Bad week. Bad, bad week.
I was stuck, stressed, sick, angry, and reached out for help. And I’ll tell you, this ‘tough love’ thing some people are so enamored of is dangerous. All it’s going to take is one suicidal depressive in a particularly vulnerable moment, and the whole ‘tough love’ schtick is going to backfire and do major damage to someone.
Of course, the self-righteous proponents of ‘tough love’ will immediately say that such damage, even a death, has nothing to do with them; it was the person’s own decision. And while it is true that the ultimate choice rests with the suicidal person, it’s equally true that we are responsible for how our words and actions ripple out and affect other people – both the good and the bad. If people who believe in ‘tough love’ are going to claim credit for ‘turning someone around,’ then they also have to accept culpability when the opposite happens.
Fortunately, after two-thirds of a lifetime of coping with suicidal depression, I’m a little tougher than that. If nobody’s going to help me the way I need to be helped, then I’ll just go ahead and do it myself, thank you. Nobody knows me like I do, after all.
And as soon as I made that decision, the weight I’d been carrying immediately shifted and dissipated, and I felt so free.
I became more productive, uploading more products more regularly to my Etsy store. I created a way to batch-edit design files and turn black text to white so uploading a new list of products to my print-on-demand service will be faster and easier than ever before. I slept better than I had in weeks. The perpetual low-grade headache pain I’d been living with for three months cleared up.
And then I got a letter in the mail.
Four years ago, I embarked on a photography project; to take photos of the sunrise from the top of a local landmark every morning for a year. (Well… I started five years ago. Had a couple of false starts.) I completed the project with 367 sunrises in without a miss on January 1st, 2017. And then spent the next year and a half trying to write the book that was supposed to go with it. The book had a few false starts too (five times. Five times I wrote about half of it and then scrapped everything I’d written because it was just coming out wrong). I couldn’t figure out what the story wanted to be.
See, that’s a common dilemma for a writer. Sure, we can sit ourselves down and pound the words out, but stories have a life of their own. And unless we connect in with that, the right words won’t flow and we’ll end up editing those words out. And this story wanted to be something specific.
Well. The book was published on December 31st, 2018, making it the second year in a row I’d published one of my stories (the first revolved around a road trip to view the total eclipse in 2017). And in 2019 I was at the Farmer’s Market with my novelty products and my books up for sale.
One of my customers took the time to write a three-page letter detailing how much she enjoyed the book and what her favorite parts were and how relateable my story was to her own life.
And there is nothing more amazing for a writer than to be told, “I thought I would get pulled away, but I just couldn’t put the book down.”
Bad week. Bad, bad week.