Inner Turmoil Equals My Best Ideas

Inner Turmoil Equals My Best Ideas

This is the title of the novel I will be getting back to next week.
This is the title of the novel I will be getting back to next week.

My novel When Stars Die came out of a bleak period in my life when I was fourteen and really struggling to manage my anxiety because the ridiculous pressures of school (and they are still ridiculous to my 22-year-old mind) made me break. I didn’t feel like I was ever going to get better and I wondered if I would have to struggle with anxiety forever. Granted, When Stars Die was a lot different than it is now, but the story and the character came out of the turmoil in my mind, and it has stuck with me since because the story came from my emotions, my feelings. I love that such a strong story came from all that, but I hate it at the same time because every book I wrote since then just paled into comparison with WSD. I felt like I couldn’t come up with anything strong without outside advice.

In fact, the direction the sequel went wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Georgia McBride. And her criticism helped me shape the prequel, When Stars Die.

In any case, Stolentime emerged from my bipolar depression. The story involves a suicidal teen who tries to drown himself, only to be saved by an eccentric man. This eccentric man is a puppeteer and doll maker and decides it’s in Gene’s best interest to bring him along a tour that teaches Gene to live even in the darkness. I know this story can rival my Stars trilogy, but the problem is that it took more inner turmoil for me to think of such a powerful idea.

Then I read a post today that mentioned that aspiring authors who happen to be kids don’t care about their ideas trying to rival one another. They just write with abandon. I’m hoping that when the Stars trilogy is through and Stolentime is done (it might be part of a series though) that it doesn’t take a bad time for me to come up with more stellar ideas that I am passionate writing about. I just need to drown in my emotions and take their reigns and ride.

Stars, where do your best story ideas come from?

My Constant Flow of Cheer

My Constant Flow of Cheer

This little thing right here is part of my optimism.
This little thing right here is part of my optimism.

Did I mention I am stable on meds now? I have no idea, but if I didn’t, now you know. My magical cocktail: Trileptal, Seroquel, and Abilify. The Trileptal controls the mania, the Seroquel does the same and helps me sleep, and the Abilify treats bipolar depression, which is so difficult to treat for most of us.

I can’t believe how happy I am now. I know it’s not because When Stars Die has a publishing contract because if that were the case, depression would still be breathing down my neck, and I’d know it. I wake up every morning, thinking, “When am I going to be not sleepy so I can live?” instead of, “I just want to sleep all day because everything feels stale and pointless.” It’s terrifying to know my brain chemicals are fully in charge of my mood–one blip, and I could wind up depressed all over again. But it’s beautiful to feel this way. I feel like an immensely different person: confident, driven, motivated, loving, sensitive, artistic.

For anyone who has ever suffered from a mental illness that took a while to treat, it truly is the little things that make a big difference. I have my appetite back. It was so strange feeling hungry for the first time in a long while. I couldn’t pin down the sensation until my stomach started growling ten thousand times. I’m also not tired all day long. I used to yawn hundreds of times each day, begging to go to bed so I could just sleep away everything. I have energy. I just want to do things all the time now and I view sleep as a hindrance to productivity–but I do sleep because I know I need it. If I were manic, I wouldn’t even care.

Because I have my appetite back, I no longer struggle with irritability and anxiety. I feel perfect, just cheery, optimistic, hopeful, ready to take on the day. When I was depressed, the fight didn’t feel like it was worth it to me, but now that I’m better, I realize the fight was definitely worth it, and I hope to remember this the next time I’m depressed. As my therapist says, “You are going to feel better because you always have felt better.”

And to think that it was just at the beginning of last week that I still struggled with suicidal ideation.

The Other Side of Depressed

The Other Side of Depressed

There's just something empowering about this pic for me.

For the past few days I have been having to remind myself that I’m not manic. When you’re bipolar and you start to feel great, you often have worries that you’re becoming manic because you’re not used to being in between. So when you start feeling great (and sometimes it’s not gradual), you have to take a step back and examine symptoms of mania with your normal mood.

Yesterday at work I was so confident, outgoing, and competitive that I had to wonder if mania was fueling the heat in my veins. But my thoughts weren’t fast, my brain wasn’t telling me to “Go! Go! Go!”, I didn’t have thoughts of reckless behavior, I didn’t have psychomotor agitation, I wasn’t over excited, and I wasn’t overindulging myself in my work.

I am a naturally hyperthermic person, I have come to realize. According to psychology, hyperthermia is a step below hypomania, which probably explains why even a small dose of an antidepressant or even an atypical antidepressant makes me either hypomanic or manic. I am a naturally driven person. I am naturally optimistic and sociable. But after everything that has happened, I am much stronger.

Bipolar disorder has taught me a lot. I am not romanticizing this illness, but I might as well make the best of an overwhelming illness. I am a much more thoughtful, sensitive person. Mania can remind me that my life can be great–just not to such an extreme degree. Being able to compare my current thoughts to my depressive thoughts makes me realize I am a much more confident, caring person. Yesterday at work I gave up my coat to a co-worker who was barely dressed for the occasion. Certainly I was cold, but she probably would have started crying with how she was dressed. I also don’t smile and bare things anymore that I don’t need to tolerate. My co-worker was playfully criticizing the way I tried to get people over for the drawing, and I just said, with confidence, not meanness, that I’ve been at it for more than 6 months and my method works with my personality. I don’t want to add a Southern drawl to my words when that is not me. And I was proud. Before I probably would have just done it to appease, but no more.

I work today at 12. I woke up just before 9. No longer am I thinking I don’t want to get up because everything feels pointless. I am waking up, and even though I am still tired when my mind shakes me awake, my thoughts are positive. They are not irritable, grouchy, upset, despairing, or hopeless. I am also appreciating the fact that I am alive when my mind tried too many times to count to kill me. I have a joie de vivre, joy of life. It’s so surprising to me how extreme I can become. I go from hating life to loving life so much I am grateful I have never even attempted suicide.

But there is the fear of becoming depressed again because of how I am right now. Why would I want to go back to feeling suicidal, hopeless, angry, hateful of myself? It’s hard to accept there is a possibility of that happening again. I was terrified it was happening yesterday, until I realized my anxiety was doing it to me–for no reason. I might need meds to help with the anxiety side of things, but I also know getting up and doing things helps it. And caffeine. But I’m no addict, I swear.

It is nice to be able to enjoy this life again.
It is nice to be able to enjoy this life again.
In any case, today promises to be a good day. I will work hard at work to make extra money for a few surprises, I will come home and proofread my novel, I will possibly watch Naruto with the fiancé, and I will come home and blog again, possibly proofread some more, and go to bed for the surprises of tomorrow.

The Exhausting End is Here

The Exhausting End is Here

This is unfortunately true. But my bright smile are hopefully real now.
This is unfortunately true. But my bright smiles are hopefully real now, and I truly am willing to help those who need it.

Stars, I’m actually waking up three hours early! Instead of 12 or 1 o’clock, I’m waking up around 8:30 or 9:00. This is either because I have a reason now, or I’ve found the right medicinal cocktail. My therapist and I think it is the latter because yesterday was the first time I wasn’t irritable in the morning, I wasn’t tired at all throughout the day (until night, obviously), I didn’t feel depression trying to drag me down, I was able to eat more and not feel cramped in my stomach, and I was able to just bask on Cloud 9. I don’t think it’s because of the super incredible news I received. I mean, I sobbed when I found out I was in the recital (tears of joy), but I still felt depression stalking me. I don’t feel it stalking me. I don’t feel its dark shadow.

I think I’m still fighting anxiety a little, just the anxious feelings that come on for no reason, but there aren’t any anxious thoughts accompanying the feelings. They’re just there for whatever reason, and, for me, I’d frankly prefer anxious feelings with no anxious thoughts over depression with anxious thoughts any time. Sure, it’s still uncomfortable, but I’m not snappish and irritable now. Usually talking with my parents irritates me, but now I find myself speaking with them without that irritability present.

In any case, yesterday was the first time I felt fantastic since being manic. But I’m not manic–I think I’m finally happy. It’s odd, too, because I’m on 2 mg of Abilify (this is a child’s dose. I’m 22) and have only been on it for six days. I’m 5 ft. 5, 114 lbs, and have a small frame. I also have a fast metabolism, which is why Seroquel doesn’t give me the munchies, for those who understand medications. So perhaps it is reasonable to conclude that the Abilify is working.

I’m going to admit it’s wretched that my mind is totally dependent on pills to balance it, mostly because all pills have the potential for serious side effects, but for now, I’m just going to be grateful I’m balanced out. Depression has had me trapped for almost two years and now I’m finally seeing the light again. I’m excited about life. I want to go back to work and be sociable so I can make appts., which turn to sales, which means commission and demo money for me along with my minimum wage. I am even picking my hours back up–just for the summer. During the school year, I won’t do more than 12.

It’s just such a relief to be breathing now, when I’ve been holding my breath for so long. Therapy helps too. As well as positive thinking.

I know there is a possibility of me becoming depressed again (or even manic) because bipolar disorder is often a lifelong illness. But I won’t think about that. For now, I will enjoy the life that I have and appreciate the small things that I never appreciated before all of this. I will even think about Emilie Autumn who is currently kicking bipolar’s butt and being fabulous all the while.

Depressive Episodes Won’t Daunt Me

Depressive Episodes Won’t Daunt Me

Looking upon 2013 so far makes me realize what an amazing year it has been. And this is in spite of the moments I’d cry by myself, wishing I were dead, or laying in bed for hours believing I wouldn’t be able to do anything that I loved without screwing it up. I know it’s insane to say 2013 is great when I spend a good deal of my time depressed, irritable, sometimes hopeless, sometimes sad. How is it possible for me to be able to look back upon all of this and go, “Well, this year has, in fact, been pretty incredible.”

I’ll tell you why: not only have I changed my thinking, about the way I view my depression, but I’m learning to let the good things outweigh the bad.

For some reason most of us want the bad to outweigh the good. We look at one tragedy caused by one or two people and are sickened by the human race. But we don’t look at the countless scores of people reaching out and helping in the midst of tragedy. This is the kind of thinking I’m changing. Tragedies are tragedies and are heartrending and make me wonder how another human being could do that to someone (because, by my nature, I love people), but then there are so many people doing so many good things each and every day.

In any case, why am I no longer letting my depression rule me? Is it because I am no longer depressed? Not necessarily. I still have problems with irritability, but I’m giving myself reasons to wake up so I don’t find myself trapped in bed until 12: mainly this blog, thinking of strong content to pound out, and advancing my writing career. These are phenomenal reasons for me to wake up earlier than I usually do. I’ve been waking up at 9 when I normally wake up at 12. And that’s good, because before I let depression drown me, 8 or 9 o’clock was my wake-up time. I couldn’t physically sleep in any later until depression struck.

So what are some of the good things that have happened to me this year that are keeping me from drowning?

This is Wind, my favorite role in the recital I participated in. It will also be my author photo.
This is Wind, my favorite role in the recital I participated in. It will also be my author photo.

I was chosen to dance in Columbia County’s ‘Roar of Love.’ I was stunned. I hadn’t been there in almost two months due to psychiatric visits and my health, and here I was being asked to perform three roles, two of which were en pointe, one of which is for girls above my level. Not only was I overjoyed, but it was a compliment to my skills to put me in three roles when I wasn’t present for a good bit of the first part of the ballet school year. I mean, I came back after all the hospitalizations and hadn’t lost anything, not my strength or technique, and I was so worried about those two things.

But dancing in a recital was  a dream come true, especially because there is no true adult ballet program in my area and so I have to dance with kids–but I love the girls I dance with and wouldn’t leave them for any adult ballet program. Even though I was still trapped in the web of depression, going to ballet helped immensely with my mood, and I always left chipper and with a renewed sense of self-esteem. And even though I woke up the next day, and the day after that, and so on and so forth, wondering how ballet could help my dark mood, it always did.

What else is great about 2013?

Shush!

Well, that is a secret. But I can tell you I’m proud of myself for getting back into writing, being able to blog as much as I am, getting back into my literary magazine; I freaking registered for fall classes, I’m going to pick up more hours at work, and I’m going to do a ballet summer intensive among other *hush*surpsingthings*hush*. Now if my depression starts flaring doing all these things, I’ll slow down. I mean, frankly, I’m writing all of this in the heat of excitement. Even depressed people experience situational joy from time to time. But I’m going to keep up the positive thinking even when I feel like crap. As I’ve said before, I can’t change the way I feel, but I can change the way I think.

I can’t wait to tell you all what this surprise is though!

Working Hard With Difficult Illnesses

Working Hard With Difficult Illnesses

Now that I’m back in the writing world, I’m really realizing just how exhausting it is. Before fibro claimed me, doing Twitter and blogging weren’t a big deal. In fact, social media was a respite from working on my novel and school work and all that. Now I’m a spoonie and anything I do takes a spoon from me (read about spoon theory here). I’m certainly not as bad as some people with fibromyalgia. Some people with fibro are exhausted just getting dressed in the morning. I’m not that bad, but I do require a nap after writing a chapter or doing a synopsis or editing a query letter or doing something that requires intense concentration. I never needed naps before. I could plow on through and keep doing things. Being depressed doesn’t help either. But guess what? I’m doing it! I’m working hard and getting done what I want to get done. And I’m satisfied with that.

This guy sits behind me as I’m working. He threatens to tear my head off if I don’t, so he’s a good enough incentive to plow through. He at least allows me five minute naps. Isn’t this Jabberwocky generous?

Unfortunately, both my bipolar depression and fibromyalgia are very unpredictable. Sometimes I really am just too depressed to be able to sit up in bed and concentrate on trying to write even half a chapter. Sometimes I just need to nap longer than usual to calm down and shake some of the sleepiness from me. With my fibromyalgia, it’s been doing pretty well. It generally starts to level out late winter/early spring. Then the fall comes and the flares become daily, and so I’m pretty much in crippling pain a lot in the fall. But when a flare hits, I can’t do anything until the ibuprofen kicks in, and I take 6 of them, and you can’t even take more than 6 in a 24 hour period. Even then the ibuprofen only take the edge off. They don’t kill the flare.

In any case, I remember when I got home from my second hospitalization in December how I wasn’t doing anything at all–only ballet. I stopped painting, doing photography, and writing. It’s not that I didn’t have it in me, it’s that I didn’t think I could have it in me. I had no incentive to do any of it because I did not feel they would yield me immediate rewards. But ballet did. Even an hour of ballet could lift my mood for at least half the day. So when I woke up in the morning, I pretty much stayed in bed all day and napped a lot. I’d mess around on my Surface or read or play on my 3DS, but as far as productivity, you can forget it. I was only productive with ballet, preparing for my recital, and waiting for the day I could perform on stage.

The recital ended though. I sobbed for the next three nights because it was over, I felt empty again, and I was seriously conflicted about whether or not to end my life (bipolar depression can be a very dark place). I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t think I wanted to live, but I had done so much research and suicide is not as easy as the media paints it. I had to get it together. I kept thinking about the girls at my dance studio who look up to me.  I kept thinking about the one girl who looks up to me the most, who had to endure several suicides in her life. Could I really do that to them? To my parents? To my fiancé?

No.

I had to pull myself together, which is when I decided to get back to my novel. I was hesitant, but I began reading through it and suddenly realizing I could. Sure, I got tired, more tired than usual, but I did it. Then I started doing more. I got back to The Corner Club Press. With Mariah’s help, I got issue 9 out. Then I made a new website for myself. I planned a new novel. I started blogging once every day, and now twice every day. I do Twitter for 20 minutes (my therapist came up with this number so I wouldn’t stress myself out with this, frankly, annoying website) a day. I’m trying to write a chapter a day in this new novel. I’m going to get back to painting shortly. I’m still doing ballet. And this is such a massive improvement from where I even was last month!

It’s not that I couldn’t do any of it. Depression just tells you that you can’t, and you have to get to a point where you separate yourself from your depression. As I’ve said, I have to take naps. I can’t keep pushing myself like I could before. But that’s okay. My therapist and I are doing goals for me, and I am exceeding them.

It’s hard work, but it’s worthwhile work. I’ve just got to keep pushing myself to do this so I don’t let depression control me with such negative thoughts as, “You’re useless, a waste of space. Why are you even trying? It’s not going to get you anywhere. You’re not remarkable, your existence is insignificant. Not even your friends care enough to find out what is going on with you. They’re doing remarkable things without you, and you’re stuck in a rut. Let me soothe you to sleep, a deep, long, long sleep.”

It’s the little victories that keep me going in spite of it all.

smiley2
I’m dead serious about the little victories.
On the Edge of Silence

On the Edge of Silence

WARNING: This post does have the possibility of being triggering. Stars, this comes from the rawest parts of me, but I assure you I’m a fighter and I will keep fighting. Don’t be afraid.

Suicide has the largest stigma among any other mental health problem out there. It’s because suicide involves death, a permanent state where you cease to exist, where there is no more you, where there will never be another you. It’s sad, it’s terrifying, but people need to be able to talk about it without being silenced just because someone is uncomfortable.

I considered this method at one point, but it’s a rather painful and ghastly way to go.

People who feel suicidal should not be ashamed of feeling suicidal. It is a feeling. Feelings cannot be helped. The important thing is that people who feel suicidal do not act on these feelings. Never tell a suicidal person who they will be making sad should they decide to follow through with their plan. I understand some people do this to make the person seriously consider said actions, but it’s not about you or anyone else: It is about the person in crisis. You only instill guilt in that person–and I can guarantee you the person feels guilty enough for feeling that way because he or she knows the suicide would have an impact on loved ones. But suicidal people are already in pain. They’re in so much pain they believe their loved ones will get over their suicide and that they’d be better of dead because they’re in so much pain and they don’t want to continue living that way for the sake of everybody else. They may even think they’re a burden. I know I sometimes feel this way.

Suicide is tragic, but it is a feeling that needs to be accepted in order to be dealt with. Do not feel ashamed for feeling suicidal and do not shame others for feeling suicidal. Suicide does not feel selfish to the person in pain and no one needs to make it out like it is. You will only make things worse because then the suicidal person will think, “See? I don’t deserve to exist because I am so selfish.”

Let the suicidal person know that he/she is loved and how valuable his/her life is. Life doesn’t feel precious when you’re suicidal, but suicidal feelings are easier to deal with when you’re not alone and with someone supporting you and encouraging you to cope.

Because I am still depressed, I idealize suicide from time to time. Suicidal ideation is when you idealize a specific way to go. For me, it’d be drowning at the rock quarry at my favorite trails. Sometimes I feel so sad I think I’m never going to get better, and because I feel I am never going to get better, I often think I’d be better off dead. And my fibromyalgia pain can especially make me feel this way.

For me, idealizing drowning is almost a comfort. It’s if life gets too complicated, there is an escape. Sometimes I feel so suicidal that I want to cut myself to concentrate on a different pain, but I haven’t cut in two months and have amazing coping mechanisms now.

I still feel that way. I feel that way a little right now. But guess what? Feeling suicidal doesn’t mean I’m going to go out and do anything. Suicidal ideation is not healthy, but I don’t feel so impulsive that I’m going to act on the feelings. When the thoughts start to get too bad, I get out of bed and distract myself and the feeling goes away. It always does. It’ll probably come back, but because I know it’ll go away again, I find ways to make myself feel better.

There are people out there, right now, that have felt suicidal for years and haven’t done anything because they’re holding on for whatever reason. I am no different. I am holding on because of my family, my writing life, ballet, the hope that things will get better and my suicidal ideation will be treated. Suicidal ideation is, after all, a diagnosis in itself. It was the reason I was hospitalized the first time–that and self-harm.

I am not going to keep silent about being, I guess you could say, a suicidal. I want to be able to talk about this, to make people understand suicide more so it is feared less. There might be less suicides if we could learn to take more sensitive action instead of being afraid of the concept and chastising the person for feeling the way that person does.

I am here. I am breathing. I am alive. I will make a difference. I will get better. But right now I’m not feeling so great, and it’s okay. That’s just who I am for now. And you want more comfort? About 90% of suicide attempts fail. And a good majority of those who attempted are glad the attempts failed.

 

Stay tuned later today for guest blogger Mary Cote-Walkden who will talk about small press publishing houses!

Braving the Stigma of Mental Illness

Braving the Stigma of Mental Illness

I cannot fathom for the life of me why there is such an unabashed stigma against mental illness. Mental illness has been recorded since the invention of writing. Though the symptoms explained had no specific name, even our ancestors had no doubt such illnesses were real. Of course, believing in their existence isn’t the only problem. When you have a mental illness, society brands you as incompetent, incapable of living your own life.

Look around the internet, at the media. Some people believe those with mental illnesses should be locked away so we can do no harm to anyone, even though we are more likely to be harmed by those who are “normal” due to our vulnerable personalities. I can’t own a gun because I had to be involuntarily hospitalized so I could get a bed; otherwise, I would have been in the ER for another day or two–I wanted to go in, but I couldn’t do so voluntarily. I don’t think I can own a gun for another two years, which is a shame because we’re so hell bent on protecting ourselves with fatal weapons. It’s not that I care to own a gun, but, really, it’s the principle of the matter. I want to understand this, but there are other weapons we’re allowed access to that are more used than guns in harming ourselves or others–knives, for instance.

Seriously. I can be irritable, sad, apathetic, empty, hopeless, all in one day.
Seriously. I can be irritable, sad, apathetic, empty, hopeless, all in one day.

But gun rights are not on my bucket list. My fiancé has one, so I’m good to go.

I used to use Tumblr to express my darkest thoughts because I was too ashamed to let others know what sometimes goes through my mind. Then I realized people express personal stuff all the time on Facebook: what they ate, what sickness they contracted, the color of their babies’ shit, how crabby they are, so on and so forth. So now I’m choosing to reveal the rawest parts of me on my website’s blog because it is the only way to get people to recognize that a mental illness can be like any other illness. I’m a very self-aware person, and I hope that’s obvious in some of my posts.

We’re just afraid of mental illness because people sometimes hurt themselves to cope. People can become suicidal. In rare cases, people can become dangerous, but this is rare, so rare it shouldn’t even be a factor because “normal” people can be just as dangerous. I’m more likely to hurt myself than others.

So I’m coming out and saying that I have bipolar Type I Rapid Cycling. I hate it. I hate that I have to deal with this, but it’s here to stay and so I must. All I can do is use it to my advantage, and it does have some perks: I feel more creative, I’m so much more sensitive toward other people, I’m more self-aware now, and I feel like I have an even greater capacity to help those in need. Plus, I can just think of all the greats in history who have my illness. Sure, some of them didn’t survive, but they also didn’t have treatment. So on days where I feel a pity party emerging, I think of all those greats and wonder if they would have been able to do what they did without their illnesses. It’s possible, their works just would have been different, I suppose.

Don’t hide behind pity, shame, self-hate, or stigma. Come out and be loud and demand to be heard. It’s okay to hate your illness, but don’t drown in pity because of it. Make the best of it and be proud that you’re managing it in spite of how sucky it can be.

 

How am I doing today, specifically this morning? Crap. I didn’t sleep well last  night because my anxiety kicked in out of nowhere. So all I want to do is sleep, and, frankly, not wake up for a while. A long while. When a depressed person doesn’t get sleep, symptoms are intensified.

What Being in Psychiatric Wards Has Taught Me About People

What Being in Psychiatric Wards Has Taught Me About People

collage

I was hospitalized twice within the span of a month. The first time was due to suicidal ideation, self-harm, and misdiagnosed major depressive disorder. The second time was due to being in a manic episode with undiagnosed rapid cycling Type I.

I was terrified the first time I was hospitalized. I was literally thrown in the thick of things, and because I hadn’t been grouped yet, I was stuck with the acute group for half a day, people who are not self-aware enough to know when they are hallucinating or people who simply cannot care for themselves because their illnesses affect them that much. Or people who simply cannot participate in group therapies at the moment because they haven’t been stabilized on meds enough to care.

I never thought of psych wards as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. No, psych wards nowadays are more like Ned Vizzini’s “It’s Kind of a Funny Story.” I was still terrified of the type of people I’d meet though. I got there on my first day, was exposed to people having active auditory and visual hallucinations and thought, ‘I don’t belong here. I’m just depressed, but I’m not gone. My brain is all here. I’m self-aware enough to know I’m in trouble, so just give me a pill and put me out.’ These hallucinating people had no idea they were hallucinating. People with my condition can get so manic or depressed they hallucinate, but most are often aware they are hallucinating and try to take active measures to suppress the hallucinations.

In any case, I was eventually put with the Intermediate Group, basically functioning people with mood disorders. I always assumed people who ended up in psych wards had been exposed to some severe trauma in their lives (rape, abuse, ect…), but learned that mental illness does not discriminate. At the end of the day, the reason for your mood disorder being triggered doesn’t matter because now you are left having to deal with a possible life-long illness that can be traumatizing in itself. Suicidal feelings are traumatic. Self-harm is traumatic. Depression is traumatic. Pain is traumatic, physical and mental. Fibromyalgia and lack of sleep triggered my bipolar.

It was through the intermediate group though that I learned more about those in the acute ward. Those people in the acute ward weren’t crazy or insane or gone. They just needed help. They were just in a rough patch. Their lives are just as valuable as anyone else’s–they just need more help, a more restrictive environment to keep them safe. You can talk to these people and they will respond. No one with a mood disorder, regardless of the severity is crazy or insane or psycho or lost or unable to be helped.

I met all types of people, through all walks of life. I met someone who was on probation for burglary, and I didn’t judge him for that because he had a good heart. He learned from what he did, paid the price, and was now struggling to get his life back together. But even he found purpose to live. I also met another who was so desperate to die his arm was covered in a cast because he sliced it open so much. But he was thankful to be alive, and I was thankful he was as well because it showed that no matter who you are, your life is worth living and you just have to find a reason–and that reason can sometimes be hidden.

In my second hospitalization, I met more people. I met a bipolar alcoholic, who, despite her rage tendencies, loved her son so dearly that she wanted help. She was also a very sweet person, and I loved speaking with her. I also met a young man who had violent tendencies, but he was a good kid who just needs to learn how to manage anger when someone provokes him. There was also a survivor with serious brain trauma who sometimes mistook me for his mom, but I’d listen to him anyway because that’s all he ever wanted was just for someone to listen to him.

So what is my point by writing this post? As writers, we create characters who are oftentimes different from us, sometime with values and morals that conflict with our own. If we truly want to create stunning characters, we need to get out there and meet all different types of people and get to know them, with no judgment. We’re often so stuck with one type of people, “our clique” I suppose, that we forget others exist out there. It happens in college, happens in the workplace, as we want to feel a sense of belonging by being in a group. But we can belong everywhere if we give every human being a chance. I know before I never would have associated myself with a person with violent tendencies because I harshly judged those people as cruel human beings who had serious problems. Now I’ve learned there is no point in judging others because we do not know their stories. Oh certainly I still judge, but it is those who have caused irreparable harm to others, not those who find themselves in a bad place with a blatant mistrust and/or dislike for people for whatever reason.

So get out there and meet people you normally wouldn’t associate with. You’d be surprise as a writer what this can do for your character development. It helps you create antagonists you can be sensitive toward, antagonists you as the author aren’t judging but are leaving that judgment up to your protagonist. Knowing different types of people helps you create more complex plots as well, with decisions that are not so black and white.

Grasping that Motivation

Grasping that Motivation

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I’ll admit that I probably chose the worst time in my life to launch myself on to the road of self-publication. Or perhaps there is no better time? Who is to say?

As I’ve mentioned before, I have bipolar disorder and am not stable on meds. My mania is treated, but my depression still struggles. I do struggle with suicidal ideation. I am not ashamed to admit that. I know how to cope when suicidal feelings become overwhelming. I’ve coped for months. Some days are worse than others. Some days I do feel inches away from wanting to take my life. But then I do my best to remember what I’m fighting for.

Before I made the decision to self-publish, I was fighting to keep going by using my dance recital. And it was worth it. It was worth everything. As a later starter, being in a recital was a dream come true, especially being able to do two of my three roles en pointe. Getting en pointe was a dream come true itself. But when the recital ended, I felt this deep emptiness because it was the reason I was still alive. Depression is a horrible illness, especially bipolar depression. It’s hard to find enjoyment in your life when you feel so detached, so to no longer have my recital to strive for, I found myself breaking down every night in what seemed an unending sobbing fit for the next three days.

Then I realized I needed to pull myself together. I needed to, once again, accept that I was still depressed. I still had dance, but I needed something bigger to make my heart continue beating, to make my life worth it so I could continue fighting for stability through this trial-and-error medication management. Because I am worth it, right?

Then I thought about my novel, When Stars Die. I stopped writing because it took energy and concentration that I didn’t have. I’m still not sure if I even have it, but one thing I do know is passion and a desire to live will make me have the concentration needed to self-publish my book. Using the publication of my book as an incentive to stay alive is the best thing I can do for myself right now. That is my ultimate motivation for getting back to my book: to stay alive. That is how, despite the depression, despite the desire to sleep all the time, despite the unending thirst to isolate myself, I will continue living, I will continue getting up, and I will continue fighting.

I think about my favorite singer, Emilie Autumn. She used her album Opheliac as a bargaining chip to keep living. She figured once she completed it, she’d no longer be suicidal. She was right. I feel the same way, but I know the deletion of suicidal feelings is not so easy. That will take the right medicinal cocktail for me. But my book is worth it. I’ve dreamt of being published since I was a kid. I’m not throwing that dream away just because I’m in a bad spot right now.

So that is how I grasped the motivation to get back to my novel, when I’d been away from it for so long without a care as to whether I’d get back to it or night.