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Bullied

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I feel like I am being called to write. And while it is fun to write about sexy men and innocent girls getting jiggy wit it, that may not be all that I am meant to do with my abilities.

You may have noticed that Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom had an undercurrent of living with bullying, and how to try to find your place as a person beyond it. If you missed that, then obviously you have led a charmed life, because I feel like everyone experiences it at some level some time.

I experienced bullying since I started school. Back then it was brushed off as teasing. While it got better in high school and college, I still experienced it, even as an adult. But episodes are fewer and farther between. I have a specific experience at one of my places of employment that I can’t forget. And she got written into a story. So did all the others. Because that is what writers do.

“ Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.”
 Harvey Fierstein

Bullying touches every one of us. Either you have been bullied, you have bullied, or you have been a witness to it. Yet, until recently, it wasn’t talked about. It was just like acne. It was something that just naturally happened to you, that you were forced to live through.

Even now, my viewpoint can shift like an empty swing in a strong wind: Are we meant to be left to survival of the fittest, as happens in the animal kingdom? Or are we as humans more evolved than that? Are we meant for more? What would the world look like if we all offered each other a hand up instead of pushing those we view as weaker down?

“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”
– W.C. Fields

Ginny’s story is the first of three stand-alone books I have planned that will illustrate three different women and how they deal with the bullying and the after effects…badly. Because, let’s face it, that is more interesting to read. And you may find it cathartic.

(For those of you who have read Troll Gurl, know that I will eventually publish a sequel, but that is not one of the future books I speak of here.)

But I want to point out very clearly that I have taken the (semi) healthy approach and chosen to express my own feelings in writing. I don’t want to leak too much about my upcoming stories. But you need to know that just because a character in a book may use violence to deal with the situation, even if it is blowing up a witch, you should never do that in real life.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

The characters in my books feel very alone, isolated. I want that to feel relatable, especially if you currently know or have known in the past the symptoms of anxiety and depression that feel as though they are draining your soul. But Ginny, and the others, all find SOMEONE they can relate to, someone who reaches out a helping hand for them.

I allowed bullying DEFINED ME for 38 years.

I want better for you.

I want you to know that you are not alone. That is why I would like to list a few organizations who can assist if you or a friend or family member is in a time of need.

RESOURCES

NOTE: I have not personally used any of these organizations.

#AuthorsAgainstBullying

This site was suggested to me by an author friend. This is a movement started by an awesome young girl named Belle who has her own blog called Belle’s Beastly Book Blog. There is a great video on there where great authors, many of whom I have met, tell their deeply personal stories of bullying and their journey since. I am not there yet. Maybe, someday, but not now. I tell my stories in tiny bits in my books and disguise them as fiction.

http://bellesbeastlybooks.blogspot.com/search/label/authors%20against%20bullying

Bullies Keep Out

I stumbled across this site on accident one night and it seemed like fate was pointing me to it. I found the video featuring Michael Raymond-James, who I absolutely love. I liked him on True Blood, Once Upon a Time, and Terriers. So much so, that I based the character of Josh Tucker on him in the Riley Sisters books.

And then I decided I needed to speak out about bullying.

Do you see now how this felt like cosmic intervention?

http://www.bullieskeepout.com/

It Gets Better

I had to include this organization because I just love their name. And they are doing some great work. They are geared toward LBGT youth. But I think even if you don’t fit into one of those categories if you poked around their website, there is plenty of helpful information.

http://www.itgetsbetter.org/

As always, if you somehow stumbled on this page and you are having thoughts of suicide, even ones you think are casual, please Please PLEASE call:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Boy, do I wish I could have just Googled that number and had it at my fingertips when I was young.

But I am living proof that it gets better.

We just need the bullies to keep out.

Because I’m an author against bullying.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

The Worry Box

So, I found this app which has meditations that you can download. I have only tried two, one listen each, because I give up easily.

The second one I listened to was called “The Worry Box” by Monica A. Frank. It was all about visualizing a box to put your worries in. Your box could look like whatever you wanted. It should have a lock to keep the worries from escaping. She sl-ow-ly talked about how you would layer things in your box. She talked about different kinds of worries and what ones should go on the bottom and what ones should go on the top. I can’t remember the terminology, but it seemed like one of them were like “unreasonable worries” which were supposed to differ from worries you could action.

Um, if I knew the difference, I wouldn’t be downloading mental health apps, lady.

So, bear in mind, I was listening to this audio as I picked up dog poop in my back yard (luckily, from my own dog). And my mind was like, “Squirrel!

“I should go to Hobby Lobby (I recognize that they aren’t always the most politically correct store, but they have the best craft supplies in town). I could pick out a wooden box. I could paint it up fancy. I could find a tiny little lock to put on it. I could put the key on my keychain as a reminder that the worries are locked way and I am safe from them during the day. I should go now—

“But it is Sunday, and they are closed 😦 ”

After that I zoned out and quit listening to the audio and kept envisioning the awesome box I would make. I liked the idea so much that I started writing down my worries on little slips of paper and trapping them in a box that night. I just had to use a cigar box for a substitute until I could get something better.

I had to work the first part of Monday, and I had promised my mother that I would take her shopping after that. So, I made it to Hobby Lobby and got my things picked out and was waiting in line at closing time.

It almost looks like an old radio in this picture.

It almost looks like an old radio in this picture.

The box I liked did not have a way to put a lock on it and they didn’t sell them there anyway. But the closure fits pretty snugly, so I think those evil suckers will have a problem if they try to pop out of there. My son, the soon-to-be kindergartner, was of course asking me questions. He was so intrigued by the idea (as much as a five year old can be) that he picked out his own box to decorate. He picked out some scrapbooking letters and told me he wanted to use them to put the words “not today” on his box. I thought it was an excellent idea! Of course, he changed his mind by the time he got home, but I liked the idea so much that I used it for myself. I thought it was a very deep observation for a child. Or maybe it is just because it was my child.

Cares, cares away. Never to return.

Cares, cares away. Never to return.

I wanted to paint the box so that just by looking at it, you would not be able to tell that it was made of wood. I mostly succeeded, except I need  to buy some new paint before I can do the bottom. (I wondered why my craft paint was clumpy—some dates back to 1999!) I painted the inside black, to keep those worries calm and quiet. The top & front I painted black and brown, with some gold & silver accents. I made up my own saying for the lid, then translated it into Latin using the Google translator, because the words in Latin just seemed like they would hold more power, sort of reminding me of spells like in the 90s movie The Craft. And if you are a Latin scholar and it doesn’t make sense, don’t write to me. I didn’t use Google for a permanent tattoo, only for a wooden box I keep in my bedroom closet that no one else but me will see. The sides I painted with a mix of brown with red, blue, and purple, respectively, because I could not resist adding some color.

My son's box. He doesn't put his worries in it. He just wanted to paint it.

My son’s box. He doesn’t put his worries in it. He just wanted to paint it.

I am hoping the worry box and the love bubble will be a winning combination. If nothing else, I got to enjoy arts & crafts with my son. Soon he will be all crabby from being at school all day and not interested.

Oh, I almost forgot to show you these cool earrings I made. Sorry, I don’t have a picture where they are not attached to my head.

So retro!

So retro!

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

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Re-Post: I’m SAD

This was originally posted on 3/11/14. But I figured it may be good to share this time of year, as this is when the onset of symptoms tends to happen. Original post can be found here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2014/03/11/im-sad/

I get Seasonal Affective Disorder. I suffered from it long before I ever heard about it on the news. I suffered from it for many more years because I had heard the special lights that could help it were available by prescription only.

I live in cloudy Michigan. It only gets cloudier and more dreary with less daylight hours November through March. Being a fan of the Twilight books, I sometimes like to pretend I live in Forks, Washington, where there are sexy vampires and shirtless werewolves around every corner.

Every year when the Christmas celebration died down and January rolled around, I would write depressing poetry. Or want to quite college. Or quit my job. I didn’t want to get out of bed or laugh or smile. But I did. I faked it. Because I am a Capricorn. Life must have order and go on.

Even at my previous job, when I would walk outside for 30 minutes a day on my breaks and be in the car for two hours Monday through Friday, there still was just not enough sun outside to ease the symptoms. I believe that people who are more prone to depression are probably more sensitive to this. That has been my experience anyway.

Then, a couple years ago, my mother-in-law’s doctor suggested she order a SAD light to use during the winter. His nurse printed off a list of lights that could be ordered off of Amazon (Go figure!). So she ordered and received her light. I kept inquiring to find out if it was helping. It had only been a short time, but she seemed to think that it was.

So, I totally pestered my husband to order me a light as a Christmas present. After studying them all online, I ended up picking the same one that my mother-in-law had. When it arrived at the end of November, I had to convince my husband to start letting me use it right away, as I could already feel the effects of less light creeping into my body. Plus, it is not like it was going to be a surprise. I had told him which one to buy.

And it did seem to help with my symptoms that year, although I think it would have been more effective had I started it earlier. My light is a SunTouch Plus by NatureBright with an ionizer. The instructions say to start with a half hour of light per day, then you might be able to step it down to 15 minutes. I always do a half hour every morning. With a toddler and two dogs, I have trouble staying seated in one spot for 30 minutes straight. And there are always a few days when I forget, or I have to get to work, so some mornings I might only get ten minutes. It is sort of like taking birth control pills. If you miss more than one day, you are going to have serious side effects.

Rainbow bear demonstrating my SAD light

Rainbow bear demonstrating my SAD light

You have to be fairly close to the light to get the benefits, as the lights are only like 15 inches tall. If I try to use my light and my laptop at the same time, it takes up most of my kitchen table width-wise.

Supposedly, the ionizer will help with symptoms as well. I do not use the ionizer at the same time I use the light (it has a separate switch). I don’t like to be that close to the ionizer when it is on. The ionizer has a slight, weird, plasticky smell that makes me feel a little sick. Sometimes I turn it on while I am making dinner or something, and I feel like it freshens up the stale winter air in my house.

I had a scare when my dog knocked my light over and one of the four bulbs quit working. I thought I was going to have to call the company to order a new one. But it turned out that she did not break the bulb, she just knocked it loose.

In a normal winter, it does help. It keeps me from wanting to peel my own skin off. It helps me get out of bed in the morning. But I have felt especially bad in the last few weeks. I think that is because this has been an especially horrible winter, with too much cold and too much snow. Where I live here in Michigan, we have had the snowiest winter on record, combined with that PMS and the death of my hard drive.

While I can’t wait for sunshine and warmth, I dread the ants waking up and crawling into my kitchen, and days over 80 degrees.

SAD-Once

A Cry For Help

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The other day my mom was telling (complaining) about things my son does while she babysits him. She said something to effect of that she was glad she didn’t have a boy, because they are more work than girls. I replied, “I am glad I didn’t have a girl. They have too much drama.” I was thinking of two young girls I know, who I love to death, but they are full of drama. My mother replied, “Oh, like when you took the knife out of the drawer in the kitchen while I was doing dishes and threatened to kill yourself?”

Um, no mother. Not like that at all.

FYI–that was a cry for help that you ignored for 20 years and still apparently don’t even understand in hindsight. She never mentioned the event at the time or anytime in the 20 years since, but this is like the second or third time she has brought it up in the past year. I guess it is her best example of me being a bad kid? Her only memory of me as a teenager?

As a teenager, I hid almost all my real feelings about everything from her, because I didn’t want to hear her negativity. I didn’t even know that was the proper word for it at that time. It was only the early 1990s. The book The Secret would not be published for like another 10 years. If I went so far as to put a knife to my skin in front of her, trust me, it was not for drama. I was dead serious.

If only everyone carried signs...

If only everyone carried signs…

I knew I was depressed my senior year in high school. I wrote school reports about suicide. I read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. All my friends had boyfriends, but I didn’t. No boys even looked at me.  I couldn’t remember how to smile or laugh. I coped by writing bad, depressing poetry. I tried cutting, because my friend did it. But it wasn’t for me. I got no satisfaction from it. I found the song “Everybody Hurts” by REM too painful to listen to–it was too painful to think that others were hurting as much as I was. That there could be that much hurt in the world.

Back to the phone call with my mom. I tried to be brave and actually give her a glimmer of honesty.

ME:  “I wasn’t being dramatic. Did you ever think that I might need some kind of help?”
MOM: “No, you were just being dramatic.”
ME: “No, I wanted to kill myself.”
MOM: “Oh, everyone wants to kill themselves.”

How does one reply to that????

I told her I had to go and hung up on her. She then texted me like eight more times that day as if nothing had happened.

I’m sorry, but you just blew off my feelings from a major, horrible time in my life.

And she will say things like “Be glad you didn’t have my mother. I was a good mother.” How can one argue with that?

And today I have to go and see her and make copies for her. I have to continue to pretend to be the perfect daughter. I have to pretend not to notice that she doesn’t accept anything about me or my life, even though by most accounts I have it together pretty well. I have to pretend that I am not a writer, that I don’t have tattoos, that I don’t have a blog, that I don’t go to church.

It is EXHAUSTING! And within minutes of being in her presence, I usually blow up at her about something stupid. She is clueless as to why. Usually, I am too. But, most likely, it is from the pressure of trying to hide my true self from the ONE person in the world who should accept me no matter what. She thinks she accepted me because she let me dress as Punky Brewster when I was eight. No. At the time she would make comments like she should be ashamed to leave the house with me looking like that. She still says things like that about that time today. That is not accepting. God, good thing I didn’t turn out gay.

"...the ones who accept you for who you are."  So, then I have no biological family?  Nice.

“…the ones who accept you for who you are.” So, then I have no biological family? Nice.

It is no wonder I always felt all alone growing up. That I identified with orphans on TV sitcoms. That I still write stories about girls who feel like they have no one in the world, no matter how big the family I write for them is.

This exchange with my mom made me angry.  Angry for me now.  And sad, for teenage me.

The following started as a writing I did in college, a true reflection of my feelings at the time. I converted it into a piece of the novel I am working on. Please don’t steal it:

If Jane’s suffering showed more outwardly, maybe someone would have reached out to offer her help. But her suffering was mostly silent and invisible to anyone who didn’t already know what her regular personality should be. She wasn’t walking past people in the halls missing an arm, leaving a river of blood behind her. To anyone she passed, it would just look like she was having a bad day. As such, if no one person took interest in her, then no one would realize that one day strung together into two days, which then became a week, a month. Depression was invisible. It made Jane invisible as well.

For another depression writing, click here and read THE DRIVING RAIN at the end of the post:  https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2013/02/26/college-sucked/

I’m SAD

Posted on

I get Seasonal Affective Disorder. I suffered from it long before I ever heard about it on the news. I suffered from it for many more years because I had heard the special lights that could help it were available by prescription only.

I live in cloudy Michigan. It only gets cloudier and more dreary with less daylight hours November through March. Being a fan of the Twilight books, I sometimes like to pretend I live in Forks, Washington, where there are sexy vampires and shirtless werewolves around every corner.

Every year when the Christmas celebration died down and January rolled around, I would write depressing poetry. Or want to quite college. Or quit my job. I didn’t want to get out of bed or laugh or smile. But I did. I faked it. Because I am a Capricorn. Life must have order and go on.

Even at my previous job, when I would walk outside for 30 minutes a day on my breaks and be in the car for two hours Monday through Friday, there still was just not enough sun outside to ease the symptoms.  I believe that people who are more prone to depression are probably more sensitive to this. That has been my experience anyway.

Then, a couple years ago, my mother-in-law’s doctor suggested she order a SAD light to use during the winter. His nurse printed off a list of lights that could be ordered off of Amazon (Go figure!). So she ordered and received her light. I kept inquiring to find out if it was helping. It had only been a short time, but she seemed to think that it was.

So, I totally pestered my husband to order me a light as a Christmas present. After studying them all online, I ended up picking the same one that my mother-in-law had. When it arrived at the end of November, I had to convince my husband to start letting me use it right away, as I could already feel the effects of less light creeping into my body. Plus, it is not like it was going to be a surprise. I had told him which one to buy.

And it did seem to help with my symptoms that year, although I think it would have been more effective had I started it earlier. My light is a SunTouch Plus by NatureBright with an ionizer. The instructions say to start with a half hour of light per day, then you might be able to step it down to 15 minutes. I always do a half hour every morning. With a toddler and two dogs, I have trouble staying seated in one spot for 30 minutes straight. And there are always a few days when I forget, or I have to get to work, so some mornings I might only get ten minutes. It is sort of like taking birth control pills. If you miss more than one day, you are going to have serious side effects.

Rainbow bear demonstrating my SAD light

Rainbow bear demonstrating my SAD light

You have to be fairly close to the light to get the benefits, as the lights are only like 15 inches tall. If I try to use my light and my laptop at the same time, it takes up most of my kitchen table width-wise.

Supposedly, the ionizer will help with symptoms as well. I do not use the ionizer at the same time I use the light (it has a separate switch). I don’t like to be that close to the ionizer when it is on. The ionizer has a slight, weird, plasticky smell that makes me feel a little sick. Sometimes I turn it on while I am making dinner or something, and I feel like it freshens up the stale winter air in my house.

I had a scare when my dog knocked my light over and one of the four bulbs quit working. I thought I was going to have to call the company to order a new one. But it turned out that she did not break the bulb, she just knocked it loose.

In a normal winter, it does help.  It keeps me from wanting to peel my own skin off.  It helps me get out of bed in the morning.  But I have felt especially bad in the last few weeks. I think that is because this has been an especially horrible winter, with too much cold and too much snow. Where I live here in Michigan, we have had the snowiest winter on record, combined with that PMS and the death of my hard drive.

While I can’t wait for sunshine and warmth, I dread the ants waking up and crawling into my kitchen, and days over 80 degrees.

SAD-Once

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