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Writing, Creativity, and Anxiety

DISCLAIMER: YES, I’VE BEEN ASKED BEFORE WHY I FEEL THE NEED TO DISCUSS MENTAL HEALTH ON MY PROFESSIONAL PLATFORMS. MY ANSWER HASN’T CHANGED. I DISCUSS MENTAL HEALTH THROUGH MY OWN EXPERIENCES, BECAUSE MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS TO BE HIGHLIGHTED AND TALKED ABOUT AND BROUGHT OF THE DARK. I ALSO WANT EVERYONE TO KNOW HAVING ANXIETY DOESN’T MEAN THEY CANT CHASE THEIR DREAMS. IT JUST MEANS THEY’RE GOING TO WORK A LOT HARDER TO GET THERE.

Okay, time for some real talk, guys. It’s no secret that I have anxiety and CPTSD. I talk about it everywhere. On purpose. I always think if one person reads something I say and doesn’t feel alone I’ve found a little purpose in my discomfort. That’s important to me.

Since the beginning of 2019 I’ve felt like I’ve been ‘living between the anxieties.’ Basically, meaning I shove as much as I can of the good stuff in between all the crap. Yes, 2020 was crap for everyone. Extroverts everywhere have told me so. Introverts too – but not always because of the lockdown. But it’s been a little over two years since the last time I had a period of time where life was on the level and it’s starting to wear on me in ways I can’t hide. People notice – long droughts from posting on Facebook. Blogs that are sporadically scheduled at best. Some days, I think it’s never going to change. Some days I know it’ll never change. The world will keep revolving, but I’ll always have anxiety and big triggers. I’ll always have to live in between them. That doesn’t mean I don’t have good days – because I do. But I also have nights like tonight:

-Sales are down. Covid economy. Other writers are experiencing similar things. I know a few indies who have thrown up their hands at it all in the last few months. I’ve considered it too. I’m not to that point yet. I am doing side jobs again, though. More work for the same amount of money leaves less time for self care. It can’t be helped. It is what it is.

-I’m behind on work because of lost sleep last month before I could find a vet willing to fix my cat. More lost sleep as cat had difficult recovery.

-Storms – with a possibility of isolated tornadoes in my area Wednesday – Friday morning. So, yeah I’m already feeling the sinking feeling in my stomach.

-My editor and I are in the middle of editing a book. We live in 2 different states. We’re both in areas possibly effected. If the net or power goes I’m more behind.

-People telling me not to worry about being behind in a ‘creative career’ art takes time. Yeah, those same people have never finished a massive artistic project and made a living off of it for the most part. See my point up there about sales being lower and me on the brink of saying ‘Oh, enough’s enough. I give up.”

-I miss people who I’ve lost to covid. I miss so many people and don’t believe the world will ever be the same.

So, the next few days belong to anxiety. Mostly, storm anxiety. It’s not going anywhere. I’ve done therapy. I’ve done everything. Living in Missouri ruined me for any thunderstorm. Alongside anxiety, needs to live someone able to answer e-mails and put in edits and stay positive on social media and not ride the doom spiral. We’ll see what happens.

What does this have to do with writing and creativity? Everything! Every writer friend I have – has anxiety. Mostly, major anxiety filled with triggers and panic attacks and everything that comes with it. It’s as if imagining the worst is good fuel for novels. Sometimes, fixing ‘the worst’ in fiction soothes the soul. As a writing I believe I write to fix all the things I can’t fix in the world. Bad guys eventually die – the good guys mostly win. People fall in love and have a chance to live their lives without hell raining on every side.

Some days, it’s all I can do to wait until after my coffee kicks in to get to the keyboard and hammer out the details of the lives of fictional people. I’m thrilled to do my job. It’s the one part of my life I know for sure I enjoy – the writing part that is.

So, what is anyone to take from this? Live between the storms. Live between the bad times. They’ll always be around the corner, but the time in between belongs to us.

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What I Inherited from My Estranged Mother

I’m taking a day off today from writing. I’ve said it was to take care of filing my taxes online. I said it was because Saturday I wrote emotionally challenging scene. Both of those things are true, but there’s something else too.

Mother’s Day is a bitch for me. My mother never really was a mother even when she was around. I mean, in my early years she was there physically, but a combination of mental illness and drug addiction left her anywhere but actually there.

Full disclaimer: At the time my father wasn’t much better. He’s somewhat better now, but we don’t connect. Not really. This coupled with various drama throughout my family leaves me making my own family with my friends. I love them.

It also leaves me feeling lonely. I spent years wondering why I couldn’t connect with my father? We have nothing except blood and a caffeine addiction in common.

So if I’m not like him or any of my aunts or uncles where did I come from? I mean, yeah, I partially raised myself. Sometimes I joke that books raised me and they did in someways.

Where did those books come from? My mother. It’s a mixed bag. I remember her buying me books during her clean periods. I remember her reading them to me sometimes. I think this is why I don’t remember learning to read like a lot of people do. I think it’s wrapped up in my early childhood abuse/neglect memories and my PTSD programed mind protects me from it.

But the books were there. I remember one traumatic reading experience. We were reading Disney’s Aristocats (Spelling?) I loved those stupid cats and watched the movie and read the book a lot. Sometimes she read it to me. By the time of this memory I was probably 5 and preferred not to be read to, but I mean I was 5 any attention was good attention, right?

Well, she was reading it to me and she skipped half of the middle. I wasn’t going to stand for it. So, she went back and read it inserting her own crude language. I wasn’t having that either – this was my book. My story. I often imagined myself an extra kitten in the story. Well, that went over about as well as you expect with an addict. She whacked me across the face, ripped the book apart, and continued to beat me with it. Gone was my favorite book of the time.

After that I hid my books from her. I hid a lot of my things from her. Hell, at some points I hid the baby from her. The literal baby. My brother.

I continued to read, though. At school. At my grandma’s. Anywhere I could find books. Then we didn’t talk about reading again until I was 9. We were snowed in and I ran out of library books. She tossed me a book of mommy porn – basically one of those romances from the civil war era. I can’t remember the name of the book and I’ve tried. I’ve searched and even asked around Reddit, but apparently I don’t remember the right details.

I don’t know that my love of reading came from her. During her short clean periods she did read her romance novels. What I gained from her was the ability to escape into books – I had to. And sometimes in there I wrote my little stories. The first one was writing an episode of Flintstones to add myself in. Yep. Seven year old Maggie wrote fanfiction for The Flintstones. Yep.

So from all the things I inherited from her – trust issues, relationship complications, PTSD, scars, years of therapy, and more. What can I take away from all of this?

I became a writer and a book lover. They were my friends when she and her long line of abusive boyfriends chased off real people from my life. That love of story telling and immersing myself in a good story was the sole thing I snatched and kept for myself.

I’ve been asked why there’s not more moms in my stories. I usually answer with ‘Well, I write Mpreg!” lol And that’s part of the truth. The other part is I’m afraid my own mother would creep in there. I mean there are obviously some mom’s in my stories. (RIP Miriam)

I’ve always wondered what my life would have been like if my parents supported me during my early years. I got good grades until my last year of high school when I just stopped trying for the most. I’d sleep through class because sleeping at home wasn’t an option for me. I wondered what would’ve happened if my mother had read the book and hadn’t torn it to shreds.

I don’t know honestly. Maybe I would’ve still become a writer. Maybe my stories would be LGBT lit mainstream. I dunno. I love what I write now. I don’t think I’d be the person I am today. I loved stories because they were all I had. As an adult my life still circles them and I wouldn’t change that for anything.