The Depression Tango

“What the hell? How is depression a tango?”

It’s a term I came up with largely by accident that refers to the back-and-forth routine of thoughts, feelings, and reactions that I seem to go through over and over again. Like in a dance, sometimes you lead and life is almost normal; however, even at its best, depression is following right along and making counter-moves for all of yours. When the time comes for it to lead, it can often feel like you’re being dragged across the floor, stumbling and trying to react to each new step, every dip and twist. I chose the tango especially because it’s a close, fast, aggressive dance between the partners. Depression has more sharp edges than the average person knows; it’s not a waltz.


The commercials say “Depression hurts.” They’re right, it does. But it can also sabotage you, cloud your judgment, and even fill you with a hot, seething, directionless rage. They don’t mention those parts on the pleasant commercials with their wistful-looking actors gazing out windows. When you have Depression, you don’t call the shots—or the steps, to continue the analogy. Your emotions aren’t under your control anymore and that’s the most frustrating thing to try to make someone else understand.

An image I found on a quick Google search of depression. I do not own any of these images.


Honestly, depression is really a shitty name for a mental condition as profound and all-consuming as it is. Lower-case-d depression is a term we use to describe a bad mood. It’s sadness. That’s what the average, non-afflicted person pictures when they hear the word. Capital-D Depression is a mental health condition. A disease. And it’s a tornado of emotions. Depression sucks the joy out of life, but also drains the energy you need to fight against it. It’s like a vampire in some ways, leaving you weakened and vulnerable. I used that analogy before in a piece I wrote a few years ago.


“So why can’t you just cheer up?”

This is every Depressives least favorite question, akin to asking a cancer patient why they can’t just not have cancer. But, again, Depression is more than just sadness. If I’m hanging out with friends, I can crack jokes and laugh even with Depression—maybe not when I’m at my worst, because then I won’t want to be near anybody and laughter will be a distant memory. But, sure, with medication or other treatments, I can make people forget that I suffer from Depression, but it hasn’t gone away. To continue the cancer comparison, just because the pain lets up sometimes doesn’t mean that the disease has magically disappeared.

An image I found on a quick Google search of depression. I do not own any of these images.


For a few minutes, you can cheer up, but you could just as easily break down crying a few minutes later. Others are really good at covering their symptoms and don’t let other people see them in the worst of it. For still others, Depression might manifest as a deep anger that comes out in dark humor or bitter contempt. It’s usually not pretty. If the disease could be said to have an intention, then that intention is to make its host as unpleasant to be around as possible for others. Hygiene suffers, obligations go unmet, and things that would normally be important take a back seat or vanish from consideration altogether. This doesn’t even cover things like the memory problems, difficulty concentrating and remaining focused, and lack of patience that are often also part of the package.


“But it’s just feelings, right?”

No, there are other considerations, too. Depression sufferers often have what are known as cognitive distortions, which is a clinical term for distorted thinking. This can range from tendencies to ignore positive facts in favor of negative, emotionally-based reasoning to getting stuck in “feedback loops” where thoughts trigger negative associations leading to more thoughts that lead to still more negative assertions and on and on until one’s entire reason for existence might be called into question. Example: “I’m so bored, there’s nothing to do. (hopelessness) There’s nothing to do because I don’t have any friends. (bitterness) Of course I don’t have any friends, who would want to be around someone as depressing as me? (despair) I really don’t contribute anything worthwhile to the world, do I? What’s really the point of living a life like this? So you see how nothing good on TV can suddenly spiral down into suicidal ideology. I’m not exaggerating here, by the way. I can’t count how many times I’ve done this mental dance.

Yet another set of steps in the Depression Tango.

An image I found on a quick Google search of depression. I do not own any of these images.


To a healthy person, these sorts of exaggerated thinking might seem as hard to credit as the convoluted conspiracy that a paranoid schizophrenic believes influences the details of their everyday lives. This is why it’s so important for the general public to recognize and understand how serious a mental illness Depression and anxiety disorders can be. In Depression, we create thought patterns that become ingrained in our brains over time. Those patterns become increasingly difficult to fight, much like the ritual behavior of someone with an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. What makes Depression so insidious is that its effects are largely invisible. We Depressives learn to mask our symptoms and deny our damaged thought patterns when around others. We want to belong, we want everyone to think we’re just like everyone else.


“Why don’t you get help?”

The fact is that many of us do seek help. The problem is that what works for one doesn’t work for another. Because of the personal nature of Depression, that dark and crippling voice we hear often takes many different forms. Medication is only about 35% effective for most cases of Depression. Thirty-five percent! Therapy works more often, but therapy is a long and difficult process that requires a lot of insight on the part of the therapist and an enormous amount of work on the part of the sufferer. Now, imagine that you felt the way I’ve been describing and ask yourself how well you think you could keep working steadily on this while also trying balance whatever else you’ve got going on in your life. On particularly bad days, you could have told me that the cure for my diabetes was sitting right in the next room and it might not have been enough to motivate me to get up and walk there. Depression fights back. It sabotages your efforts and undermines your resolve. It questions and picks apart every promise of hope because it wants you right where you are.

An image I found on a quick Google search of depression. I do not own any of these images.


Depression is an invisible illness, but those fighting it need your support and understanding. We need to erase the damaging stigmas of the mentally and emotionally ill so that those who suffer Depression don’t also suffer the shame of society.

There are treatments that work and there are those who are willing to help and I’ve seen their effectiveness first-hand, which gives me hope. Depression can be fought and, even if not necessarily beaten, we have the power to take the lead in this dance. We have the power to fight back against that dark voice inside.



David’s Haunted Library: Ancient Enemies

The world’s governments are a place of secret agendas and backstabbing politicians. It’s even worse when the ruling class is made up of vampires called the order. Their ruling council is called the Hegemony and they have been in charge of world politics for centuries. Every continental territory is ruled by a Hegemon, the Hegemon in charge of North America is a vampire scientist named Caroline.

Ancient Enemies by Brian McKinley begins with Caroline about to leave for a summit meeting of the Hagemony to talk about the future. She is leaving her lover Avery in charge of their home. Avery has been developing psychic powers and has been feeling out of place in Caroline’s world. Now with Caroline gone, Avery is faced with trying to protect Caroline’s scientific secrets and he has found a new woman who is attracted to him. Meanwhile, Caroline is trying to keep her position of…

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The Introvert and the Vampire Agenda

A unique take on the forthcoming Ancient Enemies.

Introvert Broadcasting Network


Remember when I broke my front teeth and considered joining a vampire coven? After reading Ancient Enemies, I have reconsidered this option because of the highly developed level of political intrigue running rampant in covens. If I ever become a vampire, I intend to fly solo to better soothe my introverted nature. I’m pretty sure Rich would be able to put up with the new lifestyle. He’s so far managed to accept the writer’s life and the strange dinner conversations this breeds, so he’d probably barely notice if I took things one step further. He’d do especially well with the blood drinking, since he rarely comments anymore when I consume something from the refrigerator that is long past its due date.

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Meet the lecturers for this year’s Para-X

Para-X: Behind The Veil


Chris DiCesare – The C2D1 Haunting

Chris is a New York-based author and lecturer whose experiences as a college student have been the focus of several books, films, and television shows.  This includes the SYFY Network’s “School Spirits” series, and the award-winning, independent film, “Please Talk To Me”.

 The C2D1 Haunting ranks among the most documented paranormal events in US history, defined by full-bodied apparitions, disembodied voices, moving objects, physical attacks, photographs, and audio tapes.  DiCesare was at its epicenter, earning him the nickname “The Ghost Boy of Geneseo”.

Di Cesare’s appearance on Coast to Coast AM with George Noory in June 2014 helped propel his book – “Surviving Evidence-Memories of an Extreme Haunting” (Dark Moon Press 2014) – to Amazon’s #5 best seller for its genre.


Chuck Lehman – An Introduction to Crystal Singing Bowls

Chuck is a paranormal investigator, currently located in Monroe NJ. His investigations started in…

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How Indie Bookstores are killing Indie Books

Vampire Syndrome Blog

The last sacred cow of the book world is planting the seeds of its own irrelevance. The untouchable, most holy of institutions, hailed as the prime literary taste-maker and engine of new discoveries, no longer holds its touted powers, yet none dare voice out loud that the ‘Emperor’ is no longer wearing their clothes.

Until now.

Once upon a time, in the blissful days of the pre-Internet literary world, local independent bookstores played a crucial role in discovering and publicizing new books. Great books on small presses could win the attention of literary agents and major publishers, and the then-Big-Six’s ‘hidden gems’ could find the accolades they deserved.

For the last fifteen years, the Web has been usurping the indie bookstores’ ‘power of influence’. Countless literary review sites and blogs, and book retailers’ online reviews, have, for the most part, taken over the role of “taste-maker and engine of discovery”…

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Kierkegaard was right – there is an awful precipice before us. But he was wrong about the leap – there’s a difference between jumping and being pushed. You reach a point where you are forced to face your own needs, and the fact that you can’t terminate the situation settles on you with full force.”

Kathleen Conklin, in The Addiction (1995)

In the film The Addiction (1995) the director Abel Ferarra uses the metaphor of the vampire to examine issues of power, free will, good, and evil in the human (and not so human) condition.  One of the very first scenes  is the most significant. Doctoral student Kathleen Conklin played by Lili Taylor is dragged into a dark ally of New York City by a beautiful vampire named Casanova (played by Annabella Sciorra). Casanova presses Kathleen against a wall and sternly states, “Tell me to go away.”  Sensing…

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David’s Haunted Library: Alethia and Drawing Dead

Little Ridge is an odd little town, there is an island somewhere off the coast but no one seems to remember where it is. It all started when a couple of the town’s residents started to disappear. One day Thettie Harper and her family discover one of the missing people it causes problems within the whole town. Thettie’s one ally is Lee and it’s up to them to find answers.

What really might be causing the problems in the town is the lake itself. There is something evil in that lake below the island that is haunting Little Ridge This is a book about the horror of losing your memory, what we leave behind and terror itself.

Aletheia by J.S. Breukelaar is about the damage that has been done and the damage that will happen. The story has elements of the supernatural and a love story to it. This is…

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Interview with Brian Rollins!


You just recorded Drawing Dead: A Faolan O’Connor Novel for Audiobook and few years ago, you did Ancient Blood for me. What were the similarities and differences between the two experiences?

Well, right off the bat, I’m a lot more experienced this time around. Ancient Blood was my second audiobook and a broad departure from my first one, Glen & Tyler’s Honeymoon Adventure. There are a lot of “behind the scenes” changes I’ve made to make my life easier when recording and editing. That allows me to focus more energy on performing the book.

As far as story, the protagonists are very different. Faolan is a much more confident, active character than Avery was. That necessitates a different type of reading in both character voice as well as in the overall narration since it’s 3rd Person Limited viewpoint.


Was there anything in particular that you enjoyed about recording Drawing Dead? Did you get to show off any new voices or talents?

There are a variety of character accents (which I love), but also several characters with the same accent (New York) that must be differentiated for the listener’s ear. It’s a challenge, but a fun one. You spend time just saying things out-loud over and over until it’s “just right.” For example, Enzo and Arnold have high voices with New York accents. But I made Enzo talk fast (since he’s an adept car driver and clearly a speed junky) and Arnold is Jewish, so there’s a distinct dialect for that group, particularly in New York in the early 1900’s.

What have you been up to since our last interview, professionally or personally? 

I’ve completed several more audiobooks, including contributing to a full-cast production which should be out sometime this year. I’ve expanded the number of podcasts I’ve narrated for, including all three District of Wonders podcasts. They do short fiction in Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Horror. I got to narrate the first Cast of Wonders podcast after their merger into the Escape Artists family, which was a huge honor.

Last year my son and I got to perform in our first professional theatrical production, Willy Wonka, here in Denver. That was a real treat. My daughter graduated high school and is now off to college. Things are, for the moment, blissfully quiet and calm.


What is the biggest misconception that people have about voice acting or voice actors?

Certain celebrities have gone on record about how easy voice acting is. That’s true, if you’re only voicing one voice (and it’s your natural voice). Professional voice actors must provide a myriad of characters for their work. In animation and games, one actor may provide up to a dozen different characters. Check out IMDB for your favorite cartoon or game and you’ll see it’s just a small crew of actors voicing the whole thing. Most voice actors have training in not just voice, but theater, singing, and improv.

Audiobooks are considered one of the toughest gigs for voice actors. It’s hours and hours of narration voicing any number of characters from little kids to the elderly to aliens and demons. It’s not for the timid.


Where should people go to find out more about you or to hire you?

The best place to keep track of me is on my website, From there you can contact me, see what’s new, or follow me on Facebook and Twitte ccr.

Thanks, Brian! Be sure to check out Brian’s amazing work on Amazon and Audible! 

Drawing Dead can be found on audiobook, paperback, and Kindle on Amazon:

Exclusive Interview with Executive Director of the APA

Mystery Thriller Week


Got Audiobooks.jpeg

Please Welcome Michele Cobb Executive Director of the The Audio Publishers Association (APA).

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Historical Division: Uncovering the Underworld by Brian McKinley

Mystery Thriller Week


When I began planning my historic gangster vampire novel Drawing Dead, I knew that I was in for a lot of research. However, what surprised me was the amount of digging and sifting through contradictory information I had to do. I’d always been interested in the gangsters of the 1920s and 30s, and I thought I had a fairly solid grip on the major figures of the period.

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