when you feel like you’re failing…it’s so hard. Getting up and out of bed, cooking…eating. Even staying clean and brushing my hair…it’s all so many more spoons than it takes me to get to where I am just to sit down and do my work during the day. Work is…. daunting, terrifying, horrible. Even when I complete something, it’s never enough. Not for me. I’ve done some really amazing things for my clients, and I know I have because they’ve told me that I’ve done something amazing. (I moved someone from an Exchange server for Pete’s sake! It might not be a big thing, but I’m not Windows. I’m Linux. It’s a daunting thing to move 7+ years of archived emails. I discovered, as I researched that it’s not actually that difficult, it’s just…a bit…fiddly to get people swapped over for access if they’re not really technical, but we did it. People are happy. I’m even talking to people on the phone to do it.)
All of this is HUGE. I still feel terrible though. And a lot of this is my mindset. Some of it is worry that I’m doing stuff wrong, because I’m always learning new things. Some of it…I dunno. Some of it is just life. I feel like I’m not achieving much when I’m moving things around and reorganising my own stuff, which is what I’m doing now. But…I’ll be back. I’m going to keep working on my books, if I can. I’m going to keep the business running. I’m going to try and do what I can to help others, when I’ve got spare spoons. But mostly. I’m just going to work on resetting things. My meditation practices have slipped. I’m not exercising as much. I’m not eating more than once a day, most days. And most of all, I’m not interested in going and messing with my Cricut. We’ve got a new resin printer here and I’m not asking to unpack that. All I really want to do is lie in bed and wait till this passes. (and yes, I know that’s stupid. That I can’t just wait it out. I’m not very good at looking after myself, but food is one of those things I just kinda view as ‘I need to do this’ when I’m in this mood. I’m lucky, my partner looks after me, as do my kids, but seriously, don’t pillowfort till you feel better).
I did mention that I punctuate the phrase ‘if at first you don’t succeed. Try. Try again’, and I got feedback from people asking what I meant by that. So. I thought I’d explain that.
And maybe show off some new stuff at the end of the post
If at first you don’t succeed. Try. Try againOne of the things that my wonderful psych team (Dr C and MW, my psych nurse) who I was discharged from at the end of last month, worked on with me, was my mindset. And this really does say everything about my mindset, in more ways than one.
It acknowledges, in part, that I’ll fall and get back up, over and over.
It acknowledges I don’t get it right first time.
But… unlike one of the comments (which turned into some serious nastiness, so was deleted) I had, it does not imply I’m setting myself up for failure. It does NOT imply that I expect to fail over and over. In fact, I’m often pleasantly surprised when I get it right faster than I expect, and I enjoy that.
It’s all about perspectiveOne of the essays in one of the new books announced this week, (Miles to go Before I Sleep, November 12th 2021) is called ‘it’s all about perspective.’ MtgbIs will be discussed in great depth later in the year, I guess, as an ongoing thing, but the perspective essay has a critical point in it.
“It’s really easy to say ‘I feel positive’ and be lying in some ways. Mental health isn’t binary. You can say ‘I feel positive’ and it really mean ‘but I’m still ready for it to go wrong’. It’s not a betrayal of positivity. It’s practicality. It’s just remembering that on that see saw, you’re supposed to be closer to ‘positive’ than ‘ready to deal with’.” And I think that’s what I try to explain to others. I am upbeat, positive and often, just chugging away. But I am also often prepped for things to need adaptation. I expect to fail, and have to keep trying.
And keep trying…How about some good news now? I’ve got three books up on announcement for release right now. I’ve told my street team, and shared on my own personal profile, and we’re just getting my publisher blog sorted out, but… And miles to go, Before I sleep Kill Kit Killers – Book 1 And A House at War – Book 1, House Arrath and With Benefits You can read more about them on KushkaPress
A historyWaaaaay back before I had to be discharged from the mental health team locally and was granted the right to see a therapist in the county opposite, one of the things they put me on was a DBT course. It was ostensably because they kept arguing I had EUPD, and EUPD is primarily treated with behaviour modification and management, not meds. But I don’t have EUPD. I have CPSTD. It does also respond well to DBT, but only parts of it, IMO. One of the worst weeks I had in class, and when my partner and I realised that no, coming home crying after class wasn’t because I was making things better, I was getting worse was when there was a list in one of the chapters about everything you have to basically do in a day to keep yourself and your living space clean. It was under a heading of ‘mastery’. Everyone in the class started deriding the fact that this was in there, while I very quietly (at first) sat and withdrew into myself because I realised I wasn’t even doing the basics of self care (to be fair, the list included ‘moisturise yourself every day, paint your toenails if you’re a girl, trim your beard if you’re a guy’ and I got so wrapped up in it being an example, and the ensuing argument about it that I didn’t catch what I should have, which was ‘we make our own survival lists’. The hardest bit about missing that was also that I was called some really unrepeatable things by fellow class participants, who suggested ‘anyone that couldn’t do this was’ (insert name here, not pleasant, at least one of).
The basics list was bornAfter arguing, and realising I was arguing with people that didn’t understand, going home, crying, asking on Facebook, and privately feeding back to the tutors that I had found that horrible, and that it might be better reworded (they asked me to, I did my suggestions on paper, in private), I started thinking about what my list should look like. It became my back to basics list. And before you ask, yeah, that was the beginning of the end of me attending any group classes for therapy. I was lucky that the next team that got me understood and caught where there had been mistakes, or I might not be as philisophical, nor aware about it all. And yes, you DO encounter bullies in those groups. Sometimes it’s the people leading the group. The less said about that, for now, the better. Whenever I feel things slipping, or I start feeling as horrible as I did because I’m missing things that ‘everyone should be able to do’, I stop, I clean up whatever I’m doing, and I do my basics list. It’s not actually all that involved.
The basics list
- Get up and make the bed.
- Brush hair and teeth
- Tell Alexa to ‘Start my day’ (tells me the time, the news, and loads Headspace so I can meditate for ten minutes, minimum). If still unsettled, pick a longer meditation, or watch ‘The Wake Up’ (again, Headspace app).
- 1 walk, outside if possible. Alone is great, invite someone if not.
- Make and eat lunch, even if it’s a tiny amount
- Write 500 words OR design one page
- If I’m feeling up to it, bake bread, or make something nice for others in the house.
- Answer client emails honestly
- Tell friends why you’re not around if asked.
- Laptop OFF by 9pm
- Bath if stiff, feel like you need a clean or are restless
- Bed with Tempus, if he’s home (10:30pm)
- No tech at night.
Structure…mostlyI tell people that the reason it works is because I don’t do well with chaos and unstructured things, but honestly… it’s a checklist of things that are either ‘must do’ or ‘can do’ and if I don’t do the ‘can do’ ones, it’s ok. Not at the time, but one day I’ll learn to be gentle with myself all the time.
One of the biggest things it does stop though is being online constantly. Social media is a place where I can talk to my friends, but it’s also a place where I see things that make me unhappy. It’s hard to filter the world news, and the other things I’m trying not to see cause it doesn’t help. So, mostly, getting back to basics restricts my time online, which helps me at least work on stabilising my mood.
So, as a few of you have noticed, I’m already behind.
I’m not sure if it’s something to do with some last minute plans that were thrown in my path, taking time out to support a friend, or that I just don’t have a great grasp of time since the UK entered lockdown (what do you mean we’ve already had Easter? no way… wasn’t it just New Years?), or if I just didn’t practice great time management, but I’m a touch behind.
So, today’s titlted EEEEEK!
And I’m going to share a few tips of how I try to manage it, when…I get it right
Time management 101 – leave room
And I think that’s where I made the mistake. I didn’t leave room this week – at all. And while you can’t plan for emergencies properly, I always have a rule that for every piece of time I have planned, I leave 15 minutes on either side of it.
Got a therapy appointment? Keep thirty minutes spare.
Date night? Thirty minutes.
The thing is, I’m absolutely going to be pushing this to the limit, as today is the first official day of TM112, at my OU degree, for Cyber security. Which means I’m going to be planning more time, and putting in more space.
The other issue I have with this is it’s advice *I* give. I’m terrible at following it.
I was planning yesterday’s post to be ‘a day in the life’, but reading it back, I realised, I really should rewrite that post as ‘a day in dissaray’ because my ideal day in the life isn’t the one I live.
And when all else fails?
Like now? Apologise, work out how to catch up, and go for it. Seriously. Life is too short to punish yourself.
In my case, I’ll be doing my main blogs, and keeping the 26 prompt story to go back to. So bi-polarbears, here, my book blog, and, as Deirdre has injured herself, I’m probably picking up These our Fandoms too. Once I’m caught up, I’ll try and get ahead.
What do you do when life and plans collide? Got any hints?
As to WHY I got a bit behind? Normally I do my catchup on Sunday, but instead, I was in an Arboretum, taking photos, falling down hills (no, really, I’ve twisted my hip and scraped my leg. The camera is fine tho!) and spending time with my family in the spring air. The UK is coming out of lockdown, so we didn’t get to do everything we might have liked, but we did a lot.
(this is Batsford Arboretum, and these are unedited photos – my daughter, Artenapan will be posting some later on her Instagram, and has already!)
I’ve had many ‘this is my hardest’s to deal with – probably more than anyone my age has any right to deal with in some ways. But this one hit the hardest about three days ago, and I thought there was going to be a bit of give, a bit of wriggle room, but no. I finally encountered the words that just broke me in two. And I won’t repeat them. I’ve deleted them. But I came to a screeching halt, and I’m not sure how things will change, but change they absolutely will.
But first – I have a heck of a lot of grieving and coming to terms with things to do – and I need to build an actual, sensible plan to sustain my businesses. And I have to accept that part of that is digging out my work ethic and dealing with everything that’s gone on lately and putting things right. And I’ve come to the conclusion that to do that, this book needs to end. This story, no matter that it’s not a happily ever after needs to become something that we relegate to the ‘not touching’ drawer. Not everything that’s happened – no, they’re elements that can be reused. But the tale of the sad girl that lives inside her house and does nothing…that’s a bust. That’s so much of a bust we’re not making it past the first draft.
I’m not ashamed but…
When you’re where I am, you’re not *supposed* to admit bullying gets to you. I’m the moderator of one of the biggest indie communities on Facebook, I run a lot of things for a lot of different people and I find myself, daily, waking up and dreading the comments that appear here, and on the other blogs, I run. In my inbox, on Twitter, by PM on Facebook. And, in with that realisation is that I’m as unkind to myself as all of these people. My self-talk is terrible. I’d rather sleep (or try to) than work. And I hate admitting that, but my sleep is disturbed again, and it’s getting difficult to do *much* of anything.
I do have one ray of light though, beyond my family, who are just the best, and my friends, who equally rock, and that’s my books. I’ll be talking about them more naturally in the coming days, but for now, I just wanted to thank anyone that’s supported me as a writer. I don’t always get to write, but it is one of my few places of solace. And if I’m walking off this earth to another, I couldn’t do it without knowing that I was writing the story as I went.