If an electronic device isn’t working properly, one of the first things to try (usually after much frustration and profanity) is to reboot it. Turn it off and on again. Unplug the damn thing and plug it back in. 9 times out of 10, it fixes the problem.
I am currently “unplugged” for four days.
I don’t just sit around the house, or sleep, or eat my weight in ice cream (though some of these things or variations of them might occur), but I took some time off from my day job, and despite attempts to work some hours for my part-time job, there is apparently no work for the writers this weekend. So, much to my delight and utter astonishment, I am doing no “work” during these few days.
I did end up spending several hours on the phone for my bank job yesterday and trying to figure out what the deal was with the lack of writing assignments for the blog job. But by this morning it became apparent that I actually had a full weekend (plus a day) completely devoid of any kind of paid labor.
Normally I’d be delighted at this. A free few days would mean that I could do what I love to do: write. Write fun stuff! Good stuff! Inspired stuff! Researched stuff!
But I’m going to tell you something.
A very scary, difficult thing.
Lately, I haven’t wanted to write. At all.
The exhaustion that recently caught up with me has mostly affected me in a mental way. But I forget how much my mental fatigue eventually translates into physical tiredness.
Writing requires focus. Singular and channeled focus. And my brain is not having any of that right now.
I feel….weird. Like I’ve lost something. I know I just had it in my grasp but now I can’t find it. And the only way I know I will find it again is by writing drivel like this.
Just writing And sharing. And letting it be crap.
I promised you authenticity, didn’t I? Well here it is, my friends. This is what it looks like when a writer loses their mojo.
It’s not a lack of ideas. I have ideas all the live-long. It’s the lack of focus. And the being tired. And the depression.
I’m working my way back up from the depression thing, but it’s not easy. I bottomed out.
Depression is not an easy thing to describe to those who don’t understand it, but here’s what the cycle is like for me:
I’m busy. I stay busy on purpose without trying. (If you understand that, we can be best friends.)
While I’m busy, I have to think about whatever is the task at hand. It leaves me no time to deal with aggravating things like anxiety or problems in my life.
Until there they are. Unable to be ignored. Finally demanding attention.
I shoo them away, like little gnats. But they are relentless little bastards.
It’s like treading water. I can do okay for a while, and then fatigue starts to creep in. I’d just head back to shore, but I’ve gone too far out and now there’s a rip current just pulling me further away from the shoreline.
At that point, I know I have to swim parallel to the beach to break out of the rip tide. But it isn’t easy. I kind of just want let it take me under. Just give in to what the ocean seems to want. But I can’t. I won’t. So I swim.
I find the last bit of strength I have, and I swim. And eventually I break free from the pull and I can let the waves take me back to shore.
I’m on my way back to the shore right now. I’ve broken free from that terrifying rip current, and I’m on my way to a better place, but I’m still exhausted. I’m no longer swimming for my life, but I’m drained from having to.
I watched Capote last night. It’s a movie I’ve had on the dvr for months. Stories about other writers, reading about other writers, listening to them, it’s such a strange…..comfort to me.
There are many things I feel are unusual about me. And the way my mind operates is chief among them. I think a lot of it is the writer’s brain. And maybe it’s not unique or all that unusual. Maybe the mental illness that runs so deeply in my gene pool is just more prevalent in me than I would like to admit. But when I tell you my mind can be a very dark place, I’m not lying.
Especially when I’m spent.
Because then I stop trying to control my thoughts. Harness them. Focus them. It sometimes requires something akin to a physical effort to not, as a fellow writer puts it, “go down the rabbit hole.”
I didn’t succeed this time. I went down that rabbit hole a few weeks ago and I’m just now getting out. I hope it’s a long time before I make another trip.
Today, during one of the rain showers, I went outside and just stood in it. Held up my hands and let it wash over me.
As I did so, my heart whispered a little prayer that some cleansing rain would make it inside as well.