But on the flip side, I've never considered myself a victim. I like to call myself a "survivor" of the knocks, bumps, slashes, and breaks life has tossed my direction. Some were horrendous and have left deep scars, but all have taught me something--developed a strength I didn't have--and shaped me into the better human I hope I am today. Not the perfect one (gasp!) but better than the one I was yesterday. Even at my ripe old age of somewhere between 20 and 100, I'm a work in progress.
And this is something we all are. Up to the moment we take our last mortal breath, we are evolving. We are in a constant state of change. A plan on the drawing board of life, and like all plans, sometimes the blueprint has a flaw--a kink that derails the train, changing the course. Sometimes for the better, but most of the time, unfortunately, a change (something the majority of the human race doesn't handle well) throws us so off balance, we fear life will never be "right" again. That we'll never feel "okay".
This post isn't about me listing all the times the track switched in my life. I've been lucky that most of my derailments haven't been catastrophic. (Quick! Lucky rabbit's foot! Knock on simulated wood! Find me a 4-leaf clover!) But they've been devastating to me, enough that I keep re-evaluating what I could have done differently and beating myself up because I wasn't paying attention to the signs--my intuition--or just plain ignoring common sense. In other words, temptation to lick the frozen flagpole may, or may not, have been a choice foolishly made.
After a couple of serious derailments, I fell prey to a serious bout of depression. Something I hid very well from family and friends. While I didn't consider suicide, I did imagine what it would feel like to be free of the emotional pain. I'd lay in bed awake for hours, my husband snoring softly beside me, and think I couldn't take another day of the stress life had leveled upon me. Was I entreating the Grim Reaper? Perhaps. Some might say my fear and negative thinking created a vortex that sucked more into my life, and I'd agree to a point. All I knew was that my heart hurt and I felt unbelievably alone. Everyone around me appeared happy, their lives smooth and carefree, and I purposely kept myself at arm's length, and plastered a fake smiley face on, for fear I'd bring them down with my sad vibes and alienate them. Something I did anyway, by keeping my distance.
But what suffered the most during this time, was my creativity. My joy. Writing through depression is difficult, not only because you just want to create sad scenes to purge your pain, but more so because you don't want to do anything . . . not even the one thing you love. As an author, my productivity tanked. Weeks passed without a single word written. Social media--my author connection to my fans, became the monster hiding in the closet because I felt embarrassed I had nothing to offer. I don't do "pity parties", lease of all my own, so I opted for silence and the small fan base I'd started, slowly vanished. Sales from my previous books tickled to a monthly pittance.
So here I am, almost five years later, standing at the self-proclamation podium, begging for forgiveness from my loyal readers, who hopefully supported my colleagues' works when I suggested them on whatever social media plane I flew on at the time.
I'm back--the second book in my Designer Genes series - "TORN" almost ready for release (dauntless editing slapping me sideways presently). An emotional story, written through my own, which I hope finds the light of day in the ocean of romance stories added every day.
My depression still exists. It's a disease, not a condition, which is something everyone needs to realize. But I refuse to let mine be my "green mile". I recognize the bad days (oddly, the worst about 3 days before a full moon) and have to kick my ass to keep from allowing the sadness--the fear from taking over.
I also realize that while I can't stop life from speeding on, dragging me in its wake, I can enjoy the journey. Be in my present. My "grateful jar" is constantly filling, not emptying. And that's how you put one step in front of the other, when you're cemented in place. Name something you're thankful for, no matter how small. The tiny, insignificant things leave the deepest impressions.
I make a point of rising before dawn, not just because the world in quiet for a moment, but also because I love to witness something new every day. A birth. A light that chases away the darkness, which serves as my personal visual reminder that I get to make a difference each day in my life, and in those whose journey I step into as I walk through the day.
Hello . . . I'm Harley Brooks. Thank you for stepping into my journey. Buckle up and keep your arms inside, until the ride comes to a full and complete stop. Lots of thrills and spills ahead!
NOTE: If you know someone who suffers depression, please show love, patience, and lend a non-judgmental ear. This isn't something anyone "gets over". It's a life sentence.