Photo by Billy Onjea on Unsplash

This morning’s post went from routine exercise to full-blown crisis with alarming speed.

Everything that I loathe about myself came home to roost, and the weight of all my failures smothered each new attempt to write.

2019 has been a banner year for me and it’s only halfway over: I have lost 48 pounds, garnered the attention and friendship of some fiendishly gifted individuals, and have branched my writing out to new venues with great success.

None of that mattered when it came time to put fingers to keys in the rainy hours of early morn. Everything about me was pointless, cheap, and reductive. I was just some random loser trying something beyond him too late in his life for it to matter. In that moment, I was worthless. Less than nothing, a human pile of garbage without redeeming qualities.

My depression didn’t care that the weight I’ve lost so far is remaining off. I’m just a garbage person, my depression tells me, so the fact that my weight loss is based on long-term dietary changes and exercise is irrelevant. I’ve gone from 300 pounds to 252 pounds in six months? So what, no one cares.

This morning I was blind to everything but my own failures. My life was an unbroken line of extinguished friendships and failed enterprises, without exception. I was just as firmly convinced that my future would be exactly like the past my depression had convinced me was reality. There is, nor would there ever be, anything I could do to make it better. All I could do to find safe harbor would be quitting, taking shelter from future mistakes by the simple expedience of refusing to do anything ever again.

Writing is a pursuit of the mind. Writing while you’re in the midst of a full-blown depressive spiral is trying to bake a cake with weevil-infested flour. I only have my own experiences to work with, but the words I make when seized with depression are agonized screaming in text form.

That doesn’t mean you’ve an excuse to avoid meeting your responsibilities, however. Professional writers (journalists, successful bloggers, podcasters, authors) all have deadlines to meet. Deadlines don’t care if you’re upset, or tired, or depressed. They simply exist, like one of those trick birthday candles that won’t go out no matter how hard you blow.

This post was written after this morning’s festivities, because Friday is one of my posting deadlines. I didn’t write it after slaying my depression. I wrote it after cycling through all the tricks I’ve accumulated after a lifetime spent battling the same demon. The only thing that I ask of you if you suffer as I do is this: Be strong enough to accept your condition(s). Know your own mental health issues and accept that no amount of therapy or medication will ever ‘cure’ them. They are just as much a part of you as your love of video games or deep fascination with broccoli.

Once you have accepted your realities, plan accordingly.

Remember when I said I couldn’t see past my own failures? This is the oldest trick my depression has, and it’s one I’ve long since learned how to dispatch. Once I got to that point, I reached out to my support network. I informed them that I was caught in a tangle of depressive thoughts, and because of work I have done in the times where I’m not trussed up like a thanksgiving turkey, they were quickly able to snip the ties which bound me to my shortcomings.

Once freed of the distortions of my past, I took the time to meditate and recenter myself. I got out of my chair and moved around, did some stretches, and tried to busy myself with other tasks until I was back where I needed to be. Only when I was once again my calmer self did I sit back down at the keys. As I settled into the rhythm of sentences, I felt that today was a perfect chance to share what I deal with and how I cope with it. It’s a subject I’ve written about before, but it’s something which bears repeating. Because if there is one thing I’ve learned in the last few years, it’s this:

There’s no shame in sharing about our struggles.


The Unsheathed Quill

The Quill is the brain-child of Justin Wallace, an author, producer of podcasts, DM to an unruly crew, and nerd with a family of more other different nerds.

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