Michelle Knight. Writer, photographer, programmer, truck driver and general, all round nut case. Life is a journey and that's what this blog will probably end up being. Let's see where we go, eh? ;-)
So. Here I am. I've got a secure nine to five; well as secure as it can get these days. ie. we've got a chunk of work on. My bills are paid and the roof over my head ain't going to go anywhere very quickly. I've got two books out, another one due out this week and another with the editor. I've got until the end of September if I, "want," to hit my self imposed target of getting a quarter of a million half-decent words published in twelve months. Heck, I'm already at 200,000 and with my daily commute of two hours, by road; so I can't type; that's not a small achievement. And with 60% of people in the UK actually wanting to BE an author - http://www.independent.co.uk/student/career-planning/getting-job/the-three-most-desirable-jobs-in-britain-are-author-librarian-and-academic-10050138.html - heck!
I'm actually an author that doesn't need to actually worry about sales and wouldn't actually give two hoots if (because of my history and subject matter) the press passed me over forever more. Damn it, dude, I should be livin' la Vida Loca, right? There should be parties going off in my head on an hourly basis!
So why the fuck am I so depressed?
An article on authors and self-loathing was written recently. Actually, they seem to be written by one blogger or another on a weekly basis.
In fact, according to the World Health Organisation, more than 350 million people are depressed - http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/
So where's the link? What's going on here?
Take these six points from WebMD's account of depression alarm bells...
1) Social Withdrawl
3) Self-Medicating with Alcohol
4) Skipping Exercise
5) Seeking Sugar Hits
6) Negative Thinking
Now, I've got an advantage here. I actually know I carry clinical depression around with me. It doesn't take that much to set it off, either. I was winning the battle; taking regular exercise and got myself down to twelve stone in weight. Then, a group of loud mouth kids at the local park, who taunted and shouted shit, got to me. And the authorities could do nothing. It seems that I am supposed to accept this.
(Actually, it got worse than that; they thought I was a police officer and tried to goad me in to, "breaking cover," and arresting them. They'd even do indecent things like urinating in front of me, in public to try and get me to flash a warrant card that I didn't have. Trust me, it wasn't the more pleasant of experiences.)
End result, I stopped exercising and I'm now thirteen and a half stone again. Still fighting, but it is always a rough battle. I'll find my next way out again, soon enough.
I'm not this way because of the writing, but the mechanisms of the depression make writing a perfect excuse for my situation. Sitting there on my own, thinking deeply, cold drinks (I have a long time battle with Coke; unfortunately today is a particularly bad one and here I am before mid-day, on my second can. It isn't good for my osteoperosis, either.) and I get little exercise these days. The air conditioning "temperature battle" situation also gave me excuse to exit the open plan area and hide away in a small office. Here I am, in a little one-desk nook, under the stairwell, all on my own. a'la Harry Potter, but the scar on my head is where I fell against the air conditioner the other day ... but that's another story.
We are social creatures. We're built that way. They say that when you retreat in to your mind, you're in enemy territory.
I'm not writing this in the hope of help; because I've been on this road for a long time. I know that the only person that can get me out of this, is actually me. My GP supports my view that medications only offer a short term crutch. I know that if I feel I need them, all I have to do is ask and he'd sign the prescription; but that's not the solution. I do remember the American shop assistant who got so hooked on Prozac, that he felt like he was more the drug than him; he changed his name legally to Prozac and that's what's on his name badge. (I tried to search for the old article, but Google's turned to a pile of rubbish lately)
What I'm doing here, is putting this out there. Being depressed doesn't make for a good, long term career as an author because the narrow experience range leads to less fulfilling characters and story lines. If you think you might be depressed, then take some action. And I'm not talking taking pills, either. The road out of depression is a real sod to walk; I've been walking it for years. A few steps forwards, a few steps back. One day, I'll breathe fresh air.
But self-loathing shouldn't be one of the labels that we just slap on to authors as something to be expected of that particular work force. It something we need to be aware of and should be addressed; 'cause living with clinical depression is like living with a broken leg ... except there's less blood and when you walk, the limp is in your heart.