I’m Tired of Managing

bipolar

I’m using the above image a bit facetiously. Not because I don’t think it works for a lot of people, as a representation of Bipolar mood disorder, but because it doesn’t work for me. Since I was told my medication was too expensive to cover, I’ve been working to manage my mood swings without, again.  And I’m so tired of it. It’s exhausting to try to be something stable when you’re body, your mind, your chemicals are all fighting you.

I guess it makes me angry because that big smiling face is a farce, to me. That’s not how mania manifests itself in my case. I often wonder if managing would be easier if my highs felt good, but they don’t. I’m dipping off a high now, one that terrified me. I know I’m getting depressed, and I almost welcome it. It’s so much easier when all the thoughts about harming are directed at oneself.

I’m still buzzing with aggression, rage settled under the surface of a face I’m trying to keep calm. I’m trying not to be annoyed at every passer bye, every silly comment that a stranger throws my way. But I am annoyed, often angry at everything. Even my kids, who were in the sweetest, most amazing mood this morning. And I ruined it. I couldn’t sleep last night. Too much energy, to much agitation. My dreams were a whir of angry snapshots. I just wanted to drink coffee and not talk. But they were happy to see me, full of joy to be awake. And I ruined it with my shitty mood. I could see myself ruining it and wanted so badly to just be better. I sent them to their room to change into clean clothes and I screamed into a pillow so loudly I’m still having a hard time talking. It calms me, rage screaming. But it scares them. And they wonder what they did, when they didn’t do anything.

My daughter cried and instead of feeling bad it made me angry she was crying, but I shoved that anger down and held her and kissed her and cried with her. And I felt it slip away from me, the rage. But my hands still trembled, my world still blurred and I felt like the world’s shittiest mom. My daughter drew a picture of a frowning face on her white board, to gauge where my mood was. She told me, “You still have time to turn it around, mom. You can get a smiley face when I get home.” I hope that’s true. I hope, by the time she gets home, I can appreciate her for a while. I want to feel like smiling and playing, not just force myself to do those thing, mommy motions.

I feel depression creeping up. It does that, especially when my moods start to effect others, and it’s even harder to manage because it doesn’t scare my kids as much, so I don’t try as hard. If my daughter had to draw a depressed face on me, it would look neutral, no matter how hollow it feels. That tells me that I’m more likable when I’m depressed than when I’m manic. And I understand why. I just wish I didn’t have to manage between two terrible choices. I’m so tired of managing.

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Author Interview: H.M. Jones

An interview by DJ from Mylifemybooksmyescape

MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape

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Today I am interviewing H.M. Jones, author of the new fantasy novel, Monochrome.

◊  ◊  ◊

DJ: Hey, H.M.! Thanks for stopping by to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, tell us a little about yourself?

H.M. Jones: Thanks for having me on your site. I’m an author dabbling in almost any genre I can get my hands on. I wrote Monochrome, which is a dark fantasy/magical realism book, but I also write a lot of short stories, and poetry and have a few such things published. “Tiptoe Through Time” and “The Light Storm of 2015” in the Masters of Time anthology are my most recent short stories. I like to blog about mental health awareness and other things—books, conventions, tattoos, mothering, etc. I’m a mother of two children and a college English and Cultural Sovereignty instructor at Northwest Indian College. I have…

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My Children Won’t Know The Greats

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I lost my grandmother this week. She was 100 years old. That’s an entire century of life. I couldn’t help but thinking of all the things she must have experienced in her lifetime. In 1915, when she was born, electricity was a thing some people had in their homes, but many people still used iceboxes, hand-washed laundry and lived much more simply. Electric vacuums and refrigerators were available but were brand new, and not everyone would have one. Cars being driven looked a little something like this Dodge:

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She lived through The Great Depression, when drought and poverty were rampant and many people starved. She lived through two World Wars, the civil rights movement, would have known about Woodstock, and would have seen 15 presidents (mostly) through their terms. She would have remembered the advent of the technology that has become so important to my generation. Maybe she didn’t remember a lot of these things, but it was amazing to me to try to grasp the entirety of a life lived so long. Even more amazing to me, however, was thinking about her life in terms of what she did. She had a Master’s degree in English, was a teacher, counselor, mother, wife, traveler, gardener, baker, and so many other things. Among those things, she was my grandmother. And though she was the oldest to pass, she was not the first grandparent to go. Her husband passed when I was young, a man I remember mostly for his constant smile and catching laugh.

In the last few years, I lost both of my grandparents on my step-father’s side: my grandmother, the best cook I’ve ever known, who owned a restaurant in her life, who pressed love and sharp wit into every thing she cooked, and my grandfather who drove a semi-truck a lot of his life and traveled to too many places to name. He was a handsome man with white hair and mischief in his eyes. She was a beautiful woman, with a cynic’s eye and stories to tell. I lost my grandfather on my mother’s side just a few years ago, a man who dedicated his life to others, who was a minister and missionary, a seminary professor and a scholar. He had a mind that went and went until the end, until he forgot a lot. And that was sad, but it was not him. He was his lively mind and his generous spirit and that’s what I tell my children of him. My grandmother on my mother’s side is my children’s only living great grandparent on my side of the family. She’s a fun woman, with a fondness for sugar, painting and knitting. When she was younger, it was juicing, Richard Simmons workouts and dress up with her grand kids. My children  will never know these wonderful people, these huge pieces of my life. Their lives will not be directly informed by their smiles, gifts, mishaps, knowledge and care.

These thoughts are not new to me. I lost my father before I lost most of my grandparents. I remember hearing my late grandmother, his mother, lament the fact that a mother should not outlive her baby. And he was her youngest, only 52 when he passed. I know my own mortality and I know that it is natural. But none of that matters when grief hits. When you realize that those who made you will have no say in the making of your children’s lives.

Until you realize that they do because they helped in the making of you. I am a child who is both like her mother and her mother’s mother and father and her father and her father’s mother and father. I am little pieces of my aunts and uncles, the care they showed to me, the things they passed on. I make a mean pie crust, love the sound of birds, delve into research with the passion of a woman in love, sip tea and think about the days when I will be able to travel. I pray, I empathize, I teach, I rage, and I do all the things that those who’ve passed did. Yet I’m me. I do not remember my great grandparents well. But I remember the stories my parents have of them. My great grandma formed the woman my mother became. And she is my rock. I am saddened by the losses piling up so quickly. They bog me down with their weight.

But, like Gerald Vizenor says, “The truth about stories is that’s all we are.” I believe that we are made of a series of stories, and, without the stories that compose us we would be nothing. So to make my grandparents live, I have to talk about them, I have to teach my kids their recipes, the calls of birds, how to press flowers, how to make baked pumpkin seeds the “right” way. I have to create my grandparents again, through my words. I have to speak my father into being for them, so that they don’t forget that they come from stories, too. So that they know they need to make great stories for those who will come after them.

I can’t compose something entirely hopeful for you, but I’ll leave you with the story of my Roots. The snapshots that became them in my mind. The things I will tell my children. I hope your stories are just as beautiful. If they’re not, they’re still important.

My Roots

-H.M. Jones-

It always felt bright in your house,

maybe the sun lit it special,

caressing gardens cared for meticulously;

other kids would go to grandma’s for TV,

but your world was more fantastical;

you knew every plant by name,

like old friends,

squirrels danced for grandpa’s grin,

the basement was a maze of hanging flowers,

a musk of floral, cardboard puzzles and cinnamon,

wake up each morning to the sound of a train,

and butter melting on confection,

my plate warmed by oven and sun’s rays.

Too little time spent in your presence,

moments so clear to me:

“Ketchup on meatloaf is like ketchup on ice cream,”

I’d giggled at that, until I tasted your cooking,

and you were right, your work needed no assistance.

I wish I’d known the woman who

studied English, traveled the world, led a classroom,

these things I am or want to do…

I am sometimes a reflection of you

of all my Roots—

what a wonderful thing

to be

a part

of a sprawling ancestry

and just you, the great you,

bounding across a century.

Wishing I could know your stories,

from your point of view

before they fell away with you;

In eternity, maybe, we will

have the chance to be still

where you can guide me,

hand in hand, through the gardens

and tell me their names.

Post Publication Blues

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I have a lot of friends who are writers, authors, whatever you want to call it. We write stuff, stuff we put it in book-like formats. A lot of them have recently published their books, which is awesome. Clap yourself on the back and feel okay about your lives, friends. That’s a roller coaster of a ride and you did it. But many of them have caught the post publication blues, which is not so awesome.

As someone who experiences pretty severe mood shifts, I can catch the signs pretty easily: 1) these friends are either throwing themselves into social media or completely backing off 2) posting pictures of sales, ratings and sad faces 3) posing questions about life, generally, and their lives as writers, specifically 4) having a lack of ideas for the next project or a lack of zeal for the project 5) posting excess pictures of alcohol or baked goods they will be consuming 6) sharing statistics about the fruitlessness of artistic careers

For those of you who are newbies to the scene or are not authors, you might be asking, “What are post publication blues and why do they exist?” It’s a state of being emotionally and physically worn out, even depressed, after the publication of one’s book/project. And, yes, it’s a real thing. I’m not making fun. I’ve been there and it feels pretty bleak. I’ve asked a few of these friends where their blues and even depression stems from after that book is released, and I got some great answers. I have a few conjectures of my own, as well, and I’d like to share them with those of you experiencing post publication blues.

  1. One of my friends suggested that the feeling of emotional and physical sickness an even actual sickness that hits after publication comes from over-work. When you have a book deadline, editing, more editing, marketing, interviewing, proofing and finalizing of a book going on at the same time you’re probably working another job or living your life, you’re on a worker’s buzz. You’re almost too productive and it wears your body down. When you finally hit that “publish” point, you’re physically and emotionally exhausted. Let’s face it, you probably ate poorly, didn’t exercise and slept terribly during the writing process. Now your body is not being pushed and it has the time to recover. Being sick is actually one way for your body to tell you to sleep and slow down. So, there’s probably some truth to this.
  2. Another friend said she gets the blues because she let her story out to the world and she can’t get it back, and that’s terrifying. People can read it, review it, critique and even, yes, ignore it. And they do. Your story is no longer yours; it belongs to the world and sometimes the world is harsh.
  3. Working for a trauma and recovery imprint (my book deals with PPD, depression, and rape) I look at it yet another way. Every book we write contains a part of us. Maybe one of the characters goes through a trauma we have faced, maybe one of the characters is an ode to a friend we love, maybe situations, scenes, etc. stem from our life. How could they not? Some of our books ARE our stories. So they are deeply personal, whether they are fiction or non-fiction and we are letting them go. That’s tough because when you get those reviews, they feel personal. Whether they are good or bad, they are personal reflections on our words and worlds and that’s kinda exhausting.
  4. Writers are often a little different. We have to be to want to tell stories for a living, to want to create strange, beautiful or terrifying worlds. We make up peoples, places and even dialogue. We are the kind of people who often talk to ourselves, make up elaborate scenes in our heads and obsess about them as if they are reality. Simply put, most writers are very creative and creativity is really just another word for weird. There’s something not quite right about us, or we wouldn’t do what we do. And that’s okay, but it can make us very invested in our words, as egotistical as that sounds.

So what do you do when you’re feeling the post publication blues, writers? I really want to know. I get them every time I publish something and get too much or too little feedback. Here’s a couple of things that sometimes work for me, but any suggestions for your fellow writers feeling the blues is appreciated:

  1. I take walks, hikes or workout. And that’s just good idea, no matter what. Exercise gives my head and body time to breathe and recover. And I come up with great ideas when I walk or run by myself.
  2. I try to set a schedule for writing and I stick to it, even if what I write is crap. I let myself take a break in between projects, but I set a firm “re-start” date.
  3. I try to eat well and sleep well, and I stay far away from my reviews. I don’t read them and I don’t look at my rating unless I’m running a sale or am featured. Otherwise, I stick with engaging people and don’t worry about how my book is doing.
  4. I start writing something else. I make a new world, invest my energy and passion into another world, other characters, and I move on.

So, fellow writers, please leave your tips and stories in the comments below. Peace to you, published folks, and take it easy.