The break that almost killed me

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I’d wondered how this post would go most of the weekend, and while I’m sitting here on Sunday awaiting the blood moon and eclipse. I learned a lot about myself over the last few months.

My break wasn’t one I’d intended. It was magical journey into one of the worst depressions I’ve had since my break in 2014.

It started with my son having some issues at school. I’m not blaming him. I’m blaming myself for not dealing with my mental health in a satisfactory way. There were inklings of the coming storm with how I handled a few things after the first of the year. The echoes of the coming storm reverberated and then took over as if the echoes weren’t echoes but the storm’s arrival at my doorstep.

I fought hard to contain the storm. I stopped drinking because I needed to. I put myself on a limit on how much social media I could participate in. This last part led me to take a break from Twitter and screw up my algorithm. I no longer saw the people I cared about seeing. It was all bullshit all the time. I dove into TikTok and into my Norse practice. The latter has been my saving grace over the last eight months.

I may go into the Norse practice if there is any interest, but let’s just say I had a few conversations in dreams last summer that led me to discover it.

As I fell more into a depressive state and swore, I wouldn’t say anything to anyone for fear of what they might say.

Those moments of clarity in the depths of my depression caused me to wonder what I was doing. Whether I should continue to write and if it was a waste of time. I’ve written steadily for the last eight years. I’ve written eight novels, 4 novellas, and more short stories than I can count.

Recently I wondered if it was worth it. I’ve often wondered whether I should continue. It’s something that still plagues me as I write this. After that much writing and having nothing except the collection out in the world, it’s hard to understand what I’ve done wrong.

The biggest problem is allowing others to dictate what I should write when I know better than anyone else what my mind is capable of. In that vein, I also understood I needed to find a real editor for my work. Finding one made a huge difference. I’ve barely touched the draft they’ve worked on. That changes this week.

I am on firmer footing with myself and my work, but there will always be that questioning mind about whether I should continue or move on. This hits hardest as my oldest graduates in a couple of weeks. We’re taking them and their sibling to Disneyland to celebrate this occasion.

As they step into another phase of their life, I know my wife and I are doing the same.

I will always struggle with depression. It’s a fact that I’ve come to accept. I won’t merely exist with it. I will live with it.

I began a new story this week, writing it for myself. I’m avoiding the traps of my former writing ways and throwing myself into it.

I hope you’ll stay and follow along.

Change is coming…

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I’ve been in a very depressed state for the last three months. It started with my writing not going anywhere. It moved on from that onto my oldest having issues at school. They graduate this year and ran into some issues in February. From there my mind was thrown off and I haven’t written anything I’ve really enjoyed since.

I have a novel out with my editor and will continue to use this editor. She’s been awesome and understands the characters. Her going over my draft has been one of the brightest points of the last three months. The rest of it has been shit.

I have six projects in one form or another moving along, but getting fresh words on them are the hardest things I’ve done in a long time.

Long time readers of this blog know that I equate depression to living in pit. The walls are slick with mud and slime. It is hardest thing to climb out of because of those walls. I’ve had many thoughts of self-harm over these three months. I’m working through all of it but damn getting out of the pit is hard.

I’ve also quit drinking. This time for good. I can’t drink. It’s something that I’ve fought with over the last three years. It finally came to head around my birthday in March. I can’t in good conscience drink alcohol and fell good about who I am as person.

I no longer want to be in this situation. I’m working to improve my mental as well as physical well being. I will be using this blog to refocus my energy and to use it how I’d initially intended it. To write about my problems. I know it’s sometimes depressing to read about how someone is struggling, but I know there are people out there who are comforted and feel less alone by reading my words. I’ve had numerous people tell me so.

But I am on to the next page. I will be here more often and my content will change a little bit, but I’ll always talk about writing. It’s the one thing that keeps me going.

What’s holding things back?

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This will not be my usual content!

I’ve been on TikTok a lot lately and there are some fabulous conversations about trauma by good creators. These conversations led me to confronting a lot of bad shit from my childhood, from my late teens, and from my early twenties.

Some of these are issues I’m not ready to deal with, while others are of a different variety.

When I graduated high school all I wanted was to be a Marine. I went to boot camp and was shipped home a week later. I prepared for boot camp for months. But when I was sent home a lot of desire for anything came out of me. I got really depressed and a few times I thought of suicide.

I have never wanted anything in my life the way I wanted that and I think it’s held me back. I see this in my writing, my family life, and myself personally. I haven’t dealt with ghost of the months following my discharge. I didn’t care about anything then. It’s been almost 30 years since then and the “What if” creeps into my mind.

Today I’ve chosen to deal with this and what it did to me.

I was 18 and was as much of child as I could have been. I don’t believe I was truly an adult until I turned 28, just before my eldest child was born.

I was coddled when I got home by my father, siblings, and other family members. I’m sure they were trying to be nice about it, but I think that hurt more than anything else.

Was this 30 years ago? yes. Does it still have space in my head? Yes. But I haven’t dealt with this and I know it’s stilted my writing. I’ve never wanted anything the way I wanted the title, United States Marine, and it screwed me up.

I’m telling you this because I needed to write it down. I had to get it out. Maybe because I hope it will help me throw it away and move forward. I need to go after my writing goals like I did with that, and it’s been almost 30 years.

Today I’m moving forward and taking steps to put this period behind me. I have to. It’s done enough damage to my mental state. I feel like I’ve floated through in life since coming home. I’m sorry to that 18 year old kid that we didn’t do more for him. I hate that we’ve let him down, or at least it feels like it. By we I mean the me who’s lived since he came home. I feel we’ve let that damaged kid down by not doing something more with our lives.

I have a wife and kids and live a good life, but I think he would be disappointed in the lack of things we haven’t done for ourselves. I’m going to remedy that.

Have a good week and do things your 18 year old self would be proud of you for doing!

Found myself in Limbo today.

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The last few months have tried my mentally and physically. I’ve barely written a word in the last couple of months and those I’ve written I don’t care for.

I’ll never stop writing, but right it feels hard. I don’t know it’s this way, but it is and it’s causing my depression issues to creep back in. I want to be left alone to read, watch movies, and do absolutely nothing, but that’s not a possibility.

The aspects of not writing or being blocked, which I’m not sure if I’m blocked or if there’s something else going on.

I had a good discussion with my editor about my military/political thriller on Tuesday and it gave me a lot of confidence to continue to write in that genre, but it hasn’t turned into new words on the page.

I’ve dealt with a lot in the last couple of months with my mental state, what I want to do and whether I’ll continue to write, it’s a yes on the latter, and confusion on the former.

It’s difficult to deal with childhood issues when you’re working on them. It’s also difficult to understand that trauma you dealt with as a kid when it raises its head at the most inopportune of times.

I’m trying to work past all of this, but it’s quite difficult to understand why I’m stuck. I’ll go back and erase some of the items in the draft, or move them around. They’re hard to deal with and they set the story on a path I’m not comfortable with at the moment. I have to get back to writing and not worrying about whether the story is going in a direction that is manageable. Sometimes it manages itself, and I need to get back to my writing moving smoothly. It’s not happening right now.

I’m feeling a bit lost with my writing and it not flowing is making it worse. I’d wanted to have a finished draft of the espionage thriller done by the end of May, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen. I have plans for other books within the same world.

My brain has been active with regards to writing this stuff but my fingers have not. I’m writing, just in my head not on the page.

Taking your time and getting through the drafts.

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Through trial and error, I’m discovering that I need to take more time with a story before I commit to writing. This comes as I’m working on the 3rd rewrite and 6th draft of this story.

I don’t take enough time to figure everything out. I jump in feet first and don’t think about it. It takes me more drafts to do that and as I worked on the story this morning I’m understanding the story better. It could be the draft number, but I’m realizing more about the story I didn’t see before.

I won’t get into the specifics because I’m submitting the story again this year, but it’s about more than I thought it was. Parts of it are personal, others are just the story, but I hope it finds a home.

But I digress.

When I take my time I understand the story, and while it takes a few years, it’s a better story for it. The current story started a couple of years ago as a short story. It’s changed what it is, but the meat is still in it and the heart continues to beat.

Getting through each draft is the maddening part of it. My wife thinks I should outline and narrow the scope to reduce the number of drafts. Some stories don’t let me do that. I know the story’s bones when I sit down. That’s not all the time, but usually, I construct the rest of the story around those bones. When I don’t know it I may sketch the thought down, just to have a record of it. I’ll work with that thought over a few weeks. If I have enough I’ll get to work. If not it sits.

The problem is jumping into a story without having those bones, ligaments, tendons. The heart may be there, but it’s a lifeless, grey thing without the other parts.

I’m trying to slow down with these drafts and construct something better.

I have to get other things done today. I hope you’re all well and I’ll see you on Friday.