Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How I Fight the Blues and Up All Night

Over the last week people around the interwebs have shared (and are still sharing) their own, or someone they know and love's, struggles with depression. In the wake of Robin William's untimely death, I think we're all reflecting and introspecting a bit more than usual.

Basically, the world has been rocked. And it's an excellent opportunity to discuss a profound subject that isn't always easy to do. Our friends at #NALitChat were quick to tackle the subject of artists and depression by hosting their usual weekly Twitter chat with audio last Thursday night at 9pm Eastern. Many resources were given, so if you missed it and are interested, please check it out HERE.

On a side note, Robin Williams was diagnosed with Parkinson's, and depression is one of the many symptoms that coincides with the disease.However, he'd struggled with depression over the years, as well as bouts of substance abuse.

While I'm no expert on the subject, I share the same struggles as anyone else, and here is where I share a few of my basics when it comes to fighting the blues:

* Learn to embrace sadness when it comes, but learn to recognize the difference between a healthy sadness and an infinite one. 

What I mean is, its okay to be sad sometimes. It's part of who we are and it's an element of human nature. It seems like there's a misconception that we're not supposed to be sad so we have to nip it quickly, or find help and pretend we're okay.... put on our game face. Why do we feel the need to run from sadness? Sorrow makes us real, and it fills us with empathy for other people.

I feel like it's healthy to embrace sadness when it comes. The only way is through, not around. And it's only after this affair with sadness that we can move on. Numbing it over as soon as it hits does nothing but teach us how to avoid real emotion. Sadness is life's reminder for us to reach out to our fellow human beings--to let us know we need each other, and that no one can do all of it alone.

--> Important note: Sadness does and should end naturally after a certain period of time. It's organic for our brains to let go and move on in order to seek contentment. If this isn't happening on its own, this is an indicator that something is off balance inside and a doctor should be consulted. And it's nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. So so many artists struggle with depression.

Which brings me to my next point:

* Find a support network.

Not just any group, but one that makes you feel positive about yourself, and one who you can trust. The best groups are made up of peers who are in the same boat--with the same core beliefs and interests, and ones who are willing to share knowledge and encouragement. Here are a few of my faves:

Insecure Writers Support Group
#NALitChat on Twitter
Daydreamers Anonymous
Writers Support 4U

There are many others--more than I can list, and these above are some that welcome ALL writers regardless of what you write, or how you're published. If a group doesn't have the vibe you're looking for, leave. It's that simple. I've been in and out of many, and it's not worth spending time in a group where you're not celebrated for who you are.

Having a tribe of writer friends is an absolute must in this biz of writing and publishing, and if you have questions feel free to email me privately. I'm always available via email and will help however I can.

*Find something else that grounds you.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Writing is our passion, yes, but there is more to life than writing and art. Matter of fact, art only becomes better when it's a reflection of real life, so we have to be out there living. We need something that grounds us outside of our little niche worlds. For me, it's family and faith. It keeps everything in perspective.

I heard a quote the other day that said, "Sometimes you have to step back and ask yourself, 'Am I too close?'"

We should all make it a point to do that on a regular basis.

* Find a way to help someone else.

There is nothing in this world that mends a broken heart like that of helping someone else in need. It's part of shifting that perspective to the bigger picture. I try to remind myself when I'm feeling the blues how many other people out there would trade places with me in a heartbeat. And it doesn't matter how bad off you may think you have it, there is always someone else out there who has it worse.

Go to a nursing home, or children's home, or hospital and you will see them. Those people would give anything to wallow in the misery of their artist's life in lieu of what they're currently going through.

There is always something we can do for others, and when we do, it's a natural release of endorphins that create happiness. It's how our bodies are made up. And while those who suffer from a chemical imbalance may not experience these natural highs, it doesn't hurt to try.

*Soak up the sun.

I know, I know--easy for me to say when I live in the Sunshine State. But the sun reaches every part of our world--some more than others--and the key is to know the best times to get your dose of serotonin. It's another natural vitamin that helps fight the blues and it's right outside available to us most every day. It's so easy to stay locked away in our writer's caves creating and keeping deadlines, but our health is so much more important. Even if it's only fifteen minutes a day, make the time to soak up a little sunshine. One of life's natural mood enhancers.

* Forget perfection. 

It just doesn't exist. Killing ourselves trying to find it is moot. I read an awesome quote the other day that just totally hit home: "There is no perfect book--only lessons learned and the next book."

How true is that?? We can only take what we've learned from the last book we wrote and write another one and hope it's a little better. And this applies to every writer at any stage of their career.


I try to bike 30 minutes every day. I walk the neighborhood twice a day with the dog. And I do lots of stretches throughout the day. There are days when I don't want to do any of it, but I force myself because I know it always makes me feel better. It's part of that bigger perspective thing, and it forces me to concentrate on my body other than my thoughts and deadlines and daily stresses.

So these are just a few ways I fight the blues. And I feel them same as anyone else.

Please reach out if you ever find yourself in a deep dark place. Help is all around, but we don't always know when someone needs our help. It's human nature to need other people, and we all feel better inside when we're able to help others.

Off the subject, but here's something I'm excited about:

Revealing the cover for a new adult romance box set that's sure to keep you up all night reading.It's launching on iBooks for only .99. Wowsers! That's 10 amazing authors and fantastic reads for a buck! (with yours truly included)

You can preorder only on iBooks HERE.

Add it to your GoodReads list HERE.

  UP ALL NIGHT will keep you up ‘til dawn with romantic stories featuring whip-smart college guys, bad boy rock stars, heroic marines, a sexy teacher, and a smokin' hot snowboarder.

Together, these books have earned more than 1,600 five-star ratings and usually sell for over $30. Each book is a standalone, first in its series, and the set includes two NYT and USA Today bestselling authors.

You Make Me, Blurred Lines #1
New York Times bestselling author Erin McCarthy 
Caitlyn's perfect world with fiancé Ethan is shattered when her first love Heath returns to Maine after a mysterious four-year absence. Heath wants her back, but Ethan doesn't want to let her go. And when one love allows her to breathe, but the other feels as essential to her life as air, how does she choose between them?

One and Only, Canton #1
Viv Daniels
Tess lives her life according to the secrets she’s sworn to keep: the father who won’t acknowledge her, the sister who doesn’t know she exists, and the mother who’s content playing mistress to a prominent businessman. But when she transfers to her dream college and reunites with her first love, she begins to break the rules.

Tattoo Thief, Tattoo Thief #1
Heidi Joy Tretheway
Beryl doesn't know why Gavin Slater trashed his apartment, abandoned his dog and fled the country. But as his house sitter, she must pick up the pieces for the white-hot rock star to find out why he's running--and what can bring him back.

One Broke Girl, Edgewood Falls #1
Rhonda Helms
When Anna's mother disappears with the family fortune, Anna and her father must return to their small Ohio hometown--a temporary situation, she vows. But finding work, caring for her depressed father and locating her mom are harder than Anna anticipated. Not to mention a sexy male kindergarten teacher who makes Anna question everything she thought she wanted...

Random, Going the Distance #1
Lark O'Neal
Jess Donovan wants a better life than the one she was born to, but how do you figure how what you want when life has never been anything but a series of hurdles? When mysterious, sexy snowboarder Tyler Smith shows up in her life, Jess doesn't know if he's an opportunity for love--or her downfall.

Butterman (Time) Travel, Inc., Butterman Travel, Inc. #1
PK Hrezo
A futuristic romance along the winding path of time. It's the year 2069 and even though eighteen-year-old Bianca Butterman is heir to the family time travel biz, she never expected to be earning her official time-craft license with golden boy pop superstar, Tristan Helms, in tote. Her life is about to get a lot more complicated ... and exciting.

Come Back To Texas, Twelve Beats in a Bar #1
KK Hendin
Hayley and Nate had the perfect love story before life crashed through it. Now, three years, one deployment, and a few YouTube videos later, everything's about to change.

The Opposite of Nothing, Copeland College #1
Shari Slade
When socially-awkward campus DJ Callie Evans falls for her bad boy BFF, she doesn't tell him. Instead, she creates a fake online profile and "catfishes" him. The closer they get, online and off, the more she realizes she has to confess. And risk losing him forever.

The Long Game, American Gypsy #1
J.L. Fynn
When gypsy con artist Shay Reilly meets co-ed Spencer, sparks fly. Problem: Shay's plans of revenge against Spencer's father stands between them and their budding romance.

Undeclared, Woodlands #1
USA Today bestselling author Jen Frederick
Grace Sullivan exchanged letters with a deployed Marine most of her teen years. She fell in love with him but was devastated to learn her feelings weren't reciprocated. Two years later when he shows up at her posh Midwest college claiming they belong together, she is wary and worried ... and falling in love again?

Thanks so much for stopping by! Please know I'm always available to answer questions via email. 

How do you fight the blues when they hit? Has it ever seemed longer than normal? What's your best advice for someone going through a dark time? I love hearing from you....


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Helping someone else takes your eyes off your own problems and makes someone else feel better in the process.
I do exercise several times a week and it does so much to relieve stress.
Perfectionism - still working on that one.
Thanks for mentioning the IWSG!

Jennifer Ruth Jackson said...

The Up All Night Collection sounds like a steal!

I'm uncertain what I do to relieve depression. I admit, I struggle. I know myself enough to realize, the more I keep those feelings a secret, the more serious they are. It helps to understand that.

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you.
Sometimes it is very hard to reach out for help. Necessary, but very hard.
I am always appalled at how fast I can plummet into the depths of despair - and how hard the climb to the light is.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Pk, I like your list of ways to combat the darkness. Since I quit teaching (I feel as if the profession left me, rather than I left the profession), I am a little worried about depression creeping into my life this fall. Yes, it may be every writer's dream to quit the day job and write full time, but I do wonder how I will handle all those days at home alone -- no students, no colleagues, and especially no husband when he is out of town on lengthy business trips.

This summer, I have already committed myself to the sunshine and exercise routine. I belong to several online support groups. But engaging myself in an organization that helps others is something I have not done ... and probably NEED to do!

Andrew Leon said...

The biggest and hardest thing is finding the strategy that works for you, which is the same for writing.

William Kendall said...

I have been in that deep dark place. I needed therapy to claw my way out of it.

One of the other techniques I've used is music, but it has to be the right kind of music. Beethoven's Ode to Joy, some Great Big Sea, or Duke Ellington's Take The A Train does nicely in that regard.

Trisha F said...

This was a great post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, PK.

I walk at least 15 mins a day, back to my car after work. I do yoga & pilates once a week each. And I do *try* to do stretches at home on evenings when I'm not doing a class, but lately I have slacked a bit. But stretching is so important as I am definitely not what you'd call limber!

Hanging around fellow artists is definitely a great way to not feel alone ... even if you're mostly "hanging" with them online.

Roger Lawrence said...

My mum suffered that awful affliction throughout her life. Her remedy was physically abusing her children. Luckily it passed me by - not that I would ever contemplate her methods of getting through it.

Norma Beishir said...

I was there--a long, long time ago. I tell me son that there is nothing worth taking one's own life, that as ling as we're alive, there's hope.

Karen Walker said...

Pk, what an important post. I have struggled with depression over the years and you are right, there is a difference between sadness, or the blues, and depression. It's so important to know the difference, because one might need external support; the other can be handled through doing the kinds of things you mention here.

Johanna Garth said...

Those are all great, tried and true methods for combatting depression. One other thing that has helped me greatly since I lost my father is keeping busy. I know grief and depression are different emotions, but it's easy for one to bleed into the other. Both my mother and I have made a point of filling our days. Grief still comes, of course, but the whirlwind helps manage it and prevent it from turning into something darker.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I had post partum depression and it totally changed my view of a true, clinical depression. My heart breaks for people who suffer from depression on a daily basis. It seriously sucks the life out of you.

E.J. Wesley said...

My favorite on your list is "find a way to help someone else." There's absolutely nothing more worthwhile, and it's seriously the quickest way to get your mind off of your own troubles. Studies have shown that people who donate their time to community service, etc. are generally happier and healthier, and I think that's why.

Raquel Byrnes said...

I tend to bake, actually. Something about a warm kitchen, yummy smells, and the way it draws my kids and husband to the table that really lifts my spirits.
Raquel Byrnes

SC Author said...

Your pointsare so so so correct. Winter is usually a hard time for me because of the sun issue.

Morgan said...

Beautiful, beautiful post, PK. Very heartfelt and it definitely resonated with me. <3

Wonderful list here. It sounds like this is a topic you've either experienced first hand or researched well. All of this was fabulous.

Tammy Theriault said...

music is definitely helpful for me and just talking it out. miss your face off girl!!!

cleemckenzie said...

I always go for the exercise. It keeps me from depression as no drugs ever could.

Stephanie said...

I reach for my music, or a take a walk outside to stretch my legs and reset my brain. Thank you for the encouraging post.

Beth said...

I struggle with anxiety. It's a little bit different than depression but can be just as bad. I will do a post on it sometime. But I can't right now.

Michelle Wallace said...

Lovely reflection PK!
You've nailed it here.
Thanks for sharing.

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Thank you for this touching post. We talked about depression and mental illnesses at church and how to recognize the symptoms in children and teens and how to help and support.


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