I love the movie Apollo 13 for many reasons. It’s one of those I have to watch once or twice a year, for reasons that I could analyze deeply but I won’t right now. But I was thinking of the part when the spacecraft is on the dark side of the moon and unable to connect to their support team back on earth, and they spend this long, dark period of time in radio silence. As the sun comes back into view, radio static can be heard, and then communication begins again. That pretty much describes how I feel right now as I put words down with the hope of connecting to the world. Maybe I see just a tiny glimmer of light, and maybe I’m hearing the faint sound of static that gives me hope of communication beginning again.
I’ve been fairly candid over the years about my health issues, even if I haven’t gotten into the tedious details of its complexities. What I may not have been quite so open about is the fact that I struggle a great deal with depression. It runs in my family, and it’s common with the disease I have, and I’ve battled it for much of my adult life, but until my physical health really began to deteriorate, I could usually find a way to manage it and get on top of it. I still manage to manage it, but only to a degree. For those of you who have been aware of this blog—and my other writing—you know that there have been huge gaps in time between my having anything to say. Explanation: depression. It’s true that it can be difficult to write when I physically don’t feel well. But the hard, bare truth is that I have done an enormous amount of writing while experiencing physical pain. It’s the debilitating effect of depression, with all of its distorted thinking and accompanying anxiety, that keep me away from the computer. As for my fiction writing, I did hit a point of complete burnout, hence my years of absence in storytelling. As for my being able to show up on this blog and write at a more personal level, it’s all about depression. I often think that I should write something on my blog, and reach out to my friends and readers through this amazing marvel of twenty-first century communication, but I just feel stuck and held back for reasons that I can’t define. But since when are the behaviors related to depression and anxiety supposed to reasonable?
But a couple of days ago, I had a remarkable series of interactions with three different friends who all shared inspired words of wisdom with me. I can sometimes go weeks without a serious conversation with another woman, so to have three in one day was a red-letter occurrence. In the morning I talked nearly an hour on the phone with a friend who lives far away who reminded me of some important things, things I know but they’re easy to forget. To bottom line it, she reminded me that everything has a purpose, that I am connected to God’s power through the light of Christ, and through that power I can win this battle—even if the battle is long and difficult.
In the evening I had a visit from my friend Holly. She was very encouraging about some ideas I had spinning around, but she said one thing that really went to my heart: “Maybe you will heal as you write.” Or words to that effect. The thing is, I’ve felt for a few years now that I need to write a nonfiction inspirational book about my experiences, and I have lots of notes and ideas, but I haven’t been able to work on it. I think I was believing that I had to heal before I could write, but now I’m thinking that as I open myself up here—with the hope that someone will actually read it—that I will be able to work through these imposter beliefs and find my footing in life again. I’ve always believed that writing is cathartic, and I highly encourage it for anyone and everyone. But apparently I haven’t been able to see the forest for the trees in regard to myself.
In the afternoon—between these other two visits—Amanda came to see me. Amanda and I have known each other professionally for many years, but have developed a true and powerful friendship in the last year or two. Amanda has a way of seeing and connecting to the most vulnerable and hurting parts of me and making them feel loved and validated and not crazy. When she came to visit she knew my struggle had been especially difficult of late, and she was determined to get me to talk about it and brainstorm for solutions. It was a long and complicated conversation, but from a different direction she told me—in essence—the same thing Holly had said. While writing novels is my day job and I need to do that to pay the bills, writing on my blog could be very therapeutic, and it could also give my readers a chance to look at their own challenges and not feel alone.
Amanda also pointed out something that had never occurred to me before. In so many words she said that I probably believe a blog post has to be something really great, (because I am, after all, a professional writer) and that I shouldn’t be held back from posting just because I don’t have anything profound to say, or I don’t feel like writing. She said to just write a crappy blog post and get it out of my system. She presented the idea that I don’t have to write much of anything at all, but the discipline of writing on the blog, and the very fact of reaching out, would likely help me in many ways. And since I have a strong sense of my calling in this life being to use my writing gift as a means to help lift and strengthen other women, doing so might help me lose this overwhelming sense of uselessness and stagnancy and isolation.
So, here I am: confessing my depressing state of mind, and my goal and my hope to just show up here and share my thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Some of you might be thinking that it’s not the first time I’ve said I would write more on my blog, but I want to believe my heart is in a different place now, and I’m needing very much to move forward in this way. Wish me luck!
And if you’re reading this, and/or you have any thoughts to share about what your own challenges are right now, feel free to comment. We’re all in this life battle together, one way or another.
God bless us, every one!
P.S. I ask that comments posted on the blog not contain any criticism or judgment or even well-intended advice toward me or anyone else who comments. We all have an instinct to want to help, and I appreciate that, but offering advice while only knowing a tiny part of the journey and experience can often make things more difficult. I’m opening myself up in a vulnerable state and with a trusting heart, and I ask for respect on that count. Thanks for just being there and hearing me!
Anita Stansfield aka Elizabeth D. Michaels (All of Anita Stansfield's books, and The Horstberg Saga by Elizabeth D. Michaels, are available at amazon.com)