On depression…

Its Wednesday, January 8th… 2020…

I’ve been really depressed since right after Christmas. I’m not suicidal by any means, however, I did have one day so bad that I just wished to die rather than keep feeling. That was a bad day, but I’m very lucky that that is not everyday for me.

This depression feels too big. It feels too large. With a shape that is inadequate. This depression is not easy to keep inside of me so that it doesn’t effect other people. Its like my weak body is somehow carrying a large piece of ugly furniture and I’m stumbling and everybody walking by me is getting hit and nudged by this strange huge thing I’m carrying that I can’t even put down.

That is what really sucks about depression, one of the things that suck. Its that I can’t relax or take a break from it. Maybe sleeping could be considered a break? But I can’t sleep through this. Waking up, even if I were to somehow sleep for a month, this depression would be there, waiting.

People have asked me before what severe depression feels like. They want to know… Do they have it? What should they watch out for? How can they tell other people have it? Well, I do not know. I can tell people how I personally feel though. I feel like I’ve lost something. I feel like I’m suffering a loss, like I lost an important person in my life. Something I am looking for and I will never find. I feel sadness but I’m not sad. I just feel like something is wrong and I can’t name it or find it or fix it. But it feels like this constantly, even the people and pets and the books I read, they try but cannot fill this space in me. And I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that there is no magic pill, or doctor, or therapist, or anything that can be found and given to me that solves the problem. I’m not saying there is no help to be found. Honestly, anyone trying to help is helping just by their attempt or their presence.

So today, today I’m trying. I did some writing today, im reading more than I’ve been able to all week, I’m able to care today enough to simply put a cup in the dishwasher rather than leave it on the table. I’m trying today. And, right now, that is enough. I’m okay with these small steps.

One step at a time, one second at a time. And that’s okay.

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo, A Review

Well… I was NOT expecting this at all. It is a great book to add to and continue the story of the grishaverse, no doubt about that. But, is it good for my mental health and sanity? That’s a different question and I’ll ask my therapist tomorrow! 🙃

Okay, so King Nikolai is still literally battling his inner and sometimes outer demon. That’s a huge part of this story. It really made me think of myself battling demons from my past that creep into my present life and make me feel bad. Its good to face your demons, everyone knows that, but is it also good to try and accept them too? Make room for the demon in your heart. Not to feed it and help it grow but to just be who you are, the good and the bad.

Zoya, my favorite Grisha that I honestly think I could never get along with, is also dealing with her past in a very different way. She is trying to accept how she loved and followed a man, The Darkling, that caused so much pain and suffering for everyone. Including a personal loss for Zoya. I really got to see past her tough exterior to her, can I say this, gentle soul? Well, don’t worry! She will always kick everyone’s ass no matter what, mine too. I think we should start a Zoya Boot camp, get into Grisha shape.

Nina is also a huge part of this story, but she is in Fjerda the whole time. She is undercover with a few other Ravkan Grisha trying to sneak Grisha away from Fjerdan’s evil clutches. And omg are they EVIL!! Wow. Just read it. She is finally coming to peace with losing Mathias while still remaining full of that confidence that I love so much. This part of the book is really intense, read and find out. RAFO.

I loved this book though! However much stress it caused BC Leigh Bardugo just isn’t messing around here. And omg the ending. Just unreal. If you haven’t read this and you love the Grishaverse… Just do it, my friend.

Thanks for reading my review and happy reading!!

Misery by Stephen King, A Review

First of all, I want to point out that this book was published in 1989, and the terminology used to discuss mental illness is therefore dated. However, even with the almost 30 year gap between then and now, with the support of doctors in this field, King really does a splendid job of describing severe psychosis.

This book follows the bestselling author Paul Sheldon as he attempts to drive out of Colorado during a major snowstorm while drinking. Not a good combination! Perhaps this can serve as a warning for drinking and driving! He wrecks his Camaro and is found by the very strong and solid Annie Wilkes. And Annie Wilkes is his number one fan.

Paul Sheldon is most famous for his romance novels about the beautiful and bubble headed Misery. However, he thought he was finished with this character he has come to loathe by killing her in the final book that had just been published. Let’s just say that Annie, his number one fan and a verified psychopath, has other plans.

The scariest part of this story was how I would think I knew how insane Annie was but then she would get crazier and surprise me. This book is definitely not the way anyone should view mental illness, however I cannot disregard how realistic Annie’s insanity was for a worst case scenario. King makes an interesting point that really sent shivers down my spine. He pointed out that a person with depression will kill themselves, however, a person like Annie will not only kill themselves but take others with them. It was that thought that really scared me.

As the book continues, Annie Wilkes becomes increasingly unstable and Paul begins feeling more and more like an exotic animal that is now caged. A caged animal that will never see their beautiful homeland again.

As usual, Kings ending to this intense thriller packs a punch. I really did not know how things were going to turn out. This is a fairly quick read for a Stephen King novel, so its perfect if your looking for something for Halloween week. I highly recommend this book, not just for Halloween scares, but its just a great story that I really enjoyed (Although, yes, I was totally freaked out the whole time, lol).

Thanks for reading my review and HAPPY READING!!!

Update on Mom and Myself! ✌🤟🤘

Mom has exactly a week and a half of radiation left. She is doing so well with it! This honestly surprises me just because I always expect the worst but also I’m just so happy. I may partially be so happy because I really didn’t expect this to go so easily. Mom uses Aloe Vera gel, unscented just straight up Aloe, and she really has no burns or redness so far. She does experience some fatigue and some short lived headaches occasionally after her treatment but it’s nothing severe. Nothing that can be compared to chemotherapy. Of course, like I said, mom’s got a week and a half left so I will see if she remains feeling as good as she does. I will update again after she completes her radiation.

I am doing well. For the past week and off and on earlier, I have been driving mom to her radiation treatments. I have no problem with this, I enjoy being up early and I also enjoy the feeling I get when I know I’m successfully helping mom. I’ve been going through a depression lately, which makes everything so much harder. I find myself drifting off into bad thoughts about random events from the past and also things that bother me but really are not a big deal. I catch myself doing this while reading and it bothers me a lot. I will be staring at the page and yet, on the inside, I am somewhere completely different and also somewhere with a very negative feeling. This scares me. It scares me because of my fear of becoming embittered. I do not want this negativity to overcome me and turn me into a person that I do not want to be.

I will say that mom and I are helping each other equally. Not only does it help me to help her, but my mom is a great person to talk to and we are both able to empathize with one another right now. This empathy, a very real understanding of our separate and yet similar issues, is also surprising to me. It’s a very pleasant surprise and I really appreciate this gift we have been given at this time to have the ability to not just care for, but to compliment our care with such complete understanding. It is a wonderful feeling.

I hope anyone else who is getting through Chemotherapy and radiation has a helper and also, as a person struggling with Bipolar 1 disorder, I understand how lucky I am to have someone like my mom and the rest of my family to simply be there.

More updates coming soon. Thanks for reading! I wish the best for everyone out there. No matter what it is your going through, please hold on to hope.

XOXO

“What was the most important step a man could take?” Spoiler-Free Review of Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

This massive third volume to the Stormlight Archives not only introduces a lot of new information about all the characters, but releases the past of Dalinar and leads him into finding the true answer to the question, “What is the most important step a man could take?”. Reaching the answer to this question is not as easy as it may seem, and WOW the answer written by Brandon Sanderson will blow you away!

Oathbringer deals with many real-world issues including drug addiction, alcoholism, depression and Dissociative Identity Disorder. This book really holds for me the reason I love fantasy so much. I love the way it tackles these kinds of issues in such a relatable way especially for someone like me that lives with Bipolar Disorder and Depression. I also am close to celebrating 2 years of being sober from alcohol and 3 years of being clean from any kind of drug use. These are very serious issues and the most serious thing about these issues is how widespread they are. So when an author like Brandon Sanderson writes such an eloquent book concerning these things, it lifts my spirits knowing that somebody is okay with talking about this in such an open way. I have no idea if Brandon Sanderson has ever experienced these things, but he is giving people like me a chance to feel like a hero. If the men of Bridge four can overcome, then honestly I think I can too.

In this book, we also get a peek into the thoughts of the members of Bridge Four, and I believe this is one of the best parts. I especially love this quote from Rock,

Some days, it seemed you couldn’t break Kalidin Stormblessed with all the stones on Roshar. Then one of his men would get wounded, and you’d see him crack.”

Rock, Oathbringer, Brandon Sanderson

Kalidin is one of my favorite characters. He deals with an almost constant depression and feelings of guilt based on events that were not in his control from his past. It is so refreshing to see the viewpoints of his men in Bridge Four.

Okay so this next quote is a bit of a spoiler… so stop reading if you havent read Oathbringer yet. Teft was by far for me the most break out awesome character in this book. He actively struggled with a real addiction, something that hasn’t been spoken of before in a Sanderson Stormlight Archive Novel. I truly relate to these words and I have to share them with anyone who has gone through a mental helath issue, addiction, or alcoholism… yes, Teft says the Words…

I will protect those I hate. Even… even if the one I hate most… is … myself.”

Teft, Oathbringer, Brandon Sanderson

WOW. Yes Sir, Mr. Sanderson, that pretty much sums it up for me. I have to admit I cried at this point. It was a deep struggle for Teft this whole book and when it got to this point… my emotions got the better of me.

I already knew that Dalinar struggled with alcoholism in his youth but its an amazing reveal when I got to live through some of his darkest days. We see deep into Dalinar and truthfully this is his book. You may be able to surmise that by the title alone, Oathbringer, the name of his Shardblade, which we also get a history of. The ending with Dalinar is unreal and gave me such a strong feeling of hope. Brandon Sanderson seems to know that hope is vital to his readers. Do not worry! Sanderson sums everything up beautifully no matter how dark it seems while reading.

I wish I could thank Brandon Sanderson personally for this journey through the Cosmere I have taken. It seemed like he was writing for me personally at so many points. I have gotten so much more from this series of series than just a joyful jump into a gorgeous fantasy world. I have received real hope from his wise words and his characters that will now always be in my reach and always in my heart.

The next book I am reading is Dune by Frank Herbert. I am so excited to finally sink my teeth into this exciting world of sand, massive worms, Spice and the possession and protection of a very important resource, WATER. Thank you for reading and please follow for updates on my thoughts on my current read!

Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson, Spoiler-Free Review

Arcanum Unbounded is a one of a kind short story collection by the author Brandon Sanderson. It includes nine short stories that are based in six different systems in the Cosmere. These systems include the known Selish System (Elantris), the Scadrian System (Mistborn), the Taldain System (White Sand), and the Rosharan System (Stormlight Archives). The lesser known systems that are included are the Threnodite System and the Drominad System. There are also detailed pictures of each system and a descriptive picture before each story. This is definitely a great way to enhance your knowledge of the Cosmere but be warned! This book is not Spoiler free for all of the systems involved and definitely is best read after reading the whole of the works mentioned above.

Arcanum Unbounded begins with the short story The Emperor’s Soul which is based in the Selish System. This is one of the most intriguing stories in the whole book mainly because it deals directly with the idea of what all would go into the actual creation of a soul. There are some more frivolous seeming creations that are discussed in this short story but they still deal with the “soul” of the object itself and convincing it to change into something better. I would like to share a spoiler free quote that relates the struggles of the main character, Shai, with creating a soul:

He hadn’t understood. There was rarely an obvious branching point in a person’s life. People changed slowly, over time. You didn’t take one step, then find yourself in a completely new location. You first took a little step off a path to avoid some rocks. For a while, you walked alongside the path, but then you wandered out a little way to step on softer soil. Then you stopped paying attention as you drifted farther and farther away. Finally, you found yourself in the wrong city, wondering why the signs on the roadway hadn’t led you better.”

Brandon Sanderson, The Emperor’s Soul

This quote really shows how introspective this short story is to the inner workings of what makes us human. Like I mentioned before, it also gives a sense of life to the objects that are changed as well, as if they have a choice to make in the result of the change. I think Brandon Sanderson masterfully creates a conversation of the hidden depths and secret stories not just about an individual, but about what surrounds us in our daily lives. I think this quote gives a good example of this idea:

People, ” Shai said, rising to fetch another seal, “by nature attempt to exercise power over what is around them. We build walls to shelter us from the wind, roofs to stop the rain, We tame the elements, bend nature to our wills. It makes us feel as if we are in control.

Except in doing so, we merely replace one influence with another. Instead of the wind affecting us, it is a wall. A man-made wall. The fingers of man’s influence are all about, touching everything. Man-made rugs, man-made food. Every single thing in the city that we touch, see, feel, experience comes as a result of some person’s influence.”

Brandon Sanderson, The Emperor’s Soul

As you can tell, this simple short story holds layers of meaning that go way beyond simply creating or changing aspects of an object or an emperor. This is the basic idea that I have come to believe about Brandon Sanderson and his writing. Whatever I am reading, look deeper! There is meaning here that can show me a new way to not only view the world that Sanderson is so good at creating, but a new way to view my personal world and the people I interact with on a day to day basis.

Arcanum Unbounded is full of another 8 stories that will not only entertain but possibly give you a new perspective on the world around you. There is so much to discover, and as Brandon Sanderson hints, there is more on the way concerning the systems that do not already have a foundation in an individual novel.

I am continuing my journey with The Stormlight Archives with Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer (and yes, I am very excited). Please follow my blog to read my review of this gorgeous and massive novel in the next few weeks. Thank you for reading!

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson Spoiler-Free Review

I realize that I am joining the Sanderson fan club late, but this is the perfect time in my life to become enveloped in the Cosmere. I started earlier this year by reading the Mistborn Era 1 and Era 2 sagas which I can only say are fantastic and full of page turning excitement. As the year progressed, there were some personal and family related issues that would begin to overcome my life, leaving me in a desperate place looking for hope wherever I could find it. And that is when Brandon Sanderson entered the scene again, I picked up Warbreaker and followed that with The Way of Kings which led me to read Elantris to learn more about the start of the Cosmere’s journey. Now I have completed the second book in the Stormlight Archives, Words of Radiance, and I want to share my thoughts on Sanderson’s marvelous continuation of this epic story.

The Way of Kings was really a foundation for Brandon Sanderson to not only create these character’s backgrounds but to build the story firmly from the ground up. Words of Radiance is much faster paced and also has much within its pages that literally made me laugh out loud at some points and at others want to scream in excitement. There is a joy to this book that overwhelms the seriousness of the first in the Stormlight Archives and it was exactly what I needed at this moment in my life.

We get to read about Shallan’s past in Words of Radiance as opposed to Kalidin’s in The Way of Kings. This is perfect timing considering the story line that Shallan is going through during the present of this book. Her past certainly holds many secrets and the most interesting and exciting of these secrets are not revealed until the end. We also see some different sides to Shallan in this book. We get to read about her interacting with some interesting characters in only a way that she can and it creates some of the most fun scenes.

Kalidin’s story also picks up right where it left off and goes through some moody and emotional up’s and down’s that took me from feeling hopeless to feeling ecstatic with joy. Kalidin is a character I really can get behind, I understand many of his internal struggles and that is definitely something that is highlighted in this book.

One of my great joys is Adolin’s character, especially now that we get to see Adolin interact with Kaladin. As you can imagine, this is not a perfect relationship, but it brings up many thought provoking ideas about the differences and how these characters act about the differences of being “light-eyed” and “dark-eyed”.

Dalinar is not exactly treated as a constant main character in this book as he was in the last one. But do not worry, that does not diminish is role as being an important figure-head in the least. I did love seeing Dalinar react to now not only Adolin but to Kaladin as well, and truthfully, I feel like Kalidin can almost be included in a family father-son role with Dalinar which proves interesting and heart warming in Words of Radiance.

I do want to include a quote that will not give away any spoilers but to show Brandon Sanderson’s caring writing style when it comes to some of the difficult situations that not only his characters find themselves in during past and present but that Readers can relate to,

The sensation- its not sorrow, but something deeper- of being broken. Of being crushed so often, and so hatefully, that emotion becomes something you can only wish for. If only you could cry, because then you’d feel something. Instead, you feel nothing. Just… haze and smoke inside. Like your already dead.”

-Brandon Sanderson, Words of Radiance

It is moments like this, after I have read something so brilliant and so gut-wrenchingly true and relatable for me, that I realize what a real powerhouse author Brandon Sanderson really is. His works, all that I have read so far, have touched me deeply on an emotional level. And this is what makes him great. Yes, his imagination, his world-building skills, everything he creates is above and beyond the typical. But this is where he really effects me. This is not something just any author can do. This is a real master.

I hope you have enjoyed my review. I am reading Arcanum Unbounded next and yes, I am very excited to continue my adventure into Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere. Please follow my blog for updates and for a review of my next read.

An Unplanned Purpose

I am not big on planning but I remember when I used to be. When I was young it seemed that the possibilities were endless. However, at this point in my life I do not even like to plan what I am doing the next day. I will tell people, “Ask me again tomorrow and I will tell you how I feel.”

In life, there is so much that just happens, completely unplanned. And I feel, that as I get older, these unplanned circumstances happen more and more. Of course, not all unplanned events are bad. There are so many great and welcome surprises. This is why I must always keep my mind open, as my mom always says…

Everything Always Happens for a Reason.”

Some of us believe in a Higher Power that can ultimately explain these reasons. And for some of us, this is more of a vague guessing-game. But whatever you believe, I do think my mom is correct in most cases.

When mom was first diagnosed with Breast Cancer, she made a point to tell me that after we got through this time period dealing explicitly with her health, she wanted to then spend time figuring out what was best for me. She even said, “Jesse you were meant for greatness, and we are going to find your purpose together.” I love my mom and her incredible and optimistic words and sentiment. However, it led me to ask myself… what if my greatness, my purpose is not really about me… what if, after everything I have been through and everything my mom has helped me through…my great meaning in life, my purpose is to simply be there for my mom, be there for my family? Honestly, the times I truly feel a surge of greatness are during the most simple of things; my mom holding my arm as we walk down some steps, making mom laugh, being able to talk to her and talk her through some of what she is going through by relating with her and hopefully making her feel less alone in this journey.

Monday, the 26th was the last day my mom had to receive chemotherapy. Mom felt good that day and we were able to celebrate. Mom did some amazing things to not only celebrate her big day but to celebrate those of us who have been on this journey with her. Mom even went so far as to get ME roses and a Unicorn balloon which I love to the moon and back.

Today mom is going through her rough time after the chemotherapy medications have run through her system. She feels very fatigued and has body aches and really just all kinds of things that I think she keeps to herself so we dont worry so much. I am so glad this is almost over. Later next week, mom will be feeling much better and will be able to do the kind of things that are important to her. I feel like this repetitive recovery process between chemotherapy treatments serves as a way to remind us how lucky we are to be able to function to our utmost abilities just to do what I like to call, “life stuff”.

To return to what I was originally saying about purpose, is that there is just so much we have learned on this journey. I have learned that I am capable of more that I though, maybe not everyday but I am really good at caring for my mom and, interestingly enough, interrogating doctors into answering every question about pretty much any symptom my mom has experienced. I have realized that this is my greatness, my greatness is my mom, and the gift she has given me by trusting me to help her and care for her. I cannot express how meaningful that trust from my mom is to me. It is priceless.

My mom, I believe, has found purpose in sharing her Cancer story. She has been open from the start with friends and family and even strangers about what she has been going through. I know for a fact that my mom is a beacon of hope for those in a similar situation and I believe that it is her dazzling smile that lets others know, “If she can smile and laugh while going through that, I think I will be okay, too”. I know her positive attitude and, more importantly, her kind nature and love for her family has always helped me.

Cancer is never in the plans. And I know that some reading this do not have as encouraging an outlook as my mom does. This is simply our story.

My mom is still reading Prodigal Summer and loving it. I cannot wait to post her thoughts on it when she is finished. I am almost finished with Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson so be on the lookout for a review on that in the near future. Thank you for reading!