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!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Gratitude for Medication

For my bipolar disorder, I currently take Effexor (an antidepressant), Wellbutrin (an antidepressant), Lamictal (a mood stabilizer), Abilify (an anti-psychotic), and Clonazepam (an anti-anxiety). This combination of meds is working well for me, but they still need to be tweaked at times. Like bipolar disorder itself, meds are a constant balancing act. It took a long time to get to this combination that seems to work best. But this combination might not work well forever. It's just something I'll have to see. I'm grateful for having a doctor who is so knowledgeable about medication and who knows what should be most effective.

These meds do not come without their side effects. Many of them can cause drowsiness or dizziness. Abilify causes me to have slight tremors in both my hands and tongue. But overall, I'm pretty used to these meds and don't notice their side effects much. I'm clumsy, which I attribute in part to the meds, but I'm also just not the most graceful person and never have been.

I think sometimes about the days before these meds existed and it scares me. I can only imagine how I might be without medication--I'm glad I don't have to find out. Of course, meds aren't the only thing keeping me well. A person also needs good therapy and good support from family and friends. I'm grateful to have these, too. But I'm especially grateful for these chemicals that make my brain's chemicals operate in a sound and balanced way.

Not all meds work for everyone, or work in the same way for everyone. I have, over the years, taken Depakote and Seroquel. Both made me incredibly fatigued and zombie-like. Yet I have heard that these work well for other people. I have also taken the antidepressants Serzone, Celexa, and Zoloft. Zoloft didn't work at all for me, and the other two stopped working (antidepressant burnout). I started out taking lithium when I was first diagnosed, but the side effects of it, which are numerous, became too much for me. However, for ten years, lithium worked, and I'm sure it can work well for some people for many years.

Sometimes people will ask me what I take in the hope of finding something effective for themselves or a loved one. I do tell people, but it's always with the disclaimer that these meds work for me, and may not be as effective, or effective at all, for everyone. If you are on meds for a brain disorder, my advice is to stay on them. And if they're not working well, or cause too many negative side effects, speak up. Be your own best advocate to get what you need.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

April Work

An update on what's going on at this time: I'm working on chapter ten of Dark and Bright, my third novel. This is the first draft I'm writing. When it's done, I'll go through it all again. I have to submit my first two novels to agents and publishers some more. I think I may concentrate on submitting my second novel, Hoping It Might Be So. I have a hankering to go over my first novel yet again to see if there's anything I want to tweak.

No new short stories at this time, or any essays for Violet Are Blue: Essays About My Bipolar Life. I really want to write an essay--I just don't know what I want it to be about. I'm stuck with this project. There's so much to tell, but I'm not sure how to tell it.

As far as reading goes, I just finished Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. I had never read it before. Also finished: Ted Chiang's collection Stories of Your Life and Others. That was excellent. I'm still reading Kay Redfield Jamison's Touched with Fire, and I plan to start reading Dave Egger's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I'll also start one of the short story collections I have in my to-be-read queue. Maybe A.M. Homes's The Safety of Objects.

I've included with this post a picture of my feet in our pool. Of course, we're nowhere near opening the pool yet, but I like to think about summer not being that far off. It will come. It always does.