art, book arts, creative writing, drawing, graphic design, psychology, self care

Sparked

I’m not entirely sure what happened, except that I recalled — after having had a mood crash not even two weeks out of classes — how much I had been doing before that class started in order to keep my mood stable. In particular…writing, and art. And not just “writing” as in “journal writing,” writing as in Fiction writing: particularly, literature. I was trained in Literature, but…let’s just say that what I have to say about the world could be construed as libel if I should hold too close to reality (but not yet close enough).

Last night I realized that what I might be seeking in that area was SF/F, or for the uninitiated, Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’ve…had a very long relationship with the latter, not knowing it was the latter. Kind of like I was writing a gender-nonbinary character long before I had ever heard of nonbinary gender. Not to get stuck on that — I have gotten tired of Middlesex and Left Hand of Darkness supposedly being about gender — but…I can see where this (writing) could sustain me for a while, at least, psychologically.

There are two large places where my desire to write is being hampered. The first is with not reading enough. Fiction, I mean. I have what is, by now, the same old story rattling around in my head which I have not set toner to paper to, yet. This is mostly because it’s underdeveloped, and a good portion of that lack of development has to do with its being “a nice fantasy” without real-world problems being interjected into it. I haven’t, that is, wanted to burden my characters with suffering of the kind I have experienced. Although that, overall…if I hold to that, it could lead me to some interesting worldbuilding places.

“That,” meaning, my own experience with trying to find enough pleasure in life to willfully drive it to continue…and then the relief from medication with antidepressant action which concomitantly has at times felt…false? The problem is that the pain seems real even though it’s a symptom of a known psychiatric disorder; a problem with wiring and connectivity and feedback, if you will. Runaway focus on pain like tracks ground into hard dried mud. The issue is that the thing I have the most pain over is the state of the world, and that is something I cannot, “fix.” Because I can’t fix it, I have to do what I must so that I survive, despite it. Outwit the thanatos.

In my case, I’ve opted for psychiatric medications over street drugs or suicide: over street drugs, because I was told that going on them would be the worst possible thing I could do for myself. Over suicide, because suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. At least, they say it’s temporary. People being ****heads, though…that’s kind of a permanent problem, I think.

I also know that death is likely to come far too early for me. If things are going well, that is, and life remains worth living. We do tend to hope that things will go well…

The second place where I’m sabotaging myself has to do with creating worlds and relationships which are more hospitable to life than this reality…which in tandem with my tendency to depression, means that I can prefer living in that world to living in this one. And I know that, and that is a problem. Or maybe knowing it means that I can guard against growing closer in my proximity to self-annihilation, while still receiving the benefit of rest which fantasy can harbor.

Of course, it does also seem that a whole LOT of people are close to self-annihilation right now. Not going to lie.

Anyhow, D had me (re-)watch a program on bookbinding, tonight, which got me curious enough to make a small maquette of a binding design. It’s really nothing…huge. :) Simply a way to take a horizontal format and place it on a shelf so that the spine still shows the title, author, publisher, without sticking so far out of line that it becomes problematic to store. As a person who used to shelve books — A LOT of books — and have heavy art books occasionally try to fall on them, I know that this is a fairly perennial problem. You don’t want to be in the Arts & Music Folio section when an earthquake hits, let me just say (although places which actually do have Folio sections are likely to be safer, due to specialized shelving units).

This is actually a reason I was driven to learn Japanese language: I had mostly been exposed to manga, not English comics. The entire flow of the page is different in manga — more often vertical in nature, and from right to left. This makes sense for Japanese language, which can be written vertically, and read from right to left when in that vertical format. It remains a problem for the English-writer who is inspired by manga but cannot write legibly and vertically at the same time. This is where wide-format books come into play, as English runs horizontally.

So basically: I now have puzzled out that three columns of 2×4 units (horizontal x vertical) for each page, laid out horizontally, makes a total spread of 12×4 units which can be used variously as a relatively standard-appearing comic grid (when divided into 2×2 squares), six columns of text, or text interspersed with images — the last two of which, I think I’m going to be using.

This is a different way of thinking about things, but it should afford me some rest from having to draw out an entire world, along with granting me the capability of inserting images by design. It also should give me the chance to play with InDesign…if I really cared that much about it. However: I have the materials for this. I know what has to be done. The next step…hmm. Hadn’t thought about the next step.

I believe it would be scriptwriting, possibly combined with storyboarding. I did start to take a class in this, but there were crazy high race tensions in that class, probably because the instructor was trying to seem anti-racist and…I don’t think they knew the point of anti-racism. Depicting diversity alone isn’t anti-racist. Trying to be anti-racist so you look more woke on the street isn’t the point of…

Let’s not go there. Wusa.

Anyhow. Scriptwriting, storyboarding. In working with a grid format, I would be imposing some limitations on myself, as in how long I can take to complete a thought, or what I’d need to put in place so the reader turns the page. Also: font size. Though I’m thinking of hand-lettering. (I do have an Ames Lettering Guide…)

I also need to be reading, more. At this point, I am wondering how much reading is going to take me away from the beadwork, and whether I’ll realistically be able to juggle reading, writing, beadwork, and library science. It seems I should be able to, at least so long as I don’t have a paying job…and developing skills in InDesign and Photoshop…that will be worth it, especially if I start looking for gig work as a writer.

Gosh, I…forgot I’d be writing all this…!

Maybe it would be best to work it out in text, first, and draw alongside, then see which one comes out as more dominant…

personal, psychology, self care

The reason why I was in classes

It’s been a little less than two weeks since classes have ended, and I’m noticing warning signs that I’m headed into a depression. Though, truthfully — at an early stage, who can tell? It might be a number of other things.

To be honest, though, I feel like my OCD is going into overdrive, and that’s why my mood is collapsing. I need to be actually making things, or doing something to occupy my mind, to tone down the paranoia (I wouldn’t be surprised if my amygdala were responsible [I wonder how ironic it is to be angry at one’s own amygdala] but I don’t really know).

I mean, there’s, “appropriately concerned,” and then there’s, “overtly paranoid.” In the middle of a surge in the middle of a pandemic, from the inside of a mind that has had to deal with obsessive thoughts around contamination for the last 26 years or so, which for a long time have felt normal (though questionable enough now to voice)…it can be hard to really understand the difference between appropriate concern and irrational hyper-concern.

I would think people would say that it isn’t possible to be too concerned: but trust me, it is. When you wash your hands to the point of their cracking and bleeding so that they no longer form a barrier against the thing you’re scared of touching, that’s overdoing it.

I’m at the point where I’m pretty certain that I would not be functional in a job right now, and my Vocational program is an unwelcome intrusion in my life. I’m having a hard enough time dealing with things coming into the house, when I’m not even the main person touching those things. I’m having a hard time touching fabric (and letting that fabric touch other fabric) which has last touched another human besides myself, two weeks ago. Can I then safely put any of that up to my face and breathe through it? We’re talking about viral half-lives, not viral extinctions.

This is not…well…I guess I can understand now why this illness alone qualifies me as disabled.

It doesn’t help, though, when there is some validity to the paranoia, and my paranoia in fact may help keep me alive (which is likely the reason it still exists in humans). That doesn’t mean it’s easy to live with, or that it isn’t instigating other mental disorders like depression. Anxiety — let alone constant anxiety — can do that.

I’m thinking I need to be doing something — anything (that isn’t drugs or eating or sodas or shopping sprees…or, sleep) — to be dealing with this. Even video games might be a step up, though I question how much a certain favorite game is going to alleviate the pain. :) Somehow, being trapped in a constantly morphing prison full of death doesn’t sound like wholesome fare when I’m feeling like this. Kudos if you know what game I’m talking about.

Of course, though: I was supposed to exercise earlier, and just didn’t. I got involved in something else. I did take Vitamins B-Complex and D, however…which should help. (I’ll take them again, tomorrow.) So should actually getting some sleep…it’s 12:50 AM here, at the moment, though I got out of bed sometime around 1:30 PM, if my memory’s correct.

Yeah, maybe tomorrow…I’ll make a point out of working with the beads (not the masks, unless I’m really OK with it) and getting some exercise and taking a shower. Even though I don’t really…feel like exercising. But that’s probably normal, when you haven’t exercised in weeks. My weight has been edging up due to inactivity and my medications. If I can consistently hold to 5 or 6 lbs. below my current weight, average — the weight I was at, at the beginning of lockdown — that would at least be a start. (I tend to set my goals too high, and then get demoralized and never even really try to reach them.)

Or maybe I should just designate a time to work out and stretch and get my heart rate up — and shower — every other day or so, without worrying about the weight component. The issue is that I work out and then crave sugar. That worked when I had a 20-year-old metabolism; not so much, now. Somehow I don’t think that eating the equivalent of two dinners, after working out and walking everywhere, is going to fly, now.

Of course…no, I haven’t tried walking everywhere…but there’s nowhere to walk to for any purpose, around here. It helps to walk when there are, you know, things within walking distance…but such is not the case at this point.

And, I suppose, it is possible that we’ll all make it through this, alive. It’s telling that I never even thought of that, until just now…

psychology, spirituality, writing

Stumbling into dystopia

Not to be, well — depressing — but I can feel depression setting in.

I’ve noticed an increase in my symptoms recently, particularly where it comes to difficulty concentrating, the ability to sleep, depressed mood, paranoia, heightened “spiritual” content to my thoughts, and catastrophic and magical thinking.

Of course, from inside, these all appear understandable, given the situation. Hey — they may appear understandable from outside. The issue is that things are bad, and my mind is making them worse. By doing things like making me think I have a calling as a writer and a duty to share my perspective…even if that leads to bad consequences for me. Because this is bigger than me, isn’t it?

The issue is, how much bigger? Are we dealing with local stupidity and greed and craziness, or is this a Universal conflict between good and evil? And maybe it’s not even just two groups. Maybe it’s a system of spirits, and I happen to be a member of a group associated with Creation (and, apparently, expression and language). And we have here beings who don’t care about the continuation of life on this planet; who don’t care about other humans; who don’t care about anyone but themselves and their own accumulation of wealth and power. If this is not Evil, what is Evil?

Today it’s actually slightly cooler outside (at the moment) than it is inside, which is more than I can say for the past three days. Because of us, this planet is becoming a Hell. And we don’t know how much time we have to change that, left (if we have any, at all; we don’t know, but the best we can do is not give up) — at least if you’re looking at things like climate, “tipping points,” such as the point at which the permafrost melts and trapped methane gas is released into the atmosphere…which is a 25x stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

And what then, is supposed to happen to cities like San Francisco or Honolulu, when the Antarctic and/or Greenland ice shelves fail and melt? If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet fails, the global sea level could rise by ten feet.

I’ve been getting used to being active at night, due to the heat in the daytime…meaning, today, that I got out of bed after 4 PM to eat dinner as my first meal, instead of at 9 AM for breakfast (when my alarm went off). Of course, part of this is bad synchronization of my medication to my bedtime: I took one medication (a sedating one) after midnight, instead of 9 PM; and I know that when I do that, it predisposes me to wake in the late afternoon or early evening. Even if I do wake up at a reasonable time before then, my body just wants to go back to bed, where I fall asleep. For hours.

Not to mention that I couldn’t fall asleep until after 2:30 AM. Just, could not.

Still, the lack of daylight — which has been going on for days, as we couldn’t vent the windows to cool down the house, due to the smoke from the multiple fires around the state — has an effect on me. I’m thinking it has an effect on everyone.

I’ve been doing a fair amount of writing…and not much else, except reading for my class and studying Japanese language (mostly, at this point, writing). I haven’t been posting my writing online because I’m having issues with paranoia, which — given the current climate, and not just the literal one — could be justified.

Oppressive, is the word. This climate is oppressive, and writing — in my case — is for the expression of thoughts that may not be able to be easily spoken. There are good reasons they can’t be easily spoken.

I’m also not sure to what extent re-engaging with fiction, or my actual thoughts (as unrealistic and idiosyncratic as those may be), is affecting this. Nor do I know whether the thoughts are symptomatic of the disease, or whether they’re driving it. I’m not sure if even entertaining my thoughts are leading to a decrease in my mental health.

Although, it is good to be able to get those thoughts out, so that they don’t just fester in my subconscious (or unconscious). At the same time, I think just being in this country at this moment is scary. But if we make change, we’ll have to make it together. One person can’t do it, alone.

I know I’m not the only one going through this. I’ve been dealing with my class where we were supposed to split up into groups of 4 or 5 for our Final Projects, by tonight. Over 1/3 of the people in the class still have not hooked up with anyone. Seriously???

I’m also glad that I know at this point that grades aren’t the most important part of life, but Withdrawing is not currently an option for me. Even if it was, I question whether it would be the best route: I may be becoming depressed because I don’t have enough to do. If I Withdrew, something worse for my life than failing the course, would have to have happened. And there’s a lot that is worse than failing a stinkin’ course.

Anyway. I’m getting kind of weary of this. And I’m not the only one. I can tell from the number of people I see congregating, maskless. The issue we have here — the biggest one — seems to be that people can’t act for the good of society writ large. “If masks will protect everyone else but not me specifically, why should I wear one?” they ask. Because that, “everyone else,” indirectly includes you. But people don’t get that, and I get the feeling that they don’t care about other people’s lives, either.

It’s a pretty sad state when your neighbors don’t care if you live or die. It’s possibly sadder if they don’t even care if they live or die. Faith is not meant to make a person lazy.

I do know that we here in California likely only have another month of heat to worry about (November comes after October, after all)…but then comes flu season. Which — if you look at it, maybe won’t be so bad if people are keeping away from each other, and we’re still able to maintain good hygiene. There is fatigue to be factored in there, however. We’ve been at this for seven months, now.

…And, the little I’ve read, says to brace for another year of this — that it will be likely around mid-2021 by the time we get a safe and widely available vaccine.

So we have to, essentially, survive another year. Alright.