Victoria’s Asylum of Maggots

Victoria’s Asylum of Maggots

This was published in issue 4 of Sorean: A Gothic Magazine. There is also a part 2, and I may continue it with a part 3 and whatever else I can conjure from this mind of mine so that way all of you can have a taste of my writing style. Sorry for the one column, but I just copied and pasted it directly from the magazine because I lost the thumb drive this was on a long time ago, so I have no copies myself. Here we go!
VICTORIA’S ASYLUM OF MAGGOTS: PART ONE
Alice, from American McGee’s Alice: Madness Returns. This is similar to what Victoria faces.
Unwanted wife, suicidal, prone to hysterics,
abnormal–that is what my chart reads. My
mind says otherwise. I am an unwanted wife
who never wanted to be one. My husband is
abusive, so hysterics are to be expected.
And suicidal is normal when ones husband beats her for forgetting to put out his tie.
As for my abnormality, I see nothing wrong
with pouring boiling tea on my husband’s
crotch.
That’s not what Bethlem Royal Hospital, or
Bedlam as we victims call it, would have me
believe. If I’m considered mad now, I’d like to
see just how mad I am when someone decides
to let me out.
Four gray walls stare down at me. An eave
sits above my head to keep me down. There is
no window, no light. The floor is marred wood.
A layer of dust sits like a quilt, tucked neatly
into the cracks of the floor. Moss creeps across
neglected walls and grows through fissures.
Unknown creatures twist and turn in the walls,
as well as my nightmares.
I have been staring at these walls for the
past two weeks. I have not seen the light in
four months. I don’t know what the sun feels
like, or what the flowers smell like, or what the
sky looks like anymore. Wetness devours my
body in the form of bodily fluids, and ice strips
away my skin, replacing it so that I am forever
shivering. My hair is a pile of brambles. My bed
sheets haven’t been changed in weeks. Chains
hold me down.
Why am I in chains? The scenario happens
as such:
‘Victoria Wilson. Age fourteen. New arrival,’
the nurse says. ‘Attacked her husband. He
couldn’t handle her anymore.’
‘What should we do?’ the other nurse asks.
I am on my bed, staring out the window. I
used to be in a room with a window.
‘The only thing we can do.’
‘Leeches?’
‘Yes. Fetch them for me.’
Emilie Autumn’s Leeches
One can imagine what happens afterwards.
I lacerated those beasts, and they removed my
fingernails for it, a procedure that turned me
into a twitching fiend. My nail beds are dried
pieces of bloody skin.
I am a rose that has lost its thorns.
I can’t be insane, though. The insane ones
are outside of Bedlam. They choose to ignore
the fog infecting London, the dark creatures
slithering through their minds. They ignore it
by gambling, drinking, and buying prostitutes
and children for themselves.
I should have lost my sanity by now. I
should be grazing the air with my stubby
fingers. I should be mutilating the slimy
creatures in me. I should be screaming,
writhing, moaning, panting. Yet, I haven’t felt
the urge to. If I did, I wouldn’t hesitate to
unleash the black worms from my mind, let
them glide across my body, wrap their slickness
around my limbs and take control of me like a
marionette.
Instead I stare up at the eave, thinking too
much, waiting for sleep to consume me. Present
thoughts are comforting. Memories are
despairing. I purged myself of my memories
when I heard my husband was sending me to
Bedlam. I let all my insanity out at home before
I came here.
But I believe maggots clogging my veins are
delaying this inevitable lunacy. Soon they‘ll
turn to flies, and begin to buzz within me. It
won’t be long before I find these chains too
tight.
A girl screams in the cell next to mine.
Startling me, jolting my eyes wide. The
walls are hollow arteries, so sounds are never
muffled. I should be used to these screams; this
one is just too near. Thudding emerges behind
my head. Like everyone else, she just wants to
pull her brains out and ooze away her
memories.
Thud, thud, thud.
A steady, hollow rhythm.
No one answers her cries. She’s a banshee in a
hollowed-out body. Two black coals for eyes. No
heart. No soul. Every girl here is a banshee.
Some day, I’ll be one as well.
It must be nighttime, which is why no one
comes for her. One can never tell if it’s night or
day in here. The darkness is eternal.
The thudding stops, but the screaming
doesn’t. A simple word follows the screaming.
“Why?” Her voice is hoarse and cracks as
she draws it out.
That’s the simplest question, the word with
the most impact. Why is she here? Why is she
subjected to this? Why does no one care? Why is
she alone? Why isn’t anyone coming for her? I
could ask that same question, too.
“Why indeed,” I whisper.
Alice from American McGee’s Alice: A Madness Returns.
Footsteps resound down the hall. Must be
daytime then.
The footsteps stop at her cell. A lock clicks
open. The screams crescendo, then die down.
“Tabitha,” a female voice says.
She lets out a string of incoherent words.
Only the mad ones understand her.
“Tabitha,” the woman says again.
“Get out of here!” Tabitha says.
“Wot’s she ‘ere for?” a rough, masculine voice
asks.
“She’s here after attacking her husband. No
reason given. No reason asked. They talk
about her as though she isn’t in that cell, as
though she isn’t human. We are rats and not
patients. “Her father wants her here until she
is wholly sedate. Then he wants custody of her.
She’s twenty-three.”
Not a girl, but a woman old enough to care
for herself. A woman is never a woman, though,
no matter what age. She’ll forever be a girl.
“We’ll have to act fast with this one.”
“Should we try the leeches?”
“Yes.”
“Wot if those don’t work.”
“Cliterodectomy.”
For a moment all the suffering in the world
makes itself known to me. There’s a torture
somewhere, a woman getting raped. A babe is
dying in its mother’s arms. Men are killing
each other faster than rabbits reproduce.
Someone commits suicide. Slaves are whipped,
girls molested, boys abused, mothers killed,
animals tortured.
Maim, rape, torture, kill, abuse. Repeat.
Living is impossible if one is not doing any of
those things.
“Come on, Tabitha,” the woman says.
The screaming starts up again. It sounds
like Tabitha’s now clawing the wall as though
she can create a hole, crawl through it, and run
away. Someone slams the door to the side.
“You’ll have to get her arms,” the nurse says
in a hurry.
Tabitha screams louder. The sound of two
bodies colliding meets my ears. One of the
bodies hits the floor. The sound of tussling
mixed with screaming ensues. I imagine
Tabitha’s a tiger clawing at a gazelle, rending
its flesh with sharp claws.
“Nurse Hayes, grab ‘er legs!”
The screaming stops. The struggling ceases.
There is only the sound of whimpering.
“I’ve got ‘er from ‘ere.”
“Are you certain, Carlisle?”
There are no words. I assume Carlisle
replies with a nod.
Carlisle grunts. He must be hoisting her
over his shoulder. Boots scuff across the floor.
Heels click. The door shuts.
The boots scuff down the hall. The heels
click in my direction.
The lock clicks on my door.
“Time for your medicine, Victoria,” Nurse
Hayes says.
No. Not the medicine. Please not the
medicine.
My heart swells to the size of a boulder and
drops through the earth, taking my stomach
with it. I soil my bed.
When Nurse Hayes comes into my room, I scream.
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.

Hell Into Beauty

Hell Into Beauty

tumblr_mkmyenONZw1r3moc7o1_500This lady, Emilie Autumn, is my hero, someone I aspire to be like, not in personality, but in attitude. She’s part of the reason I am fighting more than ever. I’ve mentioned before how this lady bribed herself out of suicide by finishing her album Opheliac and how that inspired me to pretty much bribe myself.

I’m still holding on to that bribe. Stars (I’m calling my readers this now because we are stars, we are made of star stuff, and we will all die like stars, leaving brilliance behind), I’m not feeling so well tonight. I guess I’m pushing myself too hard. I can’t do all of what a normal person can do in a day. I worked four hours at my job, I plotted eight chapters, I spent some time in the social media sphere, and I did one blog post. That’s really not a lot, but for someone as unstable as I, it’s enough to spike my anxiety, worsen my depression, and make me feel exhausted (though I can’t pinpoint if this is my fibromyalgia or my depression).

I was already growing intensely irritable after the plotting, for no reason too. In fact, I feel great about this book I’m plotting, but I don’t feel good in general.

I just want to break down and cry myself to sleep. I just want to sleep all day tomorrow so I don’t have to deal with the fuckery of my own damn mind. A part of me never wants to wake up again. A part of me wants to go back to cutting (which I haven’t done in some time). But then I think about Emilie Autumn and how she overcame her rough time to emerge as someone who doesn’t take shit from anyone, who uses her music to aspire others to fight as hard as she has.

I want to be a person like that. I want to be a role model for others, an inspiration, someone others can look to as a reason to just simply keep breathing. Thinking about Emilie Autumn makes me realize why I write stories with troubled characters: I want those characters to inspire others like them to keep fighting, because everyone has something they can fight for, and we just have to constantly remind ourselves what we’re fighting for and why. Why do we want to do this crazy thing called life? Why can’t we all just give up so we don’t have to struggle through the despair? Are those precious moments of happiness worth it? I hope the characters in my books make readers realize that yes, those moments are worth it because we’re all here on this crazy earth and we might as well serve as the pillars others can lean on until they can become those pillars themselves. The world will be more bearable that way. Possibly better. Perhaps happier. So in the meantime, we’ve got to keep living because life isn’t going to stop when we’re gone, and we might as well live loudly and fight for those who feel like they can’t. After all, we all want to be happy, right? You can’t be happy being dead.

Stars, I feel terrible tonight, but I’m not giving in to this hopeless feeling. I have a fiancé, great parents, and a cat. They’d all miss me, and I can’t bear the thought of what my absence would do to them. I’ll admit right now I feel like this isn’t going to get better. I don’t want to hide anything from you because I want you all to know who I am, naked and stripped to the bone. I’m fighting. I’m going to keep fighting. I’m going to inspire others to keep fighting.

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