For a while, I managed to do it. I spent literally years writing a mystery novel. Optimistically, I sent it to over 180 agents. A lot of nothing. At last, one of them was honest enough to tell me what was wrong with the manuscript, instead of just saying, “not right for us” or not answering at all.
And they were absolutely right. Once it was pointed out to me, I could see exactly what they were saying. I had had beta readers vet the first four chapters and gotten positive responses. They didn’t know anything about writing, or possibly even reading with a writer’s perception. But that wasn’t their fault. It was mine, for not selecting my readers more carefully.
Did all this depress me? Hell, yes, it did. I wouldn’t be human if it didn’t.
But I’m also bipolar. Depression for me isn’t just regular depression. Bipolar depression is something different. A darker place. A deeper pit. One that can be almost impossible to claw and climb one’s way up from.
When I was a teenager and undiagnosed and unmedicated, I had several major depressive episodes, and any number of smaller ones. Since at that time I had no idea what was going on or how to get help, I developed a philosophy: Go through it until you come out the other side.
Basically, it meant that I was staying depressed until I magically became un-depressed, whether it was because my brain chemistry backed off enough to let me see a way out, or hypomania kicked in (though I didn’t know what that was at the time). Basically, I suffered through it until I didn’t anymore.
And I thought that was the way it had to be. In one side, wait till I came out the other.
Later in life, I had other major depressive episodes. I tried a lot of things for them, including therapy and medication, but still the best I could manage was to wait it out – even though it took literally years.
Right now I’m in a similar position. All the rejection has put me back in that deep pit, and I don’t see a way out of it. I can’t even think of a new thing to write. Or a way to fix the book that failed. I am even applying for other writing gigs, but so far they have brought only more rejection. I don’t want another major depressive episode, but I can feel myself slipping. It does sound like reactionary depression, a result of the rejections, the realization of bad writing, and other recent blows involving deaths and other traumas. But it feels like endogenous depression, the kind that comes from inside, with wobbly neurotransmitters the major cause.
Of course, I’m a little better off than when I was a teen. I have a proper diagnosis – bipolar type 2 – and proper medication. I still have work that I can do – transcription – which is boring and ill-paying, but keeps me from sitting all day in front of the TV, watching train wreck shows that remind me that other people have more screwed-up lives than I do. I have self-care. I have my husband to be my caregiver.
But basically, I am just waiting to come out the other side.
I am doing the things I ought to do to get me out the other side. I am taking my meds. I have an appointment next week – a telehealth session with the psychologist that I haven’t seen in a year. In the past, she has done phone sessions with me when I wasn’t physically or mentally able to come in, so I know those do me good. And at the end of the month, I see my psychiatrist for a med check (15 minutes). I’m not sure how a session that short will help me in finding the other side to come out of.
I just wonder how far away the other side is.
Comments on: "In One Side and Out the Other" (2)
It may be splitting hairs, but I don’t think those rejections “caused” your depression as much as “triggered” it. If yours is like mine, it’s ALWAYS there and just waiting to manifest. I just relapsed after a year of remission from my depression. That was a nice time, and I really believed that I had escaped the monster. Not so, of course. My trigger was reading one of my old stories about the death of my best friend when I was a young teen. I realized that the motivation to write that story, to somehow deal with it, is still with me, and the problem is still not resolved.
I understand what you mean about waiting it out. I’ve tried drugs (never again) and therapy (time to return) but the two best things I’ve found to deal with it are getting an actual diagnosis (as an adult) and knowing when it is upon me. It doesn’t make the depression easier to live with, but I know it for what it is when it’s here. I recognize it as a monster and not true hopelessness.
I think you’re right about the triggers. My reaction to the rejections and other stuff triggered my depressive episode, but by themselves didn’t cause it. My biochemistry does that well enough on its own. As I think about it now, my most intense major depressive episode resulted after a number of my triggers all struck at about the same time. That’s when I seem to be most at risk for falling into the pit.