Let Sleeping Demons Lie

It’s World Mental Health Day, and I thought I’d take a little bit of time to discuss mental health–largely because it is most definitely directly relevant to my life. Sometimes I joke about it, because the humor helps relieve the pressure. Other times, though, like right now, I want to be more serious about the subject of mental health. It’s a very serious thing, and one that needs more awareness.

It has been a while since I’ve mentioned this here (because, well, it shouldn’t be something worth mentioning): I’m bipolar. I don’t have it as bad as some people, and the medications keep my emotional state mostly under control, but it’s there all the same. I don’t get to take a vacation from it. I don’t get to say, “Y’know, I think I’m not going to be bipolar today.” It’s there. It’s a daily thing, regardless of whether or not it’s at the forefront of my mind.

The fates have been kind to me lately in that I have been able to almost forget that I’m bipolar–almost. My moods have been running fairly stable, and aside from the daily pill regimen to keep those moods in check I really don’t have any constant reminders these days of the horror that I used to endure. I can’t really describe it adequately in prose; poetry sometimes better conveys the roller coaster of bipolar life. I’m going to add a poem here that the narcissist in me is quite proud of: “Hostage in My Head,” a poem written during a more difficult mental state.

 

“Hostage in My Head” (from Kamikaze Butterflies by AJ Mullican)

Trapped alone

Awash in a sea of terror

No escape from my own deranged thoughts

Impossible futures scroll through my mind

Over and over on a continuous loop

My mental movie screen glows

As the macabre fantasy plays unbidden

Death and disaster overtake reality

Can’t focus on the here and now

When the “might be” looms on the horizon

Against my will my death plays out again

For the hundredth time this hour

I watch my lifeless form slide to the ground

Shot in the convenience store

Pulled from the mangled wreck

Coded mysteriously at work

At the sight of my imagined death

My heart rate soars and pounds

There’s nothing beautiful and delicate

About the kamikaze butterflies in my chest

Every single nerve

Teeters on the edge of a precipitous drop

With a nightmare at the bottom

Just one nudge

One little push

And everything will come crashing down

I tiptoe on the inside

Walking the fine line between sanity and oblivion

Pacing the padded room within my skull

Inside I scream for a reprieve, for escape

Even for sweet, sweet nothingness

But my calls go unheeded

The nightmare begins anew

I am my own personal terrorist

And I am the hostage

 

So yeah. Sometimes it’s like that. Sometimes it’s easy going. Sometimes it scares the fuck out of me. You can never tell what the next day–or minute, or second–will bring. And you know what else you sometimes can’t tell? If someone even has mental illness. That’s right, it’s sneaky shit. The stereotype is always the scruffy guy standing in the corner at the bus station, muttering to himself. That. Is. NOT. Typical of mental illness. Yes, it happens, but mental illness could be as innocuous as a slight slump to the shoulders, an unusual amount of energy, a sigh. There are infinite signs, and they can be infinitesimal.

To anyone reading this who suffers from mental illness, no matter what that illness is, I’m here. I may not be able to fully understand your personal illness, or even your own form of bipolar disorder, but I can talk. I can listen. To anyone reading this who is fortunate enough to be fairly mentally “sound,” if you know someone who is mentally ill, be that person who talks. Who listens. Sometimes just a little show of support and understanding is enough to keep the demons at bay.

For now the demons are quiet, and I think I’ll let them sleep a little longer.

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Kismet…or something

After all the worry, stress, and anxiety, things fell into place in a way I never expected.

Followers of this blog might know that I’ve been working on a little thing called a book series, and that I’ve been agonizing over deciding between self publishing and traditional publishing. I was so nervous about the decision that I couldn’t even consider when or how to start the submission process…so imagine my surprise when I got an offer this morning from a friend in publishing for Book 1!

Things are still in the works, but I’m ecstatic. I’m not going to get too excited though, because I still have a ton of work to do on the manuscript. I’m only halfway through on the adverb issue, and I also have the POV problem chapters and the telling and… yeah. Can’t let my head get too big just yet.

I almost–almost–wish I wasn’t at my first out-of-kingdom event. Almost. I’m ready and raring to dig in to revisions. Get this puppy started. Well, not started. But closer to finished.

Finished… and published.

Westward ho!

The migration has begun! Our Kingdom is trickling west to California, and our little traveling party is off as well. Tonight we’ll stop for a few hours before we finish the trip tomorrow morning.

Nerves have not quite set in, but I don’t think it will take long for them to hit. Strangers. Hundreds and hundreds of strangers. Lots of people I don’t know, and no doubt my inherent RBF will not make it easier to fit in. I wonder if I should practice AFF (active friendly face).

The RBF kinda worries me a bit. I mean, I have this paranoia that everyone in the other kingdom will assume that I’m just a superbitch because I don’t have that friendly expression. So making friends is going to be tough.

Will I actually make many friends anyway though? I’m media-social but not socially-social. Face-to-face interaction is still a mystery. I try to smile at people in passing, but most of the time the people glare back. Maybe they all have RBF too…..

I have to find a way past this social anxiety. If not, I’ll be a human barnacle to my friends, and that’s really no way to enjoy an event.

Must be nice to live that life

I wonder what it’s like to have such a comfortable living situation that working is apparently optional.

almost called out today. My knees and wrist were in so much pain that I almost stayed home, took some tramadol, and curled up into a ball. Did I, though? No. I fucking went in to work. I did my job. 

So what prompted this? I’ll tell you: some of my coworkers seem to be conveniently “sick” quite often– either themselves or their kid(s). Many times on Mondays or Fridays. Or days where the schedule is pretty busy. I don’t know whether to take pity on them for their misfortune or ask them how they get away with it. Because damn. That’s either some rotten luck or some kind of badass mojo that makes you “sick” on tough work days.

I was legitimately in pain today. I should probably have stayed home because to be honest, just picking up a chart or putting on a glove hurt. Standing up and sitting down hurt. Steering the car hurt. But no. I need to work, so I worked.

Maybe one day. One day this series I’m writing will be published, and I’ll be free to “quit working” and just write. Then I can be “sick” whenever the fuck I want.

Not that I’m bitter or anything.

But fuck all, why can’t I get a day off whenever the fuck I please?

War paint

More war prep was done today, and I’m starting to get pretty excited about it.

First off, my husband and I taped and painted our dancing masks with Viking runes for warrior. That was a fun and interesting adventure (in which we learned that one of the smallest pieces of the airbrush is one of the most crucial in dispensing the paint), and it got me a little more revved up for the event. I did some fabric painting as well, adding symbols to represent both Kingdom and Barony on two of our tunics:

Are they perfect? No, but what is? I still think they look pretty snazzy considering the time constraints I’ve had (and the fact that I mostly eyeballed almost every measurement on these).

I feel much better about the war now that things are falling into place. We’re getting to the point where we can start packing early, which is leaps and bounds better than we usually do. I mean, most trips we take I end up packing for the morning of. We’re not leaving for another three days and I already plan on stuffing my bag as soon as we get home from visiting with friends.
I am still a little nervous, but that’s the socially-awkward introvert in me. There will be lots and lots of people there, 90+% of whom I won’t know. It’ll be a challenge for sure, but at least for now I have the prep work and my real job to distract me from that.

All that’s left is to get my creaky old joints to man up and quit whining. The past few days have had me in varying degrees of pain, which is not going to be conducive to a fun fake war experience. I’m hoping that the kinks work themselves out soon because I want to be able to take the field in top form (for me, that is).
Three days until we’re officially on the road to California!

Just in the neck of time

Almost (mostly) done. Just a few necklines to finish off, and the new tunics for the war in California will be finished. With, oh, 4 or 5 days to spare.

I might even get time to add some trim to another tunic or two.

A bonus is the extra time to add “war paint” to our fencing masks. Thanks to an airbrush, some paints, and a modicum of artistic talent (yeah, right), we can make ourselves more menacing on the field–or something. More visible targets? Yeah. Okay. There’s that. But still…I get to paint stuff.

There’s still a ton to get done social media-wise, but I think I can manage to wrap that up in the morning. Or something. I don’t even know what to do with that at this point. I may be in over my head, but I think once I get a rhythm down it will jive okay.

On the good-news front, I have a potential beta reader for when I have Book 1’s revisions done–thanks to Twitter. (See what I did there? Social media segue.) You see, just about every day I tweet a few lines from the WIP with various hashtags. These hashtags are kinda like weekly “looky what I can do” things, where authors get to show of nuggets of brilliance in the hopes of…well, I don’t know exactly what the point is, beyond gaining a few followers and maybe some readers when the book is finished. I think part of the point is the inherent narcissism that seems to be rampant among writers. “See how witty I am? Read my next book to see what I can really do when not under a 140-character limit!”

Speaking of narcissistic writers, I had quite the ego boost yesterday when my blog views shot up (relatively speaking) after that nonsensical post about not having anything to post. Who would’a thought? My deep, existential stuff often goes unnoticed, but write a few paragraphs of drivel and it gets devoured. Go fig.

I had something else I was going to say, something of moderate importance…but I got distracted by my own thoughts and whatever it was is now unimportant.

Error 404: Title not found

Writer’s block sucks, especially when it’s something as simple as a blog title. Or a blog subject, for that matter.

I could write about the stress of prepping for the upcoming out-of-state war event, but I’ve done enough whining about that. I could write a short story or some flash fiction, but again, writer’s block. I could write about the fact that my industrial piercing’s healed enough for me to put my freaking sword barbell in…but that’s not enough for a whole blog post. Hell, it’s freakin’ National Poetry Day and I got nothing. Zilch. Zippo. Nada.

So what am I even doing writing right now? Honestly, I don’t know. I think I’m avoiding doing any actual work, like finishing the tunics that need to be done before the event or revising Book 1 or hell, even practicing rapier stuff. But no, I’m writing a blog. A nonsensical, pointless blog.

Sometimes I guess you just need to zone a bit. Let that mental jelly ooze out. Barf up all the thoughts that have been upsetting your stomach and then wipe the bile off the corner of your mouth and go on with life.

Okay, maybe that metaphor/analogy/whatever was a little bit gross, but you get the gist of it. Basically, even when I have nothing to write, sometimes I just have to write for the sake of writing.

Perhaps tomorrow–or the next day, or the next–we’ll be back to our semi-regularly scheduled programming.