No One Brings You Chicken Soup When You’re Depressed

There are approximately 1 in 4 people living with a mental illness worldwide. Think of that. It’s a huge number. And yet, I bet you’d have trouble naming more than one person in your life who has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

In 2015, discussions about mental health are still often done in whispers behind closed doors. “Don’t let them hear you” is something I’ve been told before. I’ve been hushed. I’ve been told the topic is inappropriate. I’ve been threatened to be “outed” about my history of mental illness (of which I speak and write about a lot, so I’m not sure what their goal was).

I’ve been told a lot of things about mental illness in my life. That it’s a choice. That I can control it. That kids and teens can’t have it. That I don’t look like someone with it. More recently, I was laughed at when I told someone I had ADHD, they then followed up with telling me only teenagers “get it” (it’s a communicable disease apparently), and women can’t ever have it.  I’ve been called oversensitive, selfish, ridiculous, and so on. Other loved ones with mental illness have been called dramatic, bored, and disruptive. (Thankfully, my family has always been nothing short of supportive.)

I feel strongly the reason so many suffer, often without treatment, is because we don’t talk about it. I don’t tell you what therapies or medications have worked for me. You don’t share what coping skills you can’t live without. We don’t open our arms and say, “I accept you.”

No one brings you chicken soup when you’re depressed. I’ve been part of community groups and have seen others’ involvement in their church groups. There is usually a call for meals or crocheting blankets or visits for those who are ill. Cancer comes up a lot, and other chronic physical illnesses, as well as when someone has had a baby. I’ve never heard a request made to bring meals to someone who just left rehab. Or to check in on someone who just changed their prescription. How welcome a small reminder of love it might be to receive a handmade, cozy blanket while laying in the ER at 3 A.M. as your world collapses beneath you. (Robot Hugs has created several perfect comics addressing much of this.)

Some people will laugh at the idea of people reaching out in these scenarios. Well of course, who would share that they just left rehab or that they take psychiatric drugs?

That is the problem. Why don’t we? Why is there still stigma? Why do we fear losing our jobs, freaking out our partners, having our kids taken from us? We stay silent. We know that if we say “I have anxiety and OCD,” “I am bipolar,” etc. that instantly people will assume to know everything about us. We suddenly become unreliable, unstable, and even unlikable.

How do we change this? Well, the first step is for people like me who can come out and speak about their mental illness, to do just that. I’ve been talking about it for years, and in the fields I work in, it’s not really an issue. So I can speak out, without fear of being blacklisted. The more each of us speak out, we can change minds. People will see real, actual people with mental illness, and not the often cringe-worthy portrayals of us on television and in movies.

From there, I hope others with mental illness can step forward, without worry of reprisals. Collectively, we can be so powerful that we can change how society treats us, how the media reports on us, how caretakers and hospitals deal with us, and how insurance companies value (or often harm) our health.

This week, John Oliver brilliantly observed all that is wrong with our system and how we treat those with mental illness in this country. You don’t have insurance coverage. Or the coverage you have only covers 30% of care that costs $1000 per day. Or your therapist doesn’t accept any insurance. Or you have coverage, but they’ll only allow you to stay inpatient for 48 hours. The hurdles someone with mental illness has to go through to have their care and medication covered are inhumane. We have to fix that.

We also need to get help to people before they are suicidal or living on the streets or addicted to substances. We wait until it is a dire emergency to take our heads out of the sand and say, “Oh! I guess you need a psych eval!” What other disease or disorder in the world is treated like that? Let’s wait until cancer has nearly killed you before looking at chemo as an option. Let’s hold off until your arteries are clogged enough that you may have a heart attack at any moment before we intervene. Let’s wait until your lung functioning is at 10% before we treat your asthma.

With the number of suicides happening each year, how can you say we are not in crisis? We desperately need to change this conversation.

So, what you can you, a family member, friend, or professional do to help? Just that, ask how you can help the person. Send them a text message. Mail them a card. Bring them chicken soup, or McDonald’s, or whatever else you know they’d like. Send them a care package. Listen to them.

Be present. Don’t pull back because you are scared or confused or you don’t know what to say. It is perfectly fine to tell us you wish you knew what to say. We get it. Just be here. I know for me, a lot of times, I don’t want you talk. I don’t even want to talk. My head gets so distorted and full of thoughts, I just want to watch a show and forget it all. Or play a video game and be someone else for awhile.

Don’t look at me like I’m weak. I’m not. I’m tougher than most people, don’t ever let mental illness make you think someone is not strong as hell. Respect all the work I put into addressing my mental health needs.

Don’t belittle people with mental illness. From dealing with insurance companies to showing up for therapy appointments to dealing with nasty side effects of medication to trying to care for yourself each day, getting through life with mental illness usually requires a ton of effort. Don’t ever disparage those efforts. You may not ever understand why, when your friend is having a rough spell, they cannot cook for themselves or don’t brush their hair. You don’t have to understand, just know that your friend would be doing those things if it were easy. And know that they probably shame themselves enough for not being able to do that stuff, so you can hold your judgment at the door.

Bring me chicken soup, ask if I want a hug, and build me a blanket fort. When I feel stronger, write letters, make phone calls, and shout into the megaphone along with me. Be there for the people in your life. Fight alongside them for better care and greater access to that care. Let your friends, family, and co-workers/employees know that you support and accept them. Open up a dialogue today.

What if we treated physical illness like we treat mental illness? Food for thought, from Robot Hugs.

What if we treated physical illness like we treat mental illness? Food for thought, from Robot Hugs.

My Cautionary Tale About Suicide and Smiles

How can a girl who smiles all the time be thinking about suicide?

The fact that happy-go-lucky me was ready to end her life confused people. Quite often, none of us fit whatever description the media or your imagination has created for what someone with mental illness might look or act like. My smiles were rarely real; it was a mask I wore.

What does a 15-year old have to be depressed about anyway?

That was another question people in my life asked when I was hospitalized. They looked to blame something, anything — my music, my friends, my books. If they were surprised I was depressed at 15, they should have heard what my 10-year old mind was thinking.

My family, my friends, my music or books were not to blame. It was simply a glitch in my brain. A number of factors, including my genetics, all came together and created a brilliant, creative, and sometime-disordered mind. (Sidenote: I’m a proponent of Neurodiversity, and I embrace and accept all facets of my wonderful, though sometimes self-destructive, mind.)

I felt the need to share my story for World Suicide Prevention Day. A big reason why suicide is such an epidemic is due to the stigma surrounding it. We don’t talk about it. Those of us who have contemplated, planned, or attempted our own deaths rarely speak of it. We’re told to be ashamed of it.

Throughout my life, I’ve been routinely told the dangers of speaking out about mental illness, of being hospitalized, and being suicidal. I’ve been told it would risk my career, my relationships, even that it would worsen my mental health. Yet, I’ve been free to discuss my connective tissue disorder or my back surgery. Those were allowed to be mentioned in public. No one wanted to hear about my anxiety or depression or ADHD.

Looking in the other direction and ignoring the oncoming storm doesn’t make the storm go away. I won’t pretend to have all the answers to prevent suicide, but I do know that stigmatizing mental health and never talking about suicide are two ways that won’t work. So I’m here, and I’m talking.

People who have never had depression or have never thought of killing themselves find it difficult (if not impossible) to understand what someone like me has gone through. They don’t realize the energy it can take to be alive. It can be exhausting. They don’t know how difficult it is to get out of bed in the morning, to take a shower, to speak to anyone. It is draining.

They’ve no clue what an absolute energy-suck it is slapping on a smile and going through your day pretending everything is okay. I wore the mask so well, that when I ended up hospitalized for a few weeks, most people were totally shocked.

“But she smiles all the time!”

“I just saw her and we laughed together.”

That’s the myth. People battling depression, anxiety, or any other mental disorder are never happy, never calm, never average. And people who are suicidal? Well, the public is sure they’d recognize us from miles away. Except they don’t. And that is why suicide is so prevalent, we even have a month of awareness for it and a worldwide day focused on preventing it.

The summer before my sophomore year of high school, no one had any idea of the thoughts in my head. They’d started years earlier. I felt like a burden to my family due to the medical expenses of my back surgery and other health issues while in middle school. I felt emotions heavier than anyone else in my family. My heart ached for injustices everywhere. I physically felt hurt from things that weren’t even a part of my life. For years, I bottled up all these emotions, including thoughts of suicide, and put a smile on for the world to see.

At night, I’d lay awake in bed and worry about all the horrible things that could happen to me or were happening to others in the world. I began to fear germs and had to perform certain rituals in order for my world to have any sense of calm. I started counting, street signs mostly. I also had to read all the words on every street sign, or else I’d feel immense anxiety. I had stomachaches and headaches. This was all before high school. (A note to parents: don’t ever think that your elementary or middle school aged child couldn’t possibly be dealing with depression, anxiety, etc.)

As I entered high school, I began to feel more lost. I was never quite sure where I fit in, who I was, what I wanted. I was a bystander in my life.

Sometime early on in my freshman year, I began cutting. I had this black and red triangular-shaped razor that came with a stationary set. I had it with me everywhere I went. I’d go to the bathroom during class and cut. I’d do it at home in my bedroom. I was smoking on occasion then as well, but cutting always made me feel better than cigarettes.

I hid my cuts and scars, wearing long pants and shirts for most of the year. (My wardrobe hid my body, which also helped as I struggled with body dysmorphia.) In the summer, I’d wear thick bracelets and watches to keep my marks hidden. I was fooling everyone. Including myself.

I can’t recall what the turning point was that summer before my sophomore year. I don’t know when the idea to kill myself first really gained steam. There wasn’t a single event that made everything crumble. I think it was just that one can only hold all that darkness in for so long. I was unstable, but I had no warning signs, nor did anyone around me, of what was to come.

The relief I felt when I decided to kill myself was immense. When people gripe about suicide being selfish, I want them to understand that when you reach that point, it feels like the least selfish thing you could do. Mental illness had convinced me I was a burden. I was expensive. I was dramatic. I was too sensitive. I was a bother. I was a waste of cells. I was disgusting. I was worthless. I’d imagined how much easier my family would have it without me.

I never once thought of how they’d feel attending my funeral. I never thought of how my death would effect my friends. It never dawned on me that either would be a negative thing for those in my life. I thought I’d be doing everyone a favor.

When one reaches the point of being suicidal, it’s hard to think of being worthy of anything else. Mental illness clouds our judgment, and our thoughts are filled with such pain and agony, that ideas of suicide ease all of that. I felt lighter. This is the bitch about suicide, for a lot of us, getting to a place where you begin to plan killing yourself actually makes you feel better. Life seems tolerable, finally — it’s all temporary. You can get through the school day or that work meeting or family dinner. The end is in sight.

By August, I’d been planning how I’d do it and where. Then I got lucky.

My mother, always observant, finally noticed a mark on my arm. I remember the rest in snippets. I remember crying as she asked questions. I don’t think I answered. I’m not sure. I cried because my plans were ruined. I cried because finally I could. All the months and years of shoving it all inside me, and now it felt like all those feelings were escaping me.

My mother acted on her instincts. She immediately brought me to the nearest mental hospital with an adolescent unit. She didn’t believe me when I told the doctors I wouldn’t try to do anything over the weekend. It was Friday afternoon, just before Labor Day weekend. I remember lying to the doctor, assuring them I wouldn’t hurt myself. Meanwhile all I was thinking was how I just needed to get home and get this all over with. My mom pleaded with the doctors, saying she didn’t think she could keep me safe (and the truth is, no one but a hospital could have). I was admitted to the hospital and the rest is a story for another time.

If you are suicidal, I want you to know that it is possible to get out of that pit. I assure you, the world and the people around you would be devastated if you killed yourself. I know it all seems impossible. I saw no way out. I know finding the energy to talk to someone, even a hotline, can be overwhelming. But I will repeat it again and again: it is worth it.

You are worth it.

It was work. I’m not going to lie. I needed a lot of therapy. I needed more than just therapy. I needed medication and so much more. It wasn’t instant. And it hasn’t all been sunshine and roses since I walked out of the mental hospital.

But, I’m still here.

I want you to be too. I want you to know you are not alone. There are many of us who have been where you are now. We are all supporting you.

If you are depressed or dealing with any other mental illness, please get help. Ask family, ask a friend, ask a coworker, ask a neighbor. Call a hotline. Seek online resources. It’s a good thing to ask for help. You are not weak. You are not a burden. There are resources if you don’t have insurance or lack the money for treatment.

Do not give up.

If a therapist or a medication doesn’t work, try a new one. Please don’t give up on yourself. You are not broken or doing something wrong if Plan A doesn’t help you. Do not forget that. I’m still here because of Plans B through H.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line (Text “START” to 741-741)

UK Supportline: 01708 765200

Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14

The Trevor Project: 866-488-7386
Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860


To Write Love On Her Arms Resource List

Do Something Hotline List

Project Semicolon

We Three


It’s nearly Tuesday, but I’m going to treat this like a Microblog (it’s technically still Monday so…). My mother turned 70 recently and the girls and I painted this series for her. We chose the same colors for the background and picked the sea creatures we wanted to paint. I think we did an amazing job. I’m constantly impressed at the creativity and talents my two daughters possess. To be a witness as they blossom and grow continues to be the highest honor.

They are away visiting family and return in a couple of days. Time and space away is good for any relationship. There are outside stresses that have made this distance quite difficult at times. I know we’ll all be glad to be back together again. This triad of canvasses reminds me so much of us. We are all unique and different, we are our own, independent beings, yet when placed together, we flow beautifully.

I have so much to write about. Some time to myself helped nourish my creativity, as well as provide me with free time for some fun and to do some much-needed organizing. I do plan to be back here more regularly. I’ve been writing about cool things over at Nerdy But Flirty, check it out!

#MicroblogMondays: The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Waiting by Edgar Degas

Waiting by Edgar Degas

Tom Petty was right, waiting sucks. I’m waiting on what feels like a million things right now.

Waiting for more time.

Waiting for some quiet, some peace.

Waiting for healing.

Waiting for answers.

Most pressing on my mind right now is my waiting to hear back from the doctor. My youngest has an apparent compression fracture and needs an MRI to confirm and proceed with treatment. She is in pain and we’ve just been getting through the days of discomfort as best we can. Pain plus boredom can quickly breed sadness and anger. I’ve been trying to keep her spirits up with plenty of hugs and whatever I can come up with to get her mind elsewhere. (Special thanks to video and board game creators, movie makers, authors, singers and songwriters. Also, coloring books, television, Mother Nature, and candy!)

At night, I dream of vacations and extended moments to myself. I imagine writing, reading, sleeping in, exploring… Oh, to be alone with my thoughts! And without the creeping worries that have followed me around as of late? What would that even be like? I have no clue. It’s nice to consider, for a moment, until reality slaps me right back into place. Did I mention my $900 in car repairs I found out about last week? I nearly made a joke about the camel and its broken back, but it was too close to home. Sigh.

The past few months have been so rough, I can’t help but wonder when the clouds will lift. I want magical band-aids to make all the woes and pains of my children to go away. I’m an optimist struggling to keep things afloat. I hope that along with spring slowly making its way to us, so will easier, quieter, calmer, happier times for us. Until then…

Special thanks, as always, to Stirrup Queens. I was sifting through medical bills and waiting for a doctor’s call, when I remembered it was Monday, and that means time to microblog! I feel better having put these words (more than 8 sentences…) down.

#MicroblogMondays: The Kindness of Others, or, My Sister is the Best

fromDeniseAs I’ve alluded to in my last two posts, life here has been difficult over the past few months. Through all the sleepless nights, heartaches, and challenges, few certainties remained. One of those was the kindness and support of my eldest sister. She continually lent her support, in phone calls, text messages, social media pick-me-ups, packages, and notes in the mail. She lifted up my spirits and brought smiles to my girls all the way from the Northwest.

Just a couple of days ago, she sent another package to my daughters. Inside, there were two bins full of self-care items: lavender-scented heating pad, soft aloe-infused socks, lip balm, mints, a sock monkey, and other goodies. My sister also included a package of their favorite snacks for each of the girls. She also found, printed, and cut out dozens of positive affirmations that I can tape to their snacks and place in random spots for them to find. The time and care it took to make these really touched my heart.

I’m so grateful for her, and her never-ending generosity. The world would be a much greater place if everyone acted a little more like her.

A big thanks to Stirrup Queens for making Monday mornings one of the easiest times to write. Join us!

Homeschooling on the LAM: And here we go…

Our version of homeschooling, basically.

Our version of homeschooling, basically.

We dove into homeschooling this week. We being my 14-year old and I. It was a week of creating lesson plans on the fly when a book didn’t arrive in time or a program we thought would be great wasn’t. We discovered many resources. It makes me applaud those brave parents who homeschooled before the internet was overflowing with lesson plans and curriculum ideas! There literally are more ideas and help out there than I ever imagined.

We tried Time4Learning a bit today, but most of the week was work I created. I was impressed with my daughter’s response; she was focused (something she’s been challenged by as of late) and dedicated. She’s always been an eager learner and curious about the world. Life circumstances brought us here, but she was already a prime candidate for homeschooling. We are both happy about it.

I thought I’d be more nervous. At times, I felt a little, “wait, what have I signed up for?” Truly though, as we worked through the week, it all seemed so natural. She was happier and healthier, I discovered an abundance of support, and we just hit a smooth flow within a few minutes of saying on Tuesday morning, “okay, time to learn.”

I’m still contemplating a separate home for these posts. If it ends up I have extra time (ha, good one!) and am able to dedicate that to sharing my resources, tips, and lesson plans, I will do that elsewhere. Otherwise, and for now, I’ll be sharing our journey here from time to time. Taking on this challenge has reminded me of how capable I am, and that following my instincts as a mother has never failed us.

I have thoughts on my decision, the reactions of others, homeschooling as a single mom, on the public school system, and so much more. If these first couple of days are any indicator, the political and personal reflections will be plenty. For now, I’m tired and can think only of my pillow! I head to bed with a huge sense of relief. We not only survived the first week, we rocked it. I know we’ll face challenges and bumps along the way (hell, we had a few this week!), but I really feel this is what we should be doing now and there is a great peace in that.

Back from the depths…

meOWLHello there. Yes, it’s really me. I hope I’m back more regularly, we’ll see if the universe behaves. The past few months have been hectic, emotional, and tiring. I’ve learned just how strong I am, and how resilient those closest to me are. Through health crises, long nights in the ER, and downs outnumbering the ups, we are all still here.

I haven’t written for two reasons. The first is the time and energy required to make it through the past few months left me with little left to sit down and compose my thoughts. The second, and truly the biggest reason I haven’t been writing, is because I write my life and I just couldn’t share this part of my life on here. In time, I may find a way to share it. Partly, it’s not my story to tell, though I can share it from my perspective. I feel it is important to write it, not only as a form of catharsis, but also to help others. So, in time, you may learn more about my absence. It is a delicate balance to keep when sharing someone else’s health and life.

While I sort out how to express myself, while keeping those elements close(r) to my chest, I will be writing again. I hope to get some more material on BlogHer, I have my first post up at Nerdy But Flirty today, and I’ll be sharing a new chapter here as well. We are having a go at homeschooling. I’ll explain more in my first post–I plan to write at least once a week about our trials and errors, and our adventures too! It’s possible I’ll start a new Tumblr or use another blog for that, but for now, those posts will be here. As we sort out curriculum and hammer out details, I’m going to trial Time4Learning. Here is the disclaimer:

I’ve been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Stay tuned!

Also, thanks to everyone for sticking around, and for those who encouraged me during my absence. It meant so much to know my writing, my voice, was missed. xx

#MicroblogMondays: I Love New York Except…

NYCnov14 (2)I love New York except when the rent is too damn high and continues to soar and there’s no way I’ll ever be able to afford to live there.

I love New York except when the MTA continues to raise its fares and traveling across a borough with my kids becomes too expensive.

I love New York except when the practices of law enforcement are racist and biased, their actions continue to do harm to those they are being paid to protect, and the NYPD has yet to build any trust within the communities they are supposed to be serving.

I love New York except when I’m tired and cold and sore and stressed out and have a million worries on my mind (like Saturday when I took this picture).

New York, I love you, but…

Thanks, as always, to Stirrup Queens for always giving me a reason to post something on Mondays!

#MicroblogMondays: Don’t Tell Me it’s Going to be Okay, Tell me it Sucks

My daughter had a physical therapy evaluation today and we received worrisome news. Nothing traumatic, her life isn’t in danger, nothing like that, but still, news that means more evaluations and therapy and hurdles for her to have to deal with. This sucks.

I know as I tell my loved ones the news, I’ll be met with their undoubtedly best intentions, and they’ll respond with “she’s tough, it will all be okay” and “it’s good you have some more answers now” or “well, now you know what direction to head in” etc. Fine. I appreciate their encouragement. I know it will all be okay. This kid is tough, she’s been poked and prodded, had tubes and lines in her, has overcome so much. I want her to have it easy. The fact that over 10 years into her life, she still is in pain and still in therapies and still sees too many specialists and still doesn’t have things easy, sucks.


My Supergirl

I know we’ll see the right specialists and tackle this like her and I have attacked so many other struggles before. Tonight though, I just want someone to tell me they get it. Acknowledge my frustration and hurt and fears for my little one. I don’t need to hear it will all be okay, tell me it sucks, because it does.

As always, major thanks to The Stirrup Queens for #MicroblogMondays. Join us!

I’m A Writer, A Real Freaking Writer!

I did it. I jumped. Well, dove head first without checking to see if there was 20 feet of water or a puddle below. I first learned about NaNoWriMo years ago and thought what a massive project that was. Why would anyone want to torture themselves like that? And yet, here I am.

In the past several years, nearly all my writing has been non-fiction. The thought of writing fiction felt too difficult and too time-consuming. It’s just so free and full of possibility–how frightening. Then I did fictional writing for video game narratives a couple of years ago. That was fun. Maybe I could attempt some fiction. But a novel? An actual book, like that may one day be read by an agent and an editor and then published and I could call myself an author and have fancy book signings and my book would sit on shelves in libraries and be bought by people at The Strand and… As exciting as that sounded, I was quite sure it was something I was not capable of. I mean, books are magical, authors are legends. As I found myself spending more time with writers, it helped me realize that they are actually human beings. They have faults like me. Some have faults that are way worse than mine even. Those names on my bookshelves are not the gods I’ve made them out to be in my head. So maybe, just maybe, I could write a novel.

In the past year, I’ve been working on a collection of personal essays. Most are still in progress. Many are stories I’m afraid to tell. I get to them when I have time, and when I’m feeling particularly brave. There is one I’ve been wanting to tell for years. I’m not sure the moment I decided I needed to tell this story, but it’s been at least 10 years. I began writing a personal essay about it, and I had so much to tell I realized an essay could never contain all of my story.

After BinderCon, I was full of vigor, inspired to write and write and write. I felt capable and brave. I was ready to rip off the chains that have held me back and fearlessly put myself out there. I’ve been submitting to publications and reaching out to editors. I’ve been doing it. I saw NaNoWriMo come across my Twitter timeline about two weeks before November 1st. I decided to at least check out the website, for future reference. A few minutes later, I found myself signing up for it. I kept it to myself for a few days. I felt embarrassed. Who was I to write a novel? What a fraud. I am not a real writer.

I’d had these same feelings a few weeks earlier at BinderCon. I nearly convinced myself to skip the speed pitches with the editors. I told myself I had no talent, I was not a real writer, and I was wasting their time. I had no business being there and my pitches were awful. I worked for a while the night before, tweaking my pitches, choosing some writing samples, and freaking the fuck out. I finished up and was still considering my options. I could cancel now and let the BinderCon organizers know so they could open up my appointments to others. That would be a nice thing to do. I imagined myself telling everyone I felt a little ill. I can’t admit I’m scared shitless or that I think I’m worthless. I’d have a bit of a headache, and pass on an opportunity to someone more worthy than me. That would be for the best. Thankfully though, instead, I took some slow breaths. I read some inspiration. I went to sleep.

I woke up the next morning, and somehow felt ready to take on the world. I had a couple of hours to get ready, washed away all my doubts and self-depreciation in the shower. In line before my speed-pitch, I met others who were just as nervous. They had never pitched before. They were sure their book was nowhere near ready to be seen by an editor. They had thought of skipping too. I felt enormous relief.

I walked into the room and found the first editor I was to meet with. I admitted I was nervous, stating I’d never done a face to face pitch before. She smiled and said, “I know, it’s really odd. I don’t even know exactly how this works.” And then I felt okay. We went over my pitch and she liked my ideas. The next publication I met with had recently shifted their format and my pitch would no longer work. However we spoke about my experience and other writing, and came up with several other pitches I can research and get back to her with. I will hopefully have relationships with both publications going forward. I walked out of that room feeling like a rock star. I am a writer, dammit.

With all that negativity and self-doubt once again creeping up on me after signing up for NaNoWriMo, I reminded myself that I am a freaking writer. I also told myself anyone can write a book. I’ve spent enough time in bookstores to know that is true. I revealed the fact I’d signed up on my 5 Things post a few days before NaNoWriMo kicked off. I was afraid to say it aloud. I didn’t want to tell anyone, I was afraid I’d be made fun of. I thought people wouldn’t understand. I’d hear it was a waste of time, that this would get me nowhere. I can hear a certain someone asking me, “aren’t there better things to do with your free time?” Silently putting the news out there in a Tumblr post and then connecting with fellow Binders and others who had also signed up made me feel more confident. I wasn’t foolish. This is a thrilling endeavour I was embarking on. In a month’s time, I will have a rough draft of my first novel. That is a massive accomplishment. The next day I spoke to TK and the girls about it, they were all stoked. I then told my close friend who has been nothing short of supportive. I’ve yet to tell my family. There are some things that require a lot more time and energy, things I’m short on these days. I will tell them eventually.

My friend and I were just discussing serendipity. I can’t help but think the timing of BinderCon, some small writing successes I’ve had, and an essay by Sara Benincasa all came together to give me a much-needed kick in the ass. I have decided to do it anyway. To pitch to as many places as I can. To reach out and ask for a gig. To write a freaking book. To call myself a writer, a real freaking writer!

Good luck to everyone else who has stocked up on caffeine and candy for the month. Extra good luck to our loved ones who will have to put up with us during this time. Feel free to find me here so we can be buddies and help each other through the inevitable hurdles to come. I have made a Pinterest board for NaNoWriMo & writing, full of inspiration and tips that I’m frequently adding to.

I leave you now with a bit of wisdom. I believe it was Ernest Hemingway who said:

“It’s like I got this music in my mind, saying it’s gonna be alright
Cause the writers gonna write, write, write.”

Happy #NaNoWriMo to all!