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written three novels entitled Purple Loosestrife, Hoping It Might Be So, and Dark and Bright, all of which are as yet unpublished.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!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Cognitive Part of Bipolar Disorder

I just read an article about myths that the media (most notably, television and film) have about bipolar disorder. I found the article to be lacking in some respects--just not quite there as far as a thorough explanation of bipolar disorder and its myths go.

Of course, entire books are written as thorough explanations of this disorder, and I wasn't looking for that much information in one article. But what this article lacked was some important information. Often what's not portrayed about the disorder are the cognitive problems it presents: the fuzzy thinking, the confusion, the indecisiveness, the lack of organization. For a television show or a movie, I guess it's just not romantic to show a person scribbling down lists of every aspect of his or her life, or sticking post-it notes around to remember what to do, or becoming confused and/or overwhelmed and/or afraid in stores or in public or in new situations. So because these aspects of the illness don't tend to be portrayed, the article left them out. But I don't think they should have been left out.

People who want to see an accurate depiction of bipolar disorder should see the messiness of it, too--not just the wild or devastating moods. And an article dispelling its myths should address the one big myth that mood is all there is to it. Day to day, when I'm medicated and doing well, I still suffer from problems thinking. I may have trouble organizing my day and getting even the most simple tasks done. I may be unable to make decisions about anything. I may have a great deal of trouble getting places in my car, even with MapQuest, because I have a terrible sense of direction which I believe is part of my disorder. Some days are harder than others, but every day I have to work to keep my brain on track--not just my mood, but my thoughts as well.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

My Next Novel

I've started my next novel, a literary novel, and so far, though I haven't written much, it's going well. I have notes, outlines, lists, and research material, and now I have actual text. It has no title as of yet. It's the story of a young man named Matthew Holman, a Mormon who gives up his mission and his faith and moves across the country. It will be sort of a coming of age story, but more than that. Matthew will have all kinds of adventures and meet various people, some of whom will have their own stories as subplots. Some of these characters already have names and fleshed-out identities: Gil and Sadie Egan, Jessica Porter. In this novel, I'd like to explore love, relationships, identity, the questioning of faith, family, isolation, and depression since Matthew suffers from episodes of it.

In my first novel, Purple Loosestrife, Spencer MacGowan has schizoaffective disorder. Now in my next novel, I'm writing about a young man who suffers from depression. It must sound weird to say that I enjoy writing about mental illness, but I do. It's something I understand so intimately that it seems second-nature to give my characters mental illnesses. I know what it's like to have one, to take meds, to learn to accept and cope (or not), to be in the hospital, to suffer episodes that can feel like sheer madness, and to experience times of calm and balance amidst the storms.

So I've started this next novel, but I am continuing to write memoir essays and short stories (absolutely short stories... I can't not write them!). I've included with this blog post a picture of Honeoye Lake from my uncle's cottage. Honeoye is one of New York's Finger Lakes. Matthew doesn't move there, but he does move to a Finger Lake--Seneca Lake and the town of Haversville, which is the same fictional town in which Purple Loosestrife takes place.