One Nerdy Cupcake

Not long ago there was a big thing on depression and suicide awareness (which I feel is something that we should be aware of more than once a year but that is for a different post) and I tried writing a post, contributing my thoughts and feelings on the matter, along with how I both publicly and privately battle bipolar disorder. The post delved too far into my psyche for me to post publicly comfortably though, and it was deleted.

I still want to talk about it though, and I can use this past week as a pretty good example of how bad it gets sometimes.

It goes without saying that depression isn’t always something you can physically see. My father is a big advocate of “If you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist”, so I know there are people out there who believe it. This week, almost the past two weeks, has been a good example of how this can physically manifest in someone though.

*deep breath*

I have called this number before. If you feel you cannot turn to anyone, they will be there for you.

After working conventions I generally feel a sense of being lost afterwords. I know a lot of convention crew that do, we generally call it Post Con Depression or PCD. We go through a lot to put on the conventions that you know and love, working long hours (I think one of my log times was 50 hours in 3 days) dealing with both happy and unhappy convention goers with smiles on our faces, knowing everything that is going on (memorization is key here!) and so on. By the end of it all we usually lack voices, sleep, food and our minds, but we’re happy because we put on something that made thousands of people happy. Some crews are smaller (Star Wars Celebration was less than 100 crew members) some crews are bigger (Enforcers is over 600 now I believe) but there is a definite sense of community. You are thrown into the fire together, you emerge together. Then everyone leaves. It’s done. You walk back into your life and you wonder, “What’s next?”

Chicago-based Enforcers have a monthly game night which helps pass the time along between PAX’s, and you’re able to see friends from that group of people. C2E2 is my home convention, meaning I can see the team from there more often if I can make it into the city (there are only a few of us suburban kids, surprisingly enough) A lot of my comrades from these conventions don’t live close though, within the 30 miles from my home to Chicago. There are the ones I only get to see once or twice a year because of distance. All of my money goes into being able to travel to each of these conventions around the country, so it’s not like I can go on vacation to see them (maybe one day that will happen?) Back to the point though, after a convention, even with the gatherings to make it through, you’re still sad by the end of a con. This time for me was more than that.

This 2 week stretch of conventions was a physical test upon myself to see if I could do it. Star Wars Celebration was my first con since surgery, since it was a pretty low-key convention I did pretty okay, but I was worn out at the end of each day. I contribute a lot of that to being under the weather as well, but I still knocked out early each night. I knew the second convention, PAX Dev/Prime would be harder on me, as I knew there was an industry thing every night after the show, along with a lot more people who I would need to see. Don’t get me wrong, I knew some people going into SWC, but I knew already what PAX had to hold for me. I was right too, physically PAX was much harder on me than SWC. By the end of it all, when I got on the plane home from Seattle, I was incredibly teary eyed from all the emotions, as well as losing feeling in my legs on the plane. After I got home I fell into a coma and slept for 15 hours. I woke up to cry a lot. Like, a lot a lot. I started working on editing all (almost 2000) pictures that I had taken over the 2 weeks. I took screenshots of the new website that is so close to being done, to put up here as a placeholder. I wrote more into Alternates. I sent my resume to more people. I still had some energy in me to prove “I can do this. I can be a real working adult who can work from home. I am a big girl!”

To go from this…

…to this…is pretty mind shattering.

But that died quickly.

The day I got back I received a text from one of the girls at Office Job that the Chicago public school teachers are going on strike. I had a podcast to prepare for. Then I was informed that the teachers were going on strike and I would be working full-time in the schools as a glorified babysitter/teacher. My parents confronted me on more financial issues that are happening. My back went completely out, causing me to fall down the stairs and hit my head quite hard. Doctors notes upon doctors notes happened. I went to work in the school. Children asking all things of me, ages 5-14, when I can barely handle having a niece and nephew. OCD went into full rage. My hands bled from how dry and cracked they were from all the hand sanitizer I went through. I began to break down. I left work early. I avoided the kids. I hid in the bathroom to stay away from them. I was doing more harm than good being around them.

It was close friends birthday gathering on Friday. I was able to go, I had a great time. We saw an awful movie. It was great. But when I got home I couldn’t muster up the energy to prepare for my father’s 50th birthday bbq. I had a 4 layer cake to bake, along with a full-scale menu to prepare and my own gluten free options. Instead I went to bed.

I didn’t get up until late the next morning.

I baked the cake, but my dad decided he wanted to make the menu himself (I’m pretty positive he is where my stubbornness comes from) which left me to…go back to bed. I barely made it outside for the party. My best friend, who I haven’t seen in a few months even came. He played well with my nephew, making me laugh a lot. But then I went back upstairs.  Everyone sent me text messages while I was in bed that the cake was great. “cool,” I thought, and then rolled over and went to sleep. Woke up later that night, powered through some more Borderlands, went back to sleep. Did the podcast on Sunday. I feel in general it was one of our stronger broadcasts but I just wasn’t…good. I think. I’m sure if I listen now it would be okay, but I felt off. Played Borderlands all day. Didn’t get out of bed. Called off of work Monday and Tuesday. Didn’t get out of bed. Strike ended Tuesday night, realized I didn’t have to be at work again until Thursday. I went to the midnight release of Borderlands 2, where I was outcasted for being the only girl there. Brother and Brothers Friend stood up for me, sexist dude was escorted out but the damage was done. Didn’t get out of bed on Wednesday. Got a call for a job interview, it was cancelled. More reason to not get out of bed. I am here at work today because I was afraid of losing the only steady source of income I have. Which isn’t anything really, but I still need it.

My brain, this entire two weeks, has been berating me.

Oh, you’re sad? You’re sad you can’t see your friends? Oh, well there are some starving kids over in Africa who are dying because they have no food. You should probably go save them. Maybe you’ll make some friends there.

Oh, your back hurts? Good. You deserve that. You know there are people who break their spines and never walk again? Way to suck. So what if your back hurts, you have a whole new spine and you can walk. Maybe you should go talk to someone in a wheelchair who will never walk again. Jerk.

You’re so weird. Why can’t you get out of bed like normal people. Normal people work at offices and have friends and be social. You just sit in bed and be sad all the time. But you’re too weak to get out of bed aren’t you? You’re scared people are going to see you for what you are, just a sad weirdo.

You should probably just stay in bed and play more Borderlands. No one wants to see you anyway. Why do you even bother trying to communicate with people? It just comes back to you in the long run. 

Congratulations, you were able to hold a phone conversation without having a full-blown panic attack. Maybe one day you’ll learn how to get out of bed and shower like a normal person.

Doctors are giving you more bad news? Good. You probably deserve it for not being grateful enough for what you have. Did you know some people don’t have a family to run to when they are sad? You should probably feel more sad. 

Can’t find something to do with your time? How about spending more time on that website that you have been promising. What about all of those hair flowers that need to be made? What about all the theater stuff you need to complete? Have you started drawing more art? How about writing some more? Oh, you’re just going to sit and play more video games aren’t you? Too good for doing all the work  you’re supposed to be doing? Look at you. You’re letting everyone down. You should be ashamed.

And I am ashamed.

Not for what I am going through, not for the fact that this is something I deal with so regularly that I should be used to it by this point.

I’m ashamed that I let it get to this point.

I am a victim of my own brain, a lot of which I know where it stems from. Before this second breakage of spine I was working out 6 days a week, training in Muay Thai, weights and a lot of cardio. Now running the 3 miles I did every day looks impossible. But working out that hard every day kept myself occupied and I was able to avoid the negative thoughts that usually take control, as they have done the past two weeks. Conventions keep me busy. Office jobs do not. Staying bed for days on end (even if it is to play an awesome video game) is probably bad.

I’m slowly starting to work my way back, just in time for New York Comic Con, my last convention of  this year. From there I have to plan out next year, expenses and what I plan to attended. I have a job interview today. I have a podcast to plan for this week. I have to apply for more jobs. I need to work on this website.

I have things to do. Now all I need is the will to do it.

The point that is being made here is this is just the way depression can physically manifest in someone. Depending on how bad it gets. I let it get to this point by not trying to avoid it. Avoidance has always been the best way for me to deal with these things. Each person who suffers from depression or bipolar disorder does this in their own way. For me, when my depression is bad I cannot (and more than likely will not) get out of bed. Some people choose to go through depression phases in alcohol binges, some choose sex, some choose art, some choose medication.

The point is, almost everyone I know gets depressed. You aren’t alone in this.

Suicide feels like an answer, an escape, but it’s not. You can guilt yourself out of it, like I do. “Think of all the people you’re letting down by giving up!” you can find someone to talk to about it. Write. Draw. Create. Destroy. Dig a hole, burn some wood. Find an outlet.

Never give up, never surrender.

Don’t be like me. Get out of bed. Don’t let your brain win. Get help. Always ask for help. It’s okay to ask for help.

Ask for help.


I had a very unconventional childhood.

At 6 months, my parents were like “OOPS DIDN’T WANT A KID GO LIVE WITH YOUR GREAT GRANDPARENTS BYE” and I lived in Indonesia from 6 months to 5 years old. At that point, my Great Oma (grandmother in Dutch) passed away, and my Great Opa (grandfather in Dutch) gave me back. To which my parents were like “OH NOOOO NOT ANOTHER MOUTH TO FEED” [I have an older sister and a younger sister at this point] and gave me to my Aunt and Uncle, who were military based and I lived around the country with them (mainly Texas, which is why I have a slight southern accent, or at least that is what I’m told) until I was 12, when my parents were like “YAY YOU’RE OUR DAUGHTER AGAIN!” and I moved to Chicago and here I am now. This is also my explanation on how my name can change 900 times and have never been married.

It’s very strange trying to explain this. During the years 5-12 my Aunt would force me to go on vacation with my parents (also known as total strangers to me at that time) during summer in between the various church schools, dance competitions, swim meets, gymnastics, cheerleading competitions, theater and performances. In retrospect, that is probably the reason I never ever stop working or moving ever. Random tangent aside, these would always be roadtrips that were long, tedious and made me bond with people who I didn’t know. In 1996, my parents decided it would be fun to go to Memphis and Nashville, because everyone wants to see Elvis’ ugly house (sorry, the man is a legend and all but his taste in interior decorating is awful) and get called racist names at the ripe old age of 11. Actually that trip was my introduction to rock climbing, so it wasn’t all bad.

But what really the story is here is how I actually came to bond with my family.

We had decided to leave in the middle of the night because logic would say that everyone but the driver would sleep through the boring drive from Chicago to Tennessee, making that part go by quickly. Unfortunately, part of the issue of not actually knowing each other means they didn’t know I cannot sleep in cars, or with strange people in the room. That whole, serial killer thing and all, even knowing biologically they were my parents I didn’t actually KNOW them or anything. It was awkward, but my mother was passed out in the backseat while my sisters and brother slept in the other half of the backseat (in a van.) I sat up front with my dad, who in my lifetime at that point I had said probably all of 50 words to. We didn’t talk outside of the brief vacations we had taken together. I can imagine it was hard on them, seeing their failure of child raising in front of them, but as the child in that situation I didn’t know how to cope with anything. So I did my favorite pastime and looked out the window.

I still do that, by the way. If I’m not driving I’m generally watching whatever is going on outside.

So this man who is my biological father and I rode together in silence for 3.5 hours before I broke down and spoke to him.

“Hey, um, I really need to pee.”
“Oh, okay!”

Everyone woke up at the rest stop. Mom and I had a little more communication over the years then Dad and I did, but it still wasn’t enough for me to be able to hold a conversation. My younger sister and I had bonded before, since she was actually allowed to come visit me on military bases, so if she was awake I was by her. My older sister and I always had a rough past (story for another time) so I avoided her, my younger brother was just a baby.

I don’t remember how this came about, but somehow I was given sugar and/or caffeine. Have you ever given an eleven year old who has a hyperactive disorder who hasn’t slept yet sugar or caffeine? If you haven’t, don’t. When we piled back into the van, I was wired. My brain was going at 9000000000000000 miles per hour, my skin was itching and I was pulling my hair. I already sing along with the radio, but now I was screaming along with the radio. I kept everyone awake, because there was no way I was going to be alone in my madness.

I was making great impressions on my future family.

A few hours later I started to calm down because the sugar was wearing off. I still wouldn’t sleep in the car, but now everyone else could. Well, except my father. He was still driving. Considering I’m still alive, my guess was that he didn’t fall asleep. I was quite the chatterbox though, or at least that’s what he tells me. I honestly don’t remember. Sugar is a hell of a drug.

Fast forward from crazy little girl family doesn’t know being brought over state lines into Tennessee, we finally arrived at the hotel where I remember walking in, looking at the bed, and falling on the floor asleep. This marked the first time I ever slept on anywhere that wasn’t a bed to my knowledge.

When I woke up I was all sorts of cranky. I slept on a floor. I had a sugar hangover. I wanted nothing to do with anything or anyone.

But of course, that was the first real day of vacation, which meant it was time to go into Elvis’ house of shag ceiling rugs. I don’t remember much of Graceland, just a lot of shag carpeting in places that shag carpeting shouldn’t go, and a ridiculous amount of televisions. I remember singing the song “Walking in Memphis” a whole lot.  I think Mom had played that Marc Cohn cassette tape (aw yeeah!) like 900 times on the trip down. I still know all the lyrics.

I know we ate a lot on this trip. I know after that we went to the Grand Ole Opry. I don’t remember much of it. They kept doing things like giving me sugar or soda. It makes me forgetful, and kind of like a drug addict. When I came home I thought my aunt was going to kill me for sneaking off and trying to find sugar, to get my fix.


Coming back from the Grand Ole Opry we got ridiculously lost. My father, the manly man that he is, refused to get directions, this was back before GPS, so we just kind of drove around. And around. And around. Somewhere Mom gave me a soda and I got really hyper and was itching to be free of the car, which is how I learned how to rock climb since we just pulled over and I started climbing EVERYTHING.

I think they looked at a map or something. Something BORING.

After they coaxed me down off of the rocks with a chocolate bar, I was happily giving into my sugar addiction in the back of the van when I started to notice all of the cars pulled over and people waving. Stupidly, my sisters and I started waving back, completely forgetting the windows of the van were tinted, and the people outside couldn’t see us.

We were waved down a road, to this day we’re still not quite sure WHY we were waved down, but when we looked behind us there were police cars with the lights on. Since we were hyperactive children hopped up on the chocolates, our reaction was to scream bloody murder while we continued waving at the tinted glass. Dad finally got the picture that he should pay attention to us, then noticed the flashing lights. He pulled over, and the police cars did too. One of the cops got out and asked him why he was stopping things. Confused, he asked what he was stopping. I think at that point the policeman realized what was going on, because we looked up and the Olympic torch ran past us.

My guess is that they thought since we had out-of-state license plates we were the beginning of the Olympic torch parade, I’m not sure. But the run was almost stopped thanks to us. Can you imagine the headlines?

“Olympic Torch never makes it past Memphis. Stopped by family with hyperactive sugar filled children. Father filled with shame.”

“Olympic Torch takes a long detour to Chicago. Family completely oblivious.”

“Sugar High Children attack Olympic Torch Bearer. ‘You’ll never make it out alive!’ They scream”

et cetera