Illegitimi non carborundum

I’ve been struggling to get back to some form of creativity and there seems to be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. After more than a month of not being able to write anything at all, I’m diving into one last effort to bring Camp Expendable closer to the original vision. I might not get all the way there, but any improvement is worth the effort.

I want to give some credit to three of my readers who’ve offered moral support: TermiteWriter, Danielle de Valera, and Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt . I know they all have their own issues to deal with, as most of us do, so I appreciate their kind and supportive words.

The election of the worst human being who has ever run for political office in the US was a factor in my fall into a black hole. But that was just on top of other factors that come around regularly: the short, cloudy days of winter, and my cycles into and out of depression. What’s been most difficult to deal with is that the outcome of the election isn’t just an event that we’ll get past, but an ongoing disaster that has the potential to affect every aspect of life on this earth, possibly for much longer than even our grandchildren’s lifetimes. In the face of that, it’s very hard to believe that any of our well-meant acts, whether putting our bodies on the line, supporting worthy causes with our dollars, or writing truth to power, will be more than a drop of water lost in the sea. Still, what choice do we have?



21 thoughts on “Illegitimi non carborundum

  1. For the short days – and the associated Seasonal Affective Disorder (self-diagnose, of course), I use a Daylight light therapy box for a half hour in the mornings when I get up. 1) It keeps me getting up at the earliest time so I get as much daylight as available, 2) it makes it easier to sleep at night, and 3) most important, it keeps me from getting thoroughly depressed. You said ‘short days’ – this is what I do. It helps me.

    You probably already have your own techniques for winter.

    Also, write if you need support.

    1. Thanks, Alicia. I know about the light therapy, but have never tried it. I usually manage to break out of the doldrums on my own. It’s just that there are so many other factors bearing down right now. But I’m back to work now, and just hope it continues.

      1. Oh, good. The writing, I mean.

        There’s a ‘doing damns the darkness’ thought out there somewhere, and it is true. Depression tells me I can’t do ANYTHING, I ignore it just long enough to do SOMETHING, and I’ve proved it’s lying to me. Q.E.D.

        Hope I can keep that up – these last four days have had something fun each day – and I’m absolutely exhausted. Then there will be months in a row where I barely get out of the house.

        Keep the light thingy in reserve – and it isn’t instant; it takes a period of doing it daily. But when I can get up and turn the light on, I know I’ve started that period, and that it hasn’t failed yet.

        Just like finishing the first PC book – keep moving forward, and eventually you’re looking at it in the rear-view mirror.

        1. Glad you’ve had at least four good days, Alicia. Fun can be exhausting, even when it’s a very subdued kind of fun. *Not* fun is running errands in below-freezing temps. That can take me a day or two to recover from. I’m waiting for an order from Amazon — after one six-block walk, I realized my winter wardrobe is seriously lacking.

          1. I only do subdued fun – and it’s still exhausting. I can’t imagine running errands in the cold without the ‘sleeping bag,’ my winter coat. And I don’t use it much – Amazon is much better at running errands than I am.

            1. I let Amazon run most of my errands too, Alicia, but groceries still have to be lugged from the local Kroger. I’m pretty well stocked up, just in time for the first big snowfall — at least an inch so far — and I can call on my son if if necessary.

              1. My husband says he likes shopping; it is one of his gifts, and I’d put him up against any competitor. I hated shopping long before I got sick, and I rarely do shopping in person any more. It’s just too exhausting. My only daughter loves to go shopping, like my four sisters, her aunts – and she doesn’t live close enough to Mexico City to do it with them. I didn’t get that gene, and it didn’t help to be taller and fuller than most people my age when I was growing up, which is probably when those patterns are formed.

                If I get well, I’ll try harder.

                Meanwhile, wearing your jammies is one of the great advantages of being a writer.

                1. I didn’t get the shopping gene, either. Always hated it, except for hardware stores and other oddities. Not the jammie-writer type, either. Getting dressed helps me wake up and get moving. I’m not a morning person, so that can be an hours-long process.

                  1. If I have to get dressed – and wear things which bind around the middle – I’m already in a bad place.

                    Many writers say the same thing you do: getting dressed is a commitment to being up, to thinking, to work. I say, “Whatever works – you will know.”

                    Then you have to choose to USE what works for you. I’m going for First Nap in a minute because I know the brain won’t even try to turn on without it.

                    I don’t expect much from today – there have been too many things this past week and I’m extra-tired. But I plan to show up for choir at 3:30, and will need two naps before then.

  2. Thanks so much for the thanks. You know I’ll always be there for you. Good to hear you’re working on Expendable again. It’s an interesting idea and one I think well worth doing. I also suspect it’s better to concentrate on one thing at a time when one is depressed.
    I’m in the usual summer whatever-it-is over here. I’ve never heard of anyone getting SAD in the summer, but there you are, it’s something I just get through every year. In the sub-tropics, it’s very heavy, very humid, and at the moment, it’s neverendingly overcast and (sometimes) rainy days. I much prefer the rain to the days when it all just hangs there, as it is today. We are lucky, you know: we have our writing. I often think of the plight of people who have no outlet at all for what they’re feeling. It must be very hard.

    1. ‘I often think of the plight of people who have no outlet at all for what they’re feeling. It must be very hard.’

      Me, too. And not because I think writing is easy. It isn’t. But because everything inside has a tendency to disappear if I don’t get it out – like all memories.

      Most of my journals are worth nothing to anyone but myself – I record whatever trivia is occupying my mind, to get it out of there – but on several occasions I’ve been able to go back and figure out what was wrong with a medication, or how long a cough has been going on, or whether I’ve been depressed for longer than usual – and it is useful.

      I doubt anyone will be interested in them after I’m gone, but I find it useful to have a record of what I considered worth writing at the time. Occasionally I throw out a blog post from a particularly coherent chunk.

      I checked out your literary bio – impressive. I have one story in a Sisters in Crime anthology our chapter put out – and that’s it before publishing Pride’s Children last year. Which kind of impresses me, at 167K words, with two siblings left in its trilogy. Writing has preserved whatever was left of my sanity all these (21 now) years of writing on purpose; I can’t imagine being without it.

      1. Interesting, Alicia, what you say about keeping info in your journals. (Catana has a way of attracting interesting people.) I keep notes too, though not to such a detailed extent. It’s because I’ve suffered from depression all my life and learned lots of tricks to handle it without medication. I keep notes of everything – what I ate, where I went, whether i walked, if so, how far, etc. etc. so if I experience a sudden crash or one of those awful waking-up-in-terror mornings, I can go back and hopefully discover why. Re my lit bio, I’ve been writing on and off, for fifty years, it ought to be a lot better than it is.

        1. Fifty! I’m doubly impressed.

          I learned CBT in grad school when two separate friends gave me a copy of Feeling Good: the new mood therapy, by Dr. David Burns.

          Now I’m pretty good – as soon as I recognize that I’m down, I start searching for what the proximate cause might be (often now related to not having sold a book for a while, which I shouldn’t be focusing on).

          And then, knowing Depression is a Liar of first magnitude, I talk back. Until it’s dead again.

          Depression is a zombie – it keeps trying to come back.

          My partial excuse is having been chronically ill for almost 30 years, but it’s not a good excuse, because many other people are, or have worse problems, and I’m fortunate to have family, a roof over my head, food, and the machinery necessary to write.

          It could be significantly worse.

          I don’t let it fester, though sometimes that cause is hard to find (rarely anything really new, but it hides well).

          This year I’m particularly grateful because my daughter’s ‘problem’ turned out to be a rare sleep disorder that her father and I figured out, and a specialist agreed, and some of the experimental protocols he floated (he’s never had another patient), just discovered, worked. And she’s in the process of moving out and picking up her life. I can’t tell you what a gift that has been (on my blog, look for the posts with ‘okapi’ in the title).

          Anyway – didn’t mean to bend your ear – don’t let the Liar win. It’s not good for him.

          1. So glad to hear of the good outcome with your daughter. The problems od children really tear at the heart. Re depression, the closer I get to the end of my life, the easier it seems to get in that particular direction. Ironic, really. Martin Seligman write a great book on depression called Learned Optimism. It’s really great for anyone just trying to come to terms with it.

            1. It is my job to mention this to people, because circadian rhythm disorders can easily be mistaken for ‘bad sleep hygiene’ as a matter of choice instead of biology.

              One of her sleep doctors last year basically tried to say it was all in her choices. It was not. She’s on a beta blocker (she’s 25 and very healthy otherwise) because it has the side-effect of suppressing melatonin production – and then she has to take melatonin with a particular timing so she can sleep.

              All of this wasn’t even known until very recently – certainly the previous sleep doctors (who really should know about these things) obviously didn’t.

              Non-24 is rare (or rarely tracked down and diagnosed properly) in sighted individuals, and even then much rarer in women.

              I think teens and college students have problems with sleep, and it is blamed on psychological causes – and, since if you don’t know what you’re doing, administering and interpreting the ‘sleep study’ is useless, the other doctors were actually making it worse (timing of the meds to the natural cycle is key).

              I wonder how many other people are caught in this trap.

              Sorry for going off topic!

                1. It’s being studied in connection with shift work and rotating schedules of work, and fatigue on the job, etc., etc.

                  Some people grumble, but adapt. Others just can’t. When it is an economic problem, and others can do it, the research can help.

                  My daughter was lucky – some of the stuff they’ve used with her is only a year or two old! She’s had the problem for at least nine years, but even if we’d diagnosed it before, we might not have been able to stabilize her.

                  I’m still mad at the other sleep doctors, though – at least they should have heard about it. And I TOLD them, over and over.

                  The best part? When the new doctor did the sleep study at the proper times for my kid, it banished forever the stupidity of other doctors telling her she had apnea. She does not, and trying to solve a sleep problem with the wrong methods is very discouraging.

    2. Danielle, so many writers have problems with depression that I sometimes wonder whether the two are inextricably bound. At least we do have that outlet. Goodness knows what I’d do without it.

  3. Happy my comment helped! I’m fighting back with a series of blog posts discussing my Mythmaker ethic. And that reminds me – I must write the next post!

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