It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, hasn’t it, lovelies?
Well, my plan (originally) was to write a version of this that first week in Authorlandia, but if you’ve followed me on social media at all then you’re probably aware of why that didn’t happen. If you don’t know… don’t worry, I’ll get to that. I wanted to open this rambling blog (complete with gifs as always) with something positive before I get into the rest of it. I wanted to say thank you.
For real, thank you.
I never would have taken the leap to go full-time as an author without all of your support, all of your kind messages, your reviews, your general niceness about me and my books. Even though it hasn’t quite been the ecstatic adventure I dreamed of so far, it’s still a dream come true, and I owe it all to you guys.
Just to give a brief update, since I’m sure most of you know… I left my day job on March 8th, and so my first full-time author day was Monday, March 11th. It was a pretty fun day, I got a lot done, I was feeling on top of the world as I worked on Inheritance and knocked out things I could have only wished for the time to do before it was my actual job.
Then, at about 3pm I got a phone call from my grandparents’ neighbor saying my grandfather had a heart attack and was nearby at a local hospital. I asked if I should do anything, should I tell my mom, etc., etc., and they told me to wait. A couple of hours later I got a call to go pick up my mom and bring her to the hospital because it didn’t look good. Now, if you’re just joining my mess of a life, you may not know that my mother has Stage 4 cancer and is not mobile. She has daytime care during the week, but on the weekends I help her out, and at night she doesn’t have someone on site because she sleeps a lot. We all live within an hour of each other, and my grandparents / mom / me / kiddo all see each other at least twice a month (on the weekends I have my daughter). We’re extremely close, and my grandfather has basically been my father figure my whole life. I wasn’t doing so great either, but I kind of went… numb. I had too much to do to freak out, cry, lose it.
So, I took my daughter to her dad’s house and then drove to my mom’s house (about 35 mins away) and broke the news to her that my grandfather was in the hospital. She was in bad shape, obviously very upset, but I was able to get her packed up with everything she’d need and in the car. We got to the hospital and it was very clear that my grandfather wasn’t okay. My step-grandmother (whom I love) was crying so hard she couldn’t talk, we had to get a nurse to come in and explain, and we were told he was already on life support with very little brain activity. Pa (my grandfather) had always been very clear that he didn’t want to be on life support. So, I had to help my step-grandmother fill out the DNR form because she has cataracts and couldn’t read it. Technically, I signed the DNR form for my grandfather. Yay, me. We stayed there all night, kept him on life support so my uncles could drive up from South Texas to be there in the morning. Life support ended early the next morning, and they kept him comfortable with morphine until he passed. It was surreal, and I alternated between crying with everyone else, and just sitting there. Staring at him, because I couldn’t imagine the world without him in it.
While we were sitting with him that morning, we learned this his sister (my great aunt?) had died on hospice care around 3am in the morning. She had been fighting a long battle with cancer, the same kind my mom has, the same kind my grandmother had, the same kind I will most likely have, and passed peacefully — but it was still a lot to handle. We all cried, a lot, and then I took my mom home with my uncles. Saw them off, because they had to get back home, and then I got my mom comfortable so she could rest. Then, I went back home, looking forward to seeing the new pet tarantula my daughter and I had been so excited about… only to find it had died in transit. My best friend had stayed at my house most of the day to receive her, opened the container she was in and put it in the enclosure, but she was already gone.
Cue complete and total meltdown.
Obviously… it wasn’t good. I had to get my daughter from school the next day and tell her about her Papa, to try and explain death to a five year old without screwing her up for life. I think I did an okay job. She kind of understands Papa is gone, but she’s also asked if he would come to her birthday party (which is this weekend). I just keep explaining it to her, reviewing the facts of death, how everything dies eventually. Big ideas for a little girl. I’m sure we’ll see in a decade or two if I handled it the right way.
But, I was still a full-time author, and for many of those days I just wasn’t doing my job. I was barely functioning, and so many of you reached out with kind words, sweet comments, and supportive messages. I’ll be forever grateful for all of that, in a way I can’t quite put into words. Still, I needed to get moving. I needed to get Inheritance out, especially since it was already sooooo late… but I liked where it was going. Then Niki came into town, we had a book signing, I met up with author friends, and I got the book finished. That weekend was wonderful, and it was easy not to slip back into a nest of depression because I had someone here that understood and wanted to see how David and Lianna wrapped up this book. It worked. I felt better. I was ready to get it out so I wouldn’t miss my March deadline on my goals for this year.
Because, fuck, I was going to have something go right in this new full-time author gig.
But, maybe that wasn’t the right move. Inheritance has fizzled. It never really took off, never broke top 1000 on Amazon, and Amazon isn’t posting the reviews from the people who did buy it. I know that book sales dipped for everyone in March, and maybe this is just the lingering effect of that, and Inheritance is the 2nd book in a series (which never sell as well, and definitely don’t sell as well when they come out 15 months after the original). I don’t even know why I thought it would do well. I’m not sure if it was hubris or just some ridiculous belief that the universe wouldn’t piss in my cheerios back to back, but I am most often a realist and I shouldn’t have hung my hopes on this book. I have so many more to release this year, and that is what I need to focus on. I know that I need to focus on that.
It’s just hard to get out of bed right now.
I wake up, take my daughter to school, come back and take care of the dogs and then just… crawl back into bed. Even though I try to pep-talk myself into feeling better, even though I know that the only thing that will make me feel better is accomplishing something. Anything. All my brain wants to do is lay in bed and zone out on the television, or listen to music and avoid the world, because the world hasn’t been very nice to me lately. I know that most people want to reach out when they’re sad, depressed, but all I want to do is crawl in a hole and disappear. I’m an anxiety-ridden introvert on the best of days, and when I’m down I just don’t have the energy for any of it. Still, people who love me are reaching into the dark and trying to pull me back out, and I am working on it.
Honestly, I’d be much farther down if I hadn’t started a different medication a couple of months ago, which was going to be the original topic for this blog post, back before the world caught fire. I’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression my entire life, but a very clever doctor of mine recognized some things I said and realized I was not clinically depressed — I had bipolar disorder. All of my insomnia-ridden writing weeks where I’d knock out 20k words and sleep a handful of hours a night? Clean the house in the middle of the night? Stay up and knock out my author to-do list and still go to work in the morning? My version of a manic episode. Sure, not very self-destructive… in fact, I was always very productive when I was manic. It’s just not a good idea to burn the candle at both ends, because it wears you down, and then it’s only a matter of time until something happens to nudge me off into a depressive episode.
And those, well, those last a long fucking time for me.
That’s basically what happened all last year. It’s why Inheritance was so god damn late. It’s why I published so little last year. The stress of my daughter starting kindergarten, buying a house, taking care of my mother, working two full-time jobs, and trying to plan for the possibility of going full-time as an author just… broke me. I couldn’t handle anything. I had multiple break downs. I scared a lot of people in my life who love me because they could see me unraveling, and the antidepressants I was on were not changing it at all.
Then I started the medicine for bipolar disorder, and it was like I could finally think straight. The world wasn’t completely meaningless and chaotic. Bad things still happened, but (honestly) I started to be able to handle the little things better. The way I described it to a friend of mine was that my brain had always felt like a five-lane highway completely full of cars, all of them speeding as fast as they could. My brain was never quiet, never stopped whirring, and that constant motion had my anxiety at a 9/10 almost all of the time last year. I had so many panic attacks because when anything happened, when anything tried to get onto that highway in my brain, it was an instant car crash. There was no capacity, no space for one more thing inside my head.
The medication has helped. I know that it has, but I don’t think all the medicine in the world could have adequately prepared my brain for my first month as a full-time author. The deaths, the drama, the release of Inheritance not doing what I’d hoped… it was too many big cars trying to get on the highway in my head (even though they’re slower now and there’s less of them).
So, have I been depressed? Absolutely.
Do I need more serotonin and endorphins? Yeah, I do. I’m looking into gyms / crossfit nearby to A) get me out of the house, and b) get me back in shape. So, I’m working on that, lovelies.
But, am I okay right now? The answer to that is…. kind of? I know that without my meds I’d be in a very different place. I wouldn’t have recovered enough last month to finish Inheritance and get it released. I wouldn’t be out of my bed right now writing this to you. I am doing better than I was, and I am going to keep moving forward. I promise.
So, I can tell you for sure, I will be okay.
How could I not be with this support system around me? I’m very lucky, I love all of you, and I know just how incredible this tribe is. Also, Breaking Beth will come out this month. And although it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and I don’t expect amazing things… I know that it’s going to start an incredible story that so many fans of the Thalia series have wanted.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot of stuff that’s been resting on my hard drive, waiting for me to have the time to get it in all of your hands, and so…. all I can say is “get ready” because there’s more coming this year. I’m trying to pick myself back up, I’m trying to get moving again, and just the fact that I’m upright this evening and my kitchen isn’t covered in dishes is a good sign.
I wouldn’t have been at this point a year ago, or without all of you.
So, I love you. I am grateful you put up with me, lovelies, and accept me even with all my mental health stuff. This is still my surreal dream come true, and I know that it will feel like it soon. I have to believe that. <3
Thank you guys,