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 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. In December of 2016, The Mondegreen nominated my story "Santa Lucia" for a Pushcart Prize. I've written a novel entitled Purple Loosestrife and a novel entitled Hoping It Might Be So, both of which I am submitting to agents and publishers. I'm working on a novel called Dark and Bright as well as a book called Violets Are Blue: Essays About My Bipolar Life. 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!

Monday, March 23, 2015

March 30th: World Bipolar Day

March 30th is World Bipolar Day. I look at this as a day for people to "come out" about having bipolar disorder (if they're ready to), or to talk about loved ones with bipolar, or to engage in dialogue about bipolar and what society needs to know in order for the stigma to be erased and misunderstandings about this disease to be eradicated.

There's a stigma surrounding all mental illness, and with bipolar disorder, I think that, in part, the  stigma manifests in sentiments such as "Snap out of it!" if you're depressed, or "Get a grip!" if you're manic. There's also the (supposedly humorous) question, "Did you forget to take your medication today?" This makes bipolar into a joke--something to poke fun at. And then there are people who toss around the term "bipolar" lightly. They have a change in mood and suddenly, "I'm so bipolar!" Or someone has trouble making a decision and waffles and so, "You're so bipolar!" Of course, let's not forget bipolar disorder as a fad, as the disease of the day, as an excuse for bad behavior. A celebrity or public figure behaves erratically, and suddenly he or she has bipolar disorder. The sad part is that some celebrities and public figures may indeed have it. But we may not always see it in their behavior. Others who behave badly may also have it, but isn't it awful that these people become jokes, or the butt of jokes, or just dismissed as "crazy"?

What people need to know is that bipolar is not a joke, it's not funny, it's not a fad, and it's not simply a matter of being up or down. There are ups and downs, but there's a spectrum filled with many shades of color in between. For example, a person with bipolar may have a mixed episode in which he or she is accelerated and manic, but also filled with sadness and the terrible ache of depression. And there's hypomania, a lesser form of mania, and dysthymia, a lesser form of depression (but not necessarily less painful).

And then there are the other troubles that come along with bipolar. Fatigue, fogginess, cognitive difficulties, trouble with decision making, trouble accomplishing day-to-day tasks, difficulties with school and/or jobs, substance and/or alcohol abuse, insomnia or sleeping too much, overspending, overeating or not eating enough, anxiety (sometimes very severe), gambling, sexual promiscuity... the list could go on. But I'll leave it to my readers to do some research--I would love it if you would do some reading as a way to recognize World Bipolar Day. There's excellent information on the website of the National Institute of Mental Health and on WebMD. Please take some time to read this information if you'd like to know more about this illness.

I'm very open about my bipolar because I feel I put a "normal" face to this illness. Those who know me, or have gotten to know me through this blog, know that I'm not scary or dangerous. They may know that I struggle, but they also know that I work very hard to maintain balance. They know I want to be well, and that I'm not just "doing this for attention" (another gem I've heard and read). So please, on March 30th, think of us, the millions of us globally who have bipolar, and fight with us to treat this like any other medical illness.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Acceptance of "The Tiger Earring"

My short story "The Tiger Earring" has been accepted for publication by Sliver of Stone Magazine. I'm really excited about this because of my fondness for the story. It's a love story told in reverse. It starts in the year 2067 and ends in the year 1985.

The tone of "The Tiger Earring" is wistful and reflective. I very much enjoyed writing it in reverse and having the story unfold in this way. I will post when it's available!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Squirrels

Again I find myself with no fiction in the works. After finishing "Such a Lovely Girl" for the time being, I wrote a flash fiction piece (693 words) called "The Problem with Squirrels".
 
It's a piece taken from life and a time when my son and I were first on our own after my divorce. We were living in a townhouse complex in the woods, and the management felt there was a problem with all the squirrels. So I've written about this and intend to have it critiqued by my writers group (along with the other story).

As far as writing from life, I continue to work on my memoir, or at least essays about my bipolar experiences. Right now I'm working on an essay about a tough time in college when I was very depressed. I had the belief that a bouquet of flowers would make everything better, and so I made my boyfriend at the time drive all over the rural areas surrounding Buffalo (this is where he was from) looking for a florist. Of course, there were no florists, nor were there any farm markets open since this happened in February. A few days after driving around, instead of flowers, my boyfriend brought me a cactus.This seemed a fitting symbol for how I felt at that time right down to my bones.

I'll continue to work on my memoir/essays, and I need to start working on a new fiction project, or perhaps pick up an older one and see what I can do with it. I'm thinking of revisiting "The Infant of Prague". Perhaps that's what I'll do.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Aging... Being Scared, Becoming Wiser

The song "100 Years" by Five for Fighting always makes me feel sad. In a single song, it goes through a person's life and emphasizes how fast time goes by. I'm 48 years old, so I most identify with the line, "I'm 45 for a moment / The sea is high and I'm headed into a crisis / Chasing the years of my life." I don't feel that I'm heading into a crisis, or that I've already had a midlife crisis. I've had enough other crises in my life that I never needed a midlife one. But the idea of getting older does scare me at times. I don't like it when people say that time keeps going faster and faster the older you get. I don't want time to go faster. I want to see my son start a career and perhaps get married, and I'd love to be a grandmother, but I don't want to be old.

My father has always said that age is just a state of mind, and my parents are a testament to this. The two of them are respectively on either side of seventy, and they're as fit and youthful and vibrant as can be. They're my role models for aging gracefully, healthfully, and with vitality. They tell me they're happier than they've ever been, that retirement is great and life is fuller and richer than ever.

I hope I'll feel that way when I'm seventy. I hope I'll be like my parents. I strive for this, even at the age of 48. But I still feel afraid. I fear death, for one thing. I love the Woody Allen quote, "It's not that I'm afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens." The fear of the unknown and my shaky and tenuous belief in something more than this life make me wonder what will happen to me, this person whom I call me, after I die. I believe in God as some entity or force, and I think I believe in an afterlife, but I want to be certain. Unfortunately, that's one thing that (as I believe it) we humans don't get to be.

But I take solace in the wisdom I've gained, and continue to gain, as I age. I would not go back to a single time in my life in exchange for where I am now. I love right now. I continue to learn, see, experience, and add to all that's come before this moment in time, and it's exciting and enlightening and heartening in the face of the unknown. I answer questions my son asks me and surprise myself with the answers. Where did they come from? How do I know what I know? By living life. By having experienced a great many things, both good and bad. I honestly wouldn't trade this for anything.

By the way, the picture above is of me at the age of 14. I love the memories, but I love now more.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March!

I actually like the month of March. Here in central New York, it's still very much winter, but spring is coming, however slowly the process may seem. March is important to me for a number of reasons, the biggest being that it's the month of my son's birthday, my only child. He turns twenty this March. Twenty years ago this month, I was handed a tiny human swaddled in a blanket and wearing a small cap. I gave him the nickname Pickle because that's what his shape reminded me of. Now that little baby is a young man, and I'm very proud of him.

March 8th is the "spring ahead" part of daylight savings time, which means we get an extra hour of light in the evening.

March 17th is St. Patrick's Day, and while I'm not very Irish (just a little), my son is a little bit more. My husband isn't Irish at all. Nevertheless, I like to celebrate the day by cooking something somewhat Celtic (if not corned beef, then shepherd's pie) and eating some sort of green dessert--most likely cookies with green frosting.

March 20th is the spring equinox. And while there will likely still be snow on the ground, the warmer spring weather is on its way.

I've written two stories in recent days that will likely be critiqued by my writers group this March, "Such a Lovely Girl" and "The Problem with Squirrels". I like both of these stories a lot. I had fun writing them. But now I'm left with no fiction in the works. I'm working on my memoir, but I like to have some fiction going, too. I'll have to either come up with something new or revisit something I've written and perhaps get it ready to submit to literary journals.