[trigger warning: mental health]
I am as close to a complete breakdown as I think I’ve ever been.
Part of it is just the usual. I have a chemically imbalanced brain that’s caused me long and deep depressive episodes (and occasional manic spells) for years now. Ho hum, situation normal.
Part is the long-standing situational shit everyone on Earth has been dealing with all year. Months upon months of going nowhere, doing nothing and talking to almost no one has worn us all down. I don’t think I’m alone in being flabbergasted at how much of an effect this has had. For introverts like me, it sounds on paper like utopia, but…well, I don’t have to tell anybody what it’s like, you’re all alive in 2020. Starting from a state of baseline mental imbalance, it’s been…a thing.
Part is more imminent situational shit, as this week I wait to find out whether my country is going to dive into full-on fascism or revert to the intolerable post-capitalist dystopia that’s made millions of people desperate enough to embrace full-on fascism, while I sit here watching both axes to see which falls and wondering what it’d be like if there was a good option, or even a bearable one.
And I’m pretty sure part is the self-fulfilling prophecy and vicious cycle of how all this has caused me to continue to fail at everything, which adds to the pressure and self-recrimination. As deadlines pass and updates don’t happen and promises go unfulfilled because I just can’t seem to function on a basic level it becomes more and more evident to me that I should quit wasting everyone’s air pretending to be a writer and go get a warehouse job.
The really shitty thing about mental illness is how invisible it can be even to the person having it. With no sensation of pain or nausea or any such biological warning sign, when I sit here for hours at a stretch unable to just type words on a keyboard and not being able to tell why the only sense I can make of it is simply that I suck. There’s no feedback that tells me why this is so hard. I’ve been staring at an in-progress chapter in my word processor all day and achieving nothing but anxiety attacks. Well, almost nothing, I have managed to add a whole four (4) god damned words to the chapter. Just typing this post is as physically difficult as running a marathon and that makes no fucking sense. Yes, I understand what mental illness is, but just intellectually. It doesn’t feel like there’s a legitimate problem here. It feels like I am just lazy and stupid and generally inadequate by every possible metric.
This has been a month of basically no productivity, of anxiety and panic attacks, of some of the deepest depressive episodes I’ve ever had, and I’ve been trying so hard to push through and get the fucking chapters out because life is shit for everybody right now, I’m in a luckier position than so much of humanity and my one job is to produce something to help make people’s day a little bit more fun and this is the worst possible time to fail at it, but, well. I have. Failed.
I’ve gotta stop. I feel like I’m coming apart at the seams. I can’t fix what’s wrong in my brain or what’s wrong with the world. The only thing I can change about this is the pressure on me to get something published for god’s sake, it’s not a difficult job and people are counting on me and paying me to do this and it’s unbelievable that… sorry, that’s the kind of tangent I spiral off into every time I think about it.
I have the most supportive and understanding readers on this blessed earth and I appreciate that fact and every one of you so very much, though in a way that almost makes it worse. Everyone’s always telling me to take breaks and take care of myself, don’t worry and stop pushing, and god, I really wish I could. I just can’t suppress how awful I feel because I keep letting you all down when you provide me with a living to do this one simple thing that I can’t seem to keep up with anymore.
I’m sorry, further, for subjecting you to a rambling unhinged rantpost like this, I’m sure you all have plenty of stresses and don’t need any of mine. Feels like I spend way too much of my time complaining about my lot in life anyway. It’s just that I don’t want to be silent and leave people wondering. If I can’t manage to meet my obligations, which feels like it’s basically always now, at the very least I owe everyone an explanation of what’s going on.
This feels even more ridiculous coming off my last break, what, a month ago? Two? Time is chaos anymore. I would never plan a hiatus so soon and that’s why I’ve been resisting this so hard but I finally have to bow to the obvious fact that the content isn’t getting made anyway, so I guess if I’m gonna be useless I may as well make it official and try to turn it into a plan to fix my shit as best I can.
In a concession to reality, I am taking an official break. Last time I took two weeks off after spending two weeks in a spiraling stew very similar to this one in which I failed to publish anything and then called that a post hoc month hiatus. That doesn’t seem to have worked. I came back feeling better but it barely lasted a week.
The idea of it is causing me to panic again but I’ve gotta face the fact that if I don’t take the time I need to recuperate this is just going to turn into an endless cycle and I’ll just never be able to finish this story. So, and I can’t express how much I hate myself for doing this, I am taking a planned hiatus of one month, not counting the preceding month of effectively accomplishing nothing. November will be off. And at the end of that, I will reassess my condition, see if I’m feeling recovered enough to resume publishing, and if I honestly do not, I will extend it. God, even typing that makes me feel as slimy as a slug orgy. I’m just out of any better ideas. I can’t keep doing this, the story will only suffer more for it.
This is wholly inadequate and I’m more sorry than I can express for letting you all down so much. I just don’t know what else to do; this is my only idea for trying to restore some of my dilapidated functionality so I can get back to creating the content you all come here for.
I’m eternally grateful to you and sorry about everything.
If you haven’t read them, I strongly endorse A Practical Guide to Evil and The Wandering Inn for your fantasy webserial needs. I love those stories; I think most of you who like TGAB will enjoy them, too. They’re both super long, as well, so if you’re picking them up for the first time they should keep you busy for quite a while. Hopefully longer than I’ll be on hiatus; it took me several months to catch up with each. Please give ErraticErrata and pirateaba my professional respects if you head over there.
Mother of Learning is also a really good story. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much but still quite a lot, and it has the advantage of being complete now–plus, as with the above, free to read online.
I’m sorry that recommendations are the only entertainment I’m able to offer right now.
I promise I’m going to do my best to recuperate and be able to get back to giving you some real good story material when I return. I’m so sorry for this, all of it.
Please take care of yourselves. It’s rough out there; do whatever you have to to come through okay.