Writing is Hard Part 5: On Anxiety

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Anxiety is a vicious thing. Something is wrong, but the fear’s cause is unknown. Sometimes, it’s jealousy-fueled nervousness. Sometimes, it’s crippling self-doubt. Most times, it’s nothing. With my prior lack of proper coping mechanisms, my reaction to the onset of nerves was to just work. And work. And work. Until I’d be crying, wondering why I’m not anywhere I want to be, motivation replaced by complete exhaustion.

And then, I sought help.

Productivity

The productivity is ferocious, but the burnout comes just as hard (I’ve written about when it hit the hardest previously). And taking a break seems terrifying. Like something that isn’t for you. Who are you to deserve it? Do you have anything query-able? Does anything you do have a release date attached to it? Are you even waiting on responses?

So you either work or you shut down, rarely both. Or if you attempt both, it creates work you’re not proud of or work you don’t remember creating.

Impostor syndrome follows shortly. For every break taken, it barges in and doesn’t leave the house of stability. It asks really unnecessary questions, like wondering if, perhaps, you don’t want it badly enough since sleep, day job, interpersonal relationships have taken the forefront. Wondering if nothing is going to move forward because you refuse—refuse—to pull an all-nighter (except that one time I were at work until 2:45am on your birthday. It wondered why I’ve never done that for a novel).

It’s a rough time every time.

Recovery

Back in December 2017, I hit an all-time low when it comes to feeling inadequate and the constant panic of things not working out. Mind you, I got a master’s degree and a job offer within the same week. I was going to be fine. But my brain didn’t believe that for a moment.

So I started therapy, which led to be getting on birth control, and then taking an anti-depressant 10 days out of the month when (as it turned out) I have PMDD. Since then, I have been way more patient with the days I’m not working from sun up to sundown. The days when work might have been too hard, or I wanted to go on a run, or I wanted to see my friends. The days when writing feels like a chore rather than a challenge or the creative endeavor it needed to be. When, perhaps, it might be a factor of my creative well being a bit empty because I haven’t allowed myself the break.

Anyway, I am not winning 2018 NaNoWriMo, and you know what? It’s fine, no matter what my messed up brain chemistry is telling me. Because in November, I refilled my creative well a bit and can actually sit down and get things done in December.

Until next time,
Jo

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