I sometimes feel as though my mind has fractured into two. As though there is two very different people living inside of me who battle it out on a daily basis to see which one is allowed to control my every emotion and mood. To plagiarise the title of a famous album cover; sometimes it literally feels as though God and the Devil are raging inside me.
Since the inception of this blog and the admission of my depression to the world my life has become infinitely more wonderful, and with every day comes new and exciting prospects for myself both personally and professionally. Yet through all the positives, there are still moments when all of my demons return to haunt me. For you see, depression is like an addiction. It’s something that you can conquer, but never completely overcome. That bastard monkey will always be on my back and there will always be moments of weakness during which the devil inside me will overpower all that I have achieved and leave me feeling lost and alone. But each time my mind begins to conjure up these feelings of helplessness I am afforded the opportunity and privilege of learning from my shortcomings and growing into a more internally aware human being.
Lately I have come to understand (with the help of my beautiful girlfriend) that one of the greatest reasons for my dark days is the great expectations that I place on myself; particularly when it comes to my writing. I believe that I have what it takes to be a successful writer, and as such I push myself to my limits at every conceivable opportunity so that I can continue to develop beyond what others would believe I am capable of. In my mind, this is my greatest asset as a writer: my unrelenting drive to flourish and develop through self-assessment and reflection is what will eventually see me break into the industry as a published author. But my continued self-assessment can also be my greatest curse. Being hyper-alert of my own strengths and shortcomings causes me to reassess everything that I do, and when I feel as though my writing is falling short of my own expectations I beat myself up over my inability to achieve at the level that I know I am capable of.
When you commit yourself so completely to a task such as writing a novel, it is all too easy to overcommit and leave the rest of your life on hold why you retreat into a world populated solely by the voices inside your head. Trust me, I’ve been here before. I’ve been at that point where my entire life has suffered because of my craft and my own frustration at failing to produce just what I believed I should have. When you hit this point, everything spirals out of control and before you know it it’s 3am and you are sitting in your wardrobe crying as you try and edit your manuscript for what feels like the hundredth time, or you find yourself setting a ninety thousand word document alight in the family fireplace because you just can’t stand the sight of it anymore.
While it has been some time since I let my craft consume me to that degree, about two weeks ago I felt as though I was having a slight relapse into a depressive state. It was nothing major; I just began to notice the reappearance of the misomaniac version of myself; the man who hates everyone and everything (if you need proof take a look at my previous entry about my university lecturer). But just being able to notice this small change in my perceptions was a monumental step towards overcoming my issues once again. Being able to stop, take a deep breath and channel those small instances of hatred into my creative thought process has done wonders, both for my own sanity, and for my writing.
Right now I am writing every day. I wake up at 5am and punch out a thousand words before breakfast, and if possible I back that up with another session at night, and you know what? Between my writing, work, exercise, and enjoying the company of my beloved partner, I genuinely don’t have the time to be negative. My everyday life is so jam-packed with happiness that the misomania has vanished once again. My demons have disappeared, and while I am positive that they will live to fight another day, right now they remain out of sight and out of mind. God and the Devil will continue to rage inside me for the rest of my life, and while it does often feel as though I live a fractured existence, it is within the fractured fault lines of my two personalities that I find my inspiration to create.
For as long as I live and as long as I am a writer I will place great expectations on myself. And although at times I will falter and fail in my quest to succeed (and burn an entire manuscript out of frustration), these great expectations will inevitably be what drives me towards success.