Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Friday, December 7, 2012

That Which Doesn't Kill Us...

Will make it in a book someday.

*This post contains references to THAT WHICH MUST NOT BE NAMED. If you're squeamish, run...run fast...run hard...but run. And if you don't know what I'm referring to, you must not have grade school-age children. Yes. That. You've been warned.*

Hey, everyone, my November was insane--and by insane I mean I nearly had a psychotic episode from lack of sleep and stress around Thanksgiving. I averaged around 3 hours of sleep most nights during that month--other than the three times I had the stomach flu and then I crashed for longer periods.

*THAT WHICH MUST NOT BE NAMED is not the stomach flu. If you thought it was the stomach flu, then you're a newb to the world of horrible, horrible experiences. Run away--while you still can.*

I also went to B's sixth grade camp as a chaperone in early November. If you've known me for a bit, you know I have severe clinical OCD--so luckily the camp was in cabins with showers and not "real" camping. Still, I had three days with nine girls who were not my daughter (our kids couldn't stay in our cabins--so they could have the "same" camp experience.) Fun. Fun. Fun.

One of the joys I brought home from camp was the stomach flu. One of my cabin members gave me about a ten second warning of "Mrs. Sparrow, I don't feel so good..." Just before she hurled. Special, special memories. Also, B got to dissect a squid at camp--but that was actually hilarious--maybe I'll post pictures sometime.

*Now, for some background information so you can understand why THAT WHICH MUST NOT BE NAMED is such hell for me in particular.*

I don't have Hollywood OCD. My house is rarely clean or organized--other than piles--I do like piles--and I do try--I just also hate cleaning. I don't have to touch things a certain amount of time--in fact I practice avoidance so thoroughly that up until I came out and started telling people I have OCD eight years ago--few people knew. My primary OCD issue is contamination--and contamination is a broad definition for me, but body fluids and nature are up there at the top. (My kids have always gotten a free pass inside my comfort zone because I gave birth to them so my OCD sees them as an extension of me.) But my contamination issues are severe--they keep me inside--they keep me away from people--usually, they keep me away from nature. I have many other OCD issues, but contamination is the top one.

So, I came home from camp just sort of wigging out from the whole experience even though the camp was very well run and then I came down with the stomach flu that night.

But that wasn't the only gift that came home from camp. I also caught lice.

I will now pause while you all scratch your head furiously and possibly navigate to a different page. (No judgement here--I would do that.) And that, my friends, is THAT WHICH MUST NOT BE NAMED.

I'm thirty-six years old. I made it to thirty-six without EVER experiencing this joy...and by joy I mean hell because it is pure hell. Because you want to burn all of your possessions, cut off all your hair, shave all your body hair just to be safe, and then also die because you will never forget this experience. Ever.

Wait, are you still here? Are you still reading? Dude, you are hardcore! *high-fives*

There are certain things that top my list of things that will make me weep and curl into a ball--and lice is up at the top. In fact, lice is the top of my OCD phobias. It hits every area of my OCD. I've always said that lice would send me into a Psych ward and it very nearly did. My husband has become an old pro at handling females with OCD but I think my reaction to this experience even freaked him out. I couldn't stop shaking and crying. I was nearly in a fugue state. It was very, very, very bad.

I think most people have a similar reaction...but then you multiply it by eighty for me. I cried forever. I cried myself dehydrated. I couldn't stop shaking. And I did curl up into a ball and just cry and shake.

We nuclear bombed my hair with the expensive stuff--and that got most of them--and then I soaked my head in Listerine for two hours. The Listerine kicked lice butt. That was over three weeks ago. My hair still smells like Listerine. And Listerine smells like no lice...but also like Listerine. Just FYI. (BTW, if you ever try this--make sure to get the brown/yellow Listerine or you'll dye your hair green or blue. You can thank me later.)

If you're still on this page, holy freak! I didn't realize we were that tight. I might have to get your address and send you a gift card or a twenty or something. But, once again, no judging if you duck off.

By the way, once you get lice--you will forever have lice. ("But, Wendy, you said you got rid of it..." "Dude, I don't think lice has ever been eradicated that fast--they didn't know what hit them. It was a lice-Armageddon. I'm pretty sure I've killed lice for future generations at this point.") No. Once you itch because it IS lice--you will always think it's lice. You're not itching because you soaked your head in Listerine for two hours and forever changed the PH of your scalp--no, it must be lice. It won't be because you're writing or reading a blog post--that you should have navigated away from--about lice. NO! It's lice! It will always be lice that you fear. Lice. Lice. Lice. It will always be lice. *hisses* You will have it forever.

You didn't leave. Okay, now I am judging you...I'm judging you to be awesome...and insane. I bet you eat nails for breakfast.

I also received news from both a radiologist and a dentist that were no good. Three words you never want to hear a radiologist say: We found something. I'd gone in for a routine appointment but I was also hoping to find out why my hair was falling out--and this is the reason my hair is falling out and the appointment became not so routine and sucked. I need to go back for further testing. It might be nothing. It might be cancer. How often can you say that? Hopefully, not often.

Actually, in a normal world...Cancer would THAT WHICH MUST NOT BE NAMED but in my world, I'm more afraid of living through lice again. True story. OCD is like that.

If it is cancer--which it most likely isn't--I did something horribly stupid five years ago. Five years ago, I did a treatment for OCD that has a high, high risk for this particular type of cancer. But I was out of the age demographic for it--and I told my doctor that no, no one in my family had ever had THAT type of cancer--only I just found out my great grandmother died of THAT type of cancer.

PSA--know what type of cancers and serious health conditions run in your family. I never should have done this OCD treatment, and there's no way my doctor would have let me if I'd known. *sighs* Actually, I was about to ask my doctor if I could go back on this treatment again. It helped. C'est la vie.

Every time I turned around in November, something new went wrong--and all those stomach flus messed with my OCD med dosing. I shouldn't take the meds on an empty stomach--the meds are too strong. And they definitely need to actually hang out in my system for a bit longer than the flu affords--so then I took too little. So, I was mental. My husband is a saint. He didn't stay at work late--like most sane men would have--he even stayed home to help me cope the day after I found out I got lice from camp.

So, in order to cope, I buried myself in my NaNo novels...yes...novels. I wrote 150K in twenty-one days. Two novels. It was better than my reality so I embraced it--and I have this problem with my OCD--it makes my writing obsessive. I can't stop writing and sleep until it's all out of my head. I got to see the sunrise several times from the wrong side of sleeping--on days when my kids had school and had to be ready to get on a bus. So, there were many days where I slept two hours and wrote for fourteen hours.

Actually, it would have been amazing if I hadn't approached a psychotic breakdown.

How about you? How you doing? Itchy? Yeah, I thought so. Sorry about that. Our area is in the process of a major, major outbreak, by the way. If you're planning a trip to the Puget Sound area...wear your hair in braids (if it's long enough) and keep your hair things and brushes to yourself. Be selfish. Or you'll share in my experience...the experience I only experienced thanks to sixth grade camp--the gift that keeps giving.

Luckily, I have even more reason to be grateful for Thanksgiving than the usual reasons because the kids were off school so I slept in. I got several days in a row with over five hours of sleep--and my hands finally stopped shaking and I stopped getting dizzy whenever I stood up and noise didn't make me curl into a ball and cry. Our stress also cooled off a bit by then.

So far, December has been slightly better...but, then again... how could it not? Actually, I kept saying that in November and then it'd get worse, so I've stopped saying that. Also words and phrases I will never use again: nit-picker and going over something with a fine-tooth comb.

How was your November? Was it good? Good. I'm proud of you for sticking this out. If no one else has said this to you today...you're a trooper. I admire the hell out of you.

BUT...actually...the result of the worst month of my life was the most writing I've ever done and because I use humor to cope--these two novels are actually funny. Well, I think so. I think they're hilarious. Yes, sometimes I laugh at my own jokes.

(They might not be funny, of course... Actually, I'm not entirely sure this is December and not a hallucination brought on by Listerine fumes and I'm still in November.) (If it is, don't tell me, let me believe the lie. Please. Please. Please.)

December has also been good because I finished off third pass of FROSTED. Yay! It should come out sometime this winter...hopefully next month. *fingers crossed* My editor at Entangled, Lewis, was awesome and I recognize that he cushioned me on this last pass--there was a lot of head-patting and 'that'll do, pig' in his comments--because he thought I was going to break down--and I appreciate that.

Thanks to those who checked on me in November when I kept disappearing off the internet. You guys are great. : )  Also, I apologize for all the profanity in emails I sent out...and it might be no coincidence that these two novels have more profanity than any of my previous novels--I might have to deal with that if I ever submit them.

Well, November did teach me one thing. First, holy freak, I'm stronger than I thought--I seriously have been telling people for years that lice would kill me. Secondly, I have a greater appreciation for Listerine--which is good because I may always smell like Listerine. Third, it can always get worse. Fourth, that which doesn't kill us--will make for some awesome dark moments in our books. I have seen the bottom, people, and the weak among you will not survive...well, maybe you will...because, fifth, all the poignant idiotic films about the human spirit can rise above anything are right--or at least you can survive long enough for Oreos and Mtn Dew to arrive...and, with those, who knows what limits there are to what you can accomplish. 150K, my friends. Eyes on the prize--or a mental breakdown. Actually don't ever do 150K in 21 days. I like you too much and we can all acknowledge that I was already a little bit mental to start off with--so my fall wasn't quite as far.

So, if you made it through this--you are either my mother or you deserve a gold star for your forehead...and if you didn't, you wouldn't be reading this anyway, but I'm not judging you...just saying. If you did read all of this, comment below because you climbed this lice mountain and that deserves recognition--also probably a visit to a therapist because only a crazy person would keep reading this...or my mother. (Hi, Mom!) (Actually, my mom probably stopped reading after the first warning.) (And I'm not judging.)