Why doesn’t this spark joy anymore? What don’t the words make me happy?
I honestly don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t seem to get the same pleasure out of writing as I used to. Maybe it’s because I’m having trouble with this 3rd book in the Watchmage Chronicles. Maybe it’s because I’m burned out on promoting and sales are showing that. Maybe it’s because three publishers that have owned my novels have gone bankrupt. Maybe it’s because working at something you love means that you never stop working, and that love becomes a chore. Maybe I’m no longer amazed.
I haven’t blogged in a long time, and I don’t understand why. Writing used to be my constant Northern Star to sail the seas by. Now I’m constantly in the dark… I’ll be at the bar.
I need to be inspired again.
Maybe this is why I’ve been so depressed. I’ve been uninspired, so I lose the joy of writing. Without that joy, I’m uninspired, and so on. Wheels within wheels in the windmills of my mind. And while I used to tilt at those windmills, now I fall off my horse onto a dusty spring field. Even creating a trail of seemingly unrelated metaphors that lead into each other in obscure ways gives me only a small amount of joy. It was a happy accident, anyway.
If you follow my blog, you already know that I have a deep affection for turtles. My pet turtle, Shelvin, just turned 34 last month, and he’s still going strong. Yes, he has scars from a bad case of shell rot (He stayed at my brother’s place while I was homeless, and he didn’t know that you’re not supposed to keep a turtle in an area without light).
Turtles might not develop as unique and complex a personality as cats or dogs, but they still show individuality. Shelvin is different from other pet turtles. He has charisma. He watches me all the time and gets so excited when I walk by his tank that he pecks the tank to get my attention. She stares at my giant Godzilla toy. He doesn’t like to be touched or picked up by anyone but me. And he’s sneaky, trying to take advantage of my bad memory by begging for food.
(Shelvin with light from a prism shining on him)
What can I say? I like turtles.
But there’s more to it. I think that I like turtles because I secretly wish that I was one. A turtle can hide in his shell, and no one questions that. A turtle doesn’t need to deal with bullshit. A turtle is protected by armor, and even when vulnerable, he still has that shell to save him. A turtle doesn’t give a damn about your opinion.
I wish that I had that. I wish that I didn’t bounce between depression, anxiety, and mania. I wish I had a shell to hide in. I wish I had a tank to keep my suffering to myself.
All I want is to go through life without hurting anyone. A shell around me would do that.
Now if only it came with a mind eraser to forget all of my regrets. And there are many.
Because of my recent medical troubles, I’ve been stuck at home. It’s killing me. Usually I love to be at home. I do my writing and editing here. It’s comfortable. My easy chair fits my ass perfectly. I have all the coffee I could want. Yet, it’s still killing me.
Normally I go out in the morning, either to the gym or too the park. I also walk dogs and do some obedience training at the local shelter, or just pick up trash along the road (I have a grabber, I don’t use my hands). But I can’t do that until I find out what is wrong with my heart. The doctor doesn’t want me doing anything strenuous, especially in the heat. Did I mention that something is killing me.
My heart has been acting all wonky. It starts out fine, but by early afternoon, my heart is pounding so hard that I can feel it in my fingertips. My blood pressure shoots up (usually 140/90, with a rapid pulse). I don’t know what’s going on. It’s like having a panic attack without the panic.
I have a fear of death. I think most people do. My fear comes from worrying that I will die before I finish all of my stories, though I know that I inevitably will. With every story I write, a new one brews in my head. A day will come where I die without that story finished. It’s terrifying. Like all writers, I am an egomaniac. I feel that I have something important to say, even though I realize that my words are no more important than anyone else’s. Yet I keep typing away, and that fear of death before completion haunts me.
I like to think that my heart, my metaphorical heart, is good. But the real one isn’t. I was morbidly obese for many years. I’m on a ton of medicines, and more medicines to fight those side effects, leading to more side effects, etc. And I am not happy. I am not calm. I am nothing more than a morbid bit of flesh, and when I die, I will leave behind a few stories, a grave stone, and a pine box.
Being homebound isn’t just killing me, it’s making me think about death against my will. I want to be outside. I want to help at the shelter. I want to pick up trash. I want to do my service to the community, to repay all that they do for me. It seems that the universe has other plans.
There’s a Yiddish proverb: Der mentsh trakht un Got lakht. Man plans and God laughs. Maybe a better quote is from Robert Burns. The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, / Gang aft agley. That’s exactly how I feel. I am the man. I am the house. A house mouse.
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.
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.
I might be out of commission for a while. My computer has a “known issue” and will have to go back to the manufacturer for recall. I’m not going to send it until I get an external hard drive to save my work on. I’ll try to blog when I can.
BTW: I really wanted to post about Powerball. There’s a lot of stuff going around about how people are stupid for playing and don’t understand math. I get math, I still played. It had nothing to do with winning, it had to do with dreams. For two days I got to dream about winning 1.4 billion dollars. Isn’t that worth two dollars?
Also, it was my birthday yesterday. I turned 39. I’m fucking 39.
I’m also in a depressive cycle. I know that I am, because I’m spending my time lying down, staring at the ceiling, and sighing like a heartbroken teen. I suck.
I have bipolar syndrome, and while it impairs my ability to hold a steady job (it’s why I freelance) I am still able to be a productive member of society. I’m proud of this. There are so many of us with disabilities that can’t, and part of that is because they can’t get treatment.
I consider myself an advocate for them…for us. There’s such a stigma around mental illness, and there shouldn’t be. It keeps people from getting the help that they need, and they suffer in silence. No one should have to suffer when there is treatment, and not because they’re afraid of what the world will think of them.
How many people suffer from PTSD and don’t get help? How about Depression? Anxiety? Drug and Alcohol Addiction? Borderline Personality Disorder? Rage Tendencies? We can help them if we allow them to speak up.
I was once homeless, sleeping in my car and on friends’ couches, staying up at night writing at diners. If it wasn’t for the Mental Health Association of Rockland County, I don’t know where i’d be. Thankfully they exist. I was lucky, but there isn’t enough help out there for everyone that needs it.
We need help. From you. From the government. From somebody! Think about how society would change if we treated all the mentally ill. Less homelessness, less addiction, more productive members of society. A better society.
That’s all anyone wants. Happiness. It’s elusive, slippery, but for some, completely unattainable. We can change that.
Speak up. Be heard. Don’t let the stigma keep you from getting treatment. And if you are perpetuating the stigma, realize that you are hurting–potentially killing–others, maybe even people you know.
I finally got around to seeing Inside Out last week, and I was stunned at how great it was. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie that managed to be funny, moving, and intellectually compelling. Disney continues to nail it.
Disney always puts out excellent movies, and I think that the big reason is that they hire the best writers and directors. Pete Docter–the director and one of the writers on Inside Out–is a certified genius. He’s been nominated for 6 Oscars, and won 1 (For Up, a beautiful movie) Check out his filmography. He’s hardly had a single miss.
It doesn’t matter if it’s in a song, a book, tv show, or a movie, story must always come first. Disney gets that.
Warning: Some spoilers below
What really struck me was how well they portrayed how the human brain works, and especially the function of Sadness. It’s all a metaphor of course, but it’s true. Sadness is the hero of the story. The other emotions stifling her is what causes the trouble, and her taking control at the end is what ends it. As Rosey Grier once sang: “It’s alright to cry. Crying gets the sad out of you.”
It also created a great allegory for depression. One by one, the aspects of her personality crumbled until her emotions were locked out of the controls and she felt nothing. That’s what Depression is. it’s not Sadness, it’s Apathy. You don’t feel joy, you don’t feel anger. You don’t feel. You lose your personality. As someone who has fought with depression (and mania, and anxiety) for most of my life, I understand. I hope other people understand too.
And when Bing Bong (Riley’s childhood imaginary friend) sacrificed himself…
The moral of the story is that as you age, your emotions and memories become more complex. A memory can be colored (in the movie, literally) with joy, sadness, fear, anger, and disgust. To a child, everything is one emotion or another. To an adult, nothing is.
This chart only shows when two emotions combine. What do you get when three, four, or five do?
On a side note, the short in the beginning, Lava, was emotionally manipulative and made me cry. Fuck that shit. I hate crying at movies, and I hate having my buttons pushed.
Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (they both exist). Song of Simon currently has a 4.7/5.0 rating on Amazon, so it’s pretty damn good. If you’re looking for something FREE, you can read my serial (soon to be an expanded series of novels) The Watchmage of Old New York. Though it ended in February, 2014, it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!
Imagine that you’re a six year old. Out of nowhere, you get a puppy. It’s a beautiful black and white terrier that smothers you in kisses and loves nothing more than to play. He snuggles with you every night, and wakes you in the morning with a lick on the ear. For months you bond with that puppy and go on all sorts of adventures. You play Spaceman and Stardog. You play Cops and K9s. You make up your own games just to spend time with your beloved best friend.
Then your puppy gets run over by a BMW, that backs over him again and then drives away. You stand mute as your best friend lies broken in the street.
Repeat this for the rest of your life.
Like my posts? Follow my website or “Like” my facebook fan page and/or follow me on Twitter. You can also purchase my debut novel, Song of Simon, at any online bookstore or a real one (you’ll probably have to order it). Of course, you can always buy an autographed one from me, just send me a message. Song of Simon currently has a 4.7/5.0 rating on Amazon, so people seem to like it. If you’re looking for something FREE, you can read my serial (soon to be an expanded series of novels) The Watchmage of Old New York. Though it ended in February, it remains one of the most popular serials on JukePop OF ALL TIME!