Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Insecure Writers Support Group - August

Happy First Wednesday! It's time for the Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop. You can check out the blogs of many good writers by following the link behind this badge:

This month I am sharing the work of a fellow writer, Chrys Fey. You can read my story of depression and burnout, as well as how I am overcoming it below. You can also access a second blog hop by clicking on the cover image below:

 

 Catch the sparks you need to conquer writer’s block, depression, and burnout!

 

When Chrys Fey shared her story about depression and burnout, it struck a chord with other writers. That put into perspective for her how desperate writers are to hear they aren’t alone. Many creative types experience these challenges, battling to recover. Let Keep Writing with Fey: Sparks to Defeat Writer's Block, Depression, and Burnout guide you through:

 

·        Writer's block

·        Depression

·        Writer's burnout

·        What a writer doesn’t need to succeed

·        Finding creativity boosts

 

With these sparks, you can begin your journey of rediscovering your creativity and get back to what you love - writing.

 

 

BOOK LINKS:

 

Amazon / Nook / iTunes / Kobo

 

Goodreads

 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog, Write with Fey, for more tips on how to reverse writer’s burnout. https://www.chrysfey.com/

 

My Depression Story:

I have shared a little about this topic in earlier posts, but I think that it is an important discussion to have. The worst part about suffering from depression and burnout is the mental isolation. You can be in a room full of people, or surrounded by family and friends, and still think that you are completely alone, facing your demons with no help at all. 

I have struggled with this most of my life. I never quite fit in, and I never understood the people around me. I have very vivid memories of mistakes I made and moments of complete humiliation when I realized too late what I had said or done. Even at a young age I remember not getting invited to all of the sleepovers. When I was invited there were pranks, arguments, and mornings of discussing recipes and cooking techniques with moms. How many seven-year-olds teach their friends' moms how to make a sunny-side-up or how to cut the milk with water before making gravy? It was the least I could do after she politely showed me how to thaw my underwear in warm water before putting it in the dryer. Now that I think of it, that mom was a child psychologist and probably the reason why I was continually invited over. (I realize almost everyone has a prank story from a sleepover, but I had the same problems at Girl Scout camp, overnight school trips, Girls' State, college, and my foreign exchange time in France. Put me with a group of people and I would mess it up every time.)

If I'm honest, now that I have spent two years contemplating my sons diagnosis, I have become very suspicious of myself. The more I read, the more I realize it isn't a diagnosis, it is a state of being. Autistic people are not diseased, they are just people. Most adults who have been diagnosed with Asperger's, or High Functioning Autism, or whatever they have decided to call it this week, are accepting of themselves and want that acceptance from others. It turns out, women in particular 'suffer' from this identity because most of them don't know that they have spent their whole lives trying to fit in when the fact is they were born to stand out. Whether or not I am one of those women is an unknown, all I can do is tell you how I have made it thus far.

Maybe my identity crisis has been the main culprit, or maybe it was something else. My first suspicions and insecurities hit home when I was about to graduate college and I saw my flaws through the eyes of an ex-boyfriend and a college dean who upon reading some of my journal entries, approached me about suicidal thoughts. This wasn't the first time someone approached me with that concern, and it wasn't the last. It seemed that everyone else was telling me I was depressed, but I wasn't. I decided to make some changes. Maybe everyone else knew more about me than I did. But the worst part of my life came a few years after that with postpartum depression. That is what made it real to me. This is the only time in my life that I was suicidal, and ironically no one talked to me about it then. But I remembered all those people who had talked with me in the past, and I called for help. (*Side note:  If you know a person who you think is depressed/suicidal and they insist they are not, be aware, that if they ever actually reach the point of depression, you won't know it, because they will hide it very effectively, especially from people they do not want to disappoint. I called a hotline, not my loved ones.)

What has helped me in general:  meditation, yoga, reading, and Buddhism. I do not consider myself a Buddhist, but I would say that I have learned the most about reality and myself through the teachings.

What did I read:  Radical Acceptance (Brach), When Things Fall Apart (Chodron), The Zen Path Through Depression (Martin) and some others I can't remember because I actually read them at least a decade ago. Reading these helped me recognize the moment when I needed to get help. 

What else helped (when it got real):  A therapist who told me I was a good mom. A mom who was an even better mom. A husband who went through marriage counseling with me. An awesome doctor who helped me find an anti-anxiety medication that didn't have side effects worse than the depression. Never giving up.

Where I am now:  Four years without medication. Two years without therapy. Ten years married. Thirty-four-ish years of living in my skin. I found a diet that makes me feel better. I am in shape and healthy enough to enjoy my youth. I still have anxiety attacks. I still make mistakes and dwell on them for days. I still feel low and dark and I know that is okay. I have successfully made relationships and zero enemies (that I know of) in my last two places of employment. I absolutely enjoy social distancing (just not the reason). Writing about my characters' lives in my stories helps me think about people, reality, and the world. 

The most important thing to me right now is the knowledge that I will likely have to watch one or both of my children go through this difficult path and I fully intend to shine for them when they get lost.

Good luck to each of you on your journey!

23 comments:

  1. Sorry for any errors. I had to end my editing early this morning because my daughter coated herself in butt paste. Have you ever tried to remove butt paste from a toddler. Lucky you...

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  2. That was a special read Stephanie. Very brave of you to share it with us. Thank you. Although I may appear to be a louder and more outgoing person, my outside is so much louder than my inside. (perhaps my way of hiding) There are a number of things you have said that I certainly can relate to myself. Well done. Your babies are so lucky to have you. xxx

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  3. Our little 8 year old grandson was just diagnosed with Autism. At least now "it" has a name. Thanks for speaking up about your past. You're brave and courageous, Stephanie. And much appreciated.

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    1. Thank you Joylene. I wish all the love to your family on the journey ahead. I remember the dread mixed with relief when I first heard the diagnosis. It opened up so much support though.

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I am sending you big virtual hugs.

    The mental isolation with depression is tough. Even when sitting right next to someone we can feel oh-so-alone. It's hard.

    I definitely know what you mean about vivid memories of past mistakes and even the tiniest things that I regret or that shame me. It sucks.

    Depression and postpartum are things that, for a long time, it was taboo and a no-no to discuss. I'm glad that people are a bit more open these days, but it's still not enough. With my depression, I didn't tell anyone about it until years later. And, although I didn't give birth, I feel that what I went through when I had to care for my newborn nephew at such a tender age was pretty close to it...it's the only way I can describe what I went through, but as an auntie/nanny. During that time, I did have bad thoughts...my only time ever, not even when I had my worst depression a decade later did I experience that. Our society really does need to be more open when it comes to mothers dealing with postpartum.

    Thank you so much for participating in my blog hop! <3

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    1. Thanks for what you have shared as well. Having access to books on the topic was a big help, since it didn't involve that fear of "sharing." Thanks for your support.
      Caring for a baby is definitely a trigger for many women. And you are right, it is a big secret for some reason. I want to shout it sometimes (without scaring new moms/caregivers).

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  5. This was an amazing post. A relative of mine was diagnosed with Asperger's several years ago. Then I read a book called Autism in Heels by Jennifer O' Toole. Then I found several interesting YouTube videos featuring Dr. Tony Attwood. These sources got me thinking, for sure. Maybe . . .

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    1. I'm going to have to look into those! Thanks for sharing them.

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  6. Thank you for sharing your brave ordeal. I think depression is really tough and we still are discovering things about depression and autism that we didn't know in the past. Living within our own skins is a process. And, finding good friends,spouses, and support systems is important.

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    1. So true, and it took me too long to figure it out. Don't know what I'd do without my support system.

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  7. I have a houseful of Aspies. I have a BFF who has it as do her kids. I know the fight all too well.

    Your journey is very inspiring. Thank you for sharing it with us! ((hugs))

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    1. Thank you for reading my story! Peace to you and your friend. I feel like there should be an Aspie Super Hero theme song!

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  8. I'm so glad to hear you are in a place where you are comfortable. It is a difficult and continuous struggle. I've had my own issues with anxiety and depression, my wife and her family have a long history of psychological issues, and now my son is undergoing testing for Austism and ADHD. These things are a part of life, and I cannot fathom that there are families who DON'T have to deal with it in some form or another. I suspect they just don't acknowledge it or deal with it. Those that do seek out help, treatment and understanding are often happier, in the long run.

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    1. In denial seems to be the best way to describe those who refuse to see what others are struggling with. I get compliments from my coworkers and my boss, who see me work with my son and other children every day, and I keep telling them, this is my life, it wasn't a choice, but I choose to be the best I can be for them. It is part of the acceptance. A good friend used to say to me, "That happened, so what?" Best wishes to you!

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  9. I am glad you can share your story, especially because you are a good story teller and always have been. But as a mom, your mom, I have always felt saddened by the fact that you could not share more of these feeling with me. I have dealt with other family members struggling with depression and I always viewed my role as trying to project a positive attitude i.e., look at the bright side, while being supportive. But that is not enough and does not get to the root of the problem and is, in the end, of little consequence. Teach us how to help!

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    1. Stop making it look so easy! Just kidding :) I will work on that. I think the biggest help would be if the world could just learn to love everyone and accept everyone, even when they are losing their minds and acting crazy. Sadly this will not happen.

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  10. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I've worked with people on the spectrum for over 10 years and find that I'm still advocating to everyone else that there is nothing wrong with being different, not everyone communicates or expresses emotion in the same way. I think because of my own anxiety and social issues I can relate, just a little, to the struggle of people on the spectrum. I've always felt like people dissmiss me or exclude me because they assume that I just like being alone all the time, but that's a topic for another day. Depression is real and I'm glad you found a way to deal with it.

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    1. Thank you, Toi. Your work is very important and much appreciated!

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  11. You've come a long way to be able to get this all into words and share. :) Keep on!

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  12. Thank you so much for sharing this honest reflection and story of survival. One day at a time, right?

    Anne from annehiga.com

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