Tag: bipolar

500 Words on Porpoising

Courtesy the Telegraph

I’ve had the privilege of seeing porpoises in motion on whale watches, keeping pace with little tour boats as they make their way into the deeper waters. It’s a fascinating sight, seeing sleek gray bodies appear and then disappear beneath rapid waves. They whistle and cackle to one another as they go. It’s fun for them. It’s fun to watch.

It’s not so much fun when it’s your emotions or mood doing the same thing.

The chemicals in the brain of a victim of bipolar disorder are in flux, on a nearly constant basis. Sometimes, in spite of things like medication and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), the moods of the victim will fluctuate with rapidity, ranging from ‘okay’ down into depression and then up into hypomania with little to no warning, then back down again. This can repeat itself several times, at irregular intervals and with varying degrees of intensity, for hours or even days.

In bipolar circles, it is referred to as “rapid cycling”. I call it “porpoising”. And it makes being productive, positive, or even functional very, very difficult.

I’ve said on multiple occasions that I don’t like going into detail about my internal struggles or mental health issues in this particular blogging space. At the same time, I know this is a venue from which some people get updates and entertainment, so a lengthy silence bears some explanation. I’d much rather be honest about the situation than just pop back in like nothing happened. It prevents ambiguity and confusion.

I’ve been working more on my honesty of late, anyway. Omitting key facts from a discussion for fear of hurting feelings or making interactions awkward only makes things worse. Regardless of motivation, fact-omission is, in truth, a lie. And I do not like, condone, or accept lies. I mean, as a novelist and a storyteller, I do lie in that I write about things that never happen involving people who don’t exist, but that is different from hiding the truth about a situation or being in denial about my feelings.

And my feelings have been all over the place. My days are lacking in structure and my bank accounts are in a constant state of near depletion, whine whine etc. It’s difficult to maintain focus without structure or stability, and that difficulty increases when a mood swings or a fear manifests or an old wound gushes.

I’m looking ahead, though. Next week is a new week. Steady posts, streams, and plans will be hammered out and adhered to as well as I can. I hope to hear good news about some form of income which will help with the porpoising. The best you can do when something like this happens is learn what you can and put it behind you.

Thanks, everyone, for reading. I encourage you to check out my fiction, my streaming, and my other projects. I hope to have a Patreon up soon, if I can focus it right.

Don’t forget to be awesome today.

500 Words on Recovery

Tunnel Light

I haven’t had a week like this one in quite a long time.

I mean that in both good terms and in bad ones. Over the last few weeks, my life has been in a state of relative upheaval. I’ve had a lot of struggles, mostly internal ones, and I’ve pulled back from the things and people I love to get things sorted out. I’m coming out of the tunnel, now, and I’m very relieved to see that the light I was struggling towards isn’t an oncoming semi.

So what’s been sorted? And what’s next?

My work and living situations have been in flux, but have taken on more stability, especially in the past week. True, it’s not in the form of a solid, routine, commuting, 9-to-5 sort of stability at the moment, but honestly, with the way my living situation has changed, that might be for the best. Redoubling my efforts to do more remote freelancing to support my writing feels more true to my nature than hunting down the elusive corporate gig that really plays to my strengths and lets me feel like more than a cog in a capitalist machine.

This all boils down to the internal struggles I’ve been having on a personal level. As much as I would like to think that I am an intelligent primate with a well-ordered and focused mind, the truth is that things can and often are a lot more chaotic than I’d like to admit. Especially when my mood swings in ways that are barely under my control, if at all, or my subconscious mind latches onto an emotion or concept that runs counter to what I consciously know is counter-productive, my mental landscape goes through changes in weather rather than remaining calm and placid. Hell, there have been earthquakes in there lately.

Recovering from rough periods like this one is never easy. I’ve taken some time in relative isolation to get things under control before they became even more problematic for everyone involved. And I need to make this clear: nobody outside of my own head has done anything objectively wrong. I’m very thankful for everyone who’s chosen to stay in my life, even if communication has been disrupted. Those disruptions don’t last forever, though.

Sometimes, all you can do is fight for your own mind as hard as you can, and pray that those who’ve stood with you are still standing when the smoke clears.

I trust my friends, my closest ones, more than I do my own brain sometimes. They wouldn’t be so willing to work with me, even in waiting, if they did not feel I was trustworthy in return. Now more than ever, I’ll do my utmost to vindicate that trust. I’ll take the time necessary to do right by the people I care about, and who care about me. I will do the things that make me come alive.

I have a responsibility to the people I love. I won’t ever forget that.

From The Vault: Why Take This Matters

I’m still shaking off the doldrums and getting myself back on track. While I make more steps towards that, please feel free to read over this post about one of the best initiatives I’ve ever had the pleasure of helping with, even as a source of moral and financial support. It’s important.


Courtesy Take This

It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this.

Some of the earliest, most indelible memories some of my generation has when it comes to video games involve taking a sword from an old man who just spoke those fateful words. “It’s dangerous to go alone.” The world is going to try and kill you. Monsters prowl in the shadows, ready to destroy your body and devour your dreams. Perils you won’t see coming are fully prepared to swallow you whole. You need to defend yourself. You must be prepared to combat your challenges and overcome your obstacles. “Take this.”

We didn’t know it at the time, but this wasn’t just advice that applied to the world of Hyrule. It applies to our world, too.

We may not have to deal with the extant threats in many video games, but the world is still going to try and kill you, spiritually if not physically. I’m not talking about religion specifically, but rather in terms of the human spirit. The singular and the extraordinary are far, far too often pushed and held down by society at large, and it’s easy to fall into a pattern of conformity and ‘normal’ behavior, just to get by. But not everyone can pull off acting ‘normal’. For some, it’s a daily challenge, and some days, it’s an hourly one.

I’ve both faced this struggle myself, and done my utmost to help others cope with it. It’s easy to think, in our darkest hours, that we’re facing these challenges alone. And it’s dangerous to go alone.

The fact is, however, that we are not.

Take This is, according to their site, “a charitable organization founded to increase awareness, education and empathy for those suffering from emotional issues, their families and greater institutions with the goal to eradicate the stigma of mental illness.” While not exclusively dealing with the gaming community, the founders work within that community, as journalists and organizers, and so focus a great deal of their outreach to gamers, through sharing stories via their website and holding panels at events like PAX.

I’m a little lucky, when you get right down to it. I share my stories all the time. I have some skill at articulating myself and the means to do it. I let myself take the time to breathe, to contemplate, and to share. Not everybody is so lucky. Not everybody feels they have a safe place to unburden themselves of the pain and anxiety and uncertainty and loneliness they feel.

And the fact is, everybody should have that.

That’s why Take This matters. They’re just getting started, and I want to see them grow. Their first PAX Prime panel last year was a great success, as was their first ever at PAX East 2014, and they’re returning to Boston next month (EDIT: it was another AMAZING panel). Their site is full of stories that have needed to be heard, they’re going to be looking to grow as much as possible, and they can’t do it alone. None of us should be alone in this fight. Our chances of survival are much greater if we face our challenges together.

The world is a dangerous and cold place. Emotions and mental imbalance can topple even the best of ideas when the world gets involved. It’s dangerous to go alone.

But you don’t have to be alone.

Take this.

Why Take This Matters

Courtesy Take This

It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this.

Some of the earliest, most indelible memories some of my generation has when it comes to video games involve taking a sword from an old man who just spoke those fateful words. “It’s dangerous to go alone.” The world is going to try and kill you. Monsters prowl in the shadows, ready to destroy your body and devour your dreams. Perils you won’t see coming are fully prepared to swallow you whole. You need to defend yourself. You must be prepared to combat your challenges and overcome your obstacles. “Take this.”

We didn’t know it at the time, but this wasn’t just advice that applied to the world of Hyrule. It applies to our world, too.

We may not have to deal with the extant threats in many video games, but the world is still going to try and kill you, spiritually if not physically. I’m not talking about religion specifically, but rather in terms of the human spirit. The singular and the extraordinary are far, far too often pushed and held down by society at large, and it’s easy to fall into a pattern of conformity and ‘normal’ behavior, just to get by. But not everyone can pull off acting ‘normal’. For some, it’s a daily challenge, and some days, it’s an hourly one.

I’ve both faced this struggle myself, and done my utmost to help others cope with it. It’s easy to think, in our darkest hours, that we’re facing these challenges alone. And it’s dangerous to go alone.

The fact is, however, that we are not.

Take This is, according to their site, “a charitable organization founded to increase awareness, education and empathy for those suffering from emotional issues, their families and greater institutions with the goal to eradicate the stigma of mental illness.” While not exclusively dealing with the gaming community, the founders work within that community, as journalists and organizers, and so focus a great deal of their outreach to gamers, through sharing stories via their website and holding panels at events like PAX.

I’m a little lucky, when you get right down to it. I share my stories all the time. I have some skill at articulating myself and the means to do it. I let myself take the time to breathe, to contemplate, and to share. Not everybody is so lucky. Not everybody feels they have a safe place to unburden themselves of the pain and anxiety and uncertainty and loneliness they feel.

And the fact is, everybody should have that.

That’s why Take This matters. They’re just getting started, and I want to see them grow. Their first PAX Prime panel last year was a great success, as was their first ever at PAX East 2014, and they’re returning to Boston next month (PAX East 2014, Arachnid Theater, Friday 12:30 PM, BE THERE). Their site is full of stories that have needed to be heard, they’re going to be looking to grow as much as possible, and they can’t do it alone. None of us should be alone in this fight. Our chances of survival are much greater if we face our challenges together.

The world is a dangerous and cold place. Emotions and mental imbalance can topple even the best of ideas when the world gets involved. It’s dangerous to go alone.

But you don’t have to be alone.

Take this.

So This Is Christmas

Hanukkah has come and gone, Christmas is right around the corner, and Kwanzaa begins right after that. We’re in the thick of what’s colloquially known as ‘the holiday season’. This is a time of warm wishes and good cheer.

I certainly hope you have both of those.

Me, I’m struggling.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for a lot of the good things in my life. But I’m also keenly aware that there are still quite a few goals I have yet to achieve. I’m envious of my past self, the self that had boundless energy and could have accomplished anything. I’m frustrated by daily tasks and chores. I’m struggling daily to maintain at least the semblance of a positive attitude so I don’t completely alienate those around me. And I’m trying to track my finances and be generous to others so I’m neither broke nor a complete shitheel.

I know a lot of people complain around the holidays, for a variety of reasons. The last thing I really wanted to do was engage in a whole mess of belly-aching and whining. I really hate doing that. Yet, here I am, on my blog no less, pouring all of this out through my keyboard onto the screen. Have I really lost this much of the plot? Do I honestly have nothing else to say? I should rambling about my Hearthstone decks, or discussing the board games I’ve gotten in the mail, or talking about my writing progress. I should praise a friend, or analyze a movie or TV series, or at least work on an author page for Facebook because, sooner or later, I’ll need to start self-promoting again.

It’s times like these when I know I should just be bootstrapping my own emotional state. As I am the only real presence inside my own head, I should be the final arbiter of what comes out of me in terms of words and feelings and action. There is a gate between what I think and what I say or do, and I am the gatekeeper. Security has been lax of late, it seems, and I need to lock that shit down. I’m no good to anybody curled up in a corner and crying.

Besides, the bitter cold of winter can’t last forever. And I really am grateful for the good things in my life. I’m trying my utmost to hold on to those things, and disregard the things that are holding me back or dragging me down. I try to step back, observe the situation, and remind myself that the lion’s share of this dreariness is all in my own head.

This is Christmas. I should be happy. I should be content. I should be positive.

At the very least, I’m going to try.

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