Sage Advice For Writers…


An Almost Remembrance

There are many things I can say
about what I remember.
The rough sheets.
The large, round vanity mirror across the room.
The lace-trimmed curtains
that painted the light a cold blue
to set upon the bedroom walls.
The shoddy baseboard moulding,
separating and bloated with moisture.
The air, cold and cruel and always
smelling of damp pine needles.
The sounds of city life
not quite fifty feet from the door.
The scent of green tea and sticky rice
drifting in from the neighbouring suite.

I exhale heavily and close my eyes.
I am recounting facts again.
Tonight is about peeling back
a layer of skin and revealing what’s inside:
the guts along with the glory.
But I am hesitant,
unsure of what is too much too fast.
I’m still raw and unpolished,
and I don’t really understand
what details will set people’s teeth on edge.
I take a sip of wine
and hold it in my mouth,
letting the flavour coat my
tongue and cheeks.
I’m not as tipsy as I was last time.
Maybe the subject is too sobering.

Light peeks in
through the slatted window blinds
and I realize the chance
to prolong the inevitable.
For now, time is my ally.
I twist the lid back on the bottle
and fall into feather pillows
and cream linen sheets,
and am crooned to sleep
by my fuzzy best friend.

Why Do We Seek Labels?

Beautifully written. I’d like some Tumblrettes to read this.

10 Cities/10 Years

It’s almost a daily occurrence now. On Facebook or Twitter, in an article or mind-numbing listicle, someone is discussing the traits, burdens and/or pleasures of being an introvert. Based on the unscientific sampling of my personal feed, 90% of the narcissistic self-promoters in the world are actually meek and shy introverts.

When us loners aren’t breathlessly talking about how weird it is that we prefer books to people (haha, I’m soooo crazy!), we’re posting the results of a Briggs Myers personality test (or some generic knockoff).

“I’m totally an INFP.”

“Well, I’m an ENFJ.”

“Oh, I could definitely see that. I guess that’s because I’m an ENTP.”

“I kind of figured all of you were CUNTs.”

And when we get bored with scientific classifications that mostly mean nothing, we fall back on the original sugar pill of personality labels: The Zodiac.

What’s Your Sign?

How is it that a…

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Why My Depression Doesn’t Scare Me as Much as it Used To

** Warning: this post contains mentions of self-harm.

Mind Over Mood. Full Catastrophe Living. The Courage to Heal. Healing from Depression. The PTSD Workbook. Those books adorn one particular shelf in my bookcase, nestled tightly between memoirs by survivors of sexual abuse. This is the collection of books I used to hide behind my mini-library of classics: the terrible tragedy concealed by Homer, Ovid, and Sophocles. I used to think of it as my Shame Shelf. Although the books were designed to be lifelines in long, dark nights, I saw them only as spectres of the past, whispering: you’re dirty, and broken, and can’t let go.

My biggest challenge used to be willing myself to get up out of bed in the morning. When you’re suffering from depression, you feel mentally and physically exhausted. Small tasks sap every ounce of energy and once Important Things That Absolutely Must Get Done are relegated to Things That I Might Do Next Thursday When I Have the Energy. The mere thought of activity of any kind feels oppressive. And decision fatigue? The definitely becomes a thing. So, when I would peel my eyes open in the morning, head pounding and throat dry from sixteen hours of sleep that still didn’t feel like enough, deciding whether I would initiate a day full of exhausting thoughts, decisions, and movements was sometimes too much. It became a daily war: to try and muddle through the fog, or to stay in the comfort of my nest?

I’ve done medications. I’ve been on most anti-depressants that you could list off the top of your head if you know anything about them. I’ve also been on a number of benzodiazepines (which I now blame for my rubbish short-term memory). I’m now on what I consider to be an effective combination of risperidone and escitalopram.

I’ve done therapy, too. I don’t know if it’s because the free and (relatively) accessible therapy options are on a tight budget with too many clients, but I found therapy to be largely useless. One-on-one sessions took 2+ years to land a spot in and were either too preachy (literally, there was too much talk about Higher Powers) or too New Age-y (keep your aura away from me, please). Group sessions often focused on things that weren’t important to me, and participants’ rants were permitted to go on too long by group leaders. It also felt like matchmaking wasn’t done very well – they should know not to put cynical, angry people like me in with cryers who don’t yet know how to identify their emotions. Group therapy is not very effective if not all participants are on the same approximate level.

I don’t know when things started getting easier but they did at some point. Slowly. Each small step of progress would take months – and often had to be revisited due to relapses. It took me two years to stop cutting, only to start again after two more years (and then stop again some time later); but, I haven’t done it in a long time and don’t think I will again. The constant anxiety when leaving the house has been replaced with comfort in knowing that I am just another face in the crowd, and that means no one has to know anything about me. The paralyzing anguish has turned into more of a dull ache at the back of my head that I only really notice when I’m being too still.

What I’m trying to say is, there is always hope. And I don’t mean that in a condescending, embossed-in-gold-leaf-on-twenty-dollar-card-stock way. Do not doubt for even a second that the journey from the hell of depression to stability is the hardest thing anyone can ever do. The moment you start expecting it to magically go away is the day you lose. Recovering is damn hard work; and, if you have chronic mental illness, it is a lifelong journey.

The thing to keep in mind is that not everyone can be measured on the same scale. Learn to take joy in the little victories (for instance, after a week of depression and complete disregard for nutrition, I made a healthy breakfast for myself this morning). Start collecting these little victories so they help stack up against the losses.

Surround yourself with friends. Even if you don’t think they want to hear about it. All it takes is saying, “I feel like crap,” and your loved ones will pay attention in a way that might shift your mood. And if the attention and love doesn’t help, that’s OK, too, because at least they will be there when you can’t help yourself anymore.

Those self-help books? Invest in one or two good ones with exercises and work through them slowly. The key to making it through depression is adopting coping strategies. The good self-help books teach you methods for dealing by conditioning you to practice them on a daily basis. That way, you’re not floundering when it gets bad.

If it’s necessary, keep your local crisis helpline number handy. Have it posted several places in your home to remind you it’s there. Make it a contact in your phone so that you don’t have to look it up when the need arises.

There. Is. Hope. Remember that when you feel like you can’t climb out of the pit, I have faith that you can. Sometimes it just takes a while.

10 Free Online Resources to Improve Your Writing

One thing I’d like to add: do not forget the importance of reading regularly.

To supplement these resources, I’d like to add some websites with free and legal books and audio books.

Tuebl – Community-managed ebook database.
Project GutenbergGrandfather of free ebook websites.
LibriVox – free audio books.
Open Culture – more free ebooks.

Interesting Literature

In this guest blog post, Sharon Crosby shares 10 great websites that can help you improve your writing skills

It often seems that there are not enough online resources for writers. There are many good books on the subject, but they cost a lot of money because the writing community is a relatively small niche. Here are 10 resources you can use whether you are a professional writer or a young content manager to improve your writing, to make your content more interesting or to get published. All the websites have something different to offer writers.

  1. Writer’s Digest

Get your hands on lots of writing and research advice. The homepage is a little too crammed with links for most people’s liking, but once you get used to how the website works you can find plenty of tips and lots of pieces of advice on writing. The great thing is that…

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I Hate Kids and Don’t Want Any

Basically, this is me with kids:

Whatever biological imperative it is that drives most women to reproduce and nurture said genetic replica into adulthood – I’m either missing it or it was worn out by all the child-minding I did growing up. My mother had a fourth child when I was eight years old, and as a result of her drug and alcohol dependence I took on the role of primary caregiver to my little brother. I was thrust into the uncomfortable position of being a mom before I had even reached puberty. While most kids in my middle-class elementary school were doing extra-curricular activities after school, I was struggling to make it to school on a regular basis because home life was wearing me out. This continued into high school, when I began also babysitting the kids down the street so that the household would have enough money for food. All of my free time was split between caring for my alcoholic mother, and the three kids that were my responsibility. I went without food most days to make sure my brother had food.

In the end I managed to graduate high school, with the honorary title Part-time Student bestowed upon me by my info tech teacher (that’s sort of where my gripes with the public education system begin, but that’s a story for another time). I was worn out and needed to escape so I moved away from home after the summer of graduation. One less mouth to feed, anyway.

I moved in with my second oldest brother and his then fiancee, who, as it turns out, was pregnant. This girl was almost a year younger than I was (eighteen at the time) and already settling down. I didn’t, and still don’t, understand why she kept the kid rather than aborting because they were clearly too young and too emotionally unstable to raise a child; but, I suppose my family has a history of unrealistic expectations.

For the following nine months I watched my sister-in-law suffer through almost constant nausea and crippling depression as she brought her first child to term. After the birth didn’t get any easier, as my brother’s foul temper reared its ugly head. Seems his unrealistic expectations landed him in a situation that he dealt with by slamming doors, and screaming in the face of his fiancee and newly born baby. The reality was that the couple was ill-equipped to deal with the responsibility of parenthood, and as I watched them fall apart, I wondered how they couldn’t have seen this coming.

From a young age I was aware that I didn’t want the responsibility of being a mother, and as I grew older and the mental health diagnoses piled up, I decided it would be cruel to pass on the same genetic illnesses my mother passed on to me, anyway. Now that I am in my mid-20s, and breeders keep telling me that I will, in fact, want kids soon, I’ve begun to loathe them on principle. Every time I see a child in public I get a little sick to the stomach because it’s just a reminder of the dozens of people who tell me that I am wrong, or selfish, or too young to know what I want. I’ve become bitter that I am childfree by choice yet forced to live in an increasingly child-centric world. I am offended that everyone seems to think that just because I am female, that I must eventually become a baby-making factory because that is my one true duty as a woman. I am angry that I don’t need medical authorization to have unprotected sex, have a child, and be financially and emotionally responsible for that child for the next 2+ decades of my life; but, if I want to opt out of that and instead live a life that best suits my preferences and abilities, I must harass the system for four years to get them to finally listen.

But in the end, they did listen, and my gynecologist finally authorized a bilateral salpingectomy (complete removal of the fallopian tubes). A perk of getting the salpingectomy over the tried-and-true cauterization method is increased security (nature does sometimes find a way and there is a 1 in 1,000 chance that a pregnancy will still occur, but removal of the fallopian tubes theoretically tips the odds in my favour). Also, there is evidence that shows that the deadliest form of ovarian cancer actually begins in the fallopian tubes, so removal may reduce chances of occurrence. Finally, it’s PERMANENT. In for a penny, in for a pound, right?

I don’t have a date for the surgery yet, but I expect it will happen within 3-4 months. After the surgery I will give a detailed account of the entire process for anyone thinking of having the same procedure done; until then, there are very helpful stories here and here.

In the meantime, I am going to celebrate by having an Unbaby Shower. And after the surgery, fucking with impunity!

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