Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Writer's Experience With Depression

I decided to finally make this blog more focused on my writing again. The title after all is Ramblings of a Starving Creative Writer, so I figured I should probably post things in accordance to that.

Anyway, I wanted to write a little bit about my experience that I've had (and continue to have) with going through a depression as an aspiring author with several book projects being juggled all at once.

I mentioned on my facebook how I crashed into a mini depression as soon as I moved from the States to Canada. Long story short, my husband's Canadian and we needed to move back to Canada in order for us to be together and for him to get his Master's degree cheaply.

I went from working a full-time job at a global magazine, constantly reading and voraciously writing chapter after chapter in my adult mystery, adult ghost story and young adult fantasy novels. I was probably flying at my highest when it came to goals and accomplishing them.

Fast forward to August of 2016. About five months ago. Me and my husband make the move to Canada and I'm unable to work until I get permanent residency (which, let me tell you takes FOREVER). We lived with his parents for a month then moved in to our new place which we've been in since September. I thought that maybe my lack of motivation in writing was due to all the stress of a new environment, not having access to my own computer (since I did a lot of my writing on my work computer) as well as just the fact that it took us a while to unpack everything and get settled into our new place.

Well, October comes and goes. Then November. Then December. And my mood and way of life aren't changing. We moved to a small town an hour away from a big city. My husband has a car he needs to use for work, which leaves me without any means of transporting myself anywhere outside of this town of about 3,000 people.

Needless to say, I've had several meltdowns since about November. I had such a fire ignited within me to write and to read, and I have done a fair amount of reading but not like I did when I was in the States. I thought FOR SURE having the free time I have right now I'd have at least 2 books written by now and revising them and looking for an agent.

But no. Mostly it's just empty pages. It's a flashdrive I haven't picked up in months. It's chapters that are unwritten. It's a brain that used to be flooding with ideas that now can barely tell her fingers to type a sentence. In addition to the painful and crippling disappointment comes the shame and absolute and utter self-loathing.

I've spent the past few weeks trying to figure out what's wrong with me. I've searched YouTube videos and kindle books to try to find authors who struggle with depression and how they don't let it affect their writing.

What I found was comforting but I wanted more. With the new year, I decided that I desperately needed to change something. I wasted 4 months of what could have been solid writing, solid improvement, solid progression.

So I'm writing this blog post in the hopes that I can help other fellow writers who struggle with what I struggle with as well. Or really, any artist. Any musician, any designer, any poet, any photographer etc. who have struggled with depression.

I really do feel like we writers (or we artists/creative folk) are both blessed and cursed at the same time. We are blessed because we feel deeply and passionately about our craft--about telling stories. But we're cursed because of our deep seeded emotions, they can turn on us like a tidal wave, and it's excruciatingly difficult to overcome it.

I'm not fully back to my normal self yet. Far from it, in fact, though I've hidden it from almost all of my family members and friends until now.

But I will list a few things that have helped me just attempt to get back in the saddle again as far as my writing goes.

1. Force yourself to just do it, no matter how little you end up accomplishing.
By celebrating these simple achievements, and by simply writing you'll at least not feel like a total failure. I wrote 204 words yesterday of an outline for my young adult fantasy novel. 204 words. For a bloody outline. But I did it. I wrote 204 words, which is 204 words more than I've written in over 3 months. And I felt slightly better about myself after the fact. And you will too if you just wrench yourself from your couch or your bed or wherever it is you spend the majority of your time instead of writing and just WRITE. Force yourself to until you get into the habit of it. Someone told me it takes 28 days of doing something to make it into a habit. I'm on day 2. How bout you?

2. Don't beat yourself up about everything.
This is something I'm the Jedi master of. Seriously. It's a BAD JEDI MIND TRICK that gets me EVERY TIME. But there is a way to move past it. Part of it I mentioned in #1 which is celebrating small victories. If you can only get out 200 words, treat yourself. If it's 20 or 2, give yourself a pat on the bat, or allow yourself one episode of Netflix/Amazon prime, or buy yourself a smoothie or ANYTHING that gives yourself positive reinforcement. You know how they train dogs to do tricks by offering them food at the end? Well, it kinda works with us humans as well. If you give yourself a reward after you try and exert yourself, you will feel better about yourself and your life. Trust me, I'm trying to do that right now. Be kind to yourself. If you want to end up in the black hole where you're at right now, then listen to that douchey jerky voice telling you that you suck or you've failed. Tell that voice to shove it and promptly turn on the Force Theme by John Williams. Star Wars music has a way of empowering just about anyone, I've found.

3. Change up your routine/scenery
This is something I'm trying to do now. Because of my husband's schedule, there are random times during the day where he's at home and distracting me. Though I love him and love spending time with him, I just can't write when he's in the house. I need complete and utter solitude in order to do that. I tried writing at home when he's not there, and it sort of worked, but having to use his work laptop can sometimes be problematic. Especially when he has to use it. So I go to the library. It's only a few blocks away from my house, and even in the cold, pathetic wasteland of a winter we're having right now, it's not so bad to walk to. I'm only technically allowed an hour on the library computers, but I'm kind of friends with the library staff so they let me work a little longer than that if it's not busy. Changing things up a bit will greatly help stimulate your creative juices. Though I'm not a fan of the sloppy, bulky keyboard, I'm at least able to be in an environment that I'm not too relaxed in, or tempted to turn on the T.V. or distracted by a spouse.

4. Make sure your sleep schedule isn't whacked
Going to bed at midnight and getting up at 10 or 11 in the morning is fun for a day or two, but then it really starts to make you feel like a zombie. Especially if you're struggling with depression. I'm still working on this but going to bed by 10 and getting up around 8 or 9 will definitely help you a) have more hours in the day where you can get a lot more done and b) help your mind to be more sharp and focused. When I'm not on a sleeping schedule like I was when I was working full-time, I don't get hardly anything done. So make sure you're going to bed at a decent hour and eating healthy at least 3 times a day. The simple things are what helps your mental health, trust me.

So far that's all I've tried doing to help me in my depression to continue working towards finishing one of my books. If you have any suggestions or additions that you'd like to see on this blog post, please comment below. I'm still struggling with this so I absolutely welcome others' experiences, whether they're yours or someone you know.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Make America Sane Again

So, I know I've certainly been very vocal about politics lately. To be honest, it's been hard lately not to be.

I'm sure that people are getting sick of it, but you know what, I'm frankly getting sick of the same old things people have been posting about as well which is why I've decided to write a little blog about it.

I've already expressed concerns about the GOP candidates. Hilary Clinton is dishonest, elitist, self-entitled & self-serving while Donald Trump is a racist, outrageous, inflammatory failed businessman. I could not, in good conscious, vote for either one. It would be, and I may sound like I'm overreacting and perhaps I am, voting between two evils.

I've said this before & I'll say it again, that when you vote for the lesser of two evils, you are still voting for evil.

However, when you vote for a good candidate, even if they have no chance of winning, this country will be blessed for it because it means that we are still exercising our liberty to vote for good.

Which is where I will introduce Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, and the man that I will be voting for in the presidential election.

Though I may not agree with everything on his platform, I certainly agree with him on the most pressing matters like education, term limits for Senators, and changing our strategy in fighting ISIS (because Obama is certainly failing on that front as well as others).

The reason why I'm talking about this so much is because I want Gary Johnson to be in the presidential debates. Right now, he is polling 11% and needs to be at least 15% in order to participate.

I know, it seems quite banal to endorse a presidential candidate, and it seems like I may be suffering from "hero worship," but honestly it's more of an act of desperation. I don't want Trump to be president. I don't want Hilary to be president. I want change, but I don't want radical change.

We haven't had a Libertarian president, but I think it's about time we see if it's a good option. And it's only 4 years, so if you don't like his policies, you can vote as many Hilarys and Donalds as you want.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Rejoicing In Spite of the GOP Candidates

I know many are probably raising their eyebrows a bit at the title, I promise I'll try to make this post as unbiased as possible with as little political diatribes as I can muster. This is actually supposed to be an uplifting, spiritual post and I hope that those who support any of the GOP candidates will bear with me until the end for the punchline of this blog post.

I have nothing personal against Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton. If you endorse any or all of them, that's just fine. This post isn't meant to make you change your mind or persuade you in voting for or against anyone in particular and it's certainly not meant to insult or offend anyone, though I'm sure I'll already be doing that inadvertently anyway, because to have an opinion means to offend someone at some point in time.

Anyway, to get to the point. I have long been worried about the future of this country of which I am a part of. The education system is abominable (see No Child Left Behind & Common Core), as we are number 24 on the PISA assessment in math and reading (a global education rankings test) leaving us behind countries like Australia and Canada. Our foreign relations policies are atrocious, and don't even get me started on these small interest groups on college campuses asking for "safe spaces" (sorry, is the 1st Amendment still in force today? Or did I miss a meeting?) or Black Lives Matter (If you want to get people involved in a cause that is against racism, shouldn't you at least make the title of your group more ethnically inclusive?).

But I digress. The current candidates in the GOP running is kind of the straw that's broken the camel's back for me lately. Like I said before, I'm not going to be rude or judgmental of Trump, Sanders or Clinton, but I will say what concerns me about all of them.

1. Trump
His entire campaign has been steeped in controversy and frankly, verbal violence against loads of people (see Serge Kovaleski, Megyn Kelly and Ted Cruz to name a few). I am not a fan of celebrity worshiping nor am I a fan of political party worship (see every single daggum celebrity in Hollywood or the music industry who are incredibly vocal about the Democratic party but immediately ostracizes and demonizes others who belong to a different political party) and this issue with Trump (and Sanders & Clinton) is no different. People get caught up with his idioms and catchphrases like "Make America Great Again," that they are blind to some deep flaws and foibles in his character. I'm not saying that the President of the United States needs to be perfect, but I am saying that the President needs to hold some standard of dignity and grace. Though I don't agree with Obama's politics, and I have criticized several of his policies, President Obama does hold some dignity and has strived for peaceable dialogue, even though I may not agree with his dialogue, I haven't heard anything truly inflammatory like I hear on a regular basis from Trump. Whether or not he'll be a good president if he gets elected, I don't know. He may surprise us yet. But my concerns with him are numerous in regards to him saying anything and everything that comes to his mind without thinking about the consequences they might bring and the fact that everything that comes to his mind is derogatory and sometimes hateful.

2. Sanders
This may come as a surprise to some people, since I've been rather quiet on the political discourse on Facebook, that I don't support Bernie Sanders. I've never felt "the bern" as his supporters have coined the phrase. If you like him, that's fine. I'm not saying I don't like him. He's certainly deserving of respect and common decency like all the other candidates. What I am saying is, he wouldn't be a good choice at all. I don't agree with his politics, and here's just one example why:

Free college--Let me explain something here. I don't remember much from my Economics class I took my senior year of high school, but I do remember this: There is no such thing as a free lunch. Meaning, when people promise you free stuff, it is never truly free. If celebrities are a part of a fundraising campaign like, and they promise you an all-expenses paid weekend to the premiere of such-and-such movie, you have to donate something to their campaign in order for you to even be considered as winning. If, on a smaller scale, the monopoly game is happening at McDonalds, even if you get a free small french fry on your large Diet Coke, you still had to pay for the Diet Coke. Does that make sense? The fact is, free college would never work. Not in a million years. It is a socialist dream that will die as quickly as it is put into place. Canada has a constitutional monarchy and has implemented socialist programs into their government, like free health care and subsidized universities. Note that I said subsidized not free. Canada is much more socialist than we are and you still have to pay tuition each year. If free college would be put into effect, it would bankrupt the country.

There are other reasons why I'm not feeling "the Bern" and never will but this blog post is already too long. Fact is, Bernie Sanders is a nice guy and I actually do appreciate him wanting parental leave but if he were to get into office, he would increase the power of the federal government by 40%. 40%. Since when has governmental involvement been a good thing? Since never. It's already screwed up our education and health system when it should've been protecting us from ISIS and terrorism which is it's number 1 priority (our safety). The federal government shouldn't be a micro-managing nanny, but apparently no one else is bothered by that except me.

3. Clinton
I don't think I need to go into detail why I'm not feeling "the Hill," but if I need to defend why I'm not a fan, I'll just give you a few words. Benghazi. Email Scandal. Clinton Foundation. Hillary Clinton may not be steeped in controversial hate speech like Trump, but she is steeped in fraud charges and is currently under investigation by the FBI. You're more than entitled to vote for her, but I personally don't think she's honest and couldn't trust her with my vote let alone my tax dollars.

So this brings me to my original point for writing this blog post as something that's more positive than negative. As you can tell, I've been thinking about these 3 candidates a lot and it's been eating away at me for weeks and weeks. I've prayed a lot and studied a lot and hoped that I could get some kind of answer as to what I should do about all of this, how to process it all and how to combat the shadiness (GOP candidates) to the evil (ISIS) that has been happening.

Today, I finally got my answer. I was singing in a meeting today the hymn, "Now Let Us Rejoice." I've always liked the song, but there are definitely some other favorites that come before it. But today, for reasons mentioned above, the lyrics struck me in a way that brought tears to my eyes. The last verse says:

In faith we'll rely on the arm of Jehovah
To guide through these last days of trouble and gloom
And after the scourges and harvest are over
We'll rise with the just when the Savior doth come
Then all that was promised, the Saints will be given
And they will be crowned with the angels of heav'n
And earth will appear as the Garden of Eden
And Christ and His people will ever be one

The part that really got me was In faith we'll rely on the arm of Jehovah to guide through these last days of trouble and gloom. And though to some the days aren't that troublesome or gloomy, to me recently they certainly have been. As I worry about the refugee crisis, ISIS, the education system, the corruption that always happens when men and women thirst for power, internal unrest with the American people, it's clear to me that these days are full of trouble and gloom. But, having said that and it being the title of the song I chose, now let us rejoice in the day of salvation.

We can still rejoice, even in spite of everything going on. That's not to say we can get complacent with the things that go on in this country and around the world, we still have much work to do to combat the evil and inhumanity in the world. But we can still "rely on the arm of Jehovah" and know that He will guide us "through these last days of trouble and gloom."

I know that God loves us, that He loves you and me and yes Trump, Sanders and Clinton (obviously). We are all His children and I know He won't leave us alone. And though secret combinations and Gadianton Robbers will arise in our own days, Heavenly Father is on our side and the Savior Jesus Christ, and they will not abandon us to our foes.

Hopefully I didn't hurt anyones feelings who truly like any of the above people mentioned, I'm simply trying to say that there are much better individuals than these. And to remind those who say they're going to choose the "lesser of the two evils," you are still choosing evil.

To quote Ezra Taft Benson, "If you vote for the lesser of two evils you are still voting for evil and you will be judged for it. You should always vote for the best possible candidate, whether they have a chance of winning or not, and then, even if the worst possible candidate wins, the Lord will bless our country more because more people were willing to stand up for what is right." 

That is all, thanks for reading :)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Monstrosity that is the Music Industry

I already knew the music industry was in a downward spiral since... well... forever but especially since the 90s. But after just a few pictures an one video about this past VMAs (Video Music Awards) I am completely appalled and disgusted.

What the freak is this crap that these people are pumping out? From Miley Cyrus's flagrantly slutty behavior and outfit and performance to some of the most inappropriate music videos by Nick Jonas and heaven only knows the name of the other idiots with a recording studio....

What. the. hell. 

I'm sorry, but that is warranted right now. Do these people think that they're making music or making porn videos with a soundtrack? I'm not usually one who pays much attention to Pink, but what she said about the VMAs was actually spot on:

I felt sad because music is supposed to inspire. It saved my life. This trash won't save any kid's life. In a world that is even scarier and with lives still worth saving, who will stand up and have soul? Disenfranchised to say the least. Let down by my industry and peers [...] [it was] gross and embarrassing and hard for this pop star to believe. 

And for once, I'm surprised to say I find myself agreeing with Pink. Music can be fun and I certainly have had my share of Andy Grammar, the Beach Boys, Blink-182 and Parachute. I am all for the upbeat, funny music that I love.

However, along with the fun videos and fun music there needs to be some substance somewhere. Especially when musicians and others in a state of power have the means and the influence to change the world for the better. 

Lindsey Stirling has incorporated many positive uplifting things in her music videos, calling attention to poor kids with little means who want to be musicians, helping others realize that they should pursue their talents and dreams and so forth while still being fun and positive.

Sara Bareilles has since rereleased her song, "Brave" in honor of the documentary about Linda Vasquez called "Brave Heart" which calls to attention about bullying.

Katie Melua wrote the song, "Spider's Web" about the Iraq war and donated all the proceeds of that single to the charity, Save the Children after the civil war and tsunami that took place there.

Amy Lee of Evanescence donated all proceeds of her single "Together Again" to help with the Haiti earthquakes that happened not to mention depicting in her music videos time and time again the shallowness and emptiness of the music industry and pop culture. ex. Everybody's Fool and Going Under.

I'm sure there are others that I've overlooked. But that is what I believe music should do. Yes, it is to entertain, like movies, books and TV, but it should also call to attention real issues that are going on. Stephen King said, "Fiction is the truth inside of the lie."

That should be said for all forms of "fiction." Music, music videos, movies, TV shows, books etc. But all I can see is that the music industry is producing a "lie inside of the lie." There's no truth in any of the crap they've pumped out.

Let me just give a brief example by listing the titles and or lyrics to some of the songs nominated:

Arctic Monkeys-Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High-- well, not much room for the imagination there as part of the lyrics describing a person who only calls/texts them when they're high. I'm assuming he's not implying that they're "high on life" but rather that they're actually high on drugs. Exhibit A.

Nicki Minaj-Anaconda-- I'm not gonna go into the lyrics since the title speaks for itself. Needless to say it's disgustingly overtly sexual, anti-feminist, disrespectful to both men AND women, and just plain stupid. Exhibit B.

The Weekend-Earned It-- UGH. This music video SUCKS. It's full of sex! Not to mention this was featured on the Fifty Shades of Gray soundtrack. Nuff' said. Exhibit C.

I could go on but if the actual music videos being shown weren't bad enough, it was the performances that were absolutely despicable, banal, hedonistic, abhorrent, cheap and straight up gross.

And these people are the ones shaping the impressionable young minds of the millennials and future generations? With their empty lyrics and their crappy hooks?

I'm disgusted by both the music industry and the musicians who take part in this desensitization to morals who are encouraging lack of responsibility for actions and lack of respect to men and women.

Maybe I'm too opinionated for my own good. Maybe I just need to not take everything so seriously and look for things that are wrong around me. But I can't help it. If I see something I don't like or don't agree with, I have to say something.

I've always been repulsed by the music industry and by the music that is produced in the genres of pop, hip-hop and rap, really even extending to my genres I love like rock. But I'm even more so recently just with the conduct and music that were displayed there.

And that is my rant. It will most likely go unnoticed along with the other things I've blogged about. I blog about positive things and it gets ignored. I blog about controversial stuff, and all of a sudden everyone has an opinion.


At least it's out there, and I feel better getting it off my chest.