Ok, so go away and read/listen to those two links that I posted up there before you come back and read this. It’s ok, I’ll wait.
Right. This is more of a get-stuff-off-my-chest post than the usual Opinion piece that I tend to post. I’m actually writing this now on a WP, rather than straight to blog, because I don’t even know if I’m going to put this out there. But here goes:
I wrote one of the comments on that particular Shapely Prose thread, and even that half-hearted attempt was bloody hard. Even now, I’m struggling not to write out a list of what sucks about me, how I’m an awful, useless person – or qualify every single good thing about me with a “well, but so-and-so is better” or rather “I should be better.” I think it’s a really interesting discussion that should be had, and which I might start later – why women always feel they have to respond to compliments with a denial, or qualifying sentence – but it’s not the one I want to have right now.
See, I found that comments thread wonderful and painful to read at the same time. It’s amazing watching people be happy about themselves for a change, and acknowledge all the good things about themselves that make them awesome people. And not one of those posts seemed to me self-aggrandizing or boastful or stuck up.
But then I felt like crying, because I was thinking – why can’t I be like that?
Why can’t I be a published writer, instead of just an amateur? Why can’t I be a great singer, instead of just a mediocre one? Why can’t I be a great cook, or keep a spotless house, or do stand-up, or fix computers like a pro, or speak four languages like a native, or be someone or do something awesome like everyone else?
Why can’t I even do the things that I’m supposed to be able to do well? Like finish my novel(s)? Or send some short stories or poetry off to a magazine to get published? Or, hell, finish my God-damn PhD?
And then my “little hater” comes out and starts telling me that maybe I was never any good at those things that I supposedly do well. That I’m not just in a rut; I’ve actually reached my limits. That I don’t have what it takes, and deep down I know it, and the reason I can’t put pen to paper right now is because I’m putting off that moment of failure when the manuscript is finished and I send it off, and publisher after publisher rejects it, and I have to give up on the biggest and only worthwhile dream I have ever had in my life – to be a writer – without which my life is mediocre and dull, and just not worth anything anymore.
See, my “little hater” is called Depression. And right now it’s winning.
I’m not fishing for compliments here, or sympathy, so please don’t feel you have to post any. Nor do I, at the moment, need advice on how to cope, since I’m already taking steps in that direction. I just wanted to put that out there.
I don’t really think there is a conclusion to this. I want there to be a happy ending, or an uplifting sentiment for me to end on. Some sort of affirmation that we are all awesome and that I don’t hate myself really, but while the first bit of that is true, it would be disingenuous of me to lie and say the second half. The best I can come up with is this:
Mental illness is still a huge taboo in our society. Not enough people talk about it, or even acknowledge it. So I’m going to. It might be that the one way to get myself up and going and working again is to bleed this poison out of my system, and if that helps other people understand just a bit better, if it breaks down just a bit of that huge silence, and gets people talking, well that’s all to the good.
Expect more posts on this, and related topics.