Writing: damned if you succeed, damned if you fail.

At least that’s the way that I feel about it. I am always so excited to start creating a story, but as soon as I begin making good progress the fear begins to set in. I look back over the words that I have written and realize that they aren’t awful. They might not be fantastic, they definitely need revisions, but they aren’t terrible. What if I mess them up? What if I continue to work on the story and it only goes downhill from there? What if my depression returns and, trying to power through it, I completely destroy what I have done so far? It has happened before. I have lost more words to those types of writing failures than to any other writing problem that I have ever had.

On the other hand, what happens if I succeed? I will be the first to admit that I battle mental health demons. I don’t want the spotlight shining in my direction. What if my writing actually turns out good? What if people want to read it? How would I withstand the attention? What if it was only my family that thought it was good? Could I even withstand the attention from them?

Indecision leads to fear of moving forward and fear of going back. It is easier to flog myself for the required amount of time, let the story die of neglect, and eventually start writing a different story when the desire becomes too great to ignore.

I would love to hear, other writer, if you have these types of problems. If you do, how do you handle them?

I can be an ass

Depression has ruled a major part of my life. I would estimate that I have spent half of my adult life struggling with depression, anxiety, social phobias, and various other problems that are often cloaked under the umbrella of “depression”.

While I have seen therapists and doctors, there always seems to be symptoms and maladaptive coping skills left over that emerge when I am least expecting them. The medication that I take has helped to minimize their appearance; it has even allowed me to lead a somewhat normal life, but when those maladaptive traits do reveal themselves, they are more likely to blindside me than at any time in the past.

I call those times when maladaptive traits present themselves to be a mind crash. I mentally fall back into a defensive stance and lash out at those that are around me in an attempt to protect myself.

That’s right. I essentially appear to be a complete ass. For no reason that the person can tell, I suddenly become someone that they wish had stayed at work instead of coming home. I am no longer the type of person that they want to be around; for that matter, I am no longer the kind of person that I want to be around either.

I don’t currently have a solution. All I can do is identify the problem. But this is one of the larger things that I still want to change about myself.

Suicide is NOT the answer

My thoughts are scattered tonight at hearing the news that one of my friends has committed suicide. I saw him three times a week, sometimes more, and never knew that he was leading such a desperate life that he would even consider suicide as a possible solution to his problems.

He was a friend of mind from work. Granted, we never spent time away from work socializing, but we did visit quite often at work as friends. When I would see him (and we would both have the time) I would seek him out just to visit about life.

It is absolutely horrible to realize that I was so close to someone that was struggling to cope with life, yet I never realized it. I read stories about people that have struggled with life to the point where they lost their will to live and thought that I might have been able to do something if only I had been closer. That doesn’t work this time. I had the desire, the ability to listen to any trauma that he was dealing with, and the availability to do something to help; but I never even knew that he was in trouble. It feels like standing on the deck of a cruise ship next to a life preserver and never realizing that someone is drowning directly below you. Not only would it have been simple to cast the life preserver to the person in distress, it would have been something I would have gladly done even if it was uncomfortable or difficult. Yet he died within easy reach of help and I never knew that he was in trouble.

I’m not going to sit here and blow smoke up your ass about how depression should be surmounted. Depression – being an invisible killer – is often worse than more obvious problems to deal with. If you have a broken leg, people will offer to help if they even think that you need assistance. Many (most?) people will hold a door open for someone in a wheelchair. We teach each other the signs of heat exhaustion and keep an eye on our coworkers to make sure that they don’t over do it. Strangers pull over to the side of the road regardless of how busy their day is when someone in an ambulance needs access to a hospital, and we don’t even know what happened to them.

But depression is silent. Depression is invisible. Depression is poison that wilts your will to live from the inside. Depression isolates you from the people that want to help you, then it lies to you and tells you that you are alone.

Depression is not a weakness. Depression is not a lack of will power. Depression is not a character flaw.

I don’t know the demons that my friend silently battled. I never saw the stumble that momentarily gave the demon the upper hand. All that I know is that my friend battled his demon into submission over the course of his life until he lost one particular battle on one particular day. That was all it took. If he would have made it through the night to fight again the next day, I feel sure he would have regained his footing and continued to keep the demon at bay.

It is too easy for depression to win the suicide battle. All it has to do is win one time: one little battle, one dreary day, one moment of weakness and depression could end your life.

Depression takes no prisoners. Depression offers no quarter. Depression has no mercy.

Please – for the love of God – call out for help if you need it. Call out for help if you think you might need it. Call out for help if you are afraid. Call out for help until you get it. Don’t give depression a chance to win. Not even once.

Major depression without the guilt

In the happiness contest that often passed for life, one person found a way to avoid the struggle.

As an atheist, I don’t think my soul’s in turmoil – or that I have one, or that my bad days mean anything except that my brain sometimes lets me down, as other people’s hearts and joints do them. As an atheist, I’m aware I don’t really hate myself – that the will to expire some nights is a malfunction of the circuitry, not evidence of self-knowledge – and rather than feeling inadequate, I’m amazed the software works as well as it does.