“Everybody knows: it sucks to grow up,
But everybody does: so weird to be back here,
Let me tell you what: the years go on and
We’re still fighting it, we’re still fighting it…”
– “Still Fighting It,” Ben Folds
You know what makes things really difficult to do? Depression. Know what makes it really difficult to complete any tasks beside the basic ones needed to function and live? Depression. Know what makes it really, REALLY fucking difficult to write, to focus and get words outside of my skull and onto paper (or the screen, as it were)? You get the idea.
Look, this blog was created on the idea that living with mental illness, specifically depression and anxiety, is a brutal and denigrating experience. It sucks pushing yourself to keep doing anything when you’ve got a nagging feeling that you are a worthless piece of shit. And having to push myself to write, when the monster is calling and I just know it’s a waste of time, because all I’m getting out is useless drivel that no one cares to read about or discuss, is a soul crushing experience.
Am I any good at writing, realistically? Do I provide any sort of articulate insight into the topics I choose to analyze and discuss? Is there any merit in my putting in the insane amount of work required pursuing this dream of mine, or is it all an enormous fool’s errand and the pain and struggles and rejection and failure (ho boy, is there a lot of rejection and failure) could be avoided if only I’d seen that the joke was on me? WHY AM I EVEN BOTHERING WITH ANY OF THIS BULLSHIT HERE, AND WHY AM I PRESSURING AND BEATING MYSELF TO A PSYCHOLOGICAL PULP FOR WHAT’S LITTLE MORE THAN A DUMBASS, IRRELEVANT HOBBY???
I don’t have the answer to that series of escalating questions, which are part of several negative thought subsets that rotate inside my insane man’s brain. But staying positive, staying focused and motivated when everything seems to be against you, is exhausting. When I went off last summer and put in hundreds of hours and days upon days on this here laptop (and phone), typing out tens of thousands of words between the essays on this site and the ⅔ novel rough draft (which hasn’t been permanently shelved), I wasn’t working. I left human services after a decade to jump both feet first into this writing non-gig, since gigs are paid, and had no safety net, no saved money or new income at that time to help offset the lack of consistent cash that accompanies freelance professional aspirations.
It can’t surprise anyone that adulthood doesn’t treat these types of ambitious maneuvers kindly, and suffice it to say that after not working for 6 weeks, my financial position was none too rosy. This here website (or set of blogs, really) was never meant to be the place to obtain wealth, but a place to build a portfolio of my written work. It’s a resume, really, to showcase not just what I’m capable of, but that I actually AM capable of pouring out essay after essay on numerous subjects in and around our popular culture.
This collection of my literary capabilities was the backbone of the dozens of pitches and submissions I’ve sent to various publications since last July. Despite my knowledge that relentless rejection in the pursuit of a single “yes” was inevitable, it’s been no less demoralizing to end up with zero successful pitches after months of intense effort. Needing to go back to a day job, and ending up working at a golf course for several months (because, let’s face it, I’ll do ANYTHING to avoid human services), was a brutal reality check.
The world has a way of rubbing salt into an open wound when you’re at your lowest and most vulnerable, and amplifying every bad decision you make. For several months at the end of last year, that’s where I was. Everything went wrong, nothing seemed possible, and the only inevitability was that I’d end up doing direct care, helping someone with their ADL’s, and dropping these foolish ambitions after much (self-created) fanfare last summer followed by little follow-up. Once the backlog of completed essays dried up, and I was forced to replenish my creative juices to create new content, and provide new analyses of the suckiness of mental illness or 90s pop culture, a dark fog overcame me.
See, every day that passed by without a new post, and then every week that went by with nary an update or mention of this huge undertaking of mine (that I told EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON I know about), I felt more and more worthless. I fell farther into an abyss of self loathing, wondering how I could want to write new essays, or desperately want to continue and finish that novel, but never find myself actually able to do anything that felt substantial. There are numerous half-finished or abandoned essays and posts that will never see the light of day, and as it became weeks then months between posts, I realized the dream was dead and gone.
But, then again? No, it’s not. Not yet at least, because it’s fucking HARD breaking into this industry, and isn’t something that happens quickly or easily for anyone. The relentless pursuit from me towards this can’t stop, or be sidetracked because I fell into a deep depression for several months. While it’s quite surprising that I had this relapse of my mental illness, since it seemed so clear that I was cured of all ills when I started writing and sharing with the world (…ba dum CHA!), it was humbling. Who knows if I’ll ever be successful in any sort of professional capacity, but there’s no reason to abandon all hope now.
Let’s give it another few months of effort, then maybe call it quits. Until next time…