Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

I was going to talk about stigma and how people sometimes think you can just ‘think’ your way out of it, but I think I’m going to save that for another day, maybe for the group blog. I want to talk about the kind of year 2013, on the whole has been. And on the whole it has really been one magical year.

I have been blessed with the best of friends. Missy the best friend who is more like a sister to me and Pam, who resides in the inner circle. Can’t say that about everyone, but it’s true. These two are my rocks of Gibraltar and Missy is also my woobie LOL.

Creatively speaking I have accomplished more in this one year than I have ever before. City of the Damned (novel and screenplay), Gemini’s Legacy (book 2 in the Gemini Rising trilogy), When Doves Cry (novel and soon to be treatment and pilot), You’re the Reason (screenplay), Cornbread (novel), Bella Morte:Beginnings (novel, treatment, and pilot) and Bella Morte:Devil’s Backbone (book 2 in the epic 8 book Bella Morte series). That alone would have thrilled me.

Professionally the accolades have been overwhelming. 2013 Moondance International Film Festival Semi-Finalist for Gemini’s War. Count ‘em, not one, not two, but three, Amazon Bestsellers. Bounty Hunter which hit #9, Gemini’s War which hit #24, and Letters to Daniel, the memoir based on this blog hit #2. And finally Missy and I won the 2013 Fright Night Film Festival Best SciFi Screenplay Award at Fandom Fest. Not only that, I sold 34 books at Fandom Fest.

A definite high point has been meeting and working with the likes of Tom Sawyer and Rich Ridings as my mentors along the way. And a special treat has been meeting Grant Wilson, an uber-talented guy in his own right, he is a genuine and open guy and he took the time to really listen to me at Fandom Fest, and some really neat things could come of that meeting. But nothing as they say in Hollywood is done until it’s done.

I took some leaps of faith this year by entering screenwriting contests, some small, like That Book Place’s Author Fair Writing Competition, and will know by the end of January if Missy and I are finalists. A giant competition, Scriptpipline’s First Look Project which I will know if I won or not by mid-February. The Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Competition. It is attached to a prestigious festival but I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Advancing to semi-final round I find out in February. I find out if I’m a finalist in March. Then there’s Indie Gathering, winners are announced in July. And I plan on entering Imaginarium Film competition and literary competition later this year.

The most awesome thing is that I started three new blogs this year, this one included, and they have all garnered me success in some tangible and intangible ways. I’m mentoring two young women. One of which is my cousin. They make my day just by writing 150 words a day. I hope whoever reads this finds hope in my story as the last few entries have been dark and about I wrestle with my mental illness.

Reflecting back on what has been a fantastic 2013 I can only hope, as my best friend Missy says, that the golden horseshoe doesn’t drop out of my behind anytime too soon. Hope your year was as grand as mine and here’s to hope 2014 is even better for you Daniel, and everyone else who actually reads this blog,


Amy McCorkle

Friday, December 27, 2013

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

Feeling stronger today. Still not one hundred percent but the light is oh so much brighter. I want to talk about something today that is close to my heart. Stigma and stereotype.

I often talk about my journey and my recovery as beacon of hope for those still struggling in the depths of despair. I rarely talk about the experiences of those who are the friends and family of those persons with bipolar disorder except in the terms of how they function in relation to my recovery.

The truth and whole truth is, when someone has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder the whole family has it. And both sides of the coin will, at least in the beginning of the journey, at times, fail to see and comprehend what it is truly like to be the other person in the equation.

Bipolar disorder exists on a spectrum. Bipolar I, bipolar II, and unofficially bipolar III. They can exist autonomously or with traits of other illnesses. My diagnosis is bipolar I with mixed episodes. What is a mixed episode exactly? It’s when you are cycling so fast you feel as if you are physically being torn in two different directions at once. One minute you are fine, the next you’re sobbing, the next you are so hateful you can’t stand yourself.

I’m fortunate. I’m much more likely to harm myself than ever hurt someone else. I’ve never had an issue with too many violent outbursts, but I have felt the rage and I have been in its grip before. And let me state now, that it is no joke to be at its mercy. In this state I have thrown things, I have cut my own hair short, and I have said and done other things I am far from proud of.

There is a stereotype that everyone is paranoid and violent. And while those symptoms DO indeed exist and believe me I have been paranoid, but reaching out for help is something I have never rejected. I’ve never stopped taking my meds because I was ‘feeling better’ either. And that really is a struggle for some.
There is this idea that somehow one is weak because they need this medicine and that is simply not the case. 

It’s like you wouldn’t stop taking your metformin or insulin if you were a diabetic would you? The difference is the whole family must be treated. There is a stigma in that if people knew about the sick person in their family there would be shame to cope with. When in fact they are already feeling shame. As is the person tormented by the illness. Sometimes an improperly treated mentally ill individual has the end result of being a tormentor as well as being tormented. The guilt one feels as a result of their actions is horrendous. Paralyzing and so strong you can taste it. And making amends for it is hard because sometimes what we do is so out of character for us that it shocks everyone around us. And it becomes ‘oh no, what will they do if I look at them sideways’ which sucks for pretty much everyone involved.

The stigma and stereotype that follow those of us living with mental illness is no fun whatsoever. A perfect example of this is when Maurice Benard gave a s/o to everyone with bipolar disorder stating if he could do it so could they when accepting an acting award, there was laughter in the crowd. Not applause for his courage an bravery which there should have been.

So this goes for everyone living with mental illness either as the person struggling with the diagnosis, or the family and friends grasping at as to how to survive it and learn to live with it without self-destructing themselves.

You are all, courageous, you are all brave, you should all be commended for being at whatever stage you’re at in the journey. And not ever at any moment laughed unless you are using humor to survive and live through the situation and through life itself.


Amy McCorkle

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

I got to sleep last night. 8-10 hours of it. I straightened up my room. Was going to do laundry but mom has a load in the wash. Promoted Hekate Press. Promoted my backlist. Read 2 chapters. More reading than I’ve done in years. Promoted my position in a contest with three books, Gemini’s War, Letters to Daniel, and Gunpowder & Lead. Now I’m sitting down to blog.

What I want to talk about is what a nasty piece of work I can be when I’m healing from an episode. It becomes a rollercoaster of emotion as opposed to the occasional bad day where I need to just take it easy. Where the ‘by your bootstraps’ approach is bullshit. And sometimes bipolar disorder has you in its vise-like grip and yanks you up, tears you down, and whips you violently from side to side and you are left to desperately hang on for your sanity has you sleep deprivation, among everything else your chemically imbalanced body can throw at you.

At these times you are forced to other people for support. Maybe people who have as many issues as you do, just tucked away in other places. Sometimes they just aren’t in a place to give you anything. My mother and father are at the top of this list. My sisters take their cash, their time, and play on their love and concern for their grandchildren. They are selfish and take and demand anything and everything.

My parents give me a roof over my head and food to supplement my meager SNAP benefits.  That’s all they have left to give. At times like this that is a most wonderful thing. But I need comfort emotionally. I need to be tended to. Not in the clean my mess, make my meals kind of way, although, that is especially nice when you feel as fragile as I’ve felt since this last Friday when the bottom dropped out.

There are people who have really seen me through this last week and I want to thank them now. And before I launch into this, I have been having a shitty time of it. And when people say I can’t make it, this is too hard. I understand that feeling from personal experience. But I’ve always made a choice to survive the earthquake. And hang onto the tsunami of a shit storm of feelings that bombard me. Making that singular choice is not a panacea, but goes a long way as you feel your way along the dark passageways searching for a just a pinpoint of light to give you relief that a way out is possible. While some people joke about the train I choose freedom. Friendship. Good, healthy, supportive friendships are the life blood of hope. In this world I feel secure in stating I have three that have come through for me in this instance.

First up, the usual suspect. Missy Goodman. Though she had her own shit, and I mean serious shit, to deal with this holiday season, and I felt betrayed by her abandonment, it is always with the clarity of walking out of the darkness that we know just how much our friendship means to the other. We have been through hell and lived to talk about. And though this crash came at a rather inopportune time, we are proof, that if you use the tools the therapist and psychiatrist  give you, what once was a tsunami can be seen as a simple ripple in hindsight compared to the war you once fought for your sanity. And recovery becomes a matter of riding the wave until you have finally sighted the safety of shore. I am not at one hundred percent. But thanks to Missy I have managed to accomplish tasks even as I recovered. Thank you Missy for this last week and everything you do for me.

Next up, the ever stalwart, ever faithful friend, Pamela Turner. Full time writer, author, screenwriter, and blogger and wife and mother she always finds time for me, her friend. Her touch is not the gentlest, but on Christmas Day, she came over and I made breakfast for us. I kept dozing even as she was here. My mother kept scolding me awake. But Pam never complained. We talked shop, we talked about how dealing with this time of year was especially hard. She can be direct, but for this last week she has been a shoulder anyone should be proud to call friend. Being alone during times like these is hard. She is brilliant, she is the kind of friend who goes the mile and then some. She has not always been treated the best. And over the years she has entered into mine and Missy’s inner circle. She is simply fabulous. And if there was a trophy for friendship I would surely award it to her.

Finally there is Delilah Stephans. Direct without being cruel she endures my constant questions and has become a valued friend to lean on via Facebook. I trust her implicitly to keep my confidences, and I can trust her integrity in working for her at Hekate Press as Marketing Director. She took Bella Morte on the pitch of an idea. But there are countless other stories I pitched that did not grab her and she did not hesitate to say so. I took one of them to Muse. She doesn’t mind me taking books to other houses. Not that the other houses that I’m at do either. She learned a lot working for Lea at Muse, it’s where we met. I have an out clause as Marketing Director should my film/tv dreams come to fruition and I just don’t have the time for the lifting there. She understood I was feeling the burn out and depression and she had no problem with me taking a breather from the computer for awhile. She talks to me in the evening when the anxiety hits and I need to write, online.

And an honorable mentions go to Rebekah, my cousin, and Nicole. Their joy and persistence at beating this rollercoaster we’re on and plowing ahead on their books makes me feel like on the whole, that there is always hope, no matter what stage one is at in the journey.


Amy McCorkle

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

Christmas Eve has come and gone and the reactions of Missy and the girls were exactly as I’d hoped they be. Excited, exuberant, and appreciative. Now I’m experiencing some of the other effects of the bipolar roller coaster. Sleep deprivation. I’ve had all of an hour of sleep. I don’t wish that kind of shit on anyone. It makes for one hot mess of an emotional human being. I’m including a picture of me and Rebecca from Christmas Eve, she’s the tall excited one holding the Gears of Golgotha book cover/poster I had designed for her by publisher/cover artist for Hekate Press Delilah K. Stephans. She absolutely loved it. As you can see in the picture. She and her sisters gave me a nice wallet, when I opened it—per their instructions there was a Barnes and Noble Gift Card in there. A very nice gesture, one that they didn’t have to do and one I didn’t prompt them for.

I got Bridgette a 3 Disc set of K-Pop music, and Mary a book with believer/skeptic viewpoints on the paranormal. They were all engrossed in their gifts, utterly appreciative and next to their reactions like I said, other than Missy I was rather meh, over the whole thing.

So tonight, as I drifted off to dreamland I day dreamed a little bit on what it might be like to win at Nashville. I’ve entered other contests. I’d like to win those. I’m a bit of a glory hog and moving forward in Hollywood is a much different game than say…being queen of the hill in the small press world. I mean things professionally got even sweeter the 23rd when I received a letter from a July con in Indianapolis that told me unofficially I had been excepted for the dealer’s hall AND the panelist’s list. Professionally things just happen for me in a way that some would say is luck.

But what is luck other than preparation meeting opportunity? Christmas with Missy was spectacular. She got me movie candy, A Christmas Story Fudge, A Christmas Story mug, a soft kitty warm kitty t-shirt, 4 books, the authors, Sherrilyn Kenyon, JR Ward, and Veronica something of Divergent fame. She got me a hollow wooden book with the streets of California on it, a pretty hat box, with a golden horseshoe she’s been waiting for to fall out of my ass, wine glasses, a journal and a really cool picture that starts off with the phrase today is the day.

But the day dream. I think about winning at Nashville and then I think about meeting my heroes professionally and I wonder, given my personality, could I hold my shit together?

Like you. I mean you’re super talented, and your acting, your style of acting is one I like as a writer. It affords me a wide berth in imagining you in different roles. For my first 7 books I imagined you as the hero and romantic lead. In my memoir you were the quiet witness to my life story. And in the Bella Morte series you are the title character’s father who wants her prepared to meet her destiny, but reluctant to let it come to her for fear it will take her from him once again.

I don’t know you, Mr. Craig, but I’d like to think I could keep my shit together if I met you. But here is the reality. I, am very much, a grateful person for the blessings that have come into my life. And meeting someone who inspires me to my potential the way that your work does I might indeed lose my shit. Not that I scream and act a fool. But I might cry happy tears and want to let you know that during my dark times. Like now when I can’t sleep and am struggling to keep my head above water, I can pop in Skyfall, or Casino Royale, or Quantum of Solace, or my fave, Cowboys & Aliens. I would love to see some of your smaller films. It’s nice to see your range. I’ve seen clips from Layer Cake and Mother and you are likable even when it’s obvious your character is a two timing douchebag. LOL. You have created a terrific body of work.

I dream of a day when I can meet and work with all of my heroes. But your work has made a meteor sized crater and left quite the imprint on my creative process. Maybe if you read my work you’d think it was crap. I won’t lie, something like that would devastate me. However, I’m proud of who I am and what I’ve become.

Mentoring my cousin Rebekah through the minefields of an initial diagnosis and helping her build a readership through a really good blog helps me take my mind of my struggle some.

So when I finish the edits and Bella Morte: Beginnings is released onto the unsuspecting public, please know that next Missy’s name, yours will be included in the dedication. Because sleepless nights like this remind of how important your work is to me and my creative survival. I respect you and your work. And as much as I love you as James Bond. I’m more than aware you are not him. And that like me, you would like the freedom to make your creative choices as you see fit. And not as the world at large would demand it.


Amy McCorkle

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dear Daniel

Dear Daniel,

Christmas time is upon us. I don’t know what you do to celebrate the holidays but this holiday season has snuck up on me and I have to admit, I don’t feel as Christmasy as I would like. Full of good cheer and happiness, especially when my friend needs me to be. Missy is coping with feelings of depression caused by the death of her father in December of 2010. She needed me to be strong yesterday. Unfortunately, my hypomanic crash was and is to some degree still in full effect.

I’m okay now. But who’s to say where the roller coaster will take me one hour from now, two hours from now, maybe five minutes from now. Being alone makes me cry. At least initially. An irrational fear will grip me and I’ll feel abandoned, and as if no one loves me.

Yesterday I fell asleep when Missy needed me to make her laugh. I couldn’t make me laugh, let alone make me her laugh. She was angry. Resentful. And when she told me as much I felt betrayed and as if she didn’t understand that I wasn’t functioning in a way that I was having too hard a time to help anyone.

So I told her I would put the load elsewhere so that I could help her. It was the best I could offer. She got upset and told me that she felt guilty when I said that. That, in reality is on her.

Under a clearer mindset I see that. But I also understand as much as I need her, my crash was in direct conflict with what she needed from me. She needed me to be strong. So I leaned on Delilah and Pam yesterday. Each helpful in their own way.

I think what people don’t understand about the roller coaster of a crash is that it plays with your sleep cycle, it makes you cry, and as much as you try to fake it out it can make you its bitch. Which doesn’t always make you the most reliable of friends.

It’s not that my problem was more important than Missy’s. You can’t quantify something like that. We each felt like the other was letting them down. Which simply wasn’t the case. We were each just needing something more than the other could give. Which when you’re as close as me and Missy are, and have been through as much as we have, it just really, really, sucks.

I mean, I desperately wanted to be there for her, I just wasn’t capable of it. I had like, zero perspective on the matter. I needed people around me and everyone else had their own agendas. Which is exactly how life is. I did NOT want my family to leave last night. And when they did, I did NOT want Missy to go. But they left at the same time. Which upset me. I thought, how dare they! Don’t they see I’m suffering! I’m alone all the fucking time!

Granted Missy is a nurturer. And she picks up a great deal of slack where my family really fucks up in dealing with this bipolar thing. And as much as I’m bitching right now Missy gets an A+ in how she copes with this shit as a friend. As a best friend.

I mean, there’s a lot of good stuff that comes with me but it’s times like these that really test both of us. I think sometimes she doesn’t care enough to understand I can’t help how I’m feeling and I’m sure she thinks I can control my emotion enough for one day to help her through some tough shit of her own.

So, Christmas can really suck a big one. But the reality is, I can’t wait to give Missy her Christmas. I went nuts shopping for her at  Big Lots and on Amazon. And a special gift I had Delilah design for her. The only ones I can’t wait to give their Christmas even more are the girls, Rebekah, Bridgette, and  Mary Jo. I mean, I got Jonathan a box set of my favorite mysteries as a kid, Encyclopedia Brown, but the others I could really be meh over.

Christmas is hard, and now, that it’s hard for Missy too, I’m just going to have to learn how to cope without leaning on her as much at this time of year. This morning I will call Seven Counties and talk to Anita about getting in for a group meeting. Help me get some perspective. I love my friends and family but none of them know what it’s like to be the ones with the illness raging in their bodies and brains. They just know what it is to deal with the result of it. And  it’s like when you have it, the whole family has it. And sometimes they get it and sometimes they don’t.

So Missy, thank you for all that you do. Because even when you are human and feel resentment at my need for a great deal of your understanding and strength, I know you get me, I know you get my illness, and I know 9.999999 times out of 10 you are going to be the kind of friend I long for and maybe don’t even deserve.


Amy McCorkle