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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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now i'll tell you more
children of dune - leto 1
Went to the doctor today for my blood test and prescription checkup for my ritalin. It went surprisingly well, of course, and for the first time I talked about how severe my depression was October through January.

You might call this a sequel really; this post began six months ago, and I thought maybe, I need to complete it.

I'd known in March 2010 that it was happening, but those months were worse than my first year of college when I was sitting in the communal bathroom cutting myself, talking aimlessly to the school therapist who after our first session recommended I see a psychiatrist and I went in for some psychological testing by my Russian professor (unrelated; apparently he had experience with learning disabilities and recognized a pattern in Russian II that indicated I should get checked out) and left with a prescription for Zoloft from the interviewing psychiatrist and two appointments.

It's only in retrospect I look back on that interview and remember when he asked if it was okay if he spoke to my mother. I don't remember it; its been ten years. In the shape I was in, I may not have remembered it after it happened. I was sleeping eighteen hours a day. But apparently, it was worrying, if my mother's memories of this same time are to be trusted (they are; it was also the time that she was suspecting an eating disorder; I'd dropped to something below 125 and with my frame, it's honestly hideous. I never noticed. I doubt she was relieved it was a symptom of depression, per se, but was probably glad to know it wasn't an eating disorder. Depression my family knows and understands and can deal with).

Anyway, doctor.

He said I looked great (I love Dr. Chang) and my blood pressure was excellent; he noted I lost weight (nothing to do with fat/skinny/obese/etc, he's very much into "feeling good? Excellent"; problems with my thyroid manifest in sudden weight gain and exhaustion, so it's an indicator to use with my blood test results to see if my dose needs to be changed). Funny thing on that; I told him about my twenty-pound range. I can't tell it's happening unless I'm on a scale because I'm tall enough that weight distributes fairly evenly (and happily on the chest area, I'd like to report) but it's something to take into account when the blood test results are in. I knew it wasn't all blood tests; being borderline but still having inexplicable weight gain and exhaustion is an indicator as well. I had no idea before how complicated and still in progress the science of thyroid regulation is, and how it's both art and science. I have a very artistic doctor).

Emboldened by nice medical news, we talked about the depression; I explained how bad it had been and how I didn't understand how it plunged so fast when I'd pretty much been in my normal range for a cycle as of August; I was still posting, still reading my flist, still writing and then in October, everything stopped, and I mean everything. Some I can attribute to job stress; this is when we lost a lot of staff and I had a lot of overtime and I was utterly terrified of surgery. But I know my own cycles and they get bad, but never the hopelessness that was Thanksgiving and Christmas, never the inability to care what was happening to me, and not since college when I literally had no fucking clue what was wrong and didn't know what was going on or how to deal was it this frightening when I cared enough to wonder if I should be scared yet.

He surprised me by mentioning something [personal profile] merryish had told me regarding the aftereffects of anesthesia, which you know, I had my gall bladder out right before Halloween.

Six months ago, almost to the day, I wrote about being a cutter after a truly nauseating attack on a cutter in sf-drama. I'm still mad about that and I'm glad I read it, because one of the things that fandom--and not-fandom for that matter--is sometimes, we talk around our mental illnesses--we have them, yes--but not what they are, what they do to us, what they mean to us, what it feels like in our skin. I feel like some of us almost sanitize it for public viewing, talk about the big things that happened but the honest truth is, for me, depression has no big things; that's the horror of it. It's not just that you don't want to look weak; fandom is huge and it's tiny, and I met the most important and best friend of my life online, and a dozen close friends, and the idea of them realizing they were completely misguided on my ability to be a friend kind of kills the desire to give anything more than what I have to.

Cutting is one of the big things, but it's one of the big things that show we recognize the problem and we're doing something about it. That's a huge thing. But it's not what daily life is, what it is every moment between, what it is when even that is too much trouble, when it loops back into you, until the depression itself punishes you again for even daring to have it. That's the hard part. It's not even that you can't get out of bed, can't get in the shower, have to force yourself to go through the motions of living; you start hating yourself for what you can't even help. When you hate yourself for not being able to care and then in self-defense you turn that shit off because the boxcutter is looking better for some artistic expression in an easily concealed place.

This is daily life; it's waking up and not sure why you bothered. It's going to a movie seems like work. It's meeting a friend for lunch and getting nauseated at the very idea. It's staring at the wall and trying to remember what it felt like to care. It's fighting down self-hatred with anything to distract yourself and you realize the one thing that always worked is gone.

It's all the stories in your head silenced. All of them.

My parents tell me I've been telling stories since I was three years old. I wrote my first almost correctly formatted short story in third grade where my teacher had to take me aside to teach me quotation marks while everyone else was learning the use and abuse of a comma. I wrote my first novel in fifth grade, my second in sixth, my third and fourth and fifth in seventh grade, and a set of intertwined terrible written novels about six families of vampires on a French island (dear God do not ask), a sequel to Susan Kay's Phantom, and various historical-based short stories. My right finger had a permanent red groove from pens, and I went through 200 sheet college ruled notebook paper a week during the summers when I was home and needed a new package of pens once a month. College I stopped writing but I never stopped telling stories; all my essays were ridiculously long and sketched out new worlds to make my point.

I haven't stopped writing since 1998, when I took creative writing and something flipped in my head--and I acquired a computer--and I didn't stop again. I've been in fandom for twelve years; from August 2010 to June 2011 was teh longest period of time I wasn't posting; from October 2010 until June 2011, it was the longest period of time I hadn't written. Because I couldn't.

There weren't any stories. There wasn't anything. That's what living with depression is to me; there's nothing there. I couldn't do anything because the way I interpret the world broke; it was slow and dull and I couldn't grasp life because I didn't know what was happening in it. I couldn't write out a thought, a feeling, a shock of recognition, I couldn't communicate, not with myself, not with anyone else.

Two weeks ago I had to get a story for the KisCon zine done; I have thirty almost-finished stories in my folder that need like, a beta to post, but I couldn't understand what I'd meant when I wrote it, so I couldn't touch them.

One month ago I went to visit [personal profile] svmadelyn in Chicago for a weekend; I wondered why on earth I was doing it. But I went and I came home and I didn't tell my flist and I didn't even tell her, but I was sleep deprived and standing in O'Hare when I arrived and I realized, very abruptly, I wanted to be there. I wanted to be there, I wanted to see her, I wanted to wander around Chicago and eat at a dozen places and explore Macey's finally from the ground up and go shopping and wear eyeliner and enjoy time with my best friend. And I did. I had a blast, I was in withdrawal from ritalin that my sister took and so I got tired too fast but every morning I woke up thinking of all the things we'd see that day. I realized how much I'd missed her, and how much I missed everything.

I haven't wanted anything in so long, so you'll have to forgive me that I didn't recognize it at once.

A few weeks ago, I sent a Due South story I'd written three years ago for beta and sketched out the beginning of a sequel; I froze up, shocked, because I didn't know what I was doing.

Two weeks ago I sat down and discarded the Trek story I'd almost finished and started something new and was so terrified I wanted to throw up. It was hard and I kept falling over my keyboard and then I cut teh entire beginning, and I whined to [personal profile] svmadelyn how I'd forgotten how to write, but that's kind of a lie; I was remembering. I just--forgot--how that felt, too.

One week ago I wrote an X-Men story and when I finished it, I sat down and thought I'd cry, because that story wasn't the one I'd originally wanted to write. It was the one that got in first because when I opened Word, there were thousands. There were thousands.

Remember when I said I wrote about being a cutter? Fifth paragraph after the cut, I wrote this:

It gets better. I know. And then it gets worse and the cycle starts again and its' not like I know right now isn't forever, that if I'm right about how this cycles, and I know myself, I have at least six months before I'm back to something resembling baseline, and that's until the next time. I'll backslide again in a few weeks--I know this shit cold, it's hilarious how self-awareness just does shit, but I'm not suicidal. I haven't been. Self-destruction can take so many forms, and if you're really fucked up, there are many better ways to hurt yourself so you have to live with it. I'm not scared, I've never been scared of killing myself; I'm scared of that, of the moment not-caring becomes finding a way, any way, to care about something. Being mildly OCD--diagnosed by a trufax doctor, so fuck off the sneer--has one use only for me when it gets like this and I've used it ruthlessly from spending hours and hours creating spreadsheets no one will ever see of stupid shit to hours reading linux to days and days of doing nothing but uninstalling and reinstalling and crashing my server so I could do it again and again until I could sleep, or what passes for sleep, because you can't call this shit insomnia when your life is where sleep, real sleep, is the fucking exception.

I was off, as it turns out; it's two days early. Five months, twenty-eight days ago, I made myself believe I'd get through this one. I said six months, and I was right; now it's better, and I know it'll happen again, but when it does, I'll read that entry and then I'll read this one, and I'll remember. And I'll believe.

And now I am going out to dinner with a friend I haven't talked to in months, and I'm looking forward to it and I'm excited about it, and when I get home, maybe I'll write a story. And maybe tell my best friend thank you, I missed you, I had a blast, and Chicago was amazing.

So. I need to catch up on everything I missed. Including myself.

Posted at Dreamwidth: http://seperis.dreamwidth.org/88452.html. | You can reply here or there. | comments

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I think you're amazing. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Having gone through bone-chilling depression, I can sort of understand what you are talking about (I can't claim to know exactly because I'm not you and you are not me) but I remember that well of nothingness and how it seems that nothing would ever get better - but it does. I'm glad that things are getting better and that you are getting excited again about life and friends and stories.


You and fic have the same relationship my husband has to music, and I hate the fact that depression can act so cruelly to cut people off from their wellsprings.

Thank you so much for sharing this post - and yourself - with us. This kind of post only strengthens all of us. I'm glad that you're finding your way back to yourself again.

Thank you for writing this. You're absolutely right that people still don't usually talk about the details.

I'm so glad for you... I got tears in my eyes at the end of this. You were meant to write, and I'm so happy it's coming back. <333

Is it okay if I say THANK YOU for posting this?

'Cos this helped me to read.
Thank you.

It's just...sometimes, lately, I've been having these bits of feeling like a person again.

Was good to read this. Thank you.

I'm glad you're feeling better, and coming out of this downswing.

(I typo'd "better" as "batter", and now I'm thinking about what that would be, feeling batter. Do you want to be made into pancakes?)

Thank you for sharing this. I'm so glad that you're in a better place, and I hope that you stay there, and I'm so happy that you went to Chicago. :-)

Thank you for helping me see that maybe I'm not writing because I'm stressed and depressed and I miss my boys and I want them back and maybe it'll never happen and at least I have knitting but that's not enough.

I love you honey, so so much. But I am so so glad to see you. I've been gone too, a long time. And I'm crawling slowly back, kind of hermit crabby.

Thank you for sharing it. Thank you for talking about it. t's silence that makes it invisible.

Thank you for writing this.

I started seeking out a therapist when I realized I hadn't written anything longer than a text message in close to a year. That was what made me realize that I was sliding from really shitty to worst case scenario; without the ability to string words together, I don't know how to pretend that life is worth living. (They say it gets better; sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the bully is your brain. Sometimes the monsters are real, and they can't be slain.)
I started seeing the therapist I'm with now back in February 2010, and I'm more content than I've ever been, for as long as I can remember... And I'm still depressed. Sometimes dragging myself out of bed 10 minutes before I need to leave the house for work is the biggest accomplishment of my week. Sometimes even knowing it's been days since I showered or went outside for longer than it takes to get to the bus stop, I still can't force myself to do those things. I've been battling major depression for almost 18 years now, and I've been losing and sacrificing pieces of myself along the way and I don't know if I'll ever remember the way to reclaim them.

Thank you for writing about your depression. Sometimes these comments are the only place I let myself talk about this stuff.

They say it gets better; sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes the bully is your brain. Sometimes the monsters are real, and they can't be slain.

Yeah. They sleep, sometimes, but they won't ever die. There's this vid by fan_eunice about Nightmare on Elm Street; I love that vid beyond words. She explained her context and I explained what I got out of it, but it's occuring to me now how much I do. THe monster won't die, even when you think you killed it, and sometimes you're so tired of fighting you don't know why you're doing it anymore, only that you have to.

I've been battling major depression for almost 18 years now, and I've been losing and sacrificing pieces of myself along the way and I don't know if I'll ever remember the way to reclaim them.

I'm still trying to find pieces, yeah. The list of things I care about shouldn't be this short.

Thank you for writing about your depression. Sometimes these comments are the only place I let myself talk about this stuff.

Thank you so much for commenting. For me, it's a reminder I'm really not alone.

From your post on cutting, this part:

The problem is that you're fucked up from depression and there's no cure. There is no cure. It will never go away, and it will hit you from nowhere, or from a mile away you watch it coming and there's nothing you can do to get out of the way. You know, you know what life will be like, when it hits; you know you won't think right, you won't feel right, everything becomes impossible and ridiculous and boring and hateful and the most ordinary world imaginable becomes a nightmare you won't get to wake up from. You don't know when it will end and you take on faith it will end at all. It's kind of all you have, really, in the end; it's you and a brain that's betrayed you on the most fundamental level, that's stripped you down until the world you live in might as well be a different fucking universe than the one that everyone else seems to live and love and enjoy. And the worst part is, you do know it. You do. You know. And you still can't fix it. You just have to live with it.

That's what living with depression is for me, all of the time. I think that's what it's like for a lot of us, that we feel so alone and isolated--depression, much as I sometimes wish it was, is not really a disease which is suffered in community.

The list of things I care about shouldn't be this short.

I tried to explain that to my best friend once, just the overwhelming apathy. She didn't understand, but I thought maybe I just didn't explain it right? Now I realize that it's because she doesn't live in the same world that I live in, where my worst enemy and my best defense is to just shut off whatever I'm feeling, to be completely apathetic because the pain of feeling nothing is a better trade off than the pain of feeling at all.

Thank you for this post. More than I can say.



You make me so proud to have the chance to call you my friend. :)

I've only recently friended you, but I'm so glad you're feeling creative and good. It took me five years of depression and major thyroid issues to get back to writing, and even now there's 3-6 month periods with nothing. But it *always* comes back, even though I never believe this at the time.

How do you always know how to post the things I need to read right when I need to read them?


ILU and I'm glad you're on an upswing. You deserve it.

Thanks for writing this.

It's kind of easy to recognize the Sad as being from depression, but it's so hard to convince myself that the lack of feeling is also from the depression. I need to keep this more firmly in mind so it doesn't slide so far before I recognize it...
Thank you for posting this reminder; I really needed to read that.

This was unfathomably hard to read - our paths haven't crossed since Smallville, but most of what I remember from that fandom is the reams and reams of breathtaking fic and brilliant meta you churned out, and the thought that that stopped for such a long time seems impossible. So glad you've found your way again.

I've been lurking around enjoying your stories, but I have to thank you for this entry. It articulates a lot of what people (or at least I) have felt but could not say. *hugs*

I think you are my favorite fic writer of all time. I'm glad you're feeling better, and I hope you feel even better someday. <3 That's all.

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