All posts by jbstilwellauthor

I'm a paranormal fiction author who was born and raised in the foothills of Appalachia. I'm eclectic, having diverse interests which shows in my writing. I have a degree in Sociology in which my studies focused on crime and deviant behavior and race and gender relations in post-grad. I love to travel, and my varied experiences around the world are woven into my stories. I love reading, music and learning. I currently reside in the Chicago metro area with my Goddess-like daughter Maya. As Emma would say, variety is the spice of life, but too much spice gives me heartburn.

Stop with the Distractions


I’ve been thinking about a couple of things over the past few days. Specifically in regards to my post about how I want to fall in love again, and the post where I talk about how my therapist warned against risky behaviors if I become manic.

For me, love and sex don’t necessarily go together. I can separate them pretty well – I’ve even been told that I’m like a man in that way, whatever that means. However, if I already have feelings for someone or if I used to have feelings for someone, I can’t have sex with them because it triggers all of those emotions coming back in like a tidal wave of confusion and pain. No need for that in my life right now.

Additionally, I’ve noticed some manic-like behaviors creeping in. I wouldn’t say that I’m in a full-blown manic cycle, but I did have an episode of binge shopping. It was rather controlled compared to my previous incidents. And invasive promiscuous thoughts have been creeping in. For example, the janitor at my daughter’s school smiled at me, and I automatically imagined throwing him to the ground and riding him all the way home. So. Not. Cool.

I have decided that I need to stay away from all of this stuff for the time being. Sort of like how I was celibate in my early 20s. No relationships, no sex, not even if it’s casual.

All of this sort of reminds me of the Buffy speech where she refers to herself as cookie dough. Like her, I feel like I’m not done baking yet. And when I’m done, and I’m actually cookies and not just dough, maybe then I’ll be ready for someone to eat me. Pun intended.

Meds – Ambrosia of the Gods


Nothing like taking your meds like you’re supposed to, especially when you’re lucky like me and have meds that work well for your conditions.

I only woke up twice in the middle of the night, was able to get up relatively early, didn’t argue too much with my daughter, and feel pretty good so far today. Now all I need is some Lizzo to help get me through the day. Or maybe some holiday music. Not sure which. Hell, why not both? LOL

This is the big difference when it comes to properly taking your meds when you have mental illness. It’s like a whole new world. Not only do I feel mentally and physically better, but I didn’t wake up with hateful invasive thoughts, which is common if I get off my med schedule.

I did still think about some emotional things on the way to work this morning. I’m not sure what the holidays will be like this year. My daughter wants to spend it with her cousins, which means I might be all by myself on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. As a sort of compromise, I’ve prepped her on celebrating Yule with me this year, which is on Sunday, December 22 – at 4:19 a.m. specifically. Part of my Pagan tradition is to follow the myth of the Sun being reborn to the Goddess. As part of our practice, we light the Yule log, and act as midwife to the Goddess, assisting in the birth of the Sun. This includes staying up all night – because you know, labor can take hours – until we celebrate at the birth moment (at 4:19 a.m. this year). We also tell versions of the story of the battle between the Holly King and the Oak King. We also listen to seasonal music, eat seasonal foods, and drink seasonal drinks (or in some naughty cases, have midnight margaritas in the vein of the witches in “Practical Magic”).

I look forward to sharing this tradition with her. I will admit though, I will be missing my dear friend Okey. The last time I celebrated Yule with a bunch of people was at his home, and it’s one of my blessed memories.

Having said that, it looks to be a busy weekend ahead. We have to finish cleaning our apartment so we can finally decorate for the holidays. It’s a little late this year because I’m used to doing it the day after Thanksgiving, but onward with possible new traditions.

What I Truly Want


I want to be in love again.

In a healthy way. A respectful way. I want to think one day, “Wait, we don’t fight. Is this normal?”

It’s a sad commentary on your relationships when you think NOT fighting is abnormal.

Thing is, it is possible. I’ve experienced it before…a couple of times. Which makes my current situation even more shameful because I knew better.

I want to be in love again. But not now. Maybe in a few years.

Right now I would be happy with a good friend, a bottle of merlot, and laughter through tears.

Do You Think This Post is About You?


Definition of narcissist:

an extremely self-centered person who has an exaggerated sense of self-importance

“You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon

You walked into the party
Like you were walking on a yacht
Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
Your scarf, it was apricot
You had one eye on the mirror
And watched yourself gavotte
And all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner
They’d be your partner, and
You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain,
I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you?
Don’t you?
Oh, you had me several years ago
When I was still naive
Well, you said that we made such a pretty pair
And that you would never leave
But you gave away the things you loved
And one of them was me
I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee
Clouds in my coffee, and
You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, you’re so vain
I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you?
Don’t you?
Well I hear you went to Saratoga
And your horse, naturally, won
Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun
Well, you’re where you should be all the time
And when you’re not, you’re with some underworld spy
Or the wife of a close friend,
Wife of a close friend, and
You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, you’re so vain
I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you?
Don’t you?

Time for Meds


Can definitely tell it’s been too long since I’ve had my anti-depressants. I had to go to the bathroom at work – not because I had “to go,” but because I had started crying…for no apparent reason.

Well, not really true. I was talking to a co-worker about how my daughter has decided that she wants to spend American holidays with the non-American side of the family. Just talking about it in general was enough to turn the waterworks on. So, yeah, definitely got to get that prescription this evening.

When the Shadow is All Encompassing


shadow-sadness

Because of money issues and plain laziness (or lack of motivation from my conditions), I didn’t have my anti-depressants yesterday or today. Some would think that this would lead to a day full of sadness. Not so much. It’s made the morning full of irritation, hateful intrusive thoughts, and a huge lack of motivation to get out of bed (although I did and am somewhat functioning).

Irritation in the morning is not good because I have to not only get myself ready for the day, but I have to get my daughter up and ready. The fact that I’m already irritated means that I have lower tolerance for her mouthy tween attitude. Logically, I know that this “attitude” is normal for her current development. However, in a haze of irritation, quite frankly, I just want her to shut up because every word is like metal being shoved deep into my ears. I try to control myself as much as possible because as a parent, I know that I cannot expect her to have a good day at school if she has a rough morning. It’s definitely a struggle, and I don’t always succeed.

Now on to the hateful intrusive thoughts. These were mainly about my ex and his family – specifically how when I was at my lowest over the past couple of months, NONE of them reached out to me to see how I was doing. As my mind focused on this, the question came to mind, “Why WOULD I want to have anything to do with them?” This led to the thoughts of how my ex routinely gave me the silent treatment…and wondering if that was his choice or by the direction of his nasty lawyer…which led to the thought, “Yeah, why WOULD I want to have anything to do with him either?”

This train of thought led me down memory lane, to the distant past. Many times in my life, but particularly while I was in college, I wondered if I would be better off living by myself. Dealing with mental illness is hard enough for me, so I can’t even imagine what it’s like for others, especially when they don’t truly understand what the diagnoses mean. When I was in my 20s, living alone in my own apartment, I had a sense of peace…and in some ways, I was the healthiest I’ve been in my life (I ate better, didn’t binge eat – likely because of no triggers – and I maintained the weight I was when I graduated high school). I had a girlfriend at the time, so she would come over and spend the night sometimes, but that was it. My life was pretty drama-free. Because of this experience, many times over the years, I have often wondered if I would be better off living by myself, having a circle of close friends, and have the occasional sleepover where we could have sex, and they could be out the door before the condom/dental dam came off. In many ways, this feels like the ideal life to me.

However, I’m not that person anymore. I’m no longer in my 20s, and I have a lot more responsibilities than I used to. One thing I have learned from therapy is that there are many ways to handle reactions to triggers. One way is avoidance – remove situations/people that trigger you, and you don’t have to worry about it. Effective, but not very useful in life because many times you can’t control when you encounter these situations/people. Surprise! Another way, which is much harder, is practicing mindful awareness in knowing when you’re being triggered and coping with it in a healthy way. Easier said than done. Actually, this reminds me of the time I was in a Pagan coven in my hometown. We were having a very frank discussion over some issues we were facing, and one of my coven mates looked at me and said, “I don’t want the responsibility of knowing what might trigger you just so I can avoid it.” Ouch. My mental response was, “Well, you’re not family then, because that’s what family does.” But is it really fair to expect this of people, even if they are family?

One thing I know is that someone purposely triggering you or throwing things up in your face that they know are triggering – well, that’s emotional abuse. However, we cannot expect others to avoid everything that triggers us, especially if we’re not willing to put in the work to practice different ways of reacting when it does happen. According to Psychology Today, here are some steps to managing your responses to triggers:

  • Accept responsibility for your reactions. This is a big one. It’s easy to point the finger and say, “Don’t trigger me!” However, that’s playing the blame game. And in reality, you’re identifying yourself as a victim rather than a survivor.
  • Recognize that you’re having an emotional reaction as soon as it begins to appear in your body. Wow. This is something that I actually train people to do when talking about customer service soft skills. People who are in an emotional frame of mind cannot think rationally, therefore you cannot have a reasonable conversation with them. The person has to move out of the emotional frame of mind before any productive discussion about the issues can take place.
  • If the emotion is related to fear, anger, or sadness, determine what triggered the emotion. A big part of this is determining if the threat is real or not. Is there a current threat or are you reacting emotionally because of something that happened in your past? This is all about determining the root cause of the emotion. When I’m mindful enough, I like to use the 5 Why’s methodology from process improvement to determine this. I find it really helpful in self-awareness, not just in work-related projects.
  • Choose what you want to feel and what you want to do. For me, when I’m being mindful, this means walking away until I calm down. I need quiet time to reflect before I can begin to do anything. This is hard for some people to deal with, and they will sometimes even try to follow me to force me to talk. Bad idea. This only escalates the situation, and I turn into Courtney Love. I’m not far along enough in my self-development to be able to stop in the moment and de-escalate my internal feelings quickly enough to talk.
  • Shift your emotional state. See my statements above. I tend to need to do this in private and in silence. Maybe one day I’ll be able to do it in the vein of the Pagan credo of “changing consciousness at will.” Yes, this is why I need to live in a magical household, as a constant reminder of that changing consciousness at will and the magical impact it can have on your life.

Okay, I feel better now than I did when I woke up this morning. I will get through the day, pick up my medication later, then tomorrow will be Day One…again.