State of the Blog: Chasing Away ‘The Black Dog’
Jan 19, 2017
When I started this blog, my goal was to provide working women with the blog that my friends and I needed. A fashion blog that understood that a business suit doesn’t involve shorts, and that some office dress codes still insist on nylons. A place where the “must-have” shoe wasn’t two weeks pay, and a discussion about asking for a raise wasn’t filled with patronizing tips like “put on your favorite lip gloss.” But over the past year, this blog has lost some of that spirit.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with depression. After a particularly terrifying incident in college, a priest at my university gave me a biography of Teddy Roosevelt that described his battle with “the black dog,” depression. Roosevelt dealt with the condition by keeping busy, so I decided to give being busy a try.
For the next 15 years, I over-filled my calendar. I worked multiple jobs, picked up hobbies, made plans with friends, and when all else failed, cleaned my house. But after graduating from law school, I decided to take a break–and it was seriously one of the dumbest decisions that I have ever made.
Some people just aren’t meant to have free time.
For the past few months, I’ve felt listless and dispirited. I’m quick to lose my temper and generally frustrated with everyone. I sleep too late, and find any reason to put off or cancel plans. Little things, like filling out bar paperwork, make me anxious. Sometimes, I’ll bounce back for a few hours, only to find myself paralyzed by the ever-growing to-do list of “put off” responsibilities. But whenever someone asks me how I’m doing, the only answer I can summon is ‘tired.’
Then, last week, Kyle asked if I was okay, and unsatisfied with the stock answer, pointed out to me that when we met “[I] had a million things going on all the time, and that girl never once got tired.” It was like a punch in the chest, and I finally heard the little voice in my head saying, “You’re not tired, you’re depressed.”
While this realization made me feel a bit better, it’s still painful. Even though I shouldn’t, I feel ashamed for being depressed. Not because mental illness is something to be ashamed about (it’s not), but because I look at my life, and think, “What do you have to be depressed about? There are people in the world with real problems.” It’s a daily battle to remember that depression is a disease, and it’s not logical, but that doesn’t make it any less real or difficult.
I spent the last week trying to get a good grip on how to get back to a healthier place. I know I need to work on building my emotional strength and healing some old wounds, but that’s a long process. Unfortunately, unlike many people afflicted with depression, I can’t take a prescription to treat it. Each time I’ve tried, I’ve developed suicidal thoughts–an incredibly rare side effect, but one that makes getting better more of a struggle. My therapist suggested that I do what’s worked in the past and stay busy. She also recommended that I start doing something that brings me joy, which brings me back to this blog.
On Monday, this blog will start the rebuilding process. Instead of using bar studies as a convenient excuse for mediocre posts, I’m going to pour more energy into getting back to why I started blogging in the first place. Long before I ever earned a penny from this site, when it was just my Mom and my overly concerned co-worker reading every post, I blogged because I loved it. Even at 2:00AM, when I had a breakfast meeting in five hours, I would still be awake trying to find the perfect bag or blazer to complete an outfit. And I miss that feeling.
I’m a big believer in faking it til you make it. The idea that you can push through tough times by pushing yourself to have higher standards and produce quality work. It’s going to take me a few months to bring this blog to where I want it to be, but I’ll get there. My trusty notebook is filled with ideas and goals, and it’s time to make them reality. Thank you for sticking around through this dry spell. I’ll see you on Monday, for The Work Edit by Capitol Hill Style, version 2.0.