Eleven days ago I noticed something weird – I hit the end of the two hours I’d set aside for writing and I was a good 400 words short of the word-count I expected. Not a huge deal, all things considered, but I’d been writing at a pretty regular speed ever since I went back to typing manuscripts.
I shrugged. It was just a weird thing, and a little surprising after being so regular in my productivity, but I hadn’t been sleeping well and I was feeling a little uneven that week.
Ten days ago, I kicked off a mild depressive episode. My first since going on antidepressants back in August. First my sleep patterns went to shit, and then I found myself wanting to shout at strangers for the cardinal sin of sitting at the table next to mine at a cafe, and the next thing I knew I’d spent thirteen hours glued to the couch spamming my self-loathing’s greatest hits over and over and over.
The echoes of that are still bouncing around my skull. I could hum you a few bars of I’m worthless; I should not want; I should just lie here until I decay without missing a beat. I keep having days where the task of maintaining a reasonable facade to present to the world is moderately tiring, and it’s harder to hold my shit together and write, or go hang out with friends, or go to work and produce blog posts.
A few times over the last ten days, my life narrowed down to do I absolutely need to do this? No? Then fuck it, I’m staying right here.
And it occurs to me how familiar this is. For years, this was the pattern – establish good work habits, get shit done, then suddenly…self-implosion. A complete inability to concentrate, whole days or weeks lost to procrastination, not really sure why I was staying in bed, doing nothing, or disappearing into a computer game I actually hated playing.
Weeks of anger and confusion and fits of self-loathing, berating myself for the weakness of not maintaining a system that worked. How dare you want to write, I’d think, if this is the best you can do.
And for the first time, I get it: depression fucks with you. It fucks with your ability to get shit done.
Which, you know, is a thing that I knew and told friends who had depression over and over in the past, but not a thing I’d ever had any luck applying to my own situation until now.