May is Mental Health Month, which is fitting, because a large part of this blog is going to be dedicated to exploring my own journey over the past year. It’s been about eight months since I’ve posted anything, and longer than that since I’ve sent out an update on my writing.
The writing process is tedious in itself. I have a full time job, family responsibilities, and myself on top of trying to spend time in my craft. If I didn’t have those “real life” pressures, it would probably be easier to get something done on HalfLife. However, this is real life. My life.
For nearly the last year, I haven’t been able to write.
When I sent out my HalfLife draft to Beta Readers early last spring, I dove right into the sequel book. I managed to pump out 50,000 words in a very short time, but when I got the beta notes back, it was like I froze. A writer’s block in the worst way hit me. I would try and try and try again to rework the manuscript, to find the spots that needed the most work, to heed the advice of my Betas.
The truth is: I wasn’t doing well.
I hadn’t been for a couple of years. A year ago, I spent all of my time in bed if I wasn’t at work. I didn’t hang out with people. In fact, I actively avoided them. I literally only did the things I was obligated to do. There were periods of time where the only people who saw me were my parents because I was living with them.
I was really struggling. I’d lost people in my life, dealt with family issues, and my parents flooded in 2016. By the Spring of 2017, I was a mess. I tried dating, which I don’t really do, and my anxiety was horrendous. I’m talking three hour anxiety attacks beforehand. I didn’t know how to handle the way that I was feeling.
This week marks one year since I started seeing my therapist.
When I first went, I felt hopeless. I was at my lowest point. I felt alone, and lost, and scared. To this day, talking about how I was feeling then will make me cry because that’s a scary place to be. Logically, I knew that my thought processes were ridiculous, but emotionally, I had convinced myself that I had no worth, that I had pushed away everyone important to me, and that I was a burden on the world. Looking back on it makes me cry because I’m terrified of being that person again. That was a scary place to be, and I never want to go back there.
It was hard at first to admit that I was in therapy. When I was leaving early every week, I’d tell my coworkers that I was leaving for a doctor’s appointment. It took a good six months before I was comfortable even telling people outside of my immediate family that I was in therapy. At the time, it made me feel weak, like I was admitting to not being this strong person that I was for other people.
A year later, I know that taking that first step was the strongest thing that I have ever done.
I’ve learned so much about myself in the last year. I’ve changed. I still have anxiety. I still have depressive episodes, but I’ve learned how to manage them. I’ve also learned that I have to be gentle with myself. I’m my own worst critic. For the most part, this change has been positive, but not everyone has been supportive on my journey. As a result, I’ve had to say goodbye along the way. But through that goodbye, I was able to realize the people who are supportive. I am so lucky to have people that still care even when I blew them off for months (even a year!) because I was going through a hard time.
So how does this relate to my writing?
When I’m not well, the creative side of my brain shuts down. I go into survivor mode. Do the bare minimum. I’m finally in a place where my creative brain is working again. I have a clear plan for HalfLife, and I’m working to make the time to get through it.
This is my plan:
–rework the entire first half of the novel to increase and establish actual stakes early on
–character development (some names are changing & developing more concrete backstories)
–Building up the story so the ending doesn’t feel like a big bomb going off without any build up.
I have at least this draft and a round of heavy edits before this is ready for anyone else to look at. To those who beta read for me last year, thank you, and I’m sorry. That draft wasn’t ready for anyone’s eyes. I may be looking to do another beta read, but when that time comes, I’ll be asking different people so I have fresh eyes on the manuscript.
So, I’m here, I’m better, and every day I move more toward my goal of being published. Thank you to those who have stuck around. This is only the beginning.
PS: if you or someone you know is struggling, please know that there are resources out there designed to help. I know it’s scary to admit you’re struggling. Just remember, you have made it through 100% of your bad days. If there’s anything I can do to help, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to help in any way that I can.