This week, I’m talking about my depression, absence, and all the brain garbage that goes with it.
My name is Matt Brotherton. I’m an indie author struggling to get started in his career. Each episode, I talk about my journey from obscure to awesome. This is the New Writer podcast.
#Episode 84 – Where the Heck Have You Been?
It’s been a month since I recorded a podcast and about five weeks since one was published. It’s been about the same since I put a short story up on my website at MABrotherton.Com. I haven’t sent an email to my mailing list in that time, either.
I’ve taken the same amount of time off from my official Facebook and posted very sparingly on twitter.
People are starting to wonder where I am. What’s happened to me. What I’ve been doing.
I wish I could say that I was in deep work mode. I wish I could tell you I was in my lab solving the world’s problems. I wish I could say I was doing something–anything–with my life.
But I wasn’t.
I needed time off. I didn’t know it when I went on vacation. I didn’t know I needed to spend time decompressing and unwinding, but I did. I needed to get away from the world and just spend some time *hiding*.
The truth is, I burned out on life.
In September, I went on a vacation. It was supposed to be reinvigorating. It was supposed to let me get my head back in order. It didn’t.
What happened was me spending 40 hours alone in a car. Alone with my own thoughts. Alone with my emotional baggage.
Just me and angst-ridden music on a loop.
And, I realized some things about myself. I realized I was losing my battle. I needed to do something different.
But, I’m lazy and depression has a way of dragging you into apathy and inaction. So instead of trying to find solutions to my problems, instead of trying to do something different to make myself happy. I just gave up.
I did nothing.
Where have I been? I’ve been sitting on the corner of my couch. I’ve been sleeping. I’ve been going through the motions of work.
I’ve been hiding.
This happens to me. Not as frequently now as when I was younger, but it still happens. Now, it hits me once or twice a year instead of four or five times. But, I think the down swings last longer, too.
The triggers can come from anywhere. They can be huge personal events or they can be minor global perceptions. It’s rare, but it can also be minor personal events and huge and global.
I think this time it was a bit of both.
Since I started publishing, I’ve tried to ignore politics. Which is hard for me. If you go back and look at the early days of my blog, I was definitely a political writer. I wrote about politics all the time. I have strong opinions and generally assume I’m right and everyone else in the world is wrong.
I think that’s part of how I was raised. Fight for what you believe. Fight and fight and fight and never, ever, let anyone knock you down.
But, I was told talking about politics was bad for me. Bad for writers because we don’t want to alienate our readers.
So I bottled that part of me up. I hid it away from the world.
There are other reasons I did that, too. My day job frowns on it. I work in a very political industry. I don’t like talking about it, but everything about my work is directly tied to who is in office. That makes it a bad idea to have too strong an opinion.
But, I have strong opinions and I’m not good at not sharing them.
Honestly, that’s probably killing me. A little bit inside. Day-by-day.
At first, I pushed a lot of that anxiety into my writing. I tried very hard to keep those emotions poured into ink. It worked for a couple of years. But it was a band-aid. It wont’ keep me going forever.
I understand that now.
Politics aren’t the only thing keeping me down. I’m also not happy with my writing. I’ve hit the taste/skill curve again and this time it is so hard to keep grinding, I’m not sure if I can make it. I’m trying to get better. I’m trying to do better.
But I’m not. At least I don’t feel like I am.
I feel like the things I’m writing now are the worst writing I’ve done in my life.
Maybe not mechanically. The words are more refined. The language is better.
I’ve gotten worse at telling a story. I can feel it. I can read it. I can know it.
But, right now, I can’t write it. And that’s killing me, too.
That’s why, even after coming back from my vacation, I decided not to publish the two podcast episodes I had prerecorded. I think my subconscious failure to upload them to my hosting server was there because my lizard brain, or my astral self, or whatever you want to call it, knew they weren’t what I wanted to put out into the world.
The bigger problem right now? I don’t know what I want to put out into the world anymore.
I know that it is the 15th of October and I haven’t accomplished any of the things I wanted to do this year. I know that the goals I set in January just don’t jive with who I am anymore, anyway.
Now, I really need to figure out what the new goals should be.
I love writing. I do. I love typing and putting words out on the page. But, I’m not sure I love telling stories. It’s much easier to rant and rave. Or write scripts like this. Confessions.
So, what does that mean for me? What does it mean for you?
If you suffer from depression the way I do, it might just mean you’re not alone. I don’t have a cure. I can just tell you it happens. We’ve both been strong enough to get through it in the past. We’ll get through it again.
For me? I just don’t know yet. I’m still trying to figure it out. I’ll let you know when I do.
This podcast helps. It really does. If for no other reason than it forces me to spend an hour or so each week really examining the garbage in my head. So, I’m going to keep doing it. And maybe I should change the name.
Because the purpose has changed. The reasons have changed.
To paraphrase Sean Platt, I’ve figured out my why.
Because I can’t keep this crap bottled up inside me anymore. Because podcast hosting is cheaper than going to a shrink.
Thanks for listening. I needed that.