This week on Twitter, my timeline has been full of posts with the #WhyIDidntReportIt hashtag, in response to all the ignorant people who really don’t get how difficult it is for survivors of sexual assault to report these crimes. Some have gone to the police, their parents, school administrations, and the like, but were met with disbelief or questions that put blame on them instead of their attackers. Many haven’t said anything to anyone because they knew it would amount to a billion questions that again, would put the blame on them—Were you drinking? Were you walking alone? What were you wearing? And so on.
Say it with me now: The single cause of rape? Rapists.
So many people (and not only cisgender women) are affected by what’s going on with the Kavanaugh hearings and all of the news related to sexual assault since the #MeToo movement rose to the next level. One one hand, it’s really powerful when we do speak up and support each other and strive to affect change. On the other, it’s draining, triggering, forces people relive their worst nightmare, incurs comments from the worst people, and makes me want to hide in a couch fort.
But you know what? It’s okay to hide in a couch fort for awhile. Self-care and mental breaks are enormously vital for those of us who are triggered by these events and the horrible trolls who don’t believe us. (I also feel that women who trash other women are particularly revolting.)
If you need to step away from social media or turn off the TV and read a book you love, then do that. The other day I posted a photo of a happy bouncy llama. I needed that visual break. A friend of mine also stopped to take photos of the sky because it moved her, and she posted them for a break from the dumpster fire.
Derailing the focus to something positive is often a grounding tool for people who manage PTSD. Let them post their sparkly unicorn GIFs, happy baby photos, or a review of a film they love.
You’re not less of an activist or a human if you need a break or to excuse yourself from the discussion. You live in you. You know yourself better than any of us. You have the perfect right to take care of yourself.
I must say, though, I’m dead proud of all the people offering support to each other at this time. There has been such a sharing of empathy and love, even between total strangers. In the midst of such horror, something in the human condition still shines through as kindness. That gives me hope for humanity.
Take care of yourselves, my lovelies. We need a world with you in it.
Also, for what it’s worth, I believe you. ❤
Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, a story about a little green guy who’s on a quest to save half the person he loves. Cait has recently submitted the prequel to ’Cosm called The Stealth Lovers, a military space opera about legendary warriors Xaxall Knightly and Vivoxx Tirowen. When she’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts for indie authors and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also really likes cake
It’s amazing to me how people who deal with mental illness can be stigmatized as being weak, ’cause I’m like, Really? Really, doods? Do you actually have the teensiest clue what it’slike?I manage OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) impulses and anxiety. It wasn’t enough for me to have chronic neuropathy throughout my body. I wanted a mental illness, too, for shits and giggles.
Working through physical disabilities is challenging and then some. Accessibility limitations, chronic pain with associated fatigue, and people saying the most ridiculous things to me as “possible cures” are all part of my regularly scheduled life. However, as difficult as those things are, for me the mental stuff feels way more like constantly lifting hand weights. It takes up so much of my capacity and spoons, and if I had to prioritize, it would often be my mental health over my physical comforts. That’s just me, though.
But today I want to talk about the most common word people use to describe me: funny. I make people laugh. It’s my jam. I’ve chosen to be a humour author as my career. Even when I write serious themes, I always bring it back to something to chuckle about. Why? Probably because (1) I love doing that and (2) if I didn’t go to the whacky place, I’d not still be alive today.
Oscar Wilde said, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” I would probably lie in that gutter and make up goofy stories about a couple of the stars. Meet Blinky and Twinkles, two star-crossed lovers, who find that expression a bit odd since they’ve not moved from their orbits in five billion lightyears . . .
Now I need to do a flash fiction about Blinky and Twinkles.
I wrote Life in the ’Cosm while in a great deal of physical pain. I’m now writing The Stealth Lovers, a prequel, while having to go through therapy after an unspeakably horrible 2017. Last month I had a terrible day with debilitating anxiety, and I remember taking out my laptop to write a chapter in The Stealth Lovers. Oh, I was a mess that day. Writing often soothes me, though, so that’s why I’d chosen that activity. A few days later, I reread the new chapter . . . and laughed my butt off. I said aloud, “How the hay did I make it that funny? I remember how badly I’d felt!”
The mind is sort of a miraculous thing. It let me bypass the PTSD that overtook me and led me to a spot in my brain where I could escape to be ludicrous. You’d never guess the state I was in that day by reading the words on the page. And you know what? That alone made me feel damn proud.
Somehow, someway, I can still choose to be funny. Heck, I’m sorta funny even when I’m in therapy—not as a way of covering up what I have to say, but because I tend to find humour even in the worst situations. I still get my point across so I can be treated, but I just express myself in this creative fashion.
Mental illness is weakness? Yeah, that doesn’t compute for me. We have to be strong AF to function at our best potential. And you know, meeting with a medical professional who’s a virtual stranger and admitting your deepest secrets so you can get better takes a shitload of guts. Wanting to care for one’s mental health is probably also one of the most intelligent moves anyone can make. There’s nothing feeble about any of it. Badass warriors, we are. One of these days, I’ll paint myself in woad. (But I’ll spare the world seeing me naked. Yeah, you’re welcome.)
We’ve seen it’s not uncommon for comedians who are completely hysterical to have come from tragic or difficult circumstances. Or, they can be people who deal with mental illness. Robin Williams, my all-time favourite, battled with severe illness and demons. But I celebrate him for all the times he chose the funny. Because he chose the funny, he gave himself a reprieve and some joy, and then gave us treasured memories for a lifetime. Gosh, I miss him. (Why does it always feel like it’s still “too soon” when it comes to talking about Robin Williams?)
Whatever battles you might face, I hope you can find the support you need with medical intervention and great people who have your back. Then I hope you can find the funny, whether you write it yourself, listen to it, watch it, or binge-read it. There’s something about the funny that’s like nectar for the soul.
Dont you find?
Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, a story about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague. Cait is currently working on a prequel to ’Cosm called The Stealth Lovers, a rom-com military space opera. When she’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts for indie authors and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors are writers with disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also really likes cake.
It’s Monday morning, and Can-Con 2017 is over. I MADE IT, I MADE IT! WHOOOPIEEEE!
Oh, let me explain. The one thing I really wanted to do no matter what was attend Can-Con this year. I’ve had a wonderful 12 months of networking with amazing authors, many of whom are now friends, and I knew this conference would be like a class reunion that didn’t suck. This time around, I’d be more actively involved by sitting on two panels and giving a reading. There’d be one activity each day where I had to speak, but then the rest of the time I could learn and socialize. Easy on the spoons, I thought.
Two weeks before the conference I had a freak accident and did something ungood to my right foot when Noola (my rollator) bucked after getting her front wheels stuck in an unexpected crack-indent-rift-in-space just before a curb. The back wheel smashed into my right foot. As I tried walking home, things felt worse and worse and when I removed my sock, I almost barfed at the sight. But, a late-night walk-in clinic later, I was told it was mostly likely a nasty contusion and x-rays confirmed that. Whew. I would be okay to go to Can-Con.
The Friday before Can-Con, I was Google hang-outting with a writers group when I noticed a fever. But only a slight one, so I took Tylenol and rested. I’d be fine for Can-Con.
Okay, by Monday my throat was sore, but it’s probably a little bug. I’d still make Can-Con.
On Tuesday, both my eyes were running like a faucet, but at least my sore throat was better. I mean, I had a wee sinus cold. But I’d be fine for Can-Con.
On Wednesday, HOLY FUCK, WHAT HAPPENED TO MY LEFT EYE? WHY IS THERE GRUNGE AND PUSS AND WHY IS IT PINK? Maybe it’s just a viral side effect. I should be okay for Can-Con.
On Thursday, MY LEFT EYE IS SHUT! HOW DO I GET IT OPEN? OH, NO, MY RIGHT EYE HAS TURNED PINK! At this point my husband yanked me to another walk-in clinic where I was diagnosed with bacterial conjunctivitis. Never had it in my life. Got it in both eyes, the day before Can-Con. Ohhhhh, crap. I might not make it to Can-Con.
Friday comes around as Fridays are wont to do, and I cautiously look in the mirror. Hey! My eyes look like eyes again! Thank you, Jesus! Of course, the viral part of my cold makes me feel like total crap, but dammit, I’m going to Can-Con!
And I did. Even though moments before I sat on the Absurdist British Humour in Science Fiction panel I wasn’t too sure if I could put a sentence together, I went in anyway. And had so much fun discussing the mad funny shows and books that influenced our absurd lifestyle as humour writers. Really well-moderated by Ira Nayman, too. (We even bought each other’s books!) After panel, I went home to sleep.
I woke up at 4:35 a.m. hacking up a lung and spitting out unholy things. I had a book signing at 10:00 a.m. and my panel was at 9:00 p.m. Um. Yipes? However, resilient soul I imagine myself to be, I got into the car and went to the conference. Btw, I love wearing eye makeup and felt naked without it. Also, even my hair looked sick. I’m convinced my hair gets sympathy illnesses when I’m not well. My face was puffy, too. Nevertheless, I persisted!
But you know? Hanging with my friends, meeting online friends in person for the first time, listening to great talks, having deep discussions over lunch, gorging on pizza in my BFF’s room for supper, and then sitting on a panel that was 100% spoonie peeps was worth it. The Spooning with Spoonies: Disability and Sexuality panel was not only fantastic, but it also symbolized a dream come true for me. Last year at Can-Con, I saw many people with visible disabilities and knew there had to be more with invisible disabilities. I thought to myself, What if we had a network? I created the Spoonie Authors Network (SpaN) last November, eventually acquired 15 other contributors, and all six people on the spoonie panel were SpAN contributors! Wow! I was so happy having all these amazing humans up there with me, and their responses to questions were intelligent, insightful, and educational. Not to mention hilarious. I went home happy.
Sunday morning was my reading. I love doing readings. Annnnd, I woke up with laryngitis. GO ME! I was also running on maybe two spoons, so I stayed sitting and managed to eke out enough voice to get through it. Still fun, though. So glad people laughed. #cakeblocked
After the conference ended, I had a couple of quiet one-on-one meaningful chats. So nice to grasp onto those precious bonding moments. It was lovely.
My long-suffering husband then collected me, we picked up an untold amount of wings, and questioned our safety when a weird windstorm/thunderstorm created almost zero visibility on the rural road near our burb. BUT WE’RE OKAY, FOLKS! I ate my own weight while wear my minion onesie. Finally, I could rest.
Sooooo. Why didn’t I just stay home and nurse my double-eye infection and virus like a reasonable person? By now if you think I’m reasonable, you don’t know me very well. Yes, it was super annoying to have to put my eyedrops in at certain times and hork up goop, but I feel that the endorphin boost from so many people happy to see me and the building of friendships and the camaraderie of my fellow authors was totally worth it. We often write in isolation, so it’s nice to come together and share our experiences and some hugs! Also, I learn so much from these workshops and convos. The information I gain there helps me understand people better, makes me a strong writer, and helps me become a compassionate person. Most of the panels I attended were #ownvoices, and did I ever get a lot out of them. It’s so important to get the right message from people’s own mouths!
So, Can-Con . . . totally worth being patient zero for! (I managed to keep my germs well to myself, so yay!) Now, I don’t recommend risking your health for a conference and I would have stayed home if I had a fever. (Be smart with your health and listen to your doctor. Mine told me to enjoy the conference, so I knew I wasn’t in real danger.) But you can see how much I love this yearly event. To learn more about Can-Con, visit their website and follow them on social media!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a furry blanket.