Wednesday, December 8, 2010

When You Can't Say Something Nice . . . .

My mom raised me with the saying, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Well, how long has it been since I've written a heartfelt post? Ages, it feels, but the reason is that exact phrase. Despite all the interesting things happening with signings and being published and all, life has been very, very difficult and I've felt like if I couldn't talk about the good stuff going on, then I should just go into hermit mode and write nothing for a while.

The problem is, when I go into hermit mode, it makes things worse, not better. I'm going to go out on a limb here and share some of the challenges I've been having for two reasons--one, in the hope it will help somebody out there know they are not alone, and two, because if I don't share all this garbage with somebody I am going to explode--quite literally, it feels. I'm going to end up with one of those lovely white shirts with the extra long sleeves and spend my days in a padded room.

When my mom died three years ago, I lost my best friend and greatest confidante. She was my cheerleader, my writing buddy, and my greatest support, and in a matter of three days, she went from being strong and healthy to being gone. Forever. You can't tell me that kind of pain goes away with time. The intensity might ease, but the deep, empty, aching spot inside of me is like a black hole that gets bigger with time until it consumes all that I am.

A little over a year ago I had a total breakdown. I was outside, bawling my head off, arguing with my husband over something stupid, and I just snapped and started banging my head on the wooden stairs, and would have done it on the concrete if he hadn't stopped me. The next day I alternately laughed hysterically and cried as I had some energy work done. I couldn't help myself. For a week after that I wore earplugs because any sound was like nails on a chalk board.

You might wonder why I'm telling you all of this. Well, after my breakdown, I started doing some research about what might have caused it aside from the grief, and after going to see a psychologist and getting some testing done, it was discovered that I was bi-polar and losing my mom just set things off in a big kind of way. Now, unbeknownst to me, there are many kinds of bi-polar. I'm the manic type, but I still get depressed. More likely though I will stay up all night working on a project and have a hard time making myself sleep. I talk a lot when I'm excited. I am not suicidal, nor am I the type to stay in bed for weeks on end.

But once the sun goes down for the winter and fall, I get depressed in a big sort of way. I lose hope in everything. I wonder why I bother to write when nobody will like it or it will never see the light of day. I want to spend my days playing World of Warcraft and reading books or watching movies to escape the pain of just being alive. I feel like nobody likes me. I get paranoid about whether my friends still want me around. Life just gets HARD. I know it's not logical, but depression has nothing to do with logic.

For some reason this year in particular has been really hard. I think it's because my mom, who always KNEW I would get published, wasn't here to see it all happen. It was a shared dream for us, and now it's here and she doesn't get to see it, not in her earthly form. And I miss her so much I have no words.

So, there you have it, guys. The innards of Karen E. Hoover splattered all over her blog. It's a big bloody mess, isn't it? Thanks for reading anyway. Hopefully I can find some different help soon and find a way to be happy again, but in the meantime, I'll just keep climbing out of bed every day and make the best of the time I have. I'm trying to make a difference in what ways I can. School visits. I'd like to do some writing workshops. When I talk about writing is the only time I really feel alive, so if any of you out there would like me to come talk to your classes, writing groups, youth groups, church groups, anything, please give me the opportunity. I desperately need to feel alive.

Oh, and I can sing and play the flute too. :) Thanks for listening, all my bloggy friends. Hugs to you all.


Quote of the Day: "Write your first draft with your heart. Re-write with your head."
~ From the movie Finding Forrester


L.T. Elliot said...

Kay, I'm so sorry. I hate that you're struggling so much. Please know that I love you with all my heart. You truly mean so much to me and I'm so sorry life has gotten in the way of us getting together. I will remedy that ASAP. I mean it. You matter to me. Always.

I love you so.

Charity Bradford said...

<<>> Thank you for being brave enough to share this kind of struggle. More women suffer this way than we will ever know, and sometimes knowing your not alone in the suffering is enough to help you hold on.

Hang in there. Maybe paint your kitchen a bright sunny yellow. That's what I did. When the sun goes AWOL, I can sit in my kitchen and pretend. It helps a bit.

Jewel Allen said...

It can be a tough time of year, Karen. Hang in there.


Angie said...

I wish I was there in person to give you a big hug! I'm sorry it's so hard. Hang in there. Did I ever tell you how much I liked your book? Well, I loved it. Keep writing.

Julie said...

Have you heard of SAD - seasonal affective disorder? It happens to many people when the seasons change.
You can easily help yourself by getting exposure to increased amounts of sunlight or sun lamps. When nothing else works, it's really worth a try!

Susan G. Haws said...

Karen, you are so courageous to splatter yourself all across your blog. I am so glad I got to meet you. I am having similar problems and it helps me to know that I am not the only one having a tough time this season. I miss my mom too and yet she is right here. I miss her mind.
A friend of mine lost her mom this summer.
Julie's comment made me think that I have heard full spectrum lights are what to buy to be like sunlight. Have no idea if it helps. I should try it too.

Karen Hoover said...

Thanks, you guys. It helps so much to know I'm not alone.

Julie, I bought one of those bulbs today and I can't say thank you enough. It has made a TREMENDOUS difference. I don't want to turn it off and go to bed, I love it so much! Thanks for the reminder. :)

And hugs to all of you. You guys are the best!!!

Elena Jube said...

I think you'd be surprised how many of us writer girls (and guys) have been there, done that. We're sensitive people. We feel things more. That's why we can write things nobody else would notice, in a way other people wouldn't be able. You're a brilliant writer, so I guess it's par for the old golf course, hey? Depression just goes with the territory, I think.

Just know you definitely aren't alone or any crazier than the rest of us. It all tends to come to a head in February, for me. We need a mental health writer's retreat for that month. Nothing wrong with a little escapism once in awhile when it gets really bad.

BTW, can I have your autograph? I had family conflicts with both of the book signings you did in my area. I was so bummed! I'll just order from the top of your blog and you can go take a much-needed nap.

Karen Hoover said...


LOL! Of course you can have an autograph! e-mail me your address and if you already have my book I'll just send you a bookplate, or even better we can go to lunch or something next time I'm in town. Thanks for commenting. Miss you, girl!



Sandra Lee Hendrickson said...

So brave of you to share your feelings and deepest fears. Though the steadiness of your mother's love is gone you are meeting the challenges of being an artist with strength. Keep writing about it-so many suffer in silence about mental illness-your voice needs to be heard.
Sandra Hendrickson

Valerie Ipson said...

Fear departs when faith endures...

I try to remember that.

jenica said...

i love you soooooo much. all of it. even the crazy, cause i'm right there with you. xoxoxoxo

Shanda said...

Catching up on my reader and saw this post- I hope you are feeling a little better now. I "checked out" for a few months myself, and it feels good to get back into things.

It's been way too long since we've chatted. Are you planning on going to Storymakers again? I hope to see you before then but if not I hope I can give you a hug at the conference!

Shanda :)

Lesli Muir Lytle said...

Dear Karen,
I know this was from last month, but I just found it.

First, so sorry about your break.
Second, so sorry about your mother.

But third, I think it's why you and I have a bit of a connection. I started writing 6 years ago, a year after losing my mom. It's a secret kind of HELL not to be able to tell your mother when things are going great. I shoulder to lean on is great and needed, but no one can share your joy quite like a mother can. I think that's why good-news days are the hardest for us maniac.

Yep. Card-carrying member.
And anytime you need an upswing, call your ol' pal, Lesli.

My kids are getting old enough to be able to laugh about some of my episodes...but it's kind of a nervous laugh.


Elizabeth Mueller said...

*hugs* Karen, my heart goes out to you. Know that I pray for your family and you--you guys are special to me. I wish we lived so much closer.

Luv you...

♥.•*¨ Elizabeth ¨*•.♥

Rebecca said...

Karen, thank you for your honesty. Depression is a big, silent, hovering monster. I hope things are going a little better for you.

I struggled with some pretty hefty depression this past year; it's terrible.

I thought I was following your blog, but I guess not! I shall remedy that now.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Karen .. hope things are better now - it's good to get it .. but losing your cheerleader and best friend is the worst .. my mother and I are close, and were not close, due to her experiences and family, but she now appreciates me and we're finding things out about each other - that I'd have never have known .. if we hadn't been given so far this 4 year stroked time frame - it's not easy .. but boy do I learn.

My thoughts are with you .. I too started my blog because of my mother .. with a slightly different take ..

I'd love to be able to sing in tune! and play an instrument .. have no sense of rhythm .. so even though I enjoyed the piano - it wasn't really right for me!!

I hope the diabetes is easier to live with now .. and good luck with the blog-fest ..sounds like life is a little easier ..

PS I came via Elizabeth Mueller, who commented on another blogger's post about her mother - Kelly Olsen .. in our A - Z Challenge .. (I hate no knowing how people find me!!)

All the very best - Hilary