Wednesday, October 19, 2016

You have to reach out: a #HoldOnToTheLight post

I never thought I could survive depression until I found the courage to reach out and ask for help.  I spent years and years of my life wondering why my brain would quit working, sometimes for weeks or even months at a time.  I didn't want to tell anyone--I couldn't admit weakness.  When I was a lawyer, the bar associations would ask, as part of the process of admitting us to practice law in a state, about any instances of "mental illness."

Think about that.  Mental Illness.

The words conjure up images culled from nightmares and terrifying movies.  Glassy-eyed maniacs screaming and pulling their own hair, caged in mental institutions that could double for torture sites.

I wasn't mentally ill.  I wasn't crazy.  I just needed a little help sometime to force myself through patches of dark gray nothingness.

And then, in early 2014, I realized it wasn't getting better.  I couldn't figure this thing out on my own.  I needed to REACH OUT.  To my family, to my friends, and--most important--to my doctor.

It was scary as hell.

But I did it.  I reached out and admitted what I'd been going through.  I told everyone that I was tired of stumbling through the dark--that I wanted to find and hold on to the light.

And it helped.  It helped SO MUCH.  I started therapy.  I found meds that helped me.  Life started to look like something worth fighting for.

I told my readers.   I was scared to do that; scared to be seen as a failure.  No longer superwoman.  But you know what?  They rallied around me.  They shared their stories and their love.  We built a community together, through my Facebook Friday mental health check ins, and we learned that it's okay to be different.  It's okay to need help.

It's more than okay--it's crucial--to reach out.  

So if you're suffering, if you're alone and afraid to admit you need help--please remember:

                                      YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

We're here with you.  We GET you. And we want you to reach out--we want you to hold on to the light with us.

All my love,

About the campaign:
#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.
Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to and join us on Facebook

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

This week's tragedies and practicing self-care

For my people - the slightly crazy, slightly broken, slightly outside of normal: This has been a bad, bad week. I want to talk a little bit about how it's okay to practice some self-care in times of horrible tragedy. We who have depression or other forms of mental illness don't always have the same filters that other people do--we can't watch a news report about a horrible tragedy like the mass shooting in Orlando and think "That's so awful" and yet then be able to go on with our day. Instead, we have a tendency to sink far, far below the surface, drowning in waves of pain and empathy.

Last night, when the news about the toddler at Disney came through, after Christina Grimmie, after the Pulse nightclub tragedy, it was that one final thing that sent me reeling into the cumulative pain of all of it. I started to cry and I couldn't breathe. I literally could not catch my breath, to the point where I started to hyperventilate. And then I had to go and hide in bed with the covers wrapped around me like a fragile cotton shield from the week's horrors.

If the news is making it hard for you to breathe--to live--to stay out of the black pit, then please, please take a step back. Declare a No Watch/No LIsten Zone in your house and car. It's okay to need a buffer from soaking up so much pain. If you are standing on shaky ground, you need a lifeline, not to jump into the quicksand.

When you're stronger, you can step up and take a stand. Do your part to help stop these tragedies from happening again. Speak out. But please take care of yourself first. Be gentle with yourself. And remember the Friend Rule: You wouldn't say to me, "Alyssa, shake it off, you big baby. Be tough!" So please, please, don't say it to yourself.

Tonight I will go to a rally/memorial service near me for the victims of Pulse. Tomorrow I will go donate blood. But today? Today I will keep my TV and radio off, and stay away from internet news. Today I need to learn to breathe again. Take care of yourselves, please.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

those fish are still dead

So, I have been in a very bleak period of depression for more than a year now, brought on by some publishing fucktardery, and I've been fighting the losing battle of trying to tell people that my fish are dead (see: the wonderful Allie Brosch, esp. the Allie Brosch fish post and you'll get that one.)
But today I am here to peek my tired eyes up over the blanket hiding my fetal position and admit that I might be getting a shipment of brand new fish.  Now, they'll probably be like me, fragile and a little bit broken, but they will surely have some hint of optimism and the slightest feathering of remembered joy.

I hope.  I never lost it, even in the darkest times, this hope -even when it was reduced to only a withered thing stretching her trembling hands out into the dark.

I've found her again, and made her soup, some of my quite good chicken vegetable (Homemade) and some of my even better hot and sour (also homemade) and tomorrow I might ply her with homemade turkey chili.  I want to feed her up so she doesn't waste away into one of the more nebulous emotions, or turn into vapidity or despair.

I'm crying while I write this, which is harder than you might think because I'm a tough old trial lawyer and there's no crying in litigation, as more than one partner told me back in the day.  But today I am crying, because I worry that I've let you down.  I cannot write 17 books in 6 months like so many indie authors these days. I wouldn't even try to.  Sometimes, it might take nearly TWO YEARS or even a little longer to get a book from me because my editor has to pry them from my cold, (almost)-dead hands because of the harsh perfectionism that is at the root of much of my depression.  It's the noose I use to tie up the bundles of my dead fish.

But today, I tried to be healthy and happy.  Both on the same day.  I did not "INVITE THE TRAGEDY TRAIN TO THE STATION" as my darling Navy Guy sometimes accuses, and I did not threaten my son with coming home to live in our non-existent basement once he flunks out of college (well, okay, not more than once), and I did not get caught up in a teen drama and I figured out my severe vertigo was because I had forgotten to take my anti-depressants for 4 or 5 days in a row.  DON'T DO THIS!!!

And just when I was starting to fall down on the floor with my dead fish and cry, I remembered that I have all of you, who have shown me crazy kindness and boundless love and understanding.
So.  Hey.  Send some of that stuff this way.   I will snuggle with ALL of you.
So. Thank you. You rock.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On telemarketers

So, here's a true story. During the 6 or so years that I was a vegetarian, I once had a telemarketer call to offer me mail-order steaks.

Me: I'm a vegetarian.
Him: Okay, have a nice day. *hangs up*

This worked so well, I started using it on other telemarketers.

Caller: Would you like to buy our vinyl siding/satellite dish/lawn service/frozen eyeballs?
Me: I'm a vegetarian.
Me: Bye, now. *hangs up*

Feel free to use this yourself.  You're welcome.

Friday, February 20, 2015

My crazy might be in my DNA

I might secretly be a bear, because cold weather makes me want to hibernate.  Or at least nap, wrapped up in blankets.

My mom: It's 3 below zero here in Ohio.
Me: That's just wrong.
Her: Also, they ruined my tuna fish by putting soybean oil in it.

I think we might all see where I get my crazy from . . .

Saturday, February 7, 2015

On worrying

So, I am a champion worrier.  If worrying were a sport in the Olympics, I would have 59 gold medals by now.  I can worry about things that are not REMOTELY possible, like what if Navy Guy is on deployment and I'm driving home from the grocery store and a METEORITE hits my car and I die, but I'm smushed beyond recognition so nobody knows who I am to tell the kids, who are all alone in the world, and WITH NO FOOD IN THE HOUSE.

This was my biggest concern driving home this morning.  I am so not making this up.  It is scary inside my head.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

birthday drunkenness...

Today I made Princess eggs, French toast, and hash browns for breakfast in bed for her birthday. 15!!! I can't stand it. 

Science Ninja: Um, Mom, why is the spiced rum out for breakfast?
Me: Being your mother is challenging. I needed to take the edge off. 
Him: *worried face*
Me: It's the secret ingredient in my French toast batter, kid. Lighten up.