About Me

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Hello! I'm a writer from central New York who has bipolar disorder. Among other topics, I write about mental illness and writing. I have short stories published in Lynx Eye, Lost Coast Review, The Outrider Review, Sliver of Stone Magazine, The Mondegreen, The Linnet's Wings, Cobalt Review, Breath & Shadow, The Round Up, Postscripts to Darkness, Masque & Spectacle, and several other journals. I have a poem in The Poeming Pigeon, essays about mental illness in The Ram Boutique and Amygdala Literary Magazine, and an essay in Parts Unbound: Narratives of Mental Illness & Health, a book that was published by Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective. My story "Santa Lucia" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I've written three novels entitled Purple Loosestrife, Hoping It Might Be So, and Dark and Bright, all of which are as yet unpublished. I'm working on a memoir about my experiences with bipolar disorder. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in English from SUNY College at Brockport. I hope you enjoy your visit to my blog!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Emily's Pity Party

I recently discovered on YouTube a clown named Puddles. He looks not like a circus clown but rather a clown like Pierrot. He's part of  a group called Puddles Pity Party, and in the YouTube description of the video I found, he's described as the sad clown with the golden voice. In this particular video, he sings with Postmodern Jukebox the Lourde song "Royals". The words, while not of his creation, suit him. In fact, I enjoy his rendition of "Royals" more than I do that of Lourde. Puddles is very tall, well over six feet, and he does indeed look sad in his Pierrot-like costume and make-up with the tiny crown on his head. But then he should be sad. After all, it's his Pity Party.

Pity. As far as having bipolar disorder, I try very hard never to pity myself, and I don't want pity from anyone else. Bipolar disorder has changed the trajectory of my life, but in many ways, it's been for the better. I think it's made me a stronger, more creative, more imaginative writer. I believe I've had bipolar disorder my whole life, and I've been writing for my whole life, but the official onset of the illness in 1995 opened the floodgates and brought on writing nearly every day with joy, determination, compulsion, sometimes frustration (inevitably), and completion--not in the completion of what I write (although that happens), but in completing me.

This is not to say that I love having bipolar disorder. I don't. Every day holds some sort of struggle, hopefully and often small, but sometimes enormous. It's a difficult, complex disease. There's no cure; there is only treatment. And it's lifelong. It affects me in one way or another every day. But I also manage to write almost every day, and I have nine short stories published, two forthcoming, many more to submit, a novel (Purple Loosestrife) that I'm submitting, a memoir that may come to fruition, and poetry and creative nonfiction that I've written.

Bipolar disorder has also done something wonderful for me regarding rejections. It's not that they don't bother me, or don't hurt, or don't discourage me, but they tend to roll off of me more easily than I think they do for other writers. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can be as bad as some of the times I've gone through with my illness: four hospitalizations, two partial hospitalization programs, switching psychiatrists and therapists and not always for the better, having taken many medications through the years, getting hypothyroidism which I believe is related to my illness and having been on lithium for ten years, surviving a bad first marriage that didn't help matters at all, and other things too numerous to relate here. No rejection is as bad as any of these things. I've developed a thick skin. I can take it because I've taken it.

Meanwhile, I wouldn't wish bipolar disorder on anyone. There are many brilliant, creative, wonderful writers who don't have it or any other mental illness and they're fortunate. But pity? That I don't want. Things happen. We're born the way we're born--we don't choose it; it just is. So Puddles can have his Pity Party. But Emily's pity party won't be happening.

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