Friday, January 31, 2014

Depression, Outside looking In

I don't have clinical depression, but I grew up around it. My brother, my sister, my father all have--had--varying degrees and diagnosis.

I am certainly not an expert. I'm a compassionate outsider looking in.

But I hope as someone who has witnessed its aftermath, I can help bring some more understanding around it, especially to those with no experience.

First, I'd want to direct you to someone who not only has experienced it first hand, but who can say it far more eloquently than I can, Mr. Stephen Fry.

Secondly, I really need you to understand this seemingly simple concept: Depression is a disease.

I'm going to pull a page from the article I referenced earlier and I want you to imagine that we're talking about cancer. And think about all the amazing strides we've made in medical science to curing it. Think of all that work and how regrettably in some cases all of that work is still not enough to save a person.

Now imagine that we didn't take cancer seriously. Imagine for a moment that it didn't resonate that small little ache with almost anyone who hears it. Imagine that people judged you rather than embraced you when you told them you had cancer. Imagine feeling embarrassed for just visiting your doctor or taking your medication. That people told you that you just needed to "snap out of it", that you weren't trying hard enough and that's why your tumors were growing.

Gut-wrenchingly horrible, isn't it?

This is how our society treats depression. This is also, perhaps, why the suicide rate is nearly double that of homicide.

Yesterday I talked about my brother and how important it was to take care of yourself.

I was approached by an acquaintance who, despite their good intentions, said perhaps one of the most ignorant response I've ever heard in reaction to suicide. "I don't agree with his decision but I respect that it was his decision."

First, never tell anyone that you respect their loved one's choice to end their own life--you don't know the situation. You also do not know THAT person's mental state and were I far less stable in my mourning process, his words could have caused a whole new set of problems.

Please, understand that suicide is not a 'do-not-resuscitate' request.

Second, it was not his decision. And that is the most important thing of all to remember. My brother struggled with mental illness. When we were younger it manifested in violent fits of rage, as we grew, he turned more inward and while those fits were less common, they were more often turned on himself.

He was sick. And because he was ashamed of that, he didn't get help--he didn't want help. And eventually that disease ate enough of him that he became convinced he did not deserve help.

Joel was right when he said there was nothing any of us could have done to stop him. However, it would be a lie to say that means what happened could not have been prevented. And that's why this cause is so important to me.

He wasn't taking his medication and he refused to talk to anyone about it--friends or professionals.  He had long let the disease rule him.

People deserve to have control over their lives, to be able to think clearly.

Depression doesn't allow that. You can try to down-talk its impact on people's lives all you want but it will not change the fact that it is a mental illness. It is a disease, a sickness, a literal imbalance of chemicals in your body. It needs to be treated with respect and above all it needs to be treated.

A person is not weak for needing medication to get through day-to-day. To feel normal.

People take medication every day for their heart, for diabetes, to keep things like HIV and cancer at bay. Why have we got it in our brains that depression is any different?

Maybe it's that word. The fact that we use it interchangeably for simply feeling sad--for being upset by external causes.

But as someone who has watched it tear at my family for as long as I can remember, please believe me, it's a very real disease. And it's one I intend to fight with all my strength.

If you think you may have clinical depression, please see someone. Do not be ashamed of something you have absolutely no control of. There is no just "snapping out" of a chemical imbalance, just like you can't snap out of having a blood disease or a brain tumor.

It's a hard process, and it will take time to find what's right for you. But it can and will get better. And you deserve to feel comfortable in your own skin. That voice that says you aren't worth it? It's a damn liar. And it could not be more wrong about you.

You, my wonderful friends, are independently awesome.



Friday, January 10, 2014

Isn't that the Way Love Goes?/Almost Lover

Writing, it's this thing I do--this thing I will be doing a lot more of in the next coming weeks. However, I wanted to share a tidbit of something that I wrote a little bit ago in response to one of Nika's writing prompts. (If you have never checked out her in Word Play, you should hop to that... like now).

The assignment, as it were, was to write a dialogue heavy scene and out of the given prompts I chose, "Why you just don't GET it."I'm not sure if the actual words were meant to go in there, I worked off of the feeling/impression that sentence gave me and came up with the scene you can read below.

And then last night I recorded a song to go along with it. I've mentioned before that I like to put soundtracks to everything... and I would like to start trying to marry my singing to my writing more... so here we go:

She was waiting for him when he re-entered the living room. Her hair was slightly mussed and her t-shirt askew, suggesting she'd been asleep when he'd first come in. He should have been quieter.
He swallowed. "I didn't realize you were home, it was so quiet when I... I thought you were working today."
"They let me have it off."
"Right... Good.  Well, I just... came for the last of my things."
"Ah. That it?
"Yeah, I think so.  I came earlier in the week too--

"I noticed."
"Yeah... So... there wasn't much left.  Odds and ends.  Real quick stop."
"How have you been?"
"Paris is waiting for me downstairs."
"Oh. How is she?"
"Good... good... We're uh... seeing a show at the Pantages."
"That'll be nice."
"Yeah..." He pretended to scan the room one last time for anything he might have missed. "Well, I should get going..."
He hesitated. "What?
"Don't go."
"I've given it a lot of thought and I don't think this makes any sense."
"It makes a lot of sense."
"I love you."
"She's waiting."
"And I think you love me."
"Please. Don't do this now." His hand was on the door knob.
"No, wait."
His throat tightened.
"You're not supposed to leave.  That's not how it goes.  I say, 'I love you' and you say it back and everything's right again.  But you have to say it back, or... or it doesn't work..."
"Do you love me?"
"We drive each other crazy."
"Answer the question."
"It wouldn't change anything even if I did."
"Why not?"
"Because life doesn't work that way, Romy, we don't live in a god damn fairytale!"
She took this in for only a moment. "Then tell me you /did/ love me."
He sighed.
"Even if it's a lie. Tell me that if things had been different, we could have been happy together."
"You're embarrassing yourself."
"Damn it, Julien, this is my LIFE we're talking about!  Is it so hard for you to tell one little fucking lie?"
"I'm not arguing with you." He opened the door and her hand pushed it shut again.
"I opened up to you. I didn't want to but you were insistent. You were determined to make me love you, to show me that I could love you. Well guess what, you heartless piece of shit? You succeeded! I opened my arms and I let you eviscerate me from neck to navel so you could pull back the skin and peer at everything I had inside of me.  You thumbed through the chapters, left your grimy fingerprints all over, and now that you've read enough, you think you can just leave me like this?  Wide open, dirty, and ill-equipped to sew myself back together?  No.  You made me love you, so you're going unmake me before you walk away again."
"Romy, I..." His mouth felt dry and he cleared both his throat and his courage. "I don't have time for this."
Her hand dropped numbly from the door and he exited without further argument.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Book that Wants to be Written right NOW

"You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children." - Madeleine L'Engle

I've always loved this quote. Possibly just as much as I've always loved Madeleine L'Engle... even though to this day I'm not sure I'm pronouncing her last name correctly as I've only ever read it and never heard it.

But this quote has been lately really poking my brain. Well... half of it has. And I didn't think much about it until last night.

I've been having some trouble sitting down and finishing all the prep work for the second Terra Mirum Book. I can see a good chunk of it in my head but I've been hitting this giant wall and I finally figured out why.

Don't worry, it's not that it doesn't want to be written. Something else has sort of just been demanding to be written more.

And during my bout of insomnia that lasted somewhere between 3-4 in the morning I realized that I'm not mentally prepared yet to take on the second installment of the Terra Mirum Chronicles. Without giving anything away, I'll say it comes from a different mental place than Alys did--which makes sense, I suppose as Alys was about dealing with the initial shock of my brother's death and facing your fears.

And now we're rounding about a year after my brother's suicide and I find that while I'm no less devastated, I've a far lot more to say about it. Partially, for myself, but also because I feel like suicide is one of those topics we never want to talk about--it's too uncomfortable so we just sort of sidle past it.

But it's one of those things we really need to be talking about. Especially to teenagers.

So while I would like to ideally have the second Terra Mirum Book release before the end of 2014 (and that is still my plan), I'm realizing I need to tend to this project first.

While it will be a story geared towards a young adult audience (like Alys was, I suppose), I think it will be a good read regardless your age. If you follow me on tumblr, you've probably caught snippets of dialogue as it's been coming to me.

If you are one of my awesome patrons, my work on this book will be included (where appropriate) in my weekly progress blog/vlog.

As for my "Annotated Alys" art that I mentioned a few months back, I'm extending the deadline until further notice. If you've submitted work, I need to get back to you about interview information that will be posted here so we can showcase your awesome.

Tea and Hugs,


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A reflection on Daily Decembers

Wow... so... December happened, am I right?

You may know (I hope, anyway) that I participated in Daily December, making a vlog both big and small on varying topics. It was an interesting albeit exhausting exercise. It definitely helped me with filming other things.

If you vlog and you've never done dailies, I highly encourage it. It definitely made me more concise and assisted in finding the end thought so trimming was easier. Not less rambling per say, just more directed.

Honestly if it wasn't for Daily Decembers, I may have been far too intimidated to ever launch this:

The road ahead will be interesting and by no far an easy trek, but I'm less terrified than I was. The bad things, I feel, will eventually suss themselves out--with a little ingenuity of course. I've never been one to let fate do whatever it will with me, anyway.

I'll be keeping you as updated as I can with where I'm going/what I'm doing. I just launched my Patreon today and we've already unlocked releasing an Extended Play... So I'll be talking to more of my musician friends who've already done that about what I need to know about hosting and any equipment I may not already have.

World is a crazy place. The past week alone has felt kinda like a whirlwind of change. Change for the better, I hope.