Depression and Writing

Depression is hitting me hard. I think it’s my symptom/condition that I have the hardest time accepting. It’s not glamorous, it’s never fun and never makes you feel special. It always makes me feel like I’m worthless and useless. As an author, this preys on my natural beliefs.

You see, I tend to see myself as a vessel for my stories. But combined with my depression, I feel like nothing BUT a vessel. I feel like I’m nothing without them.

The sad truth is that writing is my whole life. It’s me. It’s been my refuge since childhood, where it suddenly filled a void within me that hurt so badly until then. Ever since I started writing, my days rotate around it. As a kid, I would squeeze it in whenever, would draw my characters everywhere, and obsessed over them.

Now, I wake up thinking of my novels. I spend my mornings wondering what I’ll do until I get the chance to write. My whole day is just spent waiting until the right time to write. I know I dont have the mental energy to write all day, but I wish I could. Already I love writing 5 hours a day, and feel bad if I “waste” even one of those hours not hammering out words.

I know this isn’t healthy, but it is what it is. My writing is my life. The only other thing more important is my wife and my relatives. Literally, unless it’s a basic need, everything else feels secondary. I dont want to travel, I dont want a career, I just want to be good at writing and do my stories justice. I want to accomplish what this drive in me is calling for.

But when depression hits, as it does now, I cant write. Every word hurts, I cant think, and then everything that makes me ‘me’ seems to crumble away. What use am I if I cant write? Not being able to write for even one day is a terrible blow. What if my stories are terribly written? What good am I if i can’t get my stories out there properly, to those who need to read them? I know it sounds dramatic, but not being able to write feels like a poisonous sin that will destroy me.

I know, in some way, that my belief of me being just a vessel for writing is bad for me. I need to see myself as more. But how do I do that? It’s like seeing yourself beyond an addiction, in some way.

And then, what’s wrong with this view, if it gives me purpose and value, even in some small way? I know I should see myself as more, but what if I dont feel like more? I feel like so much in my life just points towards writing, and like it’s the cornerstone of my life. Where would I be without it?

I know, in some factual way, that I am a person without my writing. I’ve experienced that, by having my spiritual projects. But… I just feel like more with my writing. I feel this compulsion and a sense of destiny and being attuned with the universe when it comes to writing. Is that a symptom of a delusion? I dont know what to think some days.

I guess I cant hope to find other people who feel this way. I’ve hoped, and as of yet haven’t found other writers who seem to have this weird perspective and obsession and maybe even delusion with their writing. And yet I hope. I feel lonely, a lot, so isolated with my writing. It’s not the only way I connect with people, but unless someone dips into this part of me, do they know me at all? Will I ever find that I am not alone in this weird feeling?

Grateful doesn’t mean Painless

I’ve had a shit day. Not that anything bad has happened, but that I’m exhausted emotionally from less than pleasant private things (thankfully nothing wrong in my own home, so don’t worry) that have brought me down to a point of exhaustion. I was barely able to do anything today, being so tired that I just wanted to cry.

Now, self pity isn’t the point of this post. I got myself feeling better and just a few minutes ago I was reflecting on it. My thought process went like this “oh I live in such a lovely home, shame on me for feeling bad when I live in such a nice place, I should be more grateful and maybe one day I’ll regret not being happy enough”. To which I did a double take.

Wait, what? Gratefulness does not erase pain, be it emotional or physical. Sure, your mindset can make things more palatable and you can have good coping mechanisms. But when I practice gratitude, I usually end up just feeling guilty. Oh, I am grateful, but I feel guilty for still being in pain when I have such lovely things.

Because here’s the thing -> stuff and situations won’t erase your mental illness. They can help, but to erase it completely? It would have to be nirvana in my opinion.

So yes, gratitude is great and all, but it won’t heal you. And being grateful is not the polar opposite of mental anguish. You can be both grateful and in pain, the two do not exclude each other.

So don’t think you’re not grateful enough because you’re in pain. Being in pain is not a sign you’re not grateful enough. Appreciate what you have, but don’t burden yourself with the concept that good mental habits (like gratefulness, positive thinking) means no mental illness. They’re not the same.

Cute cat to cheer up your day!

“Are You Coming with Your Dog?”

Hi everyone! This is a text that was written by Andrée-Ann Blais, the representative of CHASAM-Paws, the organization that certifies my lovely service dog. I translated this text from its original Quebec French in order to share it to a wider audience. I really wanted to share this text to point out how damaging these questions can be, and how discriminatory they are. Because yes, I too have faced these kinds of questions as well (and I think most anyone with an invisible disability faces them)- even from medical professionals (!).

It’s a question that can appear plain and without consequences, but for the people who benefit from a service dog this question is displaced and contributes to making us feel inadequate.

A service dog is a medical prescription. It is placed on the same level as: and EpiPen, an antibiotic, an inhaler for asthma, an antidepressant, insulin, etc. You see, a service dog, it is not just something that people use as a commodity, to get attention, or just when we need it or when ‘it doesn’t disturb others’. To ask me if I am leaving my service dog at home is wounding, it makes us insecure and very anxious. To give you an idea, it is as anxiety-inducing for me as someone who realizes they forgot/lost their EpiPen somewhere.

First the argument of ‘I don’t want your dog to dirty my home’, ‘that it puts fur everywhere’ or ‘that it scratches the floor’ are silly arguments for us, users of service dogs. Simply because our dogs are washed more often than necessary. They do not live outside, they are brushed every week, we wipe their feet down when they are wet. My dog is more clean than the shoes that walk into your home! At the training school, we are taught to be respectful and courteous, we are ingrained with the importance of making it so that the dog disturbs the least amount as possible, dirties and breaks the last amount possible to ensure that the public has a positive experience with the presence of our service dog. Because in principle, as they are at work and wear a harness, no one can pet it, it will not get excited and will therefore lose very little fur. Arguments refuted.

Next comes the ‘I don’t want it to excite the children’. This is a shit argument in my opinion. My dog has 2 years of training in its body and 3 years of work under its belt. It is in harness, on leash, lying down under a table or a chair. It is breathing calmly and moves only if it’s necessary. It’s up to you to educate your children so they learn to control themselves around this kind of stimuli. It’s not up to us, the users of service dogs, to endure the hypothetical behaviors of your children. Teach them to be respectful, use this situation to teach them to be comfortable with the differences and needs of others. I am kind, I am approachable, it will make me immensely happy to help your children become good citizens.

Then there is the ‘there will be too many people’. Stupid arguments again. As written above, our service dogs are trained to take the least amount of place as possible. They are desensitized in crowds and in my opinion, it’s in that context that I need my service dog the most. In this context, to ask me to leave my dog at home, it’s like asking someone who is allergic to nuts to plunge their hands into a bag of nuts and to tell them that it will go well because they are with people that know them (ARGL, rotten argument!). Argument refuted.

At the training school, we are told that the majority of the above mentioned arguments, those very ones that you bring up when you invite me, are the same arguments that people use when they are uncomfortable with our difference, with our handicap. These arguments are sometimes used to camouflage a non-acknowledged shame or discomfort. Me, I totally assume who I am, I am proud of the person I have become and oh well if my service dog has contributed to it. I am not afraid of the questions that people might ask me about my dog. On the contrary, I am proud.

I am upset, I feel wounded. Did you know that what you do is discriminatory? In normal contexts, what you ask me to do, that is, to leave my dog at home, it’s a cause for complaint to the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la… But you are in my family, you are a friend of my family, you are my friend, you are a person that I respect, and I only ask to be the most like everyone one else and be appreciated, so I never say anything. I usually accept the compromise to not displease, to not cause discomfort and so that you keep loving me and inviting me. Our service dogs are an extension of ourselves, we are an indivisible whole. When you do not accept the presence of my service dog, you indirectly are not accepting my presence.

So I ask that you think twice before asking us “Are you coming with your dog?”. Because after all, you do not ask your friend to leave their insulin at home? Do not ask my to leave my service dog at home.

Andrée-Ann Blais, representative of the users of Chasam – PAWS