I am deep into the struggle with Book Two right now – I like it, I hate it, I’ll finish it, I never will, what am I doing, what is this – but I have thought with guilt about this blog just about every day. Guilt that is outweighed by the guilt I have for not being further along with Book Two (although I am plenty far in), so whenever I think about writing anything, I force my thoughts in the direction of the book, and so this blog lay neglected. Which is not new, I am sorry. I have snatched a handful of minutes today while I wait for the oven to preheat, having convinced myself that I can’t get into a really good groove with the book in the twenty minutes my ancient oven takes. So here I am. For now.
So. Somewhere in the last couple of weeks, fall officially began, the season of pumpkin spice everything and orangey leaves (well…not here…but somewhere) and cozy thick sweaters (again, not…you know, not here…it’s 80 degrees today) and all that fun lovely stuff. I like fall. When it does finally get into its proper swing here in Texas, it’s my favorite handful of weeks.
Followed by my absolute least favorite clutch of months.
My depression, while a little more manageable now that I’m not mired in the depths of a massive Vitamin D deficiency, is still not at its best in the wintertime. And this year I have had kind of a hell of a time with it already (hand in hand with my anxiety, so much fun), so one can imagine how I am dreading winter.
There’s so much I love about winter. Peppermint everything, the sparkle and shine of Christmas (I don’t so much celebrate Christmas as I do its appearance), hymns and carols, brisk temperatures requiring that I wrap myself up in my cozy collection of handknits. Ideally it would be my very absolute most favorite season and yet.
There is darkness there.
I know depression lies, and I know anxiety aids in its dirty work. Thirty years of dealing with it now, I know. I don’t know who I was or who I should be without all this stuff, but at least I know that one fundamental truth about it, and I hold tight to that even as I am hurling out all the hateful thoughts my brain brings me (like some sort of really awful cat, the worst kind of cat) in an effort to relieve the pressure they build up behind them. As if I could throw them out into the world and they would disintegrate when they hit the air. Sometimes that works. Others are a little more deeply rooted and take some extra effort to pull up. But I do it, I work to cast them out even as I know that anyone watching me do it must think I am the most gigantic over-reactive drama queen alive and I want to die of embarrassment but can’t shut up. I keep scribbling all the thoughts down and waiting for them to die.
They don’t really die, of course. In the end, none of them actually leave, they just tuck themselves back into their shadowy corners for a while and wait for another time to come lurching out and the process begins again.
In Definitely, Maybe, Yours, Alex’s circular self-doubt is something that was hard to write just because I know how real it is and the damage it can do to you. It was not easy to inflict that on even a fictional character (though I did manage not to saddle Alex with depression on top of his anxiety issues, one must draw a line), and it certainly wasn’t fun to dig around in some of my darker episodes to make sure I was describing his inner turmoil accurately. I held back a little.
I think that fact that overall I can certainly say that things are better than they used to be makes the episodes that do come around feel ten times worse. Like a betrayal. I forget, maybe, that this is a permanent part of my life. It can be stabilized but it can’t ever go away. No matter how much I have come to really, genuinely like myself, the whole brain thing is always ready to drag up everything I think I have done wrong or badly in my life and sometimes, it still finds an audience.
And in the wintertime, it finds that audience a little more easily than the rest of the year. Given how segments of this year have already gone, oh, I am not looking forward to that.
But it doesn’t mean I am going down without a fight. I have another book to write. I have the first book to still talk about! And god help me, I have too many books to read, you should see the stack. There’s too much to do. Sheer will and keeping busy can’t keep the creeping fog entirely at bay, I know, but I have more to hang onto when it washes through, now. I just have to cling to the rock wall with my fingers and toes and all my strength so I can ride it out.
Deep breath in, and…go.