I’m at the lowest I have been in some time and while the stresses that got me here are long term it has been a rather rapid and sudden descent over the last few days.
As I’m sure you’re all extremely tired of hearing from me at this point, I suffer from severe and ongoing depression. I had been a lot better for quite some time, to the point where I no longer need the drugs and have been phasing out the therapy sessions – up to now.
That wasn’t my full diagnosis though, there was another aspect to it that I haven’t been quite so open about. I had a sub-diagnosis of Dependency Disorder which, though mild, is definitely present in me.
The long and the short of that is that I judge myself a great deal by how I am seen in the eyes of others. It means I need good, close, loyal friends. It means I need to feel appreciated, valued, useful. All hard things to be when you’re a depressed lump. This is part of why I’ve always taken criticism so badly and why, despite trying to be stoic, the attacks on my reputation and the horrific way in which I’ve been attacked and hounded for several years now have affected me so very badly.
I’ve lost a lot of my old support network. Some of that’s geography, some of that is family – people starting their own inevitably fall out of touch. Some of that is people listening to the rumourmongers or not having the common decency to talk to me or listen to me.
I guess they weren’t really my friends after all. Friends have your back and reciprocate, standing up for you in the way you do, or would, stand up for them. I’ve been let down a great deal and lost a lot of people I care about and it’s mostly for bullshit reasons.
This means the support network that I have left becomes increasingly important and integral. The people who still think well of me and say so occasionally. I have met some good people in the time I’ve been losing old friends, but I haven’t made close friends or the kinds of boosters that I guess I need. It doesn’t feel real or sincere, and the depression creates a compliment-resistant forcefield.
I’ve also felt less able to say on social media when I need help or feel down because there are people who’ve seemingly dedicated their lives since my ill-titled blog post to attacking and provoking me at every opportunity they can find. Most internet harassment isn’t worthy of the name, but I think, if anything, years of consistent abuse and attempts to trigger suicidal episodes counts. The other issue is that well-meaning and loving people – the ones that are left – overreact when I’m low, which leads me to keep it to myself to avoid upsetting or panicking them, and to avoid the stress that comes from well-meaning people hounding me about how I feel.
A lot has happened, and continues to happen, to grind me down, the background radiation of my life.
I have some personal issues I can’t go into here, but there’s other stuff that I can.
When my reputation was first attacked it had no real impact, it was positive if anything. My attackers have, however, been very persistent and much as it pains me to admit it they’ve done real damage. I can’t get my fiction published unless I use a pseudonym and even that’s touch and go. Freelancing has dried up. New work doesn’t do so well at the moment and there’s that constant threat of the banhammer of Damocles hanging over the main publication sites for PDF games. You don’t even have to be particularly controversial or graphic to be under threat.
Thing is, all these people know the accusations and reputational damage is bullshit. These are real-world friends, people I’ve met and hung out with at conventions, professionals I’ve worked with, and they’re all running scared or hostage to the false impressions of other people that I haven’t.
Doing the right thing is intensely costly.
Expressing opinions is intensely costly.
These things shouldn’t be, but that’s the world we live in. It’s not even as though the things I believe and fight for are awful anyway. A big part of me rails against all this in a righteous fury. Things would be so much easier if I were a meek little tag-along, if I let my principles go.
I run the Darkzel Scholarship every year, and this year it was like pulling teeth to find entries. Some of that was down to sabotage. Someone ‘warning’ people they didn’t want to be associated with it. Some of it down to communications channels not wanting to boost my signal. There I am, trying to commemorate a dead friend, help young artists and create a legacy and some people hate me so much they’d attack that.
Our friend Craig died recently, of natural causes. I’ve written about that already. It was a terrible shock and has made me reassess a lot of things in my life. Losing someone that way is very different to suicide, drugs or accidents – the other ways I’ve lost people. It makes me realise that I need to be happier. I need to look after myself. That always feels selfish though. I almost never put myself first and every time I do it feels like I’m compromising my morals and it usually ends badly. What makes it worse is that when I put myself out for others it rarely seems to be reciprocated to the same degree I would sacrifice for them. It’s an uneven relationship.
That’s not how it should be.
I have not been able to work properly for the time I’ve been ill and I can’t get financial aid. I have an invisible illness and the fact I can work at all seems to disqualify me, even though my capability is unreliable day to day and a a conventional job seems out of the question. In a time when people who are genuinely crippled are being allowed to starve to death or are driven to suicide, my ‘feels’ aren’t a priority – and fairly so.
The stalled Gor project hangs over me like a big black cloud but there’s nothing I can do to make it go faster and its not the artist’s fault its taking so long, but it’s my responsibility to get it done. A rock and a hard place, with the licensors, sponsors and crowdfunders getting increasingly – justifiably – impatient.
There’s the friends with babies. I wanted to start a family years ago but for various reasons we never did. Today I held a friend’s child in my arms and it was like shards of icy glass stabbing through me. I love them dearly and I love their child as a reflection of them, but it’s painful to me every single time and it’s the same with my nephew.
Roleplaying has been my life’s passion, as silly as I am sure that must seem to a lot of people, but the joy of it has been robbed from me the way my love of art was. Relentless, negative, boring interference and dissatisfaction with the end result.
And finally, in the last few days, I’ve lost one of the very few people who helped make all of this tolerable, survivable, liveable. Someone who was able to cut through all the bullshit and self-deprecation and make me feel like a worthwhile, good human being in spite of everything else going on. Worse than that, they’re in a bad, abusive situation – that they’ve chosen for themselves – and there’s nothing I can do to help. You have to let people live their own lives, but it is agony to see them hurt and worse when you can’t fix it. Even worse when they’re someone so valuable to you. Essential. When that’s all abruptly and capriciously taken away from you.
Sometimes there’s no good choice to make, no moral or right choice to make, no choice that doesn’t hurt anyone and my brain can’t handle those situations.
So that’s why I’m so very down. There’s all this long term shit going on. I feel betrayed and let down by a lot of people I consider – or considered, friends. I can barely work and I know that whatever I do I will be attacked and hated. I’ve lost people, to death, and to bullshit and I have nothing left, no reserve of ‘cope’ or ‘fucks’ with which to persevere and endure. I’ve lost hope.
My heart is broken. Everything I care about is taken from me in one way or another and I don’t see any way forward from that.
A lot of that is the fuck-brain talking, but there’s some truth behind all of it that will linger even when (Zarquon willing) I feel better.
I was so close to quitting therapy, we can’t really afford it any more either, and now I feel like I’m all the way back where I started. That’s so disheartening, even though it’s not quite suicidal (I have cut, but not severely, to make the pain more manageable).
You must all be so sick of me being a useless, miserable lump.
I’m sorry, but I can’t hold it in any more and I know there’s at least some use in me chronicling it so other people know they’re not alone. Still thinking of others I guess.