I has it. I’ve been called on it more than once in my internet life, but it’s too late to stop now, methinks. So if you’re not interested in learning way too much about the mental state of your favorite redneck urban fantasy author, you should click over to something else.

Still here? Sick voyeurs, aren’t you?

Well, here’s the reason my word count has sucked for the last six weeks – I’ve been depressed.

Simple as that.

Nope, no good reason, no inciting incident, nothing has gone off the rails terribly, in fact a lot of things have gone right for me lately.

It doesn’t matter.

You see, for those of you who haven’t dealt with it, depression isn’t sadness. Sadness typically has a reason behind it. “My cat died – I’m sad.” “I lost my job – I’m worried and sad.” “A schoolbus ran over my foot – I’m cursing in pain and I’m sad because now there’s blood all over my new shoes.”

Depression doesn’t need a reason, it invents them.

I only sold two thousand books last month, I must be worthless.

I didn’t get the lead in the play I auditioned for, I’m a terrible actor.

I only brought in an extra thousand dollars working crew for the DNC, I’m a terrible provider.

Please note that all of those statements are actually good things – but depression takes the good things in your life and spins them into crap.

Instead of thinking “I got cast in a play in only my second audition this year. The cast is great, the parts I got are awesome, and I’m having a lot of fun working with this team.” I got spun into other crap. For the record, I am in a play. The cast is great. I didn’t get the lead, but I’m the wrong age and race for the leads, and the parts I have are awesome and I’m having a blast in the show.

But depression lies. It’s a lying liar and it lies.

I know this. I’ve battled depression since high school. And I’ve always won. You know how I know I’ve won?

I’m still here.

My uncle battled depression. He lost. I miss him.

So I’ve spent the last month or so in a funk of not much activity, not much writing, not much promotion, not much of anything except going to a few rehearsals, teaching a few classes, and generally muddling through. I managed to shower most days. I managed to not fight with my wife more than once most days. I managed to do the bare minimum to keep moving forward and meet most of my responsibilities most days.

Which means that I won. Again. I started to feel myself pulling out of it a few days ago, and I can only imagine that it’s like getting pulled out of quicksand. The huge sucking weight of it wants to pull you back in, but you fight it, and you pull. I’m not back to normal yet, but I’ve had enough practice dealing with this bullshit that you’ll never know it on the street or hanging out with me in a bar.

I’ve dealt with my depression this way for most of 25 years now. I muddle through until eventually it passes. This was a medium-length episode, about six weeks. The longest one lasted for most of 2002. The worst ones were back in high school, when it felt so dead inside that I cut myself to remind me what feeling something felt like. I’m happy to say I haven’t done that in two decades.

I deal with my depression by reading. I deal with it by talking about other crap on the internet to people. I deal with it my way, but mostly by just putting one foot in front of the other.

I didn’t post this to be some kind of inspiration to others. Most folks with depression have it way worse than me. And if you’re feeling bleak, like nobody gives a shit and nothing matters, if you can’t hear the truth of the world through the lies that your mind is telling you – get help. Find somebody that makes it worth moving forward for. Find the person or thing that makes it worth putting one foot in front of the other for.

Mine’s cooking lunch right now, so I’m going to go be with her. Because I won. Again. And I’ll keep winning.

And my prize for winning this time is a trip to New York Comic Con. Come out and say hello at Booth #2167. I’ll be there all weekend!

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13 thoughts on “Oversharing

  1. John,
    First, *big hugs*!
    I wrestle with depression, too, so this really was like reading my own journal entry. TPTB call it “mild-to-moderate”, and I think about folks who have it so much worse and think “Oh dear God.”
    Oversharing? Could be, but not about this. Who knows who might see themselves in your words and get that little bit extra they need to win one more day. Or make a call to a friend, or family, or help. But just one more day is enough, some days.
    Meanwhile, I want to tell you that even in the face of your recent battle, you’ve been inspiring and encouraging my life as a fledgling writer with your own ongoing efforts and successes in all that you’re doing! Oversharing? Definitely not! Love hearing about all that goes into your writerly life.
    So, keep up the good work, and the tough battles, and I look forward to more sharing – and oversharing – online and IRL when opportunity presents.
    And, NYCC!! Totally jealous. Enjoy! I know you’ll rock it.
    *hugs* again!

  2. Thanks for sharing such an intimate part of you. Just know that you have many friends and fans out there wishing you the best, and hoping you know you can reach out to them anytime.

  3. As you may or may not know, I am a professional counselor. If you’d ever like some consultation I would be happy to help.

    Best wishes for you. See you in December?

  4. I have to admit, I am impressed, not many people are able to speak about a topic like this, openly. I understand you very well, I have the same problem and I struggle with it every day. I have to admit that I decided to use anti-depressants medication and I have amazing results with it. The problem is not gone but is much manageable. I know that this kind of medicine don’t not work with everyone and is not the favorite choice of a lot of therapist, but personally I have decided that life is too short and it is a great shame to live it like this, or maybe I am just lazy.
    Just one more thing, I know that in this moment everything look terrible to you, but believe me, it will pass, like always did, and you will still be a great author! Your work is amazing and your books have made my days just a little less dark, you have an amazing gift and I am very happy that you are sharing it with the rest of us. Thank you.

  5. Definitely one of the best things you can do to fight depression right here – be honest about it. Don’t hide it away and pretend it doesn’t exist. That’ll just make it worse.

    It’s a joy to have you around, keep up the good fight!

  6. “A schoolbus ran over my foot – I’m cursing in pain and I’m sad because now there’s blood all over my new shoes.”

    Also, that is one of the most hilarious things I’ve read in a while. Kudo!

  7. Hi John, first time commenter, avid reader of the Black Night Chronicles (more!).

    I also suffer from depression. Just being diagnosed seemed to make things feel a little better. It wasn’t my fault. It was something that could be managed. I should have done something about it sooner. Like Sergio (above), medication works for me. I’m currently in the process of weaning off (luckily it’s springtime here – winter really gets me). The last few days have been downers and I didn’t know why. Reading your post today has made me realise that it’s probably the depression. I’m going to talk this over with my partner and we can make the decision together on whether to up the medication back to what it was or not.

    You’re right, you do need someone. Half the time I don’t know I’m slipping. Depression is sneaky. It isn’t sudden. It sneaks in one step at a time, so you don’t realise it’s back. It’s why I’m so reliant on my partner. He’s outside of it and can see the changes. Even if I’m putting on a happy face.

    I just wish someone had taken me aside earlier and said maybe I was depressed. So when I was diagnosed and started medication and found it worked, I told damn near everyone. You think you overshare? Buddy, you have nothing on me 😛 I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me, I wanted them to know that I was, for the first time in years, actually feeling alive. I really couldn’t stop talking. My partner noticed a huge difference. I was more chatty and animated, not to mention more productive, I weeded the garden!

    Damn, I feel better already 🙂 Thanks 🙂

    Now, more Black Knight!


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