by Matthew Jarrett
It is early April at the writing of this post, and I have been struggling for several months to get anything written for this website. My life over the past five-to-six months has been filled with mental health issues and stress from school/work. This will be the first post in a two-part series where I express my issues and formulate a way to deal with them in a healthy manner.
One of my biggest strengths, and flaws, is my ambition. I’m the kind of person that when there’s something I want to do, or there’s something I want to achieve, I will give it my all, fail, get back up, try again and again until I achieve that goal. In all truth, I learned this mindset by playing video games. While this is a good mindset to have, it comes at a cost.
I let my ambition get the better of me, a lot. I feel I can take on the world and claw my way to the top, and it is true for anyone who works hard enough and has a passion for whatever it is they do. But I digress. For me, this thing is writing. I have been told countless times by our culture that I can’t make a living doing this thing I love. My family has even shown concern about me being a writer and how I’ll make a stable income. The thing I always tell people is that God will provide, and writing is something that I was made to do. In my ambition and passion, I lose myself and push way too hard, thinking that if I worked a little harder, then I would be able to do this full-time. I failed to recognize that this is a long-haul kind of field that often requires years of work.
And this is what got me in trouble.
Without going into detail, I suffer from major depression and panic attacks, among other things. By overworking myself to the point of burnout, and holding myself to such a high standard, I sent myself spiraling into a period of several months where I was dealing heavily with two or three panic attacks a week, experiencing some of the worst depressive episodes I’ve had since seeking treatment, and slowly working myself into exhaustion. Most of this came from working over twenty hours a week, going through my senior year of college, and the myriad of other things going on in my personal life during this time. Overall, I had held myself to a god-like work ethic, and as a result I came crashing down to earth.
By doing all this, I hampered my creativity and social life, and gave up the very things that kept me sane and helped me deal with my mental health and foster my love for writing. I worked and I worked, until I felt I was losing my mind. And that is no exaggeration. Now that Spring Break is over and my school’s literary and arts journal is finished, I’ve had time to think and reflect on the past few months. I want to make a change in my life.
So that’s why I wrote this post. I wanted to express to all of my readers that I’m sorry for doing this to myself, and share with you my life, and how I plan to do better this time around, because I want to write – I want to make this my full-time career one day. But I need to take it slow, think through all this, and figure out what works best for me. In my next post I’ll be laying out my plans for self-care, as a way to just get this all out there and force me to fully figure it out, and execute it.
I seriously thank you all for your patience with me over the past few months, as I’ve been promising stories and poems and never delivered. As I’ve said on Facebook and Twitter, I’m going to be trying some new things, and it may be a little longer between posts and stories, but I really want to make this work.
Keep writing my fellow Phoenixes. Keep pressing on.
Thank you to all my readers for being patient with me over the past few months. I just want to say thank you all for continuing to read our work here. Thank you to all our patrons who are supporting us financially and helping to make this dream possible. A special thank you to Mudassir Ali for the image. If you want to find more of his work, go to www.pexels.com. I picked this photo since it kind of had an urban fantasy feel to it, and one of the things I want to do with this site is to show the importance of writers, and how our words are like swords fighting off the darkness that invades our lives, or we can join that darkness. I also want to thank Marshall Tankersley, the creator and artist at Soundsmyth Productions. He has joined me in creating content for you all and he’s got some good ideas for stories and essays for all of you. Thank you all.