I succumbed to another bout of depression at the end of March, which lasted about five months. Naturally, I met the usual suspects: failure, disappointments, breakdown, etc. I even contemplated erasing my online platform (a metaphorical suicide, if you will). And I did not want to do it the easy way. Deleting Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, WordPress and Gmail by deactivating the accounts would have been too clean, too simple, and the state that I was in dictated harsher methods of “cleansing.”
I deleted 405 Instagram pictures one picture at a time as I relived every memory all over again and experienced harrowing pain. I did the same with my Facebook status updates, going as far back as 2009. Let me just tell you that it was long, cumbersome and not even close to being cathartic. It was the tediousness of the Facebook experience, that turned me off delving into Twitter and Gmail. So I left the cyberworld and sought comfort in reading books: novels, poems, essays, interviews, autobiographies and so on.
By the fifth month, I was depleted. I told my friend I needed a break, a change of scenery and time away from my own shadow, so we hit the US together. It was truly marvelous. I regenerated and was ready to perform and write again as soon as I landed in Kuwait.
However, during the past few days, I couldn’t help but feel the pressure of the New Year looming. I caught my brain telling me that I was a failure for wasting precious time “losing” to the depression. To be fair, I didn’t spend those five months losing to the depression. I was winning. But my brain used the hyperbole — a little like my mother — with the intention of pushing me forward. It didn’t work. Never did.
Instead of saying “lost time,” I told my brain, say “a necessary healing period.”
Dissatisfied with my response, my brain demanded evidence in its own language, in other words, it demanded statistics and facts (boring scientific lingo my mother had etched into my subconscious when I was younger) proving I was not a loser who wasted almost half the year watching Indian movies, anime, eating fast food and reading without purpose.
So, brain, here you go. Some statistics:
7 articles published in magazines and newspapers:
- On Audience, or Who, How, and Why To Write For Certain Readers (in: Citypages, January 2015).
- Art as Commodity (in: Economic and Political Weekly, February 2015).
- Lessons Learned (or Failing to Perform in Front of an Audience) (in: Citypages, February 2015).
- Breaking the Deadlock: Thinking about Identity in Anglowaiti Literature (in: Citypages, March 2015).
- Writing is More Than Style or Grammar (in: Citypages, April 2015).
- A Police State is Not the Answer (in: Arab Times, June 2015).
- Believing is Seeing (in: Economic and Political Weekly, August 2015).
11 new memoir chapters posted online:
- Quiet? Me? (January 2015).
- Father and Ser Pounce* (January 2015).
- Always for life (January 2015).
- Strange Recommendations and Miniature Nations (January 2015).
- A Different Kind of Lesson (February 2015).
- The Romantic Cancer (February 2015).
- Alchemy and Ayatollah Sistani (February 2015).
- Hijacking Human Rights (February 2015).
- The 50 Books that Shaped my Life (March 2015).
- The Disneyfication of Desire (March 2015).
- The Sound of Music (March 2015).
2 academic appearances:
- AUK Speech for International Women’s Day (March 2015).
- Personal Updates: Writing in the Age of Social Networks (March 2015).
6 poetry performances:
- Taste of Jamaica’s 7th National Poetry Slam (January 2015).
- (Radio Performance) The Drive Back with DJ Maha 99.7 RKFM (February 2015).
- (Radio Performance) The Breakfast Show 99.7 RKFM with Tee (February 2015).
- The American University of Kuwait’s International Women’s Day (Make it Happen in Kuwait) (March 2015).
- Spoken Word Poetry Competition, Interschool Round (TES, BSK & NES) (March 2015).
- Word of Mouth (September 2015).
- I launched The American University of Kuwait’s Writing Competition (April 2015).
- I redesigned my website, writing blog and culture blog.
- I adopted a second cat!
3 complete (but not yet published) books:
- Fountain of Youth: 44 page poems.
- Animal: 12 stage poems.
- Mischief Diary: 15 funny YA stories.
And I started working on a novel. Just clocked in 14,000 words.
So, I don’t think this year is characterized as a failure. Yes there is a huge gap between the first quarter and the last, but I don’t think it’s that bad. I mean, I wrote 66,600 words (I know, I gasped at the number too!) in spite of the depression. I’m giving myself permission not to listen to my brain, not to feel sorry for the missing months, and instead to feel grateful for coming out of it alive and blessed.
Some ‘notes-to-self’ for the remainder of the year:
- Document the books that I read and update both the culture blog as well as the Goodreads account. I have been utterly careless in this aspect.
- Discipline myself to write at the same time every day. I write profusely, but never regularly. My task for the remainder of the year is to develop a consistent habit of writing at the same time every day.
- Schedule time off and spend it with people I love and trust whose company I also enjoy.
- Try to update the writing blog whenever I’m free (after my writing quota).
- When possible, travel.