Giving Up

Well, that hiatus was unintentional.

Thank you to those who stuck with me through my silence. I have an issue with perseverance from time to time, it seems. The funny thing is, when I suddenly stopped writing, I actually had a complete draft ready to go about just that: perseverance. Oh, the irony.

Today, though, I want to address the opposite side of perseverance. I’m dealing with it in every aspect of my life right now, especially in my health.

If you’ve been reading for the last few months, you know that my psychiatrist put me on Abilify to bring down my manic episodes. Once I quit drinking and put my medication on a schedule, the Abilify started to work wonders. The downside is the lovely side effect of putting on weight.

Yaaaaay.

I did CrossFit a couple of years ago and completely fell in love, but got sick and stopped going. If you don’t know anything about CrossFit (or have only heard horror stories), here’s the gist: your start with simple warm ups like running 400m, doing squat jumps, inchworms, and other such things that would have normally been my entire workout. Then you move into the high intensity stuff, like burpee bar hops, box jumps, pull ups, various Olympic weightlifting techniques, and you do them all in prescribed reps or for time.

I went home hurting every day and it was the greatest feeling.

Now I’m trying to push myself on my own. No coaches, no cheerleaders, no partners. It’s me against me and I’m telling you it’s a hundred times harder than CrossFit ever was. All I want to do is give up, but I know I can’t. I have to beat this medication and shed the weight before I hit another all-time high. I got on the scales the other day: 228. I was at 195 in October before I started.

This reminds me a lot of writing my novel, because there have been times when I’ve wanted to give up. I can’t. The reward is too great. The same principle applies here, but I’ve never really achieved success through exercise before. I’ve had 13 years of pushing myself to write a novel. I’ve had comparatively no time to push through my mental barriers here. I find myself stopping when I know a coach would be pushing me on. This is bordering on being the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.

What about you guys? Is there anything that you have to really push yourself so that you don’t give up?

Again, sorry for the hiatus and the semi-rambling post. I’ll do better this next month.

Lack of Anything

You know those days when you have no enthusiasm for anything? No feeling, no happiness or sadness or drive or anything at all? I’m having a lot of those days. I don’t know what’s causing it. Maybe it’s just another one of my depressed phases, if you can call utter lack of feeling “depression.” I guess it is, in a way.

I’ve tried to get out of it. I hung out with Taylor a couple of times–we went to see Moana, and then we watched Tarzan on Tuesday, but nada. I felt nothing. No excitement, no interest. We talked about hoodoo, which is fascinating stuff, and I couldn’t get into it. We talked about my (lack of) love life and still, I felt nothing. It’s like I don’t even exist right now.

It’s been a struggle to keep taking my medication at the same time every day. The best I’ve ever done was when I had pneumonia last year and had to take my steroids at the exact same time each day. Lately, I forget to take the medication. I have to get my meds refilled soon, but I’m probably going to forget that too until the absolute last minute. It’s just the way things are going at the moment.

Oy. I’m not sure what to do. I’m trying to evoke some sort of enthusiasm for life, but nothing seems to be working yet. Writing is at a standstill. Patrick is about ready to head into a meeting with the governor and I can’t think of a damn thing for the men to say to each other. Skipping ahead solves nothing because I’ve already written most of the rest of the book. I’m stuck on what’s basically the last piece of the puzzle.

Thoughts? I’m thinking about making a list of my unsolved projects and trying to mark off one each day just to feel like I’m doing something, but the drive to even write the list seems to have floated away on a breeze. Some days it’s a wonder I manage to function at all. If I didn’t live with someone who did the grocery shopping and kept me engaged with the rest of the world, I’d probably end up reverting back to the way I was in Seattle: alone, not eating, and completely miserable and disconnected.

Anyway. This has been a mess of a post. I wish I had more interesting things to write, maybe wild anecdotes about living in the desert, or a comparison of Moana to the rest of the Disney princess films, or a dissertation on how Taylor and I related to Tarzan in completely different ways, but the words are failing me. Not so good for a writer, hmm?

How do you guys get yourselves out of ruts? Any advice is welcome.

Smile!

smileI read a blog a few weeks ago over at Anonymously Autistic about remembering the rules of social interaction. The author, Anna, has a written list of rules she follows to make sure she’s interacting with people correctly. Say hi. Smile. Talk a little, listen a lot.

I can relate to a number of things she listed, but the one that stood out to me was “Smile.” I smile a lot. I laugh a lot. Smiling when I first make eye contact with someone? That’s difficult, especially on a bad day.

My mom was shocked to learn that I struggle with smiling at people. I was raised to make eye contact, be polite, etc. I think my mother’s insistence that I make eye contact is the only reason I manage to do it now. So what about smiling? That comes with practice–practice I can do every day, a few times a day, even if I’m 100% alone.

A few years ago, probably around the time I started working at Denny’s, I made it a habit to smile whenever I saw a face. It did not have to be a real face. I have a pillow of Mitt Romney’s head (which I adoringly call Romney-Face), and even though it’s definitely cartoon-y, I still smile at it. That habit expanded to . . . the bathroom; specifically, the mirror. I made it a habit to smile any time I looked at myself in the mirror, which did great things for my self-esteem and for my ability to smile at people when I make eye contact.

What about on bad days? Same thing. It’s a legitimate habit. If I make eye contact with someone, I smile just as bright as I would on a good day. I still smile at the mirror. It helps a little. I do still have really bad days, on which I will actually avoid looking in the mirror because I don’t feel like smiling. Weird, right?

What about you? Any social rules you have to consciously follow? Do you do well with making eye contact and smiling at people?

Hair

We’re going to pretend I got this post up earlier in the day. I definitely did not spend the last (*cough*27*cough*) hours sleeping. Look, I wasn’t feeling so hot and I was tired. Apparently like Rip van Winkle tired. And I’m still tired, so apologies for anything that doesn’t make sense.

So hair.

One of the bizarre things about writing a blog like mine is trying to find ways to tie together writing and mental health. If it sounds easy to you, then good on you; it’s not easy for me. However, hair ties into both rather nicely.

Me!

March 2014

Back in March of 2014, I cut my hair all the way off. Like, all the way. The next shortest I could have gone was a buzz cut, and I was tempted. The whole purpose of cutting it off was to get rid of everything–the dead ends, the hair color, the bad memories, and the temptation to keep cutting it shorter inch by inch.

Hair is a sign of power to me. Maybe it’s because my mom has always kept her hair long. Maybe the story of Samson really struck a chord with my childhood imagination.  Either way, hair and power are two things I cannot separate from one another. I think that’s part of the reason I kept cutting my hair when I felt stressed out. I felt powerless.

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March 2015

I made a commitment to myself that I would never cut my hair again . . . until I got married. That vow lasted longer than anticipated since my engagement broke off about six months later.

The picture to the left shows a few things:

  • My hair grew a full six inches in the first year [insert “Why the long face” jokes here];
  • I felt dead inside through most of 2015
  • This is roughly the length my male characters wear their hair at minimum.

Characterization-wise, I personally prefer to identify my characters’ perceived power with the length of their hair. In my first book, Devin’s hair is in a pixie cut (think the length of my first picture, but styled like someone actually wanted her to look cute). She’s timid, young, and naïve. By the last book, her hair is waist-length and she is among the most powerful women in the province. Similarly, one of my characters starts the series with waist-length black hair and by God she is possibly the most terrifying female in the books thus far.

The same thing goes for my men, but with the added complexity of how they wear their hair, i.e. a ponytail = restrained power. My leading man, Patrick, always wears his hair tied back because he thinks he is completely powerless in the real world. He has to hide the power and influence he has over people and it’s one of the biggest stressors in his life.

As for me, I’ve managed to keep the scissors away from my hair for nearly three years. I’m pulling a Samson: my hair has not seen so much as a trim since March 2014, and it really does feel empowering to know that I have been able to grow my hair out so long. I took a ruler to it the other day — it’s 18 inches long now. The weird thing is that I wear my hair back often because I don’t want people to see how long it’s gotten, like they don’t deserve that part of me. Bizarre, right?

What about you guys? Does hair make you feel powerful/powerless? If you don’t have or can’t grow hair, I definitely want to know your thoughts on the whole hair/power dynamic.

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November 2016

To Music or Not To Music?

I love music. LOVE. It’s almost ungodly how much I love music. That’s why it bummed me out when I realized that listening to certain music was affecting my mood in a bad way.

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RIP Harry’s hair

I discovered One Direction somewhere around December of last year, after they did their Carpool Karaoke with James Corden (I swear it was glorious). That led to a . . . six-ish month obsession with all things 1D, including listening to “Perfect” and “Alive” on repeat depending on my mood. Taylor got hella annoyed with me since he actually started learning 1D songs just by driving around in my car. Sorry, love.

More recently, I binged on 3 weeks of nothing but Halsey. God, her voice is just . . . oh, it sends chills down my spine. “Gasoline” and “Control” both struck major chords with me (no pun intended), and I listened to the former on repeat for hours.

Then I tried to write. Nope, nothing. I tried to stop listening. Nope–the addiction was real. I felt like an alcoholic dying for another drink. It got to the point that I knew my mood was going to be awful if I didn’t listen, but listening didn’t make me feel better anymore. I felt weird.

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Love her music, love her voice.

I think part of it had to do with the fact that I was having so much trouble writing. Anything that gets in the way of my writing is something that has to disappear. After spending six months with a severe case of “I’m writing because I have to, not because I want to,” I recognized the signs of Halsey’s affect on me almost immediately.

I can’t explain it. I’ve tried to research “music that puts you in a bad mood” but such a concept just doesn’t seem to exist. What’s bizarre is it’s music I love. I really wish I could explain the phenomenon, but maybe I’m just an addict who can’t get enough so it stops fulfilling my needs.

Have you guys ever experienced anything like this? Does it seem bizarre? I’m curious what you think since the rest of the Internet doesn’t seem to know what I’m talking about.