Painting in a Cave

My Bipolar messes with my life.

I wish I could say that I’ve got everything under control. My medication is working and I’m control my life, but that would be a lie. Sure things are better since I’ve started medication, but that doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. Far from it.

Medication is a balancing act. For awhile things will be fine, and then it isn’t. Once I’m on the right dosage I’m sure I’ll get evened out a bit, but for right now, I’m counting down the hours until I can meet with my Psych tomorrow to get a higher dosage of my prescription.

I didn’t want to write this to talk about my medication though, that was only a small part of what I’m struggling with. I’m so out of it I’m not writing. I’m not working out regularly. I’m eating horribly and just not taking care of myself properly. But even that isn’t what I’m really here to talk about.

I realized something with my writing. Or, at least I’m starting to realize something. I have a hard time finishing projects. I’ve always thought it was because I couldn’t keep with one project long enough or because I thought my own writing was horrible, but I’ve started to wonder if maybe the reason I am having a hard time is because I’m not relating to the characters I’m writing.

I’ve also realized I’m writing in genres that I want to read, but I’m not writing the stories that I want to read about.

These realizations, and any others that I get along the way, mean that I’ve got a lot of work to do and  I need to get my butt in gear and actually do it.

I love writing. Anyone who knows me knows this is true. It has been a dream of mine most of my life. Well, I’m getting to the point that I either need to sit down and write or stop dreaming so big. I’m not looking for fame or fortune. I’m looking to be happy, but part of being happy is getting this stuff out of my head and getting it on paper.

I have a ton of work to do. I’ve got a million habits to form. And they all start with one thing– doing the work. Some days that will be easier than others, especially considering my Bipolar and my medication, but I’ll do what needs to be done– or I will at least start trying. I was really on a role at one point, but then I wasn’t. It’s okay, progress isn’t linear, so at least I know that.

I’ve been trying to read more again too. That will help spark some more reading I think. The more I read, the more I want to write. There is a quote from Stephen King that sticks with me, and has since the first time I saw it:

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” -Stephen King

I believe this quote to be an ultimate truth in the world of writing. One that I need to live by, among several others, but this one currently above all. And another one about sitting down and writing….

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” -Ernest Hemingway

Yes, that is the one. I guess it is time for me to read and bleed, but please don’t quote me on that. Ever.

I’ll leave you with one last item, the one that I got my title for this post from. A song that always makes me motivated to be creative, even when I really don’t feel like it.

Another Travelin Song – Bright Eyes

Dog Things

I’ve wanted to write something about this for awhile, but never have. This subject has nothing to do with writing, books, or anything even remotely related, but it is important to me.

I have this wonderfully amazing dog. Her name is Idris. She is a Pit Bull- German Shepard mix and we adopted her from our local Animal Shelter about 4 years ago. Before the Animal Shelter she was a stray and when we adopted her she was about six months old, she had no training and had never (as far as anyone could tell) had an owner.

Idris took a bit of time to adjust to having humans. She nipped and played too rough. She chased the cats so badly some of them would try to climb the curtains, but with time she became better. She even now knows that the word “Ow” means she stops what she is doing immediately and calms down- even if she wasn’t playing with you roughly.

All of the things that Idris did that made it difficult for us she grew out of. At least most of the things. She does still bark and growl if someone comes to the house, but to be honest, I’d rather have her do that then ignore it when strangers come by, I don’t exactly live in the greatest of neighborhoods.

There is one thing though that no matter what we’ve tried, she just can’t get over.

Idris is horrible on her leash. Not in a she pulls too hard kind of way (I mean she does, she is super strong, but that isn’t much of an issue). Idris has days where if anyone comes near us, she will bark and growl and act a fool- and if they have a dog, forget it. Some people call this ‘leash aggressive’ and I won’t deny that when she acts like this, that is what she is being, aggressive, but I also know that if the person or dog were to actually take the time to come see her and let her get close she wouldn’t be aggressive, she would put her tail between her legs and hide behind me.

So I guess, the whole reason I want to write this is not because I want people to walk up to a dog that is barking or lunging at them. No, that’d be silly (don’t do it), but what I want is for you to understand that just because a dog does this doesn’t mean they are actually an aggressive dog. Idris would never hurt anyone unless she thought they were hurting me, and even then it’d have to be obvious they were trying to harm me.

I see the looks Idris gets when I walk her, even when she doesn’t act up. I know what people are thinking about her, and about me and it hurts me to think that anyone could look at my baby and think she is vicious. Yes, I get it, she isn’t putting her best foot forward on the days that she acts like this (which is not every time I walk her, it is actually getting to be more and more rare). Even when she is the best behaved dog, people see her and see what breed she is, or maybe they’d seen us before on one of her bad days and now that is all they think of when they look at her.

I’m not asking for anyone to look at a dog that is being aggressive and assume they are the sweetest baby. What I’m asking is that you remember that they are someone’s loved pet, and yeah, they’ve got some issues, but as owners we do try our best to limit these instances but even a leash aggressive dog needs to be walked.

I usually walk Idris super early in the morning or just before dark at night because I know that is when there aren’t many people out, but every now and again there is, and on one of her bad days she’ll do what she does. I can’t help it. It is just a part of who she is. Sure I bet one of those more aggressive types of training could work it out of her, but I don’t agree with their methods. I have tried every humane way I can think of to help her, but she is after all an animal, and she is going to go with her animal instincts.

I’m not looking for training tips, or advise. It’s cool if you think you know far more than I do and want to give me some super amazing advise, but you don’t know me, or my dog and I’ve tried damn near everything already, so kindly, if you are reading this, keep your advise to yourself. I appreciate the thought, but I don’t want it. I haven’t given up trying to help Idris, this is a long process and it isn’t going to work right away, but she is getting better so I’m at least on to something.

What I want out of all this is some understanding. I want you to think twice next time you see a dog that isn’t perfectly behaved and know that the owner is probably trying everything they can to help their dog feel more comfortable on walks, but this process is trial and error. Know that the owner, is so embarrassed that their dog acts like this and they wish more than anything that everyone else could see their beloved pet in the way that they do. A little bit of understanding goes a long way. Even a knowing nod when you see them notice you down the road and turn down the first side road they can see.

And while this isn’t an advertisement, the more people that know about The Yellow Dog Project the better. This is so important for people with dogs like me, and it is a great way to let your neighbors know that your dog needs special care when out and about, for various reasons, and that just coming up to them isn’t always a good idea. You should always ask someone before approaching their dog no matter what, but this way you know it is an extra good idea to do so.

 

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My life consists of D&D now

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I’m in a really odd place in my life right now. I’ve just started playing D&D, a lot. I would say on average I play 3-4 days a week in a mixture of Homebrew and Adventurers League. With my anxiety medication actually working it makes it easier to go out and be semi social, even if I am pretending to be someone else while I’m there.

This is great for me on many levels. A big one being I’m actually getting out of my house, and for those of you who don’t know me, that doesn’t happen often. It is also fuel for my imagination, which is always helpful considering my imagination is what keeps me going most days.

All is not great though. I have noticed, with my new schedule that I’m missing out on a lot of things. Sleep being a big one, but my writing is also suffering. I am still working on figuring out a way to fit it all in, but I’m getting there. I’m forcing myself to get up in the morning, which currently is hit or miss for me as mornings are not my favorite thing, but hey, at least I’m trying right!

I won’t be successfully completing Camp NaNo this month, but that’s okay. What this non-writing time has provided to me is a ton of ideas and an almost endless supply of even more ideas. That to me, is far more important. The words will come eventually, I don’t have to rush them. I don’t have any kind of deadlines anyway. Writing is just what I love, I don’t have to rush for anyone. I write for myself.

That is all for now. Maybe I’ll have something more thought provoking next week.

 

I really have no title for this

So my life has been pretty abnormal lately, even for me, but I’m still trying to push forward and stick to my goals for this month, which primarily consist of completing Camp NaNo, getting my workouts in, and making healthier choices.

I’m slightly behind on Camp NaNo, but not enough that would make it hard to catch back up. I’m actually hoping to get some good time today to get caught up and possibly even surpass my daily goal on top of that. Nothing better than some wiggle room.

I’m working on a project that I really feel will make a great story. Obviously I’m not going to tell you what it is, but I will say it is as if I took a D&D adventure and put it into a book. So if you are into D&D or fantasy adventure in general then it might be something you’d enjoy. If I ever finish it that is. I’m not exactly known for getting past a first draft, but with this project I’m really into it, so who knows.

I, for those of you who don’t know, don’t do much planning before I start writing. I have a general idea of what I’m going to write about, but I don’t have any clue beyond that basic idea. I’ve even tried to make a basic outline that I could try to follow, but that is just too difficult for my chaotic brain to handle. How am I supposed to know what my characters are going to do until I put them in situations and see what happens?

What I can usually do before writing is create a basic backstory for my main characters. In this project I have six main characters and each one of them has their own backstory and reason for being out traveling in the world. Writing those gives me an idea of their personality and their reason for making the decisions that they do, but it doesn’t force the story to go into any specific direction and that is why I can do it without much issue.

I am quite ready for this first draft to be done, that is for sure. I’m looking forward to tweaking it and really making the story come to life. Right now I’m just focused on getting the words onto “paper”. I guess you could say this is how I outline. I write the whole thing is one big ramble and then will refine it later on, if I ever get that far. I usually get lost in the editing and rewriting process of the second draft, if I ever make it that far. I can’t tell you how many half drafts or first chapters I have just waiting to get written. Someday I’ll get to them all. Someday.

 

Another Post About Mental Illness

Hello again everyone! I’m back with another post on Mental Illness. Why? Because it is so important to me that people understand that there is no reason to hide or be ashamed to talk about their MI, but also because I was asked if there was any way I could write something about how to be a good friend or supporter for someone with MI when you yourself don’t have one. I think that it such a great idea that I have started trying to formulate ideas right away. I’ve even done research (sort of!), for those of you who haven’t realized it yet, research is not my favorite thing to do. I’m more of a write what comes to mind kind of person, but I wanted to have resources out there beyond just what I can write about. Every person is different and every one with MI is especially not the same. What might work for one is not always going to work for another, so keep that in mind as I tell you what helps me.
I have Bipolar II, what that means is I can often become severely depressed, even to the point of mania. I can also be so happy I’m almost euphoric, but those states don’t last as long. Yeah there is a whole lot more with B2 that I could mention, but this post isn’t about what I have, this is about how, as a friend or family member (biological or chosen) you can be there for me, and for others like me. The reason I tell you what I have is because it is important to know. It is important to educate yourself when you can. Don’t believe the misinformation that is out there, and there is a lot. Try to find resources that you know are going to be telling you the truth not trying to push some kind of stereotype.
If you are comfortable enough, ask your friend. Sometimes they won’t want to talk about it, or sometimes they won’t even know they have a MI. For the longest time I thought I was a fairly normal teenage girl. My angst and my mood swings, they were normal because if they weren’t that mean there was just one more thing about me that people could use against me. I didn’t accept what I had until my early 20s, which wasn’t soon enough, but it was better than not knowing I guess. I continued un-medicated most of my adult life thus far, as you can see in a previous post that is no longer the case, but that isn’t what this post is about.
So other than educating yourself what can you do? For someone like me it is as simple as letting me know you are there. Letting me know that you understand that sometimes I say things I don’t mean because I’m not exactly in the right frame of mind to think clearly. I’m a fairly solitary person so my Manic episodes are often unnoticed by those around me and that is fine I’ve spent a lot time dealing with it myself, but as my friend if I call or text you and tell you I need someone, just try to be there. You don’t have to respond to my 6 AM text message, but respond when you can. I just need to know that you are still there and you still care.
When I’m Depressed I often just need to hide away under the blankets, but I can’t because real life gets in the way, so I get up and I do what has to be done. I need extra attention in these periods and they usually last much longer than when I am Manic. I am mentally and often physically exhausted after only a few hours of trying to do anything. I can cry at any moment, and for any that know me, I’m not a crier generally but when I’m depressed it could come at any time.
Beyond my B2 have Anxiety. So that requires a bit more understanding. My anxiety manifests in a few different ways. The first and most common is making plans with friends and canceling last minute. It isn’t because I don’t want to hang out with you, I do, but after making the plans (which I was totally into at the time) I realized that I just can’t do whatever it was we had planned to do. There could be many reasons for this change, but most often it is that going out in public is something that can often be really difficult for me. At least when I feel like I have to be “turned on” in the process. Turned on is not a sexual phrase, I am using it to describe the feeling of having to be present and engaged with another human being, a process that comes easy for most, but not for me. It is exhausting and sometimes I just can’t do it. Now if you want to come over and sit quietly and read books and drink tea, I can tell you I am almost always down for that, but having to be engaging and in public, that takes a whole lot of energy and most days I just don’t have it.
I have just recently started to be able to go out and do things in public by myself. That is a huge step for me. I don’t generally do anything alone and often require the presence of another who fully understands that sometimes I just need you there with me, but I don’t want to have to be engaging. I have a few people that I can do that with, and it is wonderful, but I’ve been trying not to need them so much because I know, especially for my husband, it can put a damper on their plans sometimes. So I’ve been able to go out and do things, and that is great. The reason I bring it up is because I need my friends and family to understand that just because I can do something alone, does not mean I can do it in a group of people. I can sometimes do it one on one, but not always (see last paragraph).
My Anxiety also loves to tell me horrible things. It tells me I’m a burden, it tells me that my friends often don’t actually like me, it tells me people are talking about me, sometimes it tells me that my family doesn’t care. I try my best to remember when my brain is telling me the truth of when my Anxiety Brain has taken over, but sometimes it isn’t that easy and I will say or do something stupid because I fully believe what my Anxiety is telling me. This is a perfect time for you to set me straight. I don’t often like to be told when I’m wrong, but I need you to point out when my Anxiety Brain has taken over, but still be kind, just firm. Reassure me that yes, you are still my friend and that no I do not want to quit writing. Tell me that I need to stop and think about what I’m saying for a moment. It often helps.
I also have Anxiety Attacks, they are less common currently but I’ve just started new medication so that is normal. If you aren’t familiar with Anxiety Attacks let me describe it to you (keeping in mind this is my experience and may not be the experience of others): My heart races and I feel like everything around me is hopeless. I cry, I rock back and forth, my brain is telling me all these things and I’m believing it. Everything is horrible and I can’t handle much of anything and can often not form clear thought. I’m overwhelmed by everything around me and I just need to hide, or get away, or some how remove myself from whatever situation it is that I’m in. These aren’t super easy to deal with, but the one thing I can tell you, unless I request otherwise do not touch me. Many articles I’ve seen state to get behind someone having an anxiety attack and hug them and don’t let go no matter how much they struggle. I can tell you that I, and almost anyone I’ve ever talked to with anxiety do not want you to do this. For me, it will make things so much worse. Don’t do it, you are not helping if you do. If I ask you to hold me or hug me, that is different, but unless I clearly ask for it, touching me is off limits. Just talk to me, try to be as calm as you can, because I’m freaking out enough for the both of us. If it is in your power to remove me from whatever I’m doing, then that is appreciated. Otherwise just talk to me, be my friend.
Honestly for me all I need is a bit of understanding. You don’t have to know what I’m going through. I don’t need you to understand. I need for you to be my friend. Yeah sometimes I require a bit more effort than most, it is true, but I kind of think I’m worth it. That is really all I can say on how to deal with me and my MI. I’d love to see any others share how to help them, if they are comfortable doing so.

As promised, links: (Don’t take these as a rule, just a way to start to educate yourself)

Supporting Someone With A Mental Illness

15 Ways to Support a Loved One with Severe Mental Illness

For Friends and Family Members

How to Help A Loved One

 

Writing Courses

I love to learn. It is one of my favorite things to do in my free time (what little I have). I spend that time watching YouTube videos or finding different ways to learn something new. I have stacks of books about writing, it is obviously a subject I enjoy learning as much about as possible.
I haven’t been able to take as many courses on the subject as I’d like, but I have taken one, and it was one I really enjoyed. It has been helpful in creating story ideas when I just wasn’t feeling able to come up with something all on my own. It also made me actually plan out some of the things I would normally just leave to chance or spontaneity. One Page Novel (http://ladywritersleague.com/courses/one-page-novel/) is a really great idea sparking course to take. Once you’ve gone through the videos you can do this process without them, but any time I go back to do it I prefer to use the videos.
Not only is this course wonderful, but with your purchase you unlock any future courses and all the resources the Eva has to offer. Worksheet Wednesday is a favorite of mine. I really have enjoyed everything I’ve gotten out of this course and her resources. I even encountered an issue with my purchase and she responded to me quickly and personally. There is something to be said of someone taking the time out to do tasks like that on their own. I highly suggest One Page Novel to anyone. If you can’t do the course, you can follow Eva on most social media platforms, and I highly suggest that as well. Here is her twitter to start you off : @evadeverell.
That is currently the only real course I’ve taken, but I do have a few I’d love to do if I ever had the money to do them. Gotham Writers (https://www.writingclasses.com/classes/catalogue/fiction) and Writer’s Digest (https://www.writersonlineworkshops.com/) are some of the examples that I have so far, though I’m sure if I went through all my bookmarks I’d find many others. I find the variety of classes and the subjects interesting and I’m drawn to them.
So that is all I have about courses right now. I am sure the lack is disappointing, but that is why I’m writing here. I’m looking for your suggestions. Have you come across some really amazing courses in your time online? Any good books you’ve read that really made you feel like you’ve improved your writing? I’d love to hear what you have found!

A Doctor Listened to Me!!!

It happened! I got a doctor to listen to me! Yeah I know this isn’t about writing, but believe it or not my life consists of more than writing. That may be blasphemous to say, but it is true. One of the things that I have to deal with more than anything beyond writing is my Mental Health. I have suffered from various ‘diagnoses’ that were never official and never fully treated (normally because I’d get frustrated and stop treatment).
After my brother died in December I went to my Primary Care at the encouragement of my Therapist to seek medication for my anxiety and the deep depression I had sunk into. This depression was/is beyond anything I’ve experienced in my life, and I can tell you I’ve had some pretty bad times in my life with being depressed. So my Doctor gave me medication to treat anxiety and major depressive disorder. I was hopeful, as hopeful as I could be for someone who could hardly make it five minutes in public without breaking down in tears. I just wanted to start to feel better. I would even take my normal depression over what I was feeling.
Four months, that is how long I took those pills. Two visits with my Doctor. I told him every time that the pills just didn’t seem to be working. Sure they helped my anxiety, but my depression was worse. I could hardly pull myself out of bed. I couldn’t motivate myself to do anything. I just wanted to hide away and drift off into nowhere. I couldn’t even write. It was horrible. I stopped taking the pills, because my Doctor wouldn’t listen to me and instead of trying a new approach he wanted to give me another medication that would make me feel happier, but would give me anxiety. That didn’t seem helpful since the current pill was actually working for my anxiety, why would I want it back?! So yeah, I stopped taking them.
Fast forward to yesterday, about two months off the first pills from my primary care. I met with a Psychiatrist, which yes, I know I should have done in the first place, but they are SO HARD to get into here. I finally realized my insurance covers Doctors On Demand, an online visit that I can do from home on my lunch break at work. (YES PLEASE!)
The appointment was quick and mostly do the point. I told him what symptoms I have, I told him a little bit of my back story, and I told him what I’m looking for (medication to help me stabilize because not being medicated at this point is not helping me). He asked me a series of questions to gain a more clear understanding. And just like that he understood why the pills I had taken made me feel worse. I don’t have Major Depressive Disorder, no I have Bipolar type 2 (which I had brought up possible Bipolar to my Primary Care but he ignored it). I was not surprised as this theory. It isn’t the first time I’ve been told that is probably what I have. I just never had a diagnosis of it.
New medication. New diagnosis. Things might actually stabilize for me, and that almost makes me hopeful. I know medication can take time, and it can even take time to find the right medication, but having someone actually listen to me, and take what I said into consideration when trying to find a way to treat me, that is important. That is something I wish every person dealing with any condition has, and if you don’t, find a new Doctor. Do not let them treat you for something you don’t have, you could be doing so much more damage then good!
So that is my non writing post for the week, it is also probably my first post that is in addition to my scheduled Sunday posts. Enjoy the extra look into my life!!