Brain Meds

I’ve always said I wouldn’t take any sort of medicine to regulate emotions or brain chemicals. I’m of the opinion that this is my brain and I am the boss of it. I should just take control and make it do what I want. And most of the time this works. If I am feeling depressed I force myself, sometimes in tears, to do tasks. If I am feeling anxiety I try to hide it. If I am frightened I tell myself to deal with it.

However, over the last few years the anxiety has been getting worse and worse. I don’t have a job now, because I just can’t deal with being away from my home every day. I’m afraid to finish my novel. I’m afraid to send in the several short stories I have ready for submission, because I can’t deal with the rejection. I went from having a large social network to feeling alienated from almost everyone. I tried to join a new social group recently; people I should have fit in with perfectly, mostly geeks, gamers, hippies and music people, but had to give up after a few months when I realized it just wasn’t working.

It is so bad that my garden is suffering because I sometimes have too much anxiety to even go into the yard.

Several months ago a friend gave me a few Xanax and for the first time in years the anxiety stopped, if only for a few hours. It was pretty amazing. I used them from time to tim, for social events to make it easier, but then I ran out. At this point I decided to go to a psychiatrist, mostly just to get more Xanax.

I’m not sure why Xanax did not seem to break my rule. I guess there are a lot of reasons. First of all it was given to me by a friend, not forced on me by a doctor so it felt different, like how some people have a beer after work to unwind. Almost recreational, like my brain was taking a nice relaxing bubble bath. Also it was not every day, not even every week. It was only when I needed it so I didn’t feel chained to it. It made me feel better, but nothing bad happened if I didn’t have it.

Yesterday was my first appointment with the psychiatrist. We talked about the anxiety and what might be causing it, touching on childhood head injuries, abuse, and family history. She feels that I could get addicted to Xanax, and to be honest I agree. Almost everyone in my family has a chemical dependency problem; I’m amazed I have gotten this far without developing one. The doctor wants me to start taking Zoloft, she says it should help decrease my over all anxiety making everything easier. She also gave me some Xanax to take only for social situations.

Here is a neat catch 22. I told her the idea of taking the Zoloft freaked me out and she said of course it does – anyone with my type of anxiety would be freaked out by taking a new medication. This is something I have thought about before, how much of what I do is caused by my anxiety or other issues. How about my feelings about my issues? I have had to be rather strong and develop all sorts of tricks and skills to deal with being the person I am, useful skills that I am glad I have. But this is too much to get into now, maybe a later blog post about it.

Long story short, I took the first dose last night of Zoloft last night. I am feeling very conflicted and confused about this decision. By taking it does that mean I have given up control of myself? Have I decided that I am not good enough the way I am? Am I going to change, and in what way? Is this going to impact my writing and other creative pursuits negatively?

I know this medication takes weeks before it does anything, but for the sake of good record keeping I am going to try to keep track of my mood. Today my anxiety is higher than normal. I have low self-confidence but I seem to be highly motivated, having already completed several tasks. I am also a little more emotional in general. I kind of want to get back in bed and cry for a bit.

Socially Transmitted Insanity

I wrote the following for this week’s Trifecta prompt “infect”.  This piece is not clean or polite.

***

Writing was the calling and fetish of the mad.

Those with demanding demons and dangerous desires took up the pen when the pressure of being, being alive, being buzzy broken, being bold, being beaten, became too great, ejaculating misspelled, grammatically incorrect, beautiful, tragic, hot life onto paper, and into the minds of the lifeless.

Mom read a bit of Kerouac after putting little Timmy down to nap.  For an hour she ran away from spit up, jello molds and obligatory missionary sex.  She huddled in the bed of a rusted out pickup truck, smoking reefer and looking up at the endless desert celestium.  She had freedom of the open road from her comfortable chintz sofa or mint-green kitchen chair.  She went to the clinic of depravity where Doctors Lovecraft, Shelley, and Poe injected dried up wickedness to vaccinate her from smothering her tow hair cherub-cheeked darling with a stuffed bear while he slept.

Dad spent the night on underage heroin addicted hookers with Hunter, while never straying from the sanctity of marriage. He learned to appreciate his own comfortable life after embracing loneliness, alienation, and self-loathing with Salinger and Falkner.

Sane people could open their wet willing minds and pull in a little insanity.

Everyone needs a release.  Society can’t function if all the drones have hum-drum blue balls.  The masses jack off with words to stay proper, and all it costs is the minds of a few mad ones, who fuck themselves raw, lubing up with cocaine, reds, alcohol, acid, and opium.  A few crazy bastards burning, pumping out their souls for everyone.

Now the mad ones take mood stabilizers and SSRIs, trimmed wick, limp-dicked.  The vaccine no longer produced, because it turns out normalcy was the disease.  You infect us, self-help books on my shelf, coffee in my mouth.  Your suburban fantasies slip in as you stroke my hair, whispering sweet goals and profit projections.

Sane people in creative writing classes train for a proper vocation.

Madness is epidemic.

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Fuck Facebook

I have been back on facebook for a week now.

I feel horrible. Maybe it is not related, maybe it is. I slept until 11am today and yet I feel exhausted right now. I have a social event to go tonight and it feels huge and scary. I just want to go back to bed. It is pretty and sunny outside, I should be out there planting seeds, transplanting seedling and making my world beautiful. But I am in here beating myself up for how little I have gotten done this week.

As of last Thursday the house looked great, so clean. Now it is starting to be a bit of a mess. I have not edited my novel at all this week. I wrote a new story for Trifecta, but have not be able to motivate myself to read the other submission yet, which sucks because I know for a fact that I love some of these people writing. I would get enjoyment out of reading them, but the commenting seems so hard. I have not painted, but I have played the piano a little.

My task list started to take the place of facebook. I would come look at my tasks, pick one and do it. When checked it off I got a little dose of pleasure and pride. Now all my tasks look pointless or else overly difficult.

I found myself getting mad about people on social media again last night. People say stupid things, rude things, mean things and I get so mad. I want to punish strangers and I find myself hating people I have been “friends” with for years. Even people I am friends with in real life, who I actually like are so stupid on social media, so empty headed, judgmental and cruel. I know I am a bit of a troll. But I can’t seem to help it, when people’s words hurt me I find myself wanting to hurt them. In real life when people say things that upset me I normally just walk about, but on social media I can’t. Because unlike spoken words which break apart and float away as soon as they are said the status stay, and I can read the mean and stupid words over and over and over. And I do.

I have facebook closed right now, but I want to open it back up so badly. Has anyone commented? Are there any cute pictures? Can it fix me, can it take away the pain I feel right now?

Why does this have to be the way we communicate? Was a born in the wrong time? Will I always feel this disconnected and alone?

I am sure this post has lots of typos and mistakes. I don’t care. Editing it seems pointless, because odds are no one is going to read it anyway. I just write this shit for myself, because I can’t afford therapy. Which is for the best, because I find other people’s public displays of weakness appalling.

No Easy Path

Path

My goal is the top of the mountain, but I can’t seem to stay on one path walking straight up. I walk around it, paths crossing and forking, sometimes turning in on themselves. Often I’m going back down towards gray cubicals and financial statements, where heavy air is pumped in to keep alive hands click, clicking on keyboards, where flickering computer screens illuminate glazed eyes and tight jaws. Down there, I’m grounded, approaching stable.

At the top of the mountain the air will be light and dizzy. I will be standing on winners peak looking out at 360 degrees of possibility.

Currently in the forest I pick my way among roots and rocks. In eternal green-gold dusk time is meaningless. Hours and days melt together, each one different and unique in the same way trees are, ways not worth mentioning, that don’t matter when you have a forest of them blocking your view in every direction. Here is both tranquil and terrifying. I’m accustomed to the solitude and cool moist air smelling of decay. Woodland creatures play out fantasy worlds created and destroyed by my thoughts. I could be happy here, in that crazy aunt in the attic with origami birds and cuneiform trees way, but for the wolf.

She always around, sometimes so far away I can lie saying she’s the wind rudely shoving tight knit branches. Sometimes she’s so close I smell her breath. She snaps at me, closing off this path, hurrying me down another, The wolf howl’s screaming “NOW” when in my mother’s voice I think “too late, too late”. This is the time to become who I am going to be, to walk back down or find the smooth path up.

But wanting and doing, knowing and achieving are not the same things. I have turned so often I’m not sure which way is up.

I whistle a bit of “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and keep walking, my woodland friends keeping me company in top hat and tails.

This was written for this weeks trifecta challenge, click above for the details and to read more submissions.

A Fortnight without Facebook – Complete

Normally I write fiction for the Trifecta prompt. That was on the to-do list for later today, but then I found that the word “juggle” being on my mind jumped into this piece of personal blogging. Enjoy a bit of my less-exciting real life:

I went two weeks without Facebook or Google+. In one hour I go back. I feel apprehensive. Aside from a little loneliness, it’s been a great two weeks. I’ve done editing, dancing, art, cleaned house, and gardened. My anxiety decreased, and overall I’m happier.

However, my stress now is high, just thinking about Facebook. It’s too much, which sounds silly, as it’s just a big page of people saying little things, but it’s so much pressure for me. I can’t juggle real life and virtual existence. The constant urge to check it, looking every five minutes for fear of missing something. I went two weeks without it. Obviously there was nothing important. The pressure to say something witty. When I comment on a status, I’m an insecure person at a party, desperately trying to seem relevant. When I post something, I’m a yippy dog barking for attention.

I’m not a one-sentence person, nor should I need other people’s approval. The last few weeks I mostly didn’t. I felt good because of what I accomplished and created, not for how many likes I got. What social media gives is not what I need. I want friends to work on hobbies, do activities, and actually care about each other’s lives. I don’t want hundreds of acquaintances, all barking simultaneously.

I need a plan. I have to keep my author page, because someday I will have fans. As for my personal page, I don’t know. I’ve tried time limits and schedules but it never worked. I don’t think it will work now. Once I start reading I can’t stop; once I post I become tethered. Maybe I could cut my friends list, but I don’t know who to cut. Should I delete it? If I do, I will never hear about social events, as I will not be invited directly. Will I become a social hermit? If two weeks without Facebook is a cabin vacation, deleting it is going to live alone in a cave.

Fortnight without Facebook – Day 8

I will risk the cliché and say that time has slowed down. It is 9:01 am, and it feels around lunch time already. There is more time to do things, and nothing feels as hurried. My house is cleaner than it has been for a while, and I am thinking about reorganizing and taking some extra things to Goodwill. I have been working in the garden, editing my novel, writing short stories, and playing the piano. I have a stack of books I have been wanting to read, and I think I might actually start on them today instead of reading Terry Pratchett’s Nightwatch books over and over (I have comfort books. It’s a thing). I went to belly dance drills on Tuesday and I have a yoga class tonight. I got out a half-finished sock I gave up knitting several years ago which I plan to figure out.

The days are open.

My stress is so much lower that I am even thinking about getting a job outside of the home, which normally would put me into a panic. It is strange how in the center of a stressful situation, even if you know the things that would help fix it, the idea of doing them seems impossible. Money has been a big point of stress for me for a little while now. We were doing great while I had an accounting job, and even great while I was on unemployment. I had enough saved up that for a few months after the unemployment stopped we were fine. This has been a wonderful year for working on my writing, and I firmly believe that someday I will make at least a minimum wage income off of my overactive imagination. I am so frugal that it would be plenty. Right now I am making an average of $10 a month, which is a good start. I am not complaining; to be making anything at all in an artistic career should be counted as success. I have enough confidence in my writing that I think even with a job I would still write; not as much, but I would keep doing it.

I plan to do a very small Kickstarter once I finish editing my Young Adult novel. Not money to pay me for the writing of it or anything. I want to have a professional editor look at it, which I think will run me about $250. And I would like to pay the cover artist, Jamie Moore, who did the cover of Treacherous Nature for free earlier this year. It would also be nice to get a few physical copies of the book to start with and maybe a box of business cards for it. I think I could do all that for about $350. If Amanda Palmer, who is already rich, can get $600,000, then I should be able to get $350. But I am getting off topic. That is at least a month away.

I have enjoyed not having social media and I am starting to not even miss it. I’m still afraid that important things are going on without me, but not as much as a few days ago. I’m reaching out more, intentionally connecting with people I care about instead of throwing out word-nets and hoping to catch someone.

A Fortnight without Facebook

Day 1

I have a social media addiction. I love the little happy burst I get when someone replies to my posts. It is a sweet cyber-hug that tingles my whole body with joy. Sounds great. But when I am sad, I try to make myself feel loved by posting on a social media sites and them obsessively staring at it all day. If I don’t get the right number or type of responses, I get sadder. Sometimes I will be having a great day and then not getting enough Facebook or Google+ love can ruin it. This often happens on story posting days. I will post a story on here and then push it to my social media. None of my friends read the story, which is fine of course; no one has to read my stories. And yet, I get so sad. I feel like that lonely little kid I used to be, sitting behind a tree listening to the other children play, wishing they liked me.

I can get the same happy brain chemicals by completing chores and tasks, by writing stories, working in my garden, actually talking to a friend. But once I get stuck in the “no one loves me” zone, I can’t seem to do anything but beg for social media attention.

This is not healthy for me. This is repeating old patterns that I felt I had long since moved past.

So starting today I am on a 2-week social media fast. I wish it could be more, but as an indie author, social media is important to letting people know about my books. I am still going to blog, which is in my opinion a higher-value use of my time.

Right now I feel panicky. Sick to my stomach. Before I closed Facebook and Google+ I posted a status update about this. Are people replying to it? Are they asking me questions? How many likes do I have? It has only been 30 minutes, and I want to go check it.

The important thing for me to keep in mind is the time I am getting back. These are a few of the things I can do with my extra 4 hours every day:

Write more stories
Read a few books
Practice the piano more
Get the house really clean
Work on my garden
Take a walk
Paint
Bake
Talk one-on-one with friends
Plan a party
Exercise
Scrapbook
Knit
Take naps
I will post here from time to time about how life is different without social media.

Wish me luck.

Thank You to My Tens of Fans

First off, I have been out of town for the last week in Chicago, so I have been too busy having fun to post to my blog. Also sadly too busy with the fun to get much work done on my novel, which I am about 5000 words behind on. But don’t worry, I will work hard and get caught back up soon.

Today, what with Thanksgiving being tomorrow, I wanted to write a little thank you note to some people who are making this becoming a professional writer thing a lot easier. A huge thank you to everyone who has bought my book or told people about it. I can’t express how much your support means to me. I have wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember. In fact my first memory of it was a summer night when I was ‘swimming’ in the above ground pool my mom had just gotten. It was a full moon that night and I wrote a poem while I floated around. Of course my little poem when I was 8 was not very good, but I still have it around here someplace. It was that night that I first thought that someday maybe people would want to read my thoughts and care about the things I make up.

Anyway, since I was 8, I have been writing and dreaming of someday having people read my stories, and even better of being able to make a living off of people reading my stories. When I was 11, I got a type writer for Christmas (not a useful tool when you are a horrible speller). But until this year I have always been too afraid to actually give being a professional writer a a try; afraid of rejection, afraid of not being very good, and afraid of losing the dream forever if the reality was that I could not do it.

Something changed this year. I think the first change was when I realized that sometimes people write stories and books that are not “masterpieces” and they do just fine. I don’t have to write something so OMG amazing that it rocks the world. I just have to write.

The second thing was that I can publish my own stuff. I don’t need any “professional” publisher’s approval to be awesome. I can be awesome any time I want, no waiting.

So between giving myself permission to not be ‘great’ and the ability to self publish, my last fear was just that I might lose the dream. Fuck a whole bunch of that. What is the point of a dream if you never even attempt it? It was time to stop waiting around for someone or something else to convince me to write and publish. It was time to take control and do it.

So I did. I worked hard and I wrote something. Yay! But some of that fear was still there. What if no one read it? What if everyone thought I was being dumb and made fun of me? What if it just sits there on the internet getting cyber-dusty? What if this is it, no one buys it, and I lose faith in myself and the dream really does die?

But then people stepped up and bought my book. Most of them are my friends in real life, supporting my creativity. But some stranger has bought “Treacherous Nature”. Friends and strangers alike, it has meant so much to me. Each time I sell a copy I feel so happy, and I feel the urge to keep going. I even sold a story to a publisher. I am writing a novel. I am submitting several stories every month. I am getting paid to write. And I don’t think I would still be working so hard if it were not for all the wonderful people who have bought my book, asked what I was working on, told people about me, commented on my blog, and just said “Good Luck!” or “You can do it” when I needed it.

I don’t want to sound too cosmic space bunny here, but this process is not just about writer and words. The reader is just as important. So, if you are reading this  — Thank You! If you have read my book THANK YOU!!!!!!

My Life Rocks Game

My blog is called weaving reality, because it is about the things I put my determination and energy into making.  Up until now it has mostly been about tangible  holdable, viewable things.   Like pictures of my garden and the food I cook from it,  directions on how to make a rainbow skirt, or my musing on writing, publishing and marketing my work.

But things you can hold are not the only things I make.  I have a vision of the world I want to live in, and I do things all the time to make that world happen.   I can’t change it alone of course, but I can make a little change here and another one there and weave in little threads of my reality into yours and everyone else’s.

Part of the way I can do this is to talk about what I want to change and how.  I can talk about the sort of social system I would like to live in, the sort of government that would make me happy.  I can tell you when I see injustice and how best to combat it.  I can talk about fighting racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia,  fat-hate, poverty, and meanness.

I don’t want to do it in a “this things sucks” sort of way and leave it at that.  I want to tell you how I deal with a situation and try to make my world a little better.

Today I want to talk about something I am calling “the tragedy game” or the “my life sucks game”.    This is where one person says something bad that happened or is happening to them and then you have to one-up it, then someone else has to one-up you, and so on.   This game works on the principle that in our society it is OK to talk about things that are bad in our lives.  It is OK to reach out and try to get support and sympathy.  And it is. I 100% agree that if you are having a problem or you need help, you should reach out to a friend or family member.  As humans we are social creatures; we form tribes and we help each other.   But this game sometimes goes too far, because we all want attention.  If one person is always getting attention by being hurt, sad or broken, then I think we tend to rummage around until we can throw something into the pot.

For example, I had a rough childhood.  But I have dealt with the bad things that have happened really well.  I don’t often think about it; I talk about it even less.  It is depressing, it is in the past, and I am mostly healed emotional and physically.  Talking about it has no profit for me.  Until we start playing “the tragedy game”.  I have found myself in groups of people I hardly know telling them very personal things, just because “my horrible abusive childhood” somehow became the topic of the game.     By the same token, I have found myself telling people about my illnesses or emotional problems, just because that is what we were doing.   This is especially bad when the person who starts the game does so with something that is way less horrible than something that has happened to me or is happening.

And that is the problem with this game. The very first rule is that we have to rank other people’s suffering.  For example, I once had a woman tell me this story about why she does not wear shorts.  Once when she was young, her father hit her with a belt so hard on the back of her legs that it left huge red marks for a few days.  To me, to the person I was then (about 10 years ago) this seemed so little.  Compared to some of the things that have happened to me, her experience was cotton candy.  But now I get it.  I get what she was saying.  She was trying to tell me about the lack of control she felt, about the humiliation, about how someone else took her body and hurt it and marked it. She was telling me that even years later as an adult, in some way her legs still did not belong to her.   So I said, “well, you think that is bad? Once my mom….” or whatever I said I don’t remember now.   But I one-upped.  I tried to get social points by having been abused.

People play this game with all sorts of things.  Mental illness,  physical illness,  discrimination, lack of money, bad relationships, abuse, etc.

I don’t want to play this game anymore.  I want to be the sort of person, who when someone tells me something bad I want to just listen and be supportive.  I will give them attention, and then when I can, change the subject to something more cheery.  I don’t want to sit around talking about all the horrible things in a person’s life or mine, unless we are looking for solutions. I very much don’t want to listen to people tell me all the things they can’t do because of their problems.  This does not make their lives better and it does not make me happy.

At the same time, while it is acceptable to talk about how hard something is, or how broken and substandard you are,  it is not OK to brag.  Sitting around talking about how great your life is, how wonderful you are, how hard you work to get great things in your life, or just how naturally amazing you are is not OK.  We are supposed to be modest.

Fuck that!  I don’t want to be modest.  I am fabulous.  I don’t want to talk about the bad things that have held me down.  I want to talk about how I kicked those bad things’ asses and climbed over them to reach my goals.  I want to talk about how my experiences have made me strong, smart, or creative.    I want to talk about all the great things I am going to do.   I have problems, sure, but I can work through or around all of them to do what I want.  And that is what I want to talk about.   I want to brag, and I want you to brag.   I want you to tell me something amazing about you.

My first brag in this round – I am so confident.  My life experiences have led me to be the sort of person who thinks she can do anything she sets her mind to.  I often think things I do are great and I love showing them to people.

Please, one up me!  Tell me something amazing about you.  Tell me why you are worth knowing and worth having my attention. Tell me how you have overcome something or your plans for overcoming something now.