This post was written four days ago. On that day I didn’t have the emotional resources to publish it. Today I can. I think the biggest difference is that the Planet Mercenary kickstarter is now closed. Even subtracting one of the list items has made that much difference. We’ll see what further difference is made when “interface with school systems and administration” is taken off my task list for the summer. For now, the words I wrote four days ago:
I am having a problem with blogging. This is may have been apparent to some who have noted that my posts have gone from almost every day to about two per week. When I do write, it is shorter and less full than what I used to write. I spent some time today listing the things which are making blogging more difficult. This is what I came up with.
1. I’m depressed. Yes, right now, this very minute. It may not be obvious in my online interactions or even during in-person interactions. I’m getting things done, filling social obligations, and going to all the places that I’m supposed to be. Only, if you look closer, I’m not. I’ve dropped out of things. I’ve canceled things. I let slide things that I would not let go if I had more focus and energy. My twelve year old has not done homework in weeks and that is squarely on my shoulders. (Yes his homework should be his job, but he’s more depressed and anxious than I am, which is part of the problem.) I keep doing the things which must be done in order to keep our family and business running. This includes doing some deliberate things to take care of me, because I recognize that if I break, everything will fall apart. But I’ve abandoned most of my creative efforts. I don’t feel like anything ME is worthwhile. I’m not writing fiction. I’m barely blogging. And every time I write anything I wonder why I even bother since none of it matters to anyone but me. Please note, I’m not saying this to ask for affirmation. I’m saying it because that train of thinking is a huge marker of depression. If you feel those things about yourself and your creativity, please consider that you might also be depressed. I hear that exact refrain from my depressed seventeen year old. And I tell him he’s wrong. He does matter. It will get better. He doesn’t believe me. He can’t. But he keeps going to please me. And I keep him moving in the hope that something we do will make a difference. And maybe if he is less depressed and if my other son is less anxious, then I might feel better. I’m having trouble believing that much of what I do makes any difference at all, but I keep doing things because logic tells me that actions make a difference. But all of that makes finding words more complicated.
2. I don’t want to be a burden. I’m aware that this miasma which surrounds my thinking is burdensome. I’m very aware that my bleakness comes out in my posts. I know that if I wrote post after post about depression, anxiety, parenting, stress, then it would be too much. People would go away. And they would have every right to do so. I don’t want to be that person who is always in crisis and who is frustrating to try to help because nothing ever gets better. And most days lately I have trouble believing it will get better. Logically I can see that things won’t be hard forever, but logic and emotions are barely on speaking terms inside my brain.
3. The Kickstarter. During the push for funding I want to be putting positive energy out in the world. I want to be expressing confidence in the project. I want to spill gratitude for the trust we’ve received. I want to share my excitement for everything we get to do. I really feel all of these things, but only in short bursts. And on any given day those emotions are hard to find in my brain. Instead my brain fills with the parts of running a Kickstarter that are hard. I am drained by the steady stream of interactions via email, Kickstarter message, Kickstarter comment, facebook comment, facebook message, twitter post, and any other internet-based communication method people can think up. People are happy about the project. They have a question. They have a request. Each person is owed a sliver of my time and attention. They are supporting our project, the very least I can do is spend a few minutes crafting a reply using my professional, competent, grateful, excited voice. Then there is the need for me to write my own excited tweets. I need to participate in spreading the word. All of this is part of my job as part of the Planet Mercenary promotional team. It is wonderful and it is exhausting. Lots of my writing has gone into email rather than blogging. I’m very aware of the dissonance if I’m attempting to put out positive energy around the Kickstarter via social media and then I’m blogging about how hard and depressing things have been inside my head. Blogging about depression derails the narrative surrounding the Kickstarter. It is bad marketing. Yet my blog should be mine. It should not be subverted into a marketing presence. I should feel free to write my thoughts. Round and round go the arguments. In the end I don’t write, because I can’t resolve the arguments before I’m too worn out.
4. Some stories aren’t mine to tell. There are a lot of emotional and therapeutic things going on inside the walls of my house. Exposing them to view might destroy some of them. Yet the various progress and regress are consuming much of my mind. I’m monitoring things, deciding what path to take, and weathering my own reactions to all of it. This takes up large portions of my problem solving and creative brain. Much of it would make fascinating blog posts, but I can’t write them now. Maybe later. And there is a distinct probability that if I can get my own depression to lift, I’ll have a clearer view of what I can and can’t write about. Yet in the meantime all these thoughts take up space in my brain like emotional clutter.
5. I don’t have enough quiet spaces. There are people in my house all the time. Most days I only have about thirty minutes between the time when my (anxious) twelve year old leaves for school and my (depressed) seventeen year old gets home. Sometimes I get an hour. For the rest of my work day I have to decide between doing something educational / therapeutic for my child or getting work done. We have at least two appointments per week, sometimes more. Lately a lot more. I’m also making appointments for myself, requiring me to get out of the house and spend time with friends. All of this chops my days into pieces. My work has to fit around all of these things. There never seems to be time to clear away all of the parent obligations and all of the business obligations at the same time. When I do manage to ignore all the other things, I dive into something restful (like watching a show) instead of something that would pull more effort and focus from me. I haven’t tried setting an appointment for creative time. I haven’t wanted to. It is hard to care enough for me to make that appointment with myself and right now I’d be unlikely to keep it.
6. I have too many jobs. Right now I’m managing customer support for The Out of Excuses Retreat, Our Schlock Store, and the Planet Mercenary kickstater. I’m supposed to be setting up the back end for the post kickstarter pledge system. I should be working on design. I’m managing mental health care for multiple children who are in various stages of meltdown. I’m interfacing with school systems and administration whose expectations need to be adjusted because of the meltdowns. I’m in the final stages of construction in my house as the carpet gets installed soon and then I can finally put all the things away. I should be doing accounting regularly and crunching numbers for things that happen post-funding. I’m teaching for my son who is working on school things from home. I also have to ship regular orders from our online store. Then there is the regular parenting tasks, enforcing bedtime, providing dinner, checking in with kids, driving to lessons, etc. Each of these tasks eats a portion of my brain space. Often I’m having to choose which thing to fail at. Having Kiki home has helped with some of this, but there is a huge backlog and things continue to accumulate daily. Every minute I’m aware of all the things I should be doing, but am not doing right at that minute. This awareness takes up the space where writing thoughts form.
The good news is that when some of these things clear up, it is very likely that writing will flow back into my life. That has happened to me before. It is the reason I’m okay with letting writing languish right now. Something has to slide, and I know that writing will wait for me. Yet the consequence of not writing is a feeling of disconnection with my writing communities and, more importantly, a sense of disconnection with myself. Disconnection aggravates depression. I haven’t found a solution for that yet.
After note: The fact that I was even able to write up this post indicates that some of the fog was beginning to clear. Me being able to post this also is a sign of clearing. I’m not going to read too much into it. I’ll take one day at a time, because contemplating more than that is not what I need to be spending my brain on right now. What I do spend my brain on is noticing that the emotional experience of my day does not necessarily match up with the facts of my day. When people say depression lies, this is what they mean. It feels like I’m doomed and nothing will ever get better, but I can clearly see that in a very short time I’m expecting changes. This is why I keep going and doing all the things. Also because in between the hard things, I get to feel flashes of the joyful things. I do feel excited for the kickstarter stuff. I see how well my fourteen year old daughter is doing. I get to enjoy my kids all playing together with my college daughter and her roommate who is visiting for a week. I am extremely grateful that the depression I feel is not a pit of despair and it does not wipe out every happiness. I’m aware that my life is a very good one. Hopefully I’ll find a way to feel that more often.