Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Just an update to let you know where things stand

[This talks about depression and suicide-adjacent thoughts.  You have been warned.]
[this is copied and pasted, verbatim, from a post of the same name I just made on my patreon]

Yesterday marked the first time something had happened in a long time: I actually ate enough food two days in a row.  That caused something unexpected to happen.  My emotions turned back on.

I don't know the last time that I actually felt things in full force, but the experience was not a good one.  That was probably exacerbated by the fact that yesterday I forgot to take my medication, but one day off my meds is not, in itself, enough to produce the anguish I went through yesterday.

A huge part of it came about when my sister called to ask me if I was doing anything Saturday.  Given that she'd already asked me if I could help her at the farm on Thursday or Friday I defaulted to thinking this was an "If you're free, can you help me that day?" thing.  It wasn't.

When her response to me saying that, so far as I know, I'm not doing anything, was "Well that's depressing," I figured out what was actually going on.  Saturday is August 3rd (I did not know that), and August 3rd is my birthday.  I don't remember the last time I had a happy birthday, but cake does tend to make things less terrible, so I've never, intentionally at least, cancelled my birthday.

So, on finding out that I'm not doing a damned thing for my birthday, my sister wondered about my relationship with my girlfriend.  My mother did something similar recently when noticing how bad my depression has been.  I don't fucking know.  We didn't break up, as far as I know, but I have no idea when we saw each other last, and even when I did know that, I had no idea the last time I made her happy.

The problems with the relationship tend to be on my end.  She does so much for me, the reverse isn't really true.

I'm so attached to this house, more so since we lost my grandparents' farm.  It's the only home I have left, but it's in a sorry state, and I'm usually too out of it to improve it, and it leaves me an hour away from where she lives and an hour and a half from where her kids are living, and if I gave it up we could probably afford a place that's closer to her kids where we could live together and her stress levels would drop so much and we'd see each other all the time and . . . and I know that I should care more about people than things.  I know I should be willing to ditch a building in favor of a lover, but I can't.

I can't, and I can't explain why, and it hurts her, and . . . and just . . . I can't help but feel like she deserves someone who cares more about her than a god damned building.

So, anyway, back to my sister on the phone.  She asked about the relationship, it brought some unpleasant things to the front of my mind, and I snapped at my sister when she was just trying to be nice and plan a birthday party for me.  After I got off the phone I cried.  I cried and I cried, and I fucking cried more.  I sobbed great heaving sobs.  It felt like it lasted forever.

And I thought about my life.  And I thought about my past.  And I thought about my present.

And I wondered if I'd even still be here if I were the kind of person who could get suicidal.

I can't.  Or at least, it seems like I can't.  No matter how bad things may get, that just . . . doesn't compute for me.  I can think that I'd be better off dead.  I can wish that I'd I'd fall asleep and never wake up up.  But the concept of actually intentionally hurting myself?  No.  Doesn't make sense.

That's something I'm thankful for.

But the thing is, right now it seems like everything would be better if I'd died.  Years ago.  When I finally graduated from University after being there long enough to earn at least three degrees, but having only actually earned two, that would have been a high note.  Or if when I fell down the stairs (all of the stairs, from the top step to my basement floor), if I'd just broken my neck and died instead of broken my ankle in three places, that seems like it might have been better.

That was mid-February 2017 this is almost-August 2019.  The time since then has been a nigh total loss.  I've never recovered.  It wasn't breaking my ankle, it was what came after.  I had to be sedentary for fucking ages.  I had to go off my hormones (because of heightened blood-clot risk during and after surgery) for just as long, which threw my body's entire chemistry out of whack.

Before that fall I was the best I've been in . . . ever.  Like, maybe at some point in early elementary school I was in a well adjusted pre-depression state, and maybe at that point being an transitioned trans girl wasn't so hard, but I don't fucking remember it if it happened.

Since then I've been fucked.  It's hard to eat.  It's hard to drink.  It's hard to go to sleep in a timely manner.  It's hard to fucking move.  It's hard to write.  It's hard to read.  It's hard to feel.

We've fiddled with my hormones, and my antidepressants, and other shit, and I'm not getting better.  It'll be two and a half years soon.  It's the same as it was at two years, and the same as it was at one and a half years, and, I'm pretty sure, worse than it was at one year.

I'm broken, and I don't know if I can be fixed.  I had my chance.  I slipped on the top step, my chance went away, and since then there hasn't been another.

Yesterday I was seriously considering giving up on everything.  Again, I don't mean suicide.  But what's the point of Stealing Commas if I never have anything to post?  What's the point of patreon if I never create anything?  What's the point of trying to stay in my house if I'm so fucking out of it all the time that I end up so far behind on my bills that I'm almost certain to lose it?

What's the point of trying to be happy when I can't?

What's the point of being in a relationship if I'm a terrible girlfriend who makes the other person do all the work (and I don't even make the most obvious concessions)?

What's the point of trying when I always fail?


In theory, with the money you people are giving me every month, I have enough money to stay current on all present bills and slowly pay down existing debt.  In practice I've been missing payments so much that I don't know if anything is going down, and the only reason I haven't lost my house already is that my landlord is my mom and she doesn't want to evict me when she can see that I'm absolutely emotionally fucked.

I don't even know how much I owe her.

In addition to being, I'm guessing, at least a year behind on what I pay her to stay in the house, she gave me a huge interest free loan to pay off all of my high interest debt.  This is stuff that's been weighing me down for years upon years, quite possibly over a decade.  We worked out how much I could afford to pay her without hurting my ability to pay other expenses, I haven't paid her once.

I know what I owe her is over $10,000.  You know the greatest source of stress in her life?  Finances.  All that she's done for me, and I'm just callously adding to her stress.

She recently had surgery.  Had part of herself removed because of maybe-cancer.  (Good news: the maybe-cancer wasn't cancer, and she seems to be recovering fine.)  She went through that; I'm still failing to pay the pittance I promised to pay her, and therefore making her more stressed (in a way that's always there and never goes away, no less.)

Once upon a time I could probably deal with a lot of this money stuff by begging.  It makes me feel sleazy and sullied and gross, but it can work.  Back in the day I fucked up on getting heating oil.  I learned that it takes two winter nights for my boiler to freeze and thus burst, which takes out my heating system and makes my house unlivable.

It cost $6,000 dollars to replace the damned thing.  I didn't even beg.  I just announced I was fucked and said goodbye.  The next morning someone had given me $6,000 and two or three other people had offered.  (I turned them down because the offers were specifically for the emergency, which was now covered not other existing debts.)

That was back when I actually wrote things.  I told stories.  I created . . . art, I guess.  I'd like to call it art.  Not sure if it really counts, but . . . yeah, I want to call it art.

Now, though, I don't do shit.  I'm getting paid through patreon for not doing a damned thing, and I don't think I have any readers elsewhere to beg from since I don't make anything to read.


So, I'm not going to be announcing that I'm shuttering anything, at least not right this moment, but everything is fucked up and nothing is working.

I still have ideas, not as often, but they do exist, I just can't get them out.  If I'm lucky I manage to start writing, and things might look promising, and then everything goes pear shaped before I've actually created enough of anything to share.


There is something I've been thinking about.  Something different.  Something I might, possibly, be able to actually do.

Life hurts right now.  Even before my emotions turned back on in full yesterday, there was still enough feeling for life to be pain (anyone who says differently is selling something) and at the moment there's only one thing that takes the edge off.  It's video games.

In general, fiction is always an escape option, but in practice . . . I haven't read a novel for at least a decade.  Could be two for all I know.  Book stores and libraries used to be like walking into a temple when you're an adherent who borders on fanatical devotion, or being inside some hidden treasure vault.  Depression took that away from me.

More recently, much more recently, I found I was able to read fanfiction in spite of books being a no go.  Not sure why, it just worked.  It's how I got into Kim Possible, Teen Titans, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and My Little Pony: Equestria Girls.

Prose isn't working so much anymore.  Deconstructions (see Fred Clark and Ana Mardoll) worked for a time, I think I actually found them to work before and during the fan fiction phase.  I also think that they burned out before fanfic did.

I think it's the interactivity of video games that's allowing them to take the edge off of life in general.

Anyway, that's working.  I can't pull off "Play game, then write about about game afterward", but I think I could do, "Play game, and talk about game while playing it."  As it turns out, there's an entire genre that consists of people doing that.

I don't know how well I would do, especially because I don't watch Let's Plays (I prefer reading commentary, not hearing it), but it's a thing I could try.  I even asked Ana for advice since she does them (above link is to her blog, this is to her patreon.)

So, on the one hand, that might be coming.

On the other hand, every other time I thought something might be coming, that hasn't worked out.

- -

Here's a list of some other things that also could possibly be coming if I break through this or that creative block.  I wouldn't hold out hope for any of them, but they're more likely than, anything else in the writing arena.

1. Equestria Girls fanfic.

The one most on my mind something called Fractured Friendship, which is a novel take on the much maligned (deservedly so) Equestria Girls Holiday Special.

Fiction doing alternate takes on that thing has positively exploded on the primary MLP fanfition site (Fimfiction) but almost every damned alternate version takes it's major point of departure from the canonical story at the exact same spot.  Fractured Friendship was born from the observation that if you push the point of departure back just a tiny bit, everything changes.

That said, the part that's most on my mind is only tangentially related to any of that.  It's all about a subplot in which two homeless orphans, one of whom passes for rich, team up to improve their lives through the time tested method of becoming con artists.

The first chapter of Fractured Friendship can be found here (or, on Fimfiction, here), the only part of the subplot that's been written is a sort of middlish scene, that's not directly related to homelessness or con artistry or any feature of the subplot other than the two characters becoming (well, in this case, already being) friends.

So, that bit of the subplot is here.  You probably don't want to read it, though.  It's kind of an unintentionally illustration in why you don't write every single thing that happens in a scene.  It's over three thousand words of a scene that could probably be depicted just as well (or better) in under a thousand.

2. Friendship Is Magic fanfic

Still in the field of My Little Pony, there's something I've been thinking about ever since reading though stories with trans* characters on Fimfiction.  The ones I read, which may very well constitute the majority of the ones there are (there aren't a lot) were all very much "These are TRANS stories" instead of "These are stories that feature trans characters."

That's indicative of the early period of any excluded group.  It's disappointing to me that this is still the state that transgender individuals are in in MLP fandom.  If you contrast it with, say, lesbian characters, they get to have adventure stories and romance stories and drama stories and action stories and this stories and that stories and so on.

Or, short version, lesbians get to be in stories that aren't about them being lesbians.  Trans characters not so much.  Of the stories I read, the trans story that felt least in your face about "THIS IS A TRANS STORY" was literally about one character learning her marefriend (girlfriend, but pony style) was trans.*

The resulting stories are mostly coming out stories, and almost universally heavy.  Like, reallyheavy.

For the first time in my life, I wanted to read a fanfic of the form, "My original character meets the main characters, almost instantly becomes friends with them (even if that doesn't really make sense) and tags along on their adventures in spite of not really contributing much of anything."

Just a light story of original character meets, is accepted and befriended by, main characters, and hangs out with them.

So, in my head, there is the Scritch-verse.  Trans mare Feather Scratch (nickname "Scritch") falls in with the main cast in the early seasons.  (I'm thinking mid season two, but that's not set in stone) and tags along with them throughout.


(This would be a while into her transition, as cis male ponies, which Scritch would originally have looked like, have a different face and jaw structure.  I'm assuming that the magical equivalent of HRT can, over time, change the primary secondary sex characteristic, which happens to be facial structure for some reason.)

Her Cutie Mark:

Whether I'll actually get around to writing any of that remains to be seen.  Part of it is the inability to write anything, part of it is that I'm not sure what she'd do in most situations.

I very much don't want her to be "I'm the original character who solves everything by being genre savvy and smarter than everyone else."  I want her to be much more, "These are my friends, and I stick with them, but mostly I try not to get in the way, because they're superheroes and I'm not."

The trouble is that it can be sometimes be hard to figure out what she'd do in a given situation that doesn't slip into the first type.  Or, it could just be that the whole thing would require me to go back to the source material (re-watch the actual episodes for research purposes) and I'm not really consuming much fiction right now.

3. Teen Titans fanfiction (variation 1)

A while back, but not too long, when things were bad but not quite as bad as right now, I was reading a bunch of Raven/Terra  fanfic.  Mostly rereading because it's an uncommon ship and that hasn't changed much over the years.

The thing is when you try to search for it you come across a lot of "Raven and Terra are in this" fanfic that isn't remotely Raven/Terra, and when you see that you notice certain patterns.

The biggest one is that it's all about Beast Boy.  That's weird because Raven and Terra's relationship had nothing to do with Beast Boy, but there are a number of things that go into it, some of which date back to before I was born.

Anyway, there are a lot of stories of the form:
Raven (or, more rarely, Terra) is being emotionally hurt because Beast Boy is dating Terra (or, more rarely, Raven) when he should be with [the other one].  This is because [the one he's dating] is a horrible person. 
And, the thing is, it seems to me like if you're starting with these premises:
  • Raven/Terra is being hurt because Beast Boy is dating Terra/Raven
  • One of these characters is a horrible person

the logical plot is:
Beast Boy is cheating on Raven and Terra with Terra and Raven respectively.
and, as near as I can tell, no one has ever done that story.  And that's a shame.

It's a shame because the classic plot of "Girl finds out her allegedly exclusively boyfriend is cheating on her with other girl; after kicking boyfriend out of their lives, girl and other girl find they have a lot in common and start dating," never gets old.  (Probably because it's not actually a classic plot, and it hardly ever gets told.)

4. Teen Titans Fanfiction (variation 2)

A second plot that you see more than you'd expect is, "Terra steals Raven's body" which is really, really weird because there is nothing about Terra to suggest that she has either the inclination or the ability to steal someone's body.

After seeing that particular WTF? for the umpteenth time, I started constructing a story in my head where Terra ends up in control of Raven's body and desperately wants to give it back.

It's not a particularly interesting premise, nor is it one I feel that the world needs to have inflicted upon it, but I have a lot of the outline figured out, so if I start writing again, it's a pretty strong contender for what form that might take.

5. Nonficition: An article about The Judas Contract (this is still Teen Titans stuff) and why I think we need to leave it in the past.

The character of Terra from the Teen Titans was created for a storyline called "The Judas Contract".  It's a seminal work in the Teen Titans mythos, I think that every single Teen Titans or Teen Titans-esque adaptation has drawn from it, and I really think that needs to stop.

In some ways it was a revolutionary step in storytelling.  In others with was a garbage fire of toxic bullshit.  At some point I really want to make the argument that we don't have to keep drawing on the garbage fire to tap into something that was revolutionary before I was born, but is old news now.

6. A non MLP pony story

The way I put it before was: two young equines, a unicorn and a Pegasus, navigate a hellscape of prolonged famine and post-revolution ethnic cleansing.  How it came to be in my head is an . . . interesting story.  The key point is that it's there now, and things in the front of my mind are more likely to be what I write, if I manage to write, than the giant mass of "everything else".


I feel like there were things other than MLP, Teen Titans, and the hellscape of ethnic cleansing that seemed like possible strong contenders for what form it might take if my writer's block broke.  Can't think of any. now.  Maybe they missed their chance.


So, that's my update, all that's left is a short footnote.


* It's called Scotchtavia, and other than the terrible joke that drunken Octavia tells (uses the words "Down Syndrome" as the punchline) is something I'd recommend without qualification, (unless I've forgotten something.)  The joke is called out as terrible, it's just that I figure warning is in order.

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