Ah, so… I’ve hit my first wee bump with the writing thing. At long last, and apparently surprising to precisely zero people so far (although i’ve only told a handful), i decided to give this writing thing i do a real go. I’ve been at this in one form or another for most of my life, but comparing myself to established writers, both great and small, kept me stuck.

A couple of things needed to happen:

  1. I needed to be functional enough to take on the discipline of a job/career;
  2. I had to believe i have something worthy to offer.

You say, H, of course you have something worthy to offer! Everyone has something worthy to offer! I read your blog and i like it/learn from it/am helped by it!

To which i have invariably responded (in my head, because you haven’t had this conversation with me, but i’ve had it with you many times), Yes, that’s the right thing to say, but is it a true thing?

I got serious about blogging, when i started this on my birthday a number of years ago. I had another blog where i basically disclosed my abuse story to some friends i trusted. As a recently diagnosed multiple (you know it as DID), many of those posts were strange, unsettling, visceral, and i was in and out of hospital while writing them. I was regularly not the one telling the stories, it was other parts of my system. When i’d gained enough control and stumbled across days and days worth of incredibly distressing stories, i was horrified. Mortified. I shut it down and locked it up. I still get a bit hot in the face just thinking about it.

I don’t have many non-internet friends. There are people i’m friendly with, and i refer to them as friend out of courtesy now. It’s a shallow, polite interaction, like discussing the weather (which i’m fine with, to be clear). In actuality, i would say i have 3. Three real life friends. On the internet though, i claim a few dozen. These are people i’ve known for nearly 20yrs now, and they’ve stuck with me through my n00b years, my self-harm, my commitments, my hyperbolic vitriol, and bouts of white-hot rage. The interesting thing is that, an inordinate number of them write. While i only know of one other regular blogger, many are working on a novel, or teaching English, or are successful freelancers, or established writers with proper publishing houses. And they’re good.

Isn’t that interesting?

A few of them have regularly given me a gentle push to write MORE. To write a novel, a story, anything.

Recently, something clicked into place inside me and i said, I’m going to write as if it’s my job.
I knew it wouldn’t be easy.
I know, based on years of introspection, learning who i am and how my brain works, that there is potential for some problems:

– i’ll want to do it perfectly;
– i’ll try to do too much;
– i’ll compare every aspect of my writing to everyone else’s;
– the transition to a higher pressure medium of writing will be difficult;
– i could hit overwhelm and shut down;
– it could trigger a mania;
– i could get switchy and lose valuable time and momentum;
– i could lose functionality in other areas that i’ve worked hard to achieve.

I started off reading article after story after listicle on how to get published. How to get eyes on my stories, how to get added to the best publications, and OF COURSE! how to make money. Each publication that sounded like it might be a good fit had their own criteria to be added as a writer. Then there’s networking, engaging with your audience, signing up for their newsletters and being asked for support money…

I’ve already been added to a couple of lovely publications and i’ve gotten eyes on my stories. I’ve even entered a couple of pieces in a not-small competition. Oh, and did i mention i am NOT techie, but i have to learn how to use a completely different setup?
Pardon me, but the learning curve was steep as fuck.

I resurrect some social media.
I look into upgrading my phone so it’s easier to take nice pics (i suck at it, like, no really).
I try to beef up my interactions with people who contribute to an overall flavour i’m trying to… What, communicate? Sell?

I’m getting up at odd hours to write because i can’t sleep.
OH! and here’s some other things:

– a relationship exploded;
– my husband needed me to work with him somewhat regularly;
– and Mania comes knocking on my door asking if i want to come out and play.

So… That happened quickly.
At least i’d anticipated it. I talked to my partner and a couple of trusted friends.
And then i was stressed at work and annoyed and i got switchy.
I took a fall. Tripped over a light and a thick cord and went down, hard.
I lost the face, and a few days along with it.
It’s just how it goes, man.

I’m quite aware the tone of this piece is manic. It’s full of dramatic pauses and single lines for added emphasis. This is what i’m like when i’m in a mania. I don’t think i’m going to go any further down that road than where i am right now. I have plenty of tools at my disposal, and i’ll use any and all of them. I have supportive people who know i’m manic and we have open dialogue. They have a ticket to ride, and by that i mean they have permission to check in on me any time they wish. They’re allowed any commentary and no subject is taboo. I can’t know for sure what’s coming, but who does? I need to prepare for tomorrow but be as present and mindful as i can be today. Keep my mind on the business at hand, which isn’t being the poster child for how to be a successful internet writer.

I’m going to write for a few publications, only. I’m going to focus on giving them quality product. I’ll interact with my readers a little, when i can. I’ll do a teeny bit of work on my social media, so i guess that means pithy commentary and shitty pictures.
And, pause for effect…

This place is integral to my continued mental health.
If you got through whatever this is, you’re a rockstar — Thank you!

I feel more grounded just plunking all this out on my keyboard this morning. That’s how it works for me, here. Money would be nice, but it’s not my currency. Heh. I place my value in my own mental health, and in being able to help someone see the possibilities for having more of what they want and less of what they don’t. I won’t tell you how you should go about it, but i will give you an unvarnished look into how i’ve gone about it for me.

Y’all hang in there as best you can.
Love and Peace,

IMAGE: Sarah Kilian

Just Don’t Shoot the Albatross

A mania is fast approaching, and i hope i’m able to weather the storm. My thoughts come so quickly, tripping over each other and tumbling around in my brain, crying out to be acknowledged. They’re hungry and insistent, much like the baby birds in all the nests i see around our place out here. I’m trying to describe what it’s like to you, and i have so many things to say to you about it, but i’m having great difficulty nailing down something solid. It’s like reaching into a bowl full of earthworms and trying to pull out the longest one – they all look the same in the bowl. And i can’t discard any of the others should i pick the wrong one; they must all go back in the bowl (“Back in bowl?” I just flashed to Steve Martin in All of Me. Heh.)

So i’m frustrated and tired. I’ve been trying to grab something tangible and get some traction, but it’s been a real struggle. I finally seemed to have some good word flow yesterday, and was a good 800 words or so into it, when my entire page just blinked out of existence. While i’ve now learned a hard lesson about writing my blog using anything but the format provided by my host, it caused an interruption in brain service. Like my engine suddenly flooded and now it won’t start. I tried to get ‘er going for a while, but it was only making it worse, so i took the rest of the day off and now here i am. I think i’m gonna have to do it like Karate Kid’s mom and push it for a bit until i can pop the clutch.

It’s not just the racing thoughts either. They’re becoming grandiose. Yay. By that i mean much of what i’m thinking strikes me as so deep. Like deep, deep. I’m such an intellectual, you just don’t even know. It’s like being on cocaine. Those first few toots where all your burdens fall away and you see everything with such clarity(!) Not those last few where paranoia has set in and you’re pretty sure you’re gonna die of a heart attack, but you just keep doing more…

And it’s not just the laser-sharp picture i have of my situation and what it’s like and how i’m doing in my life that’s so intense. It’s the fucking poetry. It’s the flowery, glowy, sparkly, fragrant, pink fucking gel filter that’s over all of it. It’s like babies giggling and angels singing. It’s a lush green meadow full of puppies. Goddamn puppies. I feel like i’m full of art, and every thought is so perfect. It’s heady stuff. It threatens to sweep me away -and i want it to do so- but i can’t allow it to happen. I’ve sailed that ocean many times before, but no matter how well i navigate the currents, there’s an albatross around my neck, and no lighthouse on the horizon.

And my desert island looks a lot like a hospital room.

Even describing that made all my neurons fire at once (hashtagnotrealscience). Fortunately, my kid came out to talk to me and it worked as a damper on me feeling how amazing i am. When i don’t use the brakes, these thoughts and feelings gain momentum quickly, and it doesn’t take long before risky behaviours don’t seem dangerous at all – they just look like fun. When i’m depressed, fear is part of what keeps me immobilised. When i’m manic, fear barely registers, and on the rare occasion it does, it impedes exactly nothing.

I removed some things from my life a couple of years ago, and they’re staying out for the foreseeable future. I don’t have access to money and i don’t drive. My husband has all the cards and cheques and bank accounts. My name is on the accounts, but to access the funds i need ID, which is in my husband’s possession when i’m manic. If i need money for something and he’s not around, he gives me cash. It’s always a small amount, so even if i used it for something other than what was intended, i (probably) couldn’t get into too much trouble. And the driving… Well, the world is a better, safer place without me driving in it, because my judgment is for shit. Not only is my mind too full and busy for the attention and concentration required to drive, but i think i’m 10’ tall and bulletproof, which is a terrible state to mix with drugs and alcohol. I’ve been on some epic benders when i’m riding a mania, and if i took an innocent life, i’d be finished, and i’d stigmatise my loved ones for the rest of their lives. So no driving. I was never particularly good at it anyway.

I guess i’ve prepared as well as i can. Maybe the storm will just pass me by.

I’m hoping for the best, and the really cool thing is, i’m not braced for impact.

Enjoy Your Weekend,

IMAGE: Fer Nando

How I Laugh In Crazy’s Face – le HAHAHA!

Part I: Mania

Living with my mental illness isn’t always a trudging drudgery punctuated by moments of bombastic frenzy, not nearly. At least, not now. Sometimes in the thick of it all, it’s been a near-constant emotional upheaval with the only respite being occasionally gripped by a crushing despondency. So there’s been some breaks in the monotony. Heh.

Pretty flowery speech, huh? Yeah well, still with the mania here. It’s not an issue so far, but my brain is full of the beauty of words and pictures and sounds, tralala lala.

One of my favourite and most powerful coping skills is humour. I laugh a lot, and i’ve always laughed a lot. It may be part of the reason i flew under most people’s radar when it came to signs of abuse. It’s certainly a key reason why i survived it. I can laugh at just about anything. Anywhere, anytime, and nearly any circumstance. Yes, some of it is of the panicked or disconnected variety, but i’m not referring to that kind here. And it’s not a killer clown response either. I’m no Pennywise. I’m just able to find the funny in nearly any situation.

It’s occasionally cost me in relationships, i suppose. I’ve offended some, shocked others, and some are just put off, but when it comes to my sense of humour it doesn’t vex me. As one who’s been overly concerned with acceptance and approval, that’s kinda weird.

As i’ve mentioned, i’m currently dealing with mania. I’m not worried about it, because for one thing, there’s no point, and for another, the price is too high for so little benefit. I look at it like it’s a person. She’s fun to hang out with for a bit, but we’re not having a sleepover. She always sticks me with the cheque, and i don’t have much disposable income, okay?
I can see how finding things funny has saved me on any number of occasions.

I’m focused on cleaning my house. My brain, my body, my life. The main living areas are relatively decent, but they’re cluttered and disorganised, and my version of spring cleaning has been haphazard, at best. Now though, my improving health, coupled with an approaching mania is bringing out my inner Maria Kondo. My approach to decluttering goes some thing like this:

– remove everything from cupboard/area;
– scrub everything within an inch of its life, whilst making that ridiculous concentrate-y face (i hope i never see what i look like);
– take a few of the items and place them in a small container, repeat;
– take a few of the small containers and place them in a larger container, repeat;
– put them back in the cupboard.

As i do this i think of George Carlin and his bit about “stuff.” I giggle because it’s applicable and George was a funny man. My boxes have boxes, and my boxes’ boxes have boxes, which are all kept in other, bigger boxes. And all my boxes, and all my boxes’ boxes, and all my boxes’ boxes’ boxes are contained in another big box that i like to call my Little Crooked House.

The dissociative part of me is watching all my efforts and laughing her ass off. I look pretty funny i’m sure, scurrying around from cupboard to drawer to table, tripping around the temporary chaos, sweating and talking to myself, making funny faces, blaring music while i sing and dance.

As i’m sorting through all the items, another thing about mania becomes clear. I’m constantly losing shit because my brain’s going so fast i can’t remember where anything is, and i can’t concentrate long enough to figure it out. Wanna know how i know?

I now have 8 tweezers, that’s how i know.
I also have 5 nail clippers and 4 toenail clippers.
Oh, and more than one copy of any number of books, CDs, and movies that i particularly like. About a week ago i found a third copy of Prince and the Revolution’s Purple Rain. I just grinned as i wrote that and i’m currently telling myself it looks kinda like the one he has on his face when Apollonia is trying to wiggle back into her leather pants after skinny dipping in not-Lake Minnetonka.
I have enough Chapstick to make a candle.
And we won’t even go into how i get paranoid about starving and so i’m finding stashes of dry and canned goods.
How do you not find that worthy of at least a giggle? Or a lopsided grin with an accompanying snort?

Picture me sitting on the rug like i was on Friday, going through another mystery box from my bedroom closet, singing along to Stacey Q (80s one-hit wonder),

“Two of hearts, two hearts that beat as one
Two of hearts, I need you, I need you
Two of hearts, two hearts that beat as one
Two of hearts, come on, come on”

I’m wiggling my ass from cheek to cheek and tossing my ponytail from side to side, then suddenly cackling like Grizelda on the Hilarious House of Frightenstein because i’ve just found my eleventyfirst tube of lip balm.

Well, it worked for me. Heh.

IMAGE: Brandable Box

Somebody’s Knockin’

Somebody’s knockin’
Should I let him in
Lord it’s the devil
Would you look at him
~Terri Gibbs, Somebody’s Knockin’

Yesterday as i was handling my business so well and feeling so normal and accomplished, my old party buddy Mania began to stir. She’s been sleeping off her last bender, but it appears she’s feeling better.

So yeah. And YAY. /sarcasm

I try not to anticipate some things, because the power of my brain can sometimes make things happen that probably wouldn’t have otherwise. You know, like, if you’re certain you’re gonna have a shitty day, you’ll find a way to make it suck. It’s not just a matter of perception, it’s also intention. It can be that way with my old friend. If i talk about her enough, she’ll see it as an invitation to come hang out.

I do need to talk about it a little, but just by way of acknowledgement. It’ll help me with awareness of the potential for crazy to come knockin’. *

I’ve been actively dealing with/working on my bipolar disorder since around 2006, and i’ve learned a few things. One of them is being able to see a mania on my horizon. I’ll try to communicate this stuff as best i can, but it’s guaranteed to fall short.

I’ve been noticing my body’s response to this early, warm spring, for instance. It’s an animalistic response. Like, i wanna roll around in the green grass and stick my face in trees and flowers and consume the smell. I’d eat it if i could. Being outside is incredibly invigorating. And my sex drive, which had been in a sleepy, winter lull, is fully energised in a way that’s similarly carnal. More a bodily imperative than an epicurean pursuit. Spring fever – i haz it. My appetite has increased, but strangely, i’m not tasting the food. I just want to eateateateateat.

I’m registering changes in my thinking. In a word, it’s grandiose. I’m getting philosophical too, thinking about the fundamental nature of things. Deep thoughts in and of themselves aren’t a bad thing. I guess it’s my internal response to what i’m thinking that’s the red flag. I’m very impressed with myself, you see. As i’m thinking these profound thoughts, i’m not only excited by them, i’m awed by them, and by myself, particularly. It’s not so much pedantic as it is enthusiastic, but…

You see? It happened right up there. In that very paragraph. I’ve always loved words, and have amassed a fair vocabulary. As i was writing that paragraph i got swept away with choosing the best words for what i wanted to say. I risk losing your interest as i gaze adoringly at my way with words. Heh.

Simply put: i can see my thinking turning towards the belief that i’m 10′ tall and bulletproof. Without the benefit of drugs. Just this magical, orchestral way of thinking that fills me with anticipation of the magnificent and the expectation of something epic. I will be majestic and my deeds, epic. That’s as far as i dare go to explain it to you, as my writing has just confirmed to me very well. Mania is awake, and she wants to know if i can come outside and play.

My current plan is to ignore the knocking and continue with my daily routine. It’ll bring some much needed serenity whilst i come up with a plan.


*NOTE: Yes, i use the word “crazy”. If you find that word troubling, then i do apologise, insofar as it’s not my intention to vex you. If reader response to my use of the word becomes visceral, i may write about it more, but for now i’ll sum it up rather simply. I would compare it to the woman who refers to herself using the word “bitch”, or the gay man who calls himself that word that’s slang for cigarette in the UK, or a POC who refers to themselves using whatever term we generally consider to be an epithet when coming out of anyone’s mouth who’s not of that particular ethnicity.

The word “crazy” holds no negative connotation for me. It serves me in a number of ways:

  • It is a familiar, often casually used word, that carries a humourous, almost cartoonish tone;
  • It acknowledges the truth of my mental condition in a way that lets un-crazy people know that i know it, i’m cool with it, and i’m approachable about it;
  • It reminds me not to make it such a huge deal all the time. It is what it is, and all that remains for me is how i wanna handle it.

While it’s historically been a pejorative term, it’s evolved to become a part of our daily lexicon with its meaning coming more from context than its intended definition in its strictest sense. I like the word and feel better about my mental illness when i use it. ‘Yeah baby, i’m crazy. Ain’t no thang.”

IMAGE: Anthony Rampersad