World Mental Health Day 2018

I’ve talked on here before about my struggles with depression and anxiety. I’ve dealt with these diseases most of my adult life. I nearly had to drop out of college because of them. Luckily, I was able to find help for my condition and begin treatment. So far, especially recently, it’s been incredibly effective. I’m more positive than I have been for years. I’m able to deal with my anxieties in a more effective manner. I’m even able to work through my frustrations more. But I’m privileged in this regard.  not everyone has access to the kind of help that I have been able to get. So today, instead of doing a story or a poem, I want to share a few things you can do to fight the stigma against mental illnesses and help out those who suffer from them.

The first thing you can do, if you have the money, is donate to a charity or organization that helps people with mental illnesses find treatment and support. The National Alliance on Mental Illness is one such organization. They provide help and support to many people throughout the United States. If you are a gamer, a good organization to donate to is Take This, which works to fight the stigma in the gaming community and provide resources to help people with mental illnesses at gaming conventions.

The second thing you can do is listen and be there for people in your life who have mental illnesses. If you know someone who suffers from a mental illness, try and be there for them to talk to. Listen to their experiences and try not to judge them for what they’ve been through. Let them know that you are there for them and that you want to understand and help however you can.

The most important thing you can do, if you yourself suffer from a mental illness or think you might have one, is to take care of yourself. If you think you might have an illness talk to someone. If you are scared of talking to a professional, talk to a friend or family member. If you need time by yourself, take it. If you have a creative pursuit, work on it a bit. Do whatever you can do to try and keep yourself going, because you are valued and wonderful just for being alive.

I hope this post helps people to understand how they can do something productive to help a person with a mental illness. I’ll post something more creative soon. In the meantime, take care of yourselves and each other.

Adventures in Microfiction

Hey Internet! Long time no see! How have you been? I’ve been great. And by “great,” I mean, it depends. Some days I’m relatively OK. On others, I have to fight to get myself out of bed at all. My mood has been suffering lately, and if you guess my employment situation had something to do with it, you’d be correct.

When I last wrote on this blog, I had just secured a temporary position as a bookseller in a local community college bookstore. I was originally hired just to help out with the fall rush, but I worked really hard and was eager to please my employers because I thought that they might keep me on as a permanent hire if I did a good enough job. Alas, this was not the case, and so four weeks after starting my job I found myself unemployed once again. Since then I’ve continued to apply to different places, including a greeting card company that is actually looking for a writer (fingers crossed for that one). And now I have retail experience, so I’m a more attractive prospect, especially to bookstores.

I’ve also stopped using Facebook. I’ve had too many stupid arguments about politics on it. Using it has just lead to a lot a frustration and anxiety on my part. A Facebook argument, especially with someone I know in real life, can really exacerbate the symptoms of my mood disorder. So I cut Facebook out of my life (with the exception of auto-sharing my WordPress posts and using messenger on my phone), and I have to tell you, it’s made a huge difference. I feel so much more relaxed knowing that I don’t have to worry about stupid arguments getting out of hand.

What I really haven’t been doing that often, though, is writing. I’ve talked before about being intimidated by the size of the things that I set out to write and how it’s kept me from getting work done on larger projects. Well, lately my mood has been such that even finishing a short story of a couple thousand words has seemed to be too daunting of a task. Luckily, though, I seem to have stumbled on a solution.

A few days ago, I sent the following tweet out to my followers:

I received a few likes. Not that many, mind you, but enough that I got a good thread going. Here are a few microfics from that thread:

 

 

The stories were surprisingly fun to write. They didn’t take a huge amount of effort on my part, mind you, but they got my mind working and helped me to feel like a writer again. All in all, the thread was a fun little experiment. So I think I’m going to continue tweeting out microfics occasionally. I don’t know if they’ll always be in a thread, but you can definitely expect more coming to you on my twitter feed.

Hopefully I will work my way back up to writing longer things. In the meantime, hit that sidebar link and give me a follow on twitter if you want to see more microfics or even just keep up with what’s going on in my life.

Unemployment Eclipsed

Yesterday, the moon blocked out the sun. This event cascaded across the United States, with some areas getting more darkness then others. Historically, eclipses of the sun have been seen as an omen of bad tidings to come. I certainly hope this isn’t the case this time, because yesterday was also the day when I finally managed to land a job.

2017 Total Solar Eclipse

Yesterday afternoon, my parents and I gathered in our backyard. We each had a simple pinhole camera made from a cereal box, some plain white paper, and aluminum foil. Using these simple tools, we watched as the eclipse reached it’s peak. In each of our devices, a small crescent of light appeared on the paper-lined bottom of the cereal box. It was pretty damn cool. Unfortunately, we weren’t lucky enough to live in one of the parts of the country that got total darkness.

After a while, we figured we had seen the best of what we were going to see, so we  went inside and resumed our usual weekday activities, which for me mostly consists of browsing the Internet and filling out job applications. Anyone who has been following my blog consistently knows that I have been unemployed for over a year now. It’s been a frustrating time, as I have run short on cash and had to contend with increased feelings of uselessness and depression. For the most part, I’ve been coping by spending time with friends and playing Dungeons and Dragons. And so, as I was researching paladin builds online, I received a phone call. It was from a local college bookstore that I had interviewed at the previous week asking if I could come in the next day for orientation.

The position is only temporary. It lasts for the first few weeks of the semester as students are coming to pick up there books and supplies. There’s no guarantee of future employment. And yet it is some kind of employment, which means both money and extra experience to put on my resume. Orientation doesn’t begin for a few hours, but already I am wide awake, nervous, and excited. It feels like months of searching have finally started to pay off for real. Here’s hoping that eclipse wasn’t a terrible omen, and that this doesn’t all come crashing down on me.*

*I’m kidding. I don’t believe in omens. Bigfoot is real, though.

Political Depression

I’ll be honest: I’m in a bad state of mind and it’s not getting better. And it’s mainly to do with politics.

Charlottseville shocked me. And had we, as a country, come together to denounce white supremacy, I might have recovered sooner. Instead we got a president who equivocated and a conservative movement that was willing to defend him for doing so. I was amazed by the number of people who tried to tell me the counter-protesters were just as bad as the Nazis, as if that isn’t tantamount to tacitly supporting them. So now I’m scared for our country and questioning my friendships.

Naturally, this is making my depression get really, really bad. Facebook is exacerbating it, but I can’t quit Facebook because I rely on it too much. It’s the main way my D&D group gets in touch. Twitter is better but not perfect, but again there are people who I can only tall to on twitter. Even worse, if I want to grow my blog, one of the best ways to interact with readers is social media.

I am constantly inundated with article after article that makes me question just how selfish and evil and close-minded people can be. I try to get out of it for a few hours but I can’t seem to stay away. I want to be an informed citizen, but I have a hard time feeling like I can do anything. I feel powerless to change the country.

I feel like I’m drowning. This is the worst I’ve felt in a long time. Not even losing my job was this stressful.

Imposter Syndrome, WiFi Connectivity, and Other Things That Give Me a Headache

Hi. Long time no see. Sorry that I haven’t posted for a while, but WiFi connectivity in my house has been spotty at best. I’m actually typing this out on my phone right now. Please forgive any spelling errors.

Lately I’ve been having trouble writing. I’d call this problem writer’s block, but it’s not really lack of ideas that has been holding me back. In fact, it’s kind of the opposite problem: I have too many ideas and I can’t decide which ones to work on right now.

Now before you go nailing me to a tree for complaining about a “problem” that most writers would kill to have, I should explain a couple of things. First of all, I’m having trouble being confidant that my ideas are good. I’ll start writing a story, hoping it will become a novel, then halfway through the first chapter I become convinced that the whole thing is horrible and I should just give up. In other words, I have imposter syndrome. Secondly, these ideas are huge. Each is way bigger than anything I’ve tried to write before. As a result, I become intimidated by the size of what I’m trying to write and immediately feel inadequate. These two problems combined have made it really hard to get any writing done at all. Luckily I have a solution: stop trying to do too much too soon.

The thing I keep forgetting is that it took years for my favorite authors to get where they are. I’m only twenty-six. I’ve got plenty of time to write. I shouldn’t be so impatient to become a novelist. I’ve got plenty of time to work up to that.

So right now I’m just gonna go back to basics and write a few short stories. Nothing huge. Maybe a couple back stories for my D&D characters.

I’m also tossing around the idea of starting a second blog for discussing/writing about D&D and other tabletop RPGs. Something to help me grow my readership and keep me writing on a regular basis. Also, I can write pages and pages about RPGs. I’ve been a DM for years and a player for even longer. I’ve got loads of opinions and experience to draw from.

Anyway, that’s the state of my writing right now.

Depression Book Club: Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

I was going to get this out there earlier in the week, but unfortunately a power outage screwed up my wireless card, so I’ve been having trouble connecting to the Internet. In any case, welcome to the second installment of my new weekly feature, the Depression Book Club, where I talk about books that are either about depression or that have helped me deal with depression in some way.  This week’s book is similar in some respects to last week’s as it is also a comedic memoir by someone with depression. Wishful Drinking, however, does something that makes it stand out in a unique and different way from the previous book: it shows us that even the people we admire and idolize can suffer from mental illness.

Wishful Drinking

Wishful Drinking is the memoir of the late Carrie Fisher, beloved by many for her role as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy. It was written following the electroshock therapy that she underwent to help control her severe Bipolar Depression. This is a fact she mentions in the introduction, as she is not shy about her mental illness. In fact, Fisher even mentions that part of the reason she wrote the book is to help fight the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Her main weapon in this fight is her dry, sarcastic sense of humor, which fills the book with a distinctive character and helps make even the worst of the stories within very entertaining.

It doesn’t hurt that Fisher lead a life that was far from typical. Born the child of two celebrities and later becoming a celebrity in her own right, Fisher had adventures that most of us can only dream, and several that we would never even think to imagine. And yet many of them are familiar, to: the bad break ups, the time your mother embarrassed you in front of your friends, and, of course, the struggle with that strange and horrible force that makes you doubt you own brain. For all the wild and outlandish tales of celebrity, the book never loses its sense of common humanity. That, I think, is it’s biggest strength: it shows us that even larger-than-life celebrities are still human.

Wishful Drinking is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and at your local independent bookstore. If you’ve read the book and want to share your thoughts, or if you’ve got a suggestion for a book to read, leave a comment below. Otherwise, I’ll see you next week.

Depression Book Club: Furiously Happy

It should be no surprise that, being someone who likes to write a lot, I also like to read a lot. In fact, it was my love of reading that got me to write in the first place. So, naturally,  one of the ways that I cope when I’m feeling depressed is by reading a book. I have a feeling that I’m not the only one like this, so I’d like to start up a new weekly feature on this blog: the Depression Book Club, where I talk about a book I’ve read that either talks about depression or has helped me deal with depression. I often find that those two categories tend to overlap somewhat, so what better way to start this off than to feature a book that belongs in both categories. This week’s Depression Book Club book is Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson.

Furiously_Happy
I can’t tell if that raccoon wants a hug or a chance to rip my face off and eat it.

Furiously Happy is a memoir/collection of essays by Jenny Lawson, aka the Bloggess. It is her second book, and deals with her daily struggle with depression in a way that is equal parts disturbing and really freaking funny. From midnight dead raccoon cat rodeos to trips to Australia to her many fights with her husband, Lawson’s life is full of weird and off color moments that combine to form a bizarre yet hilarious picture of what living with depression and anxiety is like. Lawson doesn’t pull punches, either: even though the book is ninety percent humorous situations, there are also plenty of descriptions of what it’s like to live in a world that requires human interaction when you are too damn terrified to deal with people of even leave your house some days. But Lawson manages to use these somber moments in such a way that they just highlight the funny parts, making them all the more funny. Which, now that I think about it, is really the entire message of the book: do what you can to survive the horrible, dark days of your life so that you can love the good parts even more.

Overall, this book is hilarious and poignant and I heartily recommend it to anyone with depression or who knows someone who has depression or who really just enjoys laughing and horrible things. You can find this book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Books-a-Million. If you like Lawson’s writing style, be sure to check out her blog. If you have an opinion on this week’s book or a suggestion for what book I could pick next week, please leave a comment on this post to let me know. Otherwise, I’ll see you all next week when we do this all over again.