I am not everyone. Whew.

So some of you may have seen me tweet a little about my issues with depression or maybe not. Fact is, I’ve been in denial. Maybe I should back it up and explain a little something. My family has been my basis for comparison for years.  I did not want to be them. My mom went deaf at 25 years old so I was overly careful with my hearing. I’m 34 and both my ears are fine. In fact, from being so careful around loud noises, my hearing’s better than fine. Go me! My sister was diagnosed with bipolar (after a bazillion doctors, they decided she wasn’t bipolar but had ADHD. Not sure what that means, but anyways) so I always thought that any mental illness meant I was like her. When I felt I might be suffering from depression in college, I told a few friends, but I didn’t discuss it with my family. I saw a few therapists and the mild depression passed.

That brings us to the last few years. Life has not gone the way I planned. With these potholes have come frustration and bouts of depression. At first, they were stints that lasted a few weeks to maybe 2 months but then they were over, just like in college. Then things started to change. I was constantly tired. No amount of sleep helped. I had no energy and therefore didn’t do too much. I gained a serious amount of weight. Things that would generally make me happy felt like “eh”. I didn’t feel up to seeing my friends because I was just too tired. Some told me that it was due to my hitting my 30’s. I talked to my doctor and we started to investigate a possible thyroid problem. It was often elevated, but after a few rounds of tests, she concluded that a thyroid issue wasn’t likely. She suggested I see an endocrinologist.

I figured the “just barely functional” way of life was the way things were going to be. I knew I had symptoms of depression, but it had taken me almost a year to really notice that’s what it was and I thought the depression was a symptom of something else. Then it dawned on me, what if everything I’ve been going through is just plain depression? Because, why does it have to be something else? Isn’t depression enough?

All my life, I’ve fought having any kind of mental illness or admitting it let alone medicine for it. Finally, I realized that just because I may have depression, I’m not damaged. I’m not broken. I just need some help. I discussed this with my doctor and we decided that trying medicine is a good idea. I haven’t had a good quality of life for 2 years now. I want to remember what really happy feels like instead of numb and no feeling or crying all the time. Depression has hindered my relationships and my writing. I won’t let it do that anymore. I’m not weak to admit I need help. I’m not weak to use medicine to help. I deserve the best life I can have and if medicine can do that for me, then why wouldn’t I try it?

We shall see how this goes. I don’t want to get my hopes too high because nothing is perfect, but I’m hopeful for a change. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that something is wrong. It doesn’t make me my mom or my sister or anyone else. I am me. I am fabulous (most of the time) and I have depression. And that’s ok. It doesn’t make me any less me.

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Nano Nay Sayers

Don’t Go Knocking my Nano

It’s that time of year again: Nanowrimo. Yes, National Novel Writing Month is in full swing again and I am deep in its trenches trying to help out my local Municipal Liaison where I can. I love Nano. It helped me write my first finished novel. It helped me make some fabulous writerly friends and learn about new opportunities for writing in my area. Why does any of that sound bad to people?

First, let me explain a little for newbies what exactly Nano is. A bunch of crazy people around the world (in the hundreds of thousands now) try to write a novely looking thing of 50,000 words in the month of November. While 50k is not quite a novel, it is a doable number for most people in 30 days. At the end of 30 days, most will have the beginnings of novel and can feel very proud for the great accomplishment.

Why would anyone want to down this crazy, fun time? Why must the nay sayers come out in full force? I get their worries, but why cram that down the throats of people who would otherwise never write a book? Here are the issues many have with Nano:

1. Too many people only write in November and then never again.

2. Too many people think that what they write in November is a shiny, finished project and try to sell their wares the second Dec. 1st hits.

3. We are goats following the herd and can’t think for ourselves.

4. If you aren’t Nanoing, we somehow won’t associate with you.

5. The writing of 50k words in one month means all the words are garbage (sorta goes along with #2)

I will start with number 1. This is true. There are some who only write in November because of the community they have surrounding them. What’s wrong with that? If that’s what they want to do, so be it. It doesn’t make them any less of a writer. A “real” writer doesn’t have to write 365 days a year, no matter what other people say.  If they aren’t in it for money, what difference does it make?  And what harm is that to these nay sayers? Some people dabble.  So what? Get over yourselves.

2. This is also unfortunately true. While it is only a small percent of all the people who participate in Nano, there are some that don’t understand the publishing industry and don’t do their homework before throwing out a very rough draft into the world.  It is sad, but to judge every single Wrimo based on this is ridiculous. No two writers are identical so why would you lump us all together because we all did a writing challenge? Not to mention, are you telling me that there aren’t people who do this that have never participated in Nano?

3. We can very much think for ourselves. We’re writing 50k words straight from our brain, aren’t we? Heck, there are some who can drag out 100k or even 150k during the 30 days. I think that requires a few unique brain cells. Nano has a great community and although writing is a solitary sport, we can commiserate with each other about the ups and downs we all go through.

4. Just because Nano doesn’t work for you or you choose not to do it, it doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. We may not talk as much during November due to the insane quest to draft, draft, draft, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love people who don’t wanna Nano.

5. Um, to quote a whole bunch of famous, published authors: 1st drafts are crap. I don’t enjoy editing when I’m writing a first draft because it slows me down to the point that I would never finish and I would hate it all way too fast. If you like to edit as you write, good for you—I DON’T.  The choice of editing it all later vs. as you write just means we have two different methods. Isn’t that the beauty of being human? That we’re all different? If we all did things exactly the same way, we’d be robots and who the heck would want to read those mechanically written books?

There are probably other reasons that people hate on it and I’m good with not knowing them. People hate what they don’t understand and this is no different. Not everyone drafts the same. Some people prefer to edit as they write, most doing Nano don’t.  Being able to spew out words until we finish a first draft is the safest choice for people who have trouble finishing.  All writing is rewriting anyways, so getting the basics of the story out onto paper gives a base to start molding and shaping the story into something great.

Whether you like Nano or not, I hope we can all agree that a program that helps give new writers a place to feel safe and learn how to start a writing routine is a good thing. It’s just one of many resources out there for writers. Besides, one crazy month out of twelve really isn’t that much to deal with. Thirty days will be over before you know it! Uh, oh, I better go write!