Cancel Culture

Cancel Culture

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I think many of you know JK Rowling has been saying a lot of inflammatory things about the trans community lately. I even caught her on Twitter saying some rather uneducated statements about mental illness and how we’re overmedicated, which I find highly offensive as someone who solely relies on medication to keep her stable. I don’t care if the statement winds up being true. She is not a doctor and is merely stating an opinion she shouldn’t be stating given her platform and her lack of knowledge on the subject. There are many mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, that cannot survive without medications, even though there are individuals who try to manage but still have a lot of problems, so her having depression doesn’t make her an authority on this matter since some depressions are situational and others are hereditary. (But all bipolars and schizophrenias are born from DNA.)

In any case, there is no cancel culture. She is a TERF, which is a trans exclusionary radical feminist. She wants to stand up for women’s rights, but not the rights of trans women. She denies their womanhood.

TRANSWOMEN ARE WOMEN. There. I said it.

However, this isn’t the biggest issue. Authors with big names like Noam Chomsky and Margaret Atwood are signing a petition for an end to cancel culture, completely oblivious that there is no such thing as cancel culture. This is fans deciding they do not want to associate with sexist, racist, ableist, bigoted authors/artists/what have you, and deciding to not purchase future works from them.

It is also not censorship because the government is not coming in and forcing these authors to remove their books from store shelves or anything like that. Fans are simply refusing to support these artists anymore. Publishers have that same right. So do booksellers.

It is a myth born from  people with a platform having been given free rein to say what they want for far too long, and marginalized communities are tired of it and are speaking out against it now.

People complaining about being cancelled claim they are expressing views that are not bigoted. Whether this is true or not remains to be seen, but you know what is an even bigger problem than false accusations (much like false rape accusations)? Expressing bigoted views. Being bigoted. That is a much bigger problem.

These people aren’t being silenced because they are still free to express whatever views they want, no matter how big or large their platform is. Even if their account were banned they could create another one. No one’s storming their homes, ripping them out of their beds, and sending them to reeducation camps or the gulag or outright disappearing them.

If you express a bigoted view, do not be surprised when you are torn down because you deserve it. And if you do not step away and try to understand why your views may be bigoted, don’t be surprised if people continuously attack you.

Now I don’t believe in sending actual death threats or threats what-so-ever, but cancel culture is not a thing. 

JK Rowling, you’re a billionaire, and while I know you are not a typical billionaire because you understand what it’s like to languish in poverty, you have a massive platform and are instead choosing to revel in your own blindness, ignore your critics, and remain in your echo chamber of yes men. And that’s a shame because you wrote such a great series of books for children, and I suddenly think less of you and those books now.

When Stars Die: Chapter One

When Stars Die: Chapter One

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So unfortunately Gnome on Pig Productions folded. The publisher had high hopes it would be able to push on through this COVID mess, but it was another victim in a long line of businesses that have had to shutter, so The Stars Trilogy will be seeking new representation, starting with When Stars Die. 

I will start seeking a new publisher (only two are on my list for now), when my books have been removed from all distribution sites, like Amazon and B&N. In the meantime, if any of you know other publishers that accept previously published works, I will be eternally grateful. I’ve already been through Pandamoon and Clean Teen in the past, so those two are off the table.

In the meantime, you will be able to read the first full chapter on Wattpad.

Styling a Writer’s Desk

Styling a Writer’s Desk

If you’re wondering why I’ve been writing posts so close together, it’s not because I lost my job again (I haven’t), I’m just in a bipolar mixed state, so throughout random times during the day, I’ll have bursts of energy, even if it’s drowning in some form of depression. But I want to talk about something fun to see if other writers are as anal about their writing spaces as I am. I am very much into cute culture, so everything on my desk is pretty much cute and pink and pastel or just outright cool looking. I have more desk pieces, actually, and posters I’d love to hang, but they’re in a storage unit. I’ll likely collect them soon since I don’t want anything happening to them, and I’ll keep them in the closet until I graduate PT school and my husband and I get our own place. Anyway, this is what my desk area looks like:

Big Pic

 

So you can see I have a lot of little decorative items because I don’t do any work in that space. If I want to handwrite things, I’m usually chilling in my bed, and sometimes I’ll work on my laptop in my bed. It’s all cutesy stuff. (I should definitely do something with that space above my computer monitor, shouldn’t I?) I also recently brought out that butterfly panorama light-up thing because my nights haven’t been so great–or I haven’t been doing too well at night. The mixed states just get worse, so the light and the butterflies are rather comforting and keep me from harming myself.

I have an even more close-up version of all my little trinkets:

Part Desk

The little cat set-up I purchased during a manic phase. It was just irresistibly cute, but it makes for great desk decor. It’s from Calico Critters, and I honestly wouldn’t mind purchasing more things and actually building up a collection. You can also see I pretty much adore cats, from the cat keychain on that pink binder to the cat sitting on the card with the cherry blossom tree to the cat pen to Hello Kitty to the aqua-blue squishy cat and of course the Calico Critters themselves. Hidden behind my computer monitor in the previous pic is a golden good luck cat I purchased in China Town in New York. In the previous pic, I also have a cat mug a personal training client purchased for me for Christmas. She also gave me a matching pencil case.

Now here’s a close-up of an original piece of art I purchased from my former place of work:

ART-2

 

I am absolutely in love with this piece, as you can tell by the opaque heart I put on it. It’s a cherry blossom tree, and cherry blossoms are my favorite types of flowers (even though I have never personally seen one). And this piece was inexpensive, which was absolutely shocking. I think it was $35.00. It deserves to be so much more, but since the artist left no information about her, I could only guess she simply wanted people to enjoy  her work without spending copious amounts of money–though I never judge artists who do demand high prices. Art supplies aren’t cheap, and their labor is valuable.

And what makes this piece so special? It’s the only one, and I will ever be its only owner, until I pass it down to either my niece or nephew, whoever is an art appreciator.

Now for the last part of my desk space:

Cat

Yes, I hung up my Certificate of Admission to the University of St. Augustine. I’m just so proud of getting into this university because I never saw myself going to grad school, let alone getting a doctorate in the sciences. It’s also the only school I applied to, and I had to work really hard to make sure I got in the first time. I had to tailor both myself and my application to convince them that I was/am the right fit for this school. I have to believe I will make a great physical therapist.

As for the little ballet trinket tacked to the wall, I’m sure that’s supposed to commemorate the birth of a baby, but I bought it to celebrate the year I got en pointe, which was 2012, also the same year I started ballet. It was a big deal to me because I thought it’d take several years for me to get en pointe, but it only took 10 months, so by the time I decided to switch from private lessons to group classes, I was already in grade 4.

So there’s my writer’s space, styled in all its glory.

Now I want to see yours.

The Importance of Diversity Readers

The Importance of Diversity Readers

Why You Should Consider A Diversity Reader

Even though I have found a new job, it does not pay as well as my last job, and the hours are not yet consistent because of COVID. While I’m personal training a few people on my own to help make up for some of the lost income, it still isn’t enough. I was going to use my last job to help pay some of my tuition for physical therapy school so that way I don’t graduate with a heaping pile of debt, but that went out the window when they laid off roughly 50% of their staff–and I was one of those unfortunate victims. So now I am going to offer diversity reading services, which I will officially release in a tab on this website when the contract is finalized.

So what is a diversity reader? A diversity reader is someone who goes through your manuscript and makes sure that you’re accurately portraying marginalized characters. For example, if you do not have bipolar disorder but are writing a character who does, I could go through and make sure you’re portraying this character in an accurate manner that doesn’t play into stereotypes those with bipolar deal with on a daily basis (we’re crazy, we’re dangerous, we’re irresponsible, we should be locked up). Even if you do have bipolar disorder, not everyone with bipolar disorder experiences it the same, so I could offer some inspiration you otherwise may not have thought of. Of course, you’re still allowed to have creative license with whatever you write, but the point is that books have gotten much more diverse than even just twenty years ago, and what was acceptable then is no longer acceptable now.

I’m going to tell you why I chose diversity reader over editor–and it isn’t just because editing is more work. I watched the final season of 13 Reasons Why and was sorely disappointed with how the show treated Clay’s panic disorder, which I was recently diagnosed with. They treated his disorder as if it were more of a burden to others than to him and that he was absolutely batshit crazy, excuse the language. His friends called him Clay Cray, and the show never once addressed that this is not okay and that it’s ableist. Yes, in real life, people are ableist, but the point is that when Clay revealed he had panic disorder since he was a child, his friends should have apologized, and that never happened. We are all in control of our actions, but panic disorder can make you feel disconnected from yourself and can make you black out. I have felt disconnected and even suicidal, but I have yet to black out, thankfully.

I also was not happy that they made him lose his mind, grab a gun (or was it a taser?), and threaten to shoot a cop. People with panic disorder are more likely to implode than to explode. They could have shown him imploding instead and still have him wind up in-patient. But now people who watched the final season, especially impressionable teens, are probably of the opinion that this is how people with panic disorder are–ticking time bombs ready to go off at any minute. I understand the show is a drama, but it’s like they did minimal research or didn’t actually get someone with panic disorder to vet it. It was insulting. So this is what made me consider being a diversity reader to earn some extra income.

Diversity readers do not exist to censor your work. Our feedback is just that–feedback. Feel free to take it or leave it. I don’t care what anyone says about diversity readers. If you’re a white person writing from the perspective of a POC, you better darn well get a diversity reader who is a POC because a white person’s experience is NOT the same as a POC’s experience. It’s the same with being neurotypical and writing from the perspective of someone with a mental illness. Mental illness changes your brain and your thought processes and how you experience the world, even when you are stable, and a neurotypical person cannot possibly understand that, even with all the research in the world.

So once I get my contract written out, I’ll write an updated post with topics I’m willing to look over.

 

Vanilla Chai Tea and Writing Update

Vanilla Chai Tea and Writing Update

tea and writing

Before I get into an update on my writing life so far, I want to mention how I am currently working on my website to make it more tea/writer themed since tea has always been a hobby of mine, one I’ve recently picked back up since discovering a place in Aiken that actually sells loose-leaf tea. We used to have a Teavana at our Augusta mall, but they closed down since Starbucks bought them out (a disastrous move, might I add, because there is nothing Teavana about what Starbucks has done to its products). In any case, it is called The Confection Cottage run by two women named Lady Kelly MacVean and Chef Kirstie Wohlfeil. You don’t have to live in the Aiken, South Carolina region to enjoy her teas, as you can order them online.

My most recent purchase was a vanilla chai tea. It’s a black tea, and I am used to using water to make all my black teas. However, I wanted to create a dupe that New Moon Cafe sells because it was just sublime. So first I made it with 8 oz of water at 100 degrees Celsius, seeped 1 1/2 teaspoons of the vanilla chai in a tea bag for 3 minutes, then added two teaspoons of half and half, two teaspoons of milk, and two teaspoons of sugar. It was good, but it had a watery flavor to it that I didn’t think was right for this particular blend. So I decided to try milk, and this is the dupe I came up with (it is perfect):

  • Boil 16 oz of milk to 100 degrees Celsius (about half will boil out anyway) in a tea kettle
  • While you’re boiling, put 1 1/2 teaspoons of the vanilla chai blend in a tea bag and rest it in your cup.
  • Now pour the milk over the bag and steep for 3 minutes.
  • Once you’re done, still add 2 teaspoons of half and half or 1 teaspoon of whipping cream. Stir.
  • Now add 2 teaspoons of sugar and stir. You can add more if you want a perfect New Moon Cafe dupe (if you’re ever able to go there), but two teaspoons is perfect, in my opinion.
  • Now you can add whip cream and even sprinkle cinnamon on top.
  • And yum! It is amazing. It is bliss.

On to writing!

I started a book five years ago that was dubbed The Glorious In-Between, a book about an asexual character (Shailene) who forms a fast friendship with another asexual character (Sean). They had a kind of squish (an aromatic crush) relationship going on. However, the problem with TGIB is that a lot of stuff was happening with my main character, but she wasn’t doing anything herself to progress the story. In fact, it was the secondary character, Sean, doing all of the progressing. Now after a few recent beta reads, I’ve renamed the novel Panic Switch and have given Shailene panic disorder because upon doing research, I don’t think there are really any YA books at all that touch upon panic disorder (if I am wrong, point some out to me because I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to read them). Sure there are books on anxiety, but generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder are not the same thing. I have been struggling with anxiety and panic attacks myself recently and am currently working on them with my doctor.

So I am re-writing this entire novel where it now centers around Shailene having to cope with this new panic disorder diagnosis while also trying to find closure for her recently deceased twin sister Annabelle who committed suicide. While the scenes are very much the same, the plot is completely different, and I think this time around–I hope–Shailene has much more control of the plot than Sean will.

Now on to All Stars Align. I will admit I am being slow with this one, but I am at least writing it. It is happening. It may not be submitted by the end of this summer (more like the end of this year), but I’m taking my time because I’ve noticed I have partial burnout with this trilogy–I have discovered I am simply not a series writer. Two books and that’s it. That’s why I want to take my time because I don’t want to short readers by getting out a subpar story all for the sake of finishing it before I start physical therapy school.

I also have a little surprise I want to unveil in the future, but first my books (When Stars Die and The Stars Are Infinite) will have to get fixed on Amazon first because the e-books still aren’t up and now the paperbacks supposedly only have a few in stock or are entirely unavailable. Apparently this has been a common complaint amongst the indie community. You can get them on Barnes and Noble though.

The Time I Tried to Kill Myself and Failed (Obviously): A Realistic Discussion of Suicide

The Time I Tried to Kill Myself and Failed (Obviously): A Realistic Discussion of Suicide

Content warning: suicide, suicidal ideation, and even discussion of an attempt 

The way we experience the world is nothing more than the sum of our brain chemicals–and at any given moment, these chemicals could go awry, affecting how we perceive the world. Through zero fault of our own, a jarring shift in our perspective of the world upends our current sense of safety and security. According to NAMI, 1 in 5 adults are afflicted with a mental illness of some kind. 3.9% of the adult population in the year of 2015 reported experiencing suicidal thoughts. While it’s not mentioned what percentage of those are the result of mental illness and what percentage are the result of situational, I’m going to concentrate on those who experience thoughts due to mental illness because I still do not think it is as understood as it should be. Any time I see neurotypicals speak of suicide as a result of losing a loved one to it, it’s generally in the context of a vague situation–and frankly, I don’t want proselytizing about the beauty of life from someone who has never been paralyzed by plans bulleting through your mind. Or even from someone who wanted to kill themselves because of a divorce or some other situational event. They’re not the same. I would know, as I almost went through a divorce last year. I was able to talk my way out of those feelings, but I can’t do it when I’m suicidal because of my bipolar.

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My first real attempt occurred during a bipolar mixed episode, where I was both manic and depressed at the same time. I was feeling intense despair at the loss of my hypomania the day before and also intense despair in general, especially because I could not understand what was happening to me. At the time, I didn’t see an end to it. Despite all the self-awareness in the world (I have been told numerous times in various hospitalizations I am unusually self-aware), that was not enough to act as a shield against my brain pummeling me with suicidal thoughts. It was not enough to keep my glands from secreting suicidal hormones. The feeling was quite terrifying, and in that moment I was planning what to do.

What would be the most painless way for me to go?

No painless ways exist. I researched it years prior. I think there is one painless way, but it would have required ordering some strange things off Amazon.

So I decided to drink myself to death. I was already familiar with vomiting from drinking too much, so it couldn’t have been much worse than that. That was from three drinks with 40% alcohol. Keep in mind, I don’t drink that often, so I don’t have any resistance built up in me.

Now if I recall, my choice of poison was a vodka that was 50% alcohol. I ended up drinking like five mixed drinks with more than a shot’s worth in each one. I also had a lesser percentage after the five, just to finish up an older bottle. I really thought that would do me in considering my low tolerance. At the very least, I thought I’d throw up. A few months prior, I took like three shots of fireball back to back and was laid out by the toilet, so surely 50% alcohol was going to do something to me.

So I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And all I got was drunk; I also had to go to the bathroom quite often.

Other than that, I didn’t vomit or even feel nauseated.

Turns out mania makes you more tolerant to alcohol, meaning you have to drink more to get drunk. It’s likely due to the increased metabolism, which made me drop twenty pounds without trying over the 6 month time period I was rapid cycling (let’s be honest, I really only wanted to drop 5 lbs.).

Anyway, did I mention I was alone during this whole trying-to-die affair? Well I was, at least until my husband came home and I admitted what I tried to do–either that or I half-lied. I don’t remember. What I do remember is staying in bed and him checking up on me. I also remember thinking about how ambivalent I was that I didn’t succeed. I might have been somewhat disappointed. It’s not like I was any less suicidal and had become filled with a renewed sense of thankfulness for the overabundance of dopamine that kept the alcohol from doing me in.

That’s not how bipolar disorder works. That’s not how any mental illness works.

I hate empty platitudes directed toward the mentally ill who are either suicidal or have attempted suicide before. 

In all my time of being suicidal, it has never helped to know people love me. I know that, but I am not some thing that exists for the enjoyment of others, to have my joyless existence (when I’m ill) feasted upon until I’m a husk who cannot enjoy life because she has no energy from being so exhausted living for other people. To all of the neurotypicals out there, you might think you’re being helpful by insinuating that if we cannot live for ourselves, we should live for others, but you’re not. Living for others is exhausting. Your brain will just not let you see the good in life, which is why medication exists in the first place. When you’re mentally ill, suicidal feelings are also not a choice, a flotation device you choose to grab on to when life simply becomes too much. I didn’t just think, ‘Gee, suicide sounds great right about now to put an end to this bipolar nonsense.’ The feelings hit my head like a wrecking ball the morning I woke up feeling overwhelmingly confused about where my head was.

So am I in favor of suicidal people being able to euthanize themselves then? Absolutely not! When you are suicidal, you are not in your correct frame of mind. None of your thoughts are rational. That’s why it’s important for suicidal people to never be left alone because that’s all you can do is keep a suicidal person safe. Like depressive peaks, suicidal thoughts aren’t forever, even if they feel like they are.

You can be depressed every single day of your life and never experience a single suicidal feeling. It takes a particular toxic chemical mixture to elicit suicidal thoughts, and once that mixture has either settled down or the right chemical has been added or removed, the thoughts do just go away in a snap. Thoughts of self-harm are much the same way. Why do I want to hurt myself? I don’t know. Mental illness in itself is not rational.

It has also never helped to know that I have a future. Yeah, okay, I know that, but I don’t care in the moment because I feel freaking miserable. There is nothing in the world that can outweigh the misery of mental illness. And please spare me the sentiment that I just need to keep getting up every day and keep trying. What do you think I have been doing? While a lot of people don’t like the label, I am high functioning, but it doesn’t make my illness any less severe. In fact, it arguably makes it more severe because I’ll be pushing myself to do things I shouldn’t be doing. I won’t take mental health days, even when I know I should.

Inevitably, all that pushing lands me in the hospital sooner or later.

I simply won’t mentally care for myself because my perfectionist streak makes it somehow seem a sin that I stay in bed all day, only getting up to use the restroom.

Also, keep trying? As we speak, even though I’m currently at baseline, I have been rapid cycling some time  since near the end of last year, probably the middle of fall or something. I thought it was my period, but to my displeasure, my pdoc revealed it wasn’t. Now I’ll be back on the med merry go round again.

Neurotypicals with their empty platitudes will never understand what that’s like, to think you have found your golden ratio, only to be battered with the realization it’s not enough AND it’s also causing health issues. I mean, I started out on a med that made me crazy manic, and then got put on another med that made me hypomanic, but went unnoticed until I crashed into depression three months later, and then got put on a med that gave me awful panic attacks, and finally switched to a new doc who put me on Lamictal, which worked for three years before stopping for good.

That’s the thing. I depend solely on medication to keep me balanced. Bipolar disorder is not one that can go without. There are those who try to manage without using meds, but they still have plenty of episodes. And those who claim they’ve stopped meds and haven’t had problems since? They were either misdiagnosed, are lying, or eventually slip into a depressive or manic episode.

My rapid cycling likely isn’t as severe this go around because I do have Lithium and Depakote racing through me. But here’s the thing: They can’t be increased. Lithium has most likely given me hypothyroidism while I apparently have Depakote toxicity or something. My skin is dry, I have dandruff, my hair looks like Hagrid when unstyled, I’m pretty sure my cycle has either been disturbed or has stopped altogether, I have gained weight that kind of makes me hate my body (for my comfort, I always have to make a point of saying I’m not overweight), and I might have some digestive problems. Who knows?

I am not bitter about the hand I was dealt, despite sounding it. I am a realist who despises inspirational quotes, financial advisors, and life coaches–especially all of the aforementioned who have published trite books. They never consider that life is sometimes so horrifically abysmal and impossible that no amount of “advice” is going to fix the nightmare that is your life because sometimes no matter how hard you try, how hard you fight, life is unkind at the best of times and an absolute Karen at the worst. But keep in mind I said sometimes. So telling me my life is in my hands, solely to do what I please with, is unhelpful.

Mental illness robs you of any control you have over your life. Medication gives it back, but certain mental illnesses will need a rotating cast of it.

Today I still look at my attempt and feel absolutely disconnected from it. I don’t mourn my decision. I don’t revel in the outcome, grateful I didn’t die. I don’t chastise myself for doing something so foolish, promising that I’ll never do it again. Truth be told, I am terrified that any future attempts will be future successes. Or future attempts will land me in the hospital. Not all psychiatric units treat you kindly once you’ve attempted. One patient was put in handcuffs, and not the soft kind, when she was walked from the ER to the unit. She was by no means a criminal.

Bipolar disorder has a high suicide attempt rate, more than 50%. Its successes are also high when compared to other mental illnesses, like clinical depression. If any of you knew Steve Cash of his Talking Kitty Cat channel, he had bipolar disorder and unfortunately succumbed to it. I won’t say he died of suicide because if he didn’t have bipolar disorder from the start, he wouldn’t have had suicidal thoughts. So bipolar disorder killed him. Bipolar disorder might kill me. Apparently my life expectancy is shorter thanks to it, for whatever reasons.

By the way, I do believe life is mostly beautiful in spite of how tumultuous my 20s have been. Here’s to my 30s!

 

What I Use for My Covers on Wattpad

What I Use for My Covers on Wattpad

*This is not a sponsored post*

First off, I’d like to share my Wattpad, something I recently decided to resurrect. I only ever had one story on there for a few years, until yesterday when I decided to put more short stories on there. “I Am the Bell Jar” and “Dead Poet’s Pendulum” were published at one point, but all rights are mine again, so I’m sharing them for free on Wattpad. To me, “Dead Poet’s Pendulum” reads a bit more amateurish, but I was 18 at the time of it being published. Despite that, I only did some proofreading before publishing on Wattpad because I want to preserve my voice as it was at the time.

I think I had “Sister Evelyn” published on a weebly website I used to have, but it’s part of my Stars universe, as well as another story that isn’t included in the covers above simply because that is a cover I purchased from a designer, not one I made myself.

I plan to add more Stars shorts and then may bundle them in an anthology on Wattpad.

Since I am considering myself absolutely broke for the time being, purchasing pre-made covers has not been feasible. There are people offering services on Wattpad, but most charge in some form or another, and, again, I’m not spending more than a dollar in these uncertain times.

So what is a writer to do? Well, I decided to turn to Canva, this brilliant, amazing website I have been using for my blog posts’ cover photos as of late. It is a database of thousands of photographs along with a myriad of elements and what not you can use to customize whatever it is you want to work on.

Doing book covers on here is the easiest thing imaginable. You don’t need any editing or photo shopping skills. All you need to do is go to ‘create a design’ in the upper left hand corner.

Screen Shot 2020-05-06 at 9.01.03 AM

Then you choose the option for a book cover, and it will bring up a template that is the perfect size. While I’m unwilling to spend several dollars on having others create book covers for me, I don’t mind spending just one single dollar for the perfect photograph to use as my book cover. And that’s what I do. I browse for a photograph I think will fit my short story, drag it into the template, purchase it, and start working on the text.

Creating book covers on your own really makes you realize that the text is what makes a cover truly bookish. Now I don’t know what the Pro option is like for Canva, so you can’t create brilliantly fancy text–multi-colored, for example–but there are plenty of options for the type of text you can choose from. If you look at my cover for ‘A Treacherous Flame’ on Wattpad, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I mean fancy text. You just can’t do that on Canva, probably not without upgrading to the Pro option. But like I said, I don’t know.

The other amazing thing about Canva is that it will let you know if your text or image is centered or not, or even if it’s extending beyond the borders. Basically, as you move the text or image around, it’ll bring up a grid that serves as a guide to tell you where it makes sense to place whatever it is you’re working on.

But that’s what I use and it’s what you can use if you’re strapped for cash. You can make some pretty amazing covers for self-publishing on Canva.

Where I’m At With My Writing

Where I’m At With My Writing

Five years ago I finished a novel currently titled The Glorious In-Between, which originally concentrated on what it meant to be asexual as a teen. Then it evolved from there because you can’t have only that defining a book. Sexuality itself isn’t a story. It’s a defining characteristic that can complicate a story, so I’ve built it in layers over the years. 2018 was the last time I touched the book, and then this pandemic hit, I got furloughed from work, and I found myself with plenty of time to sit down and get back to it. I said I was going to prioritize the third book in The Stars Trilogy, but the future of my current publisher is unknown thanks to COVID, so my books can only be purchased through Lulu or in print on Amazon.

Well, now I’m going to have plenty of time for the foreseeable future since my position as a personal trainer was eliminated entirely; I am without work. It’s honestly been gutting because I loved that job. It also doesn’t help to see “essentials” teasing “non-essentials” when, in reality, essentials aren’t any safer. After all, people in my husband’s industry (trucking) have been losing their jobs and having pay cuts. Physical therapists are also essential, but many have been furloughed, depending on where they work.

Since receiving that news, it’s been hard keeping a regular writing schedule. I am at a chicken-or-the-egg scenario right now. It’s hard to know if depression is stemming entirely from the loss of a job I was passionate about, or if my bipolar disorder is tipping downward (again), or if it’s a mixture of both and the job loss sped up the process. I’m also undergoing a dosage change with my Depakote and am currently waiting on confirmation about whether or not I have hypothyroidism, most likely caused by my Lithium.

There’s really no point in guessing. All I can do is accept that this is how I feel.

I am the type of person who experiences her emotions all at once when disappointment strikes, and so my heartbreak doesn’t last long because I’m not trying to push away the pain. Yet, anyone else would look in on and me and be convinced I’m taking the loss of my job extra hard. After all, I am in a much better place than others who have lost a job since I live at home with my parents. They’re not putting any pressure on me. All of my debt has also been paid off, so I owe nothing for the foreseeable future. I have PT school to look forward to, which could, for all I know, make holding any job impossible anyway, even though it is a flex program.

I was born anxious. It doesn’t take much to flare it, and it’s been my fuel lately.

While I am done with the first round of revisions of TGIB, I have been struggling with that hollowness common with depression, which has made doing further work on it difficult. But I added a new plot thread to up the stakes for my MC since my query letter on AbsoluteWrite was torn to shreds and revealed a rather glaring flaw in the storyline itself–at least in my opinion. Now my second pass will be checking to make sure the plot thread has been developed appropriately, along with adding a few other things to add some color to the story (McMansions, anyone?). Then another pass through to cut down on words and probably, hopefully, one more for proofreading. It has been beta read in the past, so I might seek out one more, unless having the synopsis looked over is a sufficient enough guide for any further edits the book itself might need.

A secret I don’t think I ever told anyone is When Stars Die only ever had one beta reader.

Hopefully all of that will take about a month or less.

Right now I am gaining distance from TGIB, but it’s been hard to do anything at all productive otherwise. I should be making notes of things to keep an eye out for in TGIB. I should also be coming up with another title because TGIB no longer accurately describes the book. I should also be preparing my query letter and synopsis for When Stars Die, just in case things do fall through with my current publisher. I’ll see what small presses are out there. Otherwise, self-publishing it is.

I also finished outlining a brand new novel, although now I’m going to have to edit the outline itself because I decided to change who my protagonist is going to be. So that’s another thing I should be working on but is hard to do.

I get it. It’s an uncertain time for everyone and rough for some. I know I’m not the only one feeling this way. It’s just maddening, as usual, that you have things that can keep you productive, but you’re being held back by the voice of mental illness living in your mind.

At least I have made progress since this all started.

 

Turns Out My Bipolar Disorder Has Not Shut Up

Turns Out My Bipolar Disorder Has Not Shut Up

So prior to 2018, I believe I enjoyed three years of pure stability. Then 2018 came, and the one medication I was on just for bipolar, Lamictal, stopped working entirely. I wound up in the hospital, had my Seroquel upped (which then became for my bipolar AND still for my sleep) because I was manic. Of course I learned during that hospitalization that mania is much harder to treat, and even more so because I was rapid cycling and would wind up in mixed states (mania and depression at the SAME TIME!). So I got out, had my Lamictal upped, and it still wasn’t doing anything.

I stayed out of work for a little bit to deal with everything, with nothing improving, then went back to work. Lo and behold, I started experiencing symptoms of paranoia: impending feelings of doom, that something-bad-is-going-to-happen-but-I-don’t-know-what feeling; intrinsically knowing that no one is following me but still being freaked out by people; and just in general being terrified for reasons I could not explain.

That landed me in the hospital again when I told my therapist. 6 hospitalizations thus far in my life. Let’s hope no more. Then I got started on Lithium, got diagnosed with a non-specific personality disorder (which actually never became official because I really don’t have one), and threw a fit in my therapist’s office one day upon release because I was still rapid cycling and angry the Lithium wasn’t started out at a larger dose so I could get off the merry-go-round sooner.

Rapid cycling is honestly THE worst type of bipolar to have because you cannot predict your moods from day-to-day. One day you’re planning on getting a lot done, and the next hour or even day, you don’t care to do any of it and are planning your next suicide attempt–and when you’re mixed, you are so angry.

Rapid cycling is the Cthulhu of bipolar.

Eventually my Lithium was upped…and it seemed like something was trying to happen.

My highs weren’t as high, but my lows were crushing, plummeting into this black, disgusting sludge, a low I had never experienced in my time of having this disorder. I was so apathetic I couldn’t even be in my usual active suicidal state. I was passively suicidal, as my therapist said, which she said could be worse because it meant you had no survival instinct. I was also angry. Livid. Furious that I felt like I was being strung along, be made worse.

She was right about my passivity. A car could hit me, and I wouldn’t have moved. I got into a nasty mountain biking accident that could have been worse without a helmet and if my hip weren’t already jammed–it was un-jammed after striking the ground with an unquantifiable force–it likely would have been dislocated. My recklessness made me continue on with the ride. My deliberate recklessness made me get into the wreck! I was just reckless, okay? I remember once being so manic in 2018 that I was hauling 80 on a 45 mph road and started swerving. If someone had been in the other lane, I would have crashed. I am a goody-two-shoes lady, and I drank in public–and while driving. Thinking about this behavior in a more sane mind horrifies me; it’s bone chilling.

That’s what bipolar disorder is. Bipolar disorder is no joke, which is why I don’t take kindly to “cutesie” jokes about women being bipolar.  It’s sexist for one, entirely dismissing a woman’s voice. In any case…

So Depakote was added and that brought me back to a little bit above baseline. It seemed like I was finally on an even keel. That happened December of 2018.

Then some time in the middle of last year I started having some problems again. The first time it happened, I thought it was my bipolar disorder, but once I hit my cycle, the depression went away. And it kept going this way. Roughly two weeks before my cycle, some minor depression, then normalcy.

I thought it was pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder and didn’t bother doing anything about it. The depression was mild enough that I could still function–and I wasn’t suicidal so that was a plus. I was also going to be seeing my primary in a couple of months, and I knew the only thing that could treat PMDD was birth control. So I was prescribed birth control December of last year and waited until I had my natural cycle before starting in January.

What I haven’t yet mentioned until now is that I was on a generic of Loryna at the beginning of last year, but it put me in a state of chronic depression and agitation, so I quit it, and those problems went away. But I was put back on Loryna last December since my primary told me sometimes you can have a different reaction to a generic.

It seemed the Loryna was working. I didn’t have any depression or aggression or anxiety or any of that. But then five weeks, I believe, into taking Loryna, the aggression started to occur, so I quit that thinking it was the Loryna, which I don’t even know now. It did not take long for me to feel like I was going on an even keel again.

Then things stopped making sense. My cycle is naturally irregular to begin with, so I don’t know if this was January or February. But I thought things were going to be okay, until the depression hit me in the MIDDLE of my cycle and lasted a total of three weeks–so it stretched two weeks beyond my cycle. PMDD has a very specific criteria that states the depression MUST occur prior to the cycle and end right before. So I figured it was my bipolar…until I got better again.

Then near the end of March, the depression was latching on to me again. But I decided to pay more attention to my mental states because it was starting to get very confusing. This depression, after all, hit me some time after my cycle and ended just this past weekend. These last two depressive cycles have also been markedly worse, but, again, with much confusion, not a typical depressive episode because being around people made me feel better, made me feel safe. Energized, even. I usually want to be alone.

So now I’m grasping on to all of the symptoms besides depression to make sense of the semi-head scratching revelation my psychiatrist told me yesterday over the phone: mixed episodes characterizing hypomania and depression with rapid cycling back to my baseline.

Take some Depakote in the morning now.

I suppose that makes sense. It has to make more sense than PMDD at this point because you can’t have PRE-menstrual dysphoric disorder without having depression BEFORE. Otherwise, it’d probably just be call Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and I don’t think I’m some brand-new special case. It was likely just happenstance that it happened before initially, or fluctuating hormones could have been influencing the rapid cycling. What clued her to my possible state was when she asked me what my other symptoms were, and the first thing I told her was aggression.

Aggression can be part of depression, but it also turns out hypomania isn’t always fun, especially when you’re browsing Facebook, inhibitions lowered, and setting your vicious claws into people whose comments you perceived to be, well, dumb. It’s not always endless amounts of energy you want to use productively. Sometimes it’s being aggressive and blowing up when your tea kettle reaches past the boiling point, a thing only possible in those with mental illness. Sometimes it’s yelling at your boss at the fitness desk where there are members and suddenly realizing you’re not yourself without a Snickers bar. Sometimes it’s blowing up again with even nastier curses with members around. And, sometimes, it’s just ranting and ranting and blowing up and having anxiety.

But part of being in a mixed state also means the depression part takes away your desire to do anything productive with that energy–so that’s probably why you’re aggressive. You also want to self-harm. Why? Who knows? That’s the brain. That’s bipolar disorder in a nutshell! And of course you don’t look forward to much. Yet, you can be distracted, something that’s very hard for me with straight-up depression. I suppose that’s good; however, it has to be constant distraction.

This thing is confusing, so I wonder if if the generic birth control was ever a problem to begin with or if bipolar disorder just started practicing the art of masking once I got some decent meds in me. After all, without those meds, this problem would be so much worse.

I am in a stable spot, but that can change. Even so, I hope it’s under control by then.

 

What I Have Been Doing Lately

What I Have Been Doing Lately

My last post was in 2018, and I really thought I was just going to let this blog go. I started another blog, a pseudo-lifestyle blog, and I was hoping to incorporate bits of my author life in it; however, that’s just not possible. It’s still a pseudo-lifestyle blog, but I recently became inspired to make it largely about physical therapy. You should check it out just because. I think it’s pretty.

But why a physical therapy blog? Where on Earth did that come from? Well, I know I did mention I was pursuing PT school, and, well, I got in! I received my acceptance for the University of St. Augustine back in December and will be pursuing my doctorate in physical therapy this fall. You cannot imagine how excited I am to start PT school and to elevate my knowledge of the human body to help people move better, to help people live better lives without pain burdening them.

So the blog will help with my career because it will grow with me. Right now it’s a pre-PT blog, then it will be a student PT blog, then a physical therapy blog.

I am currently suffering through physics 2, a final prerequisite I need to finish up. As we speak, I’m working on a test that is doubly horrible because the class was moved online, so I’m teaching the material to myself as I do the test, which is incredibly time consuming. Writing a novel will never compare to the laborious task that is physics, so I will never complain about revisions again.

Never. Ever.

In any case, I only have the time that I do to start diving back into blogging because unfortunately I was furloughed thanks to COVID-19 (really, thank you, you bastard). The creative writing bug is also majorly biting at me, but my physics test prevents me from sating it. For now, I’m thinking I’ll have to wait until physics is done to get back into writing. I will revise the third book in The Stars Trilogy. I also want to start querying that LGBTQ+ novel I wrote a few years ago. At least I hope I can start querying it over the summer. I had the letter looked at a few times but am thinking I’ll set it out again for another look-see.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to start any new material. There was a book I wrote when I was manic in 2018, but I’m not satisfied with it and will likely heavily change the story itself, keeping only a few elements from it. I don’t think I’ll be able to get that done over the summer, and believe me, I don’t want mania to assist me with that since it is the reason the book’s draft is so awful to begin with. It’s also the reason the third draft in the trilogy is going to need the heaviest revisions of the three. I get drafts are supposed to be shoddy to begin with, but I had a gift with the first two books in that I didn’t really need to re-write them.

In summary, my radio silence has been the result of school and work. General science courses, I have come to learn, are much heavier and more challenging than even my upper level English courses were. I also picked up mountain biking among it all and trained for three races in 2019. 2020 isn’t looking so good for races though thanks to COVID, and my husband becoming a trucker and my having to move back in with my parents–putting me farther from work and the trails–knocked me out of shape that I’m slowly getting back in since I finally set my bike up on my trainer.

But I hope that I can get myself on a blogging schedule, especially with this new blog. If I can keep up with the new blog, then I can get back on track with this one. My social media presence is pretty much non-existent now thanks to a nasty hack to my Tumblr blog, which was connected to my Twitter. I couldn’t delete the Tumblr, but I had to delete the Twitter because there were too many *ahem* “inappropriate” tweets, too many for me to keep deleting. I suppose that is what I will work on is building my presence back up.

Wish me luck!