I should use that as a start to a short story sometime. *mental note*
I digress, and it’s only one sentence in. I swear to god I’m taking the medication to help me focus. Which, I suppose, is a good place to start. I’ve been working very hard the last few months to get back into my groove after several years of being pretty much not grooving, and I feel that now is a good time to bring you all, Dear Readers, into my particular loop.
In 2011 I turned 40. Life was zipping along at that point: I was taking studio classes at a craft college and learning a ton about fiber arts; I was writing a lot, though pushing deadline pretty hard (twice that year I wrote a novel in a month. I do not recommend this.); I had spent the four months leading up to my birthday living in a renovation zone while my bedroom and two bathrooms were gutted and rebuilt–the reno was completed 45 minutes before my birthday party that night. My contractor finished painting, went home and showered, and came back for the party. Oh, and I adopted a puppy. That was February.
By that summer I was having a lot of trouble with general function and my doctor started testing me for autoimmune disorders, MS, lupus, thyroid disease. I was sleeping 16 hours a day. I had lost my ability to prioritize and extrapolate. I would look at my planner, see it was the day to deep clean the kitchen, and call my husband at his job to ask him how.
I had two teenagers, one of whom was having major issues of his own, so I used all my resources to advocate for him, relentlessly. I slept, I rested, I worked for him, and I drove myself to a million doctors appointments and blood draws.
I stopped art and writing. After a couple of years I actively got rid of supplies for projects I knew I would never be able to manage. I found that it was easy to say no to social obligations that I didn’t want to do, but I’d reached the stage where I had to say no to things I really wanted to do. I gave away or sold looms both large and small, all my supplies for dyeing, all my felting equipment. I retreated into the dark.
By this time we had determined that there wasn’t anything horrible going on with my immune system or thyroid, and I was taking medication for anxiety. That helped a ton. I was able to get an actual job. I worked for three years at a gym, part time. I was sort of half assed getting exercise. Physically, I was still sleeping a lot but it was more like ten or eleven hours rather than sixteen.
Tried to write, couldn’t. Got another job which was okay. Gained a ton of weight. Drank a lot.
I tried hard to write, actually. At one point in the past few years I was supposed to produce a four book series for a press, but after a year of writing crap I had to bow out. That was truly awful and humiliating.
I gave up on ever making story again. I stopped saying I was a writer, and actively discouraged people from saying it. I hadn’t written in years, and I couldn’t even manage the pretty simple business of getting my back catalogue up on Amazon. The whole process was beyond me. A couple of attempts to get back into things via conferences and meetings were a flash of light in the dark, but not enough to actually work. So I switched to a full time day job, watched TV and became Not Really Me.
Then I started hearing voices.
Let me tell you, that shit is scary. It was like picking up the phone on a party line and hearing someone else’s conversation. The words were boring and never meant anything at all, but the scary part was having absolutely no connection to it, no engagement of my imagination. I was entirely separately from the process that occurred to create the sounds in my head.
So I went back to the doctor who sent me to the hospital for a meeting with a psychiatrist. It was a one hour medication review (well, 90 minutes) with the intention of him going over my meds and the symptoms I was having (barely functional, definite anxiety, depression, and now the excitement of voices) and suggesting the needed changes. We talked, he asked me a million questions, and by the end of that meeting I walked out with:
- The voices were not a thing to worry about. They happen sometimes, usually when people are falling asleep or waking up, and are not indicative (given all my other answers and history) of any kind of psychosis in my case. They were a ‘blip’ of a kind.
- I certainly had anxiety and a lot of trouble managing my mind because…..
- ….I had been living with untreated ADHD for god knows how long, and my brain had come up with a million ways to help me manage and cope with that. And it was all coming tumbling down by degrees because it’s HARD for a brain to do all that forever.
I went from there back to my doctor a week later and thence to my pharmacist (who, side note, is amazing and answers all my questions every time I call him) who gave me stimulants and a promise that it would change my life. I told him that I certainly hoped so, since the current version was kind of sucky.
Three days later I read a book, cover to cover, for the first time in seven years.
aaaaand I just burst into tears again. For the lost years. For the regret and pain and loss. For not getting to the bottom of things sooner. For the sheer joy of being able to do it again.
Within two weeks I was writing. And not a sentence or two. I was filling pages, researching, developing plots and reaching for Story.
At three weeks I was making a massive To Do list to get my sites updated, back catalogue published, books formatted, a social media strategy in place, a timeline to become a full time writer again and less time office manager.
Now here I am. Its now month three. The websites are all up and live. The social media plan needs work (uh, hi. This is me being social?), but the back catalogue is moving along in edits and formatting, and slowly making its way to Amazon. I’ve begun uploading to Smashwords and will be creating universal links for my websites, so the direct links to books will be shifting over the next while as that happens.
The next book is going to be awesome. I’ll fill you in on that next, along with ‘who the heck is Sarah MacLeod? Sarah Owen? What the heck is going on here?’. For now, though, there’s this. I was ill. Now it’s managed a bit better and the re-emergence of me is an ongoing process (not without it’s stumbles, to be honest).
I am friends with Words again. I hope that you, Dear Reader, will enjoy them.