It's been a while, hasn't it? When I put my web presence back together in June, I swore to myself that I'd smack at the keys on a regular basis--two, maybe three times a week. Once a week at the very least. Turns out, I've done far less than that. In the span of, what, ten weeks(?), I've written and shared at length a whole one time. There was always a reason: too busy, too exhausted, too manic, too depressed, too empty, too full. But really, I think I've shied away from length and concentrated thought because I've been in a raw state, and said state is the best and worst thing for writing. So of course, I've done what any sane writer would do: not write. I know I've been saying this for almost two years now, but everything feels like garbage, and everywhere I turn, I see the ubiquitous dumpster fire. Personally, this summer seems to have been just a more intense cycle in my [fortunately ongoing] mood saga, with wonderful highs (shout out to people generous with opportunities!) and soul-crushing lows (shout out to incredible things not happening that I thought were guaranteed...). But, at the same time, I think it was more than that. My life has been returning to not quite a balance but also not quite the chaotic minefield it once was. I now sort of maybe have possibly settled into some kind of career, managing a new tiny business and drawing stuff for kicks and money, all while being brought into the booth and asked to bring moving lines to life with sound. What is this life, right? Anyway, I read somewhere that getting closer to one's goals goes hand-in-hand with increasing insecurity because, man, those stakes get high real fast. So here I am---nearer the existence I've tried to make for myself, looking down the barrel at what I've been determined to reach, no matter the cost. And thus, I'm a cowardly, insecure, jealous hot mess who's scared to be allllmost close enough to touch my dreams. That's not even counting my actual mood cycles. Hooray for bipolar disorder and comorbid depression and PTSD. Yee-fucking-haw... Yeah, there's that, too. Two weeks ago, with the blessing and guidance of my psychiatrist, I'd switched medication from Lamictal to Trileptal, and it was going to be AMAZING. While the former has worked like a champ ever since my diagnosis, it's also been a bitch with one side effect: tendency toward heat illness. Of course, I'd moved to Texas. I'm much more active than I have been in years, which means I've been outside more often, which means I've been available for the climate to suck me dry and wilt me down to the cellular level. My choice was either to reject my reclaimed lifestyle and stay inside forever without end or to find some way to consume Gatorade intravenously and stay hydrated. That way, I wouldn't pass out and/or vomit from the heat and/or be vulnerable to a heat stroke. Or I could just try a new medication. For those who've never been on any kind of psychiatric med, here's a quick clue: it can be a fucking trip. If it's the right one for you, the difference it can make on your outlook and productivity can be astonishing. Life is livable again. Going outside and being in public isn't nearly so paralyzing. Connecting with other humans seems possible once more. You feel well. Your body kind of nods with you, and your whole being is like, "Yeah, okay, this may not be so bad. Cool. Now let's go get this next minute and be a badass by getting out of bed. Hype! Hype! Hype! Hype!" Also, your goalposts move quite a bit when you have mental illness, just FYI. However, if the new medication is not the right one for you, then God bless because it's going to be a rough ride. Some folks are beset with physical side effects (rashes, nausea, diarrhea, double vision, tremors, to name a few). Others are subjected to [increased] anxiety, irritability, depression, feelings of well-being (I know, right?), etc. Knowing how badly side effects can ravage a patient, I was terrified of making the switch, but I felt like I had to at least try. If there was even the smallest chance that I could better manage the bipolar disorder and keep a major part of my life that was important to me, I had to do it. So I did. And I did get ravaged, so much so that I became suicidal. It's still a bit painful to recall, so, as I so gloriously modeled for ten weeks, I'm not going to write about the details. Sufficed to say, the weeklong experience became bad enough that calls to both my doctor and my pharmacist made it clear that I needed to stop taking that Trileptal immediately and go back on Lamictal. I was floored by how quickly I improved. I've never experienced a medication taking effect within a day, since Lamictal has always worked via a slow burn with me. Regardless, I'm glad I switched back* and feel human again and not like a self-loathing shit hole ready to blow itself into oblivion. Taking that hell week on top of humanity's constant stream of existential raw sewage? I'm worn out. Sure, this salted cream cold foam cold brew on my desk is pretty fucking brilliant and has me caffeine-dancing in my chair, but damn. I only have so much in my tank, and I find myself praying, "Geezus, the fuck?" I do not like to test God and be all, "Give me a sign, yo," but man, I've been praying that pretty hard in spite of myself. And what gets me the most? Those prayers always turn me back to writing. Always. It's like, my eyes get retuned, and I end up shifting until I see the creators. I'll never forget; just after the 2016 ass fire that was the presidential election, I despaired until I listened to the Yuri!!! On Ice prelude. I cried. Hard. For every blowhard who seeks to send everything to hell, there are multiple souls who continue to bring beauty into the world. They rejuvenate our withered selves, until we can again stand on our own wobbly legs and walk once more. Maybe that's my place too, in the middle of all the garbage but still standing with fellow creators, those that help our hearts and evoke tears of wonder. If I can write, like actually purposely, grindstone-ing-ly write (yes, I'm making that a word), then maybe I can strike a still, tiny note of magic that uplifts one person. I'll do what the most insane writers do best and spill every letter onto the page until I'm empty, and maybe we'll be better for it. Maybe you. Maybe me. I hope.
All I have to do is add a catchy title
*I will be making another attempt at finding a better medication for me later in the year; I just need a break from the disaster of two weeks ago. If you are concerned about and, yeah, frightened (that's fair) of being on medication, please do not take my experience as a caution against taking any at all. It can take time and sometimes hardship, but there are meds and treatment methods out there that can vastly improve one's life while having mental illness. Please see the right medical professional for you before starting or stopping any prescription/regimen, and allow them to guide you as you seek better health.