Depression Is Not Writers Block
In my last post, I explained how I expected to become a best-selling author within the first year after quitting my job, and what I got instead was a year of depression and social anxiety. This post will dive a little deeper into my struggles with depression and how I eventually pulled myself out of it.
I hope this will help someone who may be going through similar feels. I wish I had read something like this when I was at my worst. I know it would have helped me.
Let's Get Into It
I was majorly depressed after tossing my first attempt at a novel into the trash. I gambled everything I had on making a career out of writing, and it was neither easy nor was it a quick fix to any of my financial worries like I expected it to be. Having to tell people that I didn't finish my book was embarrassing. The more they asked, the more pressure I felt, and the more I put myself down for being a total loser. I was continually being told that I was a failure, and I felt like one. My depression swallowed up all the creativity I had left, and I became an empty shell. I felt uninspired, and I couldn't pull myself out of this sad hole I sank into. Instead of saying that I was a writer, I started telling people that I liked to write, but I wasn't even writing anymore. I had nothing left inside me worth saying, and I burnt out.
My sense of self-worth crumbled into dust
Money ran out, and I drifted from one menial job to the next, accepting minimum wage and sometimes degrading work so I could make enough cash to pay for my rent and food expenses. Things got tough. I shut myself away from the outside world. I deleted Facebook, Instagram, and I stopped accepting invitations to parties or get-togethers with friends. I didn't want to hang out with anyone because I didn't want to feel the shame of telling a friend that I was struggling, and I didn't want to meet new people because they were always more successful than I was and they would eventually ask me what I did for a living. That question terrified me because I had to admit that I worked in retail, and of course, there was that follow-up question: "But what else do you do?" or "What are you really working towards?" These questions felt like little deaths to me. My self-worth was linked to my job and to the amount of money that I earned, and these people were telling me that I was worthless, and that's the way that I felt. Every night I cried myself to sleep, and I hoped that I wouldn't wake up to see the next morning.
Of course, the morning always came, and I had to drag myself out of bed and pretend to smile whenever I left my apartment.
It wasn't a good way to live.
I felt like a ghost, and I threw myself neck-deep into whatever job I had at the time. I covered all the shifts I could, I went into work early and left late, I offered to help out after my shift was over and busied myself with menial tasks when there was nothing left for me to do.
My mentality was: If I'm not at home, I have an excuse not to write. If I'm at work, then I don't need to feel guilty about not writing.
But the guilt always came back
The thing is, I wanted to write. I love writing, and I wanted to be inspired again, but I didn't know how to do that. I thought writer's block was stopping me from pushing forward, but it wasn't writer's block at all. I was majorly depressed, and I had nobody to talk to about it. I felt alone and ashamed and very scared. I needed help, and I needed to accept that help from others. I had to open up to people again, and this first step was very hard for me. I started talking about depression openly to coworkers, and I was shocked to discover that many of them felt the same way- and most were in therapy for it.
Suddenly, I didn't feel so alone anymore, and that felt like progress. I knew my depression stemmed from not publishing a book, so I needed to fix that. I wanted to feel proud of myself again, and I wanted to tell people that I was a published author- but I needed to take care of my mental health first.
One of the ways I did this was by being more open and honest with friends and loved ones, and accepting that I could write another book, and knowing that I wasn't terrible at it.
I took all of 2019 to write Blood Lies and work on my mental health, but I was still afraid to announce that I had started a new project. I didn't want to tell anyone that I was writing again because I was worried I would fail and repeat my past mistakes and fall into another year of depression. I knew this was an old wound I had to heal, so I started an Instagram account, forcing myself to open up to strangers. I was awkward and scared in those first few months, and I immediately wanted to quit. I didn't like posting pictures of myself or talking about my writing goals so openly again, but fear of failure wasn't a good enough excuse to quit.
I continued to announce all of my setbacks and victories publicly, and I was pleased to discover a community of writers that understood my struggles because they've all experienced similar moments. The more open and honest I was, the more I felt secure with all my insecurities, and I slowly started breaking out of my shell. Strangers soon became friends, and a new support system arose from it.
Last year was a whirlwind of emotions, but now I'm feeling healthier and more excited. Yes, I still have some anxieties, but I know I'm not alone in feeling this, and I'm working on dealing with them instead of hiding my head under the covers. My plan for 2020 was to publish my first book- and I'm currently on that journey, but this year has been an uphill battle for everyone, and I'm telling myself that I won't go into sad-mode if I'm unable to reach that goal this year.
Which Brings Me To All The Lessons I've Learned Thus Far
1. Some things will just be out of your control. Learn to adapt and don't beat yourself up about it.
2. First drafts suck. Write anyway.
3. Fear of failure is not a good excuse to quit.
4. Writing is hard. It's supposed to be.
5. Writers Block is fake. Mental Health is real. Always take care of yourself first.
6. It's okay to take breaks but don't give up on yourself.
7. Writing is lonely, so reach out to people and stay connected.
8. Be a writer. Don't be a person who likes the idea of being a writer.
9. You are not alone.
Don't let depression stop you from doing whatever it is you love. The first step is talking to someone you trust, like a friend, a therapist, or a family member. If you truly feel alone and without resources or a positive support system, please call this lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention, and crisis resources for you or your loved ones. Professionals are there to help whenever you need them. For more information feel free to visit their website here.
Remember, you are not alone. You have the ability to heal, to become a better person, to grow, and to achieve the things you desire. I believe in you.