I'm Exhausted, but I'm Hypomanic and Writing This Article
I’ve done so much. I should feel exhausted. I do feel exhausted. Why do I keep doing so much?
The answer, of course, is hypomania, or maybe a mixed state.
I had been thoroughly depressed over my writing, as I sent out query after query to agents, and getting back rejections or the horrifying limbo of “no response means no.” I kept doing this for nearly four months until I had apparently run out of agents to query. (I know that can’t be literally true. There are thousands of agents in New York alone, but I had been through all the usual lists and gone pretty far down the Google pages.)
Yet I trudged along, depressed but pushing myself. Get the queries done. Get my work done. Get these blogs done. Go to bed. The same the next day. Call it functioning depression. I was still in motion, doing what I told myself had to be done, but enjoying none of it (or anything else).
Then I got an invitation to try out for some work-for-hire (which is sort of like ghostwriting, only different). Instantly, preparing submissions (three of them!) for this gig consumed me. And I kept on with the queries, the work and the blogs. But I was tipping over into hypomania.
I wrote the submissions extremely quickly, when I knew I should have taken the time to analyze them, polish them, try a couple of different drafts. But no. I found myself pushed to get them done and get them out there. Or rather, I pushed myself to do it.
My submissions were rejected, but this time instead of slipping back into a funk of depression, I wrote a nice note saying that if another opportunity like this came up to please consider letting me apply again. They responded to the note, seeming astonished that I had sent it, and complimenting me on my attitude. Nothing like a pat on the head to keep the juices flowing.
It was at about that point that hypomania truly hit. I focused everything on my writing. I reworked the first three chapters that I had been submitting to agents and submitted them to still more. I started taking on extra work assignments. I took only brief breaks to eat a bowl of soup, then plunged back into it again. I had trouble getting to sleep and trouble sleeping, even though I was so exhausted that I turned in early each night. And I woke early, ready to keep on keeping on.
Then the miracle happened. I got a positive response from an agent. They wanted to see more of my work. I tweaked the newly revised first three chapters and sent them in. Now I’m waiting, nearly bouncing out of my chair, for them to respond. I just know that they will want to see the whole novel and become my agents. I do know that the deal is a long way away from being sealed, but hope after so long of slogging through my depression, hypomania has taken control.
I am (sort of) still contemplating my work-in-progress, a sequel to the novel that might now become real, thinking I need to rethink it entirely or try a different plot altogether. I am still taking on extra work, though it exhausts me. During my brief breaks from work, I scour the internet for presents for my husband’s birthday, and spend more than I had intended for more presents than I had planned.
And I am writing this blog post the day before I need to post it, rather than the three to four days I usually allow myself to write it. And I still need to polish the post for my other blog. And pay bills. And find a place for us to get a health check that’s required by my husband’s employer. (I have already set up appointments for our vaccine shots.)
I think it is most likely that if the agent rejects my work after all this, I will once again sink into depression — the “I’m not worth anything, I’m a fool to have put this much energy into it, I should just give up” kind. Cutting back my activity to the bare minimum — work and blogs. Sleeping more, enjoying it less. Enjoying everything less. My old familiar functioning depression that is only possible because of the meds I take that don’t allow me to swing too far down.
I know people who, when you try to tell them about hypomania, tell you to enjoy it while you have it. They don’t know how wrong they are.
Getty Images photo via Ridofranz