Tag Archives: depression

“My Broken House Behind Me and Good Things Ahead”: I’m Still Here

8 Sep

In the last nine months I’ve gone to therapy regularly; got diagnosed with ADHD; gone on medication for ADHD, depression, and anxiety; sold my first short story; dug deep and sorted out a lot of trauma and realized I’m bisexual; finished drafts of two different novels; organized fundraisers; recorded two more albums (coming soon!). My marriage and friendships are stronger than they’ve ever been. I feel more hopeful, more like myself than I have in almost a decade.

I also lost my 15 year old Facebook account, got some terrible news about my dad’s health, watched my husband get laid off (again), and took our cat, Lamby-toes in for surgery to remove the cancer that has come back already. I’ve started planning her last day.

Also I started a Patreon, so, ya know, if you like what I do about here, feel free to subscribe.

This year has been A Lot Of Year, and it is only September (also it is already September, what the hell?). This has been a year of trying to be brave, trying to be vulnerable, trying to heal, trying to create, trying to help, trying to leave things better than I found them. Trying to move forward.

Last year I listened to “This Year” by The Mountain Goats a lot, and let me tell you: I made it. I’m still here. Considering where I was a year ago, that’s a pretty big thing.

I hope you’re still here too.

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I’m Trying

6 Jun

Monday I was diagnosed with ADHD.

Wait, let me back up.

I’d been waiting for the results of my evaluation for about two weeks. I’ve suspected I have this [condition? disorder? disability? mental illness?] for about four or five years. I’ve struggled with symptoms my whole life.

Back to Monday.

I am 35, and I sat in the psychologist’s office as he told me that I definitely should have had a diagnosis decades ago, and should I ever go back to school I will be entitled to accommodations, which I should have had the first time, and that medication will work, and I cried so hard that when I left the office the receptionist asked me if I was ok.

I started going back to therapy about two months ago, and have gone regularly since then. About four and a half weeks ago I started taking Zoloft. The very nice psychologist who did my ADHD evaluation talked me through my diagnostic report, talked me through my options, recommended some books and tools, and then sent me back to the care of my therapist and the psychiatrist who manages my meds. All three are the same practice, and thus can easily share my records (with my permission), which is good, because I couldn’t find my ass with both hands right now. 

I expected to feel better if/when I got this diagnosis–

(I was never 100% sure I would. Of course I very strongly suspected, or I wouldn’t have spent so much time and money and emotional energy getting an evaluation, but I always entertained the possibility that the doctor would say “nope, you’re just a lazy, melodramatic bitch who’s wasted everyone’s time, that’ll be seventy million dollars.” I’m such an optimist.)

–and I did. I felt and continue to feel a tremendous sense of relief. I fucking told you I was trying. I am also experiencing regret, rage, resentment, sorrow, grief, fear, and an upset stomach that is in part from the Zoloft and in part from the stress of upending everything I understand about myself. I am reading everything I can get my hands on about this topic (reading is my hyperfixation!) and for every quiver of joy when I point at something in a book and scream “THAT’S ME” I also experience the further implosion of my self-perception. It’s one thing to say “I think I have this condition.” It’s quite another to be told that I do have this condition, and have had it my whole life, and furthermore this condition is the reason for everything I hate most about myself.

I know I have a lot of work in front of me, and I’m not sure I’m ready for it yet. I only recently crawled out of a depression hole so deep I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to get out of it. It’s worth noting that I closed a show on Sunday and opened another one on Wednesday, so I’m a little wrung out anyway, and now I’m reevaluating everything about my life. My stuff is in total chaos–mr. biscuit doesn’t mess with my show stuff even to clean it up, which I legitimately appreciate–and I had to cancel rehearsal today because I just couldn’t. I’m being as gentle with myself I can, given that I have historically not believed in being gentle with myself and given that it’s show week. mr. biscuit is taking excellent care of me. I read books about the condition in small chunks (while playing Assassin’s Creed and Diner Dash and scrolling Twitter, huh, ok, I might have an attention problem) because it’s too real and it hurts too much to read for too long. My support system is being very supportive (especially those who’ve experienced this before), the cats are being snuggly. I have a heating pad and a blanket and a big glass of ice water, and I have therapy on Monday and a little blue pill that I take every morning that is giving me a platform to stand on in this ocean of feelings. 

There was a teacher at my middle school, a very loud and intimidating old man, who constantly harped on the refrain “No excuse, no excuse, you ain’t got no excuse.” It was obnoxious and kind of scary and I wasn’t even in any of his classes, but he used to yell it so loud everyone could hear and it’s stuck with me since then. I brought it up to my therapist a week or so ago, in context of the semester I almost failed out of college*, and she turned it right back around:

“It’s not an excuse. It’s a reason.”

I’m glad I started therapy and antidepressants before I started this ADHD thing, because I’m not sure I could do it otherwise. I‘m a mess right now, but three months ago I would have been a disaster. 

*this is another story, but it involved two jobs, a bounced rent check, the violent deaths of a friend and a cousin, several brushes with eviction, and undiagnosed depression so severe I spent many, many days unable to get out of bed. There were weeks I only ate because I was dating mr. biscuit, and he had the compassion and the resources to make sure I ate. Did I tell my professors any of this? No, don’t be ridiculous. No excuse, remember?

Achieving Stuff II: The Search for Perspective

5 Dec

I have a ton of things on my to-do list today, and none of them are “write a blog post.” Then again, none of them are “organize pictures in downloads folder,” either, and I’m definitely doing that, so what’s a to-do list in the grand scheme of things, really?

I’ve been thinking about accomplishments.

A friend of mine graduated this summer, and I gave her a sketchbook with a little note that said something like “Your productivity does not define your worth.” I don’t remember the exact wording, but that was the sentiment, and it’s one that I’ve often expressed to her and to other friends. Of course that’s easier said than believed, and what’s sauce for the goose you like is not necessarily sauce for yourself when you don’t like yourself (that got away from me a bit), but I stand by it. Even for myself. Mostly. Sometimes.

Ok, though, maybe I don’t? Not really. I’ve spent most of my life believing I am lazy and  the worst. I’m 90% sure I have some kind of attention disorder, and who knows? Maybe in 2019 I’ll finally talk to someone about getting that checked out. Have I suspected this for several years? Sure. Have I been putting off seeking diagnosis because I’m secretly terrified that they will say “no, you’re just a lazy bitch and your inability to focus is a moral failing”? Yes, obviously, but that’s not the point. The point is: to combat this feeling of “you accomplish nothing, you are worthless” I’ve started keeping lists of what I’ve done every day, because otherwise I am likely to forget it. Come on: if a woman cleans the bathroom but doesn’t write “cleaned bathroom” down on the back of a crumbled envelope, did it even happen? So in the spirit of “I forget things,” what have I accomplished in 2018?

Well, I co-created four really great Dragon Age costumes. This blog started as a costume blog, and one might think I would have discussed that process here, but I was busy freaking the fuck out all the time and never got around to it. Anyway, my friend E and I put these together over several months this spring and summer. She made the armor, and I made the clothes, which means I custom dyed (it’s a mix! of two! different! dyes! and it took me! four! weeks! to arrive at this particular! shade! of video game blue!) and patterned all this fabric shit.  These costumes were hard as fuck. They took hundreds of hours. We cried a lot and wound up hurting and exhausted and deliriously happy. I’m enormously proud of both of us, as well as these pictures by YouAreRaven.

 

I finished a short-novel-length piece of Dragon Age fanfiction. It’s just under 75k words, mostly original characters, and yes it’s fanfiction but you know what? I finished it. I started and finished a goddamned long-form piece of fiction for the first time in my life. Like, I finally learned how to do that. Do you understand how big an accomplishment this is for me? Do I understand that? I’ve been scribbling away at stories for 20something years and can count the number of Beginning-Middle-End Finished Pieces on two hands. What’s more, I posted it. Like, for strangers to read. And it’s pretty goddamned good, if you like that sort of thing.

At some point I finished the rough (very rough) draft of a female-driven fantasy novel I’ve been working on since late 2013. There’s still a long way to go on this one, but the skeleton and the muscles are there and we’re moving steadily towards the tendons and skin and…nerves? what other pieces of a body fit into this metaphor? I’m working on what could be called the second draft now. It’s slow going, but it gets better with every change, whether big or little. I’m learning how to organize and work through this process. It’s sitting right around 100k words. It has a title. It has a beginning and an end and most of a middle. And it’s pretty goddamned good.

Around Memorial Day weekend I started a female-driven urban fantasy novel that I’m about 61k words into. It’s pretty goddamned good so far. It’s looking like a trilogy. And I wrote some more short stories and creative nonfiction, some original and some fanfiction (Mass Effect and Rogue One and more Dragon Age, because this is who I am), some for public consumption and some for practice. I started referring to little throwaway snippets as “practice” rather than “a waste of time, God biscuit what is wrong with you” and I stopped thinking of writing as a chore and started treating it as a thing that gives me joy, because that’s what it is. I have started seeing a future in it–a for real future, an honest to God path forward. I have started doing research for What Comes Next. I have started making tentative plans.

I did an entire season playing music on stage in a duo at the Georgia ren faire, and then I did an entire season playing music on a stage solo at the Carolina ren faire. Not every set was perfect. I was nervous as hell. I forgot words, I forgot chords, I chickened out of some of the harder stuff, I cried after some sets, but I smiled and I sang and I kept going and I persevered. I never missed a set. I practiced all the time. I challenged myself and learned new things. I am infinitely better at the guitar than I was this time last year. I got roped into performing in a last-minute show at the fringe festival a week after the Georgia faire closed, and despite a laundry list of obstacles, I pulled it off. I performed several other places. I’m looking for more. I entered some contests. I’m entering some more.

I dealt with constant pain in my back, knees, and elbows, and intermittent pain in my left ovary for almost the entire year. I forgave myself for that pain, I let myself get treatment, and I forgave myself for getting treatment. I forgave myself for a lot things that shouldn’t need forgiveness. I started wearing knee braces and using my inhaler when I need them, not just when I need need them. I kept up with my hair color. I flossed. I spent a lot of time strengthening my marriage and friendships. I promoted my friends. I promited myself a little. I voted. I protested. The world is a garbage fire, but I’m doing stuff.

This time last year I had no idea where I was going, except that it would have to be better than where I was. This year I have almost stopped telling myself that I am a worthless procrastinater who never finishes anything.

So that’s what I’ve accomplished in 2018. In 2019 I’m going to really work on that “getting my hair trimmed regularly” thing.

Because WordPress won’t let iframes work unless you pay them, this year’s Intention Playlist can be found here.

Letters to Nobody

15 Nov

Dear Tay,

I hope it’s ok to call you Tay! I read in your authorized biography, MMMBop to the Top, that “Tay” is your nickname. Probably it is mostly for family and close friends, but you and I have a lot in common! You’re 13–I’m 12. Your favorite color is red–my third favorite color is red, after purple and sometimes blue, so sometimes it’s my second favorite color. You like Aerosmith–I love Aerosmith! My younger sister looks just like Zac, even. I feel like if you would just come visit my hometown so we could meet–

Ugh. No.

Ok.

Dear Taylor,

I hope this missive finds you well. My name is biscuit, and I am a very very big fan of yours. We are a lot alike, you and I. I’m almost 13, just like you. Also, just like you I travel the world singing, or would if my parents could have afforded that choir trip to Italy–

Oh hell no, don’t talk about being poor.

[deep breath]

To: Taylor Hanson
From: stone biscuit (a girl)

This is a strange way to start a letter. I guess that’s how email goes, but I don’t have the internet so I don’t really know about that except what I can see at my best friend’s house You and I have never met, so I don’t know any other ways to begin this letter. I don’t even know why I’m writing to you, except that there are so many feelings inside me I feel like I’m going to explode. Do you know what it is like to be 12? Do you know how it feels when everything is the most important thing, and yet nothing is important, and the hours seem like days? Of course you do; I stole that last line from a song you wrote. Maybe that’s why I love you.

Maybe that’s why I can’t decide if I want to be with you, or to be you.

From where I’m sitting you have everything I want–people love you, people pay attention to you, people give you money, and as far as I can tell you get to do whatever you want. You represent love and sex and self-expression and self-determination and creativity and freedom, things I can’t put a word to, things I am only beginning to realize I crave more than I have the capacity to handle, much less express. I don’t even think it’s you I want (though you are cute, and you grow up to be gorgeous, and there will never exist a moment in my life when I wouldn’t happily do age-appropriate sex things with you). What I want, what I long for, what I feel like I will die without (what I maybe want to die without?), is the sense that something, anything that I am doing now has meaning, has importance, that there is something to life other than the boring bullshit of school and bedtimes and nightmares and bullies and mental and physical illnesses and dark quiet streets that make me want to scream until my throat is bleeding just to break the stagnant suburban silence.

I know we’ll never meet. You’ll grow up to have five kids and a million nieces and nephews because you and your brothers have apparently never heard of birth control. You’ll all three break from your label and release a bunch of indie albums that garner critical acclaim and maintain a core audience of fans, and even release a beer at some point that I will never drink because I hate IPAs. I will grow up to make my own choices, to put a name to demons in my head and to start fighting them. I’ll learn lessons of harmony and storytelling from participating in your fanbase, and I will find my own voice. I will carry the internet in my pocket. Eventually I will realize that I can’t spend all my energy running from, and learn to start running towards instead, and while that seems so, so impossibly difficult some days, I will surround myself with the people and things I love, and I will arm myself with courage and grit and sheer goddamned spite, and I will pour myself into making art, and sometimes I will be able to outpace the terror of endless summer afternoons spent wondering if my existence has any meaning at all.

In the meantime, though, I will be an awkward 12-year-old girl in the suburbs of a shitty city, loving you, coveting the things I imagine you have, and clinging to the dream presented by your music to remind myself that there is more to life than…*waves hand vaguely* all this bullshit.

Sincerely,

– stone biscuit –

PS. While the close harmonies and simple elegance of White Christmas made up for it, I feel your cadenza on O Holy Night was embarrassingly overdone.

Singing To Myself

10 Oct

There’s a song I like a lot. As near as I can tell, it’s called May You: The Folksinger’s Song, which is fitting, given it’s a song about being a folk singer. It’s by Jan Marra, but I know it because a friend has occasionally played it for loved ones who are having a really rough day.

May you never be sorry you traveled this road,
May you find all the work that you need.
May your eyes be bright when you’re out late at night,
May never your glory get mixed up with greed

The last two weekends, the first two weekends of the festival, were full of really rough days. It was hot and brutally humid. Well, it’s often hot and humid at ren faires, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

The crowds at this faire are not necessarily prepped for hot, humid weather. It’s a fall festival, after all. My stage is a little off the beaten path, with not much in the way of signage, and there’s no shade on the benches for most of the day. I did what I could–I even dragged benches up onto the stage for the later sets, which helped a lot, but I played for small crowds. They were good crowds, full of engaged and happy people who liked what I was doing, people who were complimentary, people who laughed and cried appropriately, people who tipped, but there just weren’t many of them. On Sunday I had a total of maybe 12 people on my benches over three sets. And for more than a little bit of time, I played for myself. We all did. Some of the finest musicians I know were playing to empty benches.

There’s a number of people who’ll sit in the rear,
They’ll talk through your sets, they will catcall and jeer
A number of people will turn a deaf ear,
Just keep right on playing for those who will hear.

And that’s…it is what it is. It’s not ideal, but it happens. Normally it’s ok. I love to sing. I love to play guitar. But getting on stage requires a lot from me, and getting to this particular faire requires a lot of driving and being away from home. I’m not confident of my solo work, and when there’s only four people listening to me, it’s way easier to believe the little voice in my head that says what I’m doing is terrible. And then, you know, there was All That Stuff going on in the world, what with credible accusations of sexual assault still not being a barrier to being appointed to the Supreme Court (or elected president). Last Sunday morning I overheard a different friend make a joke that boils down to “bitches be lying,” and I cried a lot, universe. I cried a lot. I was supposed to be getting ready for the day, warming up and tuning and doing makeup, but instead I was crying. I got out there and I did my thing, playing the Village Protest Singer with all the considerable verve at my disposal, and I sang my feelings to the heavens and the three people who were listening, but I was hot and drenched in sweat and bleeding and full of rage and sorrow and fear, and I had to dig deep into my reserves to find the courage and energy to get up there, and the crowds were very small and I was very tired.

When the time comes to pack up and ramble along,
May never you wonder just where you belong,
And if you hit hard times may they make you strong.
May every experience lend to your song.

During my down time I tried to recharge by sitting in the audience of empty sets, listening to my friends play beautiful music, and that helped. At one of those sets on Sunday my first friend played the Folksinger’s Song. I don’t know if he played it for me; I think he played it for all of us, but it was still very good to hear. I cried a little more, and then I ate lunch, and I felt a little better. It was still really hard and I’m still very tired, and I’m still not confident in my solo stuff, but I do love to make music, and that’s not everything, but it’s not nothing.

May your heart be light, may you sleep well at night,
And I hope that you find all the love that you need.

’17 Going on ’18

28 Dec

(Footnotes after the jump)

The Year of Our Lord 2017 was a year.

If you’ll allow me to fall back on some platitudes for a minute, I’ll say that it was a year of transition and change. I mean, every year is a year of change, because everyone changes. Nothing illustrates that quite so well as the wedding pictures on the wall–way back from 2009! We look so different! And yet so similar! So saying “this was a year of changes” is kind of silly. Of course it was. Things change literally every minute.

On the other hand, this time last year I was pretty ready to hurt myself because I couldn’t see any other method of escape. Right now I’m tired, sad, and worried, but I’m not having to actively prevent myself from violence, and that’s not in any way a little thing.

I have some specific goals for 2018. I feel better when I get a little exercise, so I’ll try that. I should try to maybe only be an every-week regular at one biscuit establishment, rather than five of them. It would be nice to get all the art up on the walls and make sure the frames are even, so I have to get a friggin’ level. I need a haircut. That fits in with my main goal, which is to be a little kinder to myself. Wallowing in shame and anxiety is no way to go through life–it’s counter-productive at best. Does that mean I should get my ass back into therapy? Yes, it does. Also I should see the doctor about these weird knee aches I have recently* developed, and get my car in to figure out why the check engine light came on a little bit ago**, but let’s take it one step at a time.

Anyway, the last half of 2017 was pretty good. 2018 is going to be pretty good too. It’s rained here for far too long.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/stonebiscuit/playlist/30pjkpufM9ujjmlLj7kvQp

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My Friends Say Nice Things About Me

13 Nov

I’m a little better than I was, but not by much. The holidays are creeping up faster than I had anticipated, and the holidays are a rough time. My maternal grandmother died a few days before Christmas several years ago, after having been diagnosed around November the year before, about a month before my paternal grandmother died (keeping up with all this?). The memory of Christmas in the Cancer Ward is strong to this day. And of course, it’s dark outside and it finally got cold. So regular depression plus seasonal depression plus holiday depression plus sweaty palms and cold fingers, blah blah blah, it’s just generally not a great time. I’m behind on stuff, I’m sad and fragile and snappy, I’m deep in the cycle of self-sabotage, you all know this song.

Anyway, into this come my friends, who are my forever source of wonder and light. A lot of them have been saying nice things to me as we work on projects–all the Kickstarter rewards (except the ones that require travel) have gone out, so we’re awash in joyful tidings about that, plus some other things that I’ve been working on. I thought I’d go ahead and document some of them for, ya know, proof against future “nobody likes me” moments.

“For the past week I have had a dreadful cold, can’t sing, no energy, general misery. It was into this befuddlement that I received your CDs and tote bag. I felt wrapped in the love of friends!!! The lightest of blue bag with the musical notes inside was beauty to the touch and eyes, and the music felt like hugs and smiles and laughter. You dropped a load of beauty into my grey, and I love you both for it!!!”

“today I got a little weepy over coffee explaining to K how you helped me survive this terrible summer, and then we both talked about the ways in which you’re superior at supporting people when they need it most, and K said, ‘biscuit is the best person I know for meeting a person wherever she is or wherever she needs to be without making that person feel deficient or like a weirdo.’ And it’s so true.”

How awesome is it to have CDs of your own sister? I am so lucky to have such a beautiful and talented sibling. I love listening to her sing, and now I can whenever I want!!!” (plot twist: this one is from my sister.)

“I love you so hard.”

There are so many others. I could never keep track of all the ways that my friends and family have helped me or held me up, all the wonderful things they have said about me. The last two or three days there have been a lot of exclamation marks coming my way, which is especially helpful, because I’ve been unable to manufacture my own for a while.

On the roughest, coldest days of early high school, when the pressure of continuing to exist felt like it was going to rip me in half, I would carry around a cassette tape (!!!) of the Newsies soundtrack*. I’d put it in the pocket of my jacket and cling to it when everything around me and inside me was chaos and I was ready to fall apart. In middle school, it was a copy of The Hero and the Crown. In elementary school, it was a battered old Trapper Keeper with a grey kitten on the front. In college, it was my purple cabbie hat. I’ve always carried little talismans in my pocket. This feels like putting my friends in my pocket so I can find them when I need them**.

It’s good to have people around who love you all the time, but especially when you don’t love yourself.
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