Goodbye, November

A lot has happened over the past month. The most important part, though, is that I’ve been actively fighting my gray friend on multiple fronts. I’ve started therapy with a really good therapist, and I’ve also started medication, although I haven’t noticed any changes on that front (it’s only been a week since I’ve started them, though).

My therapist is pushing me to get out of my cocoon and try new things. She noticed how much I light up when I talk about my books, and at her prompting, I’m going to join a writing group. I’ve been wanting to find a writing group for some time, but all the groups I’ve reached to were either full or never got back to me. I think I’ve finally found one that might work, so cross your fingers for me.

Another big thing that happened this month is that I finally started my research on my dissertation. Step 3 is finally underway. I observed my event. Now, I just need to get some students to volunteer to be interviewed and then do some document analysis of their story prompts. My goal is to have all of those pieces done by the time we go on winter break so that I can start step 4 (writing my dissertation) during break. Here’s to hoping everything goes my way, because so far, not everything has.

Finally, the other thing that happened this month is that I took a serious stab at NaNoWriMo. I tried it once before and gave up about a week in. This year, though, I wrote pretty consistently until the week before Thanksgiving when I had a pretty nasty work week (doing my dissertation observation and hosting several big events). While I lost my daily writing streak, I still managed to end the month having written 34,461 out of 50,000 words. In other words, I’ve got the first third of book three out of the way. Not too bad, if I say so, especially since writing that same number of words for book two probably took me about three months.

November hasn’t been the easiest month, but I’m grateful that things are getting better for me. I’d love it if I could banish my gray friend by the time New Year’s rolled around, and while I know that’s not realistic, I’m just glad for every positive step I’m taking toward better mental health in the meantime. Plus, other things are going well. I’m making progress toward my doctorate, book three, and improving my writing. That’s definitely something.

Confession Time

It’s time I got something off my shoulders.

This year, I’ve been battling my old friend depression. I’ve been pretty open about the fact that I have faced depression since I was a teenager. It’s not something I love, but it’s something I’ve come to accept about myself.

Usually, I hit dips. Short periods in which things are harder to deal with, but I have functional depression. Basically, I force on a smile and fake my way through things. Part of my medication routine for my migraines is an antidepressant, so it helped me out of those dips whenever I hit them.

But not this year.

This year, the dip got deeper. I found it harder and harder to force on the smile. Once, it was so bad that I didn’t talk for two days. Me, the girl nicknamed Motormouth Mindy. I didn’t speak for two entire days.

Getting out of bed became harder. In the past, I could get out of bed at 6:30 a.m., so I could be showered and ready to go by the time Jeff got up at 7. I’d then use the next hour to focus on writing. By the time I left for work, I’d feel proud of how productive I had been, having written a chunk of my next chapter.

Lately, I roll out of bed at 7:50, right after Jeff gets out of the shower. I have exactly 20 minutes to shower and get ready before I have to rush out the door to work. I tell myself that the extra hour of sleep will help me feel more refreshed, but in all honesty, I crawl out of bed feeling more exhausted than I did the night before when I bundled myself under the blankets.

It doesn’t matter whether I sleep for 7 for 12 hours. I still wake up exhausted. Dark circles have taken up permanent roost under my eyes. My shoulders ache, and I feel like nothing I do will ease the exhaustion that I feel.

Even food has lost its luster. I eat because I have to, but not because it tastes good. In the past, when Jeff would ask what I wanted for dinner, I’d say I don’t know because so much was tempting. Now, I say I don’t know because nothing sounds good.

I’m slowly losing the functional part of my depression. I know it. I need help. Don’t worry, I know that, too. I finally gathered the courage to ask for help, because I realized that the antidepressants weren’t enough anymore.

So, why am I writing this? Because I need to acknowledge what you all have likely been seeing for some time. On Facebook, I’ve posted memes that absolutely were cries for help. Between Facebook and Twitter, you’ve seen me down in the dumps due to a string of rejections from agents. Honestly, outside of the pictures of Bitteh and Nevaeh that I post, I don’t know that I’ve posted all that much that could be considered positive for longer than I can remember. I could be wrong, but it doesn’t feel that way.

This is my way of holding myself accountable. If I post this, I have to go see that counselor later this week. That way, when people ask me how I’m doing, I have a genuine answer I can give them, instead of a half-hearted shrug. Also, I’m posting this because I need to get better. I’m sick of crying. I’m sick of the exhaustion. I’m sick of not being me.

Looking for the Light

Deep breath.

Confession time.

I have something to get off my chest. Honestly, it’s going to be tough to write this, but I know that doing so will help me take one of the steps I need in order to improve. Many of you who know me know may know some of this, but for most of you, the majority of what I am about to say will be new. But I need to say this. I just need to.

For more than 15 years, I have battled with depression. It started when I was 19, and at the time, it lasted about a year and a half. After that, I thought I was done with it. Since then, I’ve battled it off and on throughout my life.

Fortunately, I’ve had more good years than bad years. Many more good years, in fact. In all, I’d say that, over the past 16 years, I’ve only suffered from depression less than five of those years. For the most part, my depression was pretty low level. I could handle it on my own without the need for drugs or counseling. I did meet with a counselor once, and he was amazing (unfortunately, he works exclusively with UMKC students).

Which brings me to the present. For the past nine months, I have started battling depression once again. At first, I thought I could handle it on my own. When things were starting to get a little crazy, I would tell myself it was time to reach out for help, but then bad days wouldn’t happen as often, leading me to think things were getting better. It’s also really hard for me to ask for help, so when things looked like they were getting better, I’d just push forward with my life and hope that things would turn out for the best.

But they didn’t.

This past month or so, things have just seemed to have sunk even lower. While good things have happened to me, it felt like every time something good happened, three bad things would happen in return. I feel like someone has tied a weight around my foot then drove me out into a lake, tossing me into its murky depths. I’m under the water, thrashing about as water pours into my mouth, drowning me.

I know that, for many of you, that may come as a surprise to read. Prior to writing this, I’ve only disclosed what’s happening with me to three people, because I’m ashamed. Not only is it hard for me to ask for help, but it’s hard for me to talk about my mental health.

The Mindy who people see online and in person has been a sham, almost a pod person if I may reference one of my favorite movies. What better way for people to think everything is fine if I pretend that everything is fine? So, I keep posting links to geeky articles and pictures of cats, but really, all I want to be doing is lying in bed, hiding under the blankets away from the world. When things get especially bad, I want to curl up in the fetal position on the floor of my closet, where no one, not even Jeff, can find me.

Lately, it’s been hard for me to even pretend to be normal. Most weekends, I’ll get out of bed, bathe and dress, but that’s it. I won’t fix my hair. I only leave the house if we have plans or Jeff drags me out – last weekend, he had to twist my arm to get me to go out to breakfast. I have a hard time going anywhere on my own anymore. Weekdays, I do what I normally do because I simply can’t afford to lose my job, but it takes a lot of effort. What no one knows is how much physical pain I’m in – did you know that depression actually causes physical pain? I’m hunched over like Mr. Burns, because if I sit/stand up straight, I feel like a rubber band stretched too tight.

So why am I writing all of this? Lately, I feel like I’ve been letting a lot of people down because of my depression. I will be doing what I can to make it up to everyone individually, but I want to just share with my dear friends why I’ve been off these past few months. And if I have offended you in any way, I am truly sorry. Please know that I would never intentionally hurt anyone I care about. Unfortunately, depression can be a selfish disease.

The other reason I’m writing this is because of the fact that I am scared to get help. I believe that, by writing down my plan, you all can help hold me accountable. I have a meeting with a counselor scheduled for next Monday, and I’m hopeful that he can help get me back on track toward moving past this bout of depression.

I need help. I want help. I don’t want to be depressed anymore.