Discover more from From the Mind of Karis
I love you, and I hope you're okay
Talking depression & writing to discover the story & sharing embarrassing things from 2008!
It’s a beautiful weekend in Brooklyn ☀️
As I’m writing this on Saturday, I’m delighted to report that today is a coveted 10/10 weather day, according to NY Metro Weather. I’m currently inside, but I’d determined — determined, I say! — to get out and enjoy the sun and the perfect weather at least at some point today! We’ll see if that happens 😂
A fun fact! I moved to NYC eight years ago this week! Below you’ll see baby Karis, fresh-faced and 22 and with big dreams, in front of my first apartment. What a time.
In today’s newsletter, you’ll find:
From the heart: some reflections on living with depression
From the vault: Feelings of the Night + reflections!
From the page: discovery writing
Hope you enjoy! Let me know down in the comments what you’re excited about this Sunday, and what you’re looking forward to for the week ahead!
From the heart 💗
If you don’t know, now you know: I’ve been deeply depressed for the past few weeks. It started on a random Monday during residency, and just…continued to get worse & worse. Until, one day, miraculously (and thanks to a change in meds, lol) — the intensity of it broke. So now I’m enjoying my newfound ability to not stumble through every day feeling like I have my own personal cloud of doom at my side.
And when I started this newsletter, I was convinced I was going to write a reflection on that time. I have some Thoughts about it, about what did and, importantly, did not trigger it this time.
But I’ve been sitting here for a while now, and the words just aren’t coming. Because what’s actually on my heart is something different.
I want to talk about living with depression in a broader sense. I want to zoom out a bit and look at the overarching picture. I’ve known I had depression since about junior year of high school (which was in 2009/2010), so for the past 13-14 years. Before that, I knew something was wrong with me. My sophomore year of high school, a small group leader sent me to the school counselor, but I had symptoms even before then.
For years, my depression has manifested itself in self-destructive ways. Literally, in the sense that I physically hurt myself, and metaphorically/emotionally, in the sense that I isolate myself and flog myself internally.
Most days are a struggle to get out of bed. I go, and maybe this is TMI but oh well, I sometimes go days without showering, without leaving the house, without eating anything that isn’t fast food hand-delivered to my door. Vegetables? I don’t know ‘em! And the more I spiral into depression, the less I take care of myself, the more I hate myself, the deeper the spiral.
And yet I function. I go to work. I am in grad school. I have an agent. I am doing things, big things, things I’ve always dreamed of, and all this with depression to boot.
Living like that…it fucking wears on me. I am exhausted, borderline burnt out, and I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t think I can fix it. This is the state of my brain, and though I know the tangible things I can do to make things better (Eat healthy! Exercise! Or at least leave the house for pete’s sake! Shower often! Clean your home!), it is nearly impossible to get myself to do them most days, because most days, the fact that I keep breathing from one second to the next is the victory.
And I’m not alone in this. I’m not writing this section to make you feel sorry for me or act like I’m the only one who has to live like this. It’s more because…maybe you’ll feel seen. Maybe you, too, live like this, and you’re tired. You’re so fucking tired. Maybe the sun is shining but it doesn’t feel like it to you, because you can’t see past your depression. And if that’s the case, know that I’m so sorry. I feel you, I do. And I want you to know that we’re gonna get through this.
It doesn’t feel like it, but we will. We’ve survived this long, spitting in the fact of our mental illness, and we’re gonna keep doing that, keep raising our middle fingers to the air in the fact of depression and suicidality, and life may be hard, but it’s ours.
I love you.
From the vault 🔏
Feelings of the Night
Opening my window, I face the world outside.
Stick my head into the open,
Feel the cool breeze on my bare arms.
Breathe in deeply,
Inhale the scent of burned wood and cold air.
The water in the creek pounds joyously,
The green tractor rumbles by noisily.
I fill my lungs with the cold air,
Feel it burn as it travels down my throat,
The taste of something sweet in the wind.
The moon shines brightly,
Pure white, smiling over the world,
As a mother beams over her children.
I look all around me,
Relish with joyful delight,
The November night
Up the hill.
But then, as my fingers start to freeze,
And I can write no more,
I look around, breathe deeply,
Drink in the beautiful night,
And with one last look, a last regret,
I slowly pull my head back,
And return to my work,
Made so much more unpleasant,
After the delightful, delicious
Feelings of the night.
November 7th, 2008
From the page ✍️
I used to get really freaked out when authors I respect and admire would talk about their writing process, becuase I thought that if that exact process didn’t work for me, I was doomed. Obviously this is not true, for there are as many successful writing processes as there are successful writers,and honestly probably more. All that to say, if what I say here sounds like advice, it’s more just…reflecting on my writing process in the hopes that it might help you or illuminate your own process or unlock something in your brain.
Back to those successful authors: many of them talk about how their books’ endings are a guiding light for them, something that they have to know before they can begin, their own entry point into the story. Whether they then write chronologically or not, they are always writing toward this lighthouse of an ending.
I am jealous of that. Even when I work from an outline, the ending is always a little murky for me, often until I’m a few drafts in, even. I never ended up querying my second bookbecause even four or five drafts in, the ending was mutable, changing, unable to be pinned down. I still don’t know how that story ends, and I last touched it in 2016.
With Nat & Cami, I knew the broad strokes of the ending, but it didn’t crystallize into its current iteration until I was there, drafting it. In fact, the ending it has now was originally flipped in terms of who did what.
The hard truth of the matter is, I’m shit at endings. I struggle with coming up with a satisfying conclusion to anything, whether it’s a novel, an essay, or a newsletter. I don’t know what that says about me as a person, lol, but I do know that it makes writing something of a struggle sometimes, because I know where I’m starting, I know how I’m going to get there, but I don’t know where “there” is. #awkward.
I write to discover. I discover my characters, my plot, my themes. I think that’s why it took me so long to become a plotter; I am really bad at coming up with a plot before I write it!
Part of that is something I was able to train myself out of: I’ve been practicing the art of outlining lately, and I find that it really kinda frees up the writing process for me, because I know the rough outline of the journey we’re gonna take.
All my outlines have one thing in common, though: the ending kinda sucks.
It will suck in my first draft, and my second, and all the way until the draft I feel ready to show to someone else, probably. That is just…the way writing works in my brain.
Writing. A fun pastime that is confusing and has no set process! I love this for us.
Alla prossima 👋
That’s all for today, friends! Next week is up in the air; we may have an author interview, we may not, we’re just vibing! In the meantime, stay cool, drink lots of water, and be kind to yourselves.
Alla prossima, amici!
I just feel like this makes it sound like it’s gonna be a sexy poem. It’s not gonna be a sexy poem!
The weird thing is that, though I wrote this nearly exactly 15 years ago, I remember what precipitated it almost perfectly. I was three months into my first year at boarding school in the Black Forest. It was a crisp mountain night. And I was delighting in it. Not all of my poems from this time are as…non-angsty as this one, lol.
A future newsletter WILL be about what I consider to be “success” as a writer!
It was called My Mom’s a Killer and…shall never be revisited.