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depression

Can I Call Myself An Author Now?

For the second time in the past couple years now, I can say I have had a poem of mine published once again! My first poem published was in an anthology called We Will Not Be Silenced which shares countless stories through poetry, prose and art of survivors of sexual harassment and assault.

Me holding my copy of We Will Not Be Silenced, which contains what will be the first of many poems I’ll have published in the future.

What made me decide to contribute to this anthology about sexual harassment and assault is my own personal experiences. The long story short end of the matter was as I was growing up having to deal with being bullied in school by boys in my elementary and middle school years. The bullying I experienced in elementary school from boys my own age was physical, such as tugging at my hair during class to one of the boys sitting behind me on the school bus and punching the back of my seat.

Once I entered middle school, the bullying became more harassment in nature. In my 6th grade English class, I found myself hiding my face during class because one of the boys was always puckering his lips and making kissing noises at me. I tried getting him to stop to no avail. I also had to deal with another boy that same year telling me that he wanted to kiss me and telling me that he knew I wanted to kiss him too even though I never expressed any interest in him. At that point of my life, I’d never kissed anyone so I was worried that he might try to force a kiss on me one day.

These experiences and many others I experienced growing up inspired me to write my poem because the phrase I use to title my poem is a phrase many of us heard growing up when dealing with harassment from boys. But in my opinion, I see the phrase as a crutch to excuse boys from their wrongful behavior, which just continues to perpetuate and allow them to act that way as they grow up.

My most recent poetry publication is in an anthology called Through the Looking Glass: Reflection on Madness and Chaos Within. This anthology’s main focus is on mental illness and the experiences each of us have with dealing with our battle against our mental illness. Since mental illness is such a taboo subject, this anthology is an important step in the right direction to beginning the process of people actually talking about their mental health problems instead of feeling like their having to cope with them alone.

My big struggle that I talk about in Through the Looking Glass is with depression. I make a comparison between depression being an everyday fight against a demon that I have to slay and conquer every day because that’s how my experience with depression has been since I discovered I was depressed. I discovered I had depression when I was in college when I started having dreams and waking up with tears streaming down my face during the night and not understanding why. But it was not until years later in 2019 when my best friend lost her fight against cystic fibrosis that I discovered my depression getting worse. The depression I experienced during my college years was nothing like the demon I found myself fighting against once I lost my dear friend, one of the few people who I felt like knew me and understood me as a person. But I’ve been conjuring it one day at a time and I feel like I’m doing so much better now than I’ve been for a while.

 I also have another poem of mine that’s going to be published in another anthology that’ll be coming out in the near future that I’m excited about.

But one of the many reasons I wrote this post is now that I have some of my writing being published, should I consider myself an author? I mean most of the writing of mine that is getting published is poetry and each anthology is only going to have one of my poems, each one different from the other. But I do not know if I should consider myself an author because of these poems being put out there because I do not know if I feel like I deserve that title.

At the same time though, I love the written word so much and being published in any capacity has always been a dream of mine. I know technically I have been published since college along with since I started this blog back in 2015 after I graduated from college. But there is something different about seeing your name in a physical book you can hold in your hands. And to me (along with this blog of course), that feels like a huge accomplishment. Nonetheless, I still struggle with assigning myself the title of author because I still cannot believe I have accomplished this much in what feels like such a short amount of time. And I really cannot wait to see where my writing will go from here, what other publications I will find myself contributing to in the near future.

Writing My Truth

I know it’s been a solid while since I’ve written here on my blog. The hiatus I unexpectedly took wasn’t at all planned, just was something that happened. I don’t know why—well, I have a couple theories at least as to why I just vanished off the blogosphere for most of 2020. I know this year has been rough for almost everyone with what all’s been going on, from COVID 19 ravaging the world to here in the US having our elections and all the craziness that’s going on with Trump not accepting his loss. 

For me, it’s been a whole lot rougher than I expected. I think the biggest reason being that it’s my first year without having my best friend to talk to. And to tell the truth, I’ve been struggling with dealing with that loss. I think it impacted me a lot more than I expected to where I just couldn’t write for a while. Losing her literally put me at a loss of words, the grief was that powerful for me.

I also think what doesn’t help is that I struggle with depression and anxiety. I get into a deep sadness where all I want to do is sleep and not wake up and cry with no provocation. I’ve been struggling with it for a while, I want to say since we left my Mom’s abusive marriage. I’ve just never put it into words or admitted it because I didn’t realize it was something I had for the longest time. It wasn’t until I was in college and I’d have moments where I’d cry in my sleep that I realized something was up. But even then, I didn’t realize it was depression because it was like I just couldn’t accept it that something was the matter with me. It wasn’t really until this year that I accepted I had depression and that I needed to tell my doctor and family about it. And even now, I’m still dealing with it in different ways. I’m taking medication prescribed by my doctor for it, which I know only does so much.

I know there’s still more I need to do about it, but I am working on it. One step at a time, one day at a time because that’s what I can do. Focus on what’s going on in front of me and keep moving forward. But I am okay, doing a lot better than I have been. This blog post is proof of that because I hadn’t been writing as much lately until these past couple days. Been playing video games and focusing on work more than anything.

Been moving forward in life too, because I moved into an apartment with the love of my life at the end of July. It’s small and cozy, but perfect as a temporary home for us until we’re able to save up for a bigger place. I also received a raise in October from my job. Not by much mind you (2% increase is what I was told, which is the highest they give to employees apparently), but still better than nothing. Work has also been busy in general too, leaving me most days feeling physically exhausted by the time I make it home. But I don’t mind because my job has never been slow or uneventful for me. Just tires me out more than I’m used to, especially having to wake up to be ready and at my desk by 7am. I’ve been working for this company since May last year and I’m still not used to when I get up to begin my day.

But yes, I’m doing a hell of a lot better now. I haven’t been reading and writing as much lately, which I’m hoping to change now because I’m ready to be out of this rut I’ve been in. However, I’ve also been enjoying the video games I’ve been playing on my PlayStation 4 as well. In this time of solitary isolation with my love, I find them to be a good way to relax and destress from a busy day. Maybe I’ll write about some of them here so I can tell you why I’ve been enjoying them so much, why they’ve been such a wonderful distraction for me in my life when I’ve needed it.

I want you all to know though, that I’m extremely thankful for each one of you who’s still here even though I’ve been gone for so long. I’ve been meaning to come back way sooner, but I really feel like life got so crazy and draining for me this year that I needed to be away and didn’t even know it. So I apologize for being gone for so long and I’ll try my best for it not to become a habit.

I also want you all to know I’m okay. Seriously, I’m doing good. I wouldn’t say that with such conviction if I truly didn’t mean it. Do I have bad days where I don’t want to do anything at all, but lay in bed? Yes, that’s part of the sadness I have to deal with. However, I’m not going to let it control me or rule my life. I’ll deal with the moments when they come, but I’ll conquer them each and every time. Because I believe in myself, know that everything is going to be okay and that I’ll get through it. I also know what I need to do for myself to get through them because I’ve dealt with them enough already to know how to handle it.

I just wanted to let you all know that. Just wanted to write my truth on here about what’s been going on with me and let you all know I’m fine. And I’m going to try from here on out not let this be a habit. I’ll make sure that if there’s a next time I take a long time away from blogging to let it be known here so that if any of you were worrying about me, you’ll know I’m okay.

I hope you all are doing well during this time. I know 2020 has been a really rough year, so I want to know if you are okay. And if you aren’t, that’s also fine too. Just know I’m here and that if you ever need to reach out to someone, I’ll gladly listen to whatever you have to say.  

Book Review: We Are Okay

We Are Okay Book Cover

Rating: 3.5 stars

“You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.”

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

We Are Okay is a book that leaves me with mixed feelings about what I think of it overall. I enjoyed reading it because I can relate to the content within its pages. But at the same time, I also struggled with the story because of the way Marin decided to handle her grief.

What I loved about this story was the subject matter, the shift between past and present in each chapter, and Marin’s relationship with her best friend Mabel. I found this story heavily relatable to me because I too have lost someone very close to me recently. So, I could understand the feelings Nina LaCour used with Marin to describe the overall grief she felt at her grandfather’s passing. I felt sympathetic to her character as she dealt with this loss while going through what’s supposed to be one of the most exciting moments in your life: going to college. I can’t imagine how tough it must’ve been for her being at that college, knowing she doesn’t have anyone left in her family that she could talk to about her first day of school and starting the road to becoming an adult. Just reading the story from Marin’s perspective, knowing how lonely she was feeling despite having other people who cared about her reminded me of the grief I’ve been dealing with since the passing of my best friend. Even though I know I have people who care about me and that are here for me, I completely understood Marin’s feelings in this story. So, for me, this story did a wonderful job of talking about grief, loss, depression, and loneliness when it comes to losing someone you deeply care about.

One of the aspects of We Are Okay that I loved is the shift LaCour does between Marin’s past from before her grandfather passed away and her life presently. I felt like this shift as readers allowed us to see more into Marin’s life from before everything changed for her. It also allowed us as readers to see the dynamic between Marin and grandfather, which gave us an even better understanding as to why she made the decisions she did. There’s a lot we don’t know about him when we’re first introduced to Marin so by having these different chapters, we as readers are given the chance to learn more about his character and about Marin too.

Seeing the relationship between Marin and her best friend Mabel was also something I really enjoyed when reading this book. You can tell with Marin that she really loved her best friend with all her heart. And while things with their relationship didn’t go the way you as the reader hoped, I was glad that despite everything that happened since Marin left California for college, Mabel still wanted to be there for Marin and be a part of her life. I found seeing that in their beautiful friendship wonderful. Reading about their friendship reminded me of my friendship with my best friend, even though our friendship was not like theirs at all. But I still found it relatable because my friendship with her was similar in that we were always there for each other whenever it really mattered, just like Mabel wanted to be there for Marin during this difficult moment in her life.

However, there are some things with We Are Okay that I didn’t like as well. For starters, I felt like the pacing of the story sometimes moved a little slow. While I understood why that was the case in that since she was dealing with this loss, Marin was experiencing a lot of feelings, such as depression, loneliness and isolation and LaCour wanted to show us, readers, how these feelings were affecting her. And while she did a good job showing us that, I felt like the story could’ve moved on a little bit more in showing us Mabel’s visit and the conversations they had while she was there.

While I understood Marin’s decision to leave California and everyone she knew there behind to go to college in New York, I felt like the way she handled it wasn’t the best. I get she wasn’t in the right state of mind when everything happened, so she was reacting in an irrational manner because of her grief and the anger she was feeling towards her grandfather. But she also had a circle of people left who cared about her that she could’ve confided in when this all happened so she wouldn’t have had to deal with her feelings alone. They were trying to reach out to her to make sure she was okay, and she ignored them all instead once she left. So, while I understood why she made this decision, at the same time, I still think she shouldn’t have too because these people that cared about her were worried about her and wanted to be there for her during this difficult moment in her life.

This is why I’m struggling with what I think about We Are Okay as a whole. Because I enjoyed reading this book, due to being able to relate to the subject matter and feeling empathetic with her character. But I also wasn’t okay with Marin’s decision to leave behind the people she had left that cared about her. So overall, I did enjoy it but have some criticisms with it too that I felt needed to be addressed. I definitely plan on reading more books by this author in the near future, such as Hold Still to see if she has any other books I’d enjoy.

 

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