Thursday, March 10, 2011

Behind the Mask

I'm putting my book recommendation on hold this week.

Susan posted an amazing and thought provoking post on Let The Words Flow yesterday that I want to chime in on.  She opened up about depression, and how social media tends to cause us to hide when we're feeling sad.  Nobody wants to read a whiny tweet, etc. And in the face of all the happy tweets and happy blog posts, maybe it even makes us feel inadequate.


But, you know what?  Sometimes, people are sad.  And sometimes, you need to talk about it.

I've been in the trenches of clinical depression before.  It's a dark and lonely place.  There was a time when I wasn't sure I'd ever make it out of that abyss.  I did...eventually...after years of searching the depths of who I am.

The thing that pulled me out?  Writing.

Know what can send me right back down that spiral?  Anything.  It's a daily battle I fight, and one I suspect I will fight for the rest of my life.  And that's not something I need to feel ashamed of anymore.

I try very hard to always be positive and happy in the face of social media -- heck, even around my family and best friends.  I never want to be the downer.  But in my past, that kind of outlook has done nothing but hurt me.  So maybe it's time to take the blinders off.

It's easy to beat yourself up over feeling sad.  Being in the industry we are, and the necessity of having an online presence, only adds to those feelings. 

So-and-so got an agent in only 24 hours, without querying!  It's not fair!  I'm one rejection away from the pill bottle.  What am I thinking?  I'll never be good enough. *

Turns into...

 I shouldn't be jealous, I know my turn will come.  Why am I so shallow? Gah, I hate myself for thinking that way! *

A vicious cycle, to say the least.

Then you read all the advice that says you should always be positive on your blog and Twitter!  Always wear a shining, happy face!  Be yourself, but only your happy self.

But it's not that simple.

Slapping on that happy face for the world is exhausting.  Sometimes you need to say out loud, "I'm sad!  I need someone to talk to!"  And that's okay.  Please, for the love, if you feel lonely and sad and like you can't reach out to someone, EMAIL ME!  Because I've been there.  Heck, I am there.  I'm sad too.  My life is not a perfect place to live.  The grass is no greener here than there and, in fact, is looking quite brown today. 

It's okay to admit that not everything is sunshine and daisies.  Even if, on the outside, your life looks it.  Because life isn't always bright and blooming.  Sometimes the skies darken, and it's easier to cope with it if you know you're not alone.

So, lovelies, I'm taking a stand right next to Susan.  It's okay to be sad, and it's okay to talk about it.  It's not about whining or wanting attention.  It's about our health, our feelings, and our needing support.  No more pretending.

*These are dramatic examples, of course, but you guys get the point I'm making.  Right?  You're smart like that.


Misty Provencher said...

I've gone through this too. Nasty stuff doesn't begin to spell it out. I don't know if it would help anyone else out there, but I found out that I was low on my Vitamin B's. That's why my Vit D wasn't working. The first time I took a B Complex, I saw a difference. But what made the biggest difference was that I cut the coffee. Within two days, the change in mood and energy was significant. I had my calm again. I'm a believer that clinical depression is caused by a chemical fubar in our systems. You got to really listen to your body and pay attention to little symptoms. Now that I've gotten my body back in sync, the blues aren't so overpowering. I hope this helps and feel free to reach out here too.

Susan said...

Hey Holly,

Thanks for stepping up next to me and talking about it. Even if others aren't able to open up about, it think it helps people to just KNOW we're there with them, have been there before, or might be back there one day. That's just LIFE, and it's not something to be ashamed of.

I really appreciate your honesty here, and yeah, the grass is brown today, but maybe tomorrow it'll be a little greener. But if it's not, that's okay too.

Holly Dodson said...

Misty, I agree, I think depression can be greatly effected by vitamin levels. That's a great point.

Susan, that's exactly why I decided to post this. Opening up about it is kinda like watering the maybe tomorrow it will look a little greener.

Meredith said...

Right on. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Depression is a pretty common thing, but there's still a stigma associated with it in some circles. Like, just smile and pretend like everything is ok, when ... no. Everything is not ok, and it's healthy to admit that.

It does help to know that there are others in a similar position, absolutely. I went through a very, very dark period when I was in school, and then after I had my daughter I got hit with a BAD case of PPD. I didn't have a support system the first time, but I had one the second, and let me tell you—having people around who love and support and want to help you is key. At least it was for me.

Logan E. Turner said...

Well said, Holly. When all the blogs around you are filled with good news and good vibes, sometimes it can make the dark stuff feel even darker. I think we should all encourage each other to be honest with our feelings, even if they're Debbie Downers.

KO: The Insect Collector said...

I hear you.

I think we tend to show the cheery side in the blogosphere, but there's nothing wrong with being honest. i think it helps, actually.

Pam Harris said...

Wow, I'm so glad you shared this. I think my online persona is much happier than I am in real life (just ask Quita)--but I always feel guilty about bringing down others moods, so I put on a front. Life sucks sometimes, to be blunt--and we need to be able to talk about it or some of us won't get the help we may need.

Alicia Gregoire said...

Holly, I love you.

Seriously. This is well stated and I for one know exactly how it feels. (Though I do kinda rant on both Twitter and FB as you've seen.) Such a well stated post.

Rowenna said...

Awesome post, Holly--it's so hard to admit that we feel those dark emotions and get bogged down in dark places, but it's so true. Especially when most of the blogosphere is happiness and rainbows and kittens (I mean, seriously, on the kittens--they're everywhere). Struggling and sadness and not feeling 100% positive doesn't seem to be allowed. But thank you for taking the stand to say it is--and that we should all support one another.

erica and christy said...

Wonderful post, Holly, thanks for your honesty. I also think it helps to remember NO ONE's life is as great as they want you to think it is. NO ONE's.

Yahong said...

This is it. The truth, guys. Depression is a downer. Sometimes c'est la vie, et on ne peut pas le cacher (it's life, and we can't hide it). <3 all you ladies.

Misha said...

I'm with you there.

When I started blogging, I decided that it would be about me. Honest and simple.

I don't hide my feelings for the sake of people who read my blog, because they should know that that is a risk they take if they want to take a look into my writing experience.

Salut. :-)

Carrie said...

Great post, Holly. Thank you for being so honest and putting yourself out there. I know what you mean about the daily spiral and it helps to know that other people are feeling that way too :)