December 2018 Update(s): Continued Personal Growth, Benefits of Counseling, and Looking to the Future (And Fiction Writing at the End!)

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It has been a while since I have written something, and I apologize in advance for that. I can say with a straight face I had been incredibly busy, and any other reason is…well, very busy combined with the fact I had been dealing with the cooties being spread about. Mentally, I am also not in the best spirits, either.

During most of the fall and winter, I generally am relatively happy. However, the holidays bring a lot of feelings up, ones that I would not wish on anyone. On one hand, I am reflecting on how I can improve myself as a person. It is conveniently a time I consider how far I had come along in my personal growth, but also where I need to go from there. I had declared that I am consciously making effort to remove toxic influences from my environment, and it is a step. Some of this has ended up with me losing some friends over the past months, and also a few over the past years. Though I am not proud of this at all, it is for the better. I look forward to having 2019 filled with more hope than 2018, something I endeavor to help make happen. Nonetheless, I must also do much work within yet.

I will not give names, out of respect for all involved, but there had been one case where I had not been my best with someone in the past. Some would say it was eight years ago, and I had come a long ways; that I can let the situation go now. However, as I join movements that emphasize the need to hold the current individuals and groups in power accountable, that must mean I, too, must live an example. Eight years ago, I was pretty much a hot mess. My mental health issues were at their rawest in symptoms, and I did not act the best as a result. Also, to clarify: this is a more specific incident than what I referenced in my November 2018 post, which was a more broad discussion about growth and how our toxic institutions have impacted women in it. For what I am speaking of in this post, I accidentally hurt someone when I started to see my history repeat itself, regardless of whether my perceptions were accurate or not.

Did I intend to be a hurtful person, or sought to be malicious? No. I can say with all honesty I did not intend for hurt to happen.  Are all people who struggle with mental health bad people, or should be feared? Absolutely not. Anyone reading this should understand: while I have more insight on what had led me to be in the place I was, it is not an excuse to act badly toward others. The moment one starts using their mental health or life circumstances as an excuse to do this makes what would otherwise be human error become deliberate and conscious. This is harmful, to one’s self if not others.

Should anyone feel they have no control over their life or behavior, even if the history leading to this behavior is not their fault, please seek help. Please, please do it as soon as possible. This is what I did when I saw the cold, ugly truth. To this day, I still attend therapy sessions to make myself even better. Therapy is one of the scientifically demonstrated ways people can take responsibility for themselves. Done effectively, it has reduced recidivism in our criminal justice system, helped survivors of sexual assault and abuse in their recovery, and overall, is just one other way to maintain optimal health.

Each therapist, framework, and technique (or set of techniques) works better for some than others, but finding what works best is so worth it. I understand we still have a very stigmatized perception of mental health. To this, I say: considering the toxic social institutions that are perpetuating an unpleasant, violent, and otherwise complex,  oppressive system in the United States, would improved support for mental health not help? Would we make more allies for making the world a better place, if we helped others have improved mental health, in addition to challenging faulty beliefs? Stigma surrounding mental ailments and mental illness need to stop. The negative connotations surrounding it all is yet one more reason why people will not seek help when they so desperately need to do so (even for me). Not all mental health issues are the same. No two people with chronic depression or Post-Traumatic Stress are the same.

With how closely connected mental health is to other aspects of health, I cannot stress enough how awesome it is to have counseling, even if just once every few weeks. I am thankful for the therapists I had over the years. Graduate school was another ugly beast of stress and mental health turmoil, and like many others, I probably should have found regular psychological help before I did. Anyone who for any reason cannot seek therapy, please look into other support systems for one’s mental health. It is just as important as any other aspect of health, if not more so due to how closely related it is to those aspects.

Now that I have discussed this, I have yet another update. For better or worse, I have turned in my stepping-down notice for being a Senior Dungeonmaster for an RPG server of which I was once heavily involved. It was not a decision made lightly, and not because the rules and guidelines for being staff change regularly and mandate adjustment for returning veterans. The most important reasons are that: a) I have been lacking in time, and I do not foresee that changing anytime soon; b) I cannot see myself giving the time and energy to help the place prosper. In my time, I had seen many friends come and go, and I am still dealing with some heartbreak from there. There are still friendships I maintain in the community, and I will hold onto them for as long as I can, as I value friendships and do not let them go lightly.

My writing has been suffering this past month. I had become very busy with holiday events and trying to prepare holiday gifts; at the very least holiday cards. However, I have started to do something that I failed to make a regular practice until now: keeping a notebook around. In this notebook, I am jotting down any ideas I have for my fiction or for work projects. Since ideas have a clever way of appearing at the most inconvenient moment, and trying to disappear or become embedded in the mud in the mind, I need to start writing information down while fresh. Brandon Sanderson, a (rightfully) big name in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy world, threw the idea out there in his Writing Excuses podcasts. If nothing else, I can keep up with my writing this way until I have time to sit down, gather the quiet, and turn those few lines I wrote down during the day into some chapters.

I also can probably make some awesome ideas for work projects. One of the fantastic parts of my job is that my supervisor is encouraging me to look at different ways I can diversify our literature. A coworker and I looked at a spectacular article on BuzzFeed, one of the several jewels one can find from this media outlet. This list had many literary works reflecting voices that had not been widely represented. Because of my multiracial, multicultural background, I could not help but ask my supervisor for the task of picking books from this list out, to add to our collection. Since our fiction has been in long need of an overhaul, this was a step in the right direction. Recently, I also recommended adding Jacqueline Carey’s Santa Olivia to the list of fiction, to support our LGBT+ as well as general Fantasy/Sci-Fi fans.

There are many other great projects that our library is working on, but I thought I would throw that one out there.

I still have a lot of Holiday gift compiling and card making to finish yet. I will post again when I get a chance! Please be good to yourselves. And remember: please be kind to anyone who may not be too cheerful this year. Some people had awful things happen over the holidays. We cannot all know what demons they fight on a regular basis.

Best Holiday wishes,


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