Hey friends! Hope that everyone has been having a lovely time since the last Mailbox Monday a month ago. I haven’t been able to post Mailbox Monday as regularly as I would have liked so I wanted to bring you a little update to you all today as to what’s been going on and also talk about something that’s been bugging me for a while now – writing with anxiety!
- WORK – Last month I spoke about not getting the full-time position for the job I currently do part-time and how it has really knocked my confidence. I had also applied for another similar job within my organization which I was interviewed for last week but was unfortunately told, yet again, that I a) don’t have enough experience and b) that I’m not concise enough in interviews. I’ve had really bad experiences with interview feedback which focuses on my communication difficulties as I already use strategies to help me in interviews and it honestly makes me feel like a pile of steaming poop when I’m basically told I’m not ‘neurotypical’ enough…
- DEPRESSION – Since I graduated from university in August, I have been pretty much stuck at home day in, day out. I’m very lucky that I now have my weekend job but the disadvantage of this is that I’m still stuck at home for 5 days out of 7 every week, every month. Because of the nature of my depression, I have a tendency to become very isolated and am unable to maintain IRL friendships, and as we don’t have much money I can’t really afford to keep going out to do things. Being stuck at home for pretty much 80% of my life at the moment is really taking its toll on my depression and leading to a lot of deprecating/ self-destructive thoughts because I feel a bit like I’m just wasting my life and not achieving anything.
- POSITIVES – On days when I’m not floored by depression & anxiety, I’m trying to invest my time in creative opportunities. Over the past 2 weeks, I have started a creative opportunities journal where I record different upcoming freelance jobs and what steps I’ve taken. So far, I have had a video game related pitch accepted for a fantastic online magazine which will be my first ever paid writing gig! I have also submitted a creative writing pitch for an anthology which I’m waiting to hear back from, and am also working towards submitting something for an online YA anthology for September!
Writing with anxiety
Which conveniently leads me to the thing I want to talk about today! For a little bit of context, I used to love creative writing and was very lucky to have encouraging teachers throughout my education. I remember the first creative story I ever wrote was effectively a little gender-bent Spyro fanfic with my mum and ever since then I loved writing stories. I got a lot of peer support in secondary school for my stories, which laughably were shared around the class in little fake exercise books so people could read them during class, and lots of people had me pegged as someone who would become an author when I was older.
Unfortunately for me, depression and anxiety would come and slap a big wet fish over those dreams – at least for now. As my mental health rapidly deteriorated I found I was unable to produce anything creative any longer. My creative writing came to an absolute standstill and it’s something I’ve not been able to overcome in the past 10 years. And by complete standstill, I literally mean that I have barely been able to write a paragraph because I become so distressed.
I do really miss creative writing and I’m frustrated because I feel like my mental illness’ has taken away so much from me – in terms of things I enjoy, aspects of my personality, and opportunities I’ve missed out on. I find myself feeling quite envious of other writers who have really bad mental illness’ as well and my brain always finds a way to twist this to use as ammunition against me. See, they can do it, so why can’t you even manage to write a few sentences? It’s because you’re terrible and you should just give up.
But I don’t want to feel like that anymore!
I’ve made various half-hearted attempts to tackle my issues around writing in the past but they’ve never been particularly fruitful. Although it’s not been great for my depression, I’m lucky that I do have a lot of time on my hands and I really want to make the most out of that. My partner is incredibly encouraging of me and really wants me to use the time to start writing again – and I do too. So, I wondered whether any of you have any advice for getting back into writing and fighting off those bad brain demons?
Things I’ve tried in the past:
- “Shut up and write!” panel – didn’t find it helpful to be told to just “get on with it”
- Writing classes – couldn’t afford to keep going
- Free writing workshops where you have X minutes to write something – became so stressed out I almost had a breakdown
- 642 things to write about book – really great for helping to generate new ideas but haven’t been able to build any of them into writing pieces
- Nanowrimo – I try every year. It’s always a complete disaster, I can’t get past the planning stage
- Writing with a plan – see above
- Writing without a plan – become super stressed out because I don’t know where to take things
- Writing with no intention of showing people – find it hard to keep up motivation
- Writing and posting online – much better for motivation but I also become paranoid about what people think, regardless of positive feedback or not
Blogging has actually really, really helped me in terms of getting words down on paper, or WordPress as it is, and getting used to producing content regularly. I’m hoping that being able to ride off the wave of that will be helpful for my creative writing but would love to hear from you all about things you’ve found helpful!