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.

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.

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.

 

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!

 

I Want to Talk About Dysphoric Mania (or Mixed States)

I Want to Talk About Dysphoric Mania (or Mixed States)

Before I begin, I’m going to try to reel this blog back in and let it be a lifestyle blog, talking about whatever is going on in my life, whether that’s the writer side of things the student side of things or what have you. Put simply, I’m going to try and let this blog flow naturally from whatever I feel is relevant to talk about at the time so as not to alienate those who have been reading this blog for a little bit. I’d also like to try and blog a bit more regularly, but there are no promises.

The last time I blogged was at the beginning of April, probably a week or two before I started slipping into a little bit of depression; however, it was relatively mild compared to what I was used to. I still had some motivation to do things, even though it was less than it usually was (so I had zero motivation for work, just for school), my appetite was unchanged, and I didn’t have the usual fervent desire to sleep in really late and go to bed as soon as I could. (But I was binge drinking on the weekends, so there’s that.) It was just feeling down and grouchy and irritable and a little bit burnt out. A busy work day made me more irritable than it usually would–I railed against it, in fact, screaming in my mind, “I don’t want to do this! I can’t stand this,” but being able to do it anyway, so could it have really been depression?

In fact, I thought it was all just mere burnout. Once the semester ends, I told myself, and I get some breathing room, I’ll be back to normal.

Of course, that didn’t exactly happen. Even when I started precalculus I still had some of the depression, but it was starting to dip more into anxiety at that point, so I thought of speaking with my psychiatrist about getting put on an anti-anxiety medication. And, no, I didn’t call her right away. I didn’t feel it urgent enough and told myself I could wait until August to have it taken care of. I simply thought I just needed a chill pill so the pressures of getting into a DPT program didn’t seem so much.

Then, out of nowhere, I started feeling good. Really good. Things were falling into place. I was doing great in precalculus and doing much better than I expected. Things at work were going great–my clients were building back up again, my Pilates class was building up since it was moved from Friday to Wednesday. Observation hours were going great. I started at a skilled nursing facility, so three settings in the bag. I was able to fit in more physical activity.

I thought I was just gaining a new lease on life and finally accepting that I was not a fraud and that I really am an awesome person capable of doing awesome things so there is absolutely no reason for me to feel insecure or worry about how intelligent I am to handle the hard sciences and so on and so forth.

After four good days though, four days that felt perfect, I began journaling my thoughts, and I realized what it was: hypomania. It makes rational sense since such an episode can precede or even proceed depression. And so it was then I had to admit my depression was bipolar depression. It also explained my ability to suddenly be on the AMT for a lot longer than 30 minutes and then following it up with a session of resistance training and still having energy left over to do more and more things.

Prior to this, I’d been stable for a little over three years. I thought I had put bipolar disorder behind me. I thought I had finally developed the strength to be able to overcome any ensuing episodes. Turns out I was really just in remission and was tipped over the edge from all the stress in my life. I’d argue it’s positive stress, but even good stress is still stress.

So I’m on week six of this roller coaster of hypomania/mania/dysphoric mania, and I’m not going to lie and say it’s all awful–some parts are just really freaking awesome. I’m almost done with a rough draft of a contemporary YA novel, and I’ve been on a hiatus for over two years! Granted, I’m on medical leave, but even if I weren’t, I still likely would have started writing a novel. Even when I was at work I wrote enough poetry to make an anthology. You’ve gotta do something with the manic energy, after all. You can’t just let it get pent up.

So the jarring reality that I’m a bipolarite for life is daunting when the future, that is me being in PT school, will allow for no slip-ups.

But I don’t want to talk about depression or hypomania or even mania. I want to talk about dysphoric mania because I don’t think it gets spoken about enough. I’m going through a little bit of dysphoric mania right now, luckily without any suicidality–but I feel down and want to cry but with the energy to do things (I didn’t want to come home from biking and would have biked all day if it weren’t for the fact that I’m married and have a husband who needs me. And if it weren’t biking, I would have wandered off somewhere else, likely blowing more money from my savings or going to bars or something. I really did not want to come home).

Depression gets enough attention. I believe most people have experienced some sort of depression throughout their lives, whether it’s situational or clinical. The percentage of people with bipolar disorder, however, is small (2.6%) and may be bigger since a lot of people don’t seek diagnosis for it or are often misdiagnosed because they are unable to grasp when they’re manic. In contrast, 6.7% of people experience a major depressive episode at least once in their lifetimes. But 15% of people will experience some form of depression. So while there are those out there who believe you need to suck it up, pull yourself by your bootstraps and move on, no one really talks about dysphoric mania because it is so unlike depression.

It is the type of mixture of mania and depression that can get you typecast as crazy.

It is the type of state that made me attempt suicide by trying to drink myself to death (I didn’t even get to the point of throwing up since you can drink so much more and be fine when you’re manic, but not like I knew that!) and being absolutely ambivalent that I failed. I did wind up, for the fifth time, in a psychiatric ward convinced I’d be healed of the mania by the time I got out. I’m so used to being more depressive than manic, but when I think about it, there was a time when I was hypomanic for three months when I was on Abilify, but it never ping-ponged because I was blissfully unaware. I simply thought I had developed a hyperthymic temperament. If I had been aware, my mood likely would have started undulating the way it has been.

In my normal depressive episodes, I wouldn’t have even had the energy to do something like that. Or it’s more like I wouldn’t have had the motivation. I could think about it, even make plans, but I never would have followed through with any of them because dying itself takes a certain amount of energy. But with dysphoric mania? All those dangerous impulses you’ve had cycling in your head are suddenly a manic hamster on a wheel, and you just choose the most appealing way of hurting yourself to stop the insanity.

Your flights of thoughts are not fun anymore. My flights of thoughts include biking, writing, studying, reading, writing, writing, writing, more reading, wanting to go out biking but it’s too late, listening to music on full volume pretty much all day, occasionally coloring, cooking, cleaning–there’s always so much to do, do, do, and never enough hours in the day. I don’t want to slow down. What is slowing down anyway? It’s all about speed! Also, sometimes impulsive spending. My bike was an impulsive purchase, but one I made knowing I still had plenty of money in my savings.

Yet, during dysphoric mania, the thoughts darken to slitting your wrists, drowning yourself, jumping from a tall building, drinking yourself into a stupor, doing something absolutely reckless that makes you high but also has the potential to kill you, speeding really fast while raging against all that is slow and crying that you’re like this and why do you have to be like this and wishing you were just plain-old depressed because when you’re down it’s actually burdensome to be full of energy and you wanna claw off your skin and cry while exclaiming everything is so wonderful and jump of a cliff while realizing you have a book to finish and–

My dysphoria today makes me feel down and sad, but it doesn’t preclude me from wanting to do something about the energy. That can be a blessing and a curse, but I made it a blessing because I went out and biked for several hours instead of hopping on over to a bar and drinking myself into a blissful slumber. I cried a little bit (tears mostly leaking from my eyes) when I found myself at a creek and started wading through it because the sadness is just so profound, but I got back on my bike and continued on a journey that was still thrilling. There were times throughout this little trek that Iwished I could bike so fast I’d go flying, so I took a few calculated risks to get that rush, but there were times that I did temper it when I came upon an especially rocky area that could damage both me and my bike.

I have been very fearless as of late. I know I’m still at it when I wake up in the morning and ask myself if I’d still like to go skydiving, and if the answer is yes, then I know I haven’t found my way back to the rational world.

Sometimes dysphoric mania, however, can leave you not wanting to do anything, so the energy is a winding buzz of caffeine x100 that makes you want to scream–so you sometimes do–and tear your skin off because all you want to do is sleep but you can’t without downing a higher prescription of your sleep medication than what you normally would take. It was this type of dysphoria that made me try exceedingly hard to die by overconsumption of alcohol.

It’s not fun. It’s moments like these that make me want to reestablish some semblance of normalcy. I’m going to be honest: Hypomania is absolutely fun, even with the rage and irritability. Mania itself isn’t so much because the energy is too much, and when you’re in a situation where you have to temper it (it’s much easier to control when hypomanic) you might appear bizarre to the people who know you: you cannot stay still so you pace or rock on your heels or snap your fingers, you’re not controlling your rapid speech, you’re an excess of you (my morbid sense of humor was slightly out of control when I was observing at the VA), you scream in your car to release some energy, you sing really loud to release some more, and when you are in a situation where you can indulge the energy, you’re looking for thrills that will tear the most out of you, even if you are aware you will look absolutely absurd.

You can also survive on much, much less sleep. I nearly went the entire night without sleeping but decided I should probably try because the energy was starting to become unbearable; however, I survived on roughly four hours of sleep without any issues. Even hypomanic I still have some sense to try and get in at least six or seven hours. Normally, I need more than that because the Seroquel takes longer to drain from my system, but it drains from my system within 30 minutes to an hour upon waking versus the three hours it normally takes so that I stop feeling groggy.

I get mixed at least once a week, sometimes more depending. Last Wednesday threatened to do me in with a mixed state, but I biked like a maniac and was able to ward it off. I even brought myself down to hypomania the next day from having done so. So of course I went out and bought my own bike. What a great coping mechanism!

I become a completely different person when I’m mixed.

Right now I am sad and want to cry and am silent and when I do speak it’s in bursts of short chatter, but I am also thinking about how much I freaking love mountain biking and my mind is obsessively fixated on practicing on the mountain biking trail at the Augusta Canal so I can then go mountain biking at Bartram Trail of Clark’s Hill and I desperately want to do it tomorrow but I also want to mark out the path I’m going to take to work and need to bike that so that way there are no screw-ups that make me late for work or put me in any kind of danger and I bought myself a mountain biking outfit that I’m really thrilled to get and really want to start a mountain biking club and–

And that is the state of my mind right now.

Some days I simply feel crazy.

 

 

Eulogy for My Cat

Eulogy for My Cat

It’s been another long while since I’ve blogged on here. My last post was July 13th, which was a mere week before my cat, Neko, had to be put down. That’s when the drive to tap into my limbic system just fizzled out. The words weren’t there. The feelings were overrun by ways of keeping myself distracted–throwing myself into my job and throwing myself into my schoolwork.

If you’ve never felt the affection of a pet, it’s hard to understand the despair you undergo. I’ve lost loved ones, but considering I didn’t even see them yearly, their passing was nowhere near as devastating as losing my cat. And I can’t know what it’s like to lose a child. I’m not interested in ever having children, but I can tell you the loss of my cat has left a deep crevasse in my heart so unscalable that crampons and miles of rope won’t help.

Some people like to think the love of an animal is shallow. They only enjoy your presence because you feed them. That’s not the case at all.

When I moved out, I didn’t take Neko with me because I didn’t want to force her into an environment she would be unfamiliar with, so I left her with my parents. Yet, even though my mom had always fed her, her affections were tied to me whenever I visited. Her audible purring was enough to let me know that my presence made her happy.

She was never a lap cat, but she always loved to be near me. And I’ve been using the excuse for so long that I don’t have enough time to write the third book in The Stars Trilogy, when, in reality, it’s been hard to write it because she is no longer here. I wrote the first two books with her always at my side. She was a constant fixture in my writing life, and writing, frankly, is not the same without her.

I have started the third book, of course, 500 words a day at a time, but my writing life feels so empty because she is no longer here to purr by my side, to lay on my notes, to beg for pets when I’m just trying to type something. Even when I moved out and left her with my parents I cried for a week because I missed having her near me so badly. I missed waking up and she wasn’t there to greet me. Eventually I accepted her absence, as I knew she was much better off with my parents. But it’s been five months since we had to put her down because she may have had stomach cancer, and accepting that she’s gone is not any easier.

I still cry a few days a week at night when I’m in bed by myself because my husband comes to bed a little later. And I always tell myself that if something ever came along and said it’d grant any wish in exchange for my soul, I would wish to have her back and have her live forever so that even when I pass, she can go on to bring someone else joy, and she can go on to keep experiencing the world in a different way with each person she lives with. Even as I type this it’s hard to keep back the tears.

I’m so bitter that she died too soon. She was twelve, and while some may argue that’s plenty, there are many cats who live a few years longer than that and some into their twenties. In fact, not only did we put my cat down last year, we also had to put down our little dog who got to live to be sixteen. And while I grew up with that little dog and spent more time living with her than without, her death just could not affect me the way my cat’s did.

You can bond with an animal the same way you can bond with a person, and it is so, so incredibly painful when that bond is severed by an untimely death that is so cruel and unfair. I wish I could believe suffering was meaningful, but it’s absolutely meaningless. I don’t know to what extent that she suffered–only that she did.

I can tell you that the day my mom and I put her down was the worst day of my life. And I’ve been run through the gamut of things.

Her death was so painful because she fought the vet every step of the way. She hissed and growled and spat, and I couldn’t even hold her as she fell asleep and they delivered the final injection that put her down for good. I screamed and cried and apologized to her all the while and couldn’t believe the nightmare I was experiencing. I cried the whole day. I cried for weeks after. What kept me together was just being distracted.

This world can be such a cruel joke, giving us the ability to feel so deeply that we’re paralyzed when our minds experience something inconceivable. And her death was and will always be inconceivable because why did I have to lose her so soon? How come I didn’t get to see her death miles away like I did with our little dog who was able to die of old age? We had another dog, too, who got to die of old age. And if my mom reads this, hopefully she won’t mind me admitting that she told me she would have preferred our little dog to go before Neko–and it’s only because she was old and showing signs of old age and Neko arguably was not old and was certainly not showing signs of old age. If she did have stomach cancer, it’s a type of cancer even young cats can fall prey to.

She’s occasionally in my dreams. Mostly I dream that she appears out of nowhere, as if her death was just a game of hide and seek. In these dreams, I hold her close to me and cry tears of joy that she isn’t truly gone. And then I wake up with a feeling of emptiness knowing that will never come true.

I do have moments where I want another cat. My parents have two cats now named Gracie and Tessa. Gracie’s a cuddle bug, and Tessa’s still new and so is distant from everyone, except when her and Gracie play. So I’m much more familiar with Gracie than I am with Tessa, and even though Gracie melts like putty when you hold her, I realize that my affections for Neko will never be replaced. I visit my parent’s house and yearn for her to appear out of nowhere. She’d probably be angry and jealous that I’m holding another cat, but I think she’d eventually warm up to the idea of living with two other cats and would hopefully become close to them.

I just wish I had more years with her. I thought one day I would be able to take her with me once my husband and I moved somewhere that accepted pets, but now that can never happen.

I’d like to be both more emotionally and financially available before considering adopting a kitty–and I’d want two so that they’re not alone when my husband and I are at work.

There’s no magic way of coping with the death of a pet. Being distracted was the best thing for me. I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to survive at work, but it’s the one thing that kept me going. I know if I didn’t have work to go to, I would have initially spent my time alone at home crying all day. I didn’t even think I’d have the emotional faculties to survive anatomy and physiology, but I’m so driven to achieve my purpose in life that I don’t think there is anything in this world that can stop me.

When there are moments when I can’t stand how horrible it is that she’s no longer here, I try to remind myself that I’ve got a lot of love in me to give to many a deserving cat out there. So I just have to keep chipping away at the obstacles in life in order to provide the best life for my future hypothetical cats. If there’s an expensive surgery that can mean the difference between saving its life or having to put it down, I want to have the means to be able to pay for that.

Before the vet claimed Neko may have had cancer, I thought she just hadn’t started eating yet because the antibiotics hadn’t fully cleared an undiagnosed infection from her system. Or she was just so stressed about being force fed that she couldn’t bring herself to voluntarily eat. I was willing, at that very moment, to dip into my savings and pay for her to have a feeding tube (the most expensive option) if it meant giving her the chance she deserved. I was not going to have her put down just because she wouldn’t eat. It wouldn’t have been fair to her. It would have just been too cruel. But whatever she was going through was far crueler.

It saddens me deeply when I think about how I couldn’t have ever possibly understood to what extent she felt the pain and misery of whatever illness she was infected with. It saddens me whenever I think about how scrawny she was on her very last day, how she had no energy, and how she barely meowed, even when I called her name. She was a normally chatty cat who loved to meow and purr and jump and run, and she wasn’t any of those things on her final day. It saddens me even more to think of what she must have been thinking as the vet held her down and stuck needles in her.

She hated the vet. Always did. She was a tyrant whenever we brought her, and the vet would have to wear gloves and need the help of a vet tech. So it was no surprise she reacted horribly when being put down. But it doesn’t make it sting any less. It just makes everything worse because she must have felt deeply betrayed.

If there’s an afterlife, and if there’s one for animals, I hope she knows how deeply remorseful I am that I couldn’t do anything for her. I hope she knows just how much I loved and still love her. I hope she knows that I wanted to do everything possible to save her, but at the end, there was nothing that could.

Mostly, I just want her to know that she was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. If it hadn’t been for a boy breaking my heart when I was a freshman in high school, my parents likely would not have adopted her. Then I would have missed out on so much by not having her in my life. And who knows what choices I would have made in life had I not had the influence of an affectionate cat? Because I know her love has made me a better person, and I want to keep existing in this world with her love influencing how I live my life.

I am who I am today because she influenced a part of me very deeply, just as there are many positive people in my life who have influenced me and guided all the decisions I’ve ever made.

And I promise to keep living with her positively influencing me.

Degrassi for Teens

Degrassi for Teens

All right, so I’m going to stick with blogging just once a week. Twice a week is arguably a bit much considering that sometimes when I get home from work, I want to do mindless activities–namely, watching television. I might work a five hour shift that day, but sometimes I’ll start early to either work on client programs, train clients, or even shadow a class for a fitness instructor who may want me to sub for them in the future. Since Thursdays are my off days, I’ll blog on this day.

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Since I write for teens, I thought it totally relevant to talk about one of my favorite television shows, Degrassi, a Canadian drama for teens (though not overdramatic like soap operas).

I began watching this show when it was Degrassi: The Next GenerationI watched it through middle school, high school, and a little bit through college before taking a long break from it, mostly because I began to float away from cable television and watch more television online. I only recently picked it back up because I saw that Next Class was on Netflix, and I was curious to see how this little gem had progressed.

I was not disappointed. I caught up on all four seasons and can’t wait for season five.

First, let me start off by talking about what’s so amazing about this series. If you saw 13 Reasons Why on Netflix, you’re likely aware of the controversy surrounding it. I enjoyed this miniseries and didn’t think it glorified suicide at all (I think I’ll write a separate post on this), but I do have to admit that it was an intense drama that seemed like it was trying to capture more of an adult audience.

Degrassi is entirely for teens with issues that are relevant for its time. There is no dramatizing issues for entertainment value. There is simply an exploration of issues to help teens understand themselves and feel less alone.

For example, Ellie Nash, one of the characters in this series, introduced the issue of self-injury, a coping mechanism she sought to use based on her tumultuous home life. While self-injury most certainly wasn’t and isn’t a new thing, addressing it as a problem was relevant during my time, as Next Generation is my generation’s Degrassi while Next Class is today’s teens’ Degrassi.

I can remember being a fourteen-year-old going through issues of her own and watching that scene and how sick I felt. Now as an adult (fully 27, far removed from being a teen) I don’t look at that same scene with as much horror because of my more objective perspective.

Don’t get me wrong. Self-injury is no minor matter, but it’s not this big, scary thing that it used to be now that we better understand its use as a coping mechanism. And Next Class masterfully handles this new perspective on self-injury when Zoe Rivas begins harming herself by digging her nails into her skin (Ellie cut).

Grace Cardinal discovers these moon-shaped marks on Zoe’s thigh and doesn’t immediately freak out and run to the counselor–as is what happened with Ellie when Paige found her. She addresses the problem right then and there since self-injury is not the hidden issue it used to be when I was a teen. There was no shame surrounding it, and as a result, we did not see any further incidences of self-harm among Zoe. Now this didn’t happen with Ellie, but there was more embarrassment surrounding her discovery than there was for Zoe.

Next Class addresses a lot of relevant topics. From the Syrian refugee crisis to dealing with post-abortion guilt (or lack thereof) to racism and micro-agressions, to the concept of stereotype threat, and how it’s not cool to be racist or homophobic anymore, it’s a show I can’t recommend enough for teens and parents of teens and writers of teen fiction.

I also love that the actors and actresses are fairly close in age to the characters they portray and not wildly a decade older than their fourteen-year-old character. Perhaps Canadian television is just different form American television in this aspect.

The beauty of Degrassi lies in its timelessness. There was totally a reunion episode in Next Class that brought back some of the character’s of my generation’s Degrassi. It was a joy to see some of these characters and how they progressed–and an even greater joy to reflect on these characters as as an adult.

I certainly watch Degrassi with a different set of lenses, ones that are more objective and filled with the knowledge that these characters’ struggles can be overcome. I find myself rooting for them and also wanting to tell them that their struggles are not endless. I especially related strongly to Maya Matlin, whose depression, suicidal ideation, and ultimately suicide attempt made me cheer for her the most.

As a teen, I would have agreed with her that the depression is unending. Even in my early twenties I would have greed with her! As an older adult with more perspective, I rejoice in her recovery with the knowledge that depression isn’t this horrible monster but another illness that needs treatment like any other one.

I could talk about this show forever, but I think as a writer, it keeps me on top of issues that are important for teens. Young adult fiction itself is a great vehicle for this, but I also have to remind myself that it’s largely written by adults. Degrassi, on the other hand, is most likely influenced by its young actors and actresses; thus, there is no purely adult perspective dominating the direction of this show.

Overall, this show, I think, is a staple in the canon of relevant teen shows. I honestly don’t think teens have enough quality options like that that don’t portray them as attitude-filled party animals.

 

My Return

My Return

It has been well over a year since I’ve been on this blog. I honestly did not think I was going to come back to it, not because I grew bored of it but because having a career is more time-consuming than school ever was. However, my book’s recent ranking (When Stars Die), the best it’s ever been (yeah, it’s free, but only because of the second book) was the kick in the pants I needed to get back to planning the third book–plus, this blog is still receiving views, so I’d be stupid to keep ignoring it.

Another reason why I wanted to drop my author platform entirely is because I also have a fitness platform. If you’re interested, you can find it here. I hadn’t the slightest clue how I was supposed to juggle both, but now I’ve accepted that this blog is enough and that I’ll simply pay for promotions so that way I’m not spending unnecessary time on social media trying to get my book noticed.

At this stage in my life, it’s just not feasible to devote even a slight ounce of my energy to social media. This blog will do just fine. I’m working almost 30 hours a week training clients and creating programs at my gym, like nutrition coaching; I’m back in school with the hope of getting into a physical therapy assistant program (so I’m actually devoting a lot of time to studying); doing continuing education for personal trainers; and trying to find time to do mindless activities, like watching anime.

I’m at a point in my life where sleeping in is a delicious luxury and sometimes waking up at 3:30 AM is slightly obscene but not nerve-wracking. I wouldn’t change things at all, but I’ll detail my journey later because it’s a good story of perseverance, and this blog has never been strictly about my books or even writing anyway.

The plan is to blog twice a week though I haven’t decided what days I’d like to do just yet. Expect two next week though.