Writing is Like Eating a Kit Kat and Honesty about Depression

First of all, let me apologize for the crickets you’ve been hearing around here for the last two months. I have a reason. 

I wrote INFINITYGLASS, beginning to end, THREE SEPARATE TIMES. 

The third try took, and I’m finishing up copy edits now. My new release date is August 6th, 2013, and I can tell you that after a whole freaking lot of angst and crying and super concentrated self-loathing, I am proud of the finished product.

Sometimes writing a book is like eating a Kit Kat. You bite off the chocolate edges, but that’s not enough. You take apart the crispy layers and lick off the filling, but that’s not quite satisfying. And then finally, FINALLY, you get to the crispy wafers, and the taste sensation is complete. 

Then you think, YANNO, if I had just taken three big bites, that sucker would’ve gone down a whole lot easier. And maybe, just maybe, my fingers would be clean and I would still have my sanity. Or, as my husband (unwisely) said about INFINITYGLASS, “If you had just done it right the first time, you wouldn’t have had all this trouble.” 

RIGHT after he said that, everything that had been on his desk was on the floor. It is a thing I do when he angers me. *I* think he’s lucky I don’t resort to pulling out his leg hairs or replacing his shampoo with Nair. He mostly just fusses at me, until he starts laughing. It always ends in laughing. I’m a lucky woman.

I’d mentioned on the Twitter that this past year has been rough, mentally and emotionally. I’ve never been ashamed to talk about my struggles with depression, mostly because so many of you who also struggle have reached out to me. *fist bump of solidarity* 

Depression is not a thing to take lightly. If you have symptoms (click here to visit TWLOHA), please talk to someone. There’s most definitely a link between depression and creativity. I know a lot of creatives who choose not to medicate, and many who do. It’s a personal choice and different for everyone – you do you.

I usually deal by using my favorite weapon, laughter, but it doesn’t always work. About this time last year, I went to my doctor, Dr. Who Gets It, and told him I was having a particularly difficult time shaking off a depressive episode. Like, I couldn’t. At all. Dr. WGI deals with a lot of creatives: song writers, singers,  and other artists. He understands I want to be on a dosage that keeps the depression under control, but that doesn’t level me out so much I can’t function. 

I switched medications. Two weeks later, I was a solid bruise. I have a bleeding disorder, and the new medicine affected my platelets. I had to stop taking it. Immediately.

In that case, cold turkey was not a good thing. 

It took me about two months to get myself back together, but it was a ROUGH two months, and the repercussions spun out even longer. Everything is okay now, amen. I learned a few things through the experience about depression that I want to share.

1) Don’t isolate yourself from people who love you. I did. I cut off my friends, and I lost a couple. I am so grateful for the ones who stuck around and tough-loved me anyway, who g-chatted, face timed, Skyped, dropped by, and texted. Y’all know exactly who you are. I also learned that when you get a little niggle to check in with someone, do it. 

2) Consider how you spend the limited emotional energy you have. I had to step away from social media, both from the relationships and the promotion – but especially the promotion. I had to let go and hope that readers would find me. My boys took precedence, and I have no regrets.

3) Get some accountability. I had tweeted something about the specific experience of writing a third book, and Stephanie Perkins saw it. She DM’d me, and then she called me. I’d only met her a couple of times, but knew she was a kindred spirit. SHE GOT IT. She knew exactly where I was, and she didn’t let me stay there. She checked in every day. I love her dearly, and I’m so, so grateful to know her. 

4) Balance. Balance. Balance. I still struggle with this. My previous MO was to spend days, weeks, months, writing ALL the books. Then days, weeks, catching up on ALL the correspondence. Then cleaning ALL the things. Then seeing ALL the people. Doing a quality amount of those things every day is my new goal. 

5) If you work from home, make an office space and work in it. Have BOUNDARIES. We bought this sexy red leather chair for our living room last spring, and it now has a permanent imprint of my A$$. I want to set it on fire. Arson is not the answer – boundaries are. I need set work hours and a space I can walk away from. If you do, too, but don’t have the luxury of a room of your own, close your computer and put it out of sight when work time is over.

I’ll stop now, because this post is long, and I need to pluck my eyebrows, pick up some vodka, and drive to Kentucky for the Southern Kentucky Book Festival. The vodka will remain in the trunk, JSYK. I hope some/any/all of my experiences will help some/any/all of you. If you struggle from depression, know you aren’t alone. 

And if you’re a writer, maybe ponder on how you choose to eat your Kit Kats. 

Comments

  1. OH MYRA. Well first of all I am so glad you came out of it. Secondly, thank you for sharing about this. I know I will be the first of many to say that EVERYONE needs to hear about each other’s experiences–it makes us stronger.

    Thanks again! Looking forward to reading the rest of your books.

  2. Your bravery matters, Myra. I hope you know that.

  3. I’m glad you took time with the kids, and that you are feeling better, and that the book is finished!

    I have mild depressive issues myself as well as migraines, which pretty much rule my life. My neuro gave me Pamelor, a depression med that works as a migraine preventative, and for a few weeks, I woke up happy every day and got up and cleaned and organized and was productive. And then my levels normalized and I’m back to regular me :D Anyway. That’s really interesting about the link between creativity and depression – I hadn’t heard that, but it definitely makes sense.

    Steph Perkins is pretty great (and super cute in person!) – when she was having troubles with Isla I was tweeting her messages about being calm and waiting like a good girl – if I’d known you were having issues as well, I would have done the same! Not that it would have helped, necessarily, but just so you would know that readers think you are more important than your (awesome) books :)

  4. Jessica Naccari says:

    *Hugs* I appreciate your honesty so, so much. You and your writing are an inspiration to others, including me. Anxiety is my daily struggle and sometimes that goes hand in hand with depression. Thanks for this post. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  5. I know exactly how you feel. I have bipolar disorder and am currently going through a depressive episode, but my therapist has helped me get to the point where I can control the way I think, even though I can’t control the way I feel. So I do my best to stick with positive thinking, even as I’m struggling with irritability and anxiety (I hate the irritability. Makes me hate people even though I am a natural people lover).

    But today I’m riding on Cloud 9, but only because my book landed a contract. Once the high wears off, I’ll probably have to get back to fighting to keep my mood stable, which means not doing too much and having to take naps to calm down from my writerly work. There’s also a possibility that my medicinal cocktail may be working. I’m on Trileptal, Seroquel, and Abilify (which is a recent addition. 2 mg). I suppose I’ll just see, but therapy is helping me do better while I submit myself to these annoying medication trials. What sucks for me is I’m a rapid cycler, so I can’t be on SSRI’s period, so it’s more difficult to medicate me. However, I have hope, even if I sometimes feel hopeless.

    It’s great to read the blog of another writer who is honest about her mental illness.

  6. Myra, I wish I would have gotten to know you better when I lived in Nashville…not just going to the midnight Twilight movies with you and Sally….though that was always fun. I’ve struggled with the big D for many years now, especially during the time I lived in TN. The link between depression and creativity never occurred to me….but it’s so very true. This post is exactly what I needed to hear today and desperately needed the reminder that 1) I’m not alone and 2) I need to stop isolating myself. Thanks for being so open and honest.

  7. *GIANT HUGS* So glad to know you.

  8. Thanks so much for sharing. I know it helped me and I am sure, your honesty, will help others too. I can’t wait for Infinityglass and kind of feel honored you worked so hard to bring us readers a quality story. You are loved and appreciated!

  9. Woman! Had I known, I would’ve swung by and shoved a can of Anti-Pity Party where the sun don’t shine! Kidding. Sort of. Anyway, BIG, MASSIVE, BEAR-LIKE HUGS for you. I SOOOOO know this, but I’m a writer AND an artist. Go figure… Definitely a tie to the not-so-happy thoughts. I’m glad you have an awesome support system. We need them. Heart ya sister!

  10. elizabeth says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this post. You have huge balls full ‘o courage. Not many people, especially people in the spot light talk candidly about depression. As someone who has also struggled with it throughout my life I appreciate knowing that there are other women out there trying to kick the big D ‘s ass. Thank you for sharing what you have learned, it matters and you matter. Major fist bump girl. <3

  11. Such a brutally honest post, and what else would we expect of you??? Love you even more, Myra! Keep on writing!!!!!

  12. I have so much love for you right now. I mean, I’ve always had love for you, but serious props for sharing this!

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