In Which I Am Very Bored at a Psych Ward

I’ve always prided myself in being open about my mental illness,  so I’m here to talk about the past three weeks of my life. On Nov 4th I voluntarily checked myself into the local hospital for suicidal thoughts. That’s what it said on the paperwork at least. It’s such an odd thing to say, as it implies that this was the only time in my life I had them. I’ve been suffering from massive depression since I was 11 years old and having thoughts like “I’m a horrible person and I don’t deserve to live” is a bit old hat. I have attempted suicide in the past (which I am not ready to talk about, but needless to say it didn’t stick) so none of this is new to me.

Depressive thoughts (like I’m horrible, I’m a fuck-up, I don’t deserve friends, I don’t deserve to be loved, etc) have been the constant background noise of my life. Most days I can drown it out. Sometimes I can go months without them interrupting my thoughts. But they’re always there, a constant ticking-clock right on the edge of my hearing. Most of my adult life has been spent finding ways to turn the noise off or at least turn it down. On Nov 4th the noise became loud enough to drown everything else out. I couldn’t hear anything else but the long droning list of personal failures of the past six months. I had lost my job, had a negative bank account, way overdue bills, my friend’s cat had gotten into my meds and I was overwhelmed with guilt (kitty is okay, but it was touch-and-go, i still feel horrible) and I was crippled with self-hate over my inability to do anything right. So I pulled into a random McD’s parking lot and began writing out all of my passwords, important account information, who to contact and where, everything anyone would need to help clean up my mess. It wasn’t until I took a picture and sent them over to my friend did I realize I had written a suicide note.

When the thought “I will kill myself” first popped up in my head years ago it never went away. Like the depression it always stuck around no matter how well my life was going. I always likened it to unlocking a special conversation topic in a video game. You know, like your charisma stat is high enough that you can talk the palace guard into letting you in, or your intelligence/wisdom stats are so low most of the dialog options are greyed out so all you can do is say ME HIT YOU NOW before attacking said palace guard. For me, once the desire to kill myself was rooted within me the dialog option popped up every time something bad happened. Take these examples:

  1. Oh no! You burned dinner! What do you do?
    1. Throw it out and order pizza
    2. Eat it anyway
    3. Eat nothing
    4. Kill yourself since you can’t do something as simple as cook dinner without fucking up
  2. Bad day at work. How do you vent?
    1. Have a drink
    2. Scream in car
    3. Ruin everyone’s day in Overwatch by just playing Bastion
    4. Kill yourself because there’s so many people who can handle jobs, you must be a real fuck-up piece of shit for not being able to handle a job, you don’t deserve to live.
  3. It’s 3am and you can’t fall asleep! What do you do?
    1. Lay in bed and stare at the ceiling
    2. Play video games until you pass out
    3. Go online and yell at your friends for also being awake so late
    4. Be unable to do anything but cry because the voice shouting Kill Yourself is so loud its drowning out absolutely everything else.

And so on and so on.

So when I found myself in my car with nothing but every inch of my brain screaming at me that I should die my options suddenly all became “kill yourself”. It was physically impossible for me to remember all the reasons why I should live. My family, my friends, my fans, my stories,  everything I ever wanted to do was just *gone*. That’s why people commit suicide. It’s not because the bad outweighed the good, it’s because the good wasn’t there anymore. The only reason because I’m alive and breathing right now is because my therapist gave me a card to a Crisis Hotline, which opened up a second option.

I called. They sent a man over to talk me about what was happening. He convinced me to follow him in my car to the local hospital and gave me instructions on what exactly to say to the nurses to let them know I needed help. And I did. I sent a message to my friend letting them know where I was, walked in, said I wanted to kill myself and I didn’t trust myself to not go through with it. Not even ten minutes later I was in a small room with nothing but a bed, a TV, and a nurse right outside my door to make sure I didn’t try to hurt myself. I was safe. I was safe from myself.

I spent somewhere around 4 hours in there and all I remember is:

  • I drank around 6-8 glasses of water because I kept crying myself to the point of severe dehydration
  • My friend showed up, rubbed my back, thanked me for being alive, I apologized for my car being a mess
  • Someone was watching a Star Wars moving in another room but it was just distant enough all I could hear was the soundtrack and I could not for the life of me figure out which movie it was
  • I kept getting told “you’ll know the South Campus Counselor when you see him” and low and behold a 7 foot man with a HUGE red beard and hair everywhere showed up to give me a blanket and take me to South Campus, aka the psych ward, where I would stay for the next two weeks.

First important note about the Psych Ward: They’re boring. More boring than you can possibly imagine. Remember being a kid stuck in a doctor’s waiting room with nothing but old highlights and that one wood bead puzzle all waiting rooms are required to have? That level of boring.

Second important note: Everyone there is surprisingly laid back considering all the other patients were also there for not only suicidal thoughts but drug abuse, alcohol detoxing, walking up and down the street because their girlfriend dumped them, and the one guy who was getting weened off heroin and spent most of his time singing Insane Clown Posse songs. Just people down on their luck looking for help to get back on the right path. And, this is very important, who are also very very VERY bored.

(I am happy to say that we did in fact have one white guy in his mid-20s who claimed that he was the only sane one there. Just like in the movies!)

Have I mentioned it was super boring? Good God, the psych ward was super boring. I get it, like, you’re supposed to be taking that time to work on bettering yourself/talking to a social worker/getting your meds adjusted/detoxing/figuring out what to do next but all of that takes about 4 hours a day, max. And that’s only if the doctors or social workers were around that day! My days there were very important but MAN I missed my Nintendo Switch so much. Here’s what my average day was:

6am: Meds, go back to sleep

8am: Breakfast, sit in day room coloring with other crazy peope

10am: SNACK TIME, sit in day room watching daytime tv holy shit sitcoms are so bad

Noon: Meds, Doctor/Social worker shows up, talks to you for like five minutes, leaves you to the bad sitcoms

1pm: LUNCH, back to coloring

3pm: SNACK TIME, sometimes a group therapy session. By my last day there the consular let me do part if his speech because I had it memorized. After that back to coloring.

5pm: DINNER, by now there’s probably a ghost or bigfoot hunting reality show on.

8pm: Meds, SNACK TIME, maybe work on a puzzle to change things up.

9pm: lay down in bed and hope sleep comes sooner than later.

11pm: Go bug the nurses for a sleeping pill why are you shocked I am here EVERY NIGHT just let me have my sleepy-pill and go dream about some weird shit for a bit.

Every day for fourteen days.

I do deeply appreciate the help I gotten from everyone there, and them doing everything they could to help me get my life together. But if I see another coloring page or a puzzle of a bird I’m going to try out that running up and down the street naked thing. Ooo, maybe I could get into a padded cell this time! Just like in the movies!

So after all of that where does that leave me? Answer: Homeless, jobless, juggling a new set of medications and trying to figure out how to put my life back together. I’m currently going to a day program called Safe Harbor that not only is helping me find housing/employment, but also gives me a place to wash my clothes, take a shower, and get a hot meal once a day. My depression is still as loud as always, but at least I have new weapons (well, meds) to help drown them out as I work on my life. I am also very, very thankful for my friends, family and fans for being there for me and making my struggle a bit easier. For example. with everyone’s help I am now staying at an airbnb through December instead of a homeless shelter.

I’m not really sure how to wrap this all up. I’m alive, I’m doing better, but I know I’ll have bad days. I’ll always have bad days. But now I have the resources to get through them. And hey, at least this is great research for my second book, right?

huuuuuuuugg

Also: If you want to help me get through the winter please consider donating to my Ko-fi and if you haven’t please please PLEASE download and read my short story The Midwife and the Lindworm and leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads! I need at least 50 reviews to get noticed by Amazon and their unforgiving algorithms and hopefully get more of my writing out there.

 

 

One Month On

Today marks the one month anniversary of moving to North Carolina. There’s so much I want to say, wanted to say, said and then was deleted by patreon so I will instead do a short version. I love it here, and I love my dear friends, and for the first time in months I’ve been able to write again. It’s slow and unsteady but it is writing. Every sentence feels like I’m writing for the first time again. I have months of inactivity to get past but I know with every word I’ll get better.

Personally, I’m trapped in a grey limbo of waiting. There’s a potential employer who is thrilled to hire me, but they’re in the middle of negotiating the contract with the temp agency. I can’t wait to get off my friend’s couch and into my own home, but no one wants to rent to someone without steady work. So I’m stuck here frustrated as hell with nothing to do but wait. I’ve spent a month eager to pounce but all I’m getting is metaphorical leg cramps. And non-metaphorical neck cramps from said couch.

On that note, I must thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. My supporters, my readers, my family and friends. As of this posting the only real income I have is from your donations. Through your generous offerings you’ve kept me fed and eating more than just plain ramen noodles. You’re also helping me pay my bills, pay for gas, and all the other thousands of little things that pop up every day. I literally couldn’t do this without you.

In book news, I know I have discussed this with my editor and beta readers but have yet to make an official announcement. After months of trying to edit Larkspur I have decided to rewrite the book from scratch. The Amber who wrote the book five years ago is completely different than the Amber I am today. Trying to fit both styles has been like violently cramming two incompatible puzzle pieces together. All that it’s resulted in is more frustration and bent cardboard.

The other news is that after a hundred and eight rejections I am also pursing a self-publishing route with Larkspur. I can safely say that traditional publishing has no interest in my stories, so it’s up to me to get them out to my fans. There are people who love my work, who cherish it dearly, and I just can’t wait by in hopes that popular media will suddenly decide its cool with gay robots.

Part of this came with the realization that my issue with Larkspur is that it doesn’t flow like my usual writing. It seems stilted, like if someone shoved it into a box that’s too small. I’m more attuned to the writing style and pacing of fanfiction. It’s hard to describe, but it’s a far more leisurely pace with a focus on emotions and character growth then action or drama. So I’m going to be kicking off traditional book styles and write like more than I’m accustomed to. It’s clear that’s the style my fans what, and it’s sure as hell the style I’ve been using.

How this is going to work: For $5 a month on Patreon or 2 Ko-fis you will be given access to the latest chapter of the rewrite of Larkspur. More information on this soon.

Speaking of fanfic, the first chapter of my McHanzo Sailor Moon AU is in the hands of my beta reader. Hopefully that will be up within the week. As for Notes, I am halfway through chapter four and I’m happy to announce that our protagonists finally meet in person! GET HYPE

I’m falling asleep at my keyboard so I will cut it off here. That and I’m afraid patreon will delete everything again. Once again, thank you for your kindness and donations. I wouldn’t be able to do this without you.

Tumblr is Dead but I’m Still Alive

Let’s start this off with some good news, shall we? And I don’t mean the fact we are finally free from the hellsite known as Tumblr.

For those who may not know I had recently gone back to school to get a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Horticulture. Now this isn’t the huge three-year four hour test certification, but it is an official document that says that I know that plants need varying amounts of sun and water to survive. That may seem obvious but I have lost count of the customers who were BAFFLED to hear that you just couldn’t water plants whenever you felt like. And guess what? I got it! I am now certified to tell you to no you don’t water a cactus, who told you that, what is wrong with you

Now, onto non-school stuff!

NON-TUMBLR WEBSITES

Here’s a list of places to find me that isn’t Tumblr, now that the site is going under:

Archive of Our Own (Ao3)

Twitter

Personal Blog

Facebook

Instagram

Masterdon

Goodreads

Ko-fi

Pillowfort.io (will link once website is up)

And of course I will still be cross-posting to my Tumblr, it just will no longer be the main way to contact me from this point forward

ZINES

I’m going to be featured in several zines coming up! Linking to tumblrs now, will replace when people move over to twitter/pillowfort

Overcooked – an Overwatch zine that features recipes from all over the world! My piece is for  Budae Jjigae, a traditional Korean dish being made by a one D.va (and her lovely assistant Winston)

Overlooked Heroes – an Overwatch zine dedicated to non-playable Overwatch characters. My piece will be about Lynx 17 and Mondatta because I cannot choose between my robot babies

Let Mercy Say F*ck – an Overwatch zine dedicated to Mercy, our favorite angel who can never get a break. I’m co-creating it and have a story about a rather embarrassing dinner party that Mercy ruins via gunfire and nudity.

Law and Order: a Symmarah Fanzine – an Overwatch zine about one of my favorite small ships, Pharah/Symmtera! I’m writing about their meet cute that involves armored trucks and armed security. Also, a dress with pockets.

FANFICS

(art by Wyntera)

NOTES IN A LINE – CHAPTER 1 

The problem with endings, Hana would reflect on later, is that some weren’t as obvious as others.

Her  last dinner with her parents as a civilian was a crystal-clear memory  of forced smiles and empty words about how proud they were. Her last  shoot on set in Hollywood was a blurred mess of laughter and exhaustion  thrown into a memory-blender set on high. Her last day in the Korean  military was, if you asked her, so perfectly on-brand in every way.  Every ending followed by a beginning as natural as the dawn following  the night.

But the quiet endings were the tricky ones. She  couldn’t remember the last time she sat on her father’s lap as he played  video games. The last time her mother brushed her hair was lost as  well. The only thing worse than the endings that already passed were the  ones yet to pass. Who would be the last person she spoke to? What would  be the last video game she would play? Her last meal? Her last words?

“Hey there, Bunnybee, could you help me with this weird phone-thing?”

Hana hoped this would be the last time she would have to help McCree with his phone.

AND WE ARE BACK!

It’s been a hell of a year folks, and thank you for all being patient! It’s time to pick up where we left off in Points on a Circle. This story will not only be following the blooming relationship between D.va/Sombra, but also tell the story of the slow and bloody path of the Talon Fam’s redemption. We already found the beginning, now we just need to reach the end.

AND THE REST

  • I’m 3 and a half weeks away from the end of the season at work, which means I can finish up my various WIPs this winter!
  • The move to NC is still happening, and is planned for the end of April/start of May!
  • To help cover my education costs I will be doing a fundraising Ko-fi fic called “In the Name of the Moon”, a McHanzo Sailor Moon au. More info to follow!
  • And I’m coming off of a horrific sinus infection that’s lasted for almost all of November, so I’m still a bit iffy with my health. Hopefully this round of antibotics will work.
  • I’m also now taking the next level up Horticulture class, because I must learn EVERY PLANT

Thank you everyone for sticking with me, your love and support has gotten me through these tough times.

In Which Good and Bad Things Have Happened

Hello everyone! It’s…been an odd summer. Let’s go down the list shall we?

First, I got a job! But not any job! I got a job that I actually like. That I like and I’m good at. I’ve been tending to flowers at an unnamed home improvement store and I honestly haven’t felt this great in years. I’ve lost weight, I’ve gotten in shape, and I’ve gotten compliments on my skills from bosses to corporate to random strangers. This is literally the first time I’ve worked a job that didn’t feel like it was peeling layers off my skin every second of the day. Which leads me to my next big announcement:

I’m going back to school.

WELL I’m going back to my old community college for a “Fundamentals in Horticulture” certificate. But I have to buy a text book so to me that counts as going back to school. For those who don’t know me personally college was…bad. Really bad. Really really really bad. Walked away with an AA in Liberal Arts after five years and a lot of debt bad. So I’m slightly panicking over the fact I’m heading back in just a few short weeks.

But Amber (or Aught, or Fish, depending how you know me) you say, those are good! I’m sure nothing bad happened and oh wait something bad did happen huh

My freakin’ laptop is dying. Right now it’s currently in the shop as I decide its fate. They’re not sure if they can fix it because they’re also not sure if the hard drive is about to die or not. I’m writing this update on my brother’s computer and let me tell you I am having horrible flashbacks when we were forced to share a computer back in the day. We could only have one game on it at a time AND we kept stumbling over each other’s poorly hid porn stash. Just terrible!

And right as my laptop decided to enter maybe-dead limbo I ended up in the hospital after a severe allergic reaction to a plant in the dumb cane family. The good news is that this is covered under workman’s comp, the bad news is that I lost three days pay. All which happened after I paid for the expensive certificate class. Not to mention that whole “I’m moving next April and this will cost All Of The Money” thing happening.

What this is leading to is FUNDRAISER TIME! But like an actual good one, not one where you’ll be forced to buy overpriced candy, or pay me to walk in circles, or go to a bake sale which you know half of the people just bought premade cupcakes from Shoprite while the other half are trying to get you to try their vegan cupcakes with carob and they say it tastes just like chocolate but we all know THAT IS A FILTHY LIE KAREN 

Ahem.

I’m getting ideas together but so far I’m planning:

1) Doodle Donations! Donate and get a drawing done by me in only the finest MSpaint! Here’s a quick example of what you could get:

2) Huggabot Raffle! Donate and get a chance to win your very own pocket-sized Huggabot! Keep it by your computer to remind yourself to eat and drink! Put it by your bed to remind you to take your pills! Have it stare into your soul as you talk to it about your relationship with your father! Every month I’ll raffle off a new Huggabot until it’s move time!

Here’s an example of a previously made Huggabot owned by my dear peapod Wyntera:

3) Ko-fi fic! I’ve been kicking around this idea for awhile, but now I’ve figured out a good story for it. The basic idea is that once a donation goal is reached I will write a chapter for a brand new McHanzo fic! My patreons will get access to it first as always. (Also don’t think I’ve forgotten about you guys! I got plans for my patreons too!)

What’s the fic about? Well I’ll give you a small hint…it’s going to involve a *lot* of ribbons.

4) And as always you can find ways to help me out over here

5) Not to mention you can help out in the long term by downloading and reading my short story The Midwife and the Lindworm! If you have read it then please consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Already left a review? Then join a local book club and slowly climb the ranks so when it’s your turn to suggest a book you shove a Lindworm in their face! Because no one wants to read The Secret again, KAREN

Thank you all once again for your support! It’s been a hell of a busy summer and my writing has suffered for it, but now that the busy season has ended I can focus on what’s really important: Writing stories where people kiss robots. This means the world to me, and I couldn’t be doing this without you!

Cept you

KAREN

The Midwife and The Lindworm – OUT NOW!

art by Jay Holloway

The Midwife has worked on her share of unusual births over the years—from foxes to royalty to the Gods themselves. One of the stranger births she assisted was a queen who delivered twins: one a boy, the future king, and one a serpent, known as The Lindworm.

Now, almost twenty years later, the queen has called upon The Midwife again—this time, to rid the castle of The Lindworm once and for all. Devouring maidens from across the land, it seems the monster’s thirst for blood cannot be slaked. But the sensible Midwife has no patience for histrionic queens or fae monsters. She intends to settle this. All of it.

The First Midwife Fable – The Midwife and the Lindworm – is now available for download and purchase!

You can download the short story for free at:

Smashwords

Kobo

Indigo

Or if you wish to support me you can buy it for .99 cents at Amazon!

Love Jay Holloway’s art as much as I do? Then head over to The Midwife Society6 Store where you can pick up prints and t-shirts of your favorite worm fighter!

If you enjoy the Midwife and her adventures please consider leaving a review Goodreads or Amazon to show your support! Every review helps!

Thank you everyone for your support!

Midwife Release Announcement!

booktease
 

The Midwife has worked  on her share of unusual births over the years—from foxes to royalty to  the Gods themselves. One of the stranger births she assisted was a queen  who delivered twins: one a boy, the future king, and one a serpent,  known as The Lindworm.

Now, almost twenty years later, the queen  has called upon The Midwife again—this time, to rid the castle of The Lindworm once and for all. Devouring maidens from across the land, it  seems the monster’s thirst for blood cannot be slaked. But the sensible  Midwife has no patience for histrionic queens or fae monsters. She  intends to settle this. All of it.

I’m thrilled to announce that The Midwife and the Lindworm, the first Midwife Fable, will be released FOR FREE on Amazon on May 1st 2018! Mark your calendars! I will also keep everyone updated on what other platforms you can get my story at! Also: Patreon Donators at $10 and above will get the story ahead of time.

Don’t forget to follow me on Patreon, Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook for more news!

UPDATE 5/1: So it turns out Amazon won’t let me publish it for free on their site. It will be available for .99 there and free elsewhere

In Which I Make An Announcement

I’m moving to North Carolina.

I hate Jersey. I’ve always hated New Jersey. There hasn’t been a single second of my entire life where I thought to myself “Boy I love New Jersey!”. I tried to get away years ago, and when that failed I swore that I would leave the second I was better. Well, I’m better now. It took over ten years and a hell of a lot of therapy/medication but I finally feel like my old self again. So I’m cashing in on my old promise and leaving.

The good news is that I’m not doing this alone. I have friends, dear friends in North Carolina who are helping me job/apartment hunt right now! I will have a full support system to back me up when things go bad, and to help me adjust to life in the south. It’s scary, but with friends at my side I’ll be able to do it.

The question is of course, when will I be moving. The answer is I’m…not too sure. I’m job hunting in both NJ and NC at the moment. Worse comes to worse I can get a job here and spend some time saving up money. But honestly I’m trying to move as soon as I can because, as stated before, I hate NJ.

I won’t be gone forever of course. I’ll be back for holidays and such. Will I stay in NC forever? I honestly don’t know. But it’s time for me to spread my roots and grow.

Side note: When I told my little cousin this news, he wistfully stared out a window and sighed “Life in the city sure is hard”. Nicky gets me.