Living With Myself As A Depressed Person

I struggle with depression on a daily basis. I’m on medication and attend therapy sessions, and even still struggle. Every. Single. Day.

The reasons are many.

The usual reason is that I also struggle with a pain disorder (currently diagnosed as gout and fibromyalgia, though who knows). I’m in pain constantly. Usually the pain is tolerable enough that I can go about my day, do my work, and be an active member of my family.

But then there are the other days.

On those days I’m a grump (and that’s being mean to grumps), can barely function (my mobility is severely limited and/or I have to deal with incredible amounts of pain to move), and coherent thoughts are a joke.

That depresses me because it takes me away from my family, which is of primary and significant importance to me.

The other big reasons are my struggles with childhood and teenage traumas. My mother died when I was eleven (there’s a whole bag of depression there), my father was a classic narcissist, and I was sent away to boarding school against my wishes at age seventeen.

It took me seventeen years before I finally admitted I had a problem with these traumas and that I needed help. These traumas are probably the root of my depression, though having been buried for so long, it takes a lot to get them out, identified, and worked on.

Focus on me today. Sitting in my chair, at my writing desk. Today is one of those days where I have no motivation, my passion is lost in the back forty, and I’m struggling to keep my head above the waters of depression before I drown in it and get swept away.

Days like this, everything suffers. My family, my work, my writing. I try my hardest to “just do better.” But it isn’t that easy. I wish it were.

Things That Bother Me When I Read A Book

So, I read a lot. Usually at least one or two books a week, unless I’m particularly busy at work, or stressed out with life.

Given that, there are a number of things that bother me when I try to start a new book. I’m going to spread these things out over multiple posts. So today, here’s my first thing: the line at which an author goes “to hell with the details of my world.”

To rewind a bit, I chiefly read science fiction and fantasy novels. Mostly fantasy, these days, unless I know the SF author well. In fantasy novels, I particularly enjoy an author who does really, really, really good world-building.

It seems as if there is currently a trend towards laziness in world-building, though. I picked up one book a night or two ago and read about five pages. I’m usually impressed with this author’s world-building. This time, I was impressed with the attention to detail, until we got to the religion.

The religion was Christianity with the names just barely changed. I was into the flow of the novel, the rhythm of the world — and then I was jolted straight out of it.

I immediately put the book aside and found a different one to read.

Not because I have a problem with religion, or Christianity (far from it, actually), but because this book is a fantasy novel, a Not Of This World story. I had suspended my beliefs to submit myself to the belief structure of the author’s world. The author had not led me to believe this was a post-apocalyptic fantasy (i.e. our Earth several thousand years in the future).

There are always little things that pester at me when I read a book. Spelling or grammar issues. Word choices that I don’t agree with. These are disturbances that I can usually ignore, if they aren’t too many or great, and generally follow the flow of the story. But something like this breaks the flow for me because so much attention and detail has gone into the rest of the world that it doesn’t make sense for the religion to be a semi-skewed photocopy of a real-world religion. Why not spend the time and create a brand new religion to go with the brand new world?

This has been happening more and more often, in my experience as a reader, and it’s a curious trend. I’d understand it if it were science fiction, as SF is a projection of what our world will become.

I’d also understand it if the story were cast as alternate history fantasy or such. Maybe this is a trend I’m missing?

In any case, that’s today’s thought from me to you on the things I read.

Managing the Things I Need To Do

I’ve always been bad at managing the things I need to do. I’m a procrastinator; always was in school and still am, to a lesser degree (getting married and having kids have made me grow out of it a little). One of the things I find, though, is that being depressed and going through counseling for all my childhood traumas is enhancing the procrastinator in me. I find it difficult to keep track of things; I have memory issues (sometimes severe ones) and I get blocked easily if I’m having a bad day.

This post isn’t to talk about all of that, though.

I’m trying a new technique.

I’ve tried all of the to-do apps on the market. They all have some great features, some bad. And that’s the issue that I have with them all: they are feature-rich. For me, I don’t need a feature-rich app. I just want something simple that I can write things down, sync it between my devices, and check things off as I get them done.

For me, I’m trying this: I’m using Apple’s Reminders app (it’s simple and it syncs) and a standard 8″ x 11″ yellow legal pad. The Reminders app contains the headlines of what I need to do. The yellow pad contains the broken down lists of each step that needs to be completed per headline.

The other things I’m trying is to pick three, and only three, things that I absolutely must accomplish for a day. On my legal pad, I write down today’s date (and tomorrow’s, and the next day’s, if I have enough stuff to plan those days), then I put down the three things that I want to get done. That doesn’t mean I can’t do other things; just that those three things are what I want to get done to call my day a success.

I’ll see how it goes. Definitely a low-tech, less-features way of doing it.

Taking the Bull by the Horns Might Get You Gored

But sometimes it’s the only way to get things done.

I’ve been on the fence about writing for awhile now. Lots of backstory (read: I have issues, some of the same as any writer (Dad says writing “isn’t a career” and was generally unsupportive), some that go a bit  deeper into the psyche).

In any case, I’ve been doing a lot of personal reflection and work with a therapist over the last several years. Finally, I’m at a point where I can handle all the voices in my head well enough to tell them to take a hike.

I’m lining up some writing projects for myself:

  • A couple of articles for WordPress developers (likely applicable to generalists too). One on project management, one on an undecided topic.
  • A couple of book reviews (one on the first two books of Brent Weeks’s Lightbringer series, another on an ARC of Jon Sprunk’s new book).
  • A short story that’s been burbling in my head off and on for four years. Writing and sending it as my application to Viable Paradise.
  • General writing goal of doing some writing every day.

My Only Resolution

The popular thing to do at this time of year is New Year’s Resolution lists. I’ve done them before and never really found them effective. However, 2014 is a little different for me.

Twenty years ago, I lost my mother to cancer. I was eleven years old.

I’ve always told myself that I don’t remember much about her. That I’d forgotten.

Well, that isn’t quite true. I blocked a lot of my childhood away for a lot of different reasons.

So, on to resolutions and my one and only this year:

I’m making a resolution to write more about my mom, here on my blog, and share the memories I have of her. My one and only goal is to help more memories surface in my brain and to create a record that my daughters may some day read.

Strange Horizons Fund Drive

The magazine I volunteer for, Strange Horizons, is running an annual fund drive right now. Details:

This year’s fund drive is underway! We’re aiming to raise $11,000 to fund the next year of Strange Horizons. You can read more and donate here, see the list of donor prizes here and read bonus content as it is published here. We just published Maureen Kincaid Speller’s review of Ben Aaronovitch’s Moon Over Soho. Help us get to $3,000 to read our next piece of bonus content: “Teffeu: From a Library at Taarona”, a new story by Rose Lemberg, with podcast reading by Anaea Lay!

Please, go donate now and spread the word! You can see our progress below, or on the Strange Horizons site.

New Site

I’m working on a new web site and had some inspiration last night (my insomnia kicked in, then my brain filled up the time generating ideas). I’ve got quite a bit done on it; it’s WordPress-based, several custom post types, still needs a few more extras and some theme work to finish.

I’m hoping to have something together by mid to late August.

I also got to thinking about starting a hosted WordPress network for writers. A lot of these things exist in other capacities, so I’m not sure how much interest there would be in it.

Tracking: Things Read and Written in July

In various forms (print or e-book), I’ve read the following in July:

  1. Parts of Indexing by Seanan McGuire (in progress, serialized novella) 223pp, so far
  2. Maggie for Hire by Kate Danley 288pp
  3. Maggie Get Your Gun by Kate Danley 264pp
  4. Maggie on the Bounty by Kate Danley 214pp
  5. Wicked as They Come by Delilah S. Dawson 416pp
  6. Skinner by Charlie Huston 400pp
  7. Hunted by Kevin Hearne 325pp
  8. Blade Reforged by Kelly McCullough 303pp
  9. Neuromancer by William Gibson 288pp
  10. Count Zero by William Gibson 256pp
  11. An issue of Locus magazine
  12. Clarkesworld magazine
  13. Strange Horizons fiction

Total pages read (not including magazine/non-novel fiction): 2,977 pages

Total words read (using the standard 250 words/page metric): 744,250

On the writing front, I dusted off a short story, without polish, and posted it here. For new fiction, I wrote around 500 words and generated a few ideas in my Moleskine to pursue at a later date.


New Fiction: “Wolfe Hunt”

I posted a piece of fiction today. I say “new” because it is new to the world, but not to me. I wrote the original piece of this about a decade ago for a creative writing seminar. I continued working on it over the following two years, then left it.

Today I’ve shaken the dust and cobwebs off to share it here.

It isn’t my best; it is the thing I’ve spent the longest on, though.

The piece is set in the near future, when the world has taken extreme measures to control childbirth and protect children. In this setting, the main character is a renegade agent of the agency responsible for protecting children. He has seen the devastation this “protection” causes to families and now fights to save families.

The idea for this piece springs from many of the laws that have cropped up around what parents can and can’t do around or with their children. Some of these laws are common sense, and thus shouldn’t be necessary as laws. Others are far-reaching and do too much. I am to explore what happens when we go too far with our desire to protect our children.

Read the story here.