March 20, 2017Mental Health


Since December I’ve suffered through the winter blues, which consisted mostly of feeling anxious of having to walk the dogs through the snow and ice and not slip and break a leg or an arm.

But I’ve also experienced some mild anxiety where I’m convinced that I’m about to have a heart attack. I reckon I associate winter with heart disease because Greg died of a massive coronary in late November.

Shortly after he passed, I joined a Facebook grieving group and I was told that panic/anxiety attacks would be my new normal and to accept it. I was appalled to read that and I thought it was a sign of weakness. But as I’ve learned these past few months, panic or anxiety attacks can be triggered by many things. Mine are triggered by Greg and Donald Trump’s shared misogyny, bigotry and xenophobia.

It turns out that during the time I lived with Greg, I bottled up a lot of feelings. He was a difficult person and the times I needed to talk things out with him, he dismissed how I felt attributing them to “silly female worries”  Although he’s been gone for almost a year-and-one-half, much of the anger and frustration manifested itself into anxiety attacks. With the exception of one visit to the ER, I’ve weathered through the stress, but it has left its mark: my blood pressure is high, and the doctor prescribed 100 mg metoprolol to take daily. Apart from treating high blood pressure, metoprolol is also used to for anxiety. So I’m on a multipurpose medication. Yay me (written in a sarcastic tone).

I’ve been on the metoprolol for three weeks and I’ve noticed a significant change. I’m not as anxious. I don’t seem to ruminate as much as I did. However, I’ve also noticed a few things and that’s the obsessive need to research every ache and pain. I discovered that in spite of joking about my hypochondria, it’s in fact an anxiety disorder. One that I’ve had since dealing with my precancer bout.

So I made a pact with myself: I take my medicine, I meditate, I exercise, I acknowledge the anxiety when I experience it, but I don’t dwell on it. If I have some physical discomfort, I don’t go running to WebMD to look up the symptoms. That feeds the disorder, drives my blood pressure up, and  ruins the entire day.

My next step is to see a therapist for some talk therapy. I know I have to work through several issues—one is the anger with myself for staying in a relationship that physically and emotionally harmed me, and another is this newfound fear and uncertainty that seems to accompany me everywhere I go.

Although I tend to be patient with others, I’m not very patient with myself. But to accept and defeat this, I know I’ll have to tell the fear to get lost because there are books to be written, people to meet, places to travel and live a full and happy life.

Journaling and Brainstorming

March 13, 2017The 'Julius' Chronicles

For almost two years I’ve been consistent with keeping a daily journal where I jot down my great thoughts. They’ve mostly been ramblings concerning finances, health, work, and the usual things I tend to obsess about. But on the occasions I get bored with the same subject matter and veer away from it, I brainstorm story ideas for Julius.

In my last post I mentioned a scene I was debating to delete, but decided to keep. The question was why did I want to keep it, and what would it add to the story. I asked myself several questions and by the end of my internal interrogation, I discovered I had added another layer of complexity that relates to idealism but also its corruption. I didn’t expect to stumble into those prickly brambles of political ideology and have my main character question the beliefs of the men and women she admired, but now I’ve crossed that line and I’m waiting to see if she’ll accept those questionable acts or repudiate them.

As I approach year nine of working on this story, I’ve realized that it’s not as cut and dry as I wanted it to be when I first began to write it. In the past year, I’ve seen how the characters have further developed; they’re now more comfortable showing me their fears as well as their triumphs. I’ve also discovered that one character, whose behavior, at best, has been questionable, tried to redeem himself.

So after these major discoveries am I closer to typing “The End”? As much as I would like to say yes, I’ll leave it more as a maybe. There are still some more discoveries to be made…

Spy vs. Spy

March 8, 2017The 'Julius' Chronicles

If you’re a fan of MAD Magazine, you might remember the “Spy vs. Spy” wordless comic strip of the two spies with long beaked faces—one dressed in black, and the other one in white—who were always trying to outwit each other.

As Julius progresses, I’ve been thinking a lot about these two comic spies, as well as what’s happening in our current political arena and the various players who have been involved in meetings and conversations with the Russians. You might be wondering whether I am gleefully rubbing my hands reading the news about the presumed exploits of this current administration and the happenings with the Russians. I am because it is great fodder. Who would have thought that we have a sitting president who buys into conspiracy theories and has Twitter rages?

On Twitter, I follow Rogue POTUS Staff who have tweeted often about the Russian debacle. The most recent tweet was a brief explanation about what makes an agent. According to them it’s anyone secretly working against the country in favor, or under the control, of a foreign government. It’s a straight forward definition, which applies to a specific scene in Julius.

I’ve been going back and forth whether to keep or chuck the scene. If I keep it, there’s the potential of opening doors that I might not want to walk through further complicating the story. If I chuck it, the demise of a certain character doesn’t make sense. I want to show the power plays and the manipulations between two characters who still live on that chessboard of the Cold War. Therefore, keeping the scene makes sense. I can have a some fun with what follows, in spite of the myriad of complications, and hope it doesn’t end up coming across as ridiculous, but then again can it be even more ridiculous than this?