On Being Mighty

Image courtesy of Nicole Howard

Image courtesy of Nicole Howard

Things have been tough lately. The short story is that I have ADHD, anxiety, and clinical depression and have been entirely unmedicated for the last year. The long story is every blog post I never published, every project that fell through my fingers because I couldn't hold tight enough, and every blank stare from me to anybody who asked why I wasn't writing the funny stuff anymore. 

You know how everybody says that there is no shame in mental illness? That we need to smash the stigma? I agree on the second point, but the first is a tricky one. The truer statement, I think, is that there should be no shame in mental illness. But there is. Hence the stigma. Which we need to smash. 

It's kind of circular, really.

Anyway, I got clearheaded enough this week to figure out that while not being medicated works for some, it does not work for me. I have an entire year of experience behind me now. It's a shitty year. The years before that when I was medicated? Pretty awesome. The years before those years when I was not? Also shitty. 

I see a pattern.

Because Monday is a holiday, I am making calls on Tuesday to try and find a doctor in northern Maine familiar with adult ADHD and comorbid conditions. For now, I want to share one wonderful thing that helped break through the fog. Well, two wonderful things, actually. 

I'm a writing coach when I'm not playing on the internet, and one of my brilliant clients deserves a major shout out. Her name is Nicole Howard and we met last year at the Be Blogalicious conference. I was speaking on an incredible panel with incredible women and Nicole happened be in the audience and liked something that I said and asked me later if I was coaching. I wasn't at the time, but I told her that I'd been thinking about it and needed to set a few things in place and would reach out when I was ready. Spoiler alert: I was not ready for six months, because I was afraid. Because really, who the hell am I to think I am qualified to coach anyone on anything when I can't even remember silly things like where I put my keys or to feed my kid until she threatens to forage for food in the forest (which is not an idle threat, seeing as how the forest is literally just outside the front door). And then I stopped being afraid when I realized that this is exactly why I am not a coach for people who lose their keys all the time or for work at home moms who never have enough time to cook Pinterest-worthy meals while trying to meet deadlines and pay bills. 

That they sometimes forget to pay. 

Yeah, I'd suck at those kinds of coaching. But I'm good at this kind of coaching. I'm good at helping writers get past that mental block telling them that the fear of judgement matters more than the need to share their stories. I am good at helping a writer brain-vomit the rough edges of the story buried within and telling them Good Job But You Can Do Better. I am good at helping smooth out the rough edges and rearranging the puzzle pieces without taking away from the writer's voice. It's their diamond. I just help it shine. 

That's what I do. But there's something my clients do for me. I learn something from each person I work with and for that, I am grateful. Nicole reminded me that my dream isn't going to make itself come true when she told me that one of her bucket list goals was to be published on The Mighty. This, my friends, was coming from a women waiting to see her first byline. I told her that we would work to make this happen. I also decided to submit to The Mighty for myself (then I promptly forgot about it, which really, is probably the best thing that can happen to a writer after hitting send). When my email inbox told me that my essay had been published, I was confused until I realized what I was looking at. The essay was one I needed to see right then, and so it became kind of a meta thing in which Not Depressed Me was reminding Depressed Me of all the good in my life (written while medicated on actual pills and not The Great Outdoors, just so we are clear). And then I was beside myself when Nicole messaged me to tell with a link to her own essay, published the very same day, on the Mighty.

I will not lie. I got teary. I did A Thing that helped another person do A Thing that they wanted to do so very badly with their entire heart. My client did A Thing that made me so very, very proud. 

But that thing that I did? The essay on The Mighty? I thank Nicole for that. That's the thing thing that she did for me. Life is too short to live afraid.