Maybe we have the idea of mental health all wrong. I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health recently. I read a powerful twitter thread, I can’t remember who wrote it, about how hard it is to reach out when people are at their lowest. It stuck with me, and I’ve been thinking about it for days. Maybe instead of constantly telling people, we are there for them, we should talk about mental health more, tell our friends and loved ones they aren’t alone and tell them why. We need to normalize these things that have been stigmatized over the years. We’ve been trained to hide our pain. To pretend it doesn’t exist. Plaster a smile on our face and say we are fine. I think there are more of us who have dealt with depression than anyone realizes. This needs to be talked about now before we lose any more people we love. And take it further, if you have a platform no matter how large or small, it needs to be seen. We need to talk about what we’ve gone through, how we suffer, in a public forum and normalize these feelings instead of trying to have a picture perfect social media. I can tell you from personal experience when I have been down at my lowest I not only don’t want to reach out to anyone, but I don’t want to sound like an idiot. I’ve felt alone. I feel like I’m weak. I’ve felt like I was the only one who can’t get my shit together. And I don’t only feel like this when I was at my worst depressed. I’ve felt like this when I’ve had no motivation. I get inside my own head. I’ve felt like I am not good enough to do this. (All the imposter syndrome over here) I’ll get in moods and I don’t feel creative, and it’s hard to get it back when you have no motivation to create. I’ve felt like I don’t have any words left. Like my books don’t matter to anyone so why should I bother putting in the hours and hours of hard work. It’s easier to read and not to push myself to create. To not have to edit. That even if I have to write, finishing sucks, so why bother? I fill myself up on these lies, and then I don’t write and instead of feeling better I feel horrible. Because after that goes on for days, and I’m behind on my deadlines, I tell myself not to bother to work because I’m never going to catch up. The process repeats and repeats, and I get discouraged with myself.
I’ve been better about not letting this happen or get too bad, but in 2017 after the election I let it happen a lot. Between the stress of what was going on in my life and the state of the world, I just let it get out of hand. 2018 was better. I put out three books and worked on maintaining my blog and social media presences, but I’m sure the gap in production in 2017 put my career behind. It’s hard to keep readers attention if authors don’t produce. I feel like I’m coming from behind with each release, and I think a lot of authors feel like that. The market has changed over the last two years, and between scammers and stuffers and pirates it never feels like we will do as well as we used to on Amazon, which only provides more excuses.
It would be easy to quit. It would be easy to focus on my kids, and not write for anyone but myself. I have a lot going on with them and they are homeschooled. But I just can’t walk away. I have dreams and goals. I want more queer books and own voice books. I think I am uniquely qualified to tell the stories I do. And on good days I know I have fans who enjoy my books.
These are just some of the things I personally deal with, there are so many of us who deal with more and deal with it more often. When people are at their lowest they can’t remind themselves of these things. Our brains lie to us. It whispers all the things I’ve mentioned and more. Perfectly tailored to each and every one of our worst fears. Because our brain knows us best. So when we tell people to reach out when they are down, I think for a lot of us it’s impossible. We are already feeling weak, and stupid, and lazy, and to utter the words we need help to someone would make all those things even truer than we already thought they were. We need better solutions for helping people when they are down. We need to normalize our struggles so people don’t feel alone and stupid. You aren’t alone. I’ve been there. You are important. The world needs you.