i'm crawling out of a bit of a depression/anxiety the last two days. but i think i'm halfway out. today i did a read-through on my book so far, and i have to admit i'm feeling pretty proud and excited despite a rough few days of feeling like a useless shit-bag for not making progress.
it's going to take a lot of work still but what i have.... is pretty cool. and nothing like it has been done before in tech writing. trying to remember this feeling to keep me going in hard times ahead....
i've had mental illness most of my life but this book project has been one of the harder things i've encountered as far as being productive and achieving my goals while being mentally ill. for one, writing in a very memoir-like way just brings back so many memories and PTSD and pain. lots of my book combines personal experiences and stories with systemic analysis, and holy fuck it can be painful and also debilitating when it comes to actually being able to write. i cry more than i've cried in years, and am experiencing whole new ways of being triggered as i dig through the past.
it. fucking. hurts.
Here's just a few tips that work for me for continuing to work despite mental illness, take what works for you or don't.
- there's a huge range of tasks involved in putting together a book. writing, editing, organizing research, doing read-throughs, promoting it, etc. i try to look for the tasks that i think i'm capable of doing THAT DAY and do those things. this requires some mental overhead of tracking a few different lines of work at once, and i try to do that work of laying out tasks on good mental-health days; however
- SOMETIMES YOU'RE JUST TOO DEPRESSED AND ANXIOUS AND SICK TO DO ANYTHING. i've found forcing myself to write on those days just prolongs the exhaustion and even though it can be pretty hard, i think sometimes taking a few days to try to focus exclusively on self-care actually means i recover faster than i would trying to suffer and struggle through it
- when i'm working on a particularly difficult chapter, i try to make people around me aware of it and tell them how they can be more supportive, or just warn them not to expect as much of me as i am usually able
- when i'm writing during an anxious/depressed spell, i make extra-sure to make the things i need to write available: easy snacks that don't require prep, lots of water within reach, etc. if you're gonna use your limited energy to write, make that as easy as possible on yourself. relatedly:
- my writing space is super critical to me. one of the things i've learned through this process is to MAKE MY WRITING SPACE WORK. my writing space needs to feel safe and comforting, and it needs to have ALL the shit to make me feel better. scented candles, decorations, pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, music, a place to lay down, tons of notebooks and pretty pens, marijuana to smoke... for me, having a space that i can feel okay / find comfort in really helps. so i spend a lot of time designing my writing spaces, even while i'm on the move / traveling.
anyways, i'm sure i'll be posting more on this topic later but now i'm gonna shower and watch TV, because i've done all i can do today for my book.
remember to pre-order my book at www.shanleybook.com