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We’re up all night to Get Lucky! [Or for mental health, your choice]

AWWWW YISSSSSS.

Okay, so not as much fun as Pharell and Daft Punk, but! Still FUN

I’m stepping up – and staying up – to defeat mental illness!

The CAMH One Brave Night for Mental Health(TM) challenge is a Canada-wide challenge to inspire hope for Canadians living with mental illness.

I took the #OneBraveNight challenge because I want to inspire hope for people living with mental illness now – and to defeat mental illness. By making a donation to my One Brave Night, you are helping CAMH improve access to care, conduct research to find better treatments, and build more spaces for healing. 

If ever there was a challenge made for us night owls, this is it!

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS STAY UP! or go to bed and pledge for me to stay up! I PROMISE I CAN DO THIS!!!! YOU GUYS, THIS CHALLENGE WAS MADE FOR ME.

 

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The Problem is, I’m not Winston Churchill

So, in an effort to be more open and honest about my struggle with mental illness, I try to give myself pep talks. I’m like, hey, Winston Churchill had depression. His reference to the ‘black dog’ of depression that haunted him is well known. Then we have a number of well known artists that struggled with mental illness. Today, there are a lot of celebrities that speak about it as well, owning their mental illnesses.

The problem is, I’m not Winston Churchill. I didn’t save the free world from tyranny. I’m also not a well known and prolific artist, whose works are known throughout the first world (and making a gagillion dollars). I don’t have a hit record, a blockbuster movie or a pithy, New York Times Best Selling book about myself and my illness.

I’m just… me. I have a full time job. I get to work on time. I try to make it to the gym. I write books in my spare time and self publish them. I have good friends. There’s a screw loose (no pun intended) in my car on the driver’s side and I think it’s the reason the right side speakers don’t work. I could get it fixed, but it’s $250 just to have the dealership take it apart and LOOK AT IT. And so… I can live with it being broken.  I spilled hummus on my shirt the other day and had to keep on working with a big ol’ hummus oil stain on my shirt. I pay my bills and I try to be good to my friends and family.

So, what do you do if you struggle with depression and you’re not a celebrity or posthumously recounting how you dealt with your troubles while being simultaneously instrumental in saving the free world?

It’s like… it’s allowable to have a mental illness if you’re famous or a celebrity or a creative FORCE OF NATURE. You can be JK Rowling, AFTER Harry Potter is a HUGE hit and tell the world that you struggled with mental illness. (FYI, for the record, JK is the QUEEN OF TWITTER FOR EVER]

You can do all that AFTER you’re already a success. Then it’s just an added complexity and heart-wrenching fact about who you are.  LOOK WHAT YOU ACCOMPLISHED WHILE YOU WERE STRUGGLING. *pats you on back*  A ROUND OF CHAMPAGNE FOR THE PERSON WHO DID ALL THIS GREAT STUFF WITH MENTAL ILLNESS.

But what if you’re just YOU? What if your biggest accomplishment is making it to your job every day on time? Or making it to the gym ONCE A WEEK, ONCE A MONTH, OR EVER? Or heck, making it TO THE SHOWER once a day, once a week or once a month? Then it’s a different ball game, my friend. Those other depressed, mentally ill people, they are in the BIG LEAGUES. They had their struggles and WOW LOOK AT THEM NOW.

What about everyone else that struggled and DIDN’T write a best selling book or save the free world? What if you’re only managing to keep yourself alive and pay your bills?

I feel like no one wants to hear that. It’s not romantic enough. It’s not dramatic enough. It’s not enough that you made it through the day without actively OR PASSIVELY killing yourself. You’re still on the farm team and no one gives a shit about how hard you struggle.

If you feel like you’re in that category – the farm team – I see you. I KNOW YOU’RE THERE. You’re working hard and it sucks and it’s shitty. But your struggle is real and if I had a lottery to make you the winner of, I would. You’re doing it. You’re still here.

 

#farmteamunite, #depressionfarmteam #iplayyourgameanddon’twinbutsurvive

A Personal Post

Internets. I’ve always struggled with how much personal ‘life’ to share. On the one hand, I like blogging and I like putting stuff out there. On the other hand, I’m well aware that in our digital age, we are judged on our online content, and that’s often a tough pill to swallow.

Many times I’ve drafted posts about my struggle with depression and mostly all of those times, I’ve ended up deleting what I’ve written, too scared to hit the publish button. I feel there’s a stigma attached to mental illness. Not as much as there used to be, but it’s there nonetheless. It’s in causal jokes and conversation and as an undercurrent to society. Perhaps I’m more sensitive to it because I struggle with it.

Perhaps not.

At any rate, I’ve made a personal commitment to talk more about mental health. I’m in a really good place right now and that wasn’t always the case. And if this post, or perhaps my subsequent posts on it [as I hope to blog more about this in future] help or reach even one person, then it will be worth it. I worry, though. I worry I’ll put this out there and somehow, sometime, it will come back and bite me in the ass. You know? It’s okay to JOKE about being crazy, but to actually say you struggle is still inviting criticism, scorn and misunderstanding

I’ve been on the same medication for sixteen years and recently, I had to face the facts – it wasn’t working anymore. I was terrified of changing and terrified of not changing. I got lucky. I changed my meds and the new one my doctor put me on is… WOW. IS THIS HOW THE REST OF THE WORLD FEELS? To quote hyperbole-and-a-half, “Maybe everything isn’t hopeless bullshit!” [and if you’ve never read her blog post on depression  and you’ve suffered from depression or know someone that has/is, I highly recommend it.]

I can DO THINGS now. THINGS AND STUFF. STUFF AND THINGS. I don’t have to make a list or have a two hour pep talk. I’m writing book 5 and it’s ACTUALLY PROGRESSING. Book 4 was written in the midst of a depressive spell and every 250 words was like.pulling.teeth. But that book taught me you CAN write something 250 words at a time. The process WILL SUCK. But it’s possible.

But now, I have to write 1000 words a day if I want to meet my personal target for book 5 AND THIS IS HAPPENING!! I can’t tell you the last time I was able to write 1000 words a day FOR A SUSTAINED PERIOD OF TIME. WHAT??? I KNOW!!! no one is more excited than me! [because I always write for me first. Sorry, not sorry. It’s true. I write because I like to tell stories and I like to see them written out. If the internet cancelled indie-publishing tomorrow, I’d still be writing].

I hope to talk more about this in the future. I actually want to write a book about being creative and trying to honor that while also struggling with mental illness. But for now, I’m very happy to be back writing Covencraft and poking at the multitude of ideas that strike my fancy!

So yeah. If you’re the one person in the world that reads this and takes something from it…. Hi. I’m Margarita. I have a major depressive disorder. And I’m living my life and making it work.

 

 

 

 

My Brain is getting Crowded

So. I haven’t been writing lately. Combination of still being in a bit of a funk about Portia, being hella busy with the day job and just… I don’t know. Stuff. I go through these phases where my anxiety creeps up on me and then it seems like everything sends me into a panic. Respond to comments on the blog? PANIC. Sit down to write? PANIC. Pick up the phone at work? DOUBLE PANIC.

I’m trying to break it all down into tiny, manageable bites. Today was to sit down and get 500 words done on book 4. A small goal, one that I know I can do. And then it would be a little deposit of good in my emotional bank. Goal achieved – got 538. And I still have more time to write, so anything else I get now is gravy.

But when I don’t write regularly, my crazy seems to leak out into my dreams. The more I’m away from the keyboard, the more bizarre my dreams get. I tried to write down one I had a few days ago:

I dreamed I was some kind of timeless, immortal woman who had captured some people in the upper floor of this grand old house. They had all agreed to enter the floor, but they didn’t know that as soon as they agreed, they were trapped there until I let them go – everyone was now immortal in this place. It was like a large apartment suite – the kind you would see in a really old castle or townhouse.
I was kind of dressed like I was from teh 1920s. I had a sort of manservant that was outside the apartment suite, or the Tea Room, as I kept calling it. He could bring us [or rather ME since he only did stuff for me] things from the outside world. He brought liquor and food [although we required none] and would take my things out to be drycleaned. he was dying of some kind of cancer and I was going to miss him terribly once he passed.
 
The people I had trapped with me were angry, scared and at times violent. I was more… amused or entertained by this than anything else. I dont’ know what I was planning. I do know that at one point, I curled up in this big easy chair – and this chair, I had the knowledge, used to be in some sort of a men’s club back in time. I opened one of the side pouches and found some cigarettes and lit one. As I sat there, one of the women I was keeping hostage came and sat in the chair next to me and I said something like “How easy it would have been to be a man back then. With items like this at your disposal, everywhere you went.” and I was so angry at how hard it had been to be a woman in history.
 
I had several lovely things picked up from drycleaning by my servant and my hostages ended up playing around in them like kids playing dress up. capes, hats, big scarves and feathers. This also amused me. They thought my things were so extravagant.
 
There was on person who said he wanted to leave, and he demanded it. he was escorted to a weird kind of old fashioned elevator and one of the other hostages went with him, saying he could accompany him on his trip down, but wouldn’t be leaving with him. As the elevator descended, it was consumed by fire, and the man who wanted to leave [he was young, maybe 20 or so?] turned to paper money and then to ash, only his mind was still present and he had this knowledge that he would be burning ashes for the rest of eternity. the fragments of him fell through the bottom of the elevator grate and then the elevator rose again, with the other man who had accompanied the younger, now ash one, coming back to the Tea Room.
 
There were large bay windows for one section and you could see the world outside, but they could not see in.

About two days after that one, I had one where I was playing some kind of game with people where I had to crawl through tunnels and small spaces [this is actually a recurring theme in my dreams. I have to crawl through a vent or some kind of portal and it only works as long as I don’t think too hard about it. but if I DO then I can’t fit through. And I’m always super anxious that it won’t work because I’m thinking so hard about it and then I won’t fit]. I was just about to crawl through a small vent when I noticed there was a stairwell off to my left. I went up the stairs and found myself in the top floor of a strange kind of house. It was like a little self contained place all on it’s own. And there were these two women there, who were more like girls. They were misshapen and didn’t speak any language I understood. and I had this sense that they were kept up in this attic, but not as a punishment. More like… a protection. Their caregiver arrived – a lady that started yelling and screaming at me for finding them and as she rushed toward me, I grabbed a chair and used it to ward her off only I pushed too hard and she fell out the window. And now these strange girls were without a caretaker. The stairs down from the attic had a complicated mechanism that the girls couldn’t use and but that I was able to and I found myself exploring the rest of the house. On the second floor lived another woman. She was the sister of the woman I’d accidentally killed. She didn’t tell me who the girls were, only that they belonged to her sister and her sister had left life to take care of them and so she followed her sister because that’s how their family worked. She was showing me old pictures of them from before they entered the house. they were beautiful women – dressed in fancy items and with silky, shiny, styled hair. I felt awful for what I’d done but I kept remembering how she’d charged at me and I didn’t mean to push her, it just happened. The sister didn’t seem angry with me. But did seem sad about being trapped in the house.

So, yeah. It’s time to start writing again. My brain gets too full when I don’t.

Spending time with your Tribe

Ah! Squee weekend! That time of year I get together with my fandom friends [many of whom write, create art, do crafty things and/or are voracious readers].

And then we talk. We talk about a lot. The thing is, there are things that you need to talk about with your female friends – things you can’t find on the internet, or if you do, you don’t feel as comfortable discussing. I don’t mean naughty or salacious conversations [although we have those too!] but things that are important to us. Not only do we discuss, we problem solve. I love this group of people. We are committed to helping each other out. We’ve discussed feeling overextended at work, feeling overwhelmed by life, not knowing where this particular story is going, not knowing if this idea we have is better as a short story or a novel. We’ve also talked about dying our hair and finding a good mascara and bemoaning finding a good bra that fits correctly (this actually ended with a bra-buying trip to a department store).

It just makes me feel like I belong and that I’m safe with my friends. I know I can bring up a topic, ANY TOPIC, and it will be treated with reverence and seriousness. We’ll discuss, we’ll solve the issue or come up with some things to try and I’ll feel better. And then someone will utter a double entendre and we’ll laugh pass around more wine.

I just love spending time with my tribe!

Inky Thoughts

Inky thoughts – kind of like thinky thoughts but involving tattoos! I got a new one today!

Backstory – when I was nine, I fell up the stairs carrying glasses and scissors. This left me with quite a scar on my forearm. It’s very faded now since it’s OLD and while I’m sure most people don’t notice, I notice it. I notice it a lot. And when people do notice it, I feel like I have to explain what happened. I’m sure I don’t. I’m sure no one really cares. But… it makes me self-conscious and has for 30 years.

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In the above, you can just faintly see the scar, running down almost the middle of my forearm. it’s got a big middle and then long tails on either side. I’ve always thought about covering it with a tattoo. I have other tattoos but they are all in places covered daily by clothes. This would be my first visible tattoo. It took me a while to get to a place where I was like, YEAH, I CAN DO THIS. I feel like I have enough ‘cred’ now in my real life career and also that tattoos are so mainstream now that if I did need to find a new job, having a visible tattoo wouldn’t be an issue.

But, what to get?

I recently heard about Project Semicolon and when I did, it really resonated with me. You can click on the link if you’re interested in why but, suffice to say, the decision was made that some sort of a semi-colon tattoo would be the thing to cover up “THE SCAR.”

And today was the day! I drew up a quick little image a couple weeks back, booked an appointment at a tattoo shop with an artist recommended by a lady in my spin class that has awesome ink. I have another artist I’ve gone to twice before, but I feel like if you want your ink to have a diverse feel, you should try out new artists. I’m VERY HAPPY with the final product. (rotated so you can see the flower upright).

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The semicolon is kind of built into the flower, so the dot is the center and the comma part is the stem. I went with black-grey shading instead of color. I’m just really pleased with it. Since it’s black and grey and a little smaller than my last two tattoos, it was a very short appointment! Under an hour. I can hardly see the scar now! and I know INTIMATELY where it is. 😀

Face Palm [with a side helping of Social Anxiety]

So.

I used to get emailed when someone commented on my blog and I guess that’s not working or I turned it off or something. Anyway. I’m really sorry to the people who commented and only heard back from me today! Epic fail.

Side note – Social Anxiety. Ugh, I know it makes no sense but when I saw there were comments my first thought was, “OH! COMMENTS! YAY!” and then when I realized how old they were my second thought was “OH SHIT! OH NOES. NOW PEOPLE THINK I’M IGNORING THEM AND IT’S SO RUDE. Is it too late to reply back? But not replying back at all is even ruder! okay, it’s okay. It’s an honest mistake! but how did I miss this? oh shit. Okay, okay. WHAT DO I DO. Do I reply back? Do I do a mass post and say I saw them and I’m sorry? I’ll just reply back, and apologize. It’s fine. but SO LATE.” And then I imagined hiding in my bed for a while with the covers over my head. I couldn’t actually do that because, you know, JOB and GROCERIES and LAUNDRY and shit. But…. I thought about it. It’s time’s like this that I identify with Lola’s worried face:

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If you don’t have social anxiety, you’re probably frowning and wondering how/why a person can get so worked up over this. but if you DO have social anxiety, you’re nodding your head and also feeling a little sick in your own stomach because you’ve have had similar experiences and it’s. the. worst.

I’ve been working on my social anxiety for a long time. A LONG TIME. But it’s still there, and likely always will be. And it just… gets set off by stuff. It was set off yesterday by being at an appointment and it was SUPER busy and there were all these PEOPLE and I could just FEEL the anticipation and impatience of the waiters, and the receptionist was working hard but I felt like there was also waves of “I KNOW IT’S CRAZY BUSY JUST CHILLAX” coming off him, and all those things together with me being at a new place was just…  I almost left. But. Deep breaths. And an internal monologue of, “stay the hell put. you booked this appointment now WAIT. You’re fine. it’s fine. EVERYONE IS FINE,” kept me there. And it all worked out.

 

 

Sorry, I can’t go out tonight. I’m in the middle of my werewolf cycle

Things I think about – what if lycanthropy wasn’t really tied to the full moon, but was instead like a cycle that people went through like how women get their period. So every 28 days. BAM. Werewolf. Full moon optional.

Would it be as annoying and awkward as getting your period is? Like… women usually talk to each other about it in code when they’re out in public. “Hey, when I stand up, can you check me, cause. you know.” And then your friend will nod sagely and checks you out to make sure you’re not having an accident. Also, haven’t we all had this conversation with a friend: “Hey, you got any stuff in your purse?” “Yeah, you need?” “Yeah. Bathroom in ten?” – no, it’s not a clandestine drug deal.

But, if I turned into a werewolf once a month, I would hope it would be way cooler. “Oh, I can’t go out tonight. It’s that time of the month. You know, wolf time.”

But then! If we ALL TURNED INTO WOLVES AT THE SAME TIME – WOLF PARTIES IN THE WOODS!

Or would it just end up being annoying after a few years? “GOD, WEREWOLF TIME AGAIN???!! I just got all the hair out of my shower drain from LAST TIME. Ugh. And dont’ even get me started on how many pairs of jeans I’ve ripped through. This is costing me a fortune.”

 

Letters from the Dogs

So, my sister and I are still very much like children. We sometimes have the combined mental capacity of 10 year olds. We amuse ourselves more than any one else with our antics.

One of the things we like to do when one of us is away, is write each other Letters From the Dogs. We have three dogs and tend to miss the little rats when we’re gone. Since we’re generally not on vacation with each other, one of us is still at home on dog duty while the other is away. Let’s see if you can match the dog to their letters. 😉

 

L. Beans

IMG_0072IMG_1357 from top to bottom: Lola, Rocky, Portia

Letters from when Jennifer was gone about 3 days:

Dearest Mother,
Your absence is like a burr in my fur; Obscured to others eyes, but quite noticeable to myself.
I am eating fine now, I thank you for your concerns.
There has been much riff raff in the neighborhood, but I remain ever diligent in reporting any shenanigans I see.
Fresh poultry was served as a snack yesterday. it was very tasty.
Dinner tonight was quite bountiful as we received two servings. I am sure you had something to do with it.
The manservant, Mark, came today to take the dogs for their sojourn. I do not know why he insists I accompany them, but he is quite adamant that I do.
Warmest Regards,

Mummy Jennifer,
Park is fun. I like to sit in the shade. WE got TWO helpings for dinner tonight, TWO. I didn’t even need to beg pork off G-ma afterward. Just went outside and lay in the shady spot by the lilac bush.  Good times.
We got chicken yesterday. I was just sitting there and it started flying. I ate the skin and the dark meet and other bits mummy margarita didn’t want. then she threw the rest out. Crazy! Who does that?

Mumsies,
We gots TWO DINNERS tonight!
Perhaps you have noticed how shinies my coat is? it’s cuz we gets fish oil in our food now. Makes me silky smooth. I like it.
And we got chicken too.
I’m a little bit sleepies right now, so I better go have my late evening nap.

Letters from when Jennifer was gone for the whole month of August
Dearest Mother
Mother Margarita slept in your room the other night. I don’t know why she thought she had the right, but there you have it. She found the quilt somewhat bothersome and took it off and put it on the dresser. She just made that change like she owned the place. It was most distressing. I have not been spending full nights in our room, but quite often take myself downstairs for a little while, enjoying the silence.
There is much afoot in the neighborhood today. Much. I have been working hard at barking and alerting the women folk. Grandmother shared a piece of chicken with us for dinner. Mother Margarita informs me it is five more sleeps until you come home. I look forward to your return.
Warmest Regards,

Mummy Jennifer
I like flowers. I was sniffing the red lillies outside and now I have orange and red pollen all over my face. It’s pretty funny. I helped out with bbq-ing tonight, staying by the grill and making sure all was good. am sacked out right now by the fireplace on the cool tile. Life is pretty good.

Hello,
My mummsies says I knows you and you used to live here and that you’ll be back real soon. She says we knows each other real good. Maybes you lived in the other bedroom? the one we slept in on friday? that’s where Rocky sleeps. Sometimes I go in that room and I cry a little bit but I don’t know why.

When Jennifer was away in Hawaii
Dear mumsies
It has been very chillies. I hope it is warmer in hawaii this year than it was when I went. It has been a good sissmas bacation. Mumsies has been at home a lot. but when she leaves I miss her extra much and I sometimes go back to the door she came in from to see if she remembered to bring yous homes. we gets lots of treats because rocky is barking outside a lot. Today mumsies friend Auntie Donna came over and I sat her in lap and she petted me lots.  we get up at 6 every morning. It’s great.

Mummy Jennifers
I like the nightlights last night. I didn’t get confused. I like auntie donna. we get lots of treats. today, I wanted to pull the blanket but that little one was sleeping on it so I dragged her across the floor. funny.

Mother dearest
I sleep in our room most of the time but sometimes venture out. There is much trickery afoot in the neighborhood. I hear sounds. I bark. Mother Margarita is extremely unhelpful, coaxing me inside with treats. I refuse to abandon my post without one. I go out regularly however and patrol. I will ferret out the usurpers and bring them to swift justice.
Mother Margarita’s ‘friend’ Donna was by. She is loud. I do not like her. I barked at her. I circled her the whole time so that she knew I was there and was on to her. I barked when she laughed or spoke to loud. Finally, as she left, I barked her out the door. I was tricked into the laundry room by Mother Margarita at the last moment and missed the actual gloriousness of her being herded out the front door, but I imagine it was a wondrous site. She’ll not be coming back soon, I don’t think. I retire to bed around ten so that I may be up at 6 when the women awake and start my rounds early. It’s been long and laborious without you but I sally forth.
I remain your humble guardian.