Note: I wrote this at least a year ago and just didn’t post it. I’m posting it now because I need to read it, and maybe you or someone you know does, too.
I just wrapped up teaching at a conference over the weekend, and it was great. I got to meet rock star authors, and make new friends, and learn a lot, and teach a lot, and it was great. It really was.
And within 24 hours of it ending, I just wanted the whole world to go away.
You know that feeling?
Now, I’m not going to hurt myself again—I’m trying hard not to, anyway, although it is hard sometimes. But yeah, there was definitely a moment or two there where the anger and the sadness and the unfairness and injustice and just the futility of fighting anything anymore got to me.
Some of you know what I’m talking about. That sadness and depression and rage that sits like a ten ton overcoat. And you feel like no one else seems to get it.
Well, I do. But you know what? You’re still kind of right. A lot of people don’t get it. They don’t. A lot of people haven’t gone through what you have. A lot of people have families and friends of the family who didn’t do terrible things to them. Right? Because that’s who it almost always is, isn’t it. They don’t understand that.
I was reading an article on The Guardian recently about sadness, and making peace with it, and the author made a great point: In Western civilization, sadness and grief have been criminalized, in a sense. Look at our places of business. Someone in your life dies–could be a parent, spouse, or child–and you get ,like, five days to get over it, then it’s back to work, chin up, stiff uppper lip. That’s absurd. Grief can take years.
And no one gives you time off to grieve over other losses. Losing a dream. A love. A pet.
I don’t mean to suggest you shouldn’t work until all grief and sadness is gone. For one thing, that’s just never going to happen in life. What I do mean is that this morning, I got out of bed and I took my kid to school and I went to my coffee shop and wrote. I’d rather have stayed on the couch and watched Walking Dead all day, because, you know, irony. But I got up.
I got up because maybe today will be better. Or tomorrow, or next year.
So if you’re sad, that’s okay. If you’re grieving, that’s okay. Don’t let anyone try to steal it from you. I’m not going to sit up here and tell you to get better, but I will tell you to at least not give up. And don’t hurt yourself. Ask for help, because someone needs you.
Straight up honest: Yesterday, I really missed my hospital, and it wasn’t the first time. I write about that feeling in my novel Shackled, how being in a mental hospital–sorry, behavioral health facility–can become kind of . . . addicting. It’s safe in there. There are fewer rules. There’s lots of nice meds. Everyone smokes, because smoking Camels is always better than shooting heroin or burning yourself with a soldering iron.
If someone hurt you, I am sorry, and it is not okay. Period.
So I want you to get better, yes. I want you to be happy, yes. But you can be happy on a deep, heart level and still be sad or depressed or angry. That’s okay, too. Don’t let it run your life is all. There are good things out there. A peppermint mocha and a laptop with a fresh new Word doc that starts to fill with the words of an urban fantasy novel for example. That’s good shit. (I do still miss smoking, not gonna lie, but anyway…)
Be sad. Anyone who loves you less for it doesn’t deserve your time.
Be sad, but work to feel better. Work to get the things you want in life. Which by default means sticking around so you can do that. However sad you might be, there’s still something you want to do. What is it? Go get it. Show it to us. Share it.