Red!: or, On Mental Illness, Social Media, Writing and a Burning World

Rome is burning.

I’m trying to dance.

It’s been a difficult week mentally, physically and emotionally. These are just a few of the highlights:

  • Released Eat My Shorts!, which as any author can tell you is an exciting, taxing and stressful time under the best of circumstances
  • Another day, another troll
  • Apparently America is already several steps down the road to a rehash of Germany, 1938-1945, since that was such a wonderful time in human history and the powers that be seem to think we really need to relive it
    • Missing kids
    • Families separated without due process by ICE and DHS, who don’t seem to grok the chilling corollaries between their actions and those of Nazi Germany
    • An administration which doesn’t care and has said so in as many words
  • Some male authors are treating reviewers and the romance genre at large as their own personal Tinder feed, which partially explains why people who at least attempt to remain somewhere within screaming distance of professional and non-creepy struggle so hard
  • More bookstuffing
  • #GETLOUD authors turning on one another

This week has not been without its victories, but every one seems Pyrrhic at best. Add to this a number of things which House Unicron has been dealing with jointly and separately, a constant barrage of mind-bending “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?” from every source and angle, and my mental health has taken one hell of an ugly beating this week.

Coping and living with mental illness, while still striving to be a productive, effective human being, citizen, lover, partner and all the other hats I wear, isn’t always easy. Generally, I do a reasonably good job of this. My coping mechanisms have grown formidable enough over the years to grant me a decent degree of equanimity or even sangfroid in the face of complex, psychologically difficult or treacherous terrain.

Part of this is due to the fact I have a magnificent support system, in the form of Sparrow and Mouse. These two women grant me strength, grace and power well beyond what I sometimes feel I deserve, and they are incredible about letting me lead and encourage them to be successful. Thankfully, when I sometimes need to be weak, as even the strongest among us sometimes do, they don’t think any the less of me for it. They prop me up and give me the extra strength I need to do the emotional labor required to keep myself in top form, so I can continue to be the Dominant and lover they need me to be.

But sometimes, even the combined might of House Unicron isn’t enough to bolster my coping mechanisms to the level at which they need to be operating. And truthfully, with the way this week has gone so far, I’m pretty well convinced that anyone who DOES have the coping mechanisms to deal with the combined horrotragicomedy of the last several days without crying, anger or not feeling some pang of compassion or empathy has no heart or soul.

Because of this, and because I’m thoroughly overwhelmed with everything going on, I’m taking some practical self-care steps.

  1. I’m not going to be on social media (read: Twitter) as much over the next several days. Yes, I’ll be looking in, supporting my fellow authors and talking about Eat My Shorts!, but I’m not going to be lingering for hours on end.  (Note what I said, bookstuffers, scammers and creeps: AUTHORS, meaning by definition NOT YOU!)
  2. I’m going to be spending more time away from electronics in general. Yes, I have things I need to do which rely on computers, cell phones, etc. etc. etc., but I’ve spent way too much time lately staring at screens to no positive end, either for my health, my sanity or the stability of myself and the people around me.
  3. I’m not turning a blind eye as the world falls down, but I am taking a long, deep breath. You don’t owe the entire world every drop of yourself.

You have the right to call “RED!”

as I said to Sinclair Sexsmith just the other day, admitting I’m lousy at following my own advice. This time, though, I AM going to take it, because I owe it to myself, my family, and my world to be at peak form for whatever comes next. And that means rest and relaxation, for my body, mind, heart and soul

I’ll be back in a couple of days, but I’m curious, for my peeps who deal with mental illness:

What’s YOUR coping/self-care strategy when you’re pushed too far past “too far?” How do you keep it together when you feel like everything’s falling apart? I’d really like to know.

Take care, y’all.

For now, I gotta call “RED.”

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