Well, here it goes. The first of a series of blogs documenting my mental health throughout the next several months and all that they entail.
Regrettably, this will not be as polished and pretty as I would have liked because the time that I had carved out to write this had an unexpected interruption, albeit a thoroughly pleasant one.
Yesterday on my way home from work I ran into a not-so-old friend and we had a lengthy catch-up, which is relevant, believe it or not, because this person is one of the reasons I’m now embarking on my current adventure.
His belief in me at a time when I really had no idea what I was doing propelled me through many a tough situation and saw me achieve things I never would have thought possible. Since then, it has occurred to me that if I can get through all that, I can probably do much more. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
For those of you who do not yet know, I have made the gigantic decision to release my debut novel online as an e-book in six to nine months. As well as that, I have committed to documenting the experience through vlogs and blogs (hi there!) so that other writers, and anyone else who is interested, can see what goes into the production of a book from start to finish.
In addition to documenting the process of writing, editing, promoting and publishing a novel I will, through this blog series in particular, be keeping tabs on my mental health as I get deeper into this, because I know it’s going to take a few hits along the way.
And, in fact, let’s get right into it, shall we?
Since I made this decision to self-publish online, my mental health has been all over the map.
At first I was soaring, elated by the idea of a project that was entirely my own and would launch my career as a writer. I had waited for so many years to get through college (that’s another blog in itself!) so that I could get to work on what I truly love; writing and production; the creation of a polished final product. And now that time has arrived at last: my final assignment was submitted in May, I graduate in November and my dream starts now.
That private period of joy was fantastic and my mental health was in excellent condition. That couldn’t last long, though, because the next step was to tell people about it.
I started with my sister and then my partner, but by the time I got to my mom I was cringing as I said it aloud. Whatever faith I had in myself and my abilities had completely vanished and I could barely get the words out. Impostor Syndrome is very real and to say those words “I’ve decided to publish my first book” felt hugely pretentious. The only reaction I could possibly envision from anyone was a dramatic eye-roll and a sigh of, “Oh yeah, sure you are.”
Nevertheless, I gathered the courage to inform loved one after loved one of my plan before declaring it to the masses (the masses of my hundred-and-twenty-three Facebook friends, carefully curated) through, of all things, a vlog.
Leading up to the release of that video, I was feeling pretty low. That little voice, the one that informs me of all my shortcomings (let’s call her Violet), had somehow gotten her hands on a megaphone that day and she was feeling vicious.
Violet was consistent, relentless, coming up with all sorts of excuses I could offer in order to back out gracefully, to retract my earlier declarations, to come up with a ‘someday I’ll get back to it’ plan.
Somehow, though, I managed to do it anyway. I released that video, not only to all of the Twitter strangers, but also to people from my real everyday life; people whose opinions I respect and value; opinions that, like it or not, help form who I am.
I didn’t exactly drown out Violet; instead I managed to accept that her doubts in me might be justified and I might end up looking terribly silly in front of all the people I care about, but it was a risk that I thought was worth taking. Enter my not-so-old friend who I ran into yesterday.
While Violet’s voice has been in my ear for most of my life, so have the voices of many others along the way; these voices, mercifully, tell me things that absolutely defy all of what Violet has to say. This friend (let’s call him Ray) has always been one of those voices, one of the kind ones.
Running into him yesterday meant that I had one more person to tell (as he is a fairly unplugged sort of guy, who, as of yet, has not seen my video announcement) and once again I was met with unwavering support. And that, much as I don’t care to admit it, reminded me of what I can do.
I’d like to think that my belief in my abilities is unrelated to how others view me but, unfortunately, that’s not the truth and my goal with this blog series is to be as honest as possible about my feelings and how they manifest. The reality is that the support and encouragement of others directly feeds into what I consider myself to be capable of and, fortunately, I have received outstanding support since declaring my plans for this book.
It’s not groundbreaking to consider that my productivity is directly related to my environment; it just makes sense that, fueled by love and support, anyone would have greater output. But, groundbreaking or not, to me it’s a reassuring thought because it says a lot about the environment I now find myself in.
I’m happy, I’m doing what I love and I’m receiving praise for doing so, which means I must be surrounded by some pretty great people.
Right now, I can happily report, that things are just swell.