Having Children + Having Bipolar

A big issue my boyfriend and I have struggled with is the decision on whether to have children or not.

Baby Hope

Both of us want children, and while there are some other issues to work out (him getting a full-time job; I want to be married first; etc.), I keep coming back to square one: am I too sick to have children?
I have talked to my psychiatrist about this; he was not at all supportive of the idea. He said I shouldn’t rock the boat, so to speak. My gynecologist and primary care doctor are supportive. They say it is a natural desire and when the time is right (I’m 33 so I would want that to be soon), I should go for it. I dislike my counselor and don’t really want to discuss this with her, and my friends are discouraging about the idea just on the principle that having children is somehow bad…even my friends with children. So I am a little lost.
I’m barely stable on meds…I can’t imagine being off of them. Since I have a history of suicide attempts, my gyno said I might have to be on some sort of meds.
One the one hand, I do wonder if my body will adjust, and relying on my support network will just become vital, but I will get thought it. OR, I will hit rock bottom and end up hurting myself and the baby.
Any feedback is welcome. Thanks!

Mental Illness Awareness Month

Mental Illness Awareness Month.

From my favorite Seattle blogger!

Also, I am taking a little blogging break to deal with new med side-effects (tremors, dizziness, and pealing gums so far) and KITTENS (Momma and litter from the shelter to foster)

The role of this blog is…Part II

The word multitasking originated in 1966, referring exclusively to computers and their computations. Automation of tasks to make the human life that much easier. But in 1998, the word started being applied to humans.  On the surface, it might sound like a good thing: do more in less time with less effort.

But really, as a modern concept I think it sucks.

Because we got the do more part, and maybe even the less time part, but the effort feels like it has tripled.

And with my recent run of near-crippling anxiety attacks, I lack the math skills to compute my effort to do even simple tasks. Say good-bye to my days of multitasking.

I don’t want to work full-time, volunteer full-time, and part-time, and be a graduate student, and be creative on deadline, both personally and professionally, all while pretending I’m not desperately lonely and need a social life that does not include an agenda.

My day yesterday was perfect: I woke up naturally around 11am, cuddled with the kitties, met a friend for lunch, played with kittens at The Book Center (10 are ready for adoption), went to Southern States to look at flowers, played with my cats at home, did some light house work, talked to my sister on the phone, and wrote this blog.

No stress, no panic attacks, minimal hallucinations (I’ve started actually keeping track of that, too).

But also no work, no grading, no deadlines, no bullshit.

Which brings me to my point–dun, Dun, DUN–what the heck am I doing talking about all this in a public forum?

First of all, thanks to everyone who posted comments on Part I.

I’ve mulled this over for a while, and I realized this blog has had a bit of a multiple personality disorder (not a current diagnosis of mine). Or rather, I’ve tried to multitask. Maybe it is because I’m lazy. Or confused. I’m confused often. But I blame that on being born in the Year of the Monkey.

The way I see it, I have three reasons for writing a blog:

First–Personal: I am going through a major life shift wherein I am trying to truly deal with my health, all facets of it, in a more mature, responsible way rather than simply running away when it gets too scary or uncomfortable.

To do this effectively, I need to write about it. But I have a difficult time holding myself to personal deadlines (just look at the state of my website, some of those pages have been “Under Construction” for three years). I need to write everyday. That is how I cope best because I am a writer.

I also need personal connection and resources to support myself during this shift. My closest friends live literally hours (if not several time zones) away. And I’m crap at calling (phone anxiety, though my besties are kind enough to call me). Besides, the type of support I need is too much for a single person, or trio of persons, to deal with. And while some of my dearest friends have a pretty good understanding of some of my issues, I really need to connect with people who can say “been there, swallowed that.”

Hence a personal blog is a major priority for me now.

Second–Creative: If you look back at some of my first posts, this blog was intended to be a creative outlet. While I have always written poetry, I originally planned to study creative non-fiction, particularly the personal memoir essay.

This makes sense as an author for me now as well because most of my poetry is pulled, at least is a small way, from events in my life or experience. Even the themes in my fiction can be linked to personal obsessions, which is true for all writers. So writing about things that are superficially personal would be a way to build a platform for my work, laying the foundation for a book later on.

While this has some appeal, I am far too overwhelmed to do this consistently. The energy that goes into churning out a 1,000 word essay of literary quality every week, let alone every day which is my current timetable, is astronomical for me. I am a slow writer and an even slower composer. I feel for now, this option is an impossibility.

Third–Professional: Finally, there is the professional blog. This is where statistics come into play.

The standard advice is to pick a niche you are passionate about (or can at least fake a healthy interest in) and then you blog regularly about it in hope that eventually you get enough hits to attract the interest of advertisers.

Alternately, you can create a following surrounding your small business service to attract customers, with the idea that you give enough advice/service/copy away for free to attract attention and a warm fuzzy feeling (engagement) until some of those hits turn into paying clients (conversion). This is also where most writers get the advice to be writers writing about writing in the hopes of getting writing jobs.

When I think about this, I alternate between feelings of resistance and panic.

I don’t want to!

Not only does that sound deadly dull, I also have to admit that I can’t force myself to read those types of blogs (even when they are written by writers I like with the possible exception go Neil Gaiman). And if I have zero interest in reading them, should I really be adding to the glut? I mean, not all of them are totally spammy. But most of them are hardly original.

And how am I expected to blog about freelance writing in an original way? I guess my post about teaching the kids’ workshop comes close, but realistically, I’m not going to pick up new freelance clients that way.

Most of my freelance writing jobs fall into one of two categories: marketing or manuscript. Those people are looking for people with solid reputations for quality and efficiency, which means they ask around. They don’t troll blogs.

So the roll of this blog is….Personal.

I am going to keep it linked to my author’s page on Facebook, my website, and various other online profiles and what-have-yous.

And if that costs me some freelance clients, so be it. I mean, if they turned down a freelancer in a wheelchair, we’d all think they were assholes, right? So let’s treat mental health issues the same way.

Yes, I have health problems, but I am still a damn good writer.

And very modest, too.

Arts in the Schools Week!

When I was little, I remember making my sister play school with me. I’m pretty sure she hated it, but I was always pretty good at convincing her to do things my way.

Like that time I convinced her to give me all of her dimes since they were smaller, and therefore obviously less desirable, than my pennies in exchange.

I would have her write things and do simple math problems that she could understand. When that got boring, I started teaching her algebra. She was about 5 years old. She actually caught on fast.

I remember my mother being worried that I was confusing her, but as I have discovered throughout life, kids tend to deal with challenges better than we expect. As long as we phrase things simply for them and spark their interest.

I was honored to be invited to participate in Arts in the Schools Week this past week. Monday through Thursday, I visited South Penn Elementary School to teach an hour-long writing workshop with the theme of Japanese fairytales.

Though I am ridiculously tired, I am very pleased with the way the classes went. On top of that, I was actually paid to be there! Which is obviously a very good thing.

I began the session with a quick introduction and an interactive overview of Japanese culture. Then I read two versions of stories about the Chin Chin Kobakama while the kids followed along. The story selection seemed to be a hit since it is so different.

Then I explained to them how I start writing.

I usually start with a “what if” question or a “I wonder how that would/does work” thought and go from there, making things up on paper. I gave them one example from my short-story-that-needs-to-be-a-novel, The Murcep People, and also how the sea became salty. I gave them some ideas based off the story I read, like changing the point of view, then let them loose.

I love the performance of teaching! Making funny voices, pretending to whisper or making jokes.
~
I tried to draw a map to show the general location of Japan, which ended up with Europe as a swirly ball and Japan as a banana off of the eastern cost of a big, blobby China.
~
I had the kids sit on the floor so it was a less formal setting.

One interesting thing about South Penn is that it is built in the 1970s style of open classrooms with few interior walls. I was in one of the few multi-purpose rooms that was actually enclosed. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about open classrooms. I loved how the “library” was at the center of the entire second floor, so books were extremely present.

Everyone worked hard on their stories. A couple of them really stood out, like Why the Firefly Lights Up, How the Chin Chin Kobakama Got Their Job, Why Pigs Taste So Good, and The Real Story of Dragons and Knights.

I also made sure to plug my free workshops offered through Tri-State Community School for the Arts. Some of the kids said they were interested in coming, and I promised to send the reading instructor more information.

One little boy, who carries his notebooks full of stories around with him everywhere, wanted to know more about getting his stories published. So I made up a quick handout for him Wednesday night, and he met with me for a special conference Thursday morning.

I also followed up with children on Wednesday morning since time seemed to fly away. We could easily have taken another half hour. The reading specialist even mentioned the possibility of having me come back to do more workshops!

Another little boy was so enthusiastic about Japan, that I was a little intimidated. He is apparently very bright. He rattled off names and facts I didn’t have a clue about, like exactly how Japanese houses were the first ones for be earthquake-proof. His story was fantastic.

My first thought with both of those little boys, the writer and the savant, was one of concern. Because I know how much their lives are probably gonna suck. And I also know how closely creativity and genius fly to crazy and substance abuse.

I had an overwhelming urge to protect them somehow.

I saw bits and pieces of me, and it made me sad. I really hope they turn up at one of my workshops, so I can check in with them.

For the first two days, while I was still working the kinks out of my presentation, I left time at the end for kids to share their stories…but by the time Wednesday rolled around, everyone was so intent on the writing I didn’t have the heart to pull the plug until the last-minute. I really wished I would have been able to read, or better yet listen, to everyone’s story.

The Great & Mighty Cockatoe

I am far too tired to write a whole post tonight (I always write the “night” before and schedule the drop for the next day, currently at 9am), but I didn’t want to miss a day…

So I will share this picture and story instead. Monday through Thursday this week I am teaching an hour-long session at South Penn Elementary School for Arts in the Schools Week on Japanese fairytales. I am really honored to be invited (and paid!). It is also a big ego boost to see my headshot in the lobby proclaiming me as the guest author!

Today, when it came time for the writing prompt (which I will talk about in a later post, I’m sure), one boy decided to start with a picture and then write a story. He drew a very nice bird head, and said he wanted to write a fairy tale about how the cockatoo got its head plumage. But he was stumped on the spelling of  cockatoo, whether it needed two Os at the end or an E. He asked me, and lousy speller that I am, I wasn’t too sure. He was going to go for the E, but we agreed that would be cocka-toe, a very funny creature indeed.

Jokes ensued, about being a smelly bird and how it would hope around lamenting the boy’s bad spelling…so he drew this:

If you look closely, you can see the stink waves coming off the toe part of the bird! It looks like something you might find hoping around Wonderland.
~
We ran out of time before he was able to share his story, but I offered to come in early in case any of the children want to talk to me about writing.

And that is why I really love working with child writers! The ability to jump over mental, self-imposed hurdles is much greater, in general. I could easily have stayed another hour with these kids. I really hope the school invites me back!

Monday Madness

This week I have a sleep study scheduled. I am supposed to be tracking my sleeping patterns for the entire week, so I can give a clear and detailed report to the technician…I lost the paper form.

It’s not like it would have been very clear anyway. Saturday I woke up at 11am to finish up a freelance job. Then that evening I had to work at the theatre for the Queen City Independent Film Festival.

I have resigned as Cinema Director for now...but I really love this place despite the inordinate amount of drama that goes on off-stage!

Nine people showed. I was pretty happy though because this is the first film festival I have ever built from the ground up. Out of the 10 total submissions, 5 US states were represented, plus the District of Columbia and Palestine. It went international the first year!

I have agreed to produce the festival next year, too. It’s kinda my baby, and I want to see it be taken care of and grow. I’m gonna add 2 prizes for next year though: Best Documentary and Best Appalachian Film.

At the end of the 3 hour program, Ms. Kay, Miss James, and I sat around unwinding using a fair amount of vodka (I think I am becoming a connoisseur). By the time I got home and into bed, it was at least 3am. I woke at 8:30am to take M’ James back to her car, and then napped from 10:30am until 1pm.

Then it was up and back to the theatre for the second showing. Seven people showed. Still, the festival is more about the filmmakers, and it’s not like the person from Palestine could just drop by for the weekend. I am hoping that as the reputation of the festival grows and solidifies, more people will be willing to travel here…and that will in turn stimulate the withering historic downtown area.

Townies just don’t support the town on the whole, which is a crying shame. I know it’s corny, but I really do feel that if you live someplace, you have a duty to make that place better. And shopping locally is a big part of that.

Sunday night, I didn’t go to bed until 4:30am. I don’t know why the hell I was up so late. Well I did get myself wound up sending out congratulation emails to winners. That was a lot of fun. Vicarious excitement, I suppose.

I also folded all my laundry, too for some reason. I got into a little flurry of throwing out clothes I hated and made me feel gross. That was fun, too.

Today I woke at 4pm. My day wasn’t really wasted. I did mop the kitchen, take out trash, water my plants. The neighbors with the parcel of kids were having a birthday party, and 10 little girls made their way to my porch to visit. I’m like the coolest person they know (a whole ‘nother story–I call them my Little Guests). It is a tremendous ego boost.

I decided today to move all of my house plants outside until I can finish cleaning the kitchen, etc.

I was wondering why the cats seemed to be so hyper this weekend...zipping back and forth, chasing each other (kinda), and bounding from surface to surface. Then I started cleaning off the kitchen table...

This is all that remains of the catnip plant I bought. The first night I bought it and left it on the porch an outside cat savaged it. I brought it in with the naïve assumption it would be safer. I'm not 100% sure it will survive, but it was only $2, so no worries.

I have some cuttings from my bigger house plants that I really need to transplant. And most of the actual house plants need bigger pots...

I have a lot more work to do to beautify my porch!

Extra bags of trash for collection tonight! I can't get over how much trash has been stored in my house: old clothes I hate, recyclables I will never actually recycle, empty bottles, broken crap, and more!

So who knows when I’ll go to bed tonight…

I know the people at the sleep center are going to fuss about irregular sleep patterns leading to sleep difficulties. But really, my life is in no shape for a regular sleep pattern. Hell, I like sleeping better during the day anyway.

Maybe if that damn little bird living in my throat chakra would stop flapping and flailing so violently, I might be more inclined to sleep at night. But it is just getting its feathers in a fluff by then, so I’m not going to worry about my sleep patterns.

Maybe I’ll steal a pillow from the sleep center?

Free May Events: “Make Your Own Story”

Tri-State Community School for the Arts

Tri-State Community School for the Arts

Looking for FREE activities for your children? This free drop-in workshop on Saturday, May 28, 2011 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm focuses on storytelling for young students and includes opportunities for students to verbally tell stories or tell a story through pictures as well as write a story down. Held at the Tri-State Community School for the Arts, 115 Baltimore Street, Cumberland, MD, and geared toward elementary school children up to age 16, this workshop will also be relevant for Pre-K and pre-reading/writing students. Story prompts, pencils, crayons, collage materials, and other things to make a story will be on-hand for children to create their own story. No registration is necessary, simply drop-in and create!

Parental supervision is encouraged.

Parking and direct entrance available in the back on the alley (Dexter Place).

The workshop will be taught by our creative writing instructor, Tiffany A. Turbin Santos, who has years of experience in working with children of all ages in a variety of settings. Currently, she is studying poetry for an MFA degree at Carlow University in Pittsburgh and has had work published in several literary journals including the Backbone Mountain Review, a regional literary journal. She also teaches developmental writing at Potomac State College. For more information, visit her website: www.cranberryjade.com.

A variety of writing and art classes are offered at Tri-State Community School for the Arts. Registration for summer and fall classes is available on-line NOW at www.tristatearts.com or call (301) 876-1562 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (301) 876-1562      end_of_the_skype_highlighting for more information.

This is the press release for the third of this year’s free children’s workshops I am teaching at Tri-State CSA. I will also be hosting a kids table June 4 for the Plein Air event Downtown as well as other dates TBA. Keep an eye out!

FREE event for children in Cumberland: “Make Your Own Story”

Tri-State Community School for the Arts

Tri-State Community School for the Arts


Looking for FREE activities for your children? This free drop-in workshop on Saturday, March 26, 2011 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm focuses on storytelling for young students and includes opportunities for students to verbally tell stories or tell a story through pictures as well as write a story down. Held at the Tri-State Community School for the Arts, 115 Baltimore Street, Cumberland, MD, and geared toward elementary school children up to age 16, this workshop will also be relevant for Pre-K and pre-reading/writing students. Story prompts, pencils, crayons, collage materials, and other things to make a story will be on-hand for children to create their own story. No registration is necessary, simply drop-in and create!

The workshop will be taught by our creative writing instructor, Tiffany A. Turbin Santos, who has years of experience in working with children of all ages in a variety of settings. Currently, she is studying poetry for an MFA degree at Carlow University in Pittsburgh and has had work published in several undergraduate literary journals and the Backbone Mountain Review, a regional literary journal. She also teaches developmental writing at Potomac State College. For more information, visit her website: www.cranberryjade.com.

A variety of writing and art classes are offered at Tri-State Community School for the Arts. Registration for summer and fall classes is available on-line NOW at www.tristatearts.com or call (301) 876-1562 for more information.

This is the press release for the first of this year’s free children’s workshops I am teaching at Tri-State CSA. Other dates are April 23 and May 28, both from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Tiffany Santos - Find me on Bloggers.com
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