Apprenticeship Week 9

A snapshot of some mental health from the last couple weeks as well as some project updates and announcements.

This is late. I should not be writing this on Monday, but here I am.Not a lot happened last week. I don’t know if that’s a skewed look at the week, but I think it is. I’m going to do something I haven’t done in these posts so far. And that’s discuss some of the more mental side of things. I don’t have a lot to say for how I tangibly spent the week, but I do know that I spent it.

Work and Mental Health

I’ve talked about struggling with mental health here and on Over the Invisible Wall (which has sadly died). What I haven’t done is give a glimpse into its affectations in the present. Everything I’ve previously discussed wasn’t so now.

For the first month, I was on an emotional “I’m getting my life together!” high, and it was fantastic. I was sad to leave Panera because of the friends I’d made, but I was also moving forward.The last couple weeks have blurred and have felt the same. I feel disjointed, almost, seeing the positives of the steps forward but also feeling like I’m standing still. I see the work I’m doing at Original One Parts, but then a cloud obscured my motivation. It doesn’t feel like drudgery, exactly, but it appears like a huge, monstrous project to slog through. I see the paradox of what I’m writing. That it isn’t what it is. And maybe that’s me trying to stay optimistic. Because there’s definitely trends to suggest that’s been a struggle of mine.

And these last couple weeks have been new instances of the same old winds.

Personal Projects

This weekend I decided to start my next poetry collection. Coincidentally it is one presenting a lot of the darkness I went through, mostly not super recent. The darkness lately hasn’t been as dark or as long lasting, for which I’m thankful. It’s going to be a sensitive, difficult collection both for me to make and for people to read. I think it will be good, though, to publish it, because it could help shed light on what it’s like to be depressed and even suicidal. It’s not pleasant, like Inside a Writer’s Head, but by being able to see and start to understand the darkness, it could make it easier to help people who are struggling with it.

The second project I only just settled on last night. It was a difficult decision, but I’m putting Mystical Warriors on hold. I’m going to start a new novel. I am not going to share what it’s about yet, though. This one will be a surprise.

The main worry I have in starting a new novel is that I will run into the same problem I’ve always had, which is that I get tired of the idea. I managed to fall in love with Mystical Warriors, become “obsessed” with my own world and story enough to spend time writing. I got over 30k words. But then I didn’t write for a long time, and I feel disconnected from the story. I’m going to combat this by writing every day in Blurt. I’m not going to write the story in order, because that has proved difficult. Rather, I’m going to write short bits and pieces and scenes as I desire to and sort of cut and paste them together later. Almost like a collage. If it works, I plan to take this approach with Mystical Warriors when I return to it, too.

Recap: Girl Defined Fixed My Anxiety

This is part of a series of posts called Recap. In it I will share my notes on the content I consumed followed by my response. The content could vary from a podcast, to an article, to a Youtube video, to a book I read. When applicable, I will link to the content.

Additionally this was written September 8th despite the url.

I recently watched Rachel Oates‘ video Girl Defined Fixed My Anxiety. I wrote about my struggle with mental heath on Over the Invisible Wall and I mentioned it in Why I’m Not a Christian. In my response to the video I share more about that.

Notes

Rachel Oates has dealt with anxiety and it’s been a big part of her life.

Girl Defined equates worry and anxiety in their video, but it’s not the same thing. Worry is something everyone faces frequently. Worry usually has an external cause. Anxiety on the other hand is more intense; worry on a way bigger scale. There’s more internal or physiological causes, and anxiety is longer term. It can have external triggers but is more internal.

First of Girl Defined’s points, you should pass your worries onto God. Rachel disagrees: what helped her with anxiety was feeling more in control; it was worst when she felt out of control.

Girl Defined’s 2nd point: don’t worry so much about the future that you forget to live now. Rachel shared how focusing on the present moment helped her at times when she was feeling overwhelmed because of anxiety. She said, “Things can change and things do change and you have the power to change them.”

Third point: worry isn’t helpful. Obviously. But you can’t just tell yourself to stop worrying or stop having a panic attack.

Fourth point: God promises to help those who trust him. Rachel wants proof that God exists, can help her, and has her best interests in mind before she’ll just trust him and throw out her medication.

Point five was to remember that God has a plan for you. Rachel disagrees, thinks better advice would be that while life is crappy sometimes it’s possible to recognize those things that make it so and make a plan to change them.

Girl Defined then tells people that following God more and praying is the best way to deal with and stop worrying or having anxiety. This is a dangerous mindset because it could stop people from getting the help they need and seeking treatment.

Rachel recommends Sane New World by Ruby Wax and Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig.

Response

I grew up in a Christian home and I dealt with depression. Which, yes, is very different, and not related to this specific topic directly, but it is a mental health issue. And I’ve seen Christians suggest partial “cures” for it in the same way Girl Defined suggested things for anxiety-conflated-with-worry. I was told at least once that my depression was probably due at least in part to my poor relationship with God. If only I would fix things with God and grow closer to him, I wouldn’t be so depressed. But I’ve had the opposite problem.

Rather than making me less depressed, it aggravated other problems. I feared I was not truly following Christ, that I hadn’t been forgiven, that my sins hadn’t been washed away, that I was one of the goats who thought they were Christians but were not and would burn in hell. This led me to hopelessness. I had some security in my faith to a degree, but it wasn’t enough. It didn’t convince me. It couldn’t convince me. The what ifs swirled on and on, building up. It took me to a point where there was no hope, no certainty, no reason to believe my life mattered.

I was taught that everyone’s true purpose was to glorify God. But I couldn’t discern whether I was truly glorifying him or if I was trying to glorify myself. There was no way to be sure. I kept reaching a point where my relationship with God, if you can call it that, felt ingenuine, more obviously fake than I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter™. And that drove me further into hopelessness and a fear of hell. It also drove me toward atheism.

If this God existed, he clearly did not intend for me to follow him. I can’t. I’ve tried everything and I can’t do it. It always flakes. I always feel like I’m faking it, going through the motions, holding a veil over everyone’s eyes, especially my own. So it seems that he is either not real or he is not good, because he is surely sending me to hell. I wanted to follow him. I wanted to believe. So badly. So badly. But I couldn’t. It always fell apart. Every time.