Staring at Page 186…

Here I am, staring at page 186 in my latest manuscript…for the past month. I was moving along at a fast pace, churning out 2000-5000 words a day on this first draft of my latest novel. I had goals! Let’s see: To be done with draft v001 by the end of October. Send it off to my first betas. Get feedback. Revise in November (even though my manuscripts have always taken me months and months to revise and polish…but I had a new method of crafting charts/characters/plots to streamline the revision process). Submit to my editor by December/January.

I had a plan. Then life hit.

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Many artists and creatives struggle with daily mental illness such as depression or anxiety. I’m nearly forty years old and have suffered with both most of my life. I’m still conquering my demons, healing new and old wounds, and working on my inner self-talk. Recently life got “lifey” and my plan—yeah, it crashed and burned. I went from high output to a dead stop. Granted, perhaps I saw this coming as I’ve been going through several life/career transitions and I’ve been grooving in survival mode for a few years. I usually keep myself very busy…so busy that the depression and anxiety can remain hidden, its claws safely shackled behind closed doors. However, that only works for a while. Then it (“life”) all came at once—I jumped into the deep end without the required gulp of air needed when you drop down 12 feet to the bottom of the pool.

Digging into the heart of the issue is tough and can seem impossible. Recently a friend shared the Hilarious World of Depression podcasts with me (and she had no idea what I was currently going through). At first I saw it and thought, “How can depression be funny?” Obviously the podcasts are not angled that way. In fact, I listened to a few and found myself nodding in agreement.

So why am I writing this post? First, to boost my monthly word count. Joking aside, well, I wrote it to show that like many others out there, you are not alone in your struggles. Mental illness is not a light matter.

Please know that there are resources out there for you. Text 741741 or call the Suicide Prevention number 1-800-273-8255 to speak to someone if you are on the ledge. Call a friend, family member, or spiritual mentor.

Seek out friends, professionals, and medicine if needed. Telling a person who’s depressed to just suck it up, get out of the house, exercise, just hop on the horse again, or keep busy…great advice, but we all know that it’s not that simple.

It sounds counter-intuitive but one way for me to help myself is to reach out to others who are in the same boat and help them. (Hence this post). For example, I’ve learned through my own journeys, such as parenting a special needs child, that when I need help, the best thing is to first get help where needed (friends, professionals, etc.) and not keep the pain bottled up, and second, to reach out to others who may also be in need. Just a year ago, I was seeking friends who were walking the same parenting journey, so I created a local Facebook group for just that…and we have over 350 people in the group, from parents to educators, all sharing and supporting.

So recently, as I deal with anxiety, turbulent waters, and transitions, I’ve reached out to friends who I know I can count on…and I’m reaching out to you in the hopes that my words will provide comfort and support if you are struggling as well. You are not alone. You are worthy. You are important. You can get through this.

After a few weeks at the dark bottom of the deep end, I can see the light at the surface. It may be a long swim up, but I soon hope to be no longer staring at page 186…

Bring on page 187 and beyond and hopefully I will burst through the surface of that water and take another gulp of fresh air.

Always with love,

Jean

Two songs that help me get up each day and empower me with the ability to change impossible to possible:

Gym Class Heroes “The Fighter”

Andra Day’s “Rise Up”

"Rise Up" Lyrics (by Andra Day)

You're broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry-go-round
And you can't find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains

And I'll rise up
I'll rise like the day
I'll rise up
I'll rise unafraid
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousand times again
And I'll rise up
High like the waves
I'll rise up
In spite of the ache
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousand times again
For you oh oh oh oh oh [4x]

When the silence isn't quiet
And it feels like it's getting hard to breathe
And I know you feel like dying
But I promise we'll take the world to its feet
And move mountains
Bring it to its feet
And move mountains
And I'll rise up
I'll rise like the day
I'll rise up
I'll rise unafraid
I'll rise up
And I'll do it a thousand times again
For you oh oh oh oh oh [4x]

All we need, all we need is hope
And for that we have each other
And for that we have each other
And we will rise
We will rise
We'll rise, oh oh
We'll rise

I'll rise up
Rise like the day
I'll rise up
In spite of the ache
I will rise a thousand times again
And we'll rise up
High like the waves
We'll rise up
In spite of the ache
We'll rise up
And we'll do it a thousand times again
For you oh oh oh oh oh [4x]