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When 'Reactive Depression' Sneaks Up Without You Noticing

I had a blog post all written and ready to go. It was about my fluctuating moods and my writing, and how they affected each other. Some of what I wrote is still true. The depression I experienced during my early years and the exceedingly depressive poetry I wrote during that time allowed me to learn something about how poetry works and something more about how depression works.

I wrote about how hypomania affects my writing, and that is still true. Hypomania pushes me to do my writing, even when I don’t feel like it. In fact, at times it pushes me into doing more writing than I can probably handle. Case in point: This week, I wrote three samples for a work-for-hire outfit when I should have been writing or at least outlining my work-in-progress, a sequel to the mystery I have already written and have been sending around to agents.

And last night, that’s where I hit the wall. I figured out that I have sent out about 180 or so query letters and gotten only the most minimal results — rejections that said I had an interesting premise that was not right for them. Most, though, have received plain rejections or the dreaded “no response means no.” I am now second-guessing myself and everything about the manuscript.

Last night, the depression caved in on me. I spent the night in bed, not sleeping except for nightmares, and not wanting to get up in the morning.

Because my identity is invested in being a writer, though, I did get up (late), sent a few more queries, and got to work on rewriting my blog posts, which I had determined were wretched.

In the blog post that I abandoned, I had pontificated about how keeping a schedule kept me going with all the writing projects and various other work I do. I had also crowed about my relative stability and how that was helping me keep that schedule, which was supposed to be keeping depression at bay.

I found out that I lied. The fact that I have maintained functionality for some time did absolutely nothing to prevent the depression that hit me. Admittedly, this is probably a reactive depression, with my lack of success being the trigger.

The thing is, it’s awfully difficult to tell apart from endogenous depression. In fact, I have known the first to melt into the second. At first, you have a clear cause that would depress anyone, then you find it clinging to you long after what would seem to be reasonable. (This is subjective, of course. What is the “right” length of time to be depressed over 180 rejections?)

What’s left? Self-care, of course. Trying to sleep if I can, and squeezing in a nap if possible. Eat something, even if it’s only some guacamole and chips or a bowl of soup. Take my meds religiously. Try to cling to that schedule even when I don’t want to.

But the truth is, I’m running out of agents to submit to. I’m running out of energy to try. And I’m running out of the frame of mind to keep myself functional. I’ll be OK, I know, but it may be a long, hard climb.

Photo by Isi Parente on Unsplash

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