Guest Post: Giftapalooza

The following is a guest post from my dear friend, Romance Author T.E. Ridener. Several years ago, she created a holiday charity called: Giftapalooza. I think that it’s a fantastic idea, and I have contributed to it from the start. I’ve donated copies of  of my novels (The Watchmage of Old New York, and Song of Simon), and also copies of Valerie’s Anthology, because I know that this is a charity that she’d love.

Not only does it help families in need, but the connection to authors gives added incentive for my fellow writers to contribute. In short: people give presents to the charity for children in need. Authors then donate books to those contributors. It gives some exposure to the author, and reward to the contributor for their good need. Most of all, it makes sure that these children have a happy holiday.

Take it away, T.E.

Though Christmas is still a while away, I wanted to ask for a moment of your time to talk to you about a cause that’s near and dear to my heart: Giftapalooza.

Giftapalooza is an online charity event I started in 2013. The only goal I had at that time was to help families in need provide a decent Christmas for their kids. Most, if not all of you reading this post, have been in that situation before. You know, the one where bills are piling up and you can’t seem to stretch your paycheck as far as you need to. I, too, have known the hardships of poverty, sickness, emergencies in the family, and unexpected financial changes.

When I created Giftapalooza, the only thing I wanted was to make a difference for families in need. I was thinking about the single mothers and fathers working two jobs just to put food on the table; the family who unexpectedly lost someone important in their lives and now scramble to pay for the funeral; the dad who just lost his job because the company couldn’t afford to keep him on. No matter the circumstances behind the reason for needing help, this is exactly why Giftapalooza exists.

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I am aware there are tons of charities out there with this specific goal in mind, but what makes Giftapalooza unique is the fact it is for indie families in need, and the Santas are also from the indie community. Authors, bloggers, and readers come together during the months of November and December to make some serious Christmas magic happen.

In 2015, we gave $4,203 worth of gifts to 43 families. It is my sincere hope we can double that number this year, but we can’t do it without your help. Even if you only purchase one gift for a child in need, you’ve already made a world of difference. For more information on how you can donate a thank-you gift, join the event, or get assistance, you can visit our website. We are so excited to get this year started and to help as many families as we can. Hope to see you there!

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Pokemon Go For Charity

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve become mildly obsessed with Pokemon Go. It’s my new Geocaching. I’m walking for at least two hours every day now, and usually covering 5K. The thing is, I feel like it’s time that I can spend doing something more worthwhile to the community. I think that I’ve found it.

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Down With the Sadness

I try to keep my blogs about my psych issues scarce, but I’m going to write one anyway. I’m not ashamed of my illness–it’s a chemical imbalance in my brain, not something I brought upon myself–but there’s still a terrible stigma against it. Even my own father doesn’t understand and thinks that I’m lazy. It rubs off on me, and though I rationally know that it’s not something I can control, I feel like I’m a lazy slacker that doesn’t deserve respect or happiness.

Then again, when I was diagnosed at age 14, he pretty much washed his hands of the whole thing and left it to my mother. I’m not bitter, I just think that he couldn’t handle that his American Dream didn’t turn out the way he wanted. He wasn’t strong enough to be an emotional support. Few people are.

Anyway, usually my bipolar cycles last about a month. My mania manifests as panic attacks (sometimes several a day), and my depression manifests as a numb nihilism and extreme fatigue. I’m in a depressive cycle right now. It’s lasted since February, which is a very long time for a cycle.

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For about a month, I’ve been debating whether to add an anti-depressant to my anti-anxiety, OCD, and mood stabilizing drugs. The upside is that it’ll make me feel better. The downside is that anti-D’s always make me gain weight, significant weight.

Since January of 2013, when Valerie died, I have lost at least 135 pounds. I was so heavy that they couldn’t get an accurate reading, but I was somewhere between 375 and 400 pounds.I’m 235 now, still considered obese, but not terribly. The idea of putting on weight chills me. I’ve worked so hard, and gaining it back would be a nightmare.

But I finally gave in and went on Wellbutrin. Supposedly it doesn’t cause weight gain, but I’ve been on it before and gained about 30 pounds in 2 months. It’s gonna be a prescribe as needed thing. Hopefully I’ll only have to be on it for a month.

I’m scared. All of that work, down the crapper. Is it better to be fat and happy, or healthy and sad? Neither are good choices. I count calories, I go to the gym 3-4 days a week. There’s little more that I can do.

Thus is the life of the mentally ill.

In other news, I am trying to set up volunteer activity for MHA. There are a lot of people in the system that don’t do much besides sit around and smoke cigarettes. I feel that since the govt does so much to help us, we should find a way to pay it back. I don’t think that people should get something for nothing. I’ll feel better about myself if I earn that Medicare and disability check (though disability money is something I’ve paid into when I worked). Healing the world starts not with grand gestures and revolution, but with small steps and local involvement. In other words: if the roof is leaking, you plug the hole rather than burn the house down.

Hopefully I can break this depressive cycle. I’m sad that I’m so sad.

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