If you follow me on social media of any kind, you might have noticed how I’ve gone a bit quiet and that I’ve been having a bit of a rough time. Not the worst, but just rough. I figured I’d lay it all out stream-of-consciousness style for you to read or ignore or whatever. My brain’s a bit foggy so forgive me if it’s not my best work.
I should start off by saying that while this post may seem a bit dark, I’m okay, happy, and just a bit sick right now, which will affect my book releases; that’s what I’m trying to say, even if I go off somewhere. Nevertheless, I hope you follow along with me as I just blow through these lines without deleting much of anything besides typos.
For you to truly understand where I’m coming from, I feel it’s important you know a bit about my medical history. It is by no means as awful as it could be, but it’s still relevant to why I’m writing this now.
Ever since I was a little kid (around second grade or so), I’ve had some form of illness preventing me from doing things I enjoy—or hell, things anyone does like socialize, go to school, be with friends, read, write, watch TV, and the list stretches on to infinity.
At first it was anxiety.
I remember dissociating as early as third grade during story time. I sat at the back of the room on the carpet, convinced I was dreaming, that I did not belong in my body, that I wasn’t real, and had my first panic attack in front of 20 other kids who had no idea what was going on any more than I did. I remember rushing to the girls’ bathroom , just needing to be alone with these horrifying thoughts, and my teacher at the time (I remember her name, but I won’t mention it) ran in after me, shaking me by the shoulders demanding what was wrong, screaming into my face and telling me I couldn’t just leave class.
I missed school from the middle of fourth grade to the beginning of fifth grade trying to figure out what was wrong with me, going to countless doctors, specialists, herbalists, and physiologists before I was diagnosed with the mental illness that has plagued every female (and some males) in my family as far as I can trace.
Then in sixth grade, I became completely bed-ridden from debilitating headaches. I was put on homebound and my teachers came to see me three times a week, and I would cry at the thought of having to sit upright, of having to think with all the pain filling my head. More doctors, more questions that remained unanswered. This amped up my anxiety and I believe was a contributing factor in building my depression, this isolation and not knowing what was wrong. If I saw a commercial on TV for pills to treat anything I was convinced I had that illness, whether it be benign or terminal.
It turned out to be severe allergies, for which I had to get shots once a week for around two or three years.
Then I had a blissful reprieve until I broke my leg in eighth grade, resulting in a year and a half of more homebound, more isolation, anxiety, depression, two surgeries, and the first draft of Sunshine.
Throughout college, I had bouts of depression and crippling anxiety, but I forced myself out of it most times, convinced that if I kept moving, I could avoid it.
Then my dad died and it opened my eyes to a lot of things, one being that I was not as strong as I’d made myself believe, and that while that was okay, it had gone on for far too long. So I got put on medication and was fine for around four years.
Then came weight gain (50 pounds of it) without any change to my mostly vegetarian, plant based diet. Antidepressants fuck with your metabolism, so while I was more or less healthy, I was gaining weight and unable to lose it no matter how much I exercised.
I’m not a vain person, but when you look in the mirror or try on clothes and don’t recognize what you see, it really screws with you. Suddenly, I was back in third grade, questioning if I belonged in this body, if when I looked in the mirror the face staring back was mine.
So I switched to a medication for a month, had awful side effects, and switched again, adjusting dose after dose until I leveled out.
When the only insurance you can afford is through the state, there aren’t many doctors that will see you. In my area, there are so few that you’re convinced they don’t even exist and you resign yourself to suffering through viruses and forgoing treatment when you need it. However, I needed a refill of my medication—the thing that kept me more or less normal and functioning—and when my old doctor informed me that they wouldn’t do it without an appointment (that my insurance now would not cover), I was desperate and I found a different one.
This man was a predator in doctor’s clothes. Someone who spoke little English and used it to his advantage to remove my clothing himself and “examine” me when all I had come there for was a refill. This led to a bunch of legal stuff and I’m unsure if I’ll ever know the outcome. I can only hope he isn’t in a position to do the same to someone else.
Anyway, all of these things combined brought the depression back, and I was in a hole for three months where I barely worked, didn’t write, and mostly kept to myself. Even with the aid of a new doctor I trusted and a new dosage that usually worked, too much damage had been done.
This post has nothing to do with excuses, just causes. I’ve never been one to use being sick, especially where my mental illness is concerned, as a crutch. I never say “I can’t do this because of XYZ”. Instead, I find myself more so saying things like “I want to do this but XYZ is making it difficult/impossible”. These are facts, not giving up, not failing. Just truths that once I come to terms with them, once I’ve tried every angle and still can’t find a way around the issue, force me to look at the situation for what it is and accept it. There isn’t anything saying that these obstacles are permanent, that I won’t be able to DO THE THING eventually, but sometimes, it’s unavoidable to put things on the back burner, and that’s okay.
Inwardly I’ve always been “sensitive” or “susceptible” while outwardly being “strong” and “impenetrable”—again, always moving so the things that bother me can’t have a chance to catch up. It’s always been my way of coping, and I’ve only recently come to terms with this part of myself. I never want people to feel bad for me, to pity my life, to judge me based on things out of my control. My message has always been to be as transparent as possible in order to connect and help others going through similar experiences.
Now, just in the past week, I’ve been having migraines unlike any I’ve had before. It could be from stress, could be from getting older, but bottom line is they’re crippling. Thursday I was blindsided—quite literally. I couldn’t see, I couldn’t move, and any noise or light was excruciating. Then in the days after, I suffered from residual headaches, muscle aches, extreme fatigue, and, you guessed it: anxiety and depression.
I just went to the doctor yesterday and they’ve prescribed me something for if it happens again, but it’s really knocked me off my feet, made me question what I’m doing, how many angles I’ve tried to overcome certain obstacles, and how I’m spending with my time and energy. How much of it is spent working and hustling and how much is spent actually taking care of myself?
It doesn’t take a genius to guess the percentages.
So what does this all mean? Dunno. It means I’ve got another obstacle, but by now I’m pretty prepared for some illness wreaking havoc in my life. It’s been the rhythm of my existence and I’m okay with it as long as there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. It makes things harder and slower, but all things considered, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Instead of a tunnel, life right now is more like…a tunnel with holes in it? Instead of one point of light, there are multiple holes showing me the outside world, what I’d be missing if I withdrew into myself right now or ignored how I felt by pushing through things as usual. There is the end goal of being better at the end, but little goals and milestones along the way that get me by. It’s much better than just the tunnel. More realistic. More attainable.
Al and I are buying a house, which we should be moving into next month. My little sister is getting married, and I’m one of her maids of honor and I’m so excited to be there on that day, and it’s fall, my favorite season of the year.
Things are changing. The leaves are dying to make way for winter, then the growth of new life. The cycle goes on and on; death and rebirth.
Today, I decided to change too. I’m not going to be pushing myself as hard, and at the same time I will try my hardest not to scold myself for not doing enough when there are 10,000 words and 10 clients that say otherwise. I’m going to do what is necessary to take care of myself, mentally and physically. I want to experience things without the fog of pain or the pressure to recover before I’m ready.
At the beginning of this year, I hit the ground running and planned out all of my releases and writing goals. It had been my aim to release a novel once a month for the remaining three months of the year (October, November, December). However, taking two years off has taken its toll on my ability (in my opinion) and, though it seems dumb, relevance in the indie community. Indie authors put out books at a minimum three or four times a year. Anything less and people are said to lose interest, and I guessed I was above that—or at least convinced myself as much when I needed to step away.
I don’t want to struggle anymore to find a voice, to reach readers. I’m tired of screaming into the void and hoping something echoes back at me. I think any artist feels this way from time to time, and being sick and not at the top of my game only amplifies this. I want genuine connections and feedback, not just numbers to add to reviews and page turns on Amazon. All of this takes time, and I’ve come to the realization that for a while, I’ll be rebuilding an audience to some extent.
See? Death. Rebirth.
Moonstruck will still be released by the end of October, since so many people are excited about it and it’s nearly done (I was just at the last two chapters before this whole migraine thing happened). It’s been five years since the release of my first book, and it’s important that this one be set loose into the world on Sophie’s birthday.
However, I don’t want to push too hard. I don’t want to make myself sicker or less able to do my job and tell my stories to the best of my abilities, and I know that keeping such a tight schedule is hindering these things. So, for now, my releases are going to be a little more spaced out. Not by much, but more than I was planning.
Bloom is getting pushed back to December as of now, and possibly more if I need more time gathering interest for it since it’s a really important shift for me and now more than ever I want a book to do well. Other releases I’ll probably announce closer to when they’re being completed.
It’s incredibly difficult to admit defeat, especially when writing is my life, the thing that gets me out of bed, the thing that has helped me cope with all the issues I’ve outlined and more. I don’t want to be a failure, a disappointment, a lazy writer. But I can’t run myself into the ground either. I can’t force words out of my hands any more than I can force these migraines to leave my skull, the dark cloud to disappear by turning on a light, the anxiety to vanish with one look under the bed. I can’t pretend everything is fine when I’m floundering. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still writing—more than ever before—but for now I’m choosing to be more selective in when to share it all.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you. Not sure if any of this was coherent or even getting across what I set out to write, but hopefully something in here makes sense. Thanks for sticking with me.