As we countdown to Mo*Con VIII, I’m running blog posts to encourage the conversation that we’ll be having there. After Jim Hines’ blog post, (the AWESOME!) Delilah Dawson wrote to ask if she could share her story. The answer was “OF COURSE!”. I especially resonate with this line: “I might be broken, but I’m me.”
Guest Blog by Delilah S. Dawson
As she helped my son from the car, the perfectly put-together woman gave me a sugary crocodile smile and said, “Oh, looks like your mommy put your shoes on the wrong feet.” She paused meaningfully. “Again.”
I just told my son I loved him and pulled away. But this is what I want to say to her and to anyone else who has something snarky and self-righteous to say.
Dear Carpool Harpy,
I am a writer, mother, and wife living with depression. It arrives at
the oddest times and takes over everything. I almost always expect it
in February and August, but sometimes it sneaks up or overstays its
welcome. Even when things seem good, even when I’m smiling, everything
Yes, my son’s shoes are on the wrong feet because that’s how he did it
and it didn’t seem worth the fight to put down his accomplishment and
change it. He’s only four, and he felt pretty good about his shoes.
You’ll also notice a smudge of raspberry on his cheek, and his hair is
spiky because he wants to grow it out. Because he’s a kid.
And because let’s be clear: I’m barely staying afloat.
I’m giving hugs, I’m enforcing the Clean Underwear Rule, and I’m
making sure that what my kids are wearing out of the house is
seasonally appropriate, even if it’s a size too small. Because that’s
all I can handle before I drag myself back into bed. I just went five
days without washing my hair. I don’t want to eat and generally won’t
unless someone reminds me. I don’t want to watch TV or movies or hang
out with my friends. When the phone rings, I cringe. And when you open
the door of my car, that’s as close as I get to praying, because I
can’t take another word of criticism in my life, especially not from
When depression strikes, writing feels like the only thing that keeps
me going. Sure, my husband takes amazing, tender, thoughtful care of
me, and my children hug me constantly, but losing myself in a story is
the only way to hold the hopelessness at bay. When I’m not writing,
right now, I want to cry. My stomach is constantly in knots. Nothing
seems worthwhile. And even though it’s a beautiful day with a bright
blue sky and flowers blooming everywhere, I feel no joy in it.
I have one book due April 1, another due June 7. Neither is done. I
have guest blog requests mounting up, reviews to write, and a social
media presence to keep up. Which I don’t mind, since the little
seratonin hits I get when someone @s me on Twitter are like tiny rays
of sunshine. In one way, I’m more stressed than I’ve ever been. But in
another way, I’m grateful. I have to keep working. I can’t give up, I
refuse to let my writing or my professionalism suffer.
Worst of all is that when I look at my life, I know that I have
absolutely no right to complain. I have every single thing I want. I
should be happy. But there’s something broken in me, some chemical
slip-up, that means I’m not. I’ve been this way since I was a kid,
sometimes manically happy and other times barely capable of getting
out of bed. I tried to take my life when I was a teen, and surviving
taught me how strong I truly am. I know now that I can get through
And yet I’m afraid to talk about it, because I don’t want anyone to
doubt my ability as a writer or my stability as a professional. I
can’t remember the last time I vacuumed or put on makeup, but I’ve
never missed a deadline.
So when you imply through your sugary-sweet words and stupid, cutting
smile that I’m failing at motherhood because my son’s shoes are on the
wrong feet? It makes me angry. You don’t know a thing about me or
about where I am as a human being; you only know that my son has a
smudge on his cheek and mismatched socks. And that is no basis for
judging either of us.
You don’t see me fighting to stay afloat. And you don’t see his
radiant smile of pride when he puts on his shoes by himself, which is
one of the few things that can make me smile, too.
But I appreciate you. Because you are a reminder that I’d rather be
depressed and fighting it, depressed and raging, depressed and
working… than judging people for all the wrong reasons. I might be
broken, but I’m me, and one day soon, I’m going to smile again. And my
smile, unlike yours, will be real.
Delilah S. Dawson is a native of Roswell, Georgia and the author of the paranormal romance Blud series for Pocket, including WICKED AS THEY COME and an e-novella, THE MYSTERIOUS MADAM MORPHO. The second book in the series, WICKED AS SHE WANTS, and a second novella, THE PECULIAR PETS OF MISS PLEASANCE, will be out in spring 2013, and her first YA, a creepy paranormal called SERVANTS OF THE STORM will be available in spring 2014. RT Book Reviews has called her “a wonderfully fresh new voice!”
Delilah is a member of the Romance Writers of America, the Georgia Romance Writers, and the Artifice Club. You can also read herproduct reviews at www.CoolMomPicks.com and www.CoolMomTech.com, where she is an Associate Editor. She’s a geek of all trades, a synesthete, and the sort of person who saw Spawn in the theater and made other people angry by laughing. Find her online at www.delilahsdawson.com. Bring cupcakes.
May 3 – 5, 2013. Indianapolis, IN
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