All of my life, I've thought of myself as a writer. It's been both a descriptor and an aspiration. It's always been a part of my identity. I don't think of myself as a writer writer. I'm not on the level of any published author. I'm not on the level of my two friends, B.C. Mathews and R.E. Bailey, who write and are published or in the process of being published. Hell, I'm not even on the level of that chick that turned that terrible fanfic into a terrible novel into a terrible movie. For the past five years, I've had near zero output. But I've finally started wanting to write again, wanting to create and finish something.
Of course, my desire to create never went away; I just couldn't do it. If you have any experience with clinical depression, you'll immediately understand this feeling. Because I have countless drafts comprised of four lines of an idea; I have pages and pages of draft material, scribbled on various online receptacles. And I have created and abandoned more story ideas than I could even begin to count. But none of it has been finished.
I was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2000. Overall, my depression is just who I am, a reflection of my genetic history, exacerbated by circumstances or changing brain chemistry. But this time, through all of its good days and bad days, started sometime around 2009. As I write this, it is the fall of 2015. Six years. And even though I shouldn't have to justify my mental state so my depression seems warranted, I would like recount the events of this time period.
Production-wise, it's been pretty shitty since about 2010; you can almost trace my productivity along a graph of my life events. For me, writing is an indicator of my mental state. And it doesn't sound gross as saying "judge my depression by how gross my apartment is". You can trace my mental state on this graph, the y axis telling of my productivity. And the curves you find would show the emotionally low periods and stable periods, with the plateaus being the closest I'd gotten to being content. Once I reached the level where I lacked the energy and desire to even clean my apartment, writing became a far off goal, my own pipe dream.Things like laundry, eating, bathing, cleaning... they're things that should be done, and became the hardest things to do. So this graph would also provide reference points for the times my apartment was dirtiest.
In 2009, I knew my marriage was failing. In the fall of 2010, we separated, and in June of 2011, our divorce was finalized. During the same period, my father started getting sick. We didn't know the cause at that time, and couldn't fathom the outcome. By October of 2011, just after his 60th birthday, he was too weak to keep working and retired. Soon after, he was diagnosed with ALS. After struggling with my impulse to just quit my job and move home to help, I gave notice at my job in May of 2013 and then moved. In February of 2014, my grandmother died. Not even four months later, my father died. And then after all of that, I started experience menorrhagia, i.e. nearly continual periods.
Finally, after having time to heal (and a quick surgery to address my menstrual issues), I seem to be on the other side of it all, on an long-sought and well-deserved upswing. All of my life, even before my diagnosis, I've been at the mercy of my depression and plagued by anxiety. But now that this low point has passed, I feel like maybe things will be better. For the first time in a while, I'm not just surviving; I have hope.