December 11, 2014

An open book

Is it possible to have postpartum depression if you've never given birth?

Since I launched my last book, I've been feeling a lot like what the Mayo clinic says happens to some women after giving birth: "a jumble of powerful emotions, from excitement and joy to fear and anxiety. But it can also result in something you might not expect — depression."

Hand raised! Yes. Yes, that's me. Only I didn't have a baby. I had a book. I should be celebrating, right? I guess some people do. I tried, but a wall of depression got in the way. (Mothers: I'm not saying writing and publishing a book is anything close to making and birthing a baby, I'm just saying I relate to the symptoms of postpartum depression, except for the joyful part and breastfeeding.)

These last few weeks have been like trying to walk up a rocky crag without any shoes, alone in the rain, with a four-hundred pound backpack. Maybe that's a bit dramatic. Okay, the backpack is fifty pounds. At the bottom of this sadness is the fact that reality isn't matching my expectations. Also, the radio silence from friends has been slightly discouraging (seriously, if you ever want people to avoid you like the plague -- publish some books). But underneath the superficial junk is the glaring fear that I'm not good enough. Good enough for what? Still trying to figure that one out.

Many authors/artists/musicians go through similar feelings after releasing work into the world. Months of being alone in your head, hunched over the laptop and listening to people who aren't really there can seem like a form of  madness, and when you finally come up for air to share your precious work with the world, it's freaking scary and weird. And it's worse when the reception doesn't look like Carrie Bradshaw's. Maybe I need me a Samantha?

The last couple of days have been better. I'm not hitting the refresh button on my sales page six hundred times, and I've stopped checking for new reviews. It's time to take the needle off the record and chill out. Anything worth something takes time. If I could buy a virtue it'd be patience.

Writing about this stuff might seem weak, but I've found (like my tagline says) that when I expose my demons they lose their power over me and I can live again.

Keep writing. It saves lives.