Depression on Main

Ah depression, you sly little minx, creeping up on me when we finally had a break in the grey tundra of seasonal depression.

I’ve decided that instead of curling up in bed, I’m going to put it all out there and be vulnerable about how I’m feeling. Because that’s how destigmatization happens, we open up about the reality of disorder and the way we function through it.

To put it bluntly: depression is a B I T C H.

Someone once asked me, out of my ADHD, Anxiety, and Depression, which is the hardest to cope with. I would honestly have to say depression. While all three give me a great deal of challenges, and all feed off of each other in nuanced ways, depression may be the hardest because it is the easiest to lean into.

Anxiety is sharp, often painful, like little electrical pulses that jolt me into action (over-thinking, over-analyzing, over-worrying, over-everything), but it’s also an acute enough feeling that I can acknowledge it. I can try to center myself, or go for a run, or cross off tasks on a list, or pop a Klonopin if it gets really bad. For me, it’s a productive disorder that makes it impossible to sit still (while still somehow feeling paralyzed by my mind… lol gotta love the contradictions).

Alternatively, ADHD fucks my productivity on certain things, particularly school things. Sometimes, the mundanity and structure of dental school makes me want to rip my skin off or simply cry because I. CAN’T. FUCKING. FOCUS. But, on other fronts, it’s been a huge amplifier for my creativity. Being diagnosed with ADHD has given me the power to have patience with my brain, treat it almost like a young child, learning to allow it time to hyper-focus on things I love, like writing and reading, and learning strategies to help with executive functioning. Again, it’s a neurodiversity that still allows me to be an active participant in my life.

But depression? Whoa, buddy. Depression is THE WORST.

Depression is this hazy cloud that makes me a passive bystander in my own life. It numbs me. It makes me exhausted, and sad, and unable to get out of bed and do the thousands of things my anxiety and ADHD are screaming at me to do.

And, for me, a person that genuinely tries to go through life with unabashed optimism and joy, the negative thoughts and feelings and insecurities that depression heightens hurts so deeply. My imposter syndrome is so amplified during spells of depression. I have these lazy, swirling thoughts about why I’m not good enough, why things will go wrong, why I’m such a fake.

And I hate that! I’ve worked damn hard for everything in my life, and I wish I could convince my brain to shut the fuck up with the darker thoughts, with the lazy sadness that makes me want to hide out under blankets.

And all of this has conveniently come a week into the submission process of my novel. I have so many doubts and negative thoughts and just downright FEARS about coming this far for nothing to come of it. But I can’t think that way. I need to remind myself that writing was the first thing I ever did in my life fully for me. It has brought me joy and fulfillment and happiness and escapism, and no book contract will make that journey more or less valid.

But I can’t change my brain. I can’t open it up and wire it properly and make it produce the right amounts of serotonin and dopamine and all the other goodies to make it feel better.

But I can be real about the pain of it. I can reach out, make myself vulnerable, and hope that other people understand the challenge of fighting against that blanket of depression. I can force myself to say nice things about myself, out loud, over and over again, until one day I fully believe them. I can sprint away from that temptation to lean into the depression, and force myself to keep plugging, keep hoping. I can go hug my kitties and make my boyfriend get me pizza. I can keep studying, keep writing, keep doing my best to be a good friend to those in my life.

I can fight this bitch with everything I’ve got. She won’t know what hit her. And I can laugh at some really spot on tweets about depression.

It’s Been a Hot Minute… Updates and Other Nonsense

Well, well, well guess who remembered they have a blog that probably needs updating?

A LOT has happened over the past few months, so bear with me as I try to unscramble some of it. Also, I’d just like to note that I probably couldn’t have picked a worse time to write up this longer blog post seeing as I have a perio exam tomorrow that I’m way behind on studying for (it’s so boring I want to cry… ADHD brain no likey), and my mom is coming to visit me in a few hours and my apartment is A HOT MESS. So, let’s dive in, shall we? *cracks knuckles*

October:

October was probably one of the most exciting months of my life. After about two months of dragging my sensitive, creative corpse through the lifeless desert of despair that is querying, I WAS OFFERED REPRESENTATION.

I. HAVE. AN. AGENT.

I am represented by Kelli Martin at Wendy Sherman Associates. I could not be more honored or thrilled to work with Kelli. She immediately understood my vision and has so much passion for what she does… SHE’S JUST A DREAM UGH.

So that was freaking awesome and one of the most exciting things to ever happen to me. I honestly couldn’t believe it.

November & December

School was really trying to kill me those last few weeks of the semester. I’m still feeling the burnout for how hard it was, just a constant stream of practicals, quizzes, exams, rotations… IT. WAS. THE. WORST.

But I survived it. Barely. But whatever.

I also totally failed my civic duty as a bookstagrammer to do a top ten list for 2019. But I also don’t *love* those end of the year wrap-ups anyways, because I think they can often catalyze a lot of pain for authors when their books don’t make it on those lists… or maybe I’m reading too far into. BUT, I did share some of my favorite bookstagram moments from 2019. Posts that brought me joy, made me feel connected to the community, and sparked so many downright RIDICULOUS conversations (virgin heroes were at the forefront of many of these moments):

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So… I have some big news: I now have a literary agent for my debut novel TONGUE-TIED, which feels absolutely insane to say! I’m represented by Kelli Martin at WSA I’ve been nervous to announce this for the past few weeks for a few reasons, but the biggest one was fear. It’s scary to want something this much. My bones ache with how badly I want to bring these pages to life. But, being the anxious person I am, I let myself fall into that trap of “well it’s ONLY an agent, it hasn’t been picked up yet.” Or “so what, that doesn’t mean it will ever get published?” “What if no one besides me and my agent love this book?” Yeah, what if bitch??? These things could all be true. Or they couldn’t. But I refuse to let that voice make me hide my accomplishments. I’ve poured so much of myself into this work. I wrote 86,568 words in an order no one has ever done before. I know there’s a long, potentially rejection filled road ahead, but I’ve decided I don’t care. Because I love this book. It’s #OwnVoices for mental illness. It’s diverse. It’s feminist. It’s funny. But above all, it’s a piece of me. Writing it was my greatest comfort in one of the darkest times of my life, so even if nobody ever reads it, to me, it’s a success. I won’t dim my joy to the negative voices in my head, instead, I’ll celebrate this victory for exactly what it is. And, I can honestly say I would never have been able to make it this far without this community. You all will never know how influential you’ve been in my life. You’ve encouraged me, listened to me, put up with my ridiculous antics, and unknowingly gave me the drive to finish my book. There’s no telling what comes next. I can’t wait 🥰

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Sharing my big news with the world! The outpouring of support from the community was truly overwhelming and moving.
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💜GIVEAWAY💜⁣ While I like to joke around on here 98% of the time, I feel the need to use this platform to talk about something extremely important to me: Domestic Violence. ⁣ October is domestic violence awareness month, but I’m a firm believer that we should be talking about this issue all year. The facts speak for themselves. 1 in 4 women? That means of the 1,571 followers I have (predominantly women) about 392 will be subjected to some sort of violence at the hands of a significant other in their lifetime. That’s horrific, unacceptable, and something I refuse to stay silent on. ⁣ We need to be aware of our resources and organizations that advocate on behalf of survivors and victims. ⁣ With that being said, I’ve created the #RomanceNotViolence purple stack challenge (purple is the color of DV awareness). ⁣ I encourage all of you to post your purple stack and then pic stitch or carousel the resource graphic I made with it to show your support of DV survivors and victims. You never know who that phone number will help. ⁣ To encourage participation, I’ve partnered with some INCREDIBLE people in the book community to offer this prize of purple goodies to one lucky winner. ⁣ To enter: ⁣ 💜Post your purple stack and phone numbers infographic, use #RomanceNotViolence, and tag me ⁣ ⁣ For extra entries: ⁣ 💜 share the graphic and hashtag on other social media sites, then send me a screenshot ⁣ 💜 Share the infographic on your story and tag me⁣ (every 24 hours) 💜For an extra 10 entries, donate (even a dollar) to NNEDV.org, an incredible organization that does great work for victims (send me a screenshot of your donation confirmation) ⁣ 💜 International peeps: share your purple stack and your country’s hotline number and/or resources! ⁣ 🚨 Please note, the haul is for US participants, but if an intl person is chosen, I’ll give you a $20USD gift card to amazon or book depository and draw a second winner for the goodies ⁣ I encourage you to follow the wonderful people that made this giveaway possible. They were so willing to help me, and I can’t sing their praises loudly enough. @readforeverpub @sourcebookscasa @withabooksleeve Legal: not affiliated with ig Closes 10/31/2019

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Partnered with the absolutely incredible teams at Forever and Sourcebooks to promote awareness and advocacy for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

January:

January started off with a bang. One of my goals for 2020 was to become a published writer, and that happened with Frolic Media! My first article was a toolkit for fighting seasonal depression, pairing self-care activities with romance novels. It ended up being a hit, and I am now a regular contributor to Frolic on self-care ideas and romances to go along with it. I love working with Frolic and am beyond excited at this opportunity. The rest of my articles can be found here. I feel truly honored to discuss mental illness with people and work to destigmatize it. For so much of my life, I felt ashamed of the complexities of my mental health, but being able to connect with people, and receive messages saying how my words have helped them feel seen, is the greatest honor I could ever receive.

I also finished up the two rounds of edits and revisions on Tongue-Tied before it was ready to be sent off the editors. This was… a lot. It really was a surreal experience to work with an agent, think editorially, and take this next huge step. I will never be able to express how much this journey means to me, but I’m so thankful for this wild ride.

Most importantly, I welcomed a new (cat) baby home!

Zadie is the newest addition to our family, and every time I look at her I want to scream because she’s so damn cute. She and Yaya became fast friends, and they regularly cuddle and groom each other. She’s a little hellion though. She gets into EVERYTHING and likes to eat from the trash. Gotta love her.

February:

And that brings us to today! This month, my book officially went out on submission to editors and it kind of feels like: LKNXV;KJSAN FASJFOIPWEJK<A:DLGJA’ WHAT????

I anticipated feeling a lot more anxious about this, but, overall, I’m just so damn proud and excited and happy to have made it this far. Writing this book was the first thing in my life I’ve ever done that was entirely for myself. I put so much of my heart into that book, and I just hope others find the joy in it that I felt writing it.

No one has explicitly told me this, but there seems to be a sort of Fight Club vibe about submission… First rule about submission is you don’t talk about submission. So, I’ll just leave it at that. I’m happy and overwhelmed and hopeful and nervous and 1000 other feelings.

And, through all of this, I’ve slowly been growing in understanding my mental health/illnesses. I think one of the most ah-ha moments for me as I’ve sought out more information on my anxiety, depression, and ADHD, has been the fact that there is no timeline for me to understand my brain. This will be a lifelong process of understanding how my brain functions differently, within neurodiverse diagnoses and diverging from those as well. Having patience– for myself, my brain, my emotions, school, writing, submission, others– is key in this, something I’m awful at, but I just have to trust the process.

“What’s wrong with kids these days?” and Other Ignorant Questions of Mental Illness

Without getting into details, mental illness struck a devastating blow to my family last night. I woke up grateful, because I know the situation could have been much worse, but I also woke up terrified, heartbroken, and feeling so incredibly useless to help someone I love.

While the majority of my family has held a similar reaction, one family member, an older “boomer,” decided it was a good time to question: “What’s wrong with kids these days?”

There are so many things wrong with that. Time and time again we’ve tried to educate this person, explain that mental illness is no different than cancer or a chronic illness or a congenital disease. You wouldn’t ask a child with cancer “What’s wrong with you? Get over it.” You wouldn’t tell someone with a missing limb to just grow it back.

Because they can’t.

And just like someone can’t magically regrow an arm, some people can’t make enough serotonin, dopamine, GABA, or whatever else to function at the same level as a neurotypical individual. People suffering through mental illness can’t snap their fingers and feel better. Be better. Because, believe me, if we could, we would.

No one wants to walk around in a cloud of depression. No one wants to feel a crushing weight in their chest every morning as they try to summon the courage to get out of bed. No one wants to feel like a mental scribble of chaos as they navigate the trials of ADHD and the shame that is perpetuated against them on a daily basis. No one wants to shake uncontrollably with anxiety, rationally knowing that their world is okay while their body drenches them with fight or flight.

So, to people that just don’t “get it,” please do us all a favor and educate yourselves. If someone has the patience to try and explain it to you, share articles with you, explain their own hurt, LISTEN. Because you have no idea how unbelievably exhausting, painful, and shame-inducing it can be to try and be your own advocate, try and face down the stigma that still surrounds mental diversity.

And, to me, what is most astounding is how easy it is to educate yourself. The facts are out there. A cursory Google search will give you thousands of articles, videos, infographics, that can help you understand the science and the reality of what people with various mental health issues endure. And the fact of the matter is, unless you suffer from a mental illness, you will never actually understand what it is like to have one. And that’s good. I’m happy for you that you won’t have to endure that burden. But you can understand how it works. You can educate yourself on the scientific workings of it. You can learn the tendencies and behaviors that are characteristic as a result of the disorder. You can research how YOU can be patient, kind, a resource for the person suffering.

Or you can go ahead and continue to be thick-headed and ignorant, the type of person that future generations will one day look back at and say “how could they be so blind? How could they be so insensitive and unwilling to learn?”

Don’t tell someone to pray their illness away. Don’t tell someone to take up exercise or find a hobby. Don’t dismiss someone’s pain by saying it is just “a rough season” in their life. It isn’t a rough season, it is their everyday, and they are asking for support, not a to-do list.

The duty of explaining mental illness, teaching neuronormatives about it, should not be the responsibility of the person battling it out. The mental energy that goes into surviving, putting one foot in front of the other, building a life, is staggering. It is an invisible handicap that we are then shamed for if we talk about it. On top of all that, we often don’t even understand the ins and outs of our disorder ourselves, and there is so much personal education we have to navigate to try and have a clearer picture of who we are and why we experience the things we do. So, again, if someone is willing to teach you, LISTEN. If someone doesn’t have the capacity to educate you, DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH.

Mental illness is hard enough, stop adding one more barrier for us to breakthrough.

Further reading:

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/understanding-mental-disorders

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health#statistics

https://www.additudemag.com/ (This is a personal favorite of mine for understanding my own ADHD diagnosis and educating my family about it.)

https://twitter.com/adhd_alien?lang=en Pina makes amazing comics about ADHD. These really helped me feel less alone in my experiences, and are something I regularly share with family members when one in particular resonates.

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression

https://www.psycom.net/living-with-depression

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us