Tag Archives: life

To Live with High-Functioning Depression

Dysthymia – Dysthymia, also called dysthymic disorder, is a form of depression. It is less severe than major depression, but usually lasts longer. Many people with this type of depression describe having been depressed as long as they can remember, or they feel they are going in and out of depression all the time. (Harvard Health publications)

 

It’s fast-forwarding to the future, to better days, some possible, most of them fantastical, escaping the present, regretting the past, keeping up the façade that you’re a functioning adult who makes the right decisions. Life can be an exhausting performance, but no one tells you that early enough. Oh, they probably tried to in their own imperfect ways, but you didn’t know how to listen or refused to listen, thinking maybe you were unique, maybe life’s claws wouldn’t dig deep into your chest and strip bare your heart and soul. You thought maybe it would only sting you, not incinerate you to ashes.

Once you’re no longer shielded from the walls of college or some full-time graduate school program, you dive into life abruptly, sometimes shockingly, like someone dumping icy, cold water on your head, and you weren’t ready.

I wasn’t ready. I missed the class on how to cope successfully with the ongoing anxieties and despairs of adult life, its constant rejections, and failures. I didn’t learn the tricks of the trade or value the importance of networking and connections, all the necessary information delivered only after you’ve suffered through the beatings of your mistakes.

To choose the life of a creative is to invite great suffering. Every day you ask yourself if it’s worth it. I could’ve chosen something more practical, studied the markets, gone into computer science or any health-related field, and then maybe I wouldn’t be so dead broke. Over-educated with a degree from Tufts and Columbia, I stumbled into one ditch after another, asking why did I chase prestige thinking it mattered when it was useless, in my case anyway. Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes. I’ve made so many mistakes while pursuing the great white whale of publishing success.

I shouldn’t complain. Every day these words flash in my head: don’t complain. I’ve lived in five different cities and towns in my twenties: Boston, New York, Seoul, Korea, Toyokawa, Japan, and now Atlanta with eyes set on a livable city or town in California. I’ve met and interacted with people from all over the world, diverse in thought, philosophies, religion, and race. I’ve had unforgettable experiences living in Korea and Japan. I shouldn’t complain. Don’t complain.

But depression doesn’t care about your desires to stay free from pessimistic outlooks, low self-esteem, fatigue and exhaustion, disinterest in social activities and people in general. It doesn’t care how much you repeatedly tell yourself to stay positive, be thankful, consider those more unfortunate than you, suffering from the lack of basic needs you easily take for granted.

Depression doesn’t care about your well-thought out arguments against feeling deprived of joy, happiness, fulfillment, and self-control. You can argue all day and night. Scribble in journals. Pray and cry out to God. Depression doesn’t care.

It claims you, attaching itself to your mind, like a dark blanket wrapped around your head, superglued to your skin. It latches onto its host and grows in a unique way where some are highly-functioning while others are unable to get out of bed. Whichever way it manifests, depression is depression.

And so, I turn to exercise, running. The pain reminds me of my life. The finish line, my goals. Running is never just running. Each time a foot hits the ground, it becomes a metaphor for enduring, fighting, choosing to be defiant to the internal, screaming calls to stop and give up. Each time I finish a run, it reminds me of each time I wake up in the morning, having survived the last day, despite the clamor in my head to give up and die.

My family and friends stop me from taking my life. I don’t want to inflict any pain on others, especially on those who have sacrificed so much for me already, whose love has saved me countless times before. But that doesn’t stop the suicidal thoughts. As I said before, depression doesn’t care, not even how much you love your family and friends. It devastates everything, even love.

But I don’t have to live this way. It doesn’t have to be part of my character or be some twisted aesthetic accentuating my life as a broke, unpublished writer. Romanticizing depression isn’t cute. Major depression is ugly, blood, burns, cuts, sticky, gross intoxication, a haze of impenetrable smoke, destructive, paralyzing, a leviathan swallowing you whole, a killer.

So I make lists. Too many. Crossing off. Not crossing off. Scheduling. Forgetting. Smiling. Recoiling. I have to remind myself to widen my eyes and focus my gaze when my lids droop in disinterest and my mind wanders off into a blank space. Conversations deplete my energy faster than oil guzzling out of a pipe in a disastrous spill.

Sometimes people want too much from you. And sometimes people want nothing from you. I don’t know which is worse. I live in extremes with balance always remaining elusive, like a mirage that disappears each time I approach it.

But, I keep paddling forward, writing stories I believe many people will enjoy reading. I keep moving along. I keep dancing. I keep singing. I keep trying and learning. I keep going. I keep keepin’ on, and that’s all I can do. Keep keepin’ on, hopefully not forgetting the present, clinging closer to loved ones, and staying woke in increasingly dark oppressive times. To make love my religion, kindness my creed, compassion for all (except Nazis) my motto. This is life. This is to live with high-functioning depression in 2017.

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Stay amazing,

Sammy

 

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Stories

It’s raining.
In our despair,
In our fear of death,
Each of us, all of us,
Individual black holes,
We create stories,
As countless as the stars,
Stories not for entertainment,
Stories to survive,
To march forward to the end.
We craft stories of hope, triumph, of
Good conquering evil,
A beautiful romance,
An inspiring dream.
But today, our stories are failing us.
We have nothing.
And we watch as evil
Devours the most innocent,
As the blood of children
Snake down streets,
Rivers and rivers,
Emptying into ourselves.
We turn to our stories for help,
For a reason, for a purpose,
But we mostly use them
To comfort only ourselves
Amid overwhelming darkness,
Forgetting we are the creators.
We could end all the pain
If only we weren’t so lost
In our stories.

Day 2: Your Self-Healing Cocoon

Hello!

This is 60 Seconds with Dasist Winter. 🙂

Everyone needs a self-healing cocoon. What’s a self-healing cocoon, you may ask? It’s that special space away from everyone where you heal yourself from life’s problems.

My self-healing cocoon consists of pillows on the floor, a huge blanket to wrap myself around with—like a cocoon—and meditating music.

Right now, I’m struggling with unemployment, a defeating job search, staying healthy, paying my bills, and so on.

Sometimes everything becomes too overwhelming, and I want to break or stop existing. When these dark feelings rise, I go to my self-healing cocoon…

  • to heal my soul, mind, and body.
  • to give myself some rest and self-comfort.
  • to tell myself that I’m a smart individual who will figure out the solutions to her problems.
  • to remind myself that I’m not my situation.

Sometimes, I don’t even think of anything. I let my mind go blank. Even positive-thinking.

It’s only me and the void. And strangely, it helps.

And that’s 60 seconds.

Stay amazing. ❤

What’s your self-healing cocoon? Leave a comment below! Would love to hear your thoughts. 🙂

Featured image from beautifulufitnessuniversity.com 

Day 1: Your Feelings Matter

Hello!

This is 60 Seconds with Dasist Winter.  🙂

One thing that has been on my mind lately is accepting your feelings. Sometimes you have a range of dark emotions like anger, sadness, and frustration, and the people around you may want you to suppress those feelings.

They send unspoken signals that your sadness or frustration is directly or indirectly affecting them and that you need to get that shit under control.

Sometimes you avoid being around people because of this very reason. Or worse, you take their advice and stop feeling.

This is wrong. Give yourself the time to get your frustrations, anger, sadness or whatever dark vibes out, in a responsible way, of course. In other words, don’t be afraid to feel because your feelings are valid.

Again, Your. Feelings. Are. Valid. Cry, yell, scream: express them in a way you need to for the time you need to, even if you must do it alone, without feeling embarrassed or ashamed.

Just get them out and you can move on to recovery.

And that’s 60 seconds.

 

Stay amazing. ❤

Picture the Face of Freedom

Picture the face of freedom for one moment. Don’t give it a passing glance, but let’s carve out a piece of time for it in this life, this brief walk often burdened with sorrow, anger, and pain, this flickering flame bursting also with joy, laughter, and the love of family, friends, neighbors, even passing strangers.

Stare into freedom’s eyes and listen to what it has to say, to offer, to what it can show us, the most integral part of not only its survival, but also its triumph.

Freedom is waking up alive in the morning and moving through the start of the day without worrying whether we’ll return home alive after we’ve stepped out the door, gone to work or school, after we’ve completed our day. It’s embracing our loved ones without fearing for their lives, without thinking, “Will she come home? Will I have to claim his body? Will they be safe?”

Instead, our thoughts are full with the nuances of life, of what we need to accomplish, of where we need to go, of what we hope to realize for our loved ones and ourselves.

Freedom is reading and watching the news and seeing justice paid in full, of trusting the collective conscience of our fellow citizens, not only a faction. It’s everyone agreeing we must hold those in power responsible for the grievances and sufferings of our fellow neighbors, no matter how they identify.

It’s making sure there are concrete consequences for breaking that sacred trust, that unspoken pact among humans to do no harm, to be free and let others be free.

If we doubt our neighbor, if we fear or hate those who call the same country home, this planet home, we’re not free; we don’t know freedom.

Freedom is pursuing life without fear.

It’s not holding our stomach from hunger pains, or struggling to feed ourselves or loved ones. It’s not dying from lack of access to healthcare, or having nothing because we gave everything we had to stay alive one more day, only to realize this extra day holds no hope or purpose. It’s not being forced to make decisions detrimental to our well being or that of others, of people we love, in order to survive in a system, in a government determined to destroy us, in a government insistent on stalling our progress and that of our children and grandchildren. Freedom isn’t losing our human dignity because we had no one or nothing.

Freedom is receiving an education liberating our minds, instead of confining our hands.

Freedom is having one more chance even when we make minor mistakes. It’s restoration, not eternal damnation.

Freedom is knowing compassion and giving compassion.

We may think we have freedom if we enjoy the comforts of financial security, supportive family and friends, and shelter from the attacks thrown at our less privileged neighbors. Insulated from the cries of the outside world, from the cries coming from our own backyard, we move through life, deaf and blind, silent to the sufferings of our fellow citizens, or worse, defending those in power who oppress and harm them. Instead of placing our trust in our our fellow humans, we’ve placed your trust in the system, in the powers that have time and time again broken the sacred pact to protect, serve, and uplift.

And because those in power have not paid the high price of abusing that sacred human pact, we shake our heads in shock as the world deteriorates, as freedom wanders farther and farther away from humanity, as more and more people grow angry and restless, some resorting to atrocious acts of violence because that bill has not been paid, an amount counted not in dollars but in the bodies of innocents.

Picture the face of freedom. See it clearly. Grasp its possibilities. Hear what it offers. And know that we do not have freedom.

Because as long as the cries of our fellow woman, man, child, our fellow humans, rises to the skies unheard, without receiving justice long overdue, we will never know freedom.

We only have an illusion of it as our mind and soul is wracked with the guilt of our inaction. An illusion feeding on hopelessness, disdain for humanity, and a lack of vision. Feeding on lies manufactured by those in power. Feeding on our stubbornness to not stare freedom in the face and imagine a future where freedom is finally real in the lives of the people.

Picture the face of freedom. And know and believe it’s worth fighting for.

Patience or Waiting to Live?

“The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter.”
― Paulo Coelho, Veronika Decides to Die

PATIENCE has been on my mind, its feelers rummaging through my brain, reminding me of its scalding presence in my life. I breathe its stinging fumes in the morning as I awaken and condemn the day before it has even started. My eyes open and I ask myself two obligatory questions, my passwords to re-entering the land of the living:

“Are you okay?”

“No.”

“When will you be okay?”

“I don’t know.”

Cranking all the levers in my mind, body, and soul to attempt interactions beyond mere existence, I wonder if I’m waiting for something good to happen before I can be “okay”.

Sometimes reality is like wading through waist deep Jell-O, the icky kind that reminds you of the gooey part of a skateboarder’s scraped knee. Encased in this blob of never-ending red, time becomes a hundred times slower, and each step I take gets me nowhere closer to my destination. I’m tempted to fall back into the Jell-O, allowing the jiggling clumps to fill my lungs and drown me. But my ambition is stronger than my pain and drags my tired feet forward.

Patience isn’t my friend. We wrestle, argue, and plot to kill each other while the other sleeps. I hate its life lessons because it’s oblivious to the millions of needles stabbing my spine. The pain steals my focus from whatever nugget of supernatural wisdom patience offers its victims. And yet, I endure it, letting it rule my life because without patience, I would be dead.

That’s our pact: I carry you on my back, and you keep me breathing to open my eyes to another day.

Patience isn’t waiting. But I wait anyway, stupidly, like a naïve teenager still checking the chimney for Santa Claus. Waiting is poison, the lesser, weaker form of patience, preying on crushed hearts too jittery and scared to succumb to the deep cuts of patience.

I wait for no one and nothing. I wait for everyone and everything. I wait, contradicting myself over and over, bumping my sound philosophies against my irrational fears. I’m a walking storm, full of tornadoes, hurricanes, and tsunamis on the inside, but a fragile façade of calmness and forced cheeriness on the outside.

I wait, losing time in the present, forgetting to live, experiencing every cell in my body age, die, get replaced, repeat. Clouds race in maddening speed overhead; the sun and moon rise and set, circling like the braying horses on a merry-go-round. Life fast-forwards around me while I’m stuck trudging through nasty, red Jell-O.

Patience isn’t peace, but like patience, peace is a choice. Patience hurts. Peace doesn’t. When I run out of time, peace smothers my irrational fears, barring them from transforming into the debilitating lies posing as truths intent on ripping my sanity to shreds. Patience helps me bear the torture, allowing me to stay conscious for every sadistic twist and stab of the knife.

I hate patience, but without it, I could never be a writer, and writing is the lifeblood of my existence. So patience and I have been intricately linked since I started writing stories at eight. When I sit to work on a novel or a short story, more so a novel, I can’t rely on motivation and discipline alone. Something much more significant, much more profound and powerful, carries me from the first line to the final word, from one round of edits to the final round, from idea to creation. Hope, the child of patience.

Although I work hard to keep it at bay, I love hope. It’s a tiny gem, not worth a prolonged glance, but it has enough strength to pull more than 80,000 words from the stormy mess that’s my mind. I can’t harness the power of hope without accepting the pain of patience. Hope keeps me human while patience wards off the beast. There’s a difference. Trust me. I give up a million times in my head, wishing I could hang up the NO VACANCY sign on my body. Please look elsewhere to affirm your existence. So many things I want to say, but I can’t because I’m a highly functioning human being. It’s naïve, but hope seasons the bland tasks of operating through this life, through adulthood.

The dangerous side of patience is daydreaming, the enticing promises we whisper to ourselves, the melting of reality for the sweet core of fantasy. I live half my life in a daydream, setting my mind free and wild to conjure the most pleasurable experiences and adventures. I dance in my room and the kitchen to music only I can hear, to beats others would find too abrasive or weird. Everybody should dance no matter their ability; sometimes only our bodies can express the feelings overwhelming our hearts.

The fantasy is addictive, like sugar, cocaine. Feels good but will destroy the body and mind in time. Too bad it thrives best in the hardest swells of patience, in the moments when life’s the tightest, most constricting, most painful. Sometimes fantasy’s everything keeping me dancing. But it’s not hope. Fantasy is a big, beautiful diamond, yet useless, empty, a precursor to deep disillusionment, cynicism, and stubborn darkness. I indulge in fantasy while knowing its true face and lies. If I don’t rip my fingers away from its grip, no writing gets done because writing lives in the realm of reality.

I’m a creative so my whole life is patience. I hate it but my hands fit in all its curves and grooves in ways more intimate than an eager lover. I’m not patience’s slave nor its owner; we live organically as two separate entities bound until death—for as long as I plan to be a writer.

What’s your relationship with patience? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comment section below. And don’t forget to share if you liked this post.

Featured image: Aeonium by Russ Mills aka Byroglyphics. Purchase the image here. 

PITCHWARS PIMP MY BIO

Howdy! Welcome to my #PimpMyBio page for #PITCHWARS 2016. Woot woot! Writers from all over the world enter their works for a chance to win the help of a mentor. Why is that awesome? Because these amazing mentors whip a mentee’s manuscript into tip top form for the Agent Round. Hello? Awesome opportunity? You betcha! (I swear I’m not related to Sarah Palin). Anyway, learn more about it from the incredible Brenda Drake’s website here. Also, give some love to the other bios at Lana Pattinson’s how to page here.

ABOUT ME:

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G’day! >>>> My writing face. >_<

Call me Samantha. Born and raised in Boston, I attended a small Catholic school in Dorchester called St. Kevin’s. In third grade, I wrote a story about a bunny detective trying to save the world from an evil mastermind. My teacher, Ms. Bess, loved it and read it aloud to the whole class. My fellow classmates clapped and cheered, and thus began my lifelong journey of writing, books, and chasing dreams.

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I’ve failed countless times in publishing my stories, but I’ve never given up because writing is my world, my passion, my life—everything. I’m serious. Writing helped me survived high school, college, graduate school, and post-school life. Writing is how I survive every day. When I’m depressed, I write. When I’m happy, I write. When I’m excited, I write. I think you get the picture.

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With writing, I’m unstoppable, like a Shinkansen (high-speed train from Japan) rocketing to her dreams.

When I’m not swimming in books and writing, I’m Netflixing, playing story video games, teaching (my second love), traveling, and talking to my little brother about everything. He’s my hero. I’d do anything for him. My relationship with my brother is why I enjoy writing and reading stories with strong sibling relationships, biological or not. I’m also a big fan of stories with friendships, and I blame anime for that—we can do it, together! Ganbatte! (Japanese: Do your best!) *friendship hugs*

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This is my third time entering Pitchwars! YAY!

FAVORITE CHILDHOOD BOOKS: His Dark Materials series, The Giver, Bridge to Terabithia, the Secret Garden, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, and Narnia Chronicles. I also read a lot historical MG/YA fiction about the Civil Right movement and Holocaust in middle school. I always loved history as a kid. Still do sometimes.

ABOUT MY MS:

It’s five years ago. I’m in grad school in NYC, Columbia, studying sociology of education. One strange night, I have a horrible nightmare. I’m in a different body. My lips are sewn shut so I can only moan. My surroundings are a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I’m wandering around, scared as hell, and I find a small boy. A voice from nowhere says: protect him. The boy turns around and stares at me with these shining silver eyes. And then I wake up. Seriously. True story.

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What do I do? I jump to my computer and write out everything from the nightmare. I turn it into a story and get five pages. I stop there and eventually forget about it.

It’s last summer. I finished watching Mad Max: Fury Road, and I absolutely loved it! And for some strange reason, I’m reminded of this old story I started back in grad school. I get an incredible rush to write it, to finish the story. After three rewrites and revisions, I get the story down and a title: THE MOON’S EDGE.

So what’s it about?

Alyssira Beaulieu goes from high school senior to soldier when forced to survive in a post-apocalyptic Boston. She might have to cross a dangerous wasteland to retrieve a journal capable of dismantling the evil Moon Empire and thwarting their plans to sell Earth to an alien race. That is unless she chooses to fight an equally dangerous battle with her fellow soldiers instead.

WISHES: I would really love a potential mentor to help me with plotting and pacing, along with word economy and choice. I can be wordy sometimes, and it can be hard for me to catch that on my own. I’d also like help with whether my characters’ actions/reactions are logical. My brain works differently in what I think would be an appropriate response to some things.

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WHY YOU SHOULD PICK ME:

First: If you love sci-fi stories about queer kickass heroines who mess up big-time, heroines that are stubborn, frank, and humorous (some humor is important to me so let me know if I’m funny or not ^^), then you’ll enjoy MOON’S EDGE. Also, I have a great cast of supporting characters: love interests, friends, a hot dude who bakes pies, and a growing sibling relationship.

Group dynamics are really important to me in a story, so if you could help me improve that, I’d be forever grateful. Also, my story has a BIG fantastical element, so it’s more like SF/F. If you don’t mind or rather enjoy the two together in one story, then I think you’ll enjoy my manuscript.

 

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My story takes place in noir type cyberpunk city.

 

Second: I work hard. I’m not sensitive. I take critiques and use it to turn whatever I have into gold. With the right mentor, I know we can make gold. Rip me to shreds, and I’ll do everything I can to show you how much better I can be. I’m an Aries, we love challenges. MISSION: ACCEPTED.

 

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Proud to be an Aries. Go Team Valor!

Third: Despite all the passion, I’m really chill and love cracking jokes, even if they’re bad or corny. So if you have a good sense of humor, then let’s make bad jokes together. 😀

All right, let’s get this started!

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Featured image by Marek Okon @ Sci-fi Fantasy Horror