Ashe Elton Parker

A Writer of LGBTQ+ Characters in Speculative Fiction

Tag: bipolar disorder (page 1 of 3)

16-17Oct18: Another Day Missed!

I was away from my computer yesterday, and I don’t have the ability to update my blog from any device except my desktop computer at home, so here I am at 04:00 or so on Thursday updating for two days again. And a look in my “bullet journal” shows me I recorded absolutely nothing I did on the 16th. Well! Let me see what I can recall.

First, did I get anything from my list done on Tuesday?

I went to my volunteer shift. Got my 250 words. Did my languages and AEP post.

Got to bed around 01:00, if I remember right. After about an hour, I slept like crap for about 2 hours, then laid in bed awake with my eyes closed for another 3 or so, for a total of 6+ hours of bed time for little result. Oh, well.

Rose at around 07:00, I think. Was back in bed after most of my morning routine at 08:00. Got up at 10:00 with intent to finish entering my Wednesday Pathfinder character’s info into the online character sheet and took an hour nap on the sofa instead, then moved back into my bedroom for better sleep until 13:00 or so. Finally had breakfast, then laid down for another hour or so before dragging myself out of bed to go to Demolition Games.

There, I played MTG with Kaydan and Greg. Daz showed up later, and he played a round with them while I suffered under a horrendous tension pull headache. After that, Greg offered to get me some ibuprofen at a nearby convenience store and I accepted the offer. At about the same time he came back with the medicine, Phil, Dan, and Dave showed up for Pathfinder. That we played until around 20:30, when Kaydan couldn’t take the noise out in the main part of the store any longer and departed. Daz summarized the remainder of our in-game activities, then we chatted for a bit as we took our time packing up to leave.

Came home. I went downstairs to Daz’s apartment and helped him with is dishes and cooking up something to eat, then we watched a movie on Vudu.

Day of Depression

Title says it all. I woke up depressed, spent most of the day in bed. Daz came around toward the evening with sushi, donuts, and soda to cheer me up, and we played some Chicken Rummy, which all cheered me up. He’s such a gem. I’ll have to figure out something for him. After he left, I showered and tried to make a dice pouch with too little fabric. LOL

Another Two Days; a Bad Habit

Playing Cards!

Fan of Standard Playing Cards

I honestly didn’t mean to miss Thursday, even though it was another exhaustion day. Because I ended up staying up late playing games with Daz on Wednesday night, I was too wired to feel tired. Instead of putting myself to bed as I should have after taking my night meds, I stayed up instead. Bad me.

Today, it occurred to me that I haven’t mentioned my writing efforts the past several days or so. I have made them. Every day, I open the last fiction project I worked on, if nothing else. Some days, I open other files, either to look at one particular story an idea is stirring for, or a succession of Scrivener files to try and tease my creative mind into activity. I do make an effort, put Butt In Chair and Turn On The Faucet at some point. Sadly, nothing seems to want to move. Ideas do stir, but they come to nothing, and usually remain vague notions I can’t quite grasp.

But Thursday was an unexpected free day for writing. I was supposed to go quilt at Katie’s. Unfortunately for both of us, she felt unwell, with a sore throat and stuffy nose. Because she didn’t want to risk making me sick as well, she canceled our quilting meet. I told her to take care of herself and proceeded to Turn On The Faucet instead, and ended up reading through a number of my incomplete projects in an effort to stir the notions spinning in my mind into actual progress without any luck. At 18:30 or so, I finally gave up and went to bed, too exhausted to continue any longer.

Oh, my friend JJ did happen to visit on Thursday afternoon. He was downtown and had some extra time between appointments, and I invited him to my apartment. We had a nice little chat, and Hendrix got some loves from a new person. They seemed to get along well, and he spent a lot of time lying on JJ’s backpack. JJ’s got a cat too, and I bet his cat was livid that another had tried to claim JJ’s backpack. LOL

Friday did not start off very well. I awoke feeling depressed and basically rolled over and hid from the world until it became too painful to remain in bed. When I came out to the living room, I got on the computer and contacted Daz, intending to distract myself with chatter to him. It was hard, but I admitted how I was feeling moodwise, and he came up to hang out with me until he had to go to an appointment. We played some card games and he basically kept me distracted from the depression, then, when he left, he promised to return after his appointment.

I spent maybe 2 hours between his visits chatting on MeWe with my writer friends, and when Daz returned, he brought DiGiorno Pan Pizza for us to eat. While we ate it, I told Daz that Hendrix would try to crawl into the box at some point, and he looked at my cat and said, “Cat, you are silly.” LOL After we ate, we played some more games with my deck of regular cards, then we agreed to play MTG for a bit. He went downstairs to get his decks, and then texted me that he almost passed out from tiredness when he sat down to dig his decks out of hiding. I told Daz to go ahead and sleep a bit.

After that, I spent most of the rest of the day idling. Though my mood improved, I still didn’t care to do anything, until I finally forced myself to get on the dishes I’d messed up over the course of the day. I fed Hendrix his supper. Chatted with my sister. Finally managed to post the next chapter of DH02 on Wattpad. Also managed to do some stuff with GIMP tonight too. Oh, and I also text-chatted with a barber who’s going to be doing a demo cut of someone’s hair for the transmasculine group at the pride center later on this month, because one of the facilitators of the group thought I might make a good model; I sent the guy pics of my hair, but have not heard back yet on whether he thinks I’d be a good model—I actually think he’s gone to bed. LOL

Crazy Days

Gift Books from Somebody

GIMP books gifted to me. From who? Dunno.

This is the kind of craziness that comes from bipolar disorder, not from having hectic days, and the craziness started on Wednesday.

I took my night meds and went to bed. Then I spent the next 3-4 hours babbling D&D plans. Needless to say, I was no longer tired enough to sleep. So I pulled myself out of bed and worked on the D&D plans.

Wednesday, I’ll have you know, is also the day I was to go paint minis with Kit, then spend a couple of hours playing MTG with some friends. All of which I did. But boy was I tired after that.

And what do I do when I get home? I fire up the computer to read incomplete wips instead of going to bed. I think I finally made it to bed around midnight.

Thursday I was up bright and early. I’m counting it, even though I didn’t actually get out of bed until near 10:00, because I laid awake after that initial phone call from Mom. She brought over a window AC unit for me, and we installed it in one of my bedroom windows.

So today was D&D day with my long-time gaming friends and Greg. Today because I was supposed to go grocery shopping Saturday, but those plans fell through after I changed D&D’s date, so I just left it. I think I did better in some ways with the DMing, and in other ways worse. Overall, though, I think it was a fun session for us all, and that’s really what counts most. Phil asked what we should do for next month, and I said MTG since we did Vampires last month. He agreed to that and invited Greg to both the other games, and I think Greg’s going to go for ’em both. I know he’s interested in doing MTG, and he seemed interested to do Vampires too.

Because I expected to meet someone who’s buying my one Nook from me after gaming, I moved with Greg into the main part of the store after gaming. That person had apparently come earlier, mistaking the time we’d agreed to meet. So, for a while, I sat with Greg and went over a method I hope helps him with his MTG playing a little more. I basically wrote out the steps I go through when playing and did a couple of examples for him, then went through the steps with him a few times to ensure he understood the process. He said he’d been having trouble with it all and that my step-by-step format helped him work through it easier, and that makes me happy. I’m glad I could help him with it.

He was kind enough to help me cart some of my D&D stuff to and from Oasis, and on the way in, I checked my snail mail box as I like to do on days when I’ve been out. Found a package box key in my mailbox. Now, I hadn’t ordered anything delivered, so I thought the mail carrier may have misread the name or address or something on the package, but I found two packages in the package box with my pen first name and legal last name and the correct address. Brought them up, then visited with Greg for a while before he had to go—but as soon as he was gone, I opened those suckers.

Someone sent me those GIMP books in the pic above! I think I know who, but I’m not sure. I’ll definitely be asking them, though. LOL

And now I’m going to go to bed early and sleep until I wake up naturally. I am pooped.

Depression and Writer’s Block

In a way, I don’t know where the past few weeks have gone, though I can tell you what I was doing for most of them since my last post here. The essential thing is that I’ve been in a depressive funk and struggling to do pretty much everything from rising every day to writing on anything to indulging in hobby activities like crocheting. I’m not out of the pit yet either.

What I’ve been doing is getting out of the house a lot. Between Christmas and the beginning of last week (the 7th). Most of the time, I’ve either been going to the offices where the Utah Pride Center moved their therapy services, or, even more often, to Oasis Games, which bought the pride center’s old building and fixed up the first floor. I’ve been going there mainly to read Dungeons and Dragons books; I finished reading the Player’s Handbook and have been making slow progress on reading the Dungeon Masters Guide since about the first week of January.

I’ve also been continuing crocheting. My primary project is now complete, and I’ll be giving it to my friend who I decided to give it to soon if I get an opportunity. To be honest, I’ve done most of the work on it at the pride center’s therapy offices.

But even with those things, I’ve been in a depressive funk. The main reason is because I received a decision from the VA on my Compensation claim. I’m not sure if I mentioned it last year, but I started the claim in order to try and connect my bipolar disorder to my Naval service. Well, they didn’t even bother opening a case; they simply denied it without investigating. I’m fairly certain that is what threw me into this depressive funk.

It’s still with me. And, unfortunately, it’s not a state of mind I’ve been able to simply write through. I’ve tried. The first 4 days of this month, I wrote at least 500 words a day. Managed to complete, I think, 2 scenes on Unwritten Letters. But I didn’t feel like writing. Even with plot cards, I had trouble grasping the ideas. I felt no joy in getting the words down. Even though the quality was up to my standards, I hated what I’d written because I’d written the words when I felt bad. Gah, talking about it is dragging me down again. Enough.

Anyway, I haven’t touched my writing to do more than read stuff since then. Most days, I haven’t even been able to read my writing. I will not go into detail about how that makes me feel—it’s even more depressing than my description of writing, and I really don’t want to get as bad as I was last weekend over it all.

So, I foolishly thought writer’s block was a myth. That people who had it were undisciplined and lacked initiative in their writing. Well, since September or October, I’ve seen what it’s like to be undisciplined and lack initiative. And now I’ve been treated to my own grand case of writer’s block thanks to this depression.

Let me go over this again, to make it clear. Reading my writing depresses me, primarily because I see all its potential and am not actively capitalizing on it. Writing on anything depresses me any more because it’s not THERE—the ideas are vague, no matter how well-prepared I am for writing, and I hate the act of writing, and having done so makes me feel horrible because I didn’t enjoy doing so and I think I should. So it’s easier to just not write. I’ve gotten to the point where I dread writing, and I figure when it’s that bad, there’s no point in torturing myself.

Oh, I won’t be this way forever. I have faith in that. Maybe I’ll tuck myself into the inpatient mental ward at the VA, maybe I won’t. Either way, I’ll get by and this depression will pass. It’s already started to lift—a little—the past few days. I have a good long-distance friend I can chat about this with, and if that doesn’t help, I can always call the Veterans Crisis Line, and I’ve already notified my mental health care team about where I stand emotionally. All I need to do is stick it out long enough for the clouds to pass, and I’ve done that before and know I can do it again. In the meantime, I’m getting out, cuddling with my cat, and doing what I can to distract myself from my depression so I don’t do something stupid.

Taking A Break

With the completion of posting of Discordant Harmonies 1: A Pitch of the Scale, I’m taking a break from posting this week. It got a bit hairy for me toward the end of the book, with me barely keeping up with my weekly post and scheduling posts of the book. I managed to finish edits on it a few weeks beforehand, but apathy struck, and it was a fight the whole time. Sadly, that apathy about posting here is still with me. I’m hoping that taking a deliberate break from the onus of posting, however brief it may be, will prevent an unanticipated case of full-blown bipolar apathy regarding the site. I’ve done this before, with mixed success. Here’s hoping my blog absence will last only a week.

My Year In Writing, Thus Far

Since 2012, I’ve been highly conscious of how my writing goes over the course of the year. I keep an eye on when I write, and how much I write, and how long I take to write it. Recently, I even went so far as to create a logsheet for my blog posts, which I should have been logging long before now. I use my logsheets to monitor just how my writing’s going.

Normally, my writing fluctuates wildly. I’ve discussed this fluctuation here before, I think. I’ll go through periods where I’m writing daily, or nearly so, and I’m racking up tons of words. Then I’ll have times where I don’t write at all, do very little creatively, and generally wail about my lack of creative urges with regards to my writing.

So far, this year has been different. Things haven’t been quite as dramatically different as before, and I’m not quite sure just what to make of it.

My creative urges have been more consistent. I say creative urges because it’s more than just adding new words to projects that I’ve had going. Generally speaking this year, on days when I haven’t written, I’ve done other things with regards to my writing. I’ve worked on character sketches, or brainstormed for different stories. Or I’ve drawn sketches of different aspects of the story, usually clothing concepts, as I’ve taken up drawing. No matter what I’ve done, I’ve done something creative on the days when I don’t add new words to some writing project.

And it’s been nice. I’ve enjoyed this steady flow of creativity. I don’t get as frustrated about not writing when I’m doing other things related to the writing. Sure, I’d like to add new words to some project or another, but it doesn’t dig into me and drive me batty no to do so. It seems that as long as I’m doing something to express myself creatively, no matter what that thing is, I feel content with my creativity.

I hesitate to predict what this means. What I’d like it to mean is that my mind has stabilized to the point where more steady and regular creative expression will happen. That I won’t have any more of those maddening dramatic swings from creativity to non-creativity. I want this to mean I’m returning to the state of mind required for me to write daily. But I hesitate to make that declaration, mainly because I don’t want to get comfortable with this mental state only to, in the next few months or so, fall back into those dramatic swings. This is a plateau. I’m doing my best not to get my hopes up that it means things are “normalizing” for me now.

Though, to be honest, I’d be very happy if this were the new status quo. It’s been wonderful so far.

Making Sense of the Insensible

On Wednesday of last week, I became a little philosophical after quite a number of hours awake (30+). As one afflicted with bipolar disorder, this sometimes happens, though not always with the philosophical turn.

But something had been on my mind since that morning. Once again, my mom had affirmed her belief that “what goes around comes around” and I was struck—again—by how simplistic a view of life this is.

Now I’ve heard about Karma, but “what goes around comes around” seems to be a simplistic view of even that. From my (admittedly limited) understanding, I’ve never gotten the impression that Karma will unfailingly swing around and bite the offender in the butt in this life. My impression of Karma is that, yes, sometimes it takes a direct approach and hits the offender in this life, but that it’s more likely to mean that the offender, in the afterlife or next life will suffer for the offenses they gave in this life, as a way for them to learn the lesson they failed to learn before. I could be wrong, but this is the impression I’ve had of what Karma is for a long time. Since my teen years at least.

When my mom says “I’m a firm believer in what goes around comes around,” she always means, without fail, that she expects that the offender will experience some sort of bad luck or unhappy event in this life. Their comeuppance is on the way. She may not know when, but she’s absolutely certain it will happen.

And that, to me, is a very simplistic view of life.

The fact is, life is not that simple. Life is by its very nature uncertain. It’s insensible—sense cannot be made from it. Not any real, true, firm and unalterable sense. Sure, we can make sense of some things, but these are all little things, minor things—like, I can make sense of my mom from my own understanding of myself and the choices I’ve made that have brought me to a point where I can see into her a lot more clearly than I think she realizes. But even that doesn’t give me the ability to understand everything about life. I can make some sense of it all, but not complete sense.

And that’s because the world is complicated and uncertain. And I accept that life has those qualities. All I can do is my best to understand what I can. But for people like my mom, those complications and uncertainties are frightening. So she, and they, seek a simple way to understand it.

We all want to understand life. But I’ve realized something about this search for understanding of life. There are two basic ways to “understand” life. One can take either a simplistic view, such as “what goes around comes around,” or one can set out to really work on gaining a deeper understanding of oneself, the world, and life. This requires a number of things, chiefly the willingness to be mindful of oneself.

Now, it’s no secret I write. And I freely admit my writing is, at its core, little more than me seeking understanding of life. I’m trying to make sense of the insensible with my writing. But! It is far more complex than tacking on a simplistic “what goes around comes around” view of life and being satisfied with that. I could never be satisfied with such a simplistic view of life. Life is far more complicated and uncertain than that. Life doesn’t tie things up that neatly, not even when it seems to be offering a neatly-wrapped package tied up with a pretty ribbon.

Life is messy. Life is insensible. No one can make complete and total sense out of life, because it is always uncertain. There are any number of philosophies we can adopt or adhere to in order to try and make sense of life, but the fact is, those philosophies are only the beginning. Clinging to them as the end-all and be-all of Understanding is a dead-end. Yes, it can be comforting to adopt the focused view of life religion and philosophy seem to offer, but if that’s only as far as it goes, it’s not doing much good.

I realized one major difference between myself and my mom on Wednesday. My life philosophy changes day by day. Sometimes only a little, sometimes a great deal. But it’s always in flux. Mom’s life philosophy is, to me, frighteningly static. And, I think it has been most of my life. Where she clings to the mere beginnings of comprehension, I have made efforts, in part because of my mental illness, and in part because I simply want to do so, to push myself away from those beginnings. I started doing this back in 1988, when I wrote my first Star Trek “novel” in a series of pocket folders with prongs, on college ruled notebook paper. Back then, I didn’t realize just what sort of inner journey I was embarking upon; all I knew was that it felt good to write, and I enjoyed it immensely, and it gave me a better escape from the difficulties of my life than even reading had up to that point offered. But it taught me to really look at people, to gain a deeper understanding of their motivations. Through my writing, I’ve gained a far deeper, more complete and complex, and much more nuanced understanding of life than I think my mom has ever had.

And even with that, I still can’t make sense of it. But that’s okay. I don’t need life to make sense in order to be comfortable with it. All I need to do is keep doing my best to learn, and I don’t intend to ever stop doing that.

Unplanned Hiatus

My bipolar disorder has dictated that I lose interest in keeping up with my websites. There’s more to it than that (there always is), but I won’t go into the details beyond saying my bipolar, as I think I’ve mentioned, can be pretty randomly selective in how it effects my mood. Right now, I couldn’t care less about either of my websites, and I know better than to attempt forcing myself to attend to either one, thanks to awful experiences with writing fiction when I had no desire to do so, or I’ll end up a moody, depressed wreck. As a result, there will be no updates, after today’s post, to this site until further notice. I’m hoping this will pass quickly, but so far that hope hasn’t been met, so I’m at last announcing what the issue is.

Mixed Phases

Every so often with my mixed-state bipolar disorder, I’ll go through a very mixed phase. I’m in one right now. Whereas someone with more typical cycling bipolar—someone who isn’t mixed-state will have definitive periods where they’ll experience and present symptoms of either mania or depression, I commonly have phases where I present and experience symptoms of both.

Most typically with me, the depressive side will manifest as letting my housekeeping falter or fail, while the hypomania turns me into a moody, bitchy, temperamental person. These mixed phases I do not enjoy. It takes a lot of effort to do anything around the house and I hate doing it the entire time. When I’m in a state like this, the slightest thing can set me off. I have thrown fits, and probably will again, over such minor things as untying my shoes, or the fact I let my tea steep too long and now it’s cold when I wanted it at least warm by the time I’m done mixing the sweetener and milk in, or opening one of my bottles of medication. Simple things a person without bipolar disorder wouldn’t be inclined to stress over, I have a screaming temper tantrum over. When I’m enduring this sort of mixed state, the temper tantrum state is just on the edge of my mood at all times, and the depressive side makes me not care about housework.

But on occasion, I enter a slightly different type of mixed-state phase.

Right now, my depressive side is manifesting as a desire to sleep the day away, no matter how early I go to bed. I’m much inclined to remain in bed until after noon, frequently until as late as two or three pm. I see no reason to get up, even though my writing is going fairly well right now. I wouldn’t call myself suicidally depressed, but I definitely don’t want to get up to face the day until most of the day is over. When I’m like this, getting up even for an afternoon appointment or activity (even if it’s fun) takes a great deal of effort.

This depressive phase, y’all, is why I habitually get dressed in a full day-clothes outfit each and every day, even when I’m physically ill. Being fully dressed is a mood booster. If I sat around in sweats or in pajamas all day, I’d be depressed. How do I know this? Because I used to “dress down” if I had nowhere to go during the day. This was way back when I was younger, and I noticed a propensity for my mood to grow gloomy over the course of the day, so I started dressing in day clothes every day regardless of whether or not I expected to go out. And, in fact, after forcing myself out of bed when in a mood like this, getting dressed takes little effort—and the mood-boost payoff is incredible. I’ll admit it doesn’t throw me into raptures over being awake, but once I’m dressed in day clothes, I feel much more interested in being up and about. So, quite literally, some days putting on a full day-clothes outfit is like putting on armor—armor against a low mood. It’s one of the simplest and quickest ways I know of making myself feel capable of facing the day.

But at the same time I’m feeling so “hopeless,” I’m also much more interested in household things. I spent about two or three hours cooking tonight, purely because I wanted to. I was in the mood to cook. And while cooking, I enjoyed it (I don’t when this particular mania isn’t functioning—cooking is a chore and I do as little of it as possible). Then, after I ate, I cleaned the kitchen. Other housework is on the agenda, but some of it involves disposing of boxes, and I’m not going to do that at night when the chute abuts the bedroom of the neighboring apartment. LOL

To be honest, I’ve been working up into this mood over the past couple weeks. I’m coming up out of a phase where I was experiencing no particular phase—a stable phase, so to speak. I cooked when I felt like it, cleaned when I felt like it, got up with little difficulty, but didn’t keep up with personal hygiene as well as I perhaps should have, though dental hygiene was going really well. For the most part, a typical stable phase for me.

I don’t think this is something I need to notify my psych doc about. It’s not pronounced; it’s an average mood swing, one of those I expect to have over the course of time. Eventually, I’ll swing back into either another stable phase or into a different combination of my mixed state.

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