cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (hammer head)
I have depression. It's worse in the winter. It's especially bad around the end of the year, when I start seeing "Best of" lists and begin taking stock of my own accomplishments, "or lack thereof!" as my brain weasels are eager to interject.

I always feel like I haven't written enough, I haven't published enough, I haven't submitted enough, I haven't whatever. You might think that having a collection released this year from a publisher I deeply admire would assuage the self-doubt--after all, it's a physical thing in the world I can touch; I didn't have to bribe or murder anyone for it--but oh how wrong you'd be!

(Er, about the self-doubt being assuaged, not bribery or murder.)

For the fucking record, in addition to The Haunted Girl, I had five poems published this year:
"Teratoma Lullaby" in Stone Telling
"Una Canción de Keys" in Strange Horizons
"Backbone of the Home" in Mythic Delirium
"Golden Age" in Devilfish Review
and "Love Letters for the Itinerant" in Liminality

Earlier, I thought it was only three poems, because depression is an unjust editor or a stuck delete key or something.

I don't know how many poems I wrote, but I wrote one novel and three short stories. (Doesn't matter that the book needs major revisions, it's drafted and that's nothing to sneer at. Doesn't matter that one story is an utter failure. It was also an experiment. Shut up, brain weasels.)

I am bad at keeping track of subs, but I'm pretty sure I made at least six, and four of those were to new-to-me markets. I'd forgotten some of those, too, before I checked my sent emails. [Update: managed 2 more subs before year's end!]

I put together an author website (which needs to be updated) and created author pages on Amazon and Goodreads. I did a Goodreads giveaway.

These are just the writerly things I accomplished (and can remember). And writer is only part of who I am. But next time I feel crummy about what I did or didn't do professionally in 2014, I can look at this entry and tell the brain weasels to fuck right the fuck off.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (whiny Cas)
Taking my sertraline before bedtime seems to be making me queasy lately, which complicates my already borked sleep schedule and other "nocturnal activities." Ahem. So I have moved my medicine time to morning, with my coffee, and I'm hoping for the best. Today (Sunday) was the second day of the new dosing schedule. I've been moody the last couple of days, but that's probably a result of sleep dep and not related to the medicine. Since I'm not changing the actual dose, I don't expect much change to my mental health, aside from a little "brain blurping." (which feels kind of trippy, but doesn't hurt) I should be functioning at my normal by Readercon.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (sad panda)
On Saturday I had a marvelous art date with my buddies. We made monsoon paper.

photo (51)
monsoon paper 12-15-12

We also experimented on huge canvases with all manner of ink and acrylics and wet leaves and pine needles. We talked about politics and family. And I was reminded that people worry about me. I have been somewhat a-verbal lately. I get tired or feel glum or just empty, and I really can't think of anything to say. Also, since I'm doing poem-a-day again, I post fairly regularly on LJ, but under a poem filter, and I don't say much other than to introduce the poem.

Which brings me to the PROMPT, or rather, a REQUEST for prompts. You may leave me a word or image prompt in comments, and I will incorporate each into a poem. If you're not on my poem-a-day filter, I'll email you the poem inspired by your prompt.

And now for the RANT. )
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (sad panda)
Yesterday was really rough. It was the kind of day I had in mind when I decided to do poem-a-day again: I needed a reason to get out of bed--or stay out of bed, since I did go back a few times when nothing else was working. (and the poem project was helpful, I did some research and got down half of what I consider a substantive, if not significant, poem)

I think I'm back on the mental-health wagon, but I figured I should mention the spike and dip in my mood, lest anyone mistake the abrupt change as somehow related to a conversation or interaction we were having.

And now, just for fun, I offer the gifs I have labeled "crazy."

crazy cat in car 

crazed deer head 

dean proves crazy works 
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (studying)
I kept wanting to tweet bits of Henry Rollins' poetry as I read See a Grown Man Cry, but I didn't want people to think I was depressed (any more so than usual, I mean) or suicidal. So I will post them here, where I can first reassure y'all that I'm fine.

The text is absolutely crammed into the book. Very little front or end matter, small margins throughout, tiny wingdings to separate individual entries, few of which have titles. There's something to be said for cumulative effect, but I keep wondering what would happen if Rollins winnowed his output to fewer, better-crafted stand-alone poems. This bit comes from "4 Wall Blues":

I have a hard time with depression
The beast that follows me
Makes me say things I don't want to
Tonight I'm walking with the Beast
Onward to the soul drain

Part of what gets me about this excerpt is that I can hear the first line in Rollins' voice. So matter-of-fact, the words plain as the pain. The last line, with soul drain, demonstrates Rollins working with language at a different level than I saw in Black Coffee Blues. Also, I like that this piece, and this whole book really, reveals depression is more than mere "sadness": there can be a lot of anger, too, directed inward and outward.

This excerpt reminds me of [ profile] asakiyume

There's a small part of my heart that's always sad
Part of me that walks with a slow aching step
Forever longing
The beauty of that
To be forever longing
Too much joy makes the time pass too quickly
A bit of sadness slows things down so you can see it
Makes the sun set slower

Although better known for rants, Rollins can also achieve a haiku-like precision:

The sirens pass going east on Sunset Blvd
All the dogs sound off
Sad songs

Another near-ku, and one that makes me feel better about my depression-related headaches:

Without me this headache is nothing
It needs me more than I need it
It clings to me desperately

Although Rollins despairs that "It's impossible to explain anything / That anyone would want explained" and "There's certain things I can't say aloud / I want to give you diamond thoughts / Not cough up blood and coal," I take much comfort from lines like this:

You think about killing yourself as you stare at the ceiling
Ignore it
It's just a tiny disease that the city gave you

And I recognize myself in these:

You hold your head in your hands
Feeling for the on-off switch.

These too offer a grim satisfaction I know all-too-well:

I have killed another day
I didn't give it a good fight
I just shot it in the back
And watched 400 miles pass by
My blood stains the bedsheet

In conclusion, I appreciated this collection much more than Black Coffee Blues (though that one was published more recently), and I'm much more inclined to seek out more of Rollins' writings than if I judged from BCB alone. 

Gratuitous picture of the punk poet:

henry rollins


Mar. 9th, 2012 05:56 pm
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (so tired)
I'm feeling kind of beat up and decrepit right now, so I'm not "here" as much as I'd like. But I'm reading and thinking and trying to keep up with all you lovely active people.


Oct. 17th, 2011 10:25 am
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (bruised)
In the mood for a new horror movie, I checked out what was available on Netflix streaming (not a lot), and settled on Heartless, directed by Philip Ridley (who also did The Reflecting Skin) and starring Jim Sturgess. The movie was far better than the synopsis led me to believe, though it was less of a straight-up horror movie, too. More of an "Emo Thriller" I guess. And hey, that's no sillier than some of the other genre descrips Netflix provides.

The main character, Jamie, is a young man with a naevus flammeus (port-wine stain) on his face and upper body. In typical movie fashion, the birthmark is nowhere near as hideous as is implied, but it makes Jamie a bullied outsider who despairs of ever meeting someone who will love him. He's attempted suicide sometime in the past, and his family remains nervous that Jamie's going to lose it at any moment. This constant worried scrutiny is what sold me on the movie. It's so true. At the supermarket, you absentmindedly buy four rolls of Saran Wrap instead of what you went for, and your family gently, maddeningly asks, "Is everything okay? Is it...the thing...again?" Perhaps the only person who would understand, Jamie's sweetheart of a father, is dead.

Jamie slinks through the apocalyptic streets of London, hiding behind a "real" (not digital) camera. A hoodie-wearing, demon-masked gang is terrorizing the city, randomly setting people on fire with Molotov cocktails. Jamie discovers they're not wearing masks, they're actually demons. And then it gets weirder. And gruesome. Somebody's heart gets cut out while he's still alive, someone else's decapitated head gets chewed on, Jamie gets set on fire and later pulls off his charred skin like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon. I underscore these details because otherwise, I'd forget them, the way I tend to forget the horror elements of Donnie Darko.

The movie wears its heart on its sleeve. Jamie seems on the verge of tears most of the time, his tentative smile more of a grimace. (Again, details that ring true to me, well-remembered from my own suicidal phases.) The soundtrack is plainly, earnestly emo, with lyrics written by the director and many songs sung by Jim Sturgess. In fact, I bought the soundtrack largely on the basis of the lyrics to the theme song: "When I call your name out, it turns to shrapnel in my mouth / And the last time I looked up, the north star was south." The song is available on youtube:

Not exactly the movie I was looking for, but better.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (book)
A Mind Apart, Travels in a Neurodiverse World by Susanne Antonetta

I'd heard of autistics who embrace their neuroatypical traits and refuse to think of autism as an illness, but I'd not realized some folks with bipolar disorder feel similarly about their atypical traits: p. 89 [quoting from an online forum] "I choose not to look at bipolar as an illness at all. In fact, I couldn't imagine myself as not being bipolar, nor would I want to be. The bipolar is a strong component of who I am, and I do not wish to be anyone else but me."

I've spoken to friends about how/when to disclose our illnesses to new people in our lives. One friend advocates secrecy until the new person gets to know and love us. I prefer to tell early and often. Part of our disagreement has to do with preconceptions about certain illnesses--that is, folks might be sympathetic to someone with depression, but flee from someone with dissociative identity disorder. But also, I've recently decided my illness is so much a part of me, that it's akin to withholding the info that I'm brown or a woman. If a person cannot cope with my skin color or heritage, then there's really no basis for communion. Likewise, if a person's going to bolt because I'm depressed, then better to get them gone before the going gets rough. Whereas some of my friends insist they are not defined by their illness, thus the disclosure should be a moot point.

So I suppose I've come around to the quoted sentiment. My depression is currently a huge part of who I am, even though I medicate and wouldn't discontinue medication without clear evidence of change in self or situation. That said, it's hard for me to imagine choosing my default neurochemistry, if I could instead be "typical."

p. 76 "Art by manic-depressives pulls hard at the neurotypical human soul: Vincent van Gogh, Sylvia Plath, Georgia O'Keeffe, Blake, Rossini--ironically, the artists people are least likely to find incomprehensible. It may be that the hyberbole of this disease...leaves a clearer imprint when displayed artistically..."

I think it's more likely that it's easier to appreciate someone's insights when one doesn't also have to cope with the day-to-day eccentricities (or disabilities) of the artist. A case of good fences (in time and/or space) making good neighbors. When fences are insufficient, the typicals tribe is apt to ship off the oddballs:

p. 106 "...some European countries began...turning their mentally ill over to boatmen, who promised to take them a certain distance away and sometimes carried a ship's worth of such cargo....Often the ships' purpose was simply removal, but they also took the mad on pilgrimages to holy sites with cures specifically for the mind...Of course, uncured lunatics didn't sail back to their homes, so villages like Gheel ended up forming colonies of the insane...the mad needed to be distanced but also purified, baptized almost."

Beyond the friction inherent between tribes, Antonetta also considers problems of consciousness more generally:

p. 226 "...our present lasts about two to fifteen seconds, according to Merlin Donald and other consciousness theorists..." 
p. 232 [quoting Donald] "How could a person stitch together a meaningfully conscious existence from an endless series of two- to fifteen-second samples of experience?"

Persistence of identity despite impermanence of consciousness is the same problem considered in the movie Memento, which I loved. (and btw, director Christopher Nolan has come a long way, hasn't he? in terms of commercial success if not depth) 

I'd heard good things about this book for a long time. I'm glad I finally got around to it.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (abby)
Just because I get very frustrated when someone vents their misery on me but doesn't tell me when they're feeling better, because I keep worrying about them...

I am feeling better, in no small part because I reached out to my LJ friends and family, and y'all reached back. Thank you most sincerely. Sometimes it takes a village to keep this girl sane.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (morning)
Trying to outrun the depression during the day leaves me vulnerable at night. The anxiety and stress invade my dreams--when I can get to sleep at all. Sometimes I can't. The misery sits in a knot between my shoulder blades. My legs spasm, still trying to flee. I would say running like a hamster in a wheel has been pointless, but then I think of the words piling up in my manuscripts--good words, some of them; once in a while, great ones--and it's hard to brush them aside. A worthy trade-off, I decide. This too shall pass, yadda yadda yadda, but the words will still be there when I can sleep and smile again. 

Now to return to bed and see if I can't get an hour before I need to prep Tweetie for skool.



May. 24th, 2011 09:29 am
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (castiel sigh)
 I've been trying to figure out how to write this update without sounding like a little black rain cloud.

Pooh covered in mud, caption: I'm a little black rain cloud.

I've been having a really hard time the last couple of weeks. I've managed to remain productive. I'm still getting up every morning and doing the things that needs must be done. My house is in order and the writing is going well. Summer plans are unfolding nicely. But maintaining stability is exhausting and writing really engaged, informative posts is beyond me, as is commenting with the appropriate level of engagement or, indeed, coherence.

So if I've seemed shallow lately, more inclined to crow about tv than discuss current events,

it's because I am struggling to maintain equilibrium. And if I've been uncommunicative, it is truly not you, it's me.

K? K.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (hammer head)

storm-tossed toys
a wiffleball buoy
befuddles fish


Yesterday was a Very Bad Day. Not because of anything that happened, just because of my brain and its peculiar programming. I actually cried. Then I had a couple of drinks, which disconnected me from the pain but left the anxiety. I spent much of the night working on a jigsaw puzzle and trying not to fly apart. I had to remind myself to breathe.

Today is a Deceptively Good Day. By which I mean, I feel great, but I know much of this feeling is due to brain chemistry, I am bouncy and chatty and my mind flits from one fine idea to another. I am very happy, nevertheless. I've really missed this euphoria. It will (I hope I hope I hope) give way to milder contentment and true productivity, but for now, it is a pleasure.

I spend all winter telling myself that once spring arrives, I will even out, that the fog will lift and I will be my better self again. Then spring hits and my mood goes wild and woolly as the weather here. So now I look forward to warmer weather. It's always sunny in June, right?


snowdrops crisp and yellow
earthworms cramp like icicles
on a frosty March

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (lightbulb)
Yesterday was a really rough day. I woke up tired. It was soggy and gray as a wet charcoal sketch. This line from Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey summed up my mood:

As sweet as it feels, I can't lie here forever curled up in a big ball of fuck-the-world.

So I got up. I sat in front of my blue-light special as I drank my coffee, but I couldn't bring myself to eat breakfast.

As soon as I got Tweetie to skool, I wanted to go back to bed. I resisted for an hour, but when I still wanted to crawl under the covers and blot out my existence, I did. I slept for almost three hours. When I woke up, I was still tired. I thought, Huh, maybe I CAN lie here forever curled up in a big ball of fuck-the-world.

But I got up. I tried to eat some lunch in front of my blue-light special. Nothing tasted right, but I forced myself to sit there to absorb the light. I used the computer for a while. I saw the Nebula noms but couldn't muster any excitement for the friends I saw represented. I read Kill the Dead.

I fetched Tweetie from skool, read some more, had a drink, ate dinner because J cooked. I gave Tweetie a shower. I went to bed early. Oh hai, big ball of fuck-the-world, it's me again.

gif from lilo and stitch featuring stitch in pajamas snuggling into bed

And then...
I woke up this morning--not refreshed but not a zombie either. I had a minimal breakfast and coffee. I didn't need the blue light. I took Tweetie to skool, then came back and did my exercise. I "ran" for over an hour. I showered and got to work on my poetry manuscript. I skipped lunch. I skipped the blue light. I worked on fiction. I fetched Tweetie and sat patiently while she played with her friends in the skoolyard. I came home and worked some more. I did housework. I made mashed potato soup for dinner. I am now "off the clock" but not down for the count.

I wish I could see the cause and effect in all this, but if it's there, it's buried under a metric ass-ton of contradictory and extenuating factors. Alls I know is, it's different today, and I'm SO SO grateful.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (garcia)

1. Henry Rollins. All this:

topless henry rollins in profile

and good politics too.

2. Sublime. Caress Me Down, Pawn Shop, April 29 1992, Waiting for my Ruca, Santeria, Boss DJ...I should just get their discography tattooed down my legs.

3. Morningstar Corn Dogs.

4. The beneficent anarchy that is Misha Collins.

5. Crispin Hellion Glover.

movie still, Crispin Glover and a table of rats, in Willard

6. This fierce chicken. Or rooster. Whatever:

gif of white chicken disco dancing and regetting nothing

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (bruised)
So. Today's Wholesome Childhood Tale was kind of a kick in the teeth for me. I feel awful. I would like to take a sad song and make it better. But I need some help to jerk me out of this tailspin.

Would you please drop some writing prompts in the comments? Anything vaguely related to childhood.

Thanks much.
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (so tired)
I really thought transcribing my poetry once a week would be the easiest part of this Wholesome Childhood Tales project.

I am an idiot.

I spent all day typing up six poems, because apparently I cannot type up the poems without editing along the way. And now my back aches and I am wrung out. BUT. Six poems I did not have at the beginning of this week.

In other news, I used my light-therapy box for 40 extra minutes this morning. Because as much as the regular exercise is helping, I still struggle against the urge to flop back into bed after dropping off Tweetie.

Also, this afternoon I went out with wet hair and it froze. A first for me.
cafenowhere: Dean from Supernatural scratching his head, text reads: Never knows what's going on (confused)

The "Say Anything Else" t-shirt, design by Sinclair Moore, available here.

skull-headed suit-wearing Lloyd Dobler with bats in background

Day Five: Six things you wish you'd never done.

1. Stopped taking sertraline when Tweetie was still a baby.

2. Kicked my sister.

3. Taken up with that guy.

4. "Stolen" my best friend's boyfriend.

5. Given my phone number to that other guy.

6. Used homophobic slurs as a teen.

I've pretty much come to terms with all of these, which is to say, I don't often hurt over them anymore, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't still take them back if I could. Although I'm sure I'd find other, more creative ways to screw myself and others. :-/

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (castiel sigh)
I spent most of yesterday morning resisting the urge to go back to bed, and much of the afternoon trying not to cry over nothing. I am taking my meds, I am exercising, I am using my blue-light special, I am thinking positively and I still feel like a miserable husk.

In the spirit of "Don't Just Stand There, DO SOMETHING," I am taking up the 10 Day Meme I've been watching [ profile] asatomuraki do. Mayhaps the meme will kickstart something in my brain. Do Something, Say Anything.

Day One: Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now

1. Ohfortheloveofgod, just answer the motherfucking question!

2. Not my problem, sucks to be you.

3. It's hard, really really hard, to tell you I'm struggling, even when you're great about it.

4. It's not you, it's me, I suck, let's just forget I ever said anything.

5. Drop Photoshop. No, srsly, drop it or I'll have to gank you.

6. Baby come back!

7. You've never said a single positive thing about your wife to me, even that you love her. Don't you think that's a bit weird?

8. Don't bitch to me about your husband not helping around the house. I don't know what to say in response, and it makes me think your priorities are messed up.

9. You mumble, you know that?

10. Your rape jokes...I should be mad at you for them, but instead I just tamp it down, all my hurt, and I function at half capacity because I'm trying to keep up with the 'fun,' until I manage to forget. And then you drop another one. And then I feel sick for putting up with it, and the whole crummy cycle starts again.

Wow. I'm in a bad mood.

cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (sugar in my coffee)

I deleted a grouchy post I made the other day because it was complain-y without any redeeming value. When I wail about the drug war along the Texas-Mexico border, I feel that it's at least helping to bring attention to a travesty. But the kind of minor-league bitching I deleted is simply not helpful, and I don't want that empty negativity on my page.

chel1395 on fanpop

New friends and passersby might not know the reasons behind my "Happy-Making Things" posts. Generally, I am not a cheerful person. (My long-time acquaintances have now collapsed into laughing fits at the understatement.) I'm kind of an Eeyore or Grumpy Bear by nature

which may or may not be related to my clinical depression. I've blogged about my post-partum depression, my ongoing depression, and the complications of seasonal affective disorder. I've also blogged about how I use medication and certain lifestyle choices to manage my depression. Feel free to click the tags in the sidebar to browse those entries. I'll wait.

misanthrope86 on fanpop

In short, the Happy-Making Things posts are efforts to mitigate the effects of Iowa winters on my mental health. I like to celebrate the positives in my daily life; I like to hear about other people's joys; I return to these posts when I need a boost. I don't ignore what's wrong in my world or the larger world; I don't expect anyone to shield me from their unhappiness or problems; I'm not looking for cures or to be "fixed."

So, that's where I'm coming from. Just so you know.

"Hi, I'm Jack. I'm totally not crazy."










(last image totally stolen from [ profile] toddalcott 's analysis of The Shining.)
cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (crap)
Fall! I love fall. It's always been my favorite season, even when I was a kid in South Texas who had only textbook knowledge of autumn. It's the season of falling leaves, cooler temps, apples and pumpkins, Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, scarves and socks, arm warmers, sex in lieu of watching football, viable sex in cars, and so many other wonderful things. YAY!

Fall! The sun sleeps in and retires early. After a manic burst 'round late August/early September, my seratonin levels plummet. I need my Sun-in-a-box. I have to leave my bedroom blinds up so I can get whatever hint of dawn makes it through the trees. I program my coffeemaker as devoutly as my alarm clock. I spend most of the day debating whether or not to go back to bed. I mope. I cry. I ponder my sertraline dosage.

Ah, fall. Why must you make me crazy (crazier)? Why are you so much work? Why you not love me like I love you?

ETA: this definition from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows:

Harvest chill: n. wistful foreboding at the first signs of autumn, as yellow leaves appear scattered on the ground like Post-Its leading you on a treasure hunt toward the realization that your slow slide into oblivion has already begun, steadily gathering speed on your way down to the end of the ride while the next generation waits at the top for their turn, a sobering reminder that it's never too early to start planning a kickass Halloween costume.


cafenowhere: coffee cup with sugar packets that read WTF (Default)

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