Writing with Anxiety

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and I tend toward paranoia. I’ve suffered from depression, off and on, for the last twenty years. The postpartum depression I experienced after the traumatic birth of my oldest child was debilitating, to say the least. I fantasized about killing myself. In fact, my daughter is the only reason I lived through the first twelve months after her birth.

I’m pretty open about my mental health. If you have questions, please, please, please feel free to comment below, or send me an email. If you need someone to talk to, I need someone to listen to. The only way we are going to improve mental health care in this country is if we stop being afraid to talk about it – so let’s talk.

The biggest bummer about my anxiety (aside from the panic attacks that always include crying hysterically and often include vomiting) is that generally speaking, I give no fucks on others’ opinions. My life is my life and I make my decisions based on what works best for me and my family – what makes us happy. Not anyone else.

But anxiety.

If most people start their day at a 0 out of 10, I start a good day at a 2, and an average day at a 3 or 4. A bad day kicks off around a 6. It affects my daily life, and looking back, it’s been affecting my life since I was young – at least a decade before my diagnosis. But we can talk about all that later. Right now, I want to talk about writing, and pursuing publication, while battling mental illness.

My anxiety tends to manifest in the belief that someone doesn’t like me. People don’t like me. No one likes me. See also, no one wants me around, they all talk about me behind my back because I am terrible and no one loves me.

Do you see where this is going?

It also manifests in the belief that my writing is terrible, that no one likes my writing, that no one will ever like my writing.

That I may as well quit.

There are days and days and days where I don’t get a word on paper because, according to my anxiety, I’m not good enough anyway, so why bother? There are days I delete everything I’ve written and then some. There are days I don’t even open my computer.

All of that is on top of the usual self-doubt that we often suffer as writers. The what-ifs and the second guessing.

So, how do I combat it?

You guys. After this many years, I finally figured out what works for me is to remind myself that I don’t actually have any fucks to spare on what-ifs. I love writing. I love creating. It makes me happy and it gives me peace.

And if no one else ever likes anything I write, at least I made me happy.

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