I know I said I'd be posting about book publicity work next (and I will, stay tuned), but other happenings have derailed my sense of direction a bit.
Is it just me or was that one tough December? To those of you who survived relatively unscathed, well rested, and well fed, good on you. To those of us who came out the other end dragging unearthed childhood baggage and a two-week hangover, it's time to take care of ourselves.
I don't really deal in resolutions or self-improvement, but I do care about mental health. I'm trying to speak more openly about my continued work with depression. I find, more often than not, I end up sharing with people who have struggled too.
Winter is hard but this one started out harder. What set me off this year was an unplanned night of socializing at the start of the month, followed by a week-long bought of the flu. And then I took two weeks off from work. I was so much looking forward to my time off, but I (like many writers, I think) work best in a routine. I don't handle unplanned, unstructured days very well. Illness, phone calls, long afternoons spent chatting aimlessly on couches with family, this is where I struggle. How do people manage it? I'm not really sure. I'll take any advice you've got.
It was a holiday of strange thoughts and laboured eye contact. I have all the tools at my disposal to not be depressed. A loving family, a supportive partner, medication, routine, and exercise. I have apps and notebooks and therapists and people to check in with. Still, I found myself dragged down this past month.
So here's what I'm working on to help myself get up and out of bed in the dark months of winter as a sensitive writer type of person, who falls rather short of perfect (and is trying to be okay with that):
1. No drinks, no smokes. Live clear minded for a while.
2. See your friends and family. The depressive likes to hide to mitigate exposure. The world is risky, debilitating to the depressive. I will say: choose your associations wisely when you are fragile. Cultivate a reasonable sense of order. For instance, I prefer to have people over to my apartment when I'm not feeling well, rather than meet out in the world.
3. Insecurity is kind of forever. You'll always feel like an idiot when you are paid a compliment. Any kind of perceived win will never be enough. You'll always have to live with this.
4. Be around the dog(s). They are the only thing that makes sense sometimes. That's just fine.
5. Read, if you can. Read Women Talking and French Exit. These will remind you of what kind of a writer you want to be. This will make you hopeful. Hope is good. It’s the opposite of depression.