Writer’s Burnout

Oh my God, I think I have writer’s block.  I can’t settle on a topic, can’t choose a project, and have started this blog seven times. I can’t focus to edit the WIP and I can’t decide on anything for the blog, and I can’t create something new for the Patreon, so I am panicking.  I finally have a little time to write, given that school is out for the day for elections, but I have nothing.

Election Day in the USA!  Right??  No!  I tried that topic, but I don’t have anything to say that I haven’t said already.  Any seasoned reader knows this is one of my top five holidays’, and I of course did my civic duty bright and early.  You should do the same…and that’s literally all I have to say on that. 

I opened my WIP and stared at it for a few minutes, so if that counts as writing then I am doing just fine.  And I also tried to pen some Patreon poetry, but it is lacking.  So instead I will obsess over what to post tomorrow until I finally force something out of myself that I don’t quite love…ick. That sounds terrible.

A weatherman on Twitter said that if you live within 200 miles of a Great Lake, expect the snow this weekend.  Since I live literally two miles from one of those guys, I suppose autumn is over now.  Maybe that’s why i feel so tired.  We just changed the stupid clocks again, so naturally it feels like 6pm right now though it is not even three in the afternoon.  I want a cup of cocoa and a good movie and a blanket, but I am pushing myself to live life…which I shouldn’t, in a sense.  There’s that quote, that if you don’t make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.  That is so true, and I am trying to remember that as I sit here and try to convince myself that taking a bubble bath would be a productive thing.  It doesn’t feel that way…but it is.

No.  I refuse to bend to writer’s block; I will only suffer a little writer’s burnout.  Easily remedied by an easy to make dinner and a Hulu subscription. Away I go.

Even on the Bad Days

I had some topics ready to go today, but I don’t feel like it.  Today it has been cloudy and gray, and my mood has reflected the weather. 

I had therapy yesterday for the first time in a long time.  I unloaded everything onto her, and she agreed with my self-diagnosis of Acute Stress Disorder, and then she remarked that most people in my situation of unyielding stress would have given up by now. She called me strong and resilient, echoing the sentiments I often receive from my mother, who calls me the strongest woman she knows.  But…was there another option?  My friend Carey gets this comment a lot, too, and always answers the same: what else am I supposed to do?  Seriously.  We would like to know.

Both of us do not agree with the concept of suicide, ergo neither of us consider that an option right off the bat.  And then there is the other options…I could have a breakdown and spend a little time “on vacation.”  Or I could simply choose not to get out of bed in the morning.  And yes, sometimes, both seem like viable options.  But they aren’t.

Because if you stay in bed, it can’t get better…there’s no opportunity for improvement.  And if you check out, same thing…it’s just running away.  If you truly want it to get better you have to stand up and fight, and put in the work to make it better.  You have to be strong.  You have to be resilient. There is no other option.

Because of the stigma of mental illness, many people think my diagnoses make me weak.  On the contrary, nothing has made me stronger than having to battle my own stupid brain chemistry every single day. 

So, I like to think, on days like today, that while I am tired (oh-so-very tired,) I am still strong.  While I might not write the big blog post I intended, I can still write something…even if I don’t really want to.  Because I have to push on, no matter what.

There are no other options.

Housekeeping: So I have paid for my domain names, so you can still find me at hamneggs17.com and brigidhannon.com!  My plans still need funding, however, so feel free to drop me a tip in the jar to the right.  (Also, if my pages get wonky any time in the next month, let me know.  I’m not sure how many premium features I am using at the moment.)  Also, and this is kind of unrelated, but I have a job interview tomorrow which would be super helpful right about now, so fingers crossed.

Oh, look!  The sun came out!

Death of a Smile

Housekeeping first:

By next week, my domain names will expire, because I haven’t enough cash for the webhosting bills. So it will be back to wordpress.com/hamneggs716 and wordpress.com/brigidhannon for a bit, until finances are situated. Thing is, we are very strapped and have to move apartments during a rent spike, so this is not the month for this bill. If you would like to help out, I would direct you to the tip jar link on this page, where you can make a donation that will go directly towards writing expenses, like this damn domain bill. Also, CashApp for Ham ‘N Eggs is: $hamneggs716. (Just throwing it out there.) But in the meantime, I will have to scale it back a bit.

Anyhoo…here’s a blog:

In middle school., we learned about eating disorders.

I myself was an overeater-I discovered the why and what of it all and was able to heal from the trauma that caused it, and find healthier ways of eating.  This took years, but I came to have a good relationship with food.  But this isn’t about having an eating disorder, it’s about what that health class in 6th grade stuck up inside my brain, one little fact that fixed with me for some reason: bulimia teeth. 

I learned that when you were bulimic, sometimes, your teeth rotted and chipped due to the profuse vomiting.  I don’t know why this stuck in my head…probably because the universe is an author, and we love to foreshadow. 

I was rewatching one of my TikTok’s when I noticed it.  My teeth were…not right.  Now, you have to know two things going in: 1, I have always had perfect teeth.  “Movie star teeth,” my dentist called them.  2, I have more body and appearance confidence than I have any right to have considering I spent my adolescence as a fat, four-eyed, balding weirdo.  Since about 8th grade, I have eschewed beauty culture for body positivity, embracing the “you be you” side of the lens. 

Well, folks: my teeth are screwed up from vomiting due to gastroparesis and I’m super insecure about it.

They have eroded a little.  There are cavities.  There are a couple of chips in the back.  They are weak, and discolored, and I am self-conscious for the first time in a long while.  I have found that it is super easy to love the skin you’re in…until you don’t.  Until you look in the mirror and don’t recognize the face staring back.

I want my glasses back, too.  I like not wearing them, especially when watching a movie at night, but I hate having to put on specs to read, and I wish I could just wear a pair all the time.  I can, actually, I just haven’t gotten the prescription yet.  I was on the fence; now I think I’m over it. 

Because since not having my glasses, I have noticed my teeth. So maybe they are connected.  Probably.

E tells me I have a beautiful smile every time she sees me, and the flaws are hardly noticeable, because she knows I am insecure regarding it, and she wants to reinforce that I am beautiful to her no matter what…I know I am.  I love her for her efforts.  Still, I see my once perfect smile eroded, and I only think the worst.

I have to call a dentist, but I’m scared.  Scared it will hurt, scared it will take time and money, scared I won’t like the result.  But I don’t like what I have right now, and it will only get worse, so I have to human-up and do it.

In the meantime, I will be smiling with my mouth closed, because I am self-conscious, and battling with insecurities I haven’t felt in years.  I am damn near 40, and yet, I feel like I am 12 again when I look at my smile, and feel that old familiar pull of frustration and shame that comes with not seeing yourself the way you want to.  Someday, I hope I look in the mirror again and smile…maybe with fixed teeth, maybe without. 

Either way, I will work on trying to accept myself, because even when you are 40, body image is a bitch.

Stress Monster

Acute stress disorder.  I was diagnosed with this once, after what I suppose could be deemed a traumatic event.  It’s like short-term PTSD.  It resides in a different timeframe, so you can develop it anywhere from days to months after the event.  PTSD takes longer.

There’s lots of symptoms for both, but I will focus on my own, the major one being vomiting.  I throw up when I’m stressed, I already know this; it is a hazard of gastroparesis.  Alas, it should not be landing me in the hospital.

Over the past two weeks, I have had a LOT of stressors.  I think that the “smaller” stress compiled itself, and launched me into acute stress disorder again.  It feels the same as last time.  And of course, I’m sitting here wondering what traumatic event could possibly have brought this on and, oh yeah…my mother.

I am happy to report that her chest is now closed up, infections are gone, and she will finally be leaving the ICU after three months.  I am less happy to report that I haven’t been sleeping, I’ve been puking every day, and am consumed with racing thoughts.  I put a call in to my doc and counselor, so hopefully someone will get back to me today, because this is absolutely ridiculous.

I really wish I had more to write about right now.  Truth is, I do, but my fingers are numb.  I want to write about camp, which starts Sunday, but honestly, I’ve got work to do on that front that kind of takes precedence over a longer blog post.  No, I don’t know when I will be updating next, as I will be working nonstop next week, but I will catch you when I catch you.

Can’t turn that into another stressor: CANNOT.

It’s My Party, And I Will Cry If I Want To.

Today is my birthday, and I am trying to be positive but it isn’t working out.

Mom has been in the hospital for over a month, but what she is supposed to be doing right now is taking me out for pancakes.  So far, every moment of the morning has been permeated by the thought that my mother isn’t present.  It is depressing me, and the fact that I got a free iced coffee this morning for no good reason is, so far, the high point of my day.

Bernie is baking me a cake, and if it doesn’t rain this evening, we are going to some sort of hippie congregation at the park.  But what I’m not doing is having a barbecue with my mother’s cucumber salad.  See?  Every happy thing seems to be getting cancelled out by a sad thing. 

I’m going to see Mom this afternoon, so that is something to look forward to.  Bern claims that she said my name the other day, so I’m going to see if I can get any noises out of her.  Then I’m going to stop by my Gram’s house and see her, which always cheers me up, so hopefully by the time Bern shows up with cake, I will be in a better mood. 

But right now, my iced coffee is gone and my hand keeps falling asleep as I type, so…bye.

Price Point

Today I went to check on my chappie on a whim, just to see if maybe a review came in that I hadn’t noticed.  I haven’t checked in with her in a while, so suffice it to say that when I saw she was now listed at 25% off, I threw a hissy-fit.

My immediate thought was whose pocket is this money coming out of, and it had better not be mine!  Second thought, what do I do now?  Well, God bless Google, because apparently this is an oft asked question and it led me to several forums and articles about what to do when your book price drops.

Now, I have been assured by a few sites that the money is not deducted from me, but I’m not 100% sure who is footing the bill, be it the publisher or Amazon.  I just know it ain’t me, and that’s fine.  Many sites suggest buying up your book when this happens so you can sell them at full price by hand, which is not a terrible idea…right now it would only cost me a couple of bucks a book, in the long run, and I would have stock to do a signing or something.  Still, my writing funds are low-I only use what I make writing for my writing.  It’s a career that supports itself, at the moment. 

Alas, that kitty will grow if I can sell a few of these ladies at their new rate…so if you haven’t yet grabbed a copy of A Lovely Wreckage, I invite you to CLICK HERE and get it while it’s 25% off.

I think that if it drops lower, and I can scrape together the funds, I will buy up whatever is left.  The reasoning for price droppage that I found was either that Amazon determined it will sell better at that price point (no, not out of the goodness of their hearts-they want to make that money,) or they have a stock they are unloading.  Either way, if it goes lower, I’m snatching them up.  Then I’m finally going to try to figure out how people end up with signings and such.

Soon, I will hopefully also have single-run limited edition copies of my minichap, and ideally, I’d like to be able to sell the two of them together.  Alas, I am waiting on my editor to get back to me.  A month ago he said we were almost there…then nothing.  I sent an email a few days ago, but I know he is busy not only with the press but also the bookstore he is opening.  So, I will bide my time and hope.

Speaking of hope, I just remembered my other minichap…did I tell you about that one?  It’s about nature through the lens of depression.

You know what?  Let’s save that for another day.  Like the day it gets picked up.  I don’t want to rain down any bad juju on it.

Anyway, go get a copy of my book, so I can get some copies of my book.  Please, and thank you.

Happy Thursday.

S.A.D.

My first depression-related diagnosis was Dysthymia, which is like a low-grade depression that lasts over an extended period of time.  Then I was upgraded to Major Depressive Disorder, which pretty much means depression is my baseline and anything else is an improvement.  Now, there are all kinds of depression, but today I am talking about one that I have not been officially diagnosed with, because it is a sort of depression offshoot: Seasonal Affect Disorder, or SAD.  (The acronym is hilarious.)

Because I have MDD, I haven’t been diagnosed with SAD, despite the obvious symptoms of it.  I recall once many years ago when I went to a new doctor and they did a full blood panel, and discovered that I had low Vitamin D.  My doctor literally said “but then, so does all of Western New York.”  Which is true, because despite our beautiful summers, we don’t get much sunlight ‘round these parts, especially in winter.  Winter is cold and snowy and dark.  Spring is rainy and gray.  Even our Autumn carries with it clouds and potential for snow.  It’s just generally “blah” around here sometimes.

My husband suffers greater in the winter.  He spends a lot of spare time sleeping, and always packs on a few extra pounds. However, once the sun starts arriving daily, he is up and about and moving and exercising and everything you would expect a healthy, cheerful individual to do.  It is entirely dependent on weather for him sometimes, and I saw that yesterday.

It was beautiful here, over 60 degrees and sunny.  There was a lot of wind, but that didn’t stop him from waking up bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to go.  We planned on going on a hike but that fell through, so inste4ad he did some things around the house for me.  We were both in very chipper moods and had a lovely day, opening the windows wide to let in the sunshine and fresh air. 

Now, it is morning.  It’s 37 degrees, and raining.  The sky is a cloudy gray, and there is no hope for sun or warmth in the forecast for the next few days.  Yesterday was a blip, and today is more of the usual.

It’s hard to fight SAD.  I know some folks take extra Vitamin D, and others use sunlamps and such.  I don’t think I need those things, because while the weather can get me down, as I said, depression is my baseline.  I have my meds and my coping mechanisms and my therapy…I can manage.  Others need that extra boost come wintertime, however, and it for them that I write today, as we stare down the end of a long and chaotic darkness…spring starts in a couple weeks, but not for us, not really.  For me, it’s not until after Easter, when the sun finally makes an appearance and the flowers start to bloom.  For now, I will drag myself through the next month, pray for more 60-degree days, and hope for sunlight to stream through my office window soon.

rawpixel.com

New Year, New Me? No.

This is my last post of the year, and I don’t have much to say.  I already shared my writing accomplishments over the course of 2021, and I don’t have much to report on the personal front because let’s be real, it has not been a good year.  Really, it has been one smack in the face after another this year, and I am fine with 2021 being over.

What annoys me at the moment though is that this December there seem to be a lot of folks posting about how 2022 is going to be “their year,” and don’t get me wrong, I hope so, but c’mon.  We’re still in a pandemic.  It’s a lot more likely you’re going to have to go back to remote working/learning at some point, always have to wear a mask, and watch a bunch more people get sick and die.  So, I guess I’m not really feeling the positivity, y’know?

Don’t worry, I have an appointment with my therapist on Monday.

In the meantime, I just have to pull out the good ol’ Emotional Toolbox.  The ET is a concept I came up with many years back, essentially a mental list of my coping mechanisms.  It has little tricks for panic attacks, like sit in front of the fan, or pet your fuzzy blanket.  Then it has more complex plans for fighting anxiety and depression, like what I call the “Ross Method,” in which you break a task down into itty-bitty pieces so that it is accomplished easily.  One of my favorite tools in the ET is the “Silver Linings Search,” in which you find the good in the bad.  This always helps me out, and this is what I am using right now as I write this blog.

What good things happened in my garbage year?  Well, I had my surgery, which helped my tummy a little.  And my husband left a very toxic work environment.  My dad remains cancer-free.  My mother is getting her foot surgery.  My sister moved out on her own.  We got to have Christmas with my grandma.  We didn’t get sick. 

These are all good things.

Now, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, except for my annual declaration that I shall read more.  That might actually happen this year though, as I have both a brand-new Kindle and upcoming cataract surgery.  I don’t think I will make any huge accomplishments, except perhaps releasing my mini-chap, which could happen sooner than I think.  Though, lack of accomplishment might be my depression talking.  In the beginning of the pandemic, I was ok.  In fact, I was ok for a long time, watching as my healthy-brained friends lost their minds when faced with the sudden onset of anxiety and depression.  I was peachy. I was a pro.

Lately, though, it seems it’s starting to wear on me.  Like, I don’t know if it’s Christmas letdown or what, but I am just not in the mood.  I mean, I try to write an end of the year post, I wanted it to be uplifting, but here we are, discussing depression again.

Because that’s how she works, my friends.  I never get a day off.

Anyway, if you want to go make 2022 “your” year, more power to you.  I hope you succeed.  I will be cheering you on.  Me, my goal is both simple and infinitely more difficult: get out of bed in the morning, and carry on.  That’s my New Year’s resolution.

What’s yours?

Blog-Sick

Some mornings it’s really hard to write because I don’t feel good physically.  Other days, I don’t feel good mentally.  Today I feel ok on both fronts, but my creative flow isn’t there so much…I don’t have any ideas springing from my fingertips right now.  This weekend was hard.  The kids were here and I was sick and I hate when that happens, and everything got cancelled or delayed in some way.  Then I find myself here on a Monday, already behind scheduled, trying to peck out a blog when really, I don’t feel like it.

But I’m not sick and I’m not depressed so I have no earthly reason to put off all I’ve to do, and so I pull out one of my favorite old coping mechanisms, “the Chandler.”

As a kid, Friends was one of my favorite TV shows.  When Monica and Chandler were getting married, he had a full-on freak out and went and hid in his office.  Ross found him there, and convinced him to get on with his day one step at a time.  “All you gotta do is go home and take a shower,” he said.  So, Chandler did.  Then, “all you have to do is put on your tux,” and so on and so forth.  I pull out this trick when I am feeling especially overwhelmed.

So, this morning, I said “all you gotta do is get dressed.” And I did.  “All you gotta do is get some coffee.”  So, I did.  “All you gotta do is get to the office.”  Here I am.

But then comes the writing, and there goes the brain, fritzing out on me so that I’m staring at the ceiling and wondering where that cobweb came from.

Other things I have to do today include cleaning and showering and updating my Patreon and sending out submissions and honestly, I would rather be there than here.  My blog may feel a little neglected, but my heart just isn’t in it.

I was musing to Mark what I should write about and he said “Why don’t you write about how hard it is to blog sometimes” and I thought nah…been there, wrote that.  Alas, here I am again, with the struggle.  Of course there’s that slight fear that it’s an oncoming block, but I am confident it’s just a lazy blog day.  Anyhoo…happy Monday, folks.

Word Updates

The absolute last thing I want to write about is how I feel right now, which is crummy.  Not sick, per se, though my tummy is sad, but that’s only because the rest of me is depressed.  There’s this whole brain-body thing happening where my depression and anxiety aggravate my digestive system and also my achy back and then I feel like hot garbage all morning.  That’s where we are right now, with me typing these words by force and also trying to figure out how to get myself into the shower at some point today.

Major Depressive Disorder at it’s finest, folks.

Now, I’m not worried because this sort of thing usually only lasts a few hours to a day, and the doc upped my Xanax so I am well equipped to deal with any issues.  Alas, I feel like crap.  But, I must solider on.  Bringing me to today’s blog, where I discuss a couple of endeavors. 

It’s been a few weeks now since I stared my Patreon account, and I have two very excellent subscribers right now.  They are extremely biased however, one being my aunt and the other being my mother.  But then, they are probably also my biggest fans.

So right now, I am creating content for them but also for new subscribers, who would have access to everything I’ve done on there so far as well as something new on a weekly basis.

If you’re not familiar with Patreon, it is a platform for creators to earn a monthly income.  It’s a subscription service, so, for example, you would pay 5$ a month and I would send you subscriber-only content each week, including poetry, stories, essays, newsletters, videos, and more.  If you want to check it out, here is a link to my page.  Just sign up and click “Become a Patron!”  But don’t go crazy…it has you set up tiers so my price goes from a 5$ plan to like a 15$ plan and i strongly advise you go with the cheap one, especially if I know you personally.  As I said to my mother, don’t pay for what you get for free.

So today one of the tasks I must complete is the making of this week’s content, which will be a vlog about one of my poems, which Mark and I are going to shoot as soon as I get myself out of the aforementioned shower.

In other news, I had a poem come out this week, and I have posted it below for you, because it was just a one-day run.  Pink Plastic House, A Tiny Journal is one of my favorite lit mags and they are doing a countdown to Halloween with spooky-themed poetry.  I was day 56, with a piece called The Squirrel that’s about the change of seasons.  It’s one of my “story” poems.  I don’t do them often but when I do, I always love them a little harder.

Speaking of “story” poems…I’m on pins and needles over here.  This is me, putting out into the universe, that my editor needs to email me back, because I’m freaking out here.  Last year they accepted my piece and I didn’t hear anything for months, and when I finally did, he said we could go at my pace…well, my pace dropped edits in his inbox a month and half ago and I haven’t heard a thing.  I’ve sent follow-ups.  I tried him on Twitter.  Nothing.  NOTHING.

Impatience is my worst quality.

So that’s what’s going on, writing-wise.  Just chugging along.  Obviously, my personal life is a shambles because I can’t even get myself into the shower.  But maybe I can do something else.  Afterall, I just finished this blog.  One less task to complete, and it didn’t kill me.  Perhaps now I can take a shower?

Nah.  Probably going to take a break.