Archive for November, 2014

Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of dealing with depression, particularly chronic depression, is seeking treatment.

There’s a stigma with mental illness and that stigma gets multiplied and added to any conventional treatment. Antidepressants are derided, whether it be through hushed whispers about ‘happy pills’ or those who have never faced true darkness simply hand waving the depression away. “If only she would eat a paleo diet and run twenty miles a day…” It’s an exaggeration, and yet with depression, that’s exactly what every dietary/exercise suggestion sounds like.

The implication, whether the person realizes it or not, is that it’s my fault somehow. I’m not strong enough, smart enough, fast enough, positive enough, optimistic enough, committed to my health enough. I’m not enough. I’m a failure. I’m broken because I broke myself somehow. I am unworthy. I am small. I am weak. I need medication. I can’t find medication.

Something about me is broken and it’s my fault.

As with anything there’s a kernel of truth. I live in a fallen world with sin and we’re all broken on some level, just my brokenness shows up in the form of an impossible darkness.

And from there I get a lot of “You just need to have faith in Jesus.” I used to wonder what that meant because the truth is, it’s my faith that gets me up in the morning and gets me to take care of my children. So far God has done nothing about this weight on my shoulders and I honestly don’t know if he will. In America we like to think all our problems can be solved because we can get a cheeseburger down the road or drive to Whole Foods and buy organic kale and vaccines work so well we think they must not have worked at all.

11 19 11_1540God doesn’t work like that, I say. No one listens. Because the idea that one might have to live with a wound that hurts for the rest of one’s life is too much to bear.

I know because I bear it and there are many moments I don’t know if I will make it to the next one.

It’s a lonely road to commit oneself to the path I’ve chosen. Naturopaths are swindlers and alternative medicine is a scam 99% of the time. Pharmaceutical companies aren’t altruistic, so I find good doctors, the ones that want to help. That doesn’t stop people from suggesting supplements and acupuncture which I smile graciously and don’t bother with. It’s too easy to get sucked into a world where my idol is health. I’ve made a decision as to what I will try and what I won’t try and it’s based on my faith and what I believe about God and salvation. It’s more complicated than I can explain on a blog post and more personal than I would want to share in public anyway.

I’m very tired these days. Maybe it’s the winter. Maybe it’s one more medication that hasn’t worked but has given me frustrating side effects. Maybe it’s a depression that dogs my every step and has haunted me since I was a child.

Maybe it’s the loneliness of realizing that no matter how much help I ask for, it’ll never be enough because no one else can fight my demons.

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Yesterday I hit 50k. I wrapped up my novel because the truth is, if I decide to revise, I’ll be expanding that way. There’s a lot of thin parts where I came to scene and then realized I didn’t know where it needed to go, so I jumped to the next one. I haven’t decided if I’m going to revise. I don’t write fluffy books. For me, writing is cathartic for my depression. It is a way for me to put my struggle in a tangible form and that makes my writing something that exposes me a great deal. Not to mention it makes my stories dark because depression is dark and it’s messy. I sanitize a lot of my experience for other people primarily because I’m not sure how someone will take it. It’s exhausting to be vulnerable with another person and then have them respond callously. It makes me feel incredibly “other” and alone. It is, unfortunately, something that happens a good bit of the time. People don’t mean to be, they just don’t understand. When I’m in a better place, I can cope through and help educate someone how to interact with me (and hopefully others like me).

Winner-2014-Twitter-Profile

But, that means my novel is much darker than I think most people would expect and so if I do revise, I’ll probably publish under a pen name and tell virtually no one I know that I wrote a book.

However, it does feel good to have hit 50k. I feel like I accomplished something for me.

And Jamberry? I decided to start selling it. Jamberry is something else I do because of my depression. Sometimes, when things hurt so much I can’t breathe, I steal away to a quiet place in my house and I do my nails. I pick colors and then whenever I’m out and feeling overwhelmed, I look at my nails and while I don’t feel happy, I feel a little better. So I wanted the discount :) I guess that means I’ll have to update my Jamberry review post to say that I’m selling because I like to be transparent. I don’t know if I’ll ever have more than a few parties, but at least I’ll be able to keep up with my therapeutic habit.

 

Halfway to 50K (Notes from NaNo)

Posted: November 12, 2014 in NaNoWriMo
Tags:

I managed to hit 25k three days before the middle of the month.

This year’s experience has been significantly different for me. Usually I agonize through the first half. I groan, I moan, I wonder why I’m doing this. I check my word count obsessively to see if I’ve hit the magical 1,667. Then when I get halfway, I sail on to the end with slightly less stormy waters. This year though, I plowed through, no rain clouds anywhere to be seen. Then last night I realized the story I thought I was telling isn’t the story I’m actually telling.

Cue a writing crisis.

I started plotting out this story a couple of months ago. It started with a very simple idea and I thoughtfully added a few more details. In the past I’ve had a detailed outline and this year, life is so crazy, that I settled for a sketch. I knew the characters, I knew the setting, I knew in general what I wanted to say, and I knew how it would end. I tweaked up until NaNo started and then I dove in.

I haven’t been afraid this time to make changes on the fly. I originally had my “voice” be a third person limited from my female protagonist’s point of view. I didn’t like her voice though. So next scene I switched to my male protagonist and I discovered that he’s the one sailing this ship. This isn’t her story, this is his story.

Last night I realize that the story I thought I was telling about him isn’t the one I’m telling about him. That means my second half is going to look significantly different from my first half and I’m already having heart palpitations with regards to revising. There’s going to have to be significant rewrites. I’m starting think this is going to be another novel that sits on my hard drive untouched.

That said, I intend to finish. I guess I didn’t quite expect my big wall to show up when I reached the top of the mountain.

50K or bust!

My paternal grandmother was known for her lack of skepticism. There was a saying in our family – “If the snake oil man is in town, she’s buying.” She insisted every time I saw her that she was getting better even though she clearly wasn’t. Perhaps she hoped sheer willpower would save her life but as I often pointed out to her, even if she’d magically been cured of her ailments, at 70+, she was on the wrong side of spry.

I used to think that getting taken in by charlatans was something only people on the fringe and a little unhinged tended to do (my grandmother used to also talk about the Bildebergs and something about global domination). However, as I’ve become more vocal about my position on vaccines (I’m for, very for, 100% for), I’ve noticed that people I consider relatively put together are buying into the weird, wild world of conspiracies. They’ll whisper to me about vaccines with things like, “Don’t you know what’s IN them?!” (I do, thank you, which ingredient would you like to discuss?) or “They cause autism!!” (for the 800 bajillionth time, they don’t. They don’t. They don’t. Stop it). In fact, I could list a dozen more but every single one of them is based on fear and misinformation.

So the next time you read an article on the internet, ask yourself these questions:

1. Is there a store?

Every single nutjob site out there that posts nutjob articles has a store. Mercola has a store. NaturalNews has a store. Tenpenny has a store. Seriously, I went to every one of these pages just to tell you for sure that they have a store. This is a red flag. It doesn’t mean they’re wrong (that would be a logical fallacy) but it does mean you should eye their information a little more carefully. Mercola, for example, sells a 30 day supply of his “Premium Immune Support” package for $69.97 that is put together based on claims from articles on his own website. Do you know how much my flu shot cost me? $0. If they are telling you something is bad but then offering to sell you something good, that is a red flag.

Calvin & Hobbes Natural

2. Do they cite their sources?

NaturalNews is notorious for citing themselves as a source. They’re so hilariously wrong 99.9% of the time that I wonder why they haven’t been categorized as a comedy site. However, for kicks, I’ve debunked their articles for friends because I can’t let that crap just go unanswered. When I manage to dig out their sources (by having to do my own google search), all I find are twisted words and lots and lots of lies. Occasionally they’ll have a link to a scientific study that usually doesn’t say what they think it says. So check the facts.

3. Google the title of the article.

I’ve found that crazy nutjob articles are usually only reposted on other nutjob sites, very rarely do they ever see the light of mainstream media. I’m not saying that this is the litmus test (all of these suggestions should be used together). What I’m saying is, if Mercola is posting it and then it’s NaturalNews and then it’s Whale.to, you probably have a tabloid article on your screen.

4. Does it make any logical sense?

This seems obvious and yet I see the stupid onion article posted and reposted so clearly people are not asking themselves this last question. Why the hell would an onion suck the virus out of the air? If you really think it’s plausible look for the science behind it. Or at a minimum, please check Snopes. But just stop yourself and think “Does it make sense?” For example, all the claims made about vaccines boil down to having to believe that pharmaceutical companies are paying off all the scientists in the world. The entire world. Look, I know Big Pharma can be shady and I know they rake in a lot of money, but it makes more sense that they rake in the dough for things like Viagra and Cialis and painkillers than they do on vaccines (and truthfully vaccines make up less than 2% of their revenue). Where are the Facebook posts telling me Big Pharma is giving everyone erectile dysfunction?

This is by no means a comprehensive list. In fact, I recommend the less snarky post here. My point is, before you repost, before you whisper it to a friend, before you claim it as fact, check yourself. Make sure your source is good.

Oh. And get your flu shot if you haven’t.

Past 10k (Notes from NaNo)

Posted: November 5, 2014 in Life, NaNoWriMo, Writing
Tags: , ,

Day 5. 12,000 words.

I’m really surprised by how well this year is going. The previous two years that I participated left me struggling each day to get to the recommended word count. I constantly checked my count to see if I’d reached the coveted 1,667 words for the day. I wrote each word with a level of anxiety that I would describe as often story-breaking. I had every judgment in the book floating around in my head. It didn’t matter that I knew that no book comes from a writer’s fingertips in pristine, publishable condition. No, despite knowing that I agonized over every sentence.

I pretty much expected the same this year. And I had it, day one… day two… paranoia set in. I was ready for it. I pulled out all of my therapy skills (thank you awesome therapist) and I got down to business. Inner critic started yammering? Non-judgmental stance. My story is neither good nor bad, it simply is and it is a first draft. I kept taking my thoughts back there every time she reared her ugly head to tell me about all the ways my story was crappy. I came to this fight expecting to battle her at least until 25k.

Imagine my surprise to find that she’s decided to (mostly) shut her trap.

I don’t know if this will be the novel. Y’know, the one I decide to endure a myriad of rejection letters for (or the one I decide to self-publish). I do know I feel very differently about this story in the past. Whether that’s me getting a grip on my DBT skills or if that’s because it’s just a better story, I can’t tell you.

But here I am. 12k in and looking forward to the halfway mark. See you then.

Today was the first day of National Novel Writing Month. It’s my third time doing it.

All in all, I’m off to a decent start. My goal for the weekend is 5k and I’m at 2100 words. Not too shabby and yet a long way from 50k. I’ve done it before (twice) and I have no reason to think I can’t get there again barring unforeseen events like maybe aliens (aliens would be a good excuse not to finish right?).

For me, writing 50k in a month is what I imagine it’s like to run a marathon. Sitting down and writing this much requires dedication. I know from experience that other people look at bit askance at me when I talk about writing a novel – either because it seems like I’m insane (possibly) or because they think, “If you’re not published, who cares?”

Or maybe that’s just my own inner critic (she’s loud).

National Novel Writing Month is therapeutic for me. My depression really starts to kick into high gear as the days get shorter and darker and that’s saying something given that if people knew my thoughts I’m pretty sure most would want to hospitalize me or at least remove all the sharp objects from my house (no point in being shy about it – this is just a fact of living with the type of depression I have). I have so many days where I can’t get out of bed. So many days when I feel like I’m a failure at life even if all the facts point to something different.

Writing 50k in a month is my way of looking my depression straight in the eyes and saying, “Not today.” It’s a goal that gets me up and gets me doing something that feels like an accomplishment for me.

I felt that today. When I punched in my first word count update, I felt my depression quiet a little bit. I heard my inner critic snort and start rifling around for the really good insults.

I’m going to get to 50k because I like to win and I like to be right. And writing 50k is me getting sassy. It’s me fighting back.

Maybe I’ll write a third novel that I don’t care to revise and publish. Or maybe I will. I don’t know but that’s not why I’m writing this. I’m not doing this for anyone except me.

But… I’m writing about it because it is a journey. Because just like I can’t fight my depression alone, I can’t reach 50k alone. I want encouragement, I want shouts of support, I want other voices telling me I can do this and to understand why I’m doing it.

God designed me with depression and I don’t know why. At the same time, He also made me incredibly stubborn. It drives everyone crazy but it gets me out of bed. It gets me fighting even after I think I’ve got nothing left to fight with.

And it’ll get me to 50k.

Well. Here’s hoping anyway :)