This is another post from the Ask Me Anything series and it’s in response to the texts / emails I’ve received this week since I’ve been on a break from Facebook (and really all social media) since late night on Monday. Curious what the #AskMeAnything normally is? Check out the official AMA page on my site over here.
Q: Where’d you go? What’s going on?
A: Obviously, those questions are the combination of a lot of very kind and wonderful messages that I’ve received over the last week, and the first thing I want to do is say thank you to each of you. Whether you sent me a message out of concern, or didn’t send a message because you thought it might bother me – I am grateful for both. I promise.
Aaaaaaand, now I’m going to answer the questions in more detail than I managed via text/email this week, and strangely enough this might be one of the most personal posts I’ve ever written because it’s about me as a person, and not me and my sex life, or me and my books, or me and my opinions on kink. I’m sort of taking a page from the book of one of my favorite people on the planet (and also one of my favorite musicians) Amanda Palmer. She’s well known for sort of baring her soul in her blog posts and on her Patreon and in her mailing list emails, and that’s what I’m going to do today.
So, where did you go?
Well, I took a Facebook break, which turned into an almost total social media break, late in the evening on Monday, 2/20. I think the more important question is the why.
Okay, so what’s going on?
If you’ve been following me for a while, and especially if you’ve been one of the ones supporting me and my bevy new releases in the first part of this year, then you already have a good idea of just how much I’ve had on my plate. I spent the end of 2016 in a fever dream of writing one full-length book (Black Light: Exposed), and one novella (The Tower in The Dark Forest boxset), but writing wasn’t the only thing going on in my life. I have a full-time day job, I’m a single mom, my mom has stage 4 cancer, and I had a huge certification exam that I took in November for the day job (where I’d also spent the previous 13 weeks in an intensive online study program).
When January hit I was already stretched too thin, and I knew that, my Dom knew that too and could see the edges of my sanity fraying, but I held myself together through sheer Type-A willpower, mostly because we still had another anthology to get out. But before I could even think of the next one, I had to promote my release in the Black Light universe, and then help in promoting The Dark Forest. For someone with a day job and a kid, that meant I got up at 5:30 or 6, worked all day, came home and took care of the kiddo, and once she was in bed I would sit down to whatever task was on my to-do list. In mid-January I wrote most of ‘Wet’ (from the Black Light: Valentine Roulette anthology) in a single wine-fueled kid-free day of writing, and then immediately dove into editing the other stories for the boxset to make sure they all aligned, that our world worked together as seamlessly as possible, and it just so happened that in an apocalyptic alignment of BS at the end of January my mom went into the hospital for chemo-related complications for 9 days.
So, I did what any self-respecting psycho type-A person would do when my plate was suddenly cracking under the weight of being too full – I stopped sleeping. I stayed up late, broke my bedtime rule with my Dom over and over (my punishments are stacked high for when my brain works again), and worked.
I worked because crossing things off my to-do list was the only thing that made me feel good.
That’s the curse of being Type-A, with an added spice of some OCD-like behaviors. When things get impossibly hard, it becomes the fuel for me to function to accomplish the things anyway. Even if it means sleeping 2-3 hours a night. Even if it means that I can feel the pieces deep under the calm, collected surface coming apart. I can fake it, and hold myself together, for as long as I absolutely need to.
And… that’s what I did.
We got the Valentine Roulette boxset out, and the release was an incredible success. We had a week FULL of takeover events to celebrate the release, with one takeover or another literally every night of the week. I was also involved in a ton of other cross-promotional opportunities in January / February with other authors, and those all went well, but it took a lot of time as well. During the not-sleeping I also worked on getting paperbacks of my novels prepared, getting my tax documents together, found a preschool for my kiddo, and generally just ignored the fact that I knew I was dancing a dangerously thin tightrope over a very deep, very dark hole.
It’s a game I’ve played often in my life, and it always ends the same way. As soon as the “must do” list gets finished (the list of stuff where people are depending on me to make things happen) … I lose it.
I remember shaking at the computer on Monday night as Livia and I finalized the Black Light giveaway, I remember opening up my to-do list and double checking it. Reviewing my email and the FB notifications queue. I remember checking my calendar to make sure nothing was looming on the horizon that I had forgot about, and when I realized it was actually all done, that the three books were out and doing well and I had met all of my obligations – I finally let myself feel the pain in my chest. The place where I couldn’t really draw a full breath, and I knew I was about ten minutes out from a full-blown panic attack.
That is when I posted on FB that I was going to step back for a week, I talked to my Street Team to make sure they knew, and then I turned off the computer and had a mini-breakdown. Anyone who has had panic attacks knows what it feels like, sort of like drowning even though you’re not even near water. Your lungs get tighter and tighter, your brain finally cracks open like some overripe fruit, and all the stress pours out into your consciousness like poison.
A panic attack is the moment when all your worst fears / anxieties come out to play. Only, they don’t play nice.
I know this. I’ve had full-scale breakdowns before because of doing stupid shit where I take on too much and eventually lose it. I’ve done the super fun sleeping in my closet for days kind of crazy, but this wasn’t that intense. For this mini-breakdown I crawled into bed and just succumbed to it, because I knew that no matter what I still had to get up and go to work. I still had to be a parent, but that this middle-of-the-night mindflaying was going to help me do all of that. To be quite honest, I don’t really remember much about Monday night after I got into bed. I know I talked to my Dom on the phone and apparently said some really disturbing and fucked up things that had him wanting to come over, but my hyperventilating hysterics let him know that the only thing that would really help me was panic-sobbing my way into a catatonic sleep.
Which, I guess I did.
I really don’t remember the discussion, but he told me about it last night when he came over. Or at least shared what he thought he should, and demanded I not put myself that close to the edge voluntarily again (and he’s right, this was a choice, and had the rest of my life not lost its shit at the same time I might have been able to handle it, but life happened and I will not try and do 3 full scale releases in 45 days ever again).
The good news?
I am coming out of it. I can breathe again. My chest doesn’t hurt anymore, and I haven’t had any more panic attacks since Monday night. I know that people have been worried / sad / confused about where I’ve been, but I’m writing this today to explain that I just needed some time away from the constant humming “need” of Facebook. If I’m online I see the notifications every minute or so and want to go read them / check them, even if I have other things to do. It was worse than usual due to all the takeovers, and the feeling of failure for not getting other things in my life done combined with the ever-present social media buzz was too much. I’m quite sure if I hadn’t stepped back when I did the breakdown would have been much worse.
I have accomplished a fucking ton in my week away from authory duties, lots of stuff I’ve needed to get done for a while, and with each checkmark on my life’s to-do list I’ve felt a little better. I even did some research for characters in upcoming books I need to write, and I actually planned out my writing this year. The commitment is still a lot, and I won’t be taking on anything else for 2017, but I’m pretty sure I can do it as long as I don’t lose my mind again.
In conclusion, thanks for putting up with me even though I’m crazy.
I say ^that same line^ to the Dom all the time, and he usually has something clever and charming to say in response, he likes to call me wonderful whenever I comment about how fucking psycho I am, but for some reason he seems to like me. And you guys seem to like me too. I can only hope you like me in spite of the fact that sometimes I do too much and lose my mind. I wish I could promise this wouldn’t happen again, but with my mom not doing well I’m sure I’ll have another freak out when she passes.
The world is hard for everyone, and I know I’ve got a lot of #FirstWorldProblems that my neuroses cause me to snap over, but I felt the urge to answer the questions that I’ve been asked this past week since it’s kind of a tradition on Ask Me Anything.
Basically, I adore you all and I’m so grateful to have you, even though I probably don’t deserve you guys.
PS – the anxiety demons in my brain are telling me not to post this, but I am anyway. Amanda Palmer says we have to trust each other, and while I still have spectacular trust issues, I’m trusting you guys on this one. Hopefully, you’ll all still be there in a few days when I log back on. <3