I just turned in Shattered Ones Book Three: Running Down A Dream, which means my energy now needs to turn to self-care lest I slip off the peak of my accomplishment and slide down into the darkness of depression. I know it seems weird that success is the surest trigger for my depression, but it makes sense when you stop to think about it. At the point of success you have been under tremendous pressure, stress, and expectation. The truth is, each success can’t help but have an emotional dip directly after it.
I wasn’t expecting this with the first novella I published, and it triggered one of the worst depression episodes I’ve had in my adult life. Anticipating the dip and taking self-care measures to head it off at the pass are a huge part of what I need to do to be able to KEEP writing in the future. Here’s a list (with gifs) of what I’m focusing on right now.
Clean the House
Toward the end of a deadline, cleaning the first thing I let slide. My house is a shambles. Tidying up and getting everything nice will make me feel a lot better.
Sleep Dep is no joke and I’m a pretty grumpy person naturally. It’s a lot easier to feel better if I’m well-rested.
Spend time with my spouse
Aaron has put up with all of my stress and bad moods and things will go a lot better for both of us if I focus on spending some quality time with him when I’m not losing my mind and stressing out.
Socialize with Friends
I’m trying to meet up with people I haven’t seen as much as I could have as I finished this project, both in person and digitally. All the doubts and insecurities have a much harder time taking hold if I’m around other people who can give some much needed perspective.
Eat some healthy food
I stop cooking for myself on deadline. This combined with less sleep leads to me eating more stuff that’s bad for me. I will feel better if I get back into the healthy eating routine as quickly as possible.
I don’t watch a lot of movies, TV, or read many books when I’m working on a big project. Finishing a project is a good time for me to catch up on everything I’ve meant to watch or read.
List all the people and things you are grateful for.
I thought this was a stupid exercise initially but reminding yourself of the things that are great is a good way to work on your own inner peace.
(above quote from Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You Mr. Rosewater)
Perform small acts of kindness for others.
I have a really hard time being kind to myself. I am my own worst enemy and the only way I’ve found to be kind to myself is to actively do things for other people that I would wish for myself. This helps me be kinder and more at peace with myself.
Forgive myself for everything I didn’t do. For being late on deadlines, for not keeping the house clean while on deadline. For eating McDonalds two days in a row. For all the things I knew I shouldn’t do, but did anyway. Shouldn’t doesn’t mean I didn’t need to do things the way I did to get the results I did. I’m not perfect, I will never be perfect. That’s OK. Striving for perfection will only make me miserable.
People always seem to put the treats at the top of self-care lists, but I find mine fit better at the bottom of the list. If I do this first it doesn’t always help. It is a very important part of my self-care, just further down the list of things that work to keep me from sliding into a dark place. Forgiving myself always has to come first or treating myself just feels undeserved.