Just One Dose

I had such a hard day recently– my anxiety levels were higher than usual (“usual” being not too bad for the last four years– thanks, ERP!).  I felt this strange depression, a strong desire to sleep, and a hovering sadness that wouldn’t lift.  My blood pressure felt through the roof, and the stress took a very physical toll on my body: by the time I crawled into bed for the night, my shoulders felt like cement blocks and my arms were throbbing with pain.

I realized that– while racing out the door that morning– I had not taken my Effexor XR or my Prozac.

Just one dose missed, and it was so terribly evident.

I have acknowledged that I may be on medication for the rest of my life, and I’m okay with it.  In fact, I’m quite protective over my right to take medication.

I read this awesome related post on the OCD Foundation’s blog recently.  And it turned out that Alison, the blogger, lives in Minneapolis … so we got coffee.*  Love my OCD community!

* And since then, we’ve accepted new roles at the Twin Cities affiliate of the International OCD Foundation (I’ll be the communications director)  … and have an event planned in Minneapolis for OCD awareness week!  Exciting!

prozac morning


Not literally.  (Not yet– although today was a rainy and cool Minnesota autumn day.)

But a little paralyzed about moving forward with my new novel idea.  (Is “a little paralyzed” an oxymoron?)

I have done my pseudo-writing.

I found an idea I’m really excited about.  (Surprise [to you and me]: it’s not at all what I thought it would be.)

I am armed with a first draft manifesto to wield against doubts, poor choices, and bad writing.

Heck, I even thought out the entire storyline.  I’m generally a pantser, so this is extreme, folks.


I’m scared to commit to this idea.

And I’m intimidated by other great writers.

And I don’t know where to start.


That’s what my creative process looks like.  I need to trust it.

It’s just another go-around on the writing rollercoaster.

Here I goooooooooooooooooo!!!


Review: Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

9781611132960_1681X2544.jpgI will tell you this: I was not expecting this book to affect me the way it did.

My reaction to Why We Broke Up is different, I think, from any other book I have ever read.

First of all, what’s it about?  The book is essentially the main character Min’s letter to her ex-boyfriend Ed, detailing all the items she is returning to him in a box and thereby explaining why they broke up.

The book was terrifically well-written.

It was so true to high school.

And I think that’s what killed me.

While reading(/listening to the audiobook), I re-lived the experience of watching one of my high school best friends lose her innocence.  It’s been nearly 15 years since then, but it all rushed back like this ugly wall of emotion.  I kept getting this sick feeling as I revisited my own heartbreaking experience of watching her get steamrollered by bastard high school boys looking for sexual pleasure.

Ed– the ex-boyfriend in this story– is an ASSHOLE.  I’m not sure if it’s easier to see that from the beginning since you know the entire time that they have broken up.  He has his moments, for sure, but mostly he’s a prick.  JUST LIKE SO MANY REAL HIGH SCHOOL BOYS.

Here’s the thing, friends:
* I am not against sex scenes in YA lit, but Min and Ed’s experiences (though not explicit at all) still made me ill.
* I am not against sad books.  I like them!  (Hello, Book Thief!  Hello, TFiOS!)

This book just suckerpunched a part of my psyche that has been asleep since high school, and it was a rude awakening.

The book is beautifully written.  The characters were great.  The premise was fascinating.  It was true to real life.

Too true to real life for this girl.

Make of that what you will.

P.S. to R– I wish I could have protected you.  I don’t think you’re sorry– but I am.

5 Songs I’m Loving Right Now

1. “Anchor of My Soul” — Josh Garrels | Mmm, good.

2. “Pretend You’re Alive” — Lovedrug | I’m a sucker for a strong melody.

3. “Silas the Magic Car” — Mew | Totally weird. Totally awesome. And sad.  I like sad songs.

4. “Use Me Up” — Hanson | I’ve been listening to the acoustic version, but this one’s good too.

5. “Transatlanticism” — Death Cab for Cutie | Another sad song FTW.

Recruiter Rant

There’s this trend with teenagers right now that I don’t like.  They can’t answer questions without their parents’ help.  Now, I’m not talking, How do you plan to pay for college? or What special accommodations might you need?

I’m talking, What do you like to do for fun?

Come on, guys.  You can answer that question on your own.  It’s the easiest one in the book– and there’s not even a wrong answer!  The only wrong answer is you not having enough boldness and social grace to speak up and share your opinion!

I think that all teenagers should go to college visits prepared with the following:

* Three (or more!) specific questions they have about the school
* A list of other schools they are interested in
* A short list of what they are looking for in a college (big/small, public/private, certain majors, urban/suburban, etc.)
* What they are involved with (at school, home, church, community)
* What things they enjoy (sports, movies, reading, writing, shopping, art)

Interestingly, most of these questions should be easy to answer and shouldn’t require forethought or planning.

You want your college recruiter on your side– especially when it comes to admittance and scholarships!  Put your best foot forward and be ready to answer the most basic of questions.  Remember: you’re not just checking out my school.  I am also evaluating your fit with our community!

Prospective students and parents, take note!



Best Sequels Ever


10. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare | Wound up tight for the final book in this series!

9. Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi | Oh Perry.

8. The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness | Reviewed this series here!

7. Anne of the Island by Lucy Montgomery | Oh Gilbert.

6. Fire by Kristin Cashore | Oh Brigan.


5. Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli | Such a difficult book for which to create a satisfying conclusions– but Spinelli pulls it off!

4. Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta | After reading Finnikin of the Rock, you just can’t possibly imagine that you could grow to love Froi.  And then you read this book.

3. Prisoner of Azkaban by Jo Rowling | I love books like puzzles!  This is where the Potter books really started getting great.

2. The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta | It is just unbelievably satisfying to see how the Saving Francesca gang has grown and changed!

1. The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis | The best of the best!

 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme over at The Broke and the Bookish

Anxiety Disorders and Social Security Disability Benefits, Guest Post by Molly Clarke

Molly Clarke is a writer for the Social Security Disability Help blog, and she approached me about writing an article for my readers who are suffering from severe anxiety disorders that prevent them from working.  Knowing how difficult the application process can be, Molly offered her expertise, which you can read below.

Thanks, Molly!

Anxiety Disorders and Social Security Disability Benefits

Although people tend to think of the term “disability” as a physical impairment, mental and emotional disorders can be just as debilitating.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in four Americans suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder.

Anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent of these mental health conditions and can affect a person in a variety of ways.  While some individuals with anxiety disorders can live and function normally, others are severely limited by their condition.

If you have an anxiety disorder that prevents you from working and earning a living, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Disability benefits can be used to offset lost income, day-to-day expenses, and even medical costs.  The following article will provide you with a general understanding of Social Security Disability and will prepare you to begin the disability benefit application process.

SSDI and SSI Technical Eligibility Requirements

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two separate types of disability benefits—Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Each program offers benefits to different groups of people and each has different technical eligibility requirements.

SSDI benefits are intended to assist disabled workers and their families. Because SSDI is funded by Social Security Disability taxes, eligibility for this program is dependent on applicants’ employment history and previous tax contributions.  In many circumstances, applicants are required to have worked and paid taxes for five of the past ten years.  However, this changes depending on a person’s age at the time they become disabled. For more information regarding SSDI technical eligibility, click here: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/ssdi/qualify-for-ssdi.

SSI, on the other hand, is offered to disabled individuals of all ages who earn very little income. Eligibility for SSI is based solely on strict financial limitations put in place by the SSA.  SSI benefits are typically the best option for young adults as there are no work history requirements for this program.  For more information regarding SSI technical eligibility, visit the following page:  http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/ssi/qualify-for-ssi.

Medical Eligibility Requirements

In addition to meeting the Social Security Disability technical requirements, applicants must also meet specific medical requirements.  These requirements are published in the SSA’s official manual of disabling conditions—commonly referred to as the blue book.  The blue book contains information and medical criteria for many potentially disabling conditions.

Anxiety disorders are covered under section 12.06 of the SSA’s blue book.  To qualify under this listing, applicants must provide medical proof that they experience the following symptoms:

  • Persistent anxiety
  • Irrational fear of a particular object, activity, or situation
  • Severe, recurrent panic attacks
  • Recurrent obsessions and/or compulsions
  • Intrusive reoccurring memories of traumatic experiences

It is important to note that experiencing the previously mentioned symptoms will not be enough to qualify a person for disability benefits. To qualify for disability benefits, an applicant must experience these symptoms to such an extent that they render the person unable to function in a work setting.

To view this complete blue book listing, visit the following page: http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/12.00-MentalDisorders-Adult.htm#12_06

Social Security Disability Application Process

If you meet the technical and medical requirements for Social Security Disability benefits, you can begin the application process online or in person at your local Social Security office.  Before doing so, it is in your best interest to collect all required medical and non-medical documents. You can access a list of all required documents on the SSA’s Adult Disability Checklist. (http://www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/Documents/Checklist%20-%20Adult.pdf)

As previously mentioned, once you are ready to apply for benefits, you can completely the application on the SSA’s website or schedule an appointment to complete the application in person at your local Social Security office.

The actual application for benefits consists of several different forms. It is important that you take your time completing these. Provide as much detail as possible when answering questions or submitting information. Doing so will give the SSA insight into how your condition affects your daily life and will prevent delays in the processing of your claim.

Receiving a Decision

After you have submitted your application for disability benefits, it may take several months to receive a decision.  While you wait, it is important that you continue with any prescribed medical treatments. You should also save any new or updated medical records that you receive during this time period. Doing so will help you during the appeals process in the event that your claim is denied.

If your application is in fact denied, you will have 60 days in which to appeal this decision.  Initially, facing the appeal process may be overwhelming and confusing. However it is important to note that many more applicants are approved during the appeals processes than during the initial application. For this reason, it is important that you do not give up and remain persistent in your efforts.

For more information about Social Security Disability benefits and anxiety disorders, visit Social Security Disability Help (http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/disabling-conditions/anxiety-disorders-and-social-security-disability) or contact Molly Clarke at mac@ssd-help.org.

The Seven Deadly Sins: Book Style!

Kelley over at Another Novel Read recently posted this fun bookish survey, and I thought it was a lot of fun, so I’m doing it too!

GREED – What is your most expensive book? Your least expensive?

My most expensive book was probably This is Shyness by Leanne Hall.  Story behind that: I was fascinated by the reviews (each one said something akin to “I … don’t know … what I just … read … but I think I liked it!”) and decided to buy it– but it wasn’t available anywhere in the US!  Finally I found it through Fishpond (yay for free shipping), but I still paid more for it than I usually would.  My reaction to This is Shyness?  “I don’t know what I just read … but I liked it!”

I also bought Narnia on audio– twice.  Not cheap.

Cheapest book?  All the books I get free through my Barnes & Noble Mastercard rewards!

WRATH – Which author do you have a love-hate relationship with?

Interesting question.  I don’t know that “love-hate” is the right way to describe it, but I am delighted to say that even though I didn’t love Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, I adored The Scorpio Races!

GLUTTONY – What book have you deliciously devoured over and over with no shame whatsoever?

The Chronicles of Narnia are my biggest intake, for sure!  But also Jellicoe Road and Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta.

SLOTH  book have you neglected to read due to laziness?

Code Name Verity.  I am not generally the biggest fan of historical fiction, so I keep pushing this one off to the side, in spite of one hundred billion rave reviews.

PRIDE – What book do you most talk about in order to sound like a very intellectual reader?

Probably East of Eden by John Steinbeck– but, truthfully, there is a lot of meat there to chew!

LUST – What attributes do you find most attractive in male or female characters?

Sense of humor (Augustus Waters), protectiveness (Jonah Griggs), intelligence (Will Trombal), passion (Joe Fontaine)

ENVY – What books would you most like to receive as a gift?

ALL THE BOOKS.  😉  It’s fun when I mention a book in passing to someone and they remember it and purchase it for me.  Means a lot.  The last person to do that was Des’s husband Matt.  It was super special that he bought me a stack of books I had talked about in the office (we work together).

Seven dealdy sins signpost