Sometimes, the light slips through your fingers.
Truth: When I received an email encouraging me to participate in #HoldOntotheLight, I immediately closed it. I didn't have enough spoons to read that much, to see so many actions I needed to take and hashtags I needed to use and social media badges that I had to spread around. Here it was, a great idea that would help people like me, maybe help people feel less alone, and it seemed like an impossible hill that I just couldn't climb.
That's the thing about depression and anxiety. It lies, and it can keep you from doing great things.
I've blogged on depression, on suicide, on my own origins story, which I also wrote about for my essay in Last Night a Superhero Saved My Life. At 38, I've accepted that I'm never going to be normal, that I'm going to spend every day fighting to stay afloat. I've learned the signs that predict when I'm headed down a dark path and the concrete steps I can take to get back on track-- exercise, yoga, meditation, medication, getting away from the computer. I know all this-- and yet it still gets me. I still fall into that deep, dark, cold hole where I feel helpless and worthless.
But I'm fighting.
The day I received that email, I closed it and walked away. And this morning, waking up to a sunny day that smells like fall, I had the energy and focus to open it and see the good it was doing. I knew what I needed to say, and I had the spoons to say it.
It got better. It always does.
The most important thing I can say on this topic is that whatever you're dealing with, whatever monsters you're fighting: You're not alone. You're not weird or terrible or crazy or sick. There is no normal, no perfect, no brain that's happy all the time. Especially if you're an artist or a writer, the flip side of creativity's coin is often a brain that has trouble calming down, quieting, regulating, sleeping, self-loving.
We're here, with you, fighting.
Look, I'm sometimes a mess. I wrote my first book in 2009 at the age of 31, and it sucked. By 32, I had an agent. By 33, I had a book deal. Writing has become my antidepressant, the obsession that pulls me through dark places and lets me dissect pain and rage on the page. But even having a successful career I'm passionate about isn't enough. There are some days I wake up and can't write a word and just flop around in bed and eat coconut milk ice cream, and there are days that I type 12,000 words and lie awake until 4am, pretty sure I'm having a heart attack and will somehow forget to breathe if I stop counting breaths. This is my reality. This is my cycle. I know that in February and June and August, I'll have a hard time. I know that sometimes I have to take Unisom to sleep. I know that I have to travel with my anxiety medication, just in case. But I know that I can succeed despite whatever my stupid brain throws at me. I know that what's to come is worth the fight.
I'm holding onto the light. Sometimes it's slippery and hard to grasp, but just reaching for it when things get hard feels like victory.