Julie On MIDNIGHT SUN and Your Attitude

TODAY’S BREW: Hot coffee that will add to my Sweat Level: Midnight

By Julie 

I go off on this tangent pretty often, but it’s all about timing, so here we are. Enjoy my ranting list of things I’d like to shout from my roof if the sun weren’t so scorchingly evil.

IF YOU THINK I’M NOT PSYCHED FOR THE RELEASE OF STEPHANIE MEYERS’ MIDNIGHT SUN, THEN YOU DON’T KNOW ME.

If you think a reader is vapid for loving the series, perhaps you should think about what makes you so fucking special.

READ WHAT YOU WANT. BE WHO YOU WANT. LIKE WHAT YOU LIKE, UNAPOLOGETICALLY. YOU CAN WEAR A MASK AND NOT BE A SHEEP, AND YOU CAN READ A HISTORICALLY WORLDWIDE-SELLING BOOK SERIES THAT APPARENTLY NOBODY LIKES AND STILL BE AN INDIVIDUAL.

Reading “bad” books does not create “bad writers.” Being sucked into a vacuum of a world despite what could be considered “bad writing” by “experts” could be argued is the epitome of great writing. A writer who analyzes why a story sucked them in regardless of the poor writing is a writer who works. 

ANY READING IS WORTHWHILE READING.

GIRL BOOKS DON’T EXIST.

ART CAN’T BE WRONG.

WHO ARE YOU TO CRITICIZE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE FIND JOY IN?

Stephanie Meyer has changed the face and significance of Young Adult books. What did you do today?

A) Read what the fuck you want. B) Who even are you C) Thinking you’re too good for someone else’s hard work makes you a dick. D) She’s doing something right, ain’t she, folks?

Book Arrogance (BA) is a widespread disease affecting millions of jerks worldwide. If you  or someone you have to listen to prattle on about how stupid vampires are suffer from BA, seek help at Writers Reading Over Not Good (W.R.O.N.G.) or Most Energy-Negative (M.E.N.)

If you’ve been having a hard time finding a book you like, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you often tell people about the book you’ve been planning to write?
  2. Do friends often say, “I hear ya”?
  3. Are you “holding out for a management position”?
  4. When others succeed do you often say, “Whatever”?
  5. Do you consistently make money for someone else doing a job you hate?

Researching Illustrious Charismatic Humans (R.I.C.H.) can help.

If you like vampires, an iconic figure in literature and pop culture, do go ahead and buy MIDNIGHT SUN. I would personally love it if you’d pick up my very own vampire books, RUNNING HOME and RUNNING AWAY, and then also write your own because I’d like to read it.

 

Julie Writes a Death Waiver

Today’s Brew: Coffee beans crushed into a fine dust and put into a wind machine that I stand in the center of.

By Julie 

Like many, I’m increasingly slack-jawed at the “options” we have about going back to school. I am not irritated at the lack of solid information we’ve been given because NOBODY KNOWS. They don’t know. Right or wrong, nobody knows what’s going to happen next month except, “hey, it’s probably getting worse.”

What does irritate me is that we’re all up in arms about going back to school, how much it’s needed, and this is a system that has not worked for a lot of people for a very long time. Between bullying, racism, paying for the bus, adjusting to teachers, IEPs and adjustment counseling, let alone the horrendous curriculum, why are we fighting to get kids back into a death trap so quickly?

Some death waivers have been passed around for parents to sign to let their kids back into school in September, but I thought I’d write some quickie ones to make it more comprehensive.

“Would you like to learn somewhat false history written by old white dudes, about old white dudes with a rumbling terror for you life or without a rumbling terror for your life?”

“Would you like to memorize dates and names without any practical space in which to apply this knowledge in a death box or on your sofa?”

“Would you like to practice the many different core math methods in your own time, given that not all of them will agree with you, or would you like to dedicate the same time to all of them, thus defeating the purpose of having different methods to choose from, or would you like to breathe regularly?”

“Would you like to be removed from class on a number of occasions to meet with specialists who will help you ‘adjust’ while ignoring your schoolwork, to focus on what’s wrong with you, or would you like to be supported while living?”

“Would you like to put on clothes again to take part in an outdated system that pukes one-sided views at you or would you like to survive?”

“Would you like to learn on your own time, spending more time on one subject you’re having a hard time with and less on another that you understand or would you like to do it all the way I tell you to and also die?”

“Would you like to live comfortably or spend your days with people you have to cope with and maybe die?”

“Would you like to return to (not) having lunch with friends, (not) having recess with them, (not) working in groups and experiencing community or would you like to enter an unpredictable death race?”

“Would you like to stay in your underwear and not eat school food or would you like to possibly perish?”

“Would you like to be socialized with a group of your peers without actual interaction, but with an enormous death threat?”

“Would you like to return to the life of IEPs and being told you don’t even fit into the boxes of kids that don’t learn like everyone else, but can die like you, or would you like to learn in a way that makes sense?”

“Would you like to live under the ever-present shifting target of state testing with the grim specter of doom looking over your shoulder or learn virtually?”

“Would you mind wearing a mask all day to do work you don’t want to do so that you can die with friends?”

“Would you like to be graded upon an archaic system that doesn’t recognize effort or learning curve and have your weekly therapy include the cloud of your demise contained in your school walls or would you like to not do that?”

“Would you like to participate in dozens of fundraisers and maybe die or would you like to spend your money on other things?”

“Would you like to not learn life skills but also possibly give up your life?”

“Would you like to continue to miss your friends or be virtually encased in a bubble to make eye contact with them, while still risking that all of you could cough to death?”

“Would you like to learn stagnant information in conjunction with how to cope with inevitable loss?”

I’ve been thinking of sending one of these a day to the Board of Education. I’m sure the response would be startling.

 

Harassment in SFF, My Long-Awaited Opinion

TODAY’S BREW: Whatever came out of my red coffee can

By Julie 

I’m not one that goes to every con that comes my way. They’re expensive, they’re crowded, they’re hot, bright, and loud which are my Kryptonites. Cons where I’d be working to get my name out there, to make connections in the industry, to drink at hotel bars and get friendly, that’s WORK. Trouble is, the HR manager for Writing doesn’t hang out at these events, and that’s where the harassment comes in.

I’m a good friend.

That doesn’t mean I stand beside my friends’ wrongdoings but I stand beside their good nature. I call them friends if their morals agree with mine. Of the three dickheads who’ve been outed as serial harassers , I consider one to have been a friend. We knew each other’s names and work, he’d sent books my way for fundraisers and such, and I thought he was a good guy. Turns out, he wasn’t. We are no longer friends. This is a black and white with zero gray area. If multiple women come forward claiming harassment, I believe them. I side with them.

Myke Cole was a cop who claims he doesn’t remember his sexual misconduct–all of it–because he was drunk. All those times.

I’ve got little to say about Sam Sykes aside from that he’s a presence in the SFF world who always sorta seemed like a douche to me, but I’d follow and unfollow him because I loved his “buy my book” tweets. But also, douchey. So that’s over.

Chuck Wendig is an ally to women. This is not a trait a person is born with like some magical golden fucking hair that sings or something, it’s acquired by choices, experience, mistakes. He acts on it. I don’t like giving PROVE IT examples because to me it’s the equivalent of “I have a black friend so I’m not racist,” but FINE. From work on The Pixel Project to his standpoint on the widely criticized and condemned Girl Ghostbusters (Why Four Women Playing Ghostbusters is Not a Gimmick), Chuck cares about women’s rights and equality.

When I talked to Chuck, the first thing he said to me was, “I wish I’d seen it tho.”

I told Chuck I’d do whatever I could to help him through his association with these jackasses because I believe in him. He found out about the accusations and he handled it genuinely, saying that it’s important to be vigilantly on the lookout for this behavior. Read that right here: A Statement About Recent Harassers in SFF.

A lot of famousy folks are saying their pieces about him. I haven’t said much because (and the fucked-upedness of this says something), who’s listening to me? The point is, I’m not famous. Chuck and I have been friends for years, when he was only kinda famous and I was brand new in the writing community. He could have tried to use that to his advantage, but not once was I ever made uncomfortable or offered something in exchange for his friendship. In fact, he’s always offered up his help to me and never, ever implied I owe him a damn thing for it.

It matters that I’m not famous, because I’m the voice who can say I’m just a writer and he’s always treated me with respect and thoughtfulness because it’s his nature.  

I’m the person who can say Chuck did the right thing over and over again when no one was looking, in person or otherwise. That’s dignity. That’s not a one-off. That’s a person who has morals and stands by them. And a person who has those morals is always looking to do better, not make excuses. Like I said on Twitter, Myke Cole doesn’t get to say “I was drunk.” Sam Sykes doesn’t get to not quite recall. Paul Krueger does not get to say “my bad.” These are not mistakes. This is their lack of morality. Chuck Wendig shows that he’s not one of them.

Victims, survivors, those of you intimidated, I stand by you. Your voice matters to me. I’m here to amplify it.

Not Just Essential, But Preferred

TODAY’S BREW: Carrot Cake blend from Bones Coffee. Get it.

By Julie 

Social Distancing Captain’s Log, day 748

Sometimes I’m the social distancing captain. I mean, I’m ALWAYS socially distancing, mask, 6 feet, essentials only, to work and home, hand washing, an actual pandemic kit in my car. But it’s the nitty gritty of the emotional response that just plain fluctuates like the dickens, isn’t it! I mean one day I’m ready to help the world, delivering flour to people and whatnot, and the next day I want nothing more than to distance harder and faster. And at least I get to leave to do my essentials shopping, go to work every day–these two are stuck together forever.

sam and ben marshfield park
My children, smaller, and in sunshine

I don’t want to drone on about how trying my daily regiment is–right now. I’m just here frankly because I need to remind the world I’m here. HEY IT’S ME. I WRITE BOOKS AND THEY’RE OKAY I THINK. I am not just essential, I am PREFERRED.

Identity takes a bit of a hit during the pandemic, does it not? Aside from being only half a face and the walking threat of death, most of my identity has become getting to work, homeschooling, making sure everyone is fed and clean, helping friends and neighbors, and more than any of this, playing psychiatrist. Trying to navigate a kid with an anxiety disorder and one with Bipolar Disorder and OCD with a side salad of now-neverending seasonal depression when they can only see each other? Yeah, that’s… Well, we’re all mad here.

Being identity-free and what felt like constantly being in the service of someone else led me to a total SCREW THIS moment where I launched Julie Appreciation Week. I have to say, it went swimmingly. Here’s what I did:

  • gave myself a prize every day. YEAH YOU HEARD ME. EVERY DAMN DAY. Small prizes, big prizes, food prizes, jewelry prizes…hell I even got prizes from friends just because they love me and were unaware that it was Julie Appreciation Week!
  • napped. a lot.
  • used it as an excuse at least once a day.
  • said no.
  • went to bed early.
  • continued to write what I’m thankful for every day.

Simple stuff! Made a HUGE difference and the more I look at it the more I realize that I could pretty much do this all the time, but then it wouldn’t have a title and I’d be more broke. But you guys should do this too! All the stuff that makes you feel BLECH say no to, and do the opposite. Boom, You Appreciation Week.

Okay readeroos, get back in your houses and do something for you. Remember you are more than a creature in a mask!

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Meltdown at 6pm

TODAY’S BREW: Xanax

By Julie 

Wow, pandemic, right?

What’s your average day looking like right now? Because let me tell you. I don’t know what to tell you.

I get up feeling pretty good! About 6:30 I wake up, alarm doesn’t go off until 7. I enjoy my coffee alone and sometimes attempt to write, other times just sit. With a game on my phone. Chess. Sudoku. Cookie Jam. I alternate. Just to ease into the day. But if I can write, I do. Today, I did! But there’s just the creative black hole most mornings, no matter how good I feel.

I go to work, because I am essential in shipping infant and NICU products. I try to keep up with the few commuters who go 90 on the highway past the state troopers who won’t pull them over for fear of exposure. I pass two COVID emergency stations. I wear my mask all day. It smells. I am conscious of every single thing I touch. I know what I’ve touched at the end of the work day because I of course, clean it all with bleach. My work station, my pen, my clipboard, my tape gun, the table, the light switch, the doorknobs. We lock the doors so anyone looking to come in has to knock first and try to come in despite seeing the sign that says they have to have a mask on and wash their hands immediately. My incredible boss has a meeting with us every week to tell us how proud of us he is for coming to work with such good attitudes every day. And I really am thrilled to be there! I love my job, am endlessly grateful for it. But after a few hours in the same warehouse with intermittent contact with my coworkers, I’m freaking out inside. What if she didn’t wash her hands as well the fifth time as she did the first time? What if that order that came from upstairs got coughed on? The longer I’m here the greater the breakdown of the air quality. If I have the virus the more I’m near people the greater the opportunity to give it to them. I need to make interactions short as hell. 

So then I go home after not filling out my timesheet because I didn’t bring my own pen again, and then it’s time to homeschool. I shovel food into my face as the kids run down where they are with their work. I help them with the remainder–mostly it’s Sam with his writing (sparse) and his reading (dull) and doublechecking all his assignments. I try to do science experiments, get them outside for exercise, feed them and also get them to brush their teeth as well as have quality time and down time and do virtual therapist appointments and doctor checkups that require no less than three apps to complete. I read aloud from the book that’s actually interesting. We do this at least three times a day.

It’s not until about 6 at night that I get really irritable and have a quick cry.

I remember that we’re stuck together, all with our own brain stuff, and it’s HARD. Sam is coming off seasonal depression. There’s been a surge in OCD that has him drained. It’s pretty goddamn draining on all of us, truth be told.

As I write this, I have just botched logging the kids onto an Outschool class that we were pumped about, and I did it wrong so they missed half of it, while I tear up. They were there for a few minutes but just could not deal with it. Goodbye, Outschool fee. It’s 6:45 and I’ve reached and surpassed that melting point of the day.

So you’ve got me at my low point.

I get better.

I don’t know why I’ve written this except that I needed to SAY STUFF. Most of the day I’m happy! Happy that I have a job that matters, happy that my boss is understanding enough to be flexible and generous, happy to have the kids home where they’re comfortable and can learn at their own paces, happy that my husband’s hours are cut shorter and so we’re together every single night. Happy that we’re making good choices for our protection. Happy to try to run a book fair online for the elementary school kids, even though it failed. Happy to be healthy.

But it’s okay not to be happy all the time. All the feelings matter.

And it matters that I have this spot to speak about it. I hope it does something for someone out there.

Sneak-Teach! I Gift You a Lesson Plan

TODAY’S BREW: My daily ration of Cinnamon Hazelnut

By Julie 

So any of us with kids are homeschool teachers now, right? Pandemic Parenting Class is not a real thing, and schools are doing their best to give us a lot of resources to teach at home–but weeding through them all takes about six hours per day. I mean, it’s like walking into Market Basket (or your version of the most Thunderdome-like supermarket in your area) on the day before Thanksgiving: you went in for the ONE THING, but with everyone around and all the noise and bright lights and is Christmas in 4 weeks? you end up leaving with six things you didn’t go there for and not the thing you did need, as well as the strange urge to cry and take a nap.

A GIFT FOR YOU, PARENTS.

I put together a couple of these resources, sprinkled it with Pretty Scary Magic, and made an actually interesting lesson plan you can throw at your child for Less Than 20 Minute Learning AND you’ll feel like a good parent. Maybe even get a minute for a shower. The majority of this one is from one of my favorite resources so far, SCHOLASTIC LEARN-AT-HOME.

NUMBER A) Probably Science and Social Studies and Emotional Awareness 

Follow the link and read this super quick, interactive and visually pleasing article about an incredible kid: Nothing Can Stop HerSN4020419_Jordan-Medium-1B

SECTION B) I Made Up Well-Rounded Questions Like A Smarty Pants

Mine were:

Sammy pandemic lesson age 9

**I’ve also asked him to draw his dream prosthetic limb for “art class” but that hasn’t happened yet. It might not. These are uncertain times.

NEXT) Every Kid Likes A Video And I Learned Something Too

The “Dream It, Print It” 2 minute video at the bottom of the article. (I did NOT know they could 3D print food.)

SORTA FOURTH) Throw In A Superhero/Hot Celebrity 

In this ABC News Link, Robert Downy Jr. presents 7-year-old Alex with a prosthetic Iron Man arm. Basically a dream come true for anyone, whether you need a prosthetic arm or not.

 

If you want to add a second lesson I HAVE THAT TOO.

OTHER PART) Follow up on Jordan’s Story And How She Became a Marvel Girl

The kid not only made a shirt with her personal slogan on it, DON’T STARE. JUST ASK, but went on to be part of Marvel’s Hero Project to help kids feel strength like she did when she wore her shirt–even though it didn’t work the first time and didn’t help her. She went on to help design a Barbie with a prosthetic limb. I love this kid.

KEEP IT UP) Create Your Own Marvel Comic Hero of Your Own. 

The site even provides a graphic novel template. Here’s Bennett’s though, and I might cry every time I look at it.

Bennett's heroes age 13

Bennett's heroes part two

And then for happy fun times, we’ll find a movie that I can like, tie into it. Which means watching Iron Man again, probably. But if you say WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED after watching, it’s teaching.

OKAY, folks, give yourselves a break. Don’t expect too much of yourselves. We are living in a historic time, and as horrible as it is, observations of it are important. Talking about it, writing it down, saving the memes, all of it matters. Don’t think that you aren’t DOING anything because you’re not the most productive creature that exists right now. BEING is learning. EXISTING is prodcutive. You are not what you do, you are who you are. Ghandi said that, I’m sure of it, or at least he thought it maybe.

Stay safe, stay home, flatten the curve, my friends.

 

 

Document Your Stories With Me

TODAY’S BREW: COVID-free Caffeine

By Julie 

It’s a beautiful, slightly snowy morning to be quarantined!

Checking in: How ARE you guys? For real, tell me. I have to thank Princess Chuck Wendig for asking the public every day, how ARE you guys?  It makes me think of how I actually am, and to listen to how people actually are instead of just thinking about the goddamn virus and what I can DO.

I’ve been thinking about how historic this terrible time is, and how we should be documenting our personal accounts, as mundane as they may seem, or as panicked and incoherent as they might be because these are the true-life historical stories our kids and grandkids will read one day, and so on and so on.

So how ARE you guys?

I want you very much to email me at juleshutch@outlook.com or tweet me @HutchingsJulie your one-line thoughts, your extensive journal thoughts, whatever you want to say about our COVID-cation, etc… I’d love to post them here every day, anonymously if you specify. We get through this by supporting one another. This is one small way to do it.

Tell me your stories and I’ll tell you mine. Stories are the best kind of contagious.

EIGHT BOOK GIVEAWAY

TODAY’S BREW: This new Pink Velvet Mocha at Dunkins that I would slay someone for

By Julie 

HI GUYS! I bring you the opportunity to win EIGHT DAMN BOOKS right now. An Inked Entertainment…uh…entertainment package brought to you by my fellow book babe, Carrie Harris in celebration of her selling 8 goddamn books in one month. Yeah you heard me. Check out this one about a teen superhero with the lamest power ever:

BUY ON THE WALL NOW WITH THIS VERY LINK

 VISIT CARRIE’S 8 BOOK GIVEAWAY RIGHT NOW  TO WIN BOOKS FROM LIL OLE ME, CARRIE HARRIS, LEAH CLIFFORD, JACK MCSPORRAN, ELIZA GORDON, THE LIST KEEPS GOING.

 

 

 

Time’s A-changin’! Sucky Seasonal Affective Disorder and My Kid

TODAY’S BREW: Cinnamon Hazelnut by New England Coffee which actually tastes like both cinnamon AND hazelnut.

By Julie 

Time’s are a-changin’!

In this house that means shortly, Seasonal Affective Disorder will back right the fuck off.

For those of you who don’t know, my youngest little guy, Sam:

sam 3rd grade
Hi, I’m Sam and this picture is over a year old. 

has Bipolar Disorder and OCD. Super fun in itself in a child of 9, but this year we’ve finally figured out and had diagnosed (with two separate psychiatrists for those out there who dare to argue this) with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or commonly known as seasonal depression. I’m telling you guys this for a few reasons:

  1.  Mental health awareness and transparency gets rid of the stigma.
  2. Many of you surely know seasonal depression too well.
  3. This is my life day-to-day and I want you guys to be a part of it.
  4. Sharing my experiences with mood disorders in a child might help someone else out there recognize it in their own kiddo. And I’m insanely passionate about proper treatment and proactive treatment.
  5. Sometimes I just need to talk about shit.

Sammy was diagnosed with OCD before he turned 4, and with a mood disorder not long after. This post will run for tens of thousands of years if I go into the specifics here, so we’ll stick to what the hell does that mean when we’re talking about this other shit, Seasonal Affective Disorder? 

SAD in adults is a common occurrence, it seems to me. The time change brings with it a screwed-up sleep pattern, lack of consistent sleep brings on poor eating habits which equals weight gain or loss, then comes the anxiety and irritability with the highs and lows of the physical manifestation, and a bunch of headaches that could be either I drank too much coffee or not enough or maybe I’m tired or maybe I slept too much and that’s why I’m so foggy but at the end of the day who gives a shit I just want to go to bed, along with a whole bunch of other Feel Like Shit symptoms. Doesn’t seem to get better until the sun is shining. (Total opposite for me, btw. The sun goddamn kills me.) All of these coinciding domino-effect issues combined with “misfiring” parts of the brain that assault us with anxiety and depression anyway means that it’s pretty tough to see ONE thing that we can give a name to and treat.

The thing is, figuring out SAD in our kid was a new ballgame. It’s not just feeling sad and withdrawn like you usually assume when you hear the word “depression.” I hope this helps someone see it in themselves or a kid who might need their help because it can be helped. It can. 

For the third year in a row, our December parent-teacher conference around report card time strung a few things together, though it changes in some ways as he grows:

  • Sam suddenly stopped participating in class.
  • He was hazy. It starts not long after school starts. Haziness that would often lead to actually falling asleep in class or going to the nurse’s office for a nap.
  • Irritability. Something a classmate says or does one day that’s funny is a personal attack the next.
  • ODD. Not oddness. Oppositional Defiant Disorder. To put simply, it’s doing things the opposite of what he knows to be right and annoying people even if it doesn’t benefit him at all. It only shows up this time of year.
  • The need for constant attention, good or bad. And the need to be entertained every second of the day until he goes to sleep.
  • Constant need for closeness. He wants to be on top of a person at all times. Won’t stop talking to us. Or at all. And yet he feels so distant, disconnected.
  • Spike in fear of abandonment and obsessive thoughts of death.
  • nervous tic.
  • Sudden couple of weeks of mania.

(At this very moment I finally said, for instance, “Baby, I’m right here. If you don’t stop talking for a minute I’m going to die.” Probably not the best choice of words but man alive, I’m trying to do a thing here. Or as I like to blurt out, “Nothing going on here, so I’m just gonna WRITE A BOOK, I CAN DO THAT RIGHT NOW, YEAH?”)

As you can see, it has everyone a little edgy.

SO JULIE. This looks like a hell of a lot of disorders. What, you have some weird-ass Munchausen where you want to give your child a lot of problem titles? Or my favorite, HEY JULIE, HE’S PROBABLY JUST AUTISTIC.

That’s for another day.

Yes, this is a lot of disorders–and all of them fit together in one not-so-neat little blob of patterns and overlapping symptoms. PLEASE, ALLOW ME TO SAY THIS AGAIN.

SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER IS AN OFFSHOOT OF BIPOLAR DISORDER WHICH IS COMPACTED WITH OCD AND OPPOSITIONAL DEFIANT DISORDER IS A SYMPTOM OF SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER. REARRANGE THOSE WORDS A FEW DIFFERENT WAYS AND THEY STILL FIT TOGETHER. THEY ALL ARE A VENN DIAGRAM OF CRAP, NOT SEPARATE PIE CHARTS. 

Subtitle: IT ISN’T “JUST ADHD OR AUTISM.”

What I’m getting at is this. Some stuff on the autism spectrum DOES manifest in a kid with a mood disorder. Some ADHD symptoms ARE the same as a kid with OCD. Non-verbal Learning Disorder fits in all of them, too! They all have common threads, and they have their own separate traits too. Treatments can overlap, behavioral plans can overlap, that’s okay! The name of the disability isn’t what matters, it’s the digging in and finding the not-so obvious answers to help that matters.

Seeing the pattern over 3 years that emerges as soon as the clocks change has helped us take on a whole new plan to help the kid. Is this reinventing the wheel? No. The kid is growing. Years of behavior therapy are becoming second nature. He’s hitting a pubescent stage (commonly happens early with kids who have mood disorders), he’s got new responsibilities as a 4th grader… all this coincides and contributes to the big picture, just like that headache that could be caused by ten different things. All it means is you have to try different stuff. The kid isn’t a sedentary disorder. Treating these symptoms like they’re SOMETHING and not just conforming to the HE HAS ADHD OR AUTISM BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING ELSE plan of attack school sometimes takes is what mental health awareness is all about. What’s happening to the kid is REAL. And he knowing this is what will help him succeed as a happy person. 

Digging into the not-so-obvious pattern has given us new tools to help him. AND THEY HAVE HELPED HIM IMMENSELY.

  • a minor, temporary, seasonal increase in his anti-depressant.
  • 15 minutes to an hour a day with The Happy Light which I cannot recommend enough.
  • absolutely transparent communication with the school–and occasionally taking on a…*ahem*…supervisory role with his teachers to ensure he doesn’t fall behind.
  • weekend rest time. We do next to nothing on Saturday. It’s a proactive MEASURE, not just It’s Saturday and I Ain’t Doing Shit measure. He knows it’s for rest and then he actually makes the choice to be active on Sunday. This is huge. He prepares himself to snap out of it.
  • Acknowledgment. “We understand you feel like [whatever thing]. Remember the disorder is telling you that–but it’s not true.”

Since implementing this stuff, Sam is uncharacteristically energetic after school–not manic–energetic. He’s involved in ensuring he doesn’t fall behind academically. He can laugh at his over-the-top symptoms like paranoia and oversensitivity. He has direction. He’s waking up easier and getting motivated quicker. And he doesn’t feel so distant. 

I’m not saying he’s magically cured. Far from it. But we’re in a better position to help him and right now it’s working in a lot of ways. Our end goal is to make sure Sam is a happy, understood person. He’ll always have a mood disorder, just like some people might always have arthritis–it doesn’t have to cripple them. Treating it like WHAT IT IS instead of acting like it’s something it’s not to make it easier on everyone else’s mind is how the stigma gets squashed and how the child who suffers it doesn’t feel ALONE. Imagine being told that you’re different but that the way you’re different isn’t really a thing. We run that risk because mood disorders are so taboo to diagnose in children. Doesn’t mean they aren’t there. It’s not that Bipolar Disorder suddenly manifests at the magic age of 14 like has been believed all this time. That’s the time that a kid speaks for themselves, that they aren’t written off as being “just this age” or “hyper” or whatever else. Acknowledgement, education, preparation, expectation… these things are what I insist upon so that my child isn’t one of the countless people with a mood disorder that have suicidal thoughts. He won’t feel alone, and he won’t feel misunderstood.

To finally shut the hell up, I’ll finish by saying, dig deeper if you feel like something is off. Listen to your gut and be absolutely clear with professionals who can help. Listen to your gut and take control when you know you’re right. And don’t be afraid to try something new.

I hope this rant did something for someone out there! Remember, just because it’s in your head doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

 

 

Milestones According to Me

Today’s brew: Eggnog flavor. Because not only did I actually FINISH a carton of eggnog for once, but I longed for more.

A few things let you know you’ve arrived as an author. If you are me and those things are incredibly subjective and change all the time. Anyway, some really excellent stuff has happened to me recently, and I can’t hold in how grateful and proud and overjoyed and humbled and a little terrified I am.

I say an awful lot to folks, be your own biggest fan. Everyone is their own worst critic–but you’ve got to be your own biggest fan too. You have to stand by your work, your vision, and admit that yeah, you love your book! It’s not snooty, it’s TRUE and if it’s not then you should love your book. That way the not-so-super reviews don’t hurt, and the rejections roll off a little easier, and the imposter syndrome fades now and again.

And yet I cringe writing this because HOW SHOWOFFY DO I SOUND, RIGHT? WHAT A JACKASS. It’s a struggle for me to talk about myself, to be honest, and that’s what therapy is for. But I want to share with you guys some of the coolest things that have happened to my book world recently that I just cannot shake the surreality (surrealness? surrealitude?) of:

  • I HAVE HOLLYWOOD AGENTS. That’s seriously true. WME, who reps the NHL and the NFL, Oprah, and you know…me.

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  • A MARVEL WRITER REPS ME. Yeah, you heard me. Brendan Deneen at Assemble Media reps my vampire books. I read Night, Night, Groot to my kids, and wake up to the author being my agent. So, basically I’m a member of the Marvel universe now.
  • I HAVE A HARDCOVER BOOK. Seriously, this to me is pretty indescribable. To grow up treasure hunting through a dusty library basement for that feeling of a good hardcover in my hands to having one with my name on it… Well, you can get one if you want: The Harpy
  • I SPOKE TO A TON OF MIDDLE GRADE STUDENTS AT THE MIDDLE SCHOOL I WENT TO AND MY SON GOES TO NOW. Despite the implications of the #nofilter pic above, I was neither cool nor popular in middle school. I was WEIRD when it wasn’t cool. My favorite book was Rambo. I had really, really bad hair. I got beaten up and spit on and bullied in a hundred ways. To stand up and talk to a group of kids that age, my kid’s age, in the place where it happened, and to say, “No matter what you think of yourself now, your voice matters. To someone out there, and most of all to you,” to think I’d have the confidence or even something to say at all, was life-changing. I mattered that day a lot to all the right people. 
  • I GOT AN AMAZING PIECE OF FAN MAIL. Someone told me that after a traumatic loss, my book was what made her able to read again. I think I’m the big fan of hers now for doing that for me. 
  • I HAVE AN AUDIBLE DEAL! I got an actual payday is what that means and I got to audition voice actors?! What? Who gets to do that? You can preorder The Harpy, narrated by the perfect Helen Laser for another day or two before it’s live! PREORDER THE HARPY AUDIOBOOK HERE
  • BOX SET! My vampire books have a box set! You can get it, too. If you want. Running Home and Running Away box set. This is my Artist-Formerly-Known-As The Shinigami Vampires series, and my new publisher said, “Julie. Nobody can even say that word.” Same books, new more normal title with The Vampires of Fate. 
  • NEW PUBLISHER! I tell ya, it was fate that this wonderful writer, David Purse, and I started gabbing about collaborating on something and before I knew it, his publishing company took me under their wing and put all my dreams into action. Inked Entertainment is a genuinely noble organization that I’m incredibly lucky and honored to be a part of. 

In addition to all this amazing book stuff, I’ve also happened upon the perfect part time job–like the perfect part time job for another noble company with a noble vision, and I put together an incredible Christmas event for the school I run the book fairs at that brought our community together in a beautiful way. And in another crazy twist of fate, I won a raffle at my brand new job–getting a healthy donation for a non-profit of my choice, and it happened to be this wonderful little school! Everything has fallen into place. 

In a moment of being my own biggest fan, I will take my own advice: Good things happen to good people. I work at being a good person, and I like to think goodness finds me. In the people I know, in the way my work is received, in the lives that touch me. And more is to come. 

But I’m still a scary frigging fruitcake, so trigger warning on that Harpy book, there, folks.