It's time for me to share all the coolest stuff I saw on the internet this last quarter!
First of all, I wanted to share this fantastic language-related video where bilingual people take on Google Translate:
In the writing world, this Tumblr post gives some great advice for white people drawing/writing characters of color. This Tumblr post looks at fictional animal design, while this one looks at the causes of war. This one offers an interesting cheat sheet for how plot, character, and setting interact.
All right, everyone! Today I have a post from Marie Miguel about using online therapy to help treat mental health conditions like OCD.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of online mental health resources with BetterHelp.com. With an interest in and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that can affect anyone of any age, race, gender, and culture. In other words, it can happen to anyone at any time or any place. But what is it exactly? Basically what it sounds like! If you have OCD, you have certain obsessions or compulsions. There are various types and different severities of OCD, which means each person with OCD has their own set of symptoms.
If you have persistent distressing impulses, thoughts, or images that you cannot control, you may be suffering from OCD. In many cases, the obsessions are irrational, figments of your imagination, but you cannot convince yourself of this even if you logically know it to be true. For example, you may obsess about being contaminated if you go out in public, or you may think something bad will happen if you do not line up your shoes in order of color. Logically, you know this doesn't make sense, but there's enough doubt that your brain is able to continue obsessing about it.
I've always considered myself pretty knowledgeable when it comes to mental illness. Psychology, after all, is one of my main interests. However, my big project for my final class, a LibGuide for teens about mental health, taught me a lot I didn't know. Categorizations have changed a lot over time, and there were many conditions I came across that I hadn't heard of before. In fact, the amount of work I expected the project to take ended up at least tripled because I had to keep revising my organizational structure. Not only were there many changes in the official DSM structure in 2013, but there are a number of conditions that cross categories.
More than anything, the project made me consider how arbitrary human categories and labels can be, at least when it comes to health. It's something I've experienced in my own life, and it's something I could see in this project. It makes sense, of course. The mind and the body existed long before we gave them names, and the lines we like to draw, the boxes we create, don't exist in nature.
Language means a lot to me, as a writer and a person. The names and labels we use grant us power over the world and ourselves. They make it easier to understand our lives. I think it's important that we have that. Yet language (and science) is imperfect, and it's important to recognize that there are areas where the lines start to blur and our categorizations fail. Just because things, or people, don't exactly fit into established parameters doesn't mean they don't exist.
This is the second of two parts (thus far) of my "official" story about living with chronic illness. Read part one, "Fibromyalgia: My Story" here. This also acts as a kind of part two to my mental illness story, "Obsessive-Compulsive: My Story," which can be found here.
*Contains discussion of suicidal thoughts*
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is a medical condition characterized by long-term fatigue and other long-term symptoms that limit a person's ability to carry out ordinary daily activities.
Interstitial cystitis (IC), also known as bladder pain syndrome (BPS), is a type of chronic pain that affects the bladder. Symptoms include feeling the need to urinate right away, needing to urinate often, and pain with sex. IC/BPS is associated with depression and lower quality of life.
Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) is a condition in which a change from lying to standing causes an abnormally large increase in heart rate. This occurs with symptoms that may include lightheadedness, trouble thinking, blurry vision, or weakness.
-- via Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
As of next month, it will have been four years since CUCUY (originally titled SAMMI), the most recent original novel I've written, first came into being.
Well, the high of WriteOnCon has passed, and I have realized that I need to make some massive edits on CUCUY, removing something that was originally a big part of the manuscript. It's gonna be a lot of work. I don't mind that, really (mostly), but I do worry I'll be passing my "deadline" with my betas/CPs again. I guess we'll see!
Today, in honor of Valentine's Day, I wanted to talk about OCD and romance.
*Contains mentions of sexual harassment/assault and suicide*
As you know from my On This Day in My History posts, I keep a diary. But to just say that I keep a diary is a bit of an understatement. I've been writing diaries since kindergarten, in fact, although it didn't become a regular habit until fifth or sixth grade. As of today, I've been through over 75 notebooks, and my transcribed journals (up to about halfway through 2013), are approximately 5,000 Times New Roman 1.5 spaced pages in total. 5,000 pages! And that's after spending October and November reformatting in order to cut down on length.
Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a book blog tag hosted by The Broke and the Bookish! Today, I'm going to share my Top Ten More YA Novels About Mental Illness, adding on to the thirteen I recommended in this earlier post. Check them out!
1) Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. This is a truly fantastic YA contemporary about a boy in treatment for schizophrenia, written in a riotous, confusing manner that puts you right in the head of the patient. It's a well-deserved National Book Award winner.
2) Underwater by Marisa Reichardt. This beautifully paced YA contemporary explores the situation of a girl suffering from agoraphobia after a trauma. Like Challenger Deep, it does a great job of getting you in the mindset of the mentally ill individual so that you can better understand.
3) Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King. This odd YA magical realism tells the story of a girl suffering from depression and a bad home life and how she starts seeing different versions of herself from throughout time as she tries to come to terms with her situation.
Hey, guys! So this is sort of a follow-up on my last fibromyalgia post.
*Contains mention of suicidal thoughts*
As you know, I’ve been struggling a lot the past year with my fibromyalgia, which has been worsening basically since I first developed it, in 2009. It took a few big leaps in the last couple years, and since I graduated from college, I’ve been much, much sicker.
All right, I think today would be a good day for a blog tag. I saw this one a while back on Paper Riot, and it looks kinda fun! Fifteen somewhat unusual personal questions that I shall answer forthwith.
1) A nickname you get called
"Kiwi" is the one that's stuck around the longest. I don't know how, but most of my friend groups have managed to stumble across it independent of each other. I guess I'm really reminiscent of a fuzzy fruit? My writing friends also like to call me "The Chosen One" as a joke, which I 100% accept.
2) A strange habit
I mean, I have OCD, so I have a lot of "strange habits" that in fact I have to rein in because they represent a larger and darker issue. They're not the ones you'd probably think of, though, when you think of OCD. Resist stereotypes, children! For me, trichotillomania's the most obvious symptom. Most my compulsions are more mental in nature.
Also, I think I'm addicted to sugar. *shrugs*
*For a follow-up on this post, click here.*
For well over a year, I have been struggling.
Struggling isn't new for me. I developed OCD at the age of eight, which led to BDD at the age of eleven, suicidal ideation at the age of thirteen, and trichotillomania/dermatillomania at the age of seventeen. I wasn't diagnosed, and therefore didn't get treatment, until the age of nineteen. I still have to contend with my OCD, most especially the tricho/derma aspect, daily. My family is a hotbed of mental illness and confusion, and of course, I dealt with the usual amount of bullying and academic pressure and friend issues growing up.
On top of all that, when I was fifteen, on Halloween 2009, I caught H1N1, followed by bronchitis and strep throat. My first symptom, hip pain, never left. In fact, it spread until, by the beginning of my junior year of high school, I'd developed full-blown fibromyalgia. I was, luckily, diagnosed only two and half months later.
It took months for me to get through the inevitable grieving process that comes with the forever loss of a healthy body and the privilege that comes with it. I researched and read and learned all the scary statistics; I figured out my priorities and readjusted my expectations. I finally came to a place of acceptance, and with outside support, an adjusted lifestyle, and antidepressants, I got my fibromyalgia into a manageable place. I've discussed my condition and related experiences here before, so you know all that.
That was four years ago. I thought I was done grieving. I thought I only needed to reach "acceptance" once. I was wrong.
This is a topic that's fairly personal, especially since I've been dealing with it a lot for the past year and a half, to an extent and in a way I never have before. Writing and editing COCA has brought out the writer's doubt in flaming color.
I suffered writer's doubt occasionally before COCA, of course. Everyone has doubts about the things they do. It's a part of life; it helps us to evaluate. However, I've been fortunate enough that my writing, at least for novels, has been mostly separate of my OCD. Perhaps that's another part of why I love doing it so much. As a pantser, I even had the luck to have writing be one of the only unplanned, uncontrolled things in my life, as I talked about in this interview. In any case, for most my life, I didn't suffer the kind of anxiety with writing and publishing that I did for absolutely everything else. The doubts I had were regular, fleeting things that only gave me temporary pause.
Ableism, like many other forms of prejudice and marginalization, is woven into our society. As such, each one of us has imbibed the rhetoric of ableism, each one of us holds ableist beliefs, and we're all prone to saying things that are wrong, even though most of us don't want to be hurtful or offensive. This holds true for disabled and mentally ill people as well as people with no experience in the area--that's how insidious and deep the effect is. When you're so surrounded by these prejudices, you're bound to be affected by it, no matter your station in life.
That's why it's so important that people listen to those who are underprivileged and marginalized, that they respect their stories and feelings, and that they acknowledge that each one of us knows only a limited amount about the human experience. One part of that human experience is how prejudice and marginalization feels and looks for different groups. That's why the language of social justice matters. That's also why it's so important to call out instances of prejudice, such as ableism. Society will not change, people's intrinsic attitudes will not change, unless pushed to do so.
Naturally, when ableist beliefs are widespread in a society, they also affect subcultures in that society. Religion is one example. Whatever the true beliefs and nature of any religion, the people practicing it will be affected by the prejudices of the society they are part of. As such, religion has its own set of ableist rhetoric that must be combated.
As a fan of The Hunger Games on Pinterest, I come across a lot of cool fan theories and fan art about the series, which is, of course, the main reason why I'm on there. Sometimes, though, I catch stuff that I don't agree with, and sometimes, I see things that make me upset. The main one is as follows:
As a major Peeta fangirl, someone with a mental illness, and a social justice advocate, this ticks me off. I started seeing it first after the Catching Fire movie came out, and it made uncomfortable, right from the start. As we got through the two Mockingjay movies, and as I became more versed in social justice talk, I realized exactly what it was that was so problematic about it, and, as I said, got mad.
Welcome to Wordy Wednesday, where I post a bit of my writing for you all to read! You guys voted in last week's poll for some poetry, so here are a couple of poems I've not posted on here before. Enjoy! I'll see y'all again on Saturday for the Behind the Scenes blog tag.
*The second poem contains moderately graphic images*
Lost in Remembrance
As daylight fades from every crack between
the bars that lock me here behind this wall,
I close my eyes to sights so cold, so mean
and reach instead for one for whom I’d fall.
There’s nothing left inside the once so keen
remembrance that I wanted ne’er to pall,
for years have passed since you were there and seen,
time longer than the means I’ve to recall.
But when I reach inside the nighttime vault,
my dreams connect me back to that first glance.
I reach towards you with my empty hands,
still knowing that with me lies all the fault,
and with a final breath I send to you
the love you’ll never know was always true.
Today, I honestly don't really feel like writing much. Like last week, I'm having a hard time emotionally. But I don't want to shut you guys out, and I know if I keep breaking routine by not writing my blog posts, it'll only make things harder for me. So I guess I'll write about what I'm feeling.
People, when they read my blog posts, they're amazed at how forthcoming I am at sharing my experiences with OCD, in particular. They say that it's brave and touching and incredible. But for me, the posts I've written about OCD haven't been difficult. They've been written during times of relative peace in my life, where I could look back at the hard things I've been through and feel good sharing them. I felt like I was making a difference, telling people about what it's like, revealing truth, allowing people to understand me and others like me. That's why I'm a writer in the first place: because I love the feeling of baring raw the truths that burn inside my heart. It's painful, but it's a good kind of pain, especially when I can believe that someday, someone out there will read them and hear me. One of my biggest fears is not being heard, especially when what I'm trying to say is the truth.
In general, I'm a very open person. I don't have secrets. I'm quite public about my life, and part of that is in fact because of the OCD. Nowadays, I do it either out of habit and for the sake of truth itself, but in the past, it was driven by my OCD telling me that there was something integrally wrong with me, that I was never going to measure up, that I would always be less than the people around me. I word-vomited about my life because I desperately wanted people to see the real me, and to tell me exactly who that was. I wanted truth about myself and if I was a good person and if I was worth it. I didn't want there to be any chance of me being misjudged. I, of course, misjudged the way that we understand each other. I assumed that my existence couldn't stand for itself.
Did you guys have a good Thanksgiving? :D Now it's Christmastime! I broke out the Christmas music at last and I am thrilled about it. Also in news, Ch1Con 2016 has been announced for August 6th in St. Charles, IL. I won't be able to go this year, but I highly recommend it for all young writers! It'll be fantastic.
Today I thought I'd talk some about body image. With my OCD, I've suffered a lot of trouble regarding body image, which was the first long-term thing I really recognized as a problem. I self-diagnosed as having body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) when I was 15 or so, though I didn't seek help until college. In my original post about my OCD I did talk some about this, but I'll go into more detail here.
*Contains discussion of self-harm*
As my original OCD post notes, I first had a full-blown OCD episode when I was 8. I struggled off and on with worsening anxiety for a couple of years. Then when I was ten, I got introduced to makeup. This wasn't my first time seeing (or using) makeup, obviously. Since I was in ballet from the time I was three, I'd done stage makeup before, and being a girly girl for most my childhood, I'd always had an interest in it.
*Spoilers for the Avengers movies ahoy*
Dear Marvel Studios,
I'm a pretty new fan, brought in by your first Avengers movie in 2012. I'm not sure why I didn't get into superhero stuff before that, given how much I like speculative fiction, but perhaps I thought it was a "boy" thing. You can't really blame me, given the continual issues with comics being a male-dominated field. Just look at the problem you still have with fair representation of Black Widow in merchandise!
But you did pull me in with The Avengers, and even though I had no idea what was going on (which happens when you've missed all the prequel movies and are watching the movie past midnight on a whim), I was interested enough to go back and watch a whole ton of superhero movies during the summer, which I ended up blogging about here. Like many, I believe that you currently are the forerunner on superhero movies, and I'm willing to take chances on your movies (like Ant-Man) that I won't on others. You also got me to change my favorite superhero from Superman to Captain America, which I'm sure you're glad to hear.
I'm also a big social justice person, and, as an author, I believe diverse representation in the media is vitally important. Again, this is a problem you're still struggling with, although kudos on slowly diversifying the Avengers team and having solo movies with female/black superheroes coming out in the future. So I've been invested in seeing how the Avengers team grows and how the stories therein play out. This past movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, gave me a lot of hope. (Though I feel I must ask, what's up with that random Black Widow/Hulk romance? I mean, it sort of works, but it came out of left field for me.)
Hello, dear friends! I have been in a lot of pain this weekend. I couldn't go to class Friday because I couldn't even manage to walk. It felt like my leg joints were all trying to go in different directions, which is a very strange feeling. I'm recovering, though, and am mostly just worn out at this point. In any case, I thought I'd write today about things that I've quit in the past and why quitting things is often actually a good thing.
Most people try out a lot of different activities as children and teens. How else do you find your skill and interest areas? I went through my fair share of activities before settling down with my current interests--which, of course, still doesn't mean I've figured out all my future, but at least I've a good idea of where I want to go. Here are some of the things that I've tried and then quit:
Because one of my pre-fibro symptoms was walking almost exclusively on my toes until I retrained myself otherwise, my mom, who did ballet herself, signed me up as a three-year-old. Tippy toes = good at ballet right? Not really, though, because the pre-fibro and just me being me made me super uncoordinated and not terribly gifted with dance. I liked ballet, though, most of the time, although I hated the costumes a ton. The costumes, and my lack of skill/the way others treated me for said lack of skill, lead to me quitting ballet after I turned twelve. I did a ton of other dance off and on too, though--gymnastics as prep for dance, tap dance, ballroom dance, Irish dance, modern dance, hula, and finally, hip-hop. Despite a continued lack of skill, I really liked hip-hop. I felt like I'd found an area of dance I really wanted to explore with that--and within a couple of months after I took hip-hop, I developed full-blown fibromyalgia. Sooooooo yeah. Moral of that story? Sometimes you have to quit because you're just not good at/able to do things. Like, anything physical at all. Whee!
Today, continuing my examination of writing diversely from Saturday, I'd like to discuss more of what I've learned through my edits of COCA and through Kaye's Ch1Con session on the same topic.
As I said Saturday, my biggest revision so far for COCA as been fixing the fact that I made my Latina main character "white" in all the ways that matter. As I've been working on these edits, what Kaye talked about at Ch1Con has been vital in helping me to reframe my understanding of diversity and even worldbuilding so much that I almost can't believe I didn't understand these things before. The whole process seems so much easier now that I understand Kaye's thoughts.
Basically, Kaye's main point in regards to how to appropriately write diversely was to use incidental diversity. Basically, incidental diversity is all about the details. These are the little cultural and lifestyle things that make up the diverse experience of a human being: food, beliefs, clothing, experience, all in detailed bite-size form. Having lived a sheltered life in a little town, I've not had much of a chance to appreciate the little things about my life that are different from the things in others' lives. (Not to mention, in general, I'm not a detail-oriented person. I've been described as a "global learner" by teachers since I was seven.) Going to Chicago, for a second time now, allowed me to see more clearly how so many of the things I take for granted aren't normal for others. Not just in a privileged kind of way either. No, there are tons of different good and bad details related to the incidental diversity of my life, and all of your lives, too, that you might not even notice
Today's post is going to be a mess, and it's also a day late, in case you didn't notice. My apologies for that. This past week was nuts, not to mention, I got an idea for a new post Friday night, didn't write it down (I don't usually need to), and had forgotten it by morning. The idea has not returned, so yeah. You have been deprived, I don't know what of, but I am terribly sorry.
This next week for me is finals, which tells you a lot of why last week was crazy. Finals week is never that big of a deal for me; it's kind of a relief, actually. The two weeks before finals are always the worst because of all the projects and stuff that are due then. I've had a rough go of it, because on top of all the said projects (all of which were slightly out of my comfort zone and had Codi throwing a tantrum), I've been sick. A terrible case of food poisoning, thanks to a Navajo taco, that lasted for about four weeks. I've only just recovered, and I am exhausted.
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