Battle royale

It’s been a while since I’ve had a legitimate bipolar breakdown, so I guess yesterday’s little panic attack was overdue. Still, it would be nice not to have to go through that at all.

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Yeah….

So the marketing process for Abnormal combined with the marketing workshop that my publisher is running on Facebook combined with general anxiety about the projected success or failure of said book all are working together to create that perfect environment for a bipolar freak-out. Last night was the first of what I hope is a minimal number of said freak-outs.

It all started with the sudden realization that the workshop assignments were leading up to us authors identifying and contacting our top genre influencers about our works.

Wait…I have to find out who the top sci-fi/dystopian/LGBTQ bloggers, vloggers, podcasters, journalists, etc, are, then I have to write out emails asking them to read and review my book or do an interview with me, then I have to send out those same emails? Like, actually send them? To people who have thousands and thousands of followers, who probably already lead busy lives and already get gobs of junk emails with the same type of requests? But–but–but…what if I’m bothering them?

Ah, yeah, there’s that irrationality. There’s the anxiety rearing its ugly head.

Fuck you, anxiety. You ruined my evening yesterday.

Fighting with this type of anxiety is a tough one. I can always go to friends or family or to my husband or my publishers with my unfounded concerns, but I can’t always take their logical, rational advice and apply it to the very much illogical and irrational fear I’m experiencing. The irrational fear eats logic for breakfast, chews it up, and spits it out in a sloppy wet wad on the carpet. I always end up stepping square in that wad. I hate stepping on anything wet, literally or metaphorically.

Why is it so horrifying to have to send out some nice, polite emails requesting consideration for myself and my book? I don’t know. Again, it’s an irrational fear. And no, it’s not the fear of them ignoring my emails or sending rejections–it’s the fear of being a bother. A nuisance. An annoyance.

It was difficult to send email requests to some of my favorite authors asking if they’d be interested in having an Advanced Reader Copy of Abnormal to peruse and maybe write a blurb on. I was terrified of annoying them. Of being viewed as spam–even if it was potentially some random assistant who was handling that day’s particular emails. That is what had me paralyzed yesterday. It’s still got me shaken up a bit, but so far this morning no fountains of tears. So that’s progress, right?

Another stressor to add onto these imaginary stressors is the feeling that I have to get all my marketing done before the September 1 release date–which is now ten days away. Ten. Short. Days. My publisher assures me that’s not the case, that I have the entirety of the series to build upon and market to my fanbase, but the timing of the marketing workshop is not helping. Don’t get me wrong–I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to have such a workshop. It’s just giving me a minor heart attack thinking about all the assignments that are being given with “just ten days” in which to complete the assignments.

Ten days…I’m almost in the single digits.

I had my freak-out. I talked with close friends, with my publisher, with my husband. I whined and moaned and misunderstood the assignments and cried and sobbed and overreacted. I did all the things except stay calm and look at it from a logical standpoint. Logically, the bloggers and vloggers and podcasters and journalists are there to build on their own fanbase, and they (theoretically) welcome the opportunity to read and review something that their fanbase might enjoy. Illogically, they’re going to view me as an overeager spammer nobody who needs to leave them alone.

I’m going to get past this. I’m going to finish this post, search for my genre’s “influencers,” and get started on a template to share in the workshop to eventually turn into emails to said influencers.

It may not be within the next ten days. But I have a whole series to get this done in.

Still, better now than never.

Off I go.

Kicking and screaming, but off I go.

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Draw Nigh

Someone I knew not nearly as well as I should have passed away yesterday, and I’ve been trying to take time to process my thoughts and feelings on the tragedy.

I should’ve talked with him more. I should’ve engaged and not shrunk into my shell when he said “Hi” to me at SCA events and meetings. I should’ve … Well, I could fill the whole Internet with shoulda/coulda/wouldas here. Suffice it to say, a great man died, and rather than using my words to console friends and chosen family–other than to send my condolences in a private message to his wife–I spent my day reading how he touched others’ lives and wondering why I wasn’t touched the same way.

In the end, I determined it was my fault. My shyness and social anxiety kept me from knowing this man as well as everyone else did. Sure, I said “Hi” back, and I hugged back, and I answered any questions he asked about how I was doing and such, but I didn’t force myself to really listen and ask questions of my own. The last thing I said to him was something along the lines of “Oh, gallbladder surgery is a piece of cake.”

His gallbladder, it turned out, was not the problem.

So why didn’t I send a Facebook message to him when his wife, who I know a little better, sent out requests for kind words, silly memes, and comfort? I certainly had been Facebook friends with him long enough that I should’ve been able to send a meme to cheer him up in the hospital, right?

There’s that shoulda again.

Maybe it was guilt. I mean, he was already in the early stages of whatever-it-was that killed him, and I brushed it off as a piece of cake. I’d had my gallbladder out over ten years ago with no complications whatsoever; surely this tall man with the booming voice and ever-present smile would make it through something like that just as easily.

There it is. There are the tears that wouldn’t come yesterday. But am I crying for the loss or crying for myself?

I don’t really know for sure, but considering it was seeing “booming voice” that set me off, I’d like to think there’s enough humanity inside me to be sad at something other than my own inadequacies.

I think I’ll miss that booming voice most of all. Of all the heralds I’ve met in my short time so far in the SCA, his was the loudest, the clearest, the strongest. Even in his day-to-day conversations, he sounded like a radio announcer or movie voiceover actor. There was depth to that voice. Confidence. Strength.

“Draw nigh for court” will never sound quite the same. A great voice has been silenced, and it’s going to be a while before any of us are really okay again.

Being #ABNORMAL is not a crime

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Abnormal is rapidly approaching release, and I want to know: What makes you #ABNORMAL?

There are tons of “abnormalities” in life that are criminalized, penalized, or ostracized in society. Transsexualism, LGBTQIA “lifestyle,” being overweight, underweight, tall, short, rich, poor, too ugly, too pretty even. What about you makes you “abnormal” by today’s society? What have you had to deal with due to your “abnormality”?

Let me know. In a comment, a tweet, an Instagram post–let me know what makes you #ABNORMAL. Hashtag #WhatMakesMeAbnormal and #ABNORMAL, and let’s get a conversation going. I want to know what you’ve gone through. I want to know your trials and tribulations due to not being the impossible “normal.”

I want to get “normal” thrown out the window–or maybe redefined. I want us all to be proud of our “abnormalities,” not shamed by them. I want to create a new normal, one that includes all of humanity–no matter what they look like, act like, talk like, whatever.

Whatever happened to the girl who could stab people for hours?

Man, the first time I put a rapier in my hand that was it. Game over, man. I was hooked.

So what happened?

Let me backtrack a bit: I started out super gung-ho about rapier fighting and fencing. I wanted to learn All The Things, and I would get uber frustrated if I didn’t get something right. I went to every practice I could, and I joined a local fencing school to get even more practice in. I did tournaments at events (even though I’m not the greatest at it)–once with a broken foot–, and I even tried melee fighting (which I am even less the greatest at).

Lately, though, and I mean for a good few months now, I haven’t been at it as much. I’ve been withdrawing from the rapier fighting and even exercise days with my rapier friends. Why? What’s got me shying away from the one sport that ever got me excited, that ever made me feel like I could be good at a sport?

Part of it, I think, is that I got burned out after Estrella War. I practiced so much that I just got practiced out. Another part might be that, for whatever reason, my performance in tournaments has dropped significantly. Not that I was ever even close to winning–I wasn’t–but I feel like I’m just flailing around, whereas before I was more focused and driven.

Another part, and it’s not necessarily his fault mind you, but another part is my husband. Due to some … we’ll say “unsportsmanly behavior” … from some more experienced, respected rapier fighters, my husband withdrew from rapier first, before I did. He didn’t want to go to the regular practices, and more recently he stopped going to the rapier academy practices as well. It’s largely a personality clash issue. Not to say that either personality is “wrong,” just that they don’t jive together well. He doesn’t want to go back, but I do…don’t I?

We’ve also been super busy; we go to more out-of-Barony events than we did at this time last year, so Sundays we’re either exhausted from traveling or still heading back from wherever we traveled when it’s time to practice.

I’m still gung ho about trying to get a rapier practice area set up on our land. I’m still plotting that out in my head. But I don’t go and actually practice anymore.

Is it because I live further away now? Well, that would explain the SCA practices, but I’m a tad closer to the rapier academy practices now, so that’s no excuse. I still love my friends and love fighting them and learning from them, so that’s not an issue. So what is it?

Last night I went to a different Barony’s rapier practice. I got to fight a couple of people that I don’t usually fight, and that may have helped a bit to motivate me to do better. I need something more though, some extra push, to get me back in the rapier game. Maybe if I ask my White Scarf for a set day during the week to practice I will get back into things. I mean, I can’t use traveling as an excuse if it’s a work day–I’ll theoretically already be in town.

Regardless of the hows or whys, something’s gotta change. I have to get back at the stabby-stab so I can improve, learn, and excel.

I just gotta figure out tho hows of that bit.

 

Near a fortnight

Wow…almost ten days with no posting. Where’s my mind been?

Oh yeah: embroidery commission deadline and SCA event and house stuff and work and…

There might just be a few distractions in my life right now. Lol I’m making headway on the embroidery and SCA should soon slow down a bit, but there’s still a ton of stuff going on with the last-minute house things and, of course, work is work.

Last weekend I ran my first rapier scenario as part of a tournament. It was pretty fun, and the fighters seemed to like it. I even got accolades and recognition from the event steward (who is herself a rapier fighter), though she gave me more credit than I deserved. I did the one thing, but for the most part I just helped out the Master of Defense who was truly running things for the tournament. Still, it was nice to be able to get my feet wet with running a tournament and kind of see what kind of prep is needed. Who knows? Maybe next year at this event I’ll be in charge of the whole tourney. We’ll see. 😉

This week I have to make a PVC “sheath” for our rapiers, because the prince and princess who will be stepping up in a week and a half don’t want exposed blades around them when we’re on guard duty…which I understand, but I don’t think they realize that, in order to be legal for fighting, rapiers have to have caps on the end. Secure caps. Which means a standard sheath is not going to work. So I have to improvise. I just hope I have enough scrap leather to cover the PVC so it doesn’t look so much like a plastic pipe. Yay for Barge contact cement and leftover suede from a project last year.

Depression’s not too bad compared to a couple weeks ago. I’m still a bit down from time to time, but for the most part I’m doing okay. Taking my meds and all that jazz.

Writing is still at a standstill, but I’m hoping that once SCA stuff calms down I will break through the block and get moving on Book 2.

Sneaky little sh!t

Well that was unexpected.

There I was, filling out a form at the rheumatologist’s office, when all of a sudden it hit me: I’ve been mild to moderately depressed for a good two or three weeks and I didn’t even notice.

I should have noticed, but I guess I’ve been so busy it just snuck up on me. I haven’t been super interested in the usual stuff, and that should have been a big sign. Combine that with the fact that I ran out of my meds, and it’s hard to believe I didn’t put two and two together. (Not to worry; all the meds are in the process of being refilled.) It just wasn’t until I checked the box stating that I have been experiencing depression that I even gave it a thought.

I guess that’s kind of a good thing, if you look at it a certain way. I was doing well enough for long enough that I almost–almost–forgot I am bipolar. Almost. So much else was going on that “bipolar” and “depression” kind of simmered on the back burner while I dealt with the now.

(Hubby just asked me what I’m writing about. I told him, and he has properly scolded me for not taking my meds.)

To prevent further issues, I have had the pharmacy put my meds on auto fill. Clearly I can’t trust myself to keep track of that kind of thing right now.

One thing that hasn’t surprised me is the increase in arthritis pain and stiffness lately. I’ve gotten out of the habit of exercising a couple of times a week and it’s taking a toll. Work schedules don’t allow for much exercise though, at least with my friends’ current regimen. Their best days and times happen to occur on the longest work days of the week for me, so I don’t get the opportunity to join them often. When the opportunity does arise, I’m usually so exhausted–both physically and mentally–that I just don’t have the drive to go. My joints have noticed the lack of exercise. Oh, how they have noticed. I can’t sit in one position too long or my knees get really stiff and uncooperative. Just this afternoon, on the way to the doctor, I got out of the car at a gas station and almost couldn’t walk inside. My left knee was so stiff and painful that I had to limp most of the way into the store and a little bit inside before I regained adequate range of motion. Not quite to “handicap parking”-level loss of mobility, but definitely not my norm.

I think I have a psychiatrist appointment next week. Better brace myself for the inevitable lecture on keeping up with my drug regimen. At least I am aware of the problem before I go in. I can try to remember not to automatically tell the doctor that everything is “fine.”

You’d be surprised how easy it is to slip into that automatic response no matter how bad things actually are. It’s become customary to say that you’re “fine” when someone inquires how you are doing. We don’t want to burden friends and family with our problems, we don’t want to sound like we’re whining, or whatever the reason happens to be. I have to get over that enough to let my doctor know what he needs to know. He can’t help if I don’t let him know there’s something going on, after all.

Stranger in a familiar land

I’ll be the first to admit: I don’t go over to my parents’ house as often as I should. Once a week for laundry and watching Project Runway and maybe dinner if we can swing it. I mean, we’re moving in right next door, so we’ll theoretically be there more often soon, right?

Well, maybe not. Apparently, visiting Mom whenever I get the chance and trying to get her to go to the doctor when she’s been sick for over a week and not going along to the dog training classes for her new service puppy qualifies as being “disrespectful” according to my little sister’s out-of-the-blue texts this afternoon. No warning, no prior complaints of lack of respect from her, but now it appears I’ve been treating Mom so poorly that sis “can’t watch” much longer. What. The. Actual. Fuck.

Never mind that our brother is in a constant state of getting himself arrested, lying to Moms face, bringing unsavory individuals into Mom’s home…I could go on, but that’s a blog for another day. Suffice it to say, I’ve suddenly been blacklisted in my parents’ house and I have no idea where this is coming from.

My sister has made her…distaste, let’s say…for my husband known for quite some time. She doesn’t like him yelling at the dog who jumps up on him and chews on his arm, and rather than be rational about it, she blows up. He doesn’t hit the dog, doesn’t make sudden angry movements. He yelled. And when he was instructed not to yell anymore, he stopped. But I guess not praising the dog when he didn’t know that praising was part of the training is “disrespectful.” We’re supposed to know the rules even though we didn’t even know the new training was going on until last Friday. And the few rules we were taught on Friday, we followed. But no, we are apparently not treating Mom right by not knowing how to train the dog.

There’s gotta be something else going on, something underlying. The dog training thing can’t seriously be the straw that broke the camel’s back unless there was a fucking crapton of straw piled up. If our brother can be the Grand Poo-bah of Fuckups that he is without repercussions or consequences, there has to be something that I’m missing.

I’m just too pissed to ask what it is without making things worse right now. I can’t be trusted to use my words in a productive manner until I’ve had a chance to calm down.

I haven’t broken the law. I haven’t brought a criminal to have dinner with Mom and the family, lied about still associating with said criminal, then gotten Mom involved in the legal ramifications of hanging out with said criminal. But I’ve been “disrespectful.”

Why the double standard? Why does our brother get away with his bullshit when I am living a responsible life and not getting Mom caught up in drama that only serves to further stress her out?

Okay, I guess I’ll go over it in this blog today. Why not? I’m venting familial frustrations, might as well go all out.

So if I were to list his transgressions here, the Web would run out of memory for it. He has been the playing the victim in his self-destructive actions for years, and he’s been pulling Mom into his insanity–both figurative and literal–for years as well. Don’t get me wrong; I love my brother, but I can’t condone or enable his actions any longer. He. Doesn’t. Learn. He just doesn’t. I don’t think he really wants to. Why bother learning from your “mistakes” when they’re 100% forgiven and forgotten? Clean slate #72. Time to fuck up again.

Me? I try to learn from my errors. I take my meds for the most part. I take responsibility when I forget or run out and I get a little “off.” I don’t go playing the blame game, sidestepping any true accountability. I have never been in trouble with the law, never gotten arrested, and the few times I ended up in the wrong crowd, I’ve extracted myself from the situation without getting my family involved in my mistakes. But no, I’m the disrespectful one.

I’ve got a stable, successful career. My first book is in the process of being published. I’m in the process of getting my own house built so I can get out of apartment life and have even more stability. I try not to impose on my parents unless I absolutely have to. If I didn’t need to do laundry there, I wouldn’t even use their house for that. I’d come over to visit and watch Project Runway and have dinner and then go back to my home and do laundry in my own washer and dryer.

Is that her issue? Does my sister think my weekly visits are 100% about the laundry? If so, she is woefully mistaken. I could easily DVR the show on my own and watch it from the comfort of my own home. I don’t have to go shopping with Mom on occasion to have some “us” time. I do these things to keep from losing all connection with the family that is growing into strangers, especially my mom. How is that disrespectful?

Maybe if I ever get over being so angry I’ll calm down enough to respectfully ask why my sister is so angry with me. She doesn’t seem to have a problem with our brother, so I don’t understand why this dog training thing suddenly resulted in a bunch of texts detailing what a horrible person I am.

I don’t want to become alienated from my family, but it’s looking like that’s the way the cards are falling. I typed up a post a few days ago about my brother and the fact that he was hospitalized last month after getting the shit beat out of him and no one in the household told me. No one. My own brother. In the hospital. With a broken orbit among other things. Not a freakin’ word. Combine that with today’s drama, and it makes the jabs about “disrespect” sting all the more. Perhaps that’s why I sound so hung up on my brother’s screw-ups. He gets himself beat to shit (likely because of associating with the criminal element I mentioned earlier), and not only does no one “respect” me enough to tell me, but they take him in and coddle him while I’m being cast out.