Today marked a big day in my SCA life, and it made me think about my personal life as well.
Today marked the day when I knew I’d never be a Defender of the White Scarf. Not that I was thinking I would be one, but I thought I might eventually have a chance. If I practiced hard enough, if I worked hard enough, y’know?
Then I got to thinking about why I stopped practicing. Why I stopped trying. Why I don’t really try to do much of anything physical anymore. And then it hit me: I’ve gotten too big. Really big. Uncomfortably big. Like, sometimes I wonder if it’s going to kill me big.
I need to do something about it.
I need to stop when I get hungry and decide if I’m really all that hungry. I need to try to get more active. And, much as I hate the idea, I might need to talk seriously with a doctor about gastric surgery. Like, dead serious.
At five feet ten inches, I am almost three hundred pounds. I might be that by now–I’m afraid to get on a scale right now. I don’t want to know. I think I’ll break down in tears if I find out.
Something has to change, though. This can’t keep getting worse.
I’m tired of being the fattest person in the room. I’m tired of not being able to breathe when I try to put on my shoes or something. I’m tired of being hungry all the time. I’m tired of seeing myself in the mirror and wanting to puke. I’m tired of seeing myself tagged in photos online and trying not to cry at how I look.
I don’t know if today’s the day that things will change. I don’t know if I’ll ever crawl out of the hole I’ve gotten myself into. It’s gotta change sometime, though, if I’m going to survive. If I’m going to accomplish the things I want to do. I need to do an about-face, and I need to do it fast.
I was on samples of a medicine that worked great for my anxiety. Then the doctor prescribed the full strength dose…. and the pharmacy didn’t fill it. And they didn’t fill it. And they didn’t fill it.
I asked why I didn’t have the med yet. Their answer? My insurance required a prior authorization from the doctor. Okay, cool. He’ll fill it out and it’ll be approved and I’ll get my medicine.
Nope. The initial prior authorization was denied. So the doctor was going to write a letter of appeal to the insurance company. In the meantime, his receptionist said I could pick up two weeks of samples again.
But my tricksy mind got to me. It said, “Well, what if the appeal doesn’t work? Then what do you do? You can’t have samples forever; they’ll run out, and you’ll be back to square one.” And stupid me listened to my brain and didn’t pick up the samples.
This was last week (I had been off the medicine, which has a 72-hour half life, since April 3), and this week started off terrible at work. The office was super busy, someone had called out, and my stress levels were through the roof.
Yesterday morning I woke up stressed. I was anxious about getting to the doctor to get those new samples , because maybe two weeks of sanity is better than nothing. That, and I wanted to cut. Like, REALLY wanted to. I didn’t, but the urge was there.
I tried stopping by the doctor’s office on the way to work, but they were closed. I tried calling, thinking maybe I could leave a message. The longer I went without hearing from him, the worse I felt.
I texted my boss and asked if someone could cover the one afternoon patient while I went to Urgent Care (which is what the doctor’s recorded message says to do if you don’t hear from him). I didn’t want to go to Urgent Care, but I knew I needed to do something or else I was going to go over the edge.
Why was I afraid of going to Urgent Care? Because I had convinced myself that if I go to Urgent Care for any kind of mental health issue, I’ll be committed. No passing go, no collecting $200. That is a tremendous fear of mine, and for most of the morning I felt the weight of that fear crushing me.
After a hectic morning (or maybe it wasn’t really hectic–maybe that was just my skewed perception) of working and playing phone tag with the doctor’s receptionist, I finally got my new samples. Full dose, two weeks’ worth.
I took one as soon as I got it, but alas, they’re not instant acting pills. I felt relief at not having to go to Urgent Care, but I still felt wrong.
I was still a little scared. I was still not thinking clearly. All I could think about was how close I might have come to ending up in a psych ward.
It’s a little better now. I don’t feel like I’m going to lose my shit at the moment.
Tomorrow will be a long day. My goal is to survive it and make it to the next day.
It’s pretty sad when you view survival as a goal, not a given.
Well, right now, in my mind, the little things apparently matter–in a big way. I’m talking about all the little things that people say that might be well-intended but get skewed in perception.
Here’s the thing: I commented on a post in the writing group I’m part of. Big mistake. Really big mistake.
The OP (original poster) was talking about how if you want to be a best-selling author you need to think like a best-selling author and treat your writing like the job it is. Okay. Fine. But what about the job I have that pays the bills? What about the few real-life friends I have? What about my physical and mental exhaustion? Did the OP have any advice for me on that?
Not really. I was basically told that, since the SCA is not 100% necessary (like the job obviously is) I need to reevaluate my commitments to it (and, of course, the people in it). Okay. I kinda get that, but the OP fails to realize that the SCA is my only source of real-life friends outside of the one or two friends I have at work. So….to succeed I need to give up having friends?
Yeah, that’s how my brain works. But that’s not the best part. It gets better.
The OP also told me to “schedule” writing time and “prioritize” it. Okay. But I kind of already do that. Unless I have an urgent embroidery project (oops! there’s that pesky SCA thing again), my insomniac mornings are spent on writing, editing, and marketing my writing through social media interactions. So, yeah, I schedule writing time in a manner of speaking. I prioritize it by choosing that over trying in vain to go back to sleep. I spend hours on this. Almost every day. Probably cumulatively more time than I spend at work, when I think about it. I can easily be awake for 5-6+ hours in the morning before getting ready for the day job, and I spend a lot of weekend free time on writing as well. Hell, sometimes I sneak a little modern day into the SCA events by using my phone for Twitter interactions and Instagramming and yeah, I even bring my laptop on camping events so I can hotspot my phone and–you guessed it!–work on writing, editing, and marketing.
But my brain’s not done yet. No sirree. My brain had to tell me that the OP was singling me out. He had to have been picking on me. Insulting me. Telling me that I will fail if I don’t do the things the way he says to do them. That’s what my brain got out of that.
So that’s the worst of it, right? I got over it, calmed down, recentered my perception and got out of my own way?
Nope. I went full-on psycho paranoid ultrasensitive bitch.
I worded my response carefully, or so I thought. I didn’t bite back, even though I felt attacked. I kept it calm. Or did I…..?
Guess not, because the next day, the OP wrote another inspirational/motivational/well-intended post, this time about excuses.
Oh, shit. There goes my mind again.
Clearly he’s writing about me. Clearly he’s targeting me in this verbal assault. I’m obviously the sole inspiration for this outrageous insult. When I was asking for advice on how to deal with all that’s going on in my life, I was obviously making excuses and thus the new post was born.
I’m trying to tell myself it’s not personal. Or at least, if it is personal, it’s meant to help not harm. I am trying.
Oh, shit again. There I go. Using “try.” (The OP also posted about taking “try” out of one’s vocabulary today. Yeah. Today was a two-fer.)
I’d say that it’s a neurochemical shitstorm (ooh! I like that phrase–sounds better than “off my rocker”) in my brain right now, what with the medicine that helps me de-stress and not think this way being denied by my insurance, but I don’t even know where mind and matter separate at the moment. I don’t know where the line is. I don’t even know if there’s a line anymore. My mind is twisting everything I read to be an affront against my person, and I don’t know how to stop it.
I was better in my outward reaction today. I bitched to one or two people privately, but I didn’t comment on his posts. I kept my fat mouth shut. What does it matter, anyway? He’ll just twist my words around to make everything that’s wrong with my life my fault and I’ll feel even shittier than I already do. Best to leave it alone.
One of these days–maybe not soonish, but some day–I’ll even out. I’ll stop taking every little thing personally. Until then, though, I’d better retreat. Back into the shell you go, personality. Back in there before you screw something else up.
It’s been one of those mornings. Motivation and morale are low, and those pesky brain gremlins are creeping in.
You know the ones: they’re the little parts of your brain that don’t think you can do it. Doesn’t matter what “it” is; they try to tell you you can’t. Or they try to convince you not to even bother.
Interact with followers and writing community on Twitter? Nah. Waste of time.
Try to get some writing in? You know you’d rather sit here staring into space.
Get up off the couch and do some chores? But you’re so warm and comfortable…
It seems that for every productive suggestion I have, my brain gremlins have a counter point. They’re weak counter points at best, but the gremlins are stronger some mornings. Today’s one of them.
The gremlins are trying to convince me to go back to sleep until it’s time to get ready for work. They’re trying to tell me to watch a bad B movie on Netflix, or to just stare into space because what’s the difference? It’s all an endless cycle of self-hatred, depression, and darkness. Why bother?
There’s stuff I could be doing. Cleaning the kitty litters, emptying the dishwasher, putting the laundry in the dryer through a de-wrinkle cycle before I get ready for work, writing, etc. I mean, I’ve got a good hour at least before I have to get serious about getting ready. So why can’t I get myself to start any of these?
Oh yeah: the gremlins.
Like the Bugs Bunny cartoons of old, gremlins are known for sabotaging things. Brain gremlins are no different. They want to sabotage your life…but to what end?
It’s hard to determine the motives of the brain gremlins. They certainly can’t have anything to gain by making you feel down, depressed, or just plain done with life and all its hassles. But maybe gremlins don’t need motives; maybe they are just malicious little creatures. Tiny little malignancies in the thought process that seep in and spread like a cancer.
That’s not to say I haven’t accomplished anything this morning. I made myself an energy drink (no creamer, so no coffee this morning), took my pills, and made and ate some breakfast.
Pills. That’s why the gremlins are out in full force today. I forgot to call my doctor’s office to see about the authorization for my new mood stabilizer. It’s a newer drug on the market, so the insurance wants the doctor to jump through hoops to get it approved for me. It sucks, because I ran out of the sample doses last week, and the anxiety has been creeping back in its absence. Perhaps the brain gremlins sensed the lack of medication and descended in full force to thwart my efforts to be a productive member of society this morning. (Well, at least a productive member of the household.)
At the very least I’ll get the laundry fluffed and the litters cleaned. Maybe the dishes put away. But writing? No, the gremlins have too firm a hold on my brain at the moment. I can’t wrestle my creativity free of their crusty little claws.
I wish I had advice for other gremlin-sufferers right now. Something inspirational that will scare the gremlins away, or maybe keep them in hiding for the most part. Sadly, I have no such advice. I’m still battling those demonic little buggers myself.
Some day those gremlins will be quiet. They’ll stop telling me there’s no point, that I’m not good enough, or whatever such nonsense they cook up. For now? I guess I’ll just figure out which task is next and work through them one at a time.
You won’t win the day, gremlins. Maybe you’ve won the past few hours, but you won’t win the day.
Okay, so Pixabay didn’t exactly have an image with a woman in scrubs, a woman in casual clothes, and a woman in SCA garb all together. Let’s just pretend that’s what’s going on in the above picture.
This weekend, I decided to take a mini vacation from both my day job and my writing. I needed that small break (and besides, yesterday, if you remember, was my anniversary). The SCA event we went to was not as relaxing as I had hoped, though, and I’m getting back to that feeling of “obligation” moreso than “hobby” or “volunteering.” It was like okay, I agreed to do the thing so I’ll do the thing, but what I really wanted to do was spend the day with my husband.
It would have been okay, but he got busy with autocrat stuff (he’s co-hosting an event in a couple of months) and I got a rash from the grass at the site and ended up falling dead asleep in the car for a good solid hour courtesy of the Benadryl I took. I barely saw him all day, and for our anniversary dinner he invited a lot of people, so it wasn’t as intimate as I would have liked for our anniversary. In fact, he sat with his back slightly turned playing host to the friends at his side of the table for most of the meal.
I discussed with him afterwards, told him I would rather celebrate our anniversary in a more intimate setting, and I told him that, even though our SCA “anniversary” tends to fall on the same weekend as our wedding anniversary, I’d like to keep the two separate.
Next weekend we have another two events. The weekend after is technically free, but I’ll likely be doing the embroidery for my good friend’s elevation to the Order of the Pelican because, well, the elevation is the very next week.
I’ve also got embroidery to do for my belting to my soon-to-be Peer, a Laurel I both admire as an artisan and as a friend. There’s also an art exchange gift that I need to finish before my belting–both of which are due the week after the elevation. Then, when all that is caught up, I need to finish the embroidery project that I’ve been working on for the past four or five months for Their Majesties….who will no longer be ruling by the time I get finished but who have told me that my friend’s elevation project comes first.
So, long story long, I have ended up with a third job in the midst of all this. The SCA is becoming obligatory instead of just fun.
Don’t get me wrong; I like doing the embroidery. I like when people take note of and enjoy my work. But it IS work, so I have to once again force myself to slow down and reflect on my priorities.
Day job (gotta pay the bills)
Writing (which I hope will some day assist in the payment of the bills)
Sanity (yes, I do need to include this in my list)
SCA events and activities
I don’t want to stop altogether. I like my SCAdian friends and family… I just need more of a balance.
In pursuit of that goal, I picked some Fridays next month to sign up for the live stream Writer Imperfect, where I get to chat with other authors and answer questions about what little I know about the publishing world. I still have an event in May, but it’s just one event. Those three Fridays are for my writing career.
I’ll survive. I always do. But my survival hinges more and more on me standing up for my needs and voicing my concerns when I get overbooked. And speaking of booking, I should try to get some writing time in today….
So it’s been almost a week since I started the new bipolar med, and it’s got mixed results. I mean, I’m not feeling the sky-high levels of stress and anxiety that I was feeling before, but at the same time…I’m not feeling as much of anything.
Stress levels are down–which is great–but my give-a-shit-o-meter has crashed. I just don’t care. Ten-hour day on my feet with a fifteen minute lunch? Eh. Forgot to get my lab work done before my appointment today? Whatever. Probably going to get yelled at by my rheumatologist for not taking the $2k-a-month medicine she prescribed? Shit, she yells at me all the time anyway. Like it’s my fault the RA isn’t under control–try prescribing something that doesn’t cost more than my mortgage, lady.
I even didn’t get that upset when I threw up my breakfast yesterday. It was like “Okay, this is happening. I’ll just hold off on eating anything else until I’m sure my stomach is settled.”
Don’t get me wrong; I’m extremely grateful that the stress and anxiety are almost completely gone. That part’s great. But I gotta admit, it concerns me a bit that I’m not, well, concerned. I’m just rolling through life, doing what I need to do. I’m pretty sure there’s going to be backlash on that at some point. Things can’t be this smooth without some bumps along the way.
Oh well. I’ll take the bumps as they come. I’m handling things much better now. I don’t get the all-consuming sense of being overwhelmed by what I have to do. My interest in my interests hasn’t 100% come back yet, but I’m getting there. Got a new short story in the works, got Book 3 moving along–at a snail’s pace, but it is moving–and I’ve got the embroidery that I’m slowly getting knocked out.
Speaking of which, I should probably work on that while it’s nice and quiet. I’ve got most of today to work on it, but there will be that 3-4 hour period where I’m off to my appointment where I can’t embroider. (I feel weird embroidering in the doctor’s office).
On the advice of many, many people, I went to my psychiatrist yesterday (a month earlier than scheduled) and talked to him about all the stress I’m under. New medicine acquired, old medicine discarded, and now we play the waiting game.
Basically I have a month to adjust to the low dosage of the new med (which totally sounds like an alien species) before I get the full dose filled. There are a few bonuses to this new med:
No known weight gain side effects
Long half-life, so once I’m on the higher dose I’ll only have to take it Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays
Teeny little capsule, so not a huge gag issue
The med is soon-to-be-approved for bipolar depression, so that’ll help with that side of things, but I am dubious as to the anxiety/stress benefits of the med. If it’s supposed to help with depression, will it also help these other things? We shall see, I guess.
Speaking of bipolar disorder, I’m slated to appear on a podcast called Speak Your Mind, which is a mental health podcast. I know, I know, it’s not my usual book/writing podcast venue, but the host is excited to talk about Abnormal and my writing in addition to discussing mental health issues in my life and in society as a whole. More info to come on that once I’ve gotten a date scheduled. We had a good, long chat the other night, so I’m hopeful that someone listening in gets some benefit out of hearing my story and my struggles.
I try not to get too political about mental health, but let’s face it: mental health is widely ignored by insurance companies and even more widely stigmatized in society as a whole. I think back on the work that Carrie Fisher did to try to destigmatize mental illness, and I think this is one cause I can get behind, not only because it directly affects me but also because it affects such a wide range of people, and not enough people talk about it. Maybe one day, when I’ve hit the NYT bestseller list, I can have the kind of influence where my experiences make a difference.
Yes, I have a mental illness. Yes, I have bipolar disorder. Yes, I take medicines to be “normal.” No, I’m not crazy.
It’s my own fault, I suppose. I stopped practicing and fighting rapier because depression got the better of me, and now the rapier community in my Kingdom has all but forgotten me.
My husband gave up on rapier long before I did. He quit bringing his gear long before I did. But I’m a nonentity, a no one, so while he gets people asking him what gives, I get silence (save for a few steadfast friends who always ask where I’m at).
I don’t know. Maybe I’m not approachable. Maybe I hide off to the side too often, and people assume it’s where I want to be. Maybe they don’t know how much it hurts to think that almost no one cares if I’m out there or not.
Do I put on too good of a show? Have I hidden the pain that well? So few people seem to acknowledge my existence beyond a smile and a nod. I get a rare hug from someone outside my circle. I don’t get invited to stuff (except tangientially, as an extension of my husband or friends), and I often wonder if I ever cross people’s minds when I’m not there.
The worst part is he doesn’t realize how much it hurts me when he goes on and on about it. About how so many people talk to him and chat with him and I’m over here like “Hey, I exist too. I’m a person. I’m a rapier fighter.”
Have I lost that part of my identity? Am I perhaps no longer a rapier fighter? If not, then what am I? I’m not an artist until my husband shows off my work. I’m not a leader, not a helper, not anything. I just float along on my husband’s coattails, clinging to the hope that one of his friends will think I’m worth talking to.
I think I need to go to bed now. I’m clearly not thinking right. I’m getting emotional over something silly. Maybe these people do give a shit. Maybe they just think I don’t need conversation or comraderie or anything other than a smile and a nod.
Bipolar disorder sucks, but it’s livable given the right access to good mental healthcare and the right combination of therapy and pharmaceuticals. Why am I bringing this up now? Well, I’m in talks to, er, talk on a podcast about mental health issues. I was introduced to the podcast by a fellow bipolar author, and it seems like a good fit. I have mental health issues that I have to deal with on a daily basis; they’re a show about mental health.
I talk about mental health a lot here, about my stresses and stressors and stressing out in general, but I want to make it known that you can fight the demons inside and live in the world outside at the same time. It just takes a lot of effort.
It also takes admitting that you need the help.
Hopefully my appearance will help others realize that they don’t have to be holed up in their own little world of demons, suffering through hell on a daily basis. Hopefully it will help them realize that there are options and avenues for relief. And hopefully they’ll realize that they can’t give up after a few things don’t work; they have to keep trying until they find the right combination of therapies for them.
I’d say more, but that would be potential spoilers for the show. 😉 More details as they come!