This was written in Los Angeles, at the end of my book tour. On the small chance that any journalists read it, I kindly ask you please not to quote this in media outlets. Demons are personal, the ghosts in our head are never exactly the same. But by the end of my tour I found myself talking more and more about this. Depression is a difficult thing to explain. Straight guy gets head makes it odd to talk about feeling bad. But sometimes you need to be in a really good place to feel able to talk about the other ones.
This is the fifth of my novels to make the New York Times Bestseller list. I remember when the first one did, I thought to myself: Because this book took nearly everything for me to finish, and I ended up in a breakdown late last year. I started waking up in the middle of the night with nosebleeds. I got terrible migraines. Started having panic attacks. A couple of times I had to go the hospital, once in a hurry because the doctors thought I might be having a stroke. It turned out the stress was just shutting my body down.
In the end, I crashed. So I went to bed and more or less slept for two weeks. "Straight guy gets head" cancelled all my events and arrangements and deadlines, sent me to a psychiatrist, and I started a long walk back to finding myself. I have an agent and a publicist who listens and look out for me. I went to a specialist who told me I have a disorder related to panic anxiety.
I should be fine. Straight guy gets head wife at one point said: I have a very active imagination, and I use it to go to places where I can hide. When it works, just for a second, everything makes sense there. But in real life? I never know what anyone wants from me. And then all of this happened: Bestseller lists and movies and book tours.
And I never really found peace in it. I know I sound like an asshole. If I heard myself talking like this I would think I was "Straight guy gets head" asshole too. Being a writer is a dream.
A writer just writes, but an author is expected to wanna do things: Do business, do interviews, travel, be a celebrity, dance on tv. Well, I made it harder than it sounds. I felt things were expected of me, so I ended up feeling I was always either doing things that made me uncomfortable or making people I worked with disappointed. And I was never suited for a thing like that.
So when your book actually starts selling, you feel a lot of people are depending on you. And now some of those people are expecting a lot of things. So you have to find good advisors. So you have to have more meetings.
The more books you sell, the more meetings you find yourself in. And in ALL of them you get asked: Because at first they review your books, but pretty soon they start reviewing…you. And from there it all goes too fast, gets too big, and you never have a moment to process any of it.
So you start feeling frustrated and lost and tired. Straight guy gets head need a step back. You feel fucking scared.
And everyone keeps reminding you to be grateful, and you are, so you start feeling that you owe a lot of people a lot of things. Everyone is still disappointed in you. You try to explain it, but that just makes you feel misinterpreted and misunderstood.
You start feeling less
Straight guy gets head a person, more like a product. You try to be what you think they want you to be, and you end up lost.
Your chest start hurting, you wake up in the middle of the night with nosebleeds.
Your books are their products now and they need results and profit. So you start feeling all of this must be some cosmic mistake.
This success is wasted on you. It should have happened to someone else, someone who deserved it. You start losing yourself, badly. You fall into an identity crisis. You find a picture on Twitter that some idiot took without asking of you and your kids when you were at a theme park, and you go into a rage.
You start getting a lot of emails, most of them Straight guy gets overwhelmingly nice, but some of them are from people who ask a lot of things from you. Your phone keeps ringing. Deadlines, marketing, PR, meetings. You let them all down. You start having nightmares about drowning.
You have no idea why she stays with you. She looks worried when she asks you: They are your safe places. You try to live a normal life, despite having a really weird job. Try to be an okey dad and a decent husband and a not terrible friend. Sometimes someone recognize you at the grocery store and you start sweating and just run out. You go to another city and talk in front of more people, you do a really book signing and take selfies with strangers and your heart starts racing really badly.
You call your wife and cry. So she takes over everything: Meetings and negotiations and decisions, publishers, agents, lawyers, contracts, emails.
You look at her late one night after the kids have fallen asleep in your arms and you whisper: And she whispers back: We had everything we needed long before you had this career. We
head need you to be okey. You go on vacation. You wear really ugly shorts on a beach somewhere and you make her laugh again.
You feel peaceful, just for a moment. And it gets better.