The Last Month and a Half

It’s been a really wild month and a half or so. 

To pick up from where I left off, I saw my psychiatrist in person for the first time in five years, just three weeks after our last phone call instead of three months. We again talked much longer than usual, and I brought some data on paper and my wife as a witness. 

While we didn’t change my meds at this appointment, my psychiatrist was still seeing both manic and depressive symptoms, along with the usual (the anxiety, autism, schizophrenia stuff) and wanted to see me in person again in four weeks. In the meantime, she ordered bloodwork and urged me to call an eating disorder institute about starting therapy. 

So I got on the bloodwork and the therapy intake, excited but also nervous at that point. I’d heard of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for the first time recently at a conference, and started burning through related resources. Over my nerves, I had my first appointment with my new therapist about two weeks later.

That’s the point when I really think I started to see rapid change. My new therapist recommended I read the book Anti Diet, which I found myself reluctant to put down until I finished it a few days later. It was eye opening. Life changing, and I don’t say that lightly. My head was absolutely spinning with notes from the book and a few things I’d discussed in therapy, way too busy rethinking everything I thought I’d known about health to bother much with the eating disorder.  

We talked about a lot of that, and more, in my second therapy appointment, also going over more of my history. And, she recommended me to the institute’s nutritionist. 

Within a week after that, I met with the nutritionist for the first time. With an end goal of intuitive eating, she got me set up with a meal plan—three meals and three snacks per day at agreed upon times—meal, snack, meal, so on—no more than a few waking hours apart. And a way of selecting them—the Plate By Plate Approach. I would log the food and more—like sleep, exercise, symptoms, mindfulness, coping skills, and eating environment—in an app shared with her and my therapist: Recovery Road. 

Since then, I’ve learned a lot about how my body is supposed to work. Even before the eating disorder, I’d never eaten like this, and, in many ways, I’ve never felt this good. It’s also interesting to be logging things for my team at least six times a day, instead of max once a week. There’s a lot more information to work with. At first, I thought I had time to do nothing but eat. When was I supposed to write? And I never felt hungry—the hunger cues we were working to reset were not there yet—and I rapidly found myself running out of food ideas. But I pushed through, and it got a little easier. 

Going back, the very next day, I saw my psychiatrist again. We went over my bloodwork—a few numbers were out of whack, so she ordered another round so we could keep an eye on it. Still seeing certain symptoms, I went up on the new mood stabilizer I mentioned in my last post, though a med change might be needed if that doesn’t improve things. The numbers on my blood labs being off makes me nervous—though there’s not much to do but wait for more results—and the idea of a med change makes me nervous—even the dose adjustment tends to result in at least a rough day or two to power through. But it might be necessary. 

And the next day (you see how these appointments add up?), therapy. More good thoughts discussed—including about all of the above—and we really dove into what my goals for treatment are. 

One more therapy appointment, and then a week of travel threw off some of my new normal routines. 

A few days after getting back, Monday, yesterday, I saw my nutritionist again. She was largely happy with my progress, and we discussed all of both of our questions from the first three weeks of logs. She offered me a few easy ways to spread my protein intake out a little more and maybe add a bit more variety, and assured me that pretty much all of my random symptoms were normal, which was a relief. And everything seemed easier than I’d made it out to be in my head. 

Today I had that next round of bloodwork done, now waiting on results. 

Tomorrow I’ll be back to therapy—the first appointment where we’ll starting weighing me in session, though I largely got a head start on an important part—not weighing myself outside of sessions. (I’ve only weighed myself once in the last month, down from multiple times per day.) The possibility of attending group therapy through the institute is on the horizon—but I’d already missed two of this eight week module when we first discussed it, and I knew I’d be out of town for another one, so we decided to wait for the next module at least. I also have appointments with my primary doctor and dentist, and more appointments with my nutritionist, therapist, and psychiatrist coming up.

It’s a lot of work, but things are definitely changing. I just wanted to illustrate my first steps and tell anyone who needs to hear it that recovery is possible, and it’s about so much more than the numbers. 

(Also, I obviously found time to write in between all the eating.) 

A Few Weeks in the Life

January 21st. 

There have been a lot of ups and downs in the last few weeks. 

Shortly before New Year’s, I ran out of my antipsychotic, Seroquel, due to problems having it refilled. My wife had gone to the pharmacy for me since she was in the neighborhood. The pharmacy said the psychiatrist never sent the prescription over, my psychiatrist’s assistant (whom I finally got a hold of) said she had, and my psychiatrist—whom I talk to on the phone for a few minutes once a quarter—was out of office. There hasn’t been anyone else on my care team in quite some time. In the end, I missed two of my typical daily bedtime dose (went three days between taking it). 

Without the Seroquel, I didn’t sleep worth mentioning, and was basically awake for sixty hours straight. During that time, I felt great. I went about all of my waking routines as usual, perhaps with extra vigor, catching up on my monthly writing goal, and going to a previously scheduled experience gift of a guided painting night from my mom, with her and my wife. Despite increasing psychosis symptoms (and the complete lack of sleep), I began to feel that maybe there was no point in going back on the meds at all. In reality, I probably had something like a brief, withdrawal induced (hypo)manic episode of some kind. 

In the end, my psychiatrist’s assistant got a hold of my psychiatrist, who sent the prescription over again. Now that I was definitely in no state to drive, my wife went back to the pharmacy. They still said they didn’t have it. She called me to troubleshoot some more. In the end, it turned out she didn’t give the pharmacy my maiden name (and my psychiatrist/pharmacy seems to switch between my maiden and married names at random). I always give both names, and thought she’d observed this and would do the same (or at least the pharmacy might prompt her). In any case, problem solved. I went back on Seroquel and tried to bank extra sleep. 

Yet, after that, my mood, focus, symptoms, and energy plummeted. I became more anxious and moody, feeling self destructive. The increased psychosis symptoms continued; there’s Farrah, the recurring dog, teleporting around, and a song I was listening to, my father’s corpse, gibberish voices, more. 

I suddenly spent hours of my free time curled up on my office floor crying for no apparent reason. 

I relapsed and cut myself for the first time in over a year and a half, after a lot of resisting the urge. 

I couldn’t (can’t) write for long, no matter how clear the words are in my head. After finishing up my December goal on New Year’s Eve, despite a lot of time sitting and staring at my notebook, I haven’t posted anything since, my January goal deadline looming. 

I took two days off from my usual routines (though I taught a class in that time), the first time in over a month I did so without solid reason (holiday, travel, someone else’s cancellation). 

During the time I was off meds, I rapidly lost weight (not a lot, given that it was three days, but noticeable to someone who habitually hops on the scale several times a day, even after moving it to a bathroom I don’t go in much). I’m currently theorizing that the main reason my BMI is still low-normal and not underweight is because of the Seroquel, normally famous for making you gain weight—though I’ve lost some weight while on it, and am below my ideal weight, I am not losing at the rate I would normally. And that gave my eating disorder symptoms—primarily calorie restriction and overexercising—new life. About a month ago, I’d thrown out a crucial part of the enema kit I was abusing, sometimes multiple times a day, to “purge” in an attempt to quit; in stomach pain (unrelated), I acquired a new one, used it the once somewhat legitimately, but also very aware of my inability to quit with the kit around. After one more semi legitimate use, I gave the crucial piece to my wife and asked her to hide it, but later found it while she was out (Monday), and used it again. 

(I was supposed to be running a routine TNG meetup event that night, but for the first time since I started the group—about a year and a half ago—I decided, day of, that I was not up to going, and she was my backup host.)

I also did a lot of eating disorder related research (and general media consumption). I read Almost Anorexic and Elena Vanishing

I’ve still hosted the other TNG meetup event, and taught both virtual classes as scheduled so far this month. 

I took another night (Thursday) off from my usual routines. 

Yesterday, delusions joined the hallucination upswing. Why the fireplace would try to poison my dinner after failing to explode, even though I saw the smoke of it, I don’t know. Based on a dream I’d had, voices taunted that I was responsible for the long ago suicide of a then long ago former friend-quaintance. In a confused state as my wife tried to convince me to sleep it off, to try functionality again in the morning, I told her she was very pretty, and asked her whom she was, and where she had come from, picturing something like Farrah’s Void. 

“Uh… Queens?” she said.

“You’ve met the queen?” I asked, enthused, completely misunderstanding, yet also apparently with it enough to think that if you’d met the Queen, you were someone important, even though I didn’t know whom my own wife was, and if you’d asked me the Queen of what, I probably couldn’t have told you. 

Later, she told me, “You should go to sleep,” and I asked her if it was nice there, and if it was in Queens, and for directions. (I had no memory of this in the morning—I abruptly remembered it several days later while out on a walk, and started laughing, much to the confusion of onlookers.) 

But today—another morning off—I feel at a bit of a loss as to why this is (still) happening, or what to do next. 


It’s January 22nd now. I took last night and this morning off from most of my daily routines again. To be fair, both were spent on nice, special occasion family things, and I caught up and got back on track before dinner and my evening routines today.


January 23rd. The gibberish voices returned last night. I’ve been on track, though, and I’m experimenting with ways to rest more, stress less. 

I still can’t seem to write more than a few sentences at a time, even though I have a lot that seems ready to go in my head.  

It’s not even that I’m just unfocused. I’m not starting to write and then going to scroll the web intermittently instead. I open my notebook, or I open the document, and then I blink, look at the clock, and maybe half an hour’s gone by, there’s nothing on the page, nothing in my browsing history, and I have no idea what just happened. I seem to just be sitting and staring. 

This morning, I thought I’d try time tracking to figure out where in the world that time went. Every now and then, every few months or so, I track my actual time in detail for about a week, to make sure it’s going where I want it. Normally, it is.

Today, at 11:05, I took a break. I had a snack and I went on the swingset in the backyard. At about 11:35, I wrote that I was about to start writing. I felt inspired. Then I blinked, looked at the clock, and it was 12:15. Nothing in the document. Nothing in my browsing history. No clue. 

Shortly after writing the above, I mentioned the time tracking gap to my wife, who suggested I work at the extra desk in her office so she could see what happened/nudge me before I “blinked” and it was forty minutes later.

I sat down and opened up my notebook, and then apparently stared into the void. I remember more of a perception of time passing, but not much else. She nudged me at some point, but not much happened—minimal movements/speaking/response, almost catatonic. Eventually she got me to the bedroom for a nap, a little after 1:30, and I proceeded to sleep until almost 4, having strange, half awake feeling dreams and waking groggy, but feeling my recent normal between the missing times. 

I have no idea why I’m so tired. I’ve tried shifting my wakeup time twenty minutes later; I’ve done a lot of sleeping in lately; I’ve slept well and plenty overall. But I did feel like I was about to pass out, stumbling my way down the landing to my wife’s office earlier. 


January 29th. I took the rest of the 23rd, and the 24th, off, then got back on track. Writing is going better—slow but steady, though I still haven’t posted anything—and I feel better overall. My energy’s up. Still feeling kind of overwhelmed as certain deadlines loom. Eating Disorder Mode has largely continued, unfortunately, with near daily enema purging, and falling into chewspitting again for the first time in two months or so. 

But I taught a class yesterday, with lots of people and lots of participation, and got other social time in, and that always perks me up. 

I’m tweaking my schedule for sustainability. I’ve shifted my wakeup and lights out time slightly later to better match my natural rhythms. Closed an unproductive gap and removed an admittedly unproductive item from my routines, but created a gap at night, after my wife goes to bed and my electronics get turned off, to get some alone time, offline, to decompress before Seroquel and lights out, maybe do some writing (and she gets her own gap before I wake up). Finally admitted that consistent grocery shopping—having to feel up to driving, physically shopping, the sensory experience of the store, so on—is still often a Lot for me, and handed the general shopping to my wife at her nudging (actually, a lot of this was her idea), though I’ll still make the list and handle all the rest. 

I’m hoping I’m still just a bit off kilter from the med mix up, and those changes will help both short and long term. If not, I still have my psychiatrist appointment in less than two weeks to discuss more.  

I’ve gone back and forth on whether this is a blog post, a failed start at an incondite blog post, or a little log I’m keeping for myself (outside of my usual journaling). As I read it over, it sounds like a pretty basic life update for a mental health blog, and while that’s not necessarily bad, it’s not quite my usual style, either. 

I’ve talked to a few different people recently about balancing different parts of my public image. Like almost anyone, I’m more inclined to show off my wins online than discuss the hard, or even, for me, mundane, parts of life. As someone whom people tell me they think of as an educator, a leader, a role model, it’s especially tempting to brush over things like mental health symptoms when in front of a larger audience. And I don’t like to worry anyone. 

But… I also write and teach on mental health, so at some point, it’s weird if I’ve never actually discussed or displayed symptoms in public as they happen, as part of life, in a sometimes unpretty way—only smoothed over, as part of topic centered pieces, after the fact. 

And I think it’s important for people to have a real reference for day to day, honest, non sensationalized mental illness, from inside of it, especially for the conditions shrouded in stigma. 

So, here it is. A few notable, but not entirely unusual, weeks in my life. 

Kabbalah for Schizophrenics (Or: Spending Too Much Time in Atziluth)

Around the beginning of August, after some dabbling in it, I unexpectedly got really into tarot reading. Down various related rabbit holes I went, often trying to generally get (back) in touch with my skeptical spiritual side, with my cultural roots, with the philosophies that had called to me, and maybe add a bit of witchcraft. From sigils to synagogue to Stoicism, I explored.

This month, I landed somewhat close to my cultural origins and, via looking for tarot resources through familiar venues, ended up attending two Zoom classes at least half about Kabbalah.

Kabbalah is an esoteric method, discipline, and school of thought in Jewish mysticism. It’s really fascinating, if kind of mind melting, stuff. Kabbalah’s not really a primary Thing of mine, and I’m far from an expert (I seem to be setting up camp somewhere in witchy Stoicism), but it gave me a new spin on my deck (A. E. Waite) to consider, and other things to ponder. 

Which brings us to the actual subject of this post. 

In Kabbalah, we have the concept of the Four Worlds. Put simply, Atziluth is the world of the divine, the spiritual, of wisdom and the big picture; it is precreation, things not yet taking shape. (In tarot cards, it correlates to the suit of wands.) Briah (in tarot, cups) is the world of feelings and morals, of the first stages of creation, where ideas start to take shape and take up space, just start to ossify. Yetzirah (swords) is the world of planning, thoughts, mental constructs, and refinement of ideas. Assiah (pentacles) is the world of the physical, of primality, of the created, of action, manifestation, of the day to day mundanity we often call reality. 

Each of these worlds has its place. To stay in Assiah all the time would be, well, rather simple, to the point of (dare I say) boring. But to neglect it is to end up impoverished and (eventually) physically die. To never visit Atziluth is to never connect with your highest self, to never gain a divine view and wisdom, to never go beyond

This may sound a lot like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from psychology to some people (and I think you’ll find a lot of spiritual/mystic concepts sound a lot like something from psychology, and as a bit of a skeptic, I like to stick close to those, viewing tarot cards as something like thought prompts). While you can jump around the hierarchy, things tend to go better with first things first: physical needs met now, security in that long term, then the emotional/mental: relationships with others, love, and the security that comes with that, then reaching for achievement and esteem, and finally self actualization.

As I revisited these concepts, I hit on a way of phrasing a large problem of mine: I spend too much time in the world of Atziluth.

This may sound lofty and pretentious, but it’s a real problem, and I think frequently, for me, what sounds pretentious at first is actually a mental illness thing. If you’ve seen the phrase I reject your reality and substitute my own on a coffee mug or tee shirt, it can sound pretentious at first read (and it’s often a joke), or, if it’s a little too true, like a little thing medical professionals like to call schizophrenia. 

In any case, spending too much time in Atziluth. This manifests for me in several different ways. 

I typically feel a large disconnect between my mind (more accurately, all of my nonphysical self) and my body. I feel more at home deep in my thoughts than in my body, and I frequently view having any physical form—being pulled back into Assiah—as a required nuisance. (My ascetic leanings—see Stoicism—don’t always help.) It’s not a matter of appearance or fitness or health—even my idea of the most perfect human form would still make me feel this way. 

Because of this, I unwisely tend to neglect or even abuse my physical self, view it with disdain—why can’t it keep up with what I consider the rest of me capable of? Imagine what I could do, it wasn’t for all this sleeping and eating and drinking water, and what happens when I don’t do those things. In the physical world, this looks a lot like poor self care (though I’ve gotten a lot better on that front), active self harm (same improvement here), and symptoms of anorexia (this is the big one, currently, and it has other roots in my psychosis). 

There’s an irony in this. Oh how wise and intellectual, spending too much time in Atziluth, I ponder, chew-spitting cookies and eyeing the enema kit again because I resent needing calories to manifest my ideas in the physical world. 

My wife and I have had several conversations that contributed to the formation of this post. She basically posited that if Atziluth is where ideas are first conceived and creativity runs limitless, it’s kind of like that’s where your ideas live, and you have to visit to retrieve them. Some people struggle to visit for long, or to find much there, or to bring that back with them. But me—on the bright side—I seem to have an almost unlimited pass, and basically whole books up there ripe for the picking (typically manifesting as dissociative/maladaptive daydreams on the border of hallucination), and after a brief run back through Briah and Yetzirah, (if I’m properly medicated) I manifest them into reality/Assiah with apparently astonishing speed (publishing eight full length books among other writings in the last—less than—two years.) 

I told her a story about when I was a kid. I had an imaginary friend who was a witch. In hindsight, I was a little too old for imaginary friends and a little too convinced of her having some form of existence (hello, early warning signs of schizophrenia?), but in any case, she was a witch, and also a ghost, a wise girl about my age, and she lived with her ghost family under my house. (There was no basement or anything, but, well, they were ghosts, so the fact it was all dirt under there wasn’t an issue for them; they had a ghost house.) She was going to teach me how to be a witch. As part of this, I had to visit a ghost library under her house, and read the appropriate texts on the subject. The way for me to visit was to close my eyes and visit it in my mind. And I did. At night, I’d go down there and read the witchcraft textbook of the week, sometimes writing things down in the morning. (However, my daytime practice results were iffy, and at some point, I stopped engaging with… whatever that was.) 

But I’m in my witchy phase again—and I don’t think it’s just a phase this time—I have schizophrenia, and I still seem to have a library in my head to go visit, so, y’know… yeah, I’m not sure how that sentence ends, either. (Incidentally, due to a frankly royal screwup by a medical professional yet to be determined, I completely missed my last dose of my antipsychotic for the first time in almost two years—hey, have we heard two years recently?—and I am not properly medicated today, so if this post is total nonsense, please bear with me.) 

But, too much time in Atziluth also has some pretty big social effects, that look a lot like what we call negative symptoms of schizophrenia, lack of normal functions. Or, I’m a pretentious space case.

I struggle with spending too much time grounded in the physical world (eventually, my brain will rebel and dissociate, rendering me flat or nonverbal), and struggle to find joy or stay engaged in what most people consider the mundanities of friendship—playing games, watching television together. I prefer extended freeform conversation focused on ideas, or coexisting in the same space as we both engage with our own ideas in some way (the adult version of parallel play, frequently associated with autism, which I also have), visiting Atziluth together, in a way, but most people do not. Relatedly, I also just don’t have much motivation to interact with people (outside of larger groups) I’m not already very close with, who are more compatible with that kind of interaction; I prefer my friends to be more like family, and I want more of that (though I’m grateful for the people I have), but struggle with getting to that phase with new people.

I swear I’m still an extrovert, overall (I used to be an introvert)—I get my energy from the kind of social interaction I prefer—but I’m an atypical and mentally ill extrovert who struggles to get that preference met. So, sometimes, I lack the energy to try to get that need met (have you ever been just too hungry to cook?), or to engage at all, and prefer for the moment to just play with my ideas and visit Atziluth by myself. (Which, incidentally, looks a lot like workaholism, since, when generally properly medicated, I’ve made something resembling a career out of it, instead of getting stuck in Atziluth the whole time and staring into space blankly). 

None of this is a major news flash, just a new connection, a new way of thinking about symptoms (although, reading over this post, I don’t think it’s an explanation suited to casual conversation). 

Schizophrenia can be almost as hard to pin down as Kabbalah, so new explanation frameworks that make any kind of sense to me, at least, are something I always welcome. 

Tracking the I’ll Give You Series vs. My Mental Health at the Time

I wrote a post a while back: “Tracking Contrivance vs. My Mental Health at the Time,” an exercise in tracing changes in my writing versus changes in my mental health.

For this post, I’m doing it again, with the emphasis on the I’ll Give You series.

(Note: this post was updated to go through the current month, after the original post.)

May 2020

It’s been most of a year since the whole “my father died suddenly at fifty-eight and I found his ten day old corpse in his house” thing. I seemed to be over the worst of the trauma response for a little while, but the pandemic struck full force two months ago, reports about overstuffed refrigerated trucks dominating the news. My grandmother passed just days ago at home in hospice care; I arrived just moments after her death to sit with family. 

I’ve spent most of a year buried in Contrivance, my dark, primary original fiction project of most of a decade, writing instead of sleeping. My fear of beds—too many bodies in too many beds, memory and flashback and nightmare and hallucination—is so bad, I’ve taken to sleeping on the floor in the loft (after scaring the daylights out of my best friend—now our quarantine roommate in the guest room—by unexpectedly sleeping on the couch, in the house we closed on the first day of March). I’m not on meds, and I’m Zooming my therapist weekly. The world is burning. I just got engaged.

And I need less doom and gloom.

The idea for a new writing project is slowly taking shape. Daydreams—erotic and otherwise—start to take real shape, the same characters, situations, themes, showing up again and again. I could use a distraction, a little side project. Maybe eighty-thousand words, I tell myself, a few months, one book. Just a detour while I figure out a few things about my real writing love, Contrivance. (It’s not you, it’s me. Maybe we just need a break.) 

I start hashing out character basics, scroll Zillow for setting inspiration, combining random ideas into a plot. I sit on the couch and talk it all out with my best friend, also a writer in need of distraction.

I’m taking an online writing workshop, and our prompt for a freewrite one day is company from out of town could mean trouble. I misinterpret it slightly—though the instructor stresses that it’s open to interpretation—and a plot is born, an enemy, a cause, an ending to the story. 

I start writing for real, and it’s like a dam bursting. I struggle with titles for a bit, but eventually settle on I’ll Give You Everything I Am (You’ll Give Me Everything I Want to Be). And I start posting it on Archive of Our Own to a silent reception for a full five chapters, because why not? 

July 2020

I am still writing like crazy—even winning Camp NaNoWriMo, writing over fifty thousand words in July alone—though I dropped out of the more structured writing workshop. (I finished a shorter one on dialogue, and I notice that this project’s dialogue is much more relaxed, natural, than in Contrivance, something I want to take with me to my edits.) I’m also picking up a bit of an audience, which is exciting, and a little nervewracking—I’ve never really written erotica before, not even something centered on romance. 

I’ve also picked up two tricky, additional main characters, whom I battle with—they want to throw grenades at my plot, and I would like them to go away and leave my three-month, eighty-thousand word, one-book side project alone. I retcon them out of past chapters where they’re not strictly needed only for them to pop up again, more significantly, later, until we’re seriously throwing the word polyamory around. 

I’m spending a lot of time at the park, on the swingset in triple digit heat, listening to music and trying to figure this project out. Who on Earth are these two, and where do they fit into my beautifully simple, tiny project? 

And so Jen and Clara are born. 

Meanwhile, my mental health isn’t going so well. I’m hallucinating regularly—mostly Dad, dead, and, of all things, a mysterious golden retriever puppy named Farrah. I’m catatonic for hours at a time, occasionally delusional, and generally a mess. 

I also start this—The Schizophrenia Diaries—because I sure have mental health things to talk about. I’m still maintaining my older blog—more alternative sexuality education—too, and that’s now picking up attention from my erotic fiction audience. 

My therapist thinks I should go back on meds, but I can’t even get in to my old psychiatrist.

Everyone is a mess right now. 

August 2020

I’ve accepted—mostly—that Jen and Clara exist. In Chapter Fourteen, Clara tells Lalia a story that just begs for more, about a time she ran away. In the middle of the night, in the dark, I fire up a new document and title it bluntly “The Night That Clara Ran Away”, a title which oddly sticks permanently, and has a few more stories titled in something like parody, like the later “The Night That Clara Just Wanted to Sleep” and “The Night That Evan Ran Away.”

So I begin writing companion stories. 

September 2020

I’m back on meds, and it’s mostly great. I’m sleeping at night, and all but bouncing with energy during the day. I stop seeing my therapist. My best friend moves in with my mom, and I get my own swingset in the backyard. Vaccines are on the horizon, my wedding is in two months. I’ve been posting Contrivance bits on their own website. A neurologist rules out the idea that I’m having seizures.

In that process, I’m required to do a sleep deprived EEG. So I pull an all nighter. My appointment also happens to be right after Yom Kippur. So I start fasting at sundown, sleep, fast for about twenty-six hours total, eat dinner, and then stay up all night, snacking, and have my morning appointment and then a full afternoon and evening awake, for a total of thirty-eight consecutive waking hours.

If one wasn’t psychotic at the start of that, they would be by the end. 

And, y’know, I was schizophrenic to start with.

In the middle of the all nighter, I create a Discord server to chat with myself, like a normal person, figuring out I’ll Give You plot bits. In that crazed night, the plot of what becomes Book Two—by now I’ve accepted a Book Two is coming—is born. 

November 2020

I get married. It is one of the best days of my life, and another one is close on its heels. 

I finish what I now acknowledge is only Book One of what I’ve hesitantly started to call the I’ll Give You series/trilogy, and, for fun, have a few copies vanity printed for me and friends. But now that I’ve put all the formatting work in… why not self publish? 

So I do. It’s surreal, to hold a published book that arrived in the mail, with hundreds of pages, a real cover, a summary on the back along with reader reviews, a dedication page with my wife’s name on it, and my (pen) name on the front.

But… that looks like a book, my mom says when I send her a picture. She had a vague understanding that I was posting erotica online after my best friend blurted it out at dinner, but is surprised—as am I—by the almost four hundred page hardcover in my hands.

Yeah. My quick little side project, indeed. 

To my shock, people who aren’t my mom even buy it.

December 2020

Encouraged, I start posting Contrivance in the same manner—serially, in order, as a book, on Archive of Our Own. It doesn’t get quite the same engagement, which is funny to me—Contrivance is still my precious baby in a way, not the I’ll Give You series, but that’s okay. Sex sells. I accept that. I’m also accepting I might actually know something about these things I’ve been writing about, and schedule my first classes as an alternative sexuality educator.

I think I’ve just about got things figured out—I know how Jen and Clara fit into my no longer so simple plot, I know how I like to post things, I know how self publishing works, I know what has an audience, I know how to talk to my mom about it, I know what’s coming in Book Two—and then, Clara tosses another grenade. 

She has an eating disorder. Anorexia, specifically. Well, mostly recovered, but it’s been there this whole time. 

And… it has. It’s there, all right—in every time we see her interact with food. It’s there, every time she might want a coping mechanism. It’s there, in the way she looks in the mirror, in the way she lives in the dance studio, in her penchant for self destruction. It’s there, in the former perfectionistic, traumatized teenager without a mother. It’s been there. 

So I do some research, and I make it work. 

February 2021

This whole writing companions thing is kind of out of control, and now there’s a book’s worth of them, and I publish The First IGY Companion as almost an accident. 

I’ve started teaching webinars, I’ve started going to butler school. Other areas of my life are picking up—not just hunkered down writing. 

May 2021

I take a little staycation, a few day writing retreat alone at a nearby hotel, using rewards points that we got to keep through the pandemic.

I don’t take care of myself well, though, too lost in my words. My mental state spirals, and I self harm for the first time in many years.

Interestingly, the chapter I’m writing is the one where the main character, Lalia, tries blood play for the first time.

My wife takes me home early, and I recover quickly.

July 2021

By now, I’m running Las Vegas TNG, a local alternative sexuality group, and I publish Service Slave Secrets (Volume One), the first years of my blog on the subject, to a nice reception.

Book Two—I’ll Give You Everything I Want to Be (You’ll Give Me Everything I Need to Be)—is flowing, as everyone unpacks their issues in and out of therapy.

I try going off my meds briefly, gradually cutting down with the thought that I’ll stop when it starts to affect my sleep, as that’s the easiest way to measure the minimum dosage. However, my sleep doesn’t really suffer, but I abruptly realize, five minutes overdue for the first dose I’ve totally skipped, that I’ve been absolutely miserable, and can’t hear my own thoughts over the music hallucinations I mistook for a song stuck in my head, among others. 

I go back to the full dosage that night. 

November 2021

Several months into the “health kick” that’s taken an especially dark spiral recently—hint hint, healthy diets don’t include this much purging and fasting and overexercising—I accept that I have an eating disorder—all of the symptoms of anorexia, not quite underweight—and start the cycle of on again off again commitment to recovery. I don’t need to weight restore, but this cycle has got to stop. I start to talk about it with the people close to me, and write a post in which I theorize about where it came from: 


It’s been almost a year since my abrupt realization that Clara had an eating disorder, and I am now detangling my thoughts and hers. I write a post on this—the dangers of writing a character with a disorder I don’t have, as a schizophrenic author with a very fine line between character and self

At some point in my research, the tables turned. Now I’m writing backstory companions to pour what my head sounds like onto paper—this many calories eaten, this many hours left to fast, this many pounds, BMI this, BMR that, that many minutes of exercise—thoughts that weren’t mine when I started. 

I write about how I took an online eating disorder assessment as research early on, and got a very safe, normal score. Now, though: yup. Something’s not right. 

Which came first? Was I already developing disordered eating habits, projecting them onto a character until I couldn’t deny it was me anymore? I’m convinced that the character’s disorder came first, but we’ll see. 

Incidentally, I finish and publish Book Two instead of winning NaNoWriMo.

March 2022

I publish The Second IGY Companion along with Contrivance in the same hectic week, having recently finished my first (posted) AU for the I’ll Give You series: “Let’s Not Be Star Crossed Lovers”, a short multichapter of alternate backstory. 

I’m also finally learning to drive, hallucinations under control, which is always an emotional roller coaster. 

Book Three—I’ll Give You Everything I Need to Be (You’ll Give Me Everything I Am)—continues on. 

It’s certainly an interesting month. I’m still bouncing back and forth on the eating habits, now with my wife’s help supervising three meals a day for a while, starting to sort out my disordered thoughts around food, focusing on the fact that skinny seems to represent productive for me, and that I’m actually more productive if I just suck it up and eat.

August 2022

Book Three is still in progress, flowing along. A few companions have gone up, but they’re slowing down, and I’m thinking of editing them into a future edition of The Second IGY Companion rather than creating a third. I have at least one more AU going on in my head to write.

I’ve gotten into hiking in the last few months, started donating plasma, and started a Little Free Library, and have been working on my newest blog, A Productive Hannah, and am eyeing a brewing sequel to Contrivance.

I publish Service Slave Secrets: Volume Two, breaking my personal royalty records.

August is a hard month for me, though. I’d like to blame it on hormonal, non psychiatric med changes, but I’m not sure. Right on the heels of some major anniversaries involving my father’s birth and death, symptoms, especially the eating issues, flare, and burnout threatens.

I take a week of vacation in Boston, and pledge to take September off from events.

October 2022

I’m back to events, but we’ve gotten into camping, a welcome reprieve from most of the world. I’m trying to find balance, and overall, my events and writings are going really well. I’m really feeling what’s going on in Book Three, and soon to publish The Schizophrenia Diaries.

We’ll see what the future holds.