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written three novels entitled Purple Loosestrife, Hoping It Might Be So, and Dark and Bright, all of which are as yet unpublished.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

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Getting Good News and a Visit Home

The past two weeks have been good to me. I got two stories accepted for publication, and a poem accepted (this will be the first time I've ever had a poem published). The stories, "A Good Priest" and "You Kill Me", are forthcoming respectively in Masque & Spectacle and The Writing Disorder, and the poem, "Dreams of My Lover", will be in The Poeming Pigeon.

Today, I went to my hometown of Fairport, New York. My psychiatrist is there and has Saturday hours, so I make the drive from Syracuse once a month to see her. Then I visit my family. It's an hour and twenty minutes to Fairport from Syracuse, but my psychiatrist is very much worth it, and seeing my family is always wonderful.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Misuse of "OCD" and "Bipolar"

OCD stands for obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is a brain disorder that typically requires medication and therapy and sometimes even hospitalization. OCD is not an adjective; it does not describe people who happen to be very neat and orderly and organized. It's a serious mental illness. You can't "be" OCD. You can have OCD, and if you do, then you understand the sort of pain, anguish, and suffering it can cause.

I understand that the acronym "OCD" has taken on a certain slang meaning. I know what people mean when they say, "I'm so OCD." This doesn't mean I have to like it. I think that using the phrase this way misrepresents and trivializes obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Likewise, I've heard people say, "I'm so bipolar," when they do not have diagnosed bipolar disorder. Rather, they mean they're feeling moody or indecisive or erratic. Most people who know me know what bipolar disorder is. Like OCD, it's a serious mental illness, a brain disorder. To misuse "bipolar" misrepresents the illness and, as I said about the slang use of OCD, trivializes it.

Trivializing these illnesses can be just as bad as fearing them. It all feeds into the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Understanding, empathy, compassion, an educated point of view: these are what people with mental illnesses need.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

No Rage for Me

I read an article by Julie A. Fast about rage in bipolar disorder and how to deal with it. Click here to read the article. Ms. Fast is a person with bipolar disorder who has experienced rage. This is something I'm not familiar with in my experiences with bipolar disorder.

I have not felt rage as a bipolar symptom, and I feel fortunate for that. In fact, I rarely get angry, and even when I do, it doesn't last, and I don't hold grudges. I'm very uncomfortable with the feeling of being angry. It ends up making me feel sad and low, and then very sorry for having felt the anger in the first place.

In addition to the hallmarks of bipolar disorder, depression and mania, and all the feelings that come with them, I'm more apt to feel a lack of self-esteem or a lack of confidence as far as negative emotions go. I'm more likely to internalize feelings than lash out. And anxiety--anxiety is a big one for me. But for me, it doesn't lead to anger or rage. I wonder if all of this is true for other people with bipolar disorder... if there are others who don't feel rage, or even much anger.

If I've felt angry about anything, it's been at having bipolar disorder. But even that anger hasn't lasted. I've long since come to terms with my diagnosis, and I've realized that getting angry about it does no good. The best I can do is look at the positive--the link that many believe exists between bipolar disorder and creativity, the strength and wisdom that come from fighting a mental illness, and the empathy towards others--not just fellow fighters, but everyone.