my depressed to-do listSo this photo is of my on-going “To Do” notebook. I know, fairly old-fashioned to have an actual hand-written list for that, but I take visceral pleasure in crossing things off my list when they are completed.

The other side of that coin is the unremitting guilt I feel when something endlessly keeps getting moved over every day/week, or worse, never gets crossed off at all. So, you know, trade offs. :/

But the point is, I’ve been way down in the slumps for the last few months. Did my cat’s untimely death set this off? I think so. But it was also my mother’s 20th death-day anniversary in the middle of September. And I’m coming up on my one-year anniversary of getting my day!job — not that I hate my job, because I really don’t. It’s a good professional position at a state university where I do good things with people I enjoy working with. Still, it’s not really what I want to be doing, which has always been and always will be: writing.

Which ironically is the primary thing I have NOT done during this period, ref. the photo. My “to do” list since mid-July has been “be depressed.” It has not been a crippling clinical depression (been there, got the tee-shirt) but it has been enough to make creativity completely out of the question. I hate that so much.

And while I have a lot to be grateful for, which I try to remember every day, I’m in so many ways not living the life I imagined for myself when I started graduate school in 201o. I mean, prior to that, I spent 15 years not even having in kind of sense of what life I wanted to live — a key part of my big 2008 breakdown was realizing that aside from paying the bills and eating pizza, I really had nothing to live for. I was just existing for the sake of being on the planet, hoping that things might “get better” in some vague way. I had been exploring learned optimism since about 2000, but more in an “in the moment” way than by using it to create and plan my life. Once I turned things around in 2010, I thought I knew what I was doing and why.

As I pull out of this, though, I’m realizing that those older behavior patterns are still strong, and that hoping for better does not make it happen I need to be a lot more proactive, and more importantly, I need to drop the shame I attach to my dreams and goals. Yes, I want to make a good living writing books I enjoy writing; yes, I want to have a lovely house in New Zealand populated by me, cats, a German Shepard and maybe a significant other; yes, I want to lose weight and become healthy again like I was doing before I caught whooping cough in 2012; yes, I want to learn how to dance and also study fine art. Yes to all of those things. I am so tired of asking for less because I’m scared of being disappointed, or judged as greedy or silly or…whatever.

I need to work on self-control and consistency in all things, and I need to focus on optimism and self-compassion. I’m sure I’ll have bad times again, sooner or later (later, please? Just a request) but I’m still young by today’s standards and I can do everything I want to do if I commit to it without shame or self-recrimination. As always, I thank all of you for your support. <3

Upcoming in the life of Cooper West:

A return to writing every day
Revamping my “Fanfic Academy” posts as a small book
Re-release “Homecoming” with a better cover
A Guardsmen’verse wiki!
…and more


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