Acknowledging an elephant standing awkwardly in the same room with my big plans.

The flipside of my new and growing confidence is that I am sitting on months… possibly close to a year… of unanswered and even unread email from the depths of my anxiety. There are people who sent me questions and inquiries, people with whom I had begun collaborations, people I was in the midst of doing business with when things went downhill and I just sort of snapped and lost all of my ability to deal with my normal channels of communications.

I’m sorry to those people, both the ones I know about and the ones I don’t. Knowing that I completely disappeared without a word from the ConCom mailing list and did none of the work I had been prepared to do for this year’s con is giving me a mounting of sense of dread about showing up at WisCon next week, and I’m not sure what to do about it, especially since I still feel massively unprepared to look at, sift through, or respond to my work email.

This is the kind of thinking that keeps me in the hole once I fall into it. Knowing that’s what’s happening helps a little, but it doesn’t end the effect.

I saw a great stream of tweets by Ashley C. Ford (@iSmashFizzle on Twitter) that talked about this. I’m going to quote her here:

“How come people think your depression isn’t real if it doesn’t look or manifest itself like theirs? What a strange barometer.

What people think you shouldn’t be able to do when you’re depressed is not an actual barometer for how depressed you are. It just ain’t.

When I’m depressed, I can still get up and go to work, but I get easily overwhelmed by email. I can tweet, but I can’t talk on the phone.

We need to do away with the idea that because you see someone casually interacting online they must be in great mental health.

I think this is how some people slip through the cracks even though we’ve seen people tweet, update & publish blogs right up until the end.

There’s more in the same vein, but that’s the crux of it. It made me feel better to read someone else writing about it, about the exact situation I’ve been in and the exact way I’ve been feeling. This was the real single largest roadblock on finishing Angels of the Meanwhile, but also the hardest thing to explain because “I am afraid of my email and I can only even marginally function if I continue to ignore it” sounds, as Ford notes later in the stream, like an excuse to anyone who doesn’t feel it.

I know that I’m going to have to take responsibility, clear out the mess, and make what amends that I can. Part of my action plan for June is to spend some time each day… at the end of the day, so I can face it after I’ve accomplished my other goals for the day and am riding high… and clear out a hundred email messsages (most of which, I know, will inevitably be junk mail, automated updates, etc.). At that rate, it will take me about a month and a half to get through it.

As part of that, I will be making personal apologies as appropriate. Until then, if you were waiting on replies or actions from me in the past year and have been sitting here going, “Why is she talking on her blog and Twitter about all the awesome things she’s going to do if she can’t even reply to me?”, please know that I understand the position I have left you in and that I am sorry.