• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Faces Come Out of the Rain

I know I can be, um, blunt and off putting, but I want to talk about depression and how much it affects writers and how we are going into the dark months. As I’ve shared here, I’m bi-polar and thankfully have been stable since 1996 which means I’m up for my silver equilibrium anniversary. I don’t take this for granted. I’m vigilant about my medication and seeing my doctor and getting my blood drawn. I was probably in therapy for 20 of those 25 years. I have never forgotten those years in my teens and twenties with shame and loss and and terror. The thing about depression (and mania) is the belief that will never end. It does end. Medication (though it may take some time to find the right ones and doses) works. Therapy helps. I kept diaries throughout my hospitalizations and they all say one thing, in essence, which is I do want to live just not like this. Oh, and I had a crush on another patient named Kyle.

Please beloved community of freaks and geeks, take care. This is going to be a hard winter. What’s your strategy? What are you working on?

16 Responses

  1. I just got another rejection of my manuscript with the comment that the editor didn’t feel the characters had enough chemistry. What does that mean? I am wondering if that means sex? (Not enough of it?) And another rejection of a recent short story. So right now I am feeling confused and desperate for some sign of hope from the publishing gods. I am also wondering if living at high altitude (Colorado – 9600 feet) is negatively impacting my brain and specifically word-finding ability. Obsessing over current failures but trying to keep plugging away.

  2. Thanks for reaching out like this and reminding us there is hope. Yes, it’s going to be a long winter and I am trying to gird myself by drinking a lot of tea and battling with some unfinished short fiction that has been kicking around for too long. There is no long-term view, just survival and as many warming moments as possible — which usually involve other people’s words, furry creatures, fires in the fireplace, and the reminder that everyone is sort of warped right now, everyone.

  3. Blunt maybe, offputting never. I have no strategy, beyond Schitt’s Creek so far. But I’m trying to write a crappy first draft of novel 2. A wise woman told me the charm can come in the second draft. Here’s hoping…

  4. Betsy, you may feel wobbly at times, but you sure give others strength.

    I stepped away from a 15 year magazine gig after Hurricane Michael; the storm crushed more than buildings. Rebuilding is about over, on the surface, but damage below still needs work.

    My editor was looking for some first person accounts of a sliver of history, and I’m finally back to work. Thanks for being here, Betsy.

  5. I have those bouts of melancholy where I feel I can’t write anything and maybe today I’m just not in the right frame of mind, but I feel those days come too often so I think it’s fear of failure. I am trying to figure out how my mental health affects my writing routine and life in general.

  6. My admiration just went up 20 pts. I’ve been hypo manic for ages and it is sort of fun but the other side of it is not so hot. Winter can be a struggle but if we keep healthy, wear our masks, keep our contacts limited we will get to spring. To cheer myself up I read Irish literature. Flann O’Brien, another nutcase.

  7. Be well, Betsy.

  8. I second Betsy’s words about taking good care of our minds especially this winter. In the meantime, whatever gets me through is the right thing to do. Right now I’m inching my way through a second novel, eating homemade chocolate chip cookies, relishing a life in sweatpants, letting my husband cut my hair.

    Stay well, Betsy.

  9. It seems like things politically should be getting better, but I just haven’t felt like celebrating yet. I feel the hope, but we’re heading into winter exhausted and weary and nearly out of food, fuel and toilet paper. I like to think things will get better, a vaccine and all, but the reality of a racist, reactionary faction making up about half of the country doesn’t do much for elevating my mood. The next couple of months are especially daunting. I guess the strategy is to hang on.

    So, what am I working on besides making sense of reality? Trying to alleviate procrastination. It’s time to finish a story I’ve been working and reworking for years and submit it. It’s time to pick up the pieces of uncompleted stories and, you know, complete the process. It’s time to stop thinking about the drowned homeless man with no arms and write the story. It’s about taking the step.

    And I’m glad your Welcome mat is always out and the candle is glowing brightly in the window.

  10. Ah, without medication, or drink ( maybe a glass of wine or two), I’ve managed to numb myself. Because the world is too much with me. Too much with me. Not saying I like the feeling; I’d rather fist fight – or belly laugh. Seems I’m in a holding pattern, afraid of what’s beyond the horizon.

  11. I’m back in therapy and working on a new project as I query the fucker. I have no idea where my new project is going, but it’s helping my mental health. Xo to you all in your/our struggle.

  12. So glad there is no MRI of my brain: I fear I’ve slipped from depressed into despair. This week has brought me yet another rejection of my manuscript, more unplanned house repairs AND the cancellation of all Mardi Gras parades (and most of the festivities) in NOLA for 2021. While that bacchanalia of fun may seem trite to others, in this city it is a centuries-old tradition that celebrates culture, friendships and creativity while also bringing billions of dollars into our economy. I’m cycling through the stages of grief like a porch pirate on a stolen bike. Thank goodness hurricane season ends in a dozen days.

  13. “What’s your strategy? What are you working on?”

    First, Betsy, thank you, as ever and always, for creating this space and being here. And thank you for writing your books and having them published for others (including me) to read.

    My strategy is to do my work. That’s always how it’s been for me. When I hit bottom I always bounce. Hope I always will. Suspect the day will come when I won’t, and then … something will be over, I know not what.

    A more recent development is that I try to be more aware of what I’m communicating, and to who and why, in order to try to avoid doing harm.

    I’m working on my photography and my writing. Doing digital photofinishing on the thousands of scanned negatives I have in my archives. Did the first part of making art when I took the snaps; doing the second part by making the snaps snappy, and making it snappy as I can, as I don’t have forever (though forever has me). Also writing yet another of what look to be my unpublishable books. Unpublishable? But why? Well, I can’t think of any compelling reason why anyone should read them. They’re not how-tos. They’re not explications of scientific fact. They’re not calls to arms. They’re just books I have to write. Some sense I have to make of this world I was hurled into and am passing so quickly through.

    Love to you all.

  14. “What’s your strategy?
    What are you working on?”
    Stay focused. Keep writing books and working. Journaling about all that ever went right in my life. It’s surprising.

    Strategy: Watch funny movies, listen bright music, plug in twinkle lights on grey sunless days and search out beachy vacation spots online between Pomodoro binges. Meditating while preparing fantastic gourmet meals for myself never hurt either. Maybe I’ll get a dog…

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