Try, try again

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.

Rusted blade, broken heart

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.

It Never Ends

The stresses and the hits keep coming.

They never really end.

The punches to the gut keep coming.

They never really end.

When one thing’s over, three more begin.

When will the whole thing end?

Up and down and this and that,

They never really end.

Piles and piles of things to do,

They never really end.

I try to pick the pieces up.

But I cannot find the end.

Dropping balls and tripping up,

It never really ends.

High octane and low on fuel,

What happens if I end?

Shedding Light on My Darkness

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. ūüėČ More details as they come!

Almost Home

It’s 0432, and I’m at a friend’s house for the night, waiting for my husband to wake up so we can go the rest of the way home. So what’s an insomniac to do but write?

I tried to take a writing break during Estrella War, but my story started speaking to me again, and I couldn’t ignore it. This is after weeks of little to no progress on Book 3, so I’m glad the Muses decided to become chatty. Still, hand writing when you’ve pulled a muscle in your back (on your dominant side) isn’t exactly fun. I’ve already called out from work–well, texted out, I should say–and I foresee a heating pad in my future once I’m home… Possibly a doctor’s appointment. Depends on how much worse it gets. At the moment, I really don’t want to yawn, as I discovered last night that breathing too deep causes pain in the pulled muscle.

My feet hurt, too, as well as my legs, but it’s more of an ache from overuse of muscles that I’m not accustomed to using. You’d be surprised how many new muscle groups you will discover when you have to sludge through half a foot of thick, slippery mud for days on end. It actually got to the point where walking on dry land felt unnatural.

I’ve been tasked by my publisher’s publicist to find and book no less than three (preferably five) podcast appearances by mid March. I’ve had terrible luck getting responses, so that’s another thing I’m going to have to do once my laptop is unburied from the mess that is our car. I’ve enlisted the help of Twitter, whose #writingcommunity hashtag is a wealth of help and knowledge for newer authors like me, but I’m still going to do the “legwork” of searching podcast apps and contacting shows. It’s going to take a lot of my time, but I know it’s for my own good. I need to keep promoting ABNORMAL even though I’m working simultaneously on ESCAPE THE LIGHT and Book 3. An author’s work is never done, I guess.

I’ll be glad to get home. I miss my cats, miss my shower, miss my bed. I miss my house, my comfy couch, and all the things that I couldn’t take with to Estrella.

I wish that I had ventured out from camp more during the War. I was so miserable that I didn’t make enough of an effort to see friends that I rarely get to see or even to meet new friends. To my SCAdian friends, I apologize for not having much of a presence this War. I’d promise to make more events or something, but I’m still not sure what my mental state is following this “break” from work. I feel somewhat refreshed in the sense that, aside from a few frantic texts, I haven’t had to think about work in a week. However, that little twitch in my right lower eyelid is still there, and I still don’t know how I feel about getting back into attending more SCA events. I want to keep active, but I also need to take my mental health into consideration. That being said, I got some of the best hugs this past week, much needed and sorely missed.

Goodbye, Estrella War. Until next year.

Dry for now, but a mudpit to clean up later

Estrella War has been wet. It’s been damp and mucky and gross. I’ve escaped two nights in a row to sleep off-site in a warm bed. Tomorrow, however, we have to go back and clean up the mess that is our tent and pack up the car.

That means three hours in a car loaded up with mud-soaked items. It means sorting what can be saved and what is a wash. It means tomorrow is going to suck.

I tried to get stuff together today in preparation, but the task was too daunting for myself alone, and my husband was busy most of the day. Over half of our stuff is soaking wet, another third is damp, and a small sampling of the rest is salvageable.

I’m so done with this vacation. I’m done with the mud and the port-a-johns and the cold. What was supposed to be a relaxing break from work has been nothing but a mudpit. I enjoyed the time I spent with my SCA family, but overall it did nothing to destress me.

I’m going back to a slammed office, or at least I’m pretty sure I am. I’ve stopped receiving text messages from work, but it’s a mixed blessing. On the one hand, I’m not getting inundated with texts about work stuff while on vacation….on the other hand, I could be walking in to anything. Chaos could be awaiting me when I walk in the door….or it could be handled. Who knows.

I might end up going to my psychiatrist early after all. I can’t keep going at the pace I was and survive. War did nothing to relax me. It just keyed up different triggers.

I’m still writing. I’m still holding in there. But I’m not going to be able to hold in there much longer.

Can’t afford to heal the pains

Healthcare in the U.S. sucks donkey balls.

Here’s the thing: pharmaceutical companies are able to charge out the freakin’ nose for stuff that’s basically essential for physical and mental health. I called my insurance’s compounding pharmacy for a refill of the latest biologic my rheumatologist prescribed for me. They informed me it would be two¬†thousand¬†plus¬†dollars per¬†injection (a monthly injection). That’s almost twice my mortgage! Does the medicine work for the rheumatoid arthritis? Doesn’t matter. Can’t afford twice my mortgage every month, so I’m not getting it.

It’s crazy. Two. Thousand. Dollars. A month. Most people can’t afford that even without mortgage and credit card debt and utilities and gas to-and-from work and medical insurance and… point is, it’s excessive. It’s punitive. It’s the pharmaceutical company saying ,”Fuck you, if you can’t shell out more than minimum wage’s monthly salary, you’ll just have to be in pain.”

Add to that the fact that I need to at some point find a urologist and a nephrologist and see my psychiatrist and call my rheumatologist (do you get the “gist” of it?)…Yeah. Copay city. I could afford it if I tighten up some things, but it’s getting out of hand. Long story short, a person can’t afford to be sick in the U.S. these days unless they’re in the upper tax brackets.

It’s all just another series of stressors that are ripping my psyche apart these days. Work is stressful. SCA life is stressful (at least until my royal embroidery project is done). Work is stressful. I feel work needs an extra mention, because I’m so stressed at work that it’s causing me to burst into tears any time I stop. I mean, I go on break, and the slightest trigger has me crying. I leave work, and again, I’m sobbing. Basically, I’ve been operating at such high stress levels lately that as soon as I release any of it I’m a big ol’ ball of tears. I’m hoping that my upcoming week-long vacation from the office, combined with the surgeon’s upcoming week-long vacation next month, eases enough of the stress that I can get things done. If not, I’ll be back at the psychiatrist’s office before my scheduled follow-up…crying. Again.

I know I’ll get through it. I always do. But just knowing that it’s getting harder and harder to even afford to take care of myself is overwhelming. How am I supposed to get myself well enough to function if I can’t afford the things I need to get well?

This isn’t really a political post. I’m sure there are plenty enough of those out there that are better-informed than I am. This is just a rant, a scream into the nothingness to release that pent-up frustration and get it off my chest.

A Twitch in Time

As work gets more hectic and time ticks away to Estrella War–and with it, deadlines–there has been some other ticking of late…a tic in my right lower lid.

I know it’s likely stress-induced, and I know there’s not a whole lot to be done about it, so I’m tolerating it for now. The tic. Not the stress. I’m not tolerating that well at all. Sure, I hide it…sometimes. Sometimes, though, those who know me notice the pause before my response, the gritting of my teeth, the tension in my shoulders.

I bite my tongue. I choose my words with care. I pick my battles. But it’s starting to nip away at the edges. To fray my nerves. To unravel me.

Intellectually? I know I should make an appointment with my doctor. My psychiatrist. I should go and see him and tell him about the high-octane stress and see what can be done pharmaceutically, if anything, to ease some of it. Emotionally? I am afraid. I’m terrified that for the first time in over a decade I’ll have to be taken off work to readjust to new meds, to destress, to recenter myself.

Note I didn’t say I’d have to take time off work; I have no intention of taking time off voluntarily. But I’ve been removed from work by a psychiatrist in the past, and I fear that may be what’s necessary now.

I can’t afford it. I can’t financially afford it, and I can’t afford to leave my duties right now. There’s too much at risk for me to stop. The house. My job. So. Much.

Too. Much.

It’s all too much. And I don’t know what to do.

Sew obsessed (or, a weekend alone)

I know, I know, I’ve been a bad blogger. A bad author, even. I took a whole weekend off to myself, and I spent absolutely none of it writing. No blog posts, no Twitter hashtag games, no new progress on my WIP. I basically spent the weekend embroidering, with bits of eating and napping thrown in. I was a lump.

Today I’m back to the “real” world, the world of work and deadlines and what have you. So I’m back, for good or bad, until the next rare weekend off. Today I plan on doing the #amwriting hashtags, I plan on getting ready for work and going in and doing my job. I plan on adulting.

Not much adulting was achieved this weekend. I took some of the trash over to my parents’ house, emptied the dishwasher, put away the laundry….all at the last minute. Oh, and I ate a salad. One salad.

On the plus side, I’ve hardly thought about work at all. This is a good thing, because work is one of the main stressors in my life, and one that I can only do so much about. It’s not like I can take time off of work just to decompress (like I have been with the SCA). I have to go. That’s just all there is to it. Which sucks, because the stress in my life is showing, and one supervisor and an administrator both took me aside at separate times Friday to discuss how stressed I’ve been and how they can help. Fuck. I hate when the bipolar seeps out to where it’s visible. That’s no good.

I did some reading this weekend as well. 1,4,3 by Alicia Sophia, a fellow Askew author. It’s good so far, but I think I’ve come close to figuring out the ending, which sucks because I’m only halfway in. But who knows? Maybe she wrote it that way on purpose as a ruse. I could be surprised after all once I finish.

Lots of rest did my soul good, but I need to put back on the jet pack and hit the ground running today. Gotta work, gotta come home and write or embroider, gotta work on a lesson plan for the embroidery classes I’m going to teach at Estrella, etc etc etc. Got a lot to do, and less and less time in which to do it. Why do I do this to myself again?

I’ve also got the embroidery for Their Royal Majesties to finish before Estrella is over. I kinda was working on my own stuff mostly this weekend. Bad me. Stupid flighty brain. But again, it did me some good. Focus on me, have some “me time” where I’m doing things for myself.

I hope I don’t seem as stressed at work today. I don’t need another supervisor taking me aside and chatting with me about how stressed/distracted I am.

Soon I’ll be back to writing. After Estrella, maybe. Get serious about cranking out Book 3 and that fun collaboration with my Askew author friend Angelique Jordonna. Her book, Dani (which I’ve had the pleasure of reading ahead of release), is amazing, and I know our book will be amazing as well. Just gotta get that first draft out. Lol

Oh! One more thing: I found out that a Laurel was looking at the embroidery I did on my husband’s Viking hood and, from what he says, she seemed impressed, enough so that she said she wanted to talk to me about it. That makes me feel good, because while I did slack a bit on the timing of finishing it, I worked hard on that hood. Plus, it’s a good ego boost when a Laurel is impressed with your work. Here’s a look:

Guess that’s all the update I have. Time to get ready for the ol’ day job. Shower, get dressed, put on some semblance of makeup to pretty-fy myself. That kind of thing.

Oh, wait! I did a live streaming interview/roundtable with some other authors! That was cool af! Here’s the link to the YouTube recording (it’s an hour long, but it’s a fun watch).

Until the morrow, good readers!

Every cloud

This weekend has been nice. Low-key, home alone, and best of all: not sick as fuck.

I made myself retrospect a little too much, though. I was cruising Netflix, looking for something to watch, when I found a good movie. Silver¬†Linings¬†Playbook. Excellent flick, great acting….and maybe a little too real.

Being bipolar, I feel this movie on a visceral level. No, I’m not quite like Pat. Or Tiffany. Not really. I’ve never been hospitalized for my emotional state, never been that far off. But yeah, I’ve missed work over my mental state before. I’ve obsessed over failed relationships, I’ve written nutball letters/texts/emails to my exes, I’ve been the “backup.” I’ve slept around because my depression had me down, or because my mania had me horny. I’ve quit taking my meds more than once. So maybe I’m bits of Pat and Tiffany. I’m Piffany.

I’ve been doing okay for a while now. Well, mostly okay. I mean, I get depressed sometimes. I get manic. I’ve been on an embroidery kick this weekend, and I’m pretty sure it’s not completely deadline-induced. I’m probably manic. I mean, I’m tearing through these embroidery projects, stopping briefly to eat or go to the bathroom or take a catnap. But mainly I’ve been embroidering. To the point of dry skin and calluses on my fingertips.

The whole Pat thing happened to my brother a few years ago. Not the beating-a-man-almost-to-death thing, but the bad ending to a bad relationship that ultimately resulted in him being committed. I won’t go into it too much here, because it’s his story not mine, but it was scary to watch.

It was even scarier knowing that our great-grandfather died of psychosis. “Exhaustion in the progression of psychosis”–that was the CoD on his death certificate. He was so fucking crazy it killed him.

Since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder before my brother was, I always assumed that was my eventual fate. Then my brother got diagnosed, and combined with his substance abuse issues he’s way worse off than me. He had his psychotic break in his mid-40s….the same age good ol’ Great-Granddad was when he died.

My brother didn’t die. We’ve got better meds now, better tech, better treatments. But guess what? This year I turn 40. Now, like I said, I’m not as bad off as my brother. So I’m not necessarily on a timeline here. The past doesn’t have to repeat itself. Maybe my brother’s incident was the repetition, and I’ll be passed over. Like the Christian thing. I dunno–I’m not the religious type. But maybe I don’t have to dread my mid-40s. Maybe I don’t have to go go go, to push myself so much, to worry about whether or not I’ll make it long enough to do the things I want to get done.

I want to finish my sci-fi series. I want to finish the collaboration I’m working on. I want to learn more about making garb and clothes and embroidery and get good enough at researching it all to become a Laurel. I want to learn more rapier techniques and practice enough to be good at them. And I want to lose this weight I’ve gained. I want so many things, and I think the back of my brain is telling me “You’ve got a few years left. Five, six max. You need to hurry up. You need to get your shit together while you have the mental capacity to do it.”

I gotta get that out of the back of my head. I gotta tell myself that there’s no deadline to insanity, that it’s not written. It’s not predestined. I don’t have to go crazy. I can stay sane, stay mostly stable, stay me.

I also have a secret weapon: my husband. Even if I do go crazy, I have him to keep me alive, to keep me from going so far down the hole that I can’t crawl back up.

That’s it. That’s my silver lining. That’s my ace in the hole.

Five or six years. I pass that, and I win. I beat history.