Sunday, October 26, 2014

What My Nightmares are Composed Of



It’s a Halloween Blog Hop, so of course this blog will be about one of the things that makes my skin crawl and haunts my dreams. And, this blog should give EVERY SINGLE pet owner nightmares.

Let me tell you a story and I will not change the names to protect the innocent because doing so will also provide cover to those people who are as guilty as original sin in creating this nightmare. The worst part to the story you're about the read is this: If I wrote this shit, no one would believe it. Fiction must be believable. Unfortunately, reality does not have to follow that rule.

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful bi-black little Shetland Sheepdog. Her name was Piper. She became an American Kennel Club champion. She was and is loved deeply by her owners, Veronica Covatch and Michelle Wilson. Because Piper is a treasured member of their family, Piper was microchipped, in the event she ever got lost. (Please remember this information, because it plays a role later in the story.)

In April of 2014, Piper was with a friend in Ohio, near Columbus. Veronica was at the American Shetland Sheepdog Association (ASSA) national specialty show in St. Louis. Somehow, on Good Friday, Piper escaped a fenced yard and was subsequently picked up by the local animal control. Piper was scanned and the microchip was found. YEAH! Piper could go home. Not so fast…because here’s where things get a little dicey. The animal shelter where Piper was being held claims they tried to contact the owners on record. No answer. So, they contacted the veterinarian of record (the one who implanted the microchip) and didn’t get an answer. It was afternoon on Good Friday. Positive identification for Piper was established through the microchip and my understanding is that—by law—Piper should have been held for ten days. (Federal law requires the dog to have been held for five days.) Instead, she was surrendered to Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue (COSR), run by Penny Sanderbeck as a 501-c3, within less than 48 hours of being picked up.

As soon as Veronica learned that Piper was with COSR, she began making phone calls. Several of her friends called COSR, attempting to get Piper for Veronica until she could get to Ohio from St. Louis. COSR—or more exactly, Penny Sanderbeck—refused to relinquish Piper to Veronica’s friends. When Veronica got to Ohio, Sanderbeck refused to give her Piper. Sanderbeck claimed the dog was abused, that she had been bounced from home to home, and that she (Penny) was now the legal owner of Piper as per the paperwork from the animal shelter in Franklin County. (Is your head spinning like that kid from The Exorcist yet?)

Veronica had Piper’s microchip number. She offered to do DNA (at her expense) on Piper to prove Piper was Piper. She had show win photos, signed statements from Piper’s handler, and Sanderbeck kept refusing to return Piper to Veronica. The national parent club became involved, because COSR had received many monetary donations from the ASSA over the last few years. A mediator was agreed upon and Sanderbeck’s demands and accusations became greater and more bizarre. After several frustrating weeks, the mediator withdrew because there was no intent on Sanderbeck’s part to cooperate and attempt to mediate this dispute. The ASSA pulled ALL support from COSR. During this time, Sanderbeck alleged her home was burglarized by a person or persons whose sole intent was to try to find Piper. (Amazingly, there doesn’t seem to be a police record for this alleged break-in.) And while all this was going on, Sanderbeck was allegedly defrauding a dying woman (link here: http://www.bestinshowdaily.com/blog/abuse-allegations-trail-cosr-director/). I’ll bet your head is starting to spin now.

When Sanderbeck refused all attempts at mediation, the attorneys got involved. Veronica filed in Franklin County to get Piper back under a replevin. (Big legal term that basically says return the property or pay for it.) Veronica had to put up a $10,000 bond. Yep, 10 grand in cash. Because Sanderbeck was the respondent in this case, she could go to a bondsman, pay a paltry $200 to have her 10 grand bond posted. Sanderbeck was given ten days to respond to the replevin. Sanderbeck waited until the very last minute and demanded a trial. That court date was just a few days ago, and guess what…Sanderbeck asked for a continuance, which was granted. The new date is set for December 11th.

Though she won’t say, conservative estimates place Veronica’s legal bills in the ballpark of between $60,000 and $90,000. And, in all this time, NO ONE has seen Piper. Oh, there are a few Kool-Aid drinkers for COSR who claim they've seen Piper and that she’s alive and well, but I think I’d be demanding proof of life.

Is your skin crawling, now? Heart beating a little faster, imagining this to be you and your beloved pet? What has happened to Veronica and Michelle and their little dog, Piper, is wrong on so many levels I can’t even begin to count the ways it’s wrong. This is a breed specific rescue that will not return a positively identified dog to her rightful owners! COSR is claiming that Veronica is not Piper’s owner, and even though Sanderbeck isn’t disputing Veronica is Piper’s breeder, she is claiming that Veronica has no right to Piper because Veronica placed her with a friend. (Any reputable breeder has a contract with puppy buyers that states if at any time in the dog’s life, the new owners cannot keep that puppy, the puppy returns to the breeder.) Yet, at the same time, COSR’s “adoption” contract states the people adopting that rescue dog never own it, it will always remain the property of COSR for the rest of its natural life and COSR can reclaim the dog at any time. (Hypocrisy, anyone?)

You know, there is that Facebook meme that says I'm usually a very sane, nice person but if you mess with my dogs I will break out a level of crazy that will make your nightmares look like a happy place...yeah. Try to take my dog from me and watch how fast I can go from sane to toys in the attic crazy.

I can’t even imagine the nightmare that Veronica and Michelle are living.

For more reading on Piper’s story, here’s the link: http://www.bestinshowdaily.com/blog/breaking-news-piper-case-heads-to-trial/

On a lighter note, there is a rafflecopter give-away for this blog hop. There's a lot of ways to increase your odds of winning several gift cards, one of which is a $100 gift card to Amazon. Here’s that link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/6832075a2/

And, lastly…there are more than 50 blogs for you to check out and have a shiver or two race up your spine. Check ‘em out.





Sunday, October 12, 2014

It's Okay if it's Free, Just Not on a Pirate Site

Excuse me. I need room to climb up onto my soapbox. I need room to get up here because I don’t want to step on toes with this post, but I also know that I am going to do that.

I work hard to write a compelling romance. I am certain that just about every author, whether traditionally published or self-published, will say the same thing. Writing isn’t easy, it damn sure isn’t for the thin-skinned or faint of heart, and it requires not only dedication but a certain level of insanity. For every J.K. Rowling and E.L. James out there, there are thousands of authors who will never be able to retire on their writing royalties.

And these thousands of authors whine, bitch, piss, moan, and complain about the bastards who steal published works and post those pilfered words on pirate sites. Before these authors come after me with torches and pitchforks, let me make one thing perfectly clear. THERE ISN’T A LEVEL OF HELL DEEP ENOUGH FOR INTERNET PIRATES. My preferred punishment for internet pirates is to gouge out their eyes, break every finger in their hands (in multiple places), cut out their tongues, and then burn them at the stake to prevent them from ever stealing so much as another word from an author. (I feel the same way about plagiarism and I think I used to scare the hell out of my students when I taught and told each and every class that if I had my way, that’s what I would do to anyone caught plagiarizing. However, I was forced by the university I worked at to only be able to fail them for the paper or the class, depending on the severity of the offense.)

Now that I’ve established how I feel about internet piracy, here’s where standing on the soap box comes into play.

So many of those same authors bemoaning how rotten it is when they find their work on a pirate site and the hassles involved with getting the work pulled down under the terms of DMCA and then find that their work has popped up on another pirate site and feeling as if they are playing an never ending game of Whack-a-Mole are the very same people who are offering many of their works permanently for free on sites like Amazon.

HUH?

I know the idea behind offering a freebie or two is to convince readers that they want to buy the rest of your books, but I don’t get it. Why is it okay to offer the book for free on Amazon and yet when the same book shows up on a pirate site for free downloading, it’s not okay?

When The Devil’s Own Desperado was first published, it was part of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Program and for ninety days, it was exclusive to Amazon. Okay, fine. During that ninety day period, it was offered for free for five days. I watched my rankings sky-rocket during that free period. I was elated. Until I realized I wasn’t making a single red cent on those “sales”. Neither was my publisher. And, shortly after that free period, I started playing Whack-a-Mole.

Pirates are smart. They’re good at what they do. They can strip the encoding out of a digital download (the stuff that’s supposed to protect the digital download from piracy) and have it posted on a pirate site pretty damn fast. I sent out fifteen DMCA notices before I stopped finding my book on pirate sites. I was told I was lucky. I had to send out ONLY fifteen notices.

Between the publication of Desperado and Smolder on a Slow Burn, my publisher decided to no longer participate in Amazon’s KDP. HALLELUJAH! One of the senior editors at my publisher has very strong feelings about the books listed as free, either temporarily or permanently. To her mind—and mine, I will add—an author who does that is selling themselves far short.

It’s one thing to buy copies and give them away for contests, to members of a street team, or to family members. It’s another animal entirely to have a book as forever free. And, I don’t want to make it easy for the pirates. Offering my book for free is the same as posting a huge sign on the cover begging a pirate to steal it and put it up on a pirate site. Because I have not offered either of my books for free, I’m not playing Whack-a-Mole. I still troll the internet looking for links where either might be offered for free, but I haven’t found one yet. That’s not to say it won’t happen, but pirates are also very cheap. They’d prefer not to buy something to put up on a pirate site when they're handed it for free.
 

And, that’s all the more reason I will never allow my books to be offered for free. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

We NEED to Talk

I am done struggling with how to write this blog post and I’m just going to write it. I apologize in advance for the length, but there is no way to succinctly state this.

Earlier this year, I was humbled and proud to be part of a community of people around the world who love dogs and contributed to the medical expenses of a collie that we all came to know as “Lad.” Sadly, Lad’s story didn’t have a happy ending. The end to Lad’s story was bitter, but the manner that collie (and dog) lovers around the world came together to help The Arrow Fund and Lad did soften the blow of losing such an angel.

Then, earlier this summer, I was again proud to be part of that community when it came to light that several (more than 12) collies were dead from starvation and lack of water and the survivors of the hellhole they had been condemned to were in a local animal shelter in Alabama. Once more, the collie community rallied, offered financial support, and other than one owner, all the co-owners and/or breeders were in attendance at the hearing in Alabama to get their dogs back. To that one owner, I say, “SHAME ON YOU! Your name just topped my list of people to NEVER place a dog with.”

Then, last month, a hoarding situation with collies in Texas began to scrawl across my newsfeed on Facebook. More than 90 dogs were seized, many of them pregnant. Within a week, that number being cared for by Houston Collie Rescue soared to well over one hundred. Once more, the collie community jumped in, offering financial support, sending doggie blankets, food, crates, and anything else that might be of use, offering foster homes, and I know of one veterinarian who flew to Texas on her own dime and gave much needed medical care to these dogs. How do you thank such an angel? How do you say thank you to the many clubs (not all collie clubs, either) who have pledged and gave much needed financial support?

And, shortly after that, there came the story of a hoarding situation involving Irish  Wolfhounds, again in Texas. Once more, the dog fancy has rallied and the support to help these animals is coming in.

All the help provided to these wonderful, sweet, beautiful souls restores my faith in humanity…until I really start to think about it.

I still have faith that when there is need, the fancy will rally to assist those unfortunate animals trapped in hoarding or abuse situations. But, I wish I didn’t have to have that kind of faith. I wish that these situations never arose. And, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride…

I ask myself—where did these dogs come from? In the case of the collies in Alabama, the dogs came from some of the top show kennels in the country. The breeders on the dogs involved that were on the pages of this person’s Facebook account and his web page reads like a Who’s Who of the collie world. And, this wasn’t the first time this person had been involved in a hoarding/abuse situation. I know for a fact that several people tried to warn many who sold this man dogs that this was not a good place. The people who placed dogs with this man can claim all they want that they didn’t know and I will call “BULL.”

The case in Texas also makes me ask where did all these dogs come from? Even accounting for unsupervised, indiscriminate breeding over the years, this person started with some quality stock. The quality is still evident in the pictures of the dogs I’ve seen and been told by people who have hands on these animals many of them are wonderful representations of the breed.

I don’t know a lot about Irish Wolfhounds, but they aren’t an extremely popular breed, so I’ll go out on a limb here and say this hoarder had to have started with some good stock, as well.

I wish I had the answer on how to stop hoarding and abuse like these dogs have suffered. I do know that part of the answer lies in open communication. Call people. I had one breeder call me when she had a litter of puppies and she asked about that person in Alabama. I said I wouldn’t do it. That was enough for her.  Another owner was being pressured into giving co-ownership of her champion male to this man. I’m good enough friends with this owner that when she asked my opinion about it, I told her that I would do bodily harm to her if she even considered that offer for more than three seconds and I would steal her dog before he’d go south. He didn’t end up in Alabama, either.

Open communication involves asking questions and answering honestly. The hard questions. The hardest question. “Would you place a dog there?” If you can’t answer, unequivocally, “Yes,” say so. Trust your gut. No more dogs should die and be left to lie in a kennel run (for days on end) or dumped in the woods because no one would take five minutes to ask others about the person you’re considering selling a dog to. Photographic evidence doesn’t lie and the even in this day of Photoshop, the vast majority of us aren’t good enough to doctor images. (Yeah, I heard that one, too.)

Another part of the answer to preventing these horrific stories from ever being repeated with more living, breathing, sentient creatures lies in being unafraid to take a stand and say “THIS IS WRONG!” Standing up and shouting that will probably cost you some friends. (It cost me—but then, I’m not sure the people who no longer want to associate with me were ever friends in the first place.) Show wins, pretty ribbons, and slick web sites do not equate to a loving, caring home where each dog is valued for more than bragging rights and what it can produce. Sorry, it just doesn’t. You can argue all you want that “respected judge So and So wouldn’t have put him/her up if he/she is such a terrible person and took such horrible care of the dogs.” Wanna bet? I’ve seen it happen, again and again and again. That’s how those show win photos with the pretty ribbons end up on those slick web sites.

Am I bitter? Not really. More like furious. We are so concerned with the daily attacks on the fancy by the animal rights activists and these cases just play us into their hands. These hoarders and abusers are held up as the poster children of what a “show breeder” is and how horrible “show breeders” are. We MUST start policing ourselves and preventing cases of hoarding and abuse like this from ever happening again, or someone else will be policing us. And, while that external policing will make my wish of never seeing cases like this come true, we won’t like the rest of what comes with it, because there won’t be companion animals, show dogs, and dog shows. And, wishing for my beloved collies to be a part of my life again isn’t a wish I want to be making.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Deep POV


I saw a writing tip the other day that really got me thinking. Authors were challenged to come up with twenty things that readers wouldn’t necessarily know about the characters in the author’s most current WIP. These things are most often backstory, very seldom make it into the final draft, but do lend themselves to allowing the author (and by extension the reader) to really get to know the character(s) more in depth. Some very deep POV can be gleaned from these tidbits. Because I’m one of those writers who writes way more than will ever be in the final draft, I thought I would come up with a list for my newest release Smolder on a Slow Burn available from The Wild Rose Press (http://bit.ly/1o4uw8u) and/or Amazon (http://amzn.to/1pstPH4). I don’t have twenty, but I’ve got a substantial list.
1.      Both A.J. and Allison were the H/H in a contemporary I wrote decades ago that I never did anything with. My niece read the original contemporary version shortly after it was finished and I will never forget her punching the daylights out of a teddy bear because A.J. was such an ass to Alli. After not doing anything with the MS for almost 20 years, I decided to make the original story a historical. In the intervening decades, I have to admit, A.J. has mellowed a bit.
2.      Both of them had a privileged upbringing and are well educated. A.J. is an attorney, though he doesn’t practice law, and Allison is a teacher. 
3.      Allison is a fraternal twin, meaning she looks nothing like her minutes older sibling. A.J. is the oldest of four, having two sisters and one very younger brother.
4.      A.J.’s mother was an abolitionist and even though he fought for the Confederacy, he holds her views on how evil slavery was. Allison’s whole family are abolitionists.
5.      I have said repeatedly that A.J. is the most honorable character I have ever written. (Probably the reason he doesn’t practice law.) Allison is strong enough to hold firm to her beliefs about right and wrong.
6.      As a young girl, Allison broke her wrist when she fell from a tree while collecting apples for her pony. What she doesn’t reveal in the retelling of this story was she was with several slave children who would have been punished for being in the orchard and it just wasn’t her pony she was getting apples for. By the time he was ten or twelve, due to his mother’s influence, A.J. had already determined that he would never be a slave owner.
7.      In the original version of this story, A.J. was estranged from his parents and Allison’s parents were killed in an automobile accident when she was only six. In the historical version, Allison’s mother died shortly after giving birth to the twin girls, so she and her sister were being raised by their father. A.J.’s father died when he was in his early teens and his mother died before he was eighteen, making him a defacto parent to his younger brother, Drake.
8.      A.J.’s best friend, Harrison Taylor, was the ring-leader in their escapades when they were younger. A.J. was the voice of reason, but because Harrison didn’t often listen to reason, A.J. found himself in trouble trying to keep Harrison from trouble. Allison, on the other hand, was the “brains” in her cohort of friends, and often leading them into mischief.
9.      In both versions of the story, A.J. and Allison’s first born child is named Pamela Grace. In both, though it’s never said, she is named for the epistolary novel Pamela: or Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson (published 1740). Yes, my geekiness for literature is showing. Sorry, but that’s what happens when you’ve got a Master’s in English…




Thursday, August 28, 2014



The last blog post here was from Vander--he decided to take over my blog to write about our summer vacation. I have to rebut a few things he wrote, because he wasn't completely accurate. I suppose that's what I get for letting my dog write my blog.

I'm also part of a blog hop with this blog post at Christina Cole's How I Spent My Summer Vacation.

Anyway, here is my rebuttal to Vander's post:
         
            Dear Dog! 
            First of all, Van—dear, love, one of the lights of my life—I am not attempting to lead break your daughters because as of this writing, they are only six weeks old. They’re barely weaned. I understand time to dogs is a bit different than it is to people, but six weeks isn’t old enough to even think about starting that. And to call the mother of your children hard-headed is not a wise move, especially considering how the mission to get Dixie to conceive was accomplished. (You don’t want your secret fetish with plastic bags to come out, do you?)
            Secondly, yes, I did make a lot of show leads, but those leads are sold to help support YOUR show career. If you want a new show lead, say so. Honestly, I would think you’d want to stay with the lead you win on—but, hey, your move, chief. And, I watched Man of Steel no more than five or six times this summer. (As a trip to Wyoming didn't happen this summer, I needed something really pretty to look at, other than your beautiful face.) I fail to see how you can be sick of it when you were only sleeping in my office one time when I was watching Man of Steel and I had the headphones on the whole time. We won’t talk about all the times you wanted to watch the Lassie movie, because, Dude, that’s a boy. Thank you, though, for noting I have been working on a third novel.
            Also, teasing your big brother is not a wise move. Arizona could flatten your pretty butt to the ground any time he wanted. He just doesn’t because he’s a gentleman. And your cousin is NOT a jerk. Wyatt is just a high-energy, very self-confident male—rather like yourself. Speaking of the collies at Jacque’s, you forgot to mention that one of your girlfriends who lives there was also at the shows in Biloxi and she gave Dealie a run for her money all four days we were there. Forgetting to mention Daisy could have hurt Jacque’s feelings so try to be a bit more careful with what you post on my blog, if you ever guest post again (and I’m thinking it will be a cold day somewhere before I let you do that).
            Yes, you did get it right that Tenna and I will be neighbors with Jacque AND DICK in the foreseeable future in Tennessee, but you forgot to mention that Dave, Tenna’s husband and Ken were also involved in this purchase. (We really need to talk about your jealousy issues with other males—regardless of the species!) And, Jacque informs me that the pot-bellied pig IS NOT—I repeat—IS NOT to be chased, harassed, tormented, or annoyed in any manner. Eating her is off the table, too.
            Adding the Piper story as a post-script…Vander, really? That is every dog owner’s worst nightmare, that their beloved pet gets lost, gets found, and then won’t be returned to them. There isn’t enough bandwidth to discuss how sickened I am with Penny Sanderbeck and her so-called rescue operating under the name “Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue.” Yes, we have been following that story since the twisted tale began in late April and while I appreciate you chiming in with your meme of “Bring Piper Home,” you could have given the story a bit more prominence in your blog post. I think we need to talk about your organizational skills when it comes to writing, too. You could have at least shared a link or two so that people who don’t know what’s going on could read up on how utterly messed-up that whole story is. Like this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1444028252510403/
            After this experience, I don’t think I’ll be letting any of my dogs guest blog for me again. Sorry, Snape…tell Vander about it. He blew it.

            If you click the link embedded in Christina's name at the beginning of the blog, it will take you to the main page for this hop where you can check out a lot more summer vacation reads. There's also a rafflecopter contest where you could win all kinds of neat prizes, including an Amazon gift card. Go to Christina's page and show her some love, too.




            

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Guest post from my dog

photo by Tenna Perry
Hi, all! Ummm…my name is Vander and I’m filling in for mom for this blog post. She was supposed to write about how she spent her summer vacation but she’s busy with promotion for her latest release from The Wild Rose Press and trying to get my two daughters trained to walk on a lead. Good luck with those two, Mom. They’re way too much like their mother. Never met a more a hard-headed bitch than Dixie. (And, I’m not calling her a bad name. In my world, dogs are male and bitches aren’t.)

Anyway…how did Mom spend her summer vacation? Let’s see, we played dog show until the first weekend of June. I went to those shows but didn’t get to play because I thought it would be a wise move to shed all my coat the weekend before. Mom was so not impressed with my idea to shed. But, I got to cheer for my buddies Driver and Dealie while we were in Biloxi. And on the way home from that trip, we stopped and spent a couple of days at Aunt Jacque’s house in Tennessee.

I LOVE staying with Aunt Jacque. All of us get to get out of the van and run for hours. We like it there so much sometimes Mom stays an extra day just because she can. Aunt Jacque’s got the coolest place in the woods there—lots to see and bark at. There’s a couple of deer who wander through every morning about 4 AM. I’ve seen turkeys, hundreds of squirrels (I hate squirrels because they don’t play fair), birds, and even a pot-bellied pig. And one of my girlfriends lives there. Plus, I get to tease my big brother, Arizona, and my nephew, Wyatt. Wyatt is a jerk, BTW.

Apparently Mom and Aunt Tenna (one of our traveling to dog show buddies) like it so much at Aunt Jacque’s that when some property right next to Aunt Jacque came up for sale, Mom and Aunt Tenna bought it. I wouldn’t mind living in Tennessee. The winters aren’t as cold and snowy there as they are here in Indiana.

photo by Johanna Lance
Mom spent most of the summer making dog show leads, watching movies (and let me tell you, I AM SICK of Man of Steel and if she names a dog around here “Clark” I’m gonna puke!), and writing her third book. She told me that she’s dedicating it to me—because I make her smile. I don’t know what it is that I do to make her smile, but she does smile a lot when she looks at me. She makes me happy, too. I love to play dog show and get all the cookies she feeds me while we’re playing but we don’t play dog show in the summer because it’s too hot for us (the collies) to have to run around a ring and Mom says she hates really hot, humid weather. (Me, too!)


So, that’s been our summer. I’ve been told that my vacation is almost over and we’ll be back to playing dog show. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go practice my show pose. I’m a bit rusty.

Later…Vander

P.S. Oh, we’ve also been following the story all summer long about Piper the sheltie being kept from her owner by the Central Ohio Sheltie Rescue. All Mom and I have to say about this is #BRINGPIPERHOME
head study by Tenna Perry




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Jump or Move Back

Yesterday, I felt as if I lost an old friend. I didn’t know him personally, but I thought the man was a comic genius, an incredible dramatic actor, and from what I did know of him, someone who was a genuinely decent and good human being. Robin Williams took his own life yesterday. Not out of an attempt for attention, but because as someone who suffered from severe depression he had apparently reached the point where there was no more rope to tie a knot into and hang on for dear life. The prospect of a life without the crushing sadness, without the continual physical pain of depression, without the agony of psychological pain was greater than the need to continue that struggle.

I know that struggle. Like Robin Williams (and countless others), I struggle on a daily basis with severe, clinical depression. I have Type II bipolar disorder. I go from periods of extreme manic (how does ANYONE think I can write a 65K+ manuscript in 10 days?) to crushing depression when the effort to even get out of bed is too much of a battle. Add in the perpetual battle with insomnia that even prescription medication will not touch and that depression becomes greater. I haven’t self-medicated with alcohol or drugs, but I can fully understand the temptation. ANYTHING to stop the pain…even the eternal numbness of death.

Depression is real. Depression is a killer—it is a silent, relentless, merciless killer. The bottom side of the never-ending cycle of manic/depressive behavior is a very, very dark place. Sometimes, it feels so dark that not even light can escape from it. Like most people with a depressive disorder, I can feel the changes in my thought-process before it even starts. For me, there’s a sense of being disconnected from everyone and everything around me. There’s a sense of hopelessness that becomes overwhelming and seems to dim everything. By the time the depression sets in, the actual physical pain is unrelenting.

I had started that downward spiral several days before the announcement of Robin Williams’s death. The announcement did several things to me. It kicked me fully into that dark place that depressives both fear and yearn for—because amazingly, within that dark place, we are so numb that the pain and heartache doesn’t seem to hurt so much. We fear that dark, dark place because it also skews our thought-process. We start thinking that if the darkness numbs the pain, how much better will we feel if we never have to leave that place and if we can make the numbness, the darkness, the painlessness complete? What would it take to make it complete, to make the pain go away?

If you know someone with depression, please, let them know you are there for them. Understand there is NOTHING you can do to help them, but you can save them. Just be there. Hold that person’s hand and help them hold on; tell them you will hold them until they can find the strength to go on; let them draw on your strength because sometimes, even just one second more of life is enough to change the through process from ending the pain to being willing to endure it for another minute…or day…or a lifetime.

A true depressive will not threaten suicide. We just do it. Ninety percent of depressives who commit suicide gave no warning. I was watching a stand-up routine Williams did with HBO last night and there came a part of the routine where he was talking about his recovery from alcohol and how alcohol affects the brain—shuts off the conscience, and he compared it to that little voice in the back of one’s head when you are on top of a very tall building and look over the edge. He said that little voice whispers, “Jump.” A chill went up my spine with those words and there was almost dead silence in the audience. He recovered quickly, realizing the joke didn’t have the impact he was looking for—but in that moment, everyone in that audience and everyone who has ever viewed that program had a glimpse into the skewed thought process of a manic/depressive. Most people don’t hear “Jump” when looking over the edge. They hear “GET THE HELL AWAY FROM THE EDGE!”

I’m forcing myself to write this because I’m hearing “Jump.” I’m hurting all over. Depression is physical pain. The uptake receptors in a depressive’s brain don’t work right. The darkness is closing in. Asking me what’s wrong doesn’t help because there is nothing situational that can be changed to alter this depression. Trying to tell me what I have to live for is a form of trying to shame the depressive into a better mood—the old “snap out of it” line. I know damn good and well what I have to live for. Unfortunately, that little voice still says “Jump.”

I know what I have to do to silence that voice and I will do what I need to do to continue living. That is my promise to myself, to the people who love me, and the people who care about me. Silencing the voice telling me to jump and continuing to live are two different things. That voice will never be fully silenced. The only way to silence that voice forever is to enter the darkness for one last time and surrender, and I don’t think I’m ready to surrender.


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