Hello 2017

Another year, another New Year’s post. I made a number of goals (not resolutions) last year. Let us see how those worked out:

  • Gotten all 12 years of my notes organized – done
  • Hired a literary agent – looooool, still working on this one.
  •  Leveled out on my meds – mostly
  • Changed jobs, whether that be via “demotion,” change of departments, or taking leave to finish my degree. – done
  •  Dated at least one person – we’re going to call this done, even though no official dates were had. It’s complicated.
  • Learned how to control my awful spending habits so that I have enough to hire a maid. – still working toward this
  • Received my phoenix and compass tattoos – nope

Not too shabby. This means it’s time to set up seven new goals for 2017. Let’s start with the ones I didn’t complete in 2016 and fill in the rest.

By the end of 2017, I will have:

  • Signed with a fabulous literary agent of awesome
  • Learned how to control my spending habits, which includes paying off at least 2 of my school loans and paying off my remaining credit balance. (I’m bound and determined to be debt free by the age of 30. I want to buy a house, dammit.)
  • Received my phoenix and compass tattoos
  • Completed two of my seven remaining college classes
  • Gotten my passport and Canadian visa
  • Become fluent in Spanish
  • Gotten involved in a serious relationship with someone who complements my brand of crazy

I think that sums up my plans for 2017 pretty well. It’s going to be a busy year. A good friend and I have resolved to be more involved in each other’s lives, so I’m excited for that. I’m still struggling a little with my mood and medication, but it’s so much better than it used to be (anxiety is currently high but manageable).

We’re gearing up for an interesting year, that’s for certain. Have you made any goals/resolutions for 2017? Not screaming in frustration at Trump’s Twitter feed, for instance? Let me know in the comments, and happy New Year.

Advertisements

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.

WIN_20150325_202932

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.

img_3890

November 2016

Hello Anxiety

I want nothing to do with anything. My anxiety has been through the roof over this last week. I don’t want to write, I don’t want to do homework, I don’t want to clean, I don’t want to play video games, and I’m paralyzed by every last notion that I have to do something.

Work is one place where that can’t get the best of me. I’m fighting through it. I’m still new, so I’m constantly afraid of doing something wrong. We just changed management so I’m even more nervous. Can’t let it show, though.

Writing is another place where I have to grin and bear it. If I want to be a professional, I have to write whether I feel like it or not. It’s harder than it sounds.

I’m not sure why the shift in my anxiety levels. The first month on Abilify was great but this is a 180 degree turn. No bueno.

Time to sit under my desk and force myself to be productive. I hope you all are having better days.

New Doctor, New Meds

Holy hell, the cost of aripiprazole (generic Abilify) is RIDICULOUS.

Here’s the rundown (fair warning, I’ve been up for 24 hours, so some of the following may be nonsensical rambling):

  • Had first meeting with new shrink. We’ll call him Man-Doctor. Felt like I was walking into rehab: had to take a drug test, all the normal blood pressure/height/weight crap, and then shuffled to a back office to be grilled by the doc.
  • Immediately felt like he didn’t believe a word I said.
  • When we talked about meds, he said the Dr. D already had me on twice the recommended dosage for bipolar disorder, so no increase. 
  • Man-Doctor informed me that lamotrigine (Lamictal) only treats bipolar depression, not bipolar mania. That revelation honestly explains a lot. This is where $$$Abilify$$$ enters the picture.
  • Foot fell asleep during the interrogation, so when I stood to leave I just about fell over. I told pseudo-concerned Man-Doctor, “I’m good. I’m just going to walk like an idiot for a minute.” The doc in the next office over laughed; Man-Doctor looked at me like I was nuts (or maybe I had somehow made an offensive comment?).

Oy. So that’s where I’m at on my road to mood management. I’ve not been too bad–my mania isn’t nearly as debilitating as my depression, so as long as the latter is at bay, I generally manage alright.

Work is a constantly moving target. As soon as I think I finally understand something a new facet appears. Universe: “You’re starting to understand printers? Let’s see how well you understand them in conjunction with this random-ass error.” I’m taking a couple of programming classes which will help a little, but I think my next class has to be network basics of some sort. Welcome to IT.

Pimping out my book is another semi-frustrating task. I’m gearing up to send another round of queries. I missed a super-awesome agent in my last go-around so I plan to remedy that error. The only thing holding me back right now is a piece of feedback I got from a trusted colleague, so I’m debating on making two small edits before sending it into more slush piles. 

Oh, and I’m going to overhaul the query letter. Writing a query letter is like writing a cover letter for a job you know you’re qualified for but have no evidence to prove it unless you get an interview. Writing a query and having to say, “I have no previous writing credits” is utterly terrifying. Somehow “Please read my blog that was supposed to be about writing but turned into a conversation about mental health” doesn’t have the desired effect.

Anyway. I’m probably going on too much about this, but it’s stressful. I know other writers feel the same way.

Thanks for hanging in with me and indulging my brand of crazy, guys. You’re amazing people. Keep at it.