Tag Archives: writing

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

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On January 8th, I received my nomination for the Sisterhood of World Bloggers Award from my friend and colleague, Katy, over at CoffeeTattoos. I am honored to have been recognized by her in this way, and excited to share the following insights with my readers, as well as nominate the writers whom I enjoy reading the most.


The Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who gave you the award and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the ten questions given to you.
  • Nominate 10 bloggers for the award.
  • Write 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Display the award on your blog or post.

My Answers:

  1. If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? Why? What would you talk about?
    My first thought when I read this question was, of course, I’d want to have lunch with my mom. It isn’t that exciting an answer, and it’s certainly predictable, but there it is. She passed away when I was 21, and I’ve lived a fair bit of life since then. I’m also more open now, at 30, to her advice and experience than I was before. I would love to be able to sit down with her and have a candid discussion about motherhood, marriage, and becoming your own person.
  2. What are your blogging goals for 2016?
    In 2016 I would like to be able to invest more time into the Real Sarah C and deliver some good content. Though this blog began as a personal venture designed to provide myself with a constructive way to sort out my thoughts and emotions, it has taken on a life of its own. Readers who have contacted me to say that they are inspired, comforted, or amused by things that I have written have, in turn, inspired me to write more and to write more meaningfully.
  3. How are you feeling, emotionally, about the year ahead?
    Excited. Scared. As 2015 came to a close, I made some big life changes in regards to my work as a sign language interpreter, and I’m thrilled to see how things manifest in the next year. By that same token, however, life is more mutable than it has ever been, which is a challenge for someone like me. I frequently crave stability, but find myself bored with the status quo.
  4. When do you think people should have to decide what they want to do with their life? Is 18 too young?
    I don’t think anyone should ever be required to set their life course down in stone. That isn’t the way that life works in general, so why should your career or your education be laid out in a brick path before you? And certainly not at so young an age. When I look back on myself at 18 (not that it was so long ago), I see very few similarities between that girl and the woman I am now. To be perfectly frank, I’m not sure that I would trust my 18-year-old self with any decisions that would have impacted my present or my future. In that way, I’m grateful that I waited a few years before I made concrete plans.
  5. Why do you think there is so much stigma surrounding mental illness, admitting that you need help, and getting said help?
    First and foremost, people are afraid of what they don’t understand, and I find that this commonality is the genesis for more social stigmas. Depiction of mental illness in the media also plays a huge part in the misrepresentation of those with mental illness, by propagating unrealistic expectations and stereotypes. For those who have a mental illness, or fear that they do, the perceived backlash from their community is often enough to cause them to delay or even completely deny any help. Cultural values and societal norms are also extremely powerful influences.
  6. Do you believe in love at first sight or soulmates?
    Yes and no. I don’t believe that you can really fall in love with someone at first sight — at least not in the way that I have experienced love. To me, true love, whether romantic or platonic, requires a great deal of trust to be established, and that doesn’t happen overnight. Soulmates, though, are easier to believe in. I have certainly felt that there are people in my life who have completed me in some sense. I am not sure, however, if I believe in the idea of one soulmate, one partner, out of the billions of people on Earth. I think it is possible, even beneficial, to have more than one soulmate.
  7. Is there anything you want to write about on your blog but you’re afraid to? If so, I think you should write about that for one of your next posts.
    I appreciate the encouragement! Fear bridles me, as desire pushes me forward — there are things that I have in my heart that weigh heavily on my mind, that may not ever be fully articulated. I’m afraid of hurting people, of revealing too much, or acting rashly. I never publish anything that I haven’t given a great deal of thought to. That said, there are also a number of things I have considered publishing that will need to wait for their moment.
  8. When it comes to kids wanting to dye their hair (any color) or pierce their cartilage or nose when they’re in middle or high school, would you let your child do that? Why or why not?
    Absolutely. I believe that your body is your canvas, and body modification, if that’s something you’re into, is an important method of self-expression, particularly when you’re young and looking for ways to express yourself. As a parent, I would rather my daughter dye her hair pink and pierce her nose than become rebellious and sullen. The only exception would be tattoos, which are permanent (or at least, very difficult to remove) and expensive. Save those kinds of modifications for later in life when you are more stable.
  9. When it comes to planners, what do you do? Do you use a bullet journal, Erin Condren, Filofax, etc? Or if you don’t use one of those, take a few minutes to research them all and tell me what you would like to start using.
    Every year since I was 16 I have purchased a Llewellyn Witches Calendar. I keep track of important dates, appointments, and family events alongside the lunar phases, astrological events, and other witchy data. Since starting my freelancing business, I also make use of the Google Calendar to keep track of all of my assignments, in addition to appointments, birthdays, and so on. This year, though, I added a Llewellyn’s Witches’ Datebook in order to have everything written down and in my purse with me throughout the day. I find it easier to plan and take notes when I have it on paper.
  10. What was your favorite nonfiction book that you read in 2015? How did you find it? Who wrote it? What was it about?
    I read Andrew Solomon’s Far from the Tree, a book of essays by the other based on his interactions with families with children that belong to separate cultures than their parents, due to a disability or other differences. I initially read a review of the book in the newspaper and was interested in reading it due to my work with the Deaf community. Solomon had, in fact, devoted a full section of his book to hearing families who are raising deaf children, and their search for identity. I enjoyed that part of the book immensely, and was able to use some of the information therein during my work with Deaf adults and children. The other sections of the book were also very eye-opening, particularly the parts about families living with severe mental illnesses.

 

My Nominees:

Undoubtedly, some of these lovely people have already been nominated by others, but I said I’d nominate those writers who I admire most, and so I will:

Sarah Fader
Nicole Lyons
The Bloggess
Van by the River
Caffffienated
Nomad
Blue Aventurine
Lori Schafer
Terminally Intelligent
Abby Has Issues


My Ten Questions:

  1. When you are inspired to write song lyrics on your wall, as many of us so often are, which lyrics are they, and why?
  2. What life achievement, thus far, have you accomplished that you are most proud of? Anything left that you dream of accomplishing?
  3. Do you believe that literature is a transformative force in one’s life? If so, which books or stories have been most impactful to you?
  4. Given the ability to grant yourself any superpower, which would it be and why?
  5. If you were able to transpose yourself into the body of another person anywhere in the world, who would it be and why?
  6. Describe something that has happened to you for which you have no explanation.
  7. Out of all the birthdays who have had thus far in your life, which one has been the most memorable? What made it so?
  8. Are you a collector of anything? If so, what do you collect and why?
  9. Where do you most want to travel that you have not yet been?
  10. If someone were to construct a magickal circle to summon you, what five things would they use to call you?

I feel sick.

Every time the depression wells back up and takes me, I feel like a failure. This time it took me by surprise in a new way because it didn’t start with sadness, it started with success. Yes, I’ve been tremendously busy, but I’ve been on top of it all – managing my appointments, my schedule, showing up on time, in the places I’m meant to be, and feeling good. I’ve been feeling in control of myself, nigh invincible, as I have taken on more and more, chasing that glorious moment of triumph.

Something you should know about me: As long as I’ve had something that needs improvement, I have had something to prove.

This time, my descent started with an up-tick. It started with the slow, steady ascent of a wooden coaster, as the click, click, click ushers you ever onward and upward toward the peak before it surrenders you unto the nothingness, allowing you to fall.

"STOP THE RIDE, I WANNA GET OFF," she would have said, if she had better foresight.
“STOP THE RIDE, I WANNA GET OFF,” she would have said, if she had had better foresight.

But this time it would seem the problem is not really the depression, but the mania. The mania (and the anxiety and the paranoia), which previously only lasted for a few hours or perhaps a day at the most, has become recurring.

I can’t think. I can’t write. I am distracted by the tiniest of things. Glitter, stuck to my sweat-dampened skin. Moira, exploring my work area. The feel of the air in the room, how oppressively warm it is with the sliding glass door closed and the humidity inching upward each moment as the sun heats the moisture on the pavement outside. The creeping vines of anxiety as each of these press inward on my consciousness, the feeling starting in my ankles, moving inexorably upwards toward my chest, immobilizing me and robbing me of my words, setting a spark to my fight or flight response. It suddenly occurs to me that I can either sit here self-immolating, or I can get up and start pacing, picking, cleaning, starting with a lint-roller all over my body to get rid of that god-damned glitter because FUCK GLITTER. WHO LET THAT SHIT INTO MY HOUSE?!

Satan is a five year old girl with access to fairy dust.
Satan is a five year old girl with access to fairy dust.

The depression which has punctuated these last few stretches of anxious upheaval has been an almost welcome reprieve. As I have mentioned before, the contrast between the two states is, I imagine, like being catapulted from a tub of hot water into cold, and back and forth — not unlike what Inigo experienced when Fezzik forcibly removed him from his state of drunkenness in the Princess Bride.

drunkinigoBut rather than restore me to sanity, the effect has been completely destabilizing. I feel like I have nothing.

It’s in those awful moments I want to do truly terrible things to myself. Still. Even with all the treatment, the therapy, the medications, everything, all the improvements I’ve made, all the distance I’ve covered in the last few years, when I feel the control begin to slip away from me, the urge to harm myself screams back into focus with alarming alacrity. I just know, with deep, chilling certainty, that one simple act of self-harm would immediately, easily end the uneasy, frenetic scratching in my skull – the pain would calm me, my stomach would settle, and I would finally feel better.

My heart wouldn’t be fluttering any longer, and my thoughts wouldn’t be racing. My mind wouldn’t be festering with words and stories that refuse to coagulate into coherent stories worthy of telling. I could sit and enjoy my family’s company, my daughter’s play, my husband’s touch, or the simple miracle of a quiet house.

I don’t typically feel that my mental illness is particularly disabling, or that it makes me especially ill. In fact, as a colleague and I were discussing the other day, we take particular pains to obscure our mental “peculiarities” as much as possible, lest the rumor mill start a’ pumpin’. But this? I hate this. This makes me feel as though I suffer from true madness. I am provoked, then, to spit out the proverbial poison – to remove it from my person as if by force (thus, The Real Sarah C Project was born). Well, now that I think about it, it actually was by force! These 800 words took me two very painful weeks of writing, bitching to trusted friend about not being able to write, trying and failing to write other things, and then trying again.

Reader, the thing that I really want you to know is that I feel like a terrible mess. And despite feeling like a terrible mess, in these last few weeks, I have still felt very much myself – on top of my game, good at my job, able, and confident. I’m not sure precisely what that means in the long run, but in the spirit of keepin’ it real, I just wanted you to know: you can still keep it together while you’re falling apart.

A perfect storm

Actor Robin Williams took his own life today. By all accounts an extremely funny, extremely intelligent person, he lost a battle with depression. I’m probably more upset by this than I have any right to be — Mr. Williams being an actor and a public figure whom I enjoyed does not mean that he belongs to me in any sense. It doesn’t seem right to eulogize someone I have never, and now will never, meet, despite his featuring prominently in the entertainment landscape of my childhood. Maybe it’s just that his humor resonated with me, because I see similarities to my own sense of humor… and maybe because his actions today resonate with me, also.

Seems to me that it goes something like this: A good sense of humor is an indication of intelligence. Intelligence is a predisposing factor to depression and mental illness. People who are depressed are also more likely to be humorous, probably as a result of their higher intelligence and perhaps as a result of coping mechanisms developed to mitigate their depression.

Smart people are also marginalized in our society. Those who suffer with depression and other mental illnesses are likewise stigmatized. We use humor to deflect and cover up our wounds, and then we suffer quietly. Alone. As we spend more time alone, we are observed to be introverted. People who are introverted, on the whole, seem to be less desirable companions and are therefore sought out less by their peers. In the end, you get a bunch of smart, suffering, funny people with no close friends.

And then we kill ourselves because human beings aren’t meant to be islands (Bon Jovi had that right) but what choice does a person have when their territory is being colonized by naysayers and doubters and people who, in general, just want to make you feel bad for being who you are and enjoying what you like.

Seriously. Fuck those people.

This is what being a Stigma Fighter is about. Standing up to the unenlightened masses who would prefer to see a greatly homogenized culture instead of embracing and celebrating our differences, mental illness included. I wonder if Mr. Williams, had he known about our mission, would have joined us. Something tells me he might have done just that.

Writing through the fear

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If I weren’t afraid, what would I write about?

Creative people sacrifice a great deal of themselves for their craft. It takes a lot of energy and confidence to take an idea, put your force of will behind it, give it lift, give it traction, and make it a reality. And sometimes we don’t have the freedom to tell our stories as we see fit. After all, we aren’t the only characters in our tales — there were other people there, too. Perhaps the artist doesn’t feel the need for self-preservation, but their loved ones do. How will they feel about their story being told alongside yours? I’ve struggled with this often.

We want to fight against the institution of stigma, but have to confront that the wardens of that institution are often those people who profess to love us the most: mothers, fathers, siblings, or friends. Perhaps their unconditional love and support doesn’t cover our attempts to feed our souls through our creativity. To surrender ourselves to living in silence or conducting part of our journey in secret protects their feelings, but also relegates us to living a half-life, unactualized and bifurcated by fear: truth on one side, peace-keeping on the other.

It’s important to recognize just how much power you give to others and if they are using it responsibly. There are those emotional tyrants who would rather you continue to live on the fringes, just so they can save face. They have robbed you of the rights to your own story, merely because they played a part in it and are ashamed of their conduct. And because you are caring, self-sacrificing, and willing, you will allow them to dictate how you live your life and what stories you will tell.

I have been in some abusive relationships. The militant part of me has welled up with righteous anger and the need to strike back, but I have always held myself back. I don’t want to hurt or offend with my writing — I write to feed my soul, and no nourishment is found in words that harm. But it’s more than that — I hold back because my love for these tyrants, regardless of their warped thinking, asks me to be kind. Asks me to put their need for under-rug-swept before my need for transparency. I think that most victims of emotional abuse, even physical abuse, face a similar quandary: how to do free yourself from the stigma of illness and abuse when doing so would harm your abuser, whom you love?

If I were unafraid, what stories would I tell?

All of them.


The quote pictured above was taken from author, Rachel Thompson, from a Facebook status made in June 2014. I invite you to check out more from Rachel here and here.