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Why bother starting a big project when you’re depressed? Why not?

On April 1 I launched this website with my first article. What a glorious day that was! I promised myself it would launch on the very first day of the month of my birth – zero excuses.

Did I allow time to actually plan out a writing schedule? No. Did I take more than 24 hours to try and create this website and it’s esthetic? Nope. Did I honestly give myself a deadline but then not actually work on it until the day before? Yep. And finally, did I launch this when I already have some other major projects, commitments and – oh right – a full time job AND depression? You bet I did!

My depression has been asking me since I launched this: Why bother starting a big project when you’re depressed?

Why would you, a person with a time, energy, mental and emotional drainfest of a full time job who lives with depression that needs both the help of a therapist and meds decide to start a website to write stories on a regular basis? Wouldn’t it be better to take on this project when you’re better? Or retired? Or at least give yourself more time to actually do it?

Why bother starting a big project when you’re depressed?

Afterall, when depression raises its life sucking maw and starts to drain away all of the light and joy and desire to do things like brush your teeth, starting a regularly published writing project for others seems a bit much. Maybe just focus on all the other things.

Why bother starting a big project when you’re depressed?

People might actually read what you write, unlikely of course, but they might accidentally stumble up on it. Don’t get your hopes up, but one of them might enjoy a sentence or two you type up. They could possibly want you to write more. And then you’ll have another person who is counting on you to continue with this. And you have depression, so really you can’t be counted on.

Why bother starting a big project when you’re depressed?

Especially one that no one asked for! Really, this is all you. Do you really think you are so important and all knowing that the world needs your voice? You – a nearing middle age, middle-class, privileged white woman. There are REAL issues in the world. Like cops.

Why bother starting a big project when you’re depressed?

Um, why not?

It’s not like I will ever be “cured” or “better” when it comes to living with the mental illness of depression. I’ve lived with it all of my life, quite literally from the time I was a wee child. It is a part of me as much as my right arm. For better or worse it has made me who I am, and so to wait for me to be “better” would mean to never do it.

Why not?

Sure, my depression has come up to make functioning a bit more difficult. I’m sure it will occur again. But I’m not in a depressive episode now. Or yesterday. I probably will be fine tomorrow and the next day. There’s no sense in waiting when I’m fine now.

Why not?

So people may not read this, or the article before, or the one to follow. I’m doing this mostly for me and it’s a bonus if it becomes something others can use. There’s been a need to make my journey with depression known, because for the longest time I had no idea others could feel like I did. If there is someone who stumbles, accidentally on this website and can find solace that they aren’t alone in this battle, I’m here for it.

Why not?

No one asked for the Kardashians and we have about half a million of them. I think I can throw a little something up on these interwebs. 

***

I started this website with the title 40 Year Old Urging for a reason. Up until this point I’ve allowed my depression (and the opinions) of others rule my life and decisions. I grew up always wanting to do the things but deferring to depression and its insistence I couldn’t. This project is one of those things and I don’t want to listen to that illness any more. 

So I’ll write on a whim and I’ll publish it quick, with little thought and less editing. It’s how I was able to launch this in the first place, just do it before depression had time to tell me otherwise.

That’s how I’m planning on living my life, at least for now. Follow the urge and go. 

Depression will always ask, “Why bother?” It’s time I reply with, “Why not?”

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Depression hates me. So I hate me.

Author in front of the Brooklyn bridge, in NYC.

Until now. (Hopefully…)

I always have crazy ideas. Starting a website in which I’m going to write about depression and putting it together in 24 hours would be one. One of hundreds of ideas to be honest. My life is littered with the notebooks, computer files, and crumpled papers from 40 years worth of never started dreams.

There are books, paintings, news articles, speeches and TV pilots. Keeping them company are small business ideas, podcast themes, and no fewer than eight other websites which never got the wings to fly. They congregate in my storage trading stories about how close they each came to making it in the Real World.

None of them ever did though because

Depression.

Yeah, that fucking mental illness I’ve had to live with most of the 40 years I’ve been on the planet. (I think the first 3 were pretty good, but I don’t really remember.) Each time I dared to think I had a great idea or a fantastic way to burn my creative energy Ba-BAM! Here came Depression to tell me I was an idiot. And that was when Depression was being nice.

So nothing ever happened. Or very little anyway.

I mean, I was able to get through school (barely) and then college (ha, even less so). A teaching job followed after years job rejection and trying Teacher Grad school (thank you first Recession I lived through.) A career in education then solved my Depression…HA! I couldn’t even finish the joke there. Nope, a career as a high school teacher has only super-sized my Depression to the point of being my constant companion.

Well, no that’s not really the whole story. And I’ve always wanted to tell stories. Remember the list of non-starters from above? It’s all about the stories: real, imagined, and in-between.

So here we are. Or here I am setting this website up and writing this less than 12 hours before it is supposed to go live to the world.

So what changed?

The month did.

Suddenly it was March and I was staring down the coming of my 40th birthday. Now before you get all, “Oh look, a dumb privileged white woman is going to start her mid-life crisis” I want you to shut up and listen. It’s not that I’m scared of getting older. I like getting older. It means I haven’t killed myself. Literally.

No this was the realization that I was about to start another decade and I still let Depression tell me how worthless me, my ideas and my existence were. I’ve been living with my own set of social media trolls in my head since before there were ANY social media trolls. I spent my entire life doing what many people, especially those who are the children of someone or women or both: trying to make other people happy. Through therapy I realized it wasn’t really to make them happy, it was because I knew I could never make myself happy. Because I HATE myself. Or Depression hates me and since it’s part of me it’s a real pickle.

So with my 4oth birthday looming ever closer I thought, ‘Self, maybe you should start to act on all those urges you have to create things. Maybe you should really just go for it, depression be damned.’

And that is how you and I got here. Me writing and you reading.

This is not the perfect space I wanted. For one thing I can’t get the stupid title to stop scrolling and I bet there’s a typo or 17,000 in here. But I had to hit “LAUNCH” when I finished. Because Depression told me not to do it.

And I’m not wasting time listening to Depression any more.