bonus bliss

I know exactly what it is that I would have missed had any of my suicide attempts proven fatal.

They are moments that sprouted despite the harsh cold winters of my death wish and the constant shadow of my depression.

These are moments that I cherish. That I am grateful for every single day.

They are the bonus footage on the DVD of my life. I did not expect them.

In fact I thought they’d never come. And because of this, they are all the sweeter.

a-moment-of-forfeit-joy

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THE END.

I just wrote the entire ending of my screenplay.

The last third of it. All in one sitting. All the way to THE END PERIOD.

I’m still kind of in shock.

I didn’t think today was going to be a writing day. I had planned to finish reading The Disappointments Room screenplay and see where that left me. I should have known.

The haunting nature of the screenplay left me with an uncomfortable knot in my chest. There are some difficult themes involved that I’m particularly sensitive to. In that uncomfortable space, I thought to myself. “I should write the fire.”

I knew it was coming. I knew it needed to be done. And I knew it wouldn’t be easy.

I was 5 months pregnant and alone when I was woken up and told there was a fire.

I watched my home burn down while my daughter kicked in my stomach.

It’s a difficult position to find yourself in and distressing to revisit to write about. But I did. Because of the frame of mind reading his screenplay left me in, I sat down and the whole thing poured out of me.

And I didn’t stop. The catharsis of vomiting out this part of my past, left me vulnerable and emotional and nostalgic enough to write the last scenes. It’s incredible.

I’m not sure muse or hero quite cut it. I owe all of this to him. He has inspired me to do all of this. Every word I’ve written is because of him. I hope he knows what a difference he is making. I want him to know how important he is, and how grateful I am for him.

Thank you, W. With love and admiration, R.

little inner horror stories

Bipolar Disorder is the foundation of my mental health issues. I’ll preface this by saying that I was not diagnosed until I was 19 years old.

My mom says she should have noticed it when I was a kid because I had 2 nicknames. I was her sunshine and I was her stormcloud.

I continued to be her sunshine and very slowly started spackling over the storm clouds. I pretended to be happy all the time. By the time I hit middle school, I never looked how I felt. I’d succeeded in shrouding my serious depression in a family placating constant smile.

I have had my fair share of the mania caused by my bipolar disorder. But to me personally, the depression and subsequent 25 year death wish that I lived with have always been much more a struggle for me to deal with.

I have these little horror stories in me. Some of them I caused, I created and I kept. Some of them I only allowed to happen to me. No matter the source, the cause or consequence, I don’t want to keep these secrets in my chest anymore. So here is my first essay.

firstattemptessay

Balance

Don’t let the 48 minute run time scare you. That is in fact, one of the greatest attributes of this video. It is 48 beautiful, inspiring, thought provoking minutes of… Well, I was going to call him my muse again, which he very much is, but I think the more accurate word right now is hero. It is 48 minutes of Wentworth Miller, intelligent, articulate and incredibly frank, discussing mental health and illness stigma, artistic and personal integrity, fighting against self-imposed perfectionism, self-care, and self-speak.

The semi-autobiographical screenplay I’m writing takes me back to a dark place. Darker than I remember it being. I’ve blotted a lot of it out. It takes me back to a place blackened by words such as infidelity, abuse, isolation, gaslighting, heartbreak, divorce, depression, and suicidal ideation.

In the end, the screenplay is triumphant in tone but it starts out tragically and I severely underestimated how much revisiting I would have to do to make it believable on the page. It’s been difficult to submerge myself back into that black, black part of my life and yesterday, after a particularly productive writing binge, I knew I needed to stop. I could have continued vomiting soul out onto my keyboard but I knew, I felt, that I was getting too deep. So I stopped.

When I thought about what kind of self-care it was that I needed right then, that video, the Oxford Union interview popped right into my head. And it was perfect. It helped me settle back into the present. It helped soothe my aching soul, in a way that I was learning again how to care for and appreciate myself in the way that I should.

If you’re reading this, do me a favor. Take a moment (48 moments actually) and watch the video. Contribute to your own self-care. I guarantee you, you’ll find something in it yourself.

Inspiration

I had a realization yesterday that should have occurred to me before. It’s not really surprising that I went a year between blog posts because I went a year between major depressive episodes. There was a time in my life (prior to my cognitive dysfunction) that I could write anytime, and anywhere. My biggest problem was the coming up with the anything. I didn’t know what to write. I always claimed that I wrote the best research papers but hadn’t been able to write anything original yet. It seems that since the traumatic brain injury, I can only write when I am depressed.

Which is kind of a disheartening realization because writing had been such an important part of my previous life. I guess it’s good to have this outlet during my depressions but I have felt the void of it in my life when my mental health is more stable and healthy. It doesn’t quite seem fair that being content should deprive me of one of my favorite past times. On the other hand, is that too high a price for contentment when it’s escaped my grasp for so much of my life? Two sides to every coin.

There was a time, 6 or so years ago that I actually had a novel idea. For a novel, in fact. It was shortly after my daughter was born and the idea was for a children’s book. I was shocked that this happened and eagerly starting researching and laying out character ideas. This was about the time that my mind started to fail me. I’ll cover that journey a different time but long story short, I couldn’t make any headway and eventually gave up on the idea of pursuing it any further due to my incapacitation.

But now, I’ve started to write again. First the most recent blog post. Then I read 2 screenplays, Stoker (fantastic) and it’s prequel Uncle Charlie (amazing). I realized that while I might not have the capacity to write a novel anymore (too many words I don’t have anymore, too much detail that would hurt my mind to come up with, too much time and focus required), I could write a screenplay. They are more immediate. Simply feelings and situations and dialogue without all the detailed descriptions of emotion, motivation, backstory and world building necessary for the kind of novel I wanted to write. I believe myself capable of this goal. Those are two things that I’ve grown unfamiliar with. Having a goal and feeling myself capable.

But a distant but familiar problem arose. What the hell was I going to write about? What do I know about screenplay writing? What do I know about making movies? I went to bed last night, with a knot in my chest full of my desire to write something but completely at a loss as to what that could be.

Cut to me waking up in the middle of the night. Having taken my sleep medication again (another story for another time) I lay there, hearing my heart beating, feeling my body breathing and relaxing my muscles in preparation for sleeping again, I started thinking about what it is that I know. What it is in my life for which I would have passion and devotion and the words to express. Like it was floating out of my subconscious, it hit me. I already had a screenplay inside me. I started to think of the details of 2008, one of most eventful years of my life. It started out the worst year I could imagine and ended on such a joyous note. Without any scheming or contriving, the plot perfectly lay itself out in my mind. I have to say, I was overjoyed. I immediately saw the first scene and then the last. It was hard to sleep after that, with so much whirling through my head, but sleep I did (eventually) and first thing this morning I pulled out my laptop and started to write.

I have scenes set out for the first and second acts, character profiles started, important conversations mapped and the first scene started. I have a lot of work to do. I have a lot of research to do. But I have a goal! I have a plan! I have a passion again! And even though my body is still depressed and my chest is full of anxiety, I have this kernel in my head made up of satisfaction and expectation and initiative. Even a little bit of joy.

But will I be able to write if I’m not depressed? Will I have the motivation to seek an outlet if I reach contentment again? For now, that remains to be seen. Maybe it will be different now having a concrete goal and an idea that I’m so excited about. Even if it never comes to anything, I miss the feeling of accomplishment and look forward to feeling that again. Even if it’s in bits and pieces. One thing I know for sure is that I want this. I really do. Every bit of determination in me, that has had nothing to work toward for the last 3 years, is rearing and ready to go. I’m ready. And I’m gonna do this.