Inspiration From Inpatient Psychiatric Hospitals

Inspiration From Inpatient Psychiatric Hospitals

This will be the working hook for the revision of Stolentime.
This will be the working hook for the revision of Stolentime.
My first hospitalization at Summit Ridge greatly influenced the most recent book that I am working on. While I hated being there because I felt like I was in Kindergarten, I always enjoyed the group therapies because everyone had a different story to tell for why he or she was at Summit Ridge. There were people who attempted suicide, people struggling with suicidal ideation and self-harm (like I did), people who were there because they had violent breakdowns, people who wanted to be kept safe from themselves, people unstable on meds, or people just unable to care for themselves.

There was one man I met who inspired my main character’s, Gene’s, diagnosis. This man was struggling with treatment-resistant depression. He had already undergone three treatments of ECT (electric convulsion therapy) when I arrived there. I asked him if he felt the treatments working, and he told me he didn’t.

This was terrifying to me, to think you could be depressed forever with nothing ever working for you. You can have therapy and positive thinking, but it doesn’t change the fact that you have to work 100x harder than a mentally healthy person to get things done. Or to live. To even just breathe.

Being who I am, I was terrified that I’d be one of those people, especially after my second hospitalization. Finding medication stability with bipolar is not easy. You can’t be on antidepressants–any type–because you could go manic. So you have to rely on mood stabilizers to get you to where you are, but they have crappy side effects, so you really spend time trying to find the right medicinal cocktail with the least crummy side effects. But it was these experiences that shaped my main character, Gene.

There are plenty of YA books that deal with depression, but I haven’t found any that deal with a teen who must learn to live with such a morose disease. It’s always books about teens with untreated mental illnesses that once they are diagnosed, the doctors make the treatment seem so easy. So I decided to be the one to write that book where the treatment isn’t easy. So my fears and my dealings with psychiatric units have shaped what it would be like to live with treatment-resistant depression. People with hard-to-treat depression often have to learn how to live this way. It is unfortunate many believe that suicide is the only way out because it is tough to live with depression. It’s a terrible disease that warps your thoughts and has physical effects on you too. So in order to create Gene, I asked myself, ‘What would it be like to be a teen living with treatment-resistant depression?’

I want Gene to exist for teens, for anyone out there who feels he or she cannot go on because he/she knows the depression is forever. Gene’s depression is pretty much terminal, but he has to learn how to live with it. So Stolentime is a book about a depressed teen going through trials that will teach him the value of his own life. I know in real life people aren’t going to be tested the way Gene is, but I hope they look into Gene’s character and find the hope they need so they can live to be the hope for others going through similar trials.

To me, suicide is tragic not because it is the end of a human life but because it is the end of hope, the end of potential, the end of someone else’s reason to live.

Currently I am 32,000 words into the book. If I continue writing a chapter a day, I will have the book finished the week after next. Once I begin revisions, I will be able to start talking more about this book. And hopefully by then I will have more information on When Stars Die.

 

Inspirational Speaker: On Mistakes and Confidence and Ballet

Inspirational Speaker: On Mistakes and Confidence and Ballet

Neil gaiman

First, I want to thank Mary Gilmartin for giving me inspiration for this particular post. She is the one who posted this inspirational quote that in turn inspired me.

I probably make mistakes a lot. All the time. I know I make mistakes when I’m drafting my novel, and I frankly don’t care. I probably make mistakes at work, but I let myself learn from them instead of chastising myself for forgetting to ask for spouse’s name or if that city is in range (plus, the phone room can have fun with that one). I don’t fear mistakes, not like I used to. I have tried a lot of new things this year, more than I thought I did. I started painting with acrylics, testing blending and shading and highlighting. I started creating bows, which didn’t turn out half bad. I danced in a recital, where mistakes were numerous in the beginning and I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to catch up. Then I took a chance on When Stars Die, instead of fearing the potential mistake that it could have been. And I have been pleased with all the chances I took this year.

I am no longer afraid of mistakes. Why should I be? Mistakes mean I’m living, taking chances, growing, learning, and changing. I want to live a life of no regrets, and to do that, I have to make mistakes.

George Balanchine, famous for The Nutcracker, once said that to fall means you are pushing yourself beyond your limits and are therefore growing and improving. He meant this toward dancers, of course, but it can apply to anyone in general. But I know during ballet class, especially pointe class, I fall more than anyone because while everyone approaches an exercise with hesitancy, I approach it with vigor, and so when the exercise starts, I give it everything I have. I’m not afraid to fall en pointe. What’s the worse than can happen? A bruise? My ankles are strong enough not to sprain easily, so I take my chances with everything.

My bipolar disorder did give me the confidence to start taking chances simply because I know a depressive episode can kill my confidence in a heartbeat. A manic episode can make me overly confident, but depression is the killer of all things good. More than anything though, I think ballet in general has given me the confidence to do what I never thought possible. Just look at ballet. Look at this:

From Tumblr, Obsessive Dancing Disorder
From Tumblr, Obsessive Dancing Disorder

I can barely do this on flat, but I know I’m going to get there because I can do everything else in ballet, so why not this? And if I can do ballet, why can’t I have a published novel? And if I can have a published novel, why shouldn’t I become a bestseller through hard work and determination? Why should I be afraid of making mistakes?

Good things never happen through perfection. Good thing happen through mistakes, trial and error, learning and tweaking. Don’t ever let hesitancy hold you book because, really, what is the worst that can happen by taking that chance, whatever it may be? This isn’t to say you should go out gambling and blow your life’s savings. Use discretion here. But if there’s nothing to lose, do it. Why not? I didn’t get my contract by holding my book back and waiting for some magical sign that it was ready. I didn’t get en pointe by fearing that I’d break something. I wrote a book, made mistakes with it and bettered those mistakes. I took private lessons, made plenty of mistakes, and worked hard to correct them. I practice, practice, practice with whatever I do because I want it for myself. You have to want it too because no one else can want it for you.

Letter to My Teen Self

Letter to My Teen Self

tumblr_mc6i6dDtH91rilz3so1_500 I know this is a really old topic, one I’ve seen floating around the internet for a few years, but I thought I’d give it a go, in spite of being only 22. I mean, I have quite a lot to say to my teen self, specifically my 14-year-old self, who struggled with some tough anxiety issues back when she was in the eighth grade. So here goes:

Dear 14-year-old me,

That algebra test looks really daunting, doesn’t it? Algebra’s been the cause of many a panic attack and crying spell at night. Math anxiety has leaked over into other parts of your life too. You cut to deal with the constant stress. You hated that your math teacher couldn’t understand that you needed to take things more slowly.

But guess what? You passed algebra…with an A average. Algebra was so easy from then on out. You managed your anxiety disorder. You went on to do pre-calculus, which was tougher, should have been anxiety inducing, but you stuck it out and got a B.

But let’s back up. You know that book you started in response to your mild depression and anxiety, the book with the witches and witch burnings? Well, it has changed…immensely. It is now a sequel. And guess what? It’s prequel has a publishing contract, so, even though it takes eight years, you  make it. Your dream comes true. And you did it without an agent, the way you originally wanted to do it.

But, 14-year-old-self, things get tougher, worse than your anxiety disorder. You develop fibromyalgia at 21, a disease that came out of nowhere. Fibromyalgia starts to crap out other areas of your life: your sleep, mainly. And from this, you develop bipolar disorder, which manages to make things far more challenging than your anxiety disorder ever could have. But you’re going to survive, and you’re going to come out of it even greater, stronger, wiser, and better. You were born into greatness, and to greatness you will return.

You may not think you want to keep going because of the adage ‘the older you get, the tougher it gets,’ but this isn’t always true. There are going to be parts of your life that are tougher than others. But then there are going to be parts of your life that are greater than others .

You’ve always obsessed over Mr. Right. Well, you meet him three years later, and you’ll be with him for quite a long while. That’s certainly fantastic, right? You have your first short story published at 19. Sounds like it’s getting pretty good. You also start some editorial stints, and you dreamt of being an editor. How can it get better than that?

And even though fibromyalgia and bipolar will come to try and tear you down, to tell you nothing in your life is worth it, you will fight, and you will do a ballet recital and take a chance with your novel. You will land a contract and start another novel.

14-year-old-self, life is full of difficulties, but do you know why we keep going? We keep going because something in us tells us after the storm has passed, the sun will shine brighter than ever. And even when the storm comes again, we’ll just dance in the rain. We’ll be cold and soaked to the bone, but we’ll dance until the sun shines again.

Sincerely,

22-year-old The Dancing Writer

 

 

Feeling Left Behind: Graduation Story or Lack Thereof

Feeling Left Behind: Graduation Story or Lack Thereof

I am an entire year behind in college. I should be a senior, but I’m still a junior on the cusp of being a senior. I had to drop all of my classes last semester due to being so unstable because of bipolar disorder. I couldn’t handle the stress, the thought of having to play catch-up after my first hospitalization was nauseating, and the med they put me on during my first visit made me evermore unknowingly unstable. So I had to drop all of my classes. Luckily I no longer need two of them.

My second hospitalization confirmed that I shouldn’t take any classes next semester either because I needed to use that time to find med stability. So having to drop last semester and not even doing this semester has put me an entire year behind so that way I may be graduating in 2015 instead of late 2013.

Most of the friends I came into university with graduated today. I’m going to admit I feel left behind. They’re moving on, hopefully finding swanky careers with their polished diplomas, and here I am just trying to register for the fall semester because the education program doesn’t do PIN numbers and I have to wait until late registration to get anything done. It sucks, I’ll totally admit that. I wish I could join them, celebrate with them, be happy about my graduation and being able to hold on to the hope that the future is endless for me.

But nope. Bipolar did a lot of damage and I’ll probably have to end up making new friends come fall semester. Well, school friends, anyway. It’s no fun being a loner on campus, not that I’m much of one anyway. It’s frustrating, too, because part of me wonders if I could have held on. I probably could have, but then my GPA would have suffered, further damaging my already low self-esteem at the time. And being depressed and being expected to stay on top of things is really, really difficult, especially when all you think about is sleep and not wanting to be awake because everything just hurts and you don’t know why and would rather not deal with the ‘why.’

I could choose to be bitter about what bipolar did, what depression did, but looking at what I was able to accomplish makes me realize I may not have been able to accomplish anything had I been in school. I got to do a ballet recital, and that means so much to me, especially because it was a dream come true. I was dying for the chance to finally be able to show my parents and my fiancé what I’d been doing in class. Then I got a contract for my book, When Stars Die, because I finally took a risk. Who knows if I would have taken that risk in school. Who knows if I would have even been thinking about When Stars Die while in school.

So while everyone is celebrating graduation, I am doing pre-release book marketing, solidifying my platform, writing another book, and instead of holding a graduation party, I will be holding a book release party. I would say two dreams come true beats graduation any day.

The Dancing Writer’s Pointe Shoes and Awards

The Dancing Writer’s Pointe Shoes and Awards

I love my Capezio Glisse.

This is a compilation of all my best posts, and then at the end, I will be giving away three awards to three different bloggers for each one!

What Depression Feels Like for a Writer Like Me

Braving the Stigma of Mental Illness

My Defense of Self-Publishing

The Maddening Choice of Publication

The Different Ways to Outline a Novel

This Is My Surprise: I Have a Publisher!

Blogging Tips for Fellow Writers

Inner Turmoil Equals My Best Ideas

The Misuse of Twitter

The Madness of Writer’s Block

Now for the awards!

This goes to Legends of Windmere by Charles Yallowitz

The parasite guy

And Random Acts of Writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next award!

Dorian Dawes

disregard the prologue

And When I Became An Author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last award!

thebeliefblog

tolerantpeople

And Missing Zero!

Follow all these awesome blogs and keep an eye out on their posts! I very much appreciate them! I don’t have time to comment on all of them, but rest assured these are quality bloggers.

Our Slice of Heaven Among Mental Illness Hell

Our Slice of Heaven Among Mental Illness Hell

So lately I’ve been thinking about how to use Tumblr as a marketing platform to reach out to teen readers. Then I realized I don’t think that I can. Tumblr’s great to retreat to when I need more personal advice, but I don’t think it’s so great as a marketing platform for anyone. The people on there fit the ‘misery-loves-company’ phrase perfectly, and it honestly makes me very angry.

My therapist told me I should use the depressing parts in my novel to hook them, but honestly, having to do that makes me a little sick. These are the same people who will post triggering pictures in innocent tags (like ‘bipolar’ or ‘mental health’) with a complete disregard that those pictures will affect someone negatively, like me. I then realized these people are content with misery.

I get it. Mental illness sucks, but it angers me to no end when people don’t even try to find happiness. I remember speaking with one boy on Tumblr who absolutely refused to acknowledge that his parents were just trying to help him, who believed everyone hated him, and kept reminding me that he hated himself too. It made me angry because he came to me for advice and was throwing it all back in my face. You can freaking change your thinking, even though you can’t change the way you feel. You can work to find happiness, even when depressed. You can’t sit around waiting for something when a slice of heaven takes a battle to have. I understand depression makes you think and feel these things, but this is why you go to therapy and listen to your therapist’s advice when he/she tells you to separate yourself from your mental illness.

I have no sympathy for people who drown in negative thinking while actively refusing to do nothing about their thinking and insisting they can never be happy when they haven’t taken a single step toward working for that slice of heaven. People like that infuriate me because even while I was depressed I was fighting to get better through therapy, ballet, work, and medication. I didn’t lie down and die. There were days where I let myself drown in the feelings, where I wanted to die, but not once did I consider stopping my medications, no matter how much they weren’t working for me. Happiness was something I wanted, and I knew that for someone with a mental illness, obtaining it would not be easy.

Why do some mentally ill people not want to be happy? By actively refusing to take a single step toward happiness, people are essentially saying they’d rather drown in misery while making others miserable around them (and yes, we do need to be considerate of those around us, even when ill. Constant misery can make others miserable) rather than trying to find some way to be happy.

If you can’t take care of your emotional health first, don’t expect others to take care of it for you.

What Does It Really Mean for Me to Have a Mental Illness?

What Does It Really Mean for Me to Have a Mental Illness?

I’m not on Lithium, thank goodness.
Sometimes I ponder why the most vulnerable of us often find ourselves afflicted with mental illnesses we don’t deserve. Imagine dealing with the death of a loved one. Your depression starts out as a symptom of grief. Soon you come to terms with the loss of your loved one, but for some reason you can’t shake this deep, aching emptiness within you. You try to tell yourself it’s because you really haven’t gotten over your loved one’s death, but then the pain just persists. You can’t push through it, or move on from it. Something dark has grown in you, and you steadily begin to lose yourself. Your appetite dies, your sleep either becomes too much or too little; out of nowhere you think you’re worthless, unloved, unneeded; you might want to die, you might not want to do anything at all. Your symptom has turned into the syndrome. Not only are you grieving your loved one, but now you’re battling another monster known as mental illness.

My fibromyalgia was already bad enough to deal with and depression is a common symptom of pain, but then when does the symptom become the syndrome? My fibro was getting better, but my mental health was declining, and I couldn’t understand why, when before I valiantly fought through my fibro.

But someone like me can only take so much before she breaks.

I’ve learned, through mental illness, what an incredibly sensitive person I am. I don’t even have to know you and your pain will strike something so deep within me that I’m compelled to tears. While I am better, I am still easily triggered by anything that has to do with death or suicide.

When you’re depressed and suicidal, you don’t think how traumatizing the feelings are. You’re used to them. Your brain has tricked you so well into thinking you want to die that you accept being suicidal without question. You want to die. You crave it. You want to end your pain because your illness doesn’t want you to see a way out.

Now that I am better, I look back on those feelings, and a heavy pang spears through my heart. I could have given into those feelings, and I wouldn’t be right here telling you all this. They’re terrifying feelings. I’m terrified that I felt that way. Sometimes I want to cry just knowing I did because the truth is that I am still vulnerable to feeling that way again. All it would take is for one of my medications to stop working, and I could go from screaming that I don’t want to die to wishing I would the next day.

Bipolar disorder is a traumatizing illness. Mental illnesses in general are traumatizing. You start out with one problem, and then for some reason that problem makes you sick, and you wonder why others don’t get sick from the same problem. My brother went through a traumatic divorce, and while he was depressed, it was just a symptom. He pulled himself together and now he’s better. Me, I just cracked under the weight of stress and the depression spiraled out of control until it became its own monster.

But there is nothing I can do but to accept it. I accept that it makes me a deeply sensitive individual. I accept that I could become sick again. But most of all, I accept that it has given me the power to empathize so deeply with other people that I would do anything to soothe their pain.

Sunshine Award and Minutes Before Sunset

Sunshine Award and Minutes Before Sunset

I earned the Sunshine Award from Writer Block! Follow her blog! She offers fantastic writing advice, from creating stellar characters to creating stellar plots.

As with the previous award, I will choose three people at the end of this week.

Last, I wanted to let you guys all know that Shannon Thompson’s book, Minutes Before Sunset, is out! Buy it here. Paperback will be coming out shortly! You can also buy it for the Nook and most e-readers/e-reading apps.

Do Not Deny Yourself Help, My Fellow Spoonies

Do Not Deny Yourself Help, My Fellow Spoonies

While I am a very sympathetic, sensitive person, I am getting to the point where I have hardened on some things in regards to healing from psychiatric illnesses. Refusing help because you are afraid of stigma is one of the biggest things that rankles my nerves raw.

The stigma is real. I get that. But you’re not helping the stigma by refusing to reach out.

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The above quote does not mean you can fix your mental illness through your thinking. It simply means that the way you think about things can help the way you feel about them. I accept my bipolar disorder as any other illness, and because I do, I don’t feel so bad that I have this disorder, which allows me to accept it so that the next time I’m depressed, even severely depressed, I’ll know what I need to do in order to take care of myself.

In any case, by refusing to reach out, you are damning yourself to becoming worse. Close friends and family don’t want to believe in your illness? Seek help elsewhere. This will take work on your part, but you WILL be able to find at least one person willing to listen to you. Even at my severest I found people, people I didn’t know too well, that I was able to talk to and they were able to fuel my thinking about my illness by telling me their stories as well. Hell, go online and reach out through chat groups and allow this reaching out to fuel your thinking.

I know a lot of introverts use the internet as an escape from their illnesses. And that’s great. It’s good to have a blog you can dump your feelings on as a way to find others similar to you. What’s not good is using misery to find misery.

On Tumblr, in the mental illness tags, teens will post incredibly triggering pictures claiming they help them cope. Those pictures are not helping in the least. If they were, you would be getting better. I’m not going to post any of them, but I can tell you triggering pictures are only fueling whatever it is that is going on in your mind that made you post the picture: self-harm, suicidal ideation, anorexia, bulimia, ect…

Pictures like this enrage me because it is almost an active defiance of a refusal to get better. Depression makes you not want to get better because depression doesn’t want you to get better–or mental illness in general–but that is why you have to reach out in a healthy manner. When I was suicidal, I would go to online chat groups with others who were. We wouldn’t even talk about suicide. We would talk about everyday life or how to cope. Heck, what helped me most was helping others who felt on the brink of attempting, and my suicidal feelings would disappear after that. I didn’t let myself stew in those feelings. Why the heck would you want to? They’re terrible.

The point is don’t actively refuse to get help because of your thinking. Stigma be damned. Be one of the ones to help remove stigma from psychiatric illnesses. More and more people are beginning to understand, I can promise you that. People who don’t want to understand aren’t worth it, and you need to realize that.

Thank You to My 121 Followers!

Thank You to My 121 Followers!

I was supposed to do one of these posts when I received 100, but things happened quickly and I had other posts I wanted to do. In any case, thank you each and every one of you! So am I going to do one of these every time I hit a milestone? No. I am doing this one because I want to start doing giveaways.

When I reach 200+ followers, I’m going to do a giveaway. It might just be something small. It might not be, but it’s going to be a freaking giveaway. I’m hoping that this giveaway can be done at the end of this week. You’ll just need to keep an eye out.

In any case, thank you everyone for enjoying my posts, commenting on them, liking them, linking them, and reblogging them! I promise every post I create will have as much quality as the last post!

Happy blogging!