The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles: Skelly’s Square

War! Adventure! Boring desk jobs! Drinking! Compulsions! Evil paranormal enemies?

A week ago Monday, I got a very long-anticipated book in the mail.

I met Stephen Black way back when he followed my blog as part of growing his. He’s moved on to securing 11,000+ followers, finishing his manuscript, and finally (FINALLY!) publishing.

Even though I’m deathly envious of his success, I’m also freakin’ proud. Great job, Stephen!

But what about the book??

Skelly’s Square is only my second or third experience with reading a newbie author’s work. Plus, I’ve known Stephen through his blog’s awkward teenage years. Plus, I’m a …bit of a spelling and grammar fiend.

-Which didn’t matter in the slightest. To me, an excellent book is one I get lost in. Somewhere along the way I’m part of the characters and story; we’re seamless and it’s beautiful. Skelly’s Square became just such an experience for me.

Colonel Augustus Skelly is the name of a man the main character, Kirkwood Scott, sees in very realistic visions. Skelly is a demon of sorts. He preys on Scott’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by making him follow a series of routines determined by dice rolls. These routines are called The 49. Scott knows storms, tempests, abductions, and death around the world will happen should he refuse The 49.

In the midst of a life ruled by this and periods of blackout drinking to avoid it, Scott stumbles across a homeless young woman, Meredith Starc. Starc also practices alcoholic numbing because of a depressive event in her past.

The two, and cosmic forces interested in keeping them down, cross paths. Why? What is their importance? How can they possibly mean anything toward …the fate of the world?

Stephen Black’s delivered a doozy of a first novel. Skelly’s Square is a creation to be proud of. Plus, it’s an engaging fantasy adventure to boot!

Go, visit Amazon and pick up your own.

Do it!!

20190819_105934.jpg

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Wilhelmina Winters, Ninety-Seven

*Clunk* *Clunk* *Clunk*

Woolykind Wil lifted from her cozy sleeping hole, confusion and pieces of her surroundings clinging to her.

*Clunk* *Clunk* “Mina?” *Clunk* “Wilhelmina? Are you awake? You locked the door.”

Wil shook the detritus and dreams from her consciousness. Her present world caught up to her through a thick fog. There’d been fog in her dream. Then the truck stop. Toward the end this time; just before the loud noise outside, just before she’d returned to her bedroom, she’d sensed someone calling to her.

Someone from the shadows.

“Mina!”

“What?!”

Her father paused. She could barely catch his next words. “…Um, it’s time to go.” She could picture him standing outside in the hall, rubbing his face in confusion. “You slept in.”

Wil blinked and looked at her clock. It supported her father’s claim. “Ack!” Galvanized to action; she leapt from bed, stumbled over to the light switch, and illuminated her cluttered bedroom. There, pants! There, pullover!

She opened the door to find her father still standing, still rubbing. Though his usual manner evidenced little sleep, he had the gaunt appearance of a man barely alive. The specter spoke, “Cynth- your mo- erm..”

Wil felt pity. “Don’t worry, Dad. Cynthia is my mom.”

Rob blinked and focused on his daughter’s face, his coloring but not its shape. His eyes but not his shape. A curling mane of dark hair that never could have come from him. “Thank you.”

They both smiled, and it didn’t matter whose it was.

“Your mother said to make sure you showered, but …” he glanced at his phone. “Maybe at least do deodorant.”

Daa-aad!

Rob had the grace to look sheepish. “I’ll meet you at the door in five.” He hadn’t the time to turn before Wil slammed back into her room, his steps solid but not loud enough to block the hasty, flustered noises of preparation coming from behind his daughter’s door.

 

Continued from Ninety-Six.
Keep reading to Ninety-Eight.

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

The Cure for Depression: Never Give Up, Never Surrender

Hello, there! Feeling depressed? I’m here to offer you a little encouragement.

Cat

Perhaps you are familiar with James Edgar Skye‘s favorite life maxim: Always keep fighting.

What does that mean, exactly? Is he encouraging site visitors to violence? I’m sure you all know that’s not the answer. Despite your astute intelligence, however, do you keep fighting?

Or, are you in my preferred category of fence-sitting numbness?

Worse yet, are you all alone, hiding from everything except the dark recesses of your mind?

That is no way to fight.

Don’t roll your eyes at me; you’re the one practicing bad habits. …Yes, I intend to get dressed and eat something besides these cookies. Yes, I’m wearing exercise clothes because I’m going to do something more aerobic than climb the step stool to reach another package of cookies.

whitney-wright-282066-unsplash

Hmm. Maybe we both need to step up our game.

Way back in January of this year I revealed the most secret of secrets: The Cure for Depression. Over the next few weeks I then discussed the secret steps involved.

In fact, last time I wrote about figuring out what’s helping and sticking with it.

Are you still not trying any of these?

Again, that’s no way to fight.

Fight is an action verb, and not one like “yawn,” or “scratch.” Think about what you picture when someone says, “Fight.” It’s not a person laying amidst packages of desserts, feebly raising a hand to scroll through this article and resolve to think about trying something tomorrow.

It’s pride.

It’s power.

It’s a bad-ass mother who won’t take no crap off of nobody!!!

The “nobody” we depressive types need to address is most often ourselves.

Think of how you would get ready for a physical fight. Besides psyching yourself up with a little mirror speech (which, by the way, is like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), you place your feet and hands in a defensive stance. Given time to prepare, you might wear protective clothing, train with a professional, and bring something besides air to smack the enemy with.

D’ya see the correlation? Your daily, healthy practices arm you for the fight against depression: a fight with your own, flawed mind.

It’s a battle we face every day, but one that is easier if we’re prepared. After following the recommended steps, that battle doesn’t even happen some days. Isn’t that worth fighting for?

Yes, it is. Now, get out there. Keep fighting.

Never give up. Never surrender.

 

Photo credits:
Whitney Wright
And Giphy.

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

The Cure for Depression: Follow a Daily Routine

Aw, crap. It’s morning.

Let’s roll out of bed after not sleeping well, glare at our alarm, blame everyone in the world for how terrible we feel, and stalk off to the bathroom to read our phone get ready.

With a winning morning routine like that nearly every day, why are we confused when the days continue to suck?

Did anyone ever watch The Lego Movie? D’ya remember that Emmett had an instruction book literally subtitled: “The instructions to fit in, have everybody like you, and always be happy!”? We, the viewing audience, laughed as Emmett breathed deeply, greeted the day, ate, exercised, showered, and even said, “Hello,” to all the cat lady’s pets.

Lego

In true exciting story form, the film suggested that Emmett’s real, interesting life began once those stupid instructions blew away. Sorry; but this is not how life works.

Life is really long, and we need to want to live it.

Following a routine like Emmett does is not bad. Routine is not a swear word. It’s actually a magic formula, far more magical than Expecto Patronum or even Avada Kedavra. A routine gives us a little, workable guide for getting through our foggy cloud of negativity and hopelessness.

And, you’re following a routine as we speak. It just may not be a good one.

So! *rubs hands together eagerly* Let’s get started on following one that is good. Here’s a sample morning that I threw together:

  1. Wake up, preferably early.
    Yep, we’re starting there. You already blew the early-to-bed thing. Plus, if we start with bedtime, you’ll be like me and procrastinate starting a routine until you can finally get to sleep before midnight -so we’ll get started, like, NEVER.
  2. Tell yourself you love you.
    This is not vain, it’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It’s good for you; and you are worth it, you beautiful/handsome person.
  3. Do something active.
    If you are following my advice to exercise daily, this may be the time to grab those workout clothes you set right by the bed.
    OR, to not stress you out at all, just do a little stretching. L’internet has loads of simple yoga day-greeting moves that only take a few minutes.
  4. Eat food or get ready for the day.
    I am the only woman in a house of males (all family, don’t worry), so I have to get dressed pretty much right away. For you, though, maybe you can slouch over to the toaster in your skivvies. Whatever; just go. Keep moving.
    deryn-macey-508335-unsplash
  5. Whatever you eat, make it healthy.
    Healthy also doesn’t need to be a bad word. Toast is healthy, at least compared to a breakfast of peanut M&Ms you found behind the couch cushion when you sat down to read your phone instead of stretching.
  6. Shower and/or get dressed.
    Just do it. Don’t give yourself time to think, What am I getting dressed for? Life is…. Ending that sentence is never a good idea for a depressive mindset. Like I said, keep going.
  7. Take your meds, if you do that.
    I don’t know your dosing schedule, but most are taken after a meal and in the first part of the day.
  8. Go somewhere.
    Yes, to your computer chair to check into a freelance job is “somewhere.” I know that some of us are recluses by choice and/or mental condition. If you can get outside to at least stand on the porch and watch the sun, please do.
    Otherwise, I highly recommend getting completely out of the house. Go on a walk, pick up groceries, visit a friend, see a museum, or go to work if you’re employed.

Obviously, this routine is not a hard-and-fast rule. If you decide to pack a lunch in between steps 7 and 8 I won’t leap through your screen and slap you. I mean, you gotta eat lunch, too. I understand.

Still, it’s a good format. Use it like a foundation, something to plagiarize completely for yourself and adjust according to your personal flair.

In terms of the rest of your day, I feel that people’s schedules vary too widely to tailor as much as I did above. If you work, the day’s pretty much planned out for you because you have to do that. If you’re at home, set up activities similar to the morning one.

The main idea is to have assigned tasks; to keep moving.

Depression loves to settle on us like a putrid cloud. We let it. Making life pointless and then dwelling on the pointlessness of life is a vicious circle, but a daily routine will help break you out of that.

gbarkz-505940-unsplash

Now, if you’re still with me, you may be wondering about a nighttime routine. I mentioned this in a previous article on sleep, so I don’t want to bore anybody. That, and I’ve exceeded my morning routine writing time. If I wait much longer, I’ll finish the rest of the chocolate almonds and will somehow decide to not exercise due to post-sugar crash.

Don’t get caught up in writing the perfect routine. Use mine for now; I gave you permission. As you follow it, you can slowly change to what works better for you and your lifestyle and work schedule.

You can do it, you beautiful/handsome person you.

 

Photo Credits:
Wikia
Deryn Macey
gbarkz

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

The Cure for Depression: Get Some Sleep!

Good morning, everyone! I’ve been meaning to talk to you all about ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT topics ever besides food and sex, but I kept sitting down to do so at incriminating times -like, midnight or four a.m.ish.

Yeah, I oughta be asleep then.

maeghan-smulders-207217-unsplash

Now that I’ve pushed hypocrisy under the rug by typing at my local time of 10 a.m., let’s get into it!

Sleep is important.

Duh, right? Well, so is eating the right food, but I still ate a Pop Tart for my second breakfast. So is positive self-talk and such with CBT, but I forgot all that when my kids had a meltdown all weekend. So is talking to my counselor and doing what she says and -no, wait! I did go back on my medication because the kids had a meltdown all weekend.

Point is: we know sleep is important. However, if you’re like me, then a good sleep schedule is one of the first things to go right out the window as soon as you have a small sip of it.

So let’s remember why we need sleep:

  1. Better Mental Health
    Isn’t this our goal? My internet reading says that mental illness sufferers almost always do not get enough sleep. I think that’s often because our stupid problems don’t let us sleep; for me, however, I intentionally do not because I’m self-defeating that way.
    Sleep is CRUCIAL to better mental health, resetting emotions and releasing the happier hormones into our systems.
  2. Learning.
    Our brains HAVE TO hit all the key sleep stages in order to retain information. -You know, all that REM/NREM stuff where dreams can happen. There are a ton of articles out there about this, if you want to do a little side research.
  3. Physical Health.
    After a good night’s rest, our muscles are relaxed and ready for a new day. Skin looks better, especially around the eyes. Joints, ligaments, and nerves have time to repair. Without the stress of maintaining activity, the body as a whole can work on healing.
  4. Longer Life
    No joke: consistently cutting back on sleep affects DNA. This bad practice physically shortens one’s life. Don’t get paranoid; decide to get a better schedule.
  5. Creativity
    Despite your tortured artist soul’s ideas to the contrary, good sleep produces more creativity. I am a regular practice-er of late-night muse-calling; I often produce dark poetry detailing horrific, depressive mindsets.
    In terms of consistent artistry, though, I am much more productive when I’m regularly rested.
    rawpixel-580223-unsplash
  6. Lower Stress
    Yeah, you should know this one. Well-rested is the opposite of high-strung.
  7. Other Crap You May Not Have Known About
    Lack of sleep affects: testosterone (meaning you’re not going to feel like sex so much), weight control, disease immunity, and focus.

Like water and breathable air, humans have to have sleep. The next question, then, is how do we go about sleeping?

  1. Make a sleeping place
    Yep, like a bed. Maybe you’re literally more comfortable in a recliner, though. Wherever you do your business, make it only for sleeping and sexing. Make it comfortable, dark, and free from distractions.
  2. Make a sleeping time
    Ideally (in a fiction novel), you’d get to bed around 9 or 10 p.m. every night of your life. I find that aiming for a reasonable time gets me close to it, plus trains my body to expect that.
    kristina-flour-185592-unsplash
  3. Have a relaxing routine
    Once your time’s set, prepare for it about an hour in advance. We’re talking: showering if you do it before bed, reading a book or your phone on the couch, reconnecting with your loved one(s), getting a drink, bathrooming, etc.
    DO NOT EAT an hour before bed. If you are positively famished, I’d recommend light foods at least two hours before for metabolism and heartburn reasons.
  4. Stay in bed, but don’t stress yourself
    Occasionally when I wake in the middle of the night, I toss about and decide I’d be more productive getting up. Then I’m a zombie all day. Instead, I’ll choose to make myself more comfortable by repeating my relaxing routine and possibly adjusting the house/bed temperature. Then, I’ll go back to bed and just rest.
  5. Sleep aids and medications
    I’m not going to pretend some people don’t need medicine to rest. The elephant’s in the room (and now, in the bed), right? If you’ve tried a bunch of stuff listed above and have serious trouble sleeping, get your doctor on board to prescribe something to help.
  6. Cut out the crappy stuff like smoking, drinking, recreational drugging and caffeinating
    Tricky, of course, but so so so so so so so helpful for your body in so so so so so so many ways -especially sleep.
    If you gotta do it, keep booze and coffee to healthy times: alcohol in small amounts after an earlier dinner and caffeine in the morning after food.

kinga-cichewicz-513031-unsplash

The other side of excellent sleep habits is your waking ones. Early to bed and early to rise isn’t just a great poem; it’s a blueprint for most people and a healthy lifestyle.

After a good night’s rest, a consistent, early waking time is equally vital.

In my crash-course study on this topic over the past few days, I learned that waking at the same time each morning trains your body. Our smart little brains start increasing key protein levels (PER) just before the anticipated wakeup. Some people don’t even need an alarm clock because their body has been set.

You, too, can be a living alarm clock.

Resolve today to make sleep a higher priority. Make your bedroom cozy, cut out stimulants of all varieties in the evening, wake early, be consistent, but -most of all- RELAX!

Sleep feels great; get some and you’ll see.

Thank you for joining me on Consider not Depressing. Tune in next time, when I discuss the next item that cures depression.

 

Maeghan Smulders
rawpixel
Kristina Flour
Kinga Cichewicz

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

The Cure for Depression: Get up and MOVE

This topic is my favorite because I actually have experience with it. I have some experience with the others, too. They‘re just not as fun to talk about.

But NOW we get to discuss getting off the freaking floor. NOW we get to talk exercise.

I LOVE exercise. No, I’m not a masochistic, weight-lifting gym junkie. I am most definitely not that person you see running down the street at breakneck speed and somehow grinning whilst doing it.

If you make it over to my gym, I’m the one barely shuffling around the track because I fall off treadmills. Old people are passing me, giving me thumbs-up for trying ’cause they’re nice like that.

Stillstill I LOVE exercise. For me, it’s the ability to move.

Whenever I finally get my sorry rear into workout clothes and start moving, something inside me cannot stop feeling happy. Running makes me feel like I’m flying, like I’m airborne and nothing’s going to stop me. I know it’s not endorphins because it always happens at the start. That, and I seem a bit endorphin-deficient even at the end.

I understand that moving may not be your happy place. Answer me this, though: IS NOT MOVING YOUR HAPPY PLACE?

Nope, you’re lying.

I know, because I’m sitting right next to you. It’s a bit dark, of course. We’ve got some kind of substance and/or distraction and/or avoidance crap going on. No one can get in, even if they’re actually right there by us. We’re comfortable here, but not truly happy.

Soooo…. now you ask how you can possibly get moving.

Answer: Make it easier to move.

No, really. I remember reading an author’s idea about how we are such slaves to convenience, that literally making a habit about twenty seconds more difficult will help us not do it. (Sorry for the run-on sentence.)

think it’s this dude, Shawn Achor:

If not, his book was good anyway. Something about happiness and advantage.

Shawn (or someone very like him) had a bad habit of coming home and immediately losing himself to an hour or a few watching Netflix. Conversely, he wanted to practice his guitar more.

So, he took the batteries out of the remote and ‘hid’ them in his nightstand drawer. He took his guitar and put it on a guitar stand right by the couch. It sounds really silly, but having the instrument right there and the batteries a teensy bit farther away broke him of the bad habit and improved his skills on the good one.

No, this post is not about playing the guitar. I definitely can’t do that. We’re talking about EXERCISE (yay!). We’re talking about how to even get yourself started.

  1. First, ensure that you have something you can exercise in, in terms of clothing. If you intend to stay inside (which I recommend against), you’ll only need undies. If you’re female, however, you’ll feel more comfortable with a bit more for support.
  2. Next, either set the clothing out RIGHT WHERE YOU TOUCH when you wake up, or go to sleep wearing it. Put your shoes and socks that you’ll exercise in nearby, too.
  3. Wake up just a tad earlier than usual, roll over to wherever you intend to officially move, get dressed, and get started.
  4. Choose an exercise routine that you can do. There are many.

Yes, folks, it’s that easy. And, for the low, low price of $999.99, you can exercise, too!

In reality, following my three steps is free (minus the cost of #1).

But let’s say you’ve got a YUGE mental block in terms of where or how to exercise. To answer that, I think going outside is the best. This may not work for you, particularly if “outside” is a super scary neighborhood with super scary people or potholes around. Maybe it’s snowing. Maybe you have allergies. See how the list keeps getting longer and you’re now not going to even consider exercising?

If you’re able to afford it, a local gym is good. They often have deals like “let your friends in for free this month so they’ll get suckered into signing up.” Hang out outside and ask someone to be your free gym class friend.

Thirdly, I suggest the option I use most often: l’internet. I didn’t know this, but lots of peoples on YouTube have free exercise videos. I started out with Fat People Who Move Faster than You and can now do a few HIIT workouts (okay, I do most of their session).

YouTube is my “20 seconds closer.” Sometimes I find myself making excuses like, “I just ate,” “I need to use the bathroom,” “I don’t have shoes on,” or “I haven’t been drinking enough water today and yet I still need to use the bathroom.” When the excuses pile up, I turn the TV on (we’ve got streaming) crank up my dubstep exercise music, and do it barefoot.

Even with kicking myself to move, some days I wimp out. I only do half the circuit, for example. Still, I did some. I’m always good about not beating myself up for giving up. I beat myself up for plenty of other things, but my aerobic habit is not one of them.

The results? After six months of (attempting) daily exercise, I miss the beneficial feeling when I try to skip out. It’s become a habit. I also enjoy all of the following:

  • More clarity of thought, especially when I walk outside.
  • I get good ideas for writing topics when I jog around the track because I’m super bored going around and around like that for so many laps.
  • I haven’t had a bad cold since beginning, and have only had two minor ones.

Plus, I passed an old person at the gym the other day.

I gave her a thumbs-up.

 

Photo Credits:
Curtis MacNewton
CATHY PHAM
Oana-Maria Sofronia
Jesus In Taiwan

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

The Cure for Depression

Step right up, folks! Step right up!

Come feast your eyes on this marvelous tonic; right here, right now. What you may think is a simple bottle is actually the most secret of formulas from the Jungles of the East; from the hand of Marvelodijiling, the famed Healer and only man to live past 200 years of age without a health problem of any sort.

This is The Cure for Depression.

It is, indeed. You may shake your head at me, madame. You may wonder at the authenticity, young sir. I assure ALL that this product is exactly as it says. One simple dose each day will GUA-RAN-TEE to rid you of the woes of Depression.

Labelled glass bottles with various powders and liquids

…And if that sales pitch convinced you, then you and I need to have a long talk.

Actually, we can have a really short talk: Depression doesn’t work like that. For one, it isn’t “cured.” It is, however, a condition that CAN be managed once you learn the skills. This depends on the severity of symptoms and genetics and a whole crapload of stuff that would best be handled by a professional.

I am not a professional; at least, not that kind. I am merely a fellow sufferer with access to Google. I have, therefore, come up with a list:

1. Connect with a human.

2. Connect with a paid human; also known as a counselor, psychologist, therapist, and perhaps a psychiatrist.

3. Swallow that pill, if necessary.

4. Get up, then move.

5. Get outside.

6. Eat something healthy.

7. Do something that brings you real joy.

8. If it doesn’t fit in with #7, do something for someone.

9. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

10. Sleep, at sleeping times. Wake at morning times.

11. Follow a routine.

12. Meditate, pray, journal, etc.

13. Don’t get sloppy and don’t skip what works.

14. Never give up. (Never surrender.)

Whenever you’re in your cave, I’d like you to pull out this list. Grab one; do it. Maybe steal another after an hour of trying the first one.

Furthermore, I’m gonna help a brother/sister/broster/sisther out by writing individual articles about each of these ideas. It’ll be a tetradecalogy. Stick around; eat some chocolate.

Come for the treats, stay for the community, and live life for the future you.

 

Originally posted at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog on May 28, 2018. I intend to publish one of these articles each week.

 

Photo Credit:
Matt Briney

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.