It’s been … a week.
Seriously, I have no idea how this happened. A whole week since I last worked on my Nano project. I don’t know what to make of that. I mean it’s not surprising, given my track record for writing, but …
I mean is it just the weather? We’ve been having really shitty, soul-draining weather recently and, well, it’s kinda drained my soul in a really shitty way. As opposed to the non-shitty way. Apparently that’s a thing I’m implying.
So okay, I actually do know how this happened.
It’s because I feel like I’m failing.
It’s not just Nano: it’s my MA, it’s my social life, it’s my mental and emotional state, it’s the fact that I haven’t done my nightly workouts for the past three weeks because I’m pretty sure I’ve torn a ligament or something and I really don’t want to tear it any further – everything just kind of blows right now. In my head at least. I know it’s actually going okay in the external world; I did some work on my MA the other day and it was actually pretty clarifying, but that was after two weeks of doing NOTHING. If this month is my test to see if I can handle the pressures of my academic work at the same time as working on a novel, never mind all the other things one might conceivably do with a normal life, then it’s a test I’m not passing. I feel like my MA is broken beyond repair; I feel like I lack the discipline to write badly and that writing badly is not only an important discipline but should be a really fucking easy and achievable one as well which makes it even worse; I feel like the reason I’m so miserable yet apathetic is because I’m always in my head and have no outside perspectives to draw on or use to break my cycle of depressive inner monologuing …
It’s just a generally sucky time for me right now.
But I know what the answer is. There’s a void, a really dull, grey, beige, flat, flaccid, absolutely un-terrifying void that surrounds me when I’m Not Doing Anything, and I know that the only way to break out of it is to, like, Do Something. Anything, in fact. The only reason I don’t – I assume – is because I get stuck on the question of why I aren’t doing something when I know that’s the answer? Why do I wallow and procrastinate and feel guilty for not having the automatic response of “hey I’ll just fucking DO SOMETHING problem solved” when it is so goddamn easy to just do something?
The only answer I have is that it’s because I have a fucking mental illness, that I have experienced recurring depressive episodes for the past 16 years of my goddamn life, and it’s not actually easy for me to Just Do Something, even though it feels like it should be. I don’t know where that feeling comes from. There are so many instances I can point to of where I’ve trained myself to feel guilty for my inaction and lack of initiative – mostly having to do with what other people have told me – that there’s no one “where” from which this sense I have can have originated. It’s so many things, and they’re not all in my past. They all set me up to disbelieve in myself, over and over again, and it’s really obviously, transparently sick and maladaptive and wrong, and yet I just won’t believe it. I don’t know why I won’t believe it. No matter how many times I prove myself wrong, it just doesn’t stick. And that’s the reason, I think, that I don’t push myself to do things as often as would help: because I know I don’t believe it, and that means that it’s not worth doing.
It’s so …
I hate it.
I hate the thought that I’ll never get past it, and that I’ll never just have the drive to do things when I feel like shit that will break me out of my feeling-like-shit-ness. That it’ll always be an effort, that it’ll never come naturally to me.
But goddammit, it works. I know it works. I may not believe that it works, but I know that it has worked. Maybe that’s the specific thing my brain can’t seem to grasp, or just refuses to: trusting that since it’s worked every single fucking time I’ve done it, it will almost certainly work this time as well. I think I just sort of write off all the other times it’s worked and focus instead on how I’m feeling right now, when I’m not doing it, when I’m feeling like shit.
I think, for all that I complain to myself about over-thinking, that my feeling-shit-ness actually has nothing to do with thinking. It’s just feeling. I just feel like shit; it doesn’t matter what kind of logic or reasoning I can throw at it, because clearly I have plenty of that. Clearly I understand that the solution is not only simple, but one that I have performed with perfect effectiveness multiple times. It is a repeatable, predictable experiment. It’s fucking science that in order to feel better all I have to do is make myself do something. And none of that entices me to believe it’s true.
And because all of this clear evidence isn’t enough to force me to believe it’s true, that the solution rests with me and is really fucking easy to get to, I feel even more worthless for not being able to even make this miniscule effort to employ a (so far) 100% effective solution to my recurring, predictable problem. Instead, apparently, what I’d rather do is mope and complain and feel shitty about not doing things.
Which I can very, very easily do.
But I’m not doing them, I’m so useless, blah blah blah FUCKING DO SOMETHING.
Guys, depression fucking sucks. If you haven’t picked up on that so far, just take it from me: it fucking sucks. Depression combined with being pretty damn spoilt as a kid? I’m surprised I have the discipline to get out of bed AT ALL, let alone what it took to train myself to wake up in the MORNING.
But I did do that. And if I can do that, then I know, objectively, that I can train myself to do other shit as well.
Like write my fucking novel before the month is up, finish my MA chapter revision by the time it’s due – and let it suck if it sucks – and still get some fresh air and vitamin D by physically leaving my room.
Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you believe you can do it or not.
It just matters that you do it.
I have 20k words left before I win Nano, which is a little over 2k words a day from now until the end of November. Can I do it?
See? Simple. I can do it. Fuck it, I wrote almost 10k words in just over 5 hours a week ago. I could finish Nanowrimo twice if I wanted to.
In fact …
Even if I didn’t want to.
And that’s the key. That’s the secret to discipline, and to believe that you can do something you don’t feel like you can do.
It’s realising that you can actually do things you don’t feel you’re capable of. You can do things in spite of your feelings about them. If what you’re worried about is whether you can get something done – you can. Whether you’re going to feel like it or not is a different question, and no less important. But it’s a different question.
Can I do it?
So let’s do it.
And not just for one fucking month.