Avoidance Behavior

I’m learning something new today, so I might as well share. My doctor pointed me to Avoidance Behavior today, and reading up on it is like reading a depressing autobiography of myself. But here’s some info on it, for all of us, in case it’s new to you too — but really just an old friend that’s been around all this time, you just could never remember their name. Susan? Sally? Sanchez?


avoidance behavior. (noun) a pervasive pattern of avoiding or withdrawing from social interaction; a defense mechanism by which a person removes himself/herself from unpleasant situations.

Dictionary.com

Avoidance coping refers to choosing your behavior based on trying to avoid or escape particular thoughts or feelings. It can involve “doing” (e.g., someone who excessively washes their hands to try to get rid of fears about contamination) or “not doing” (e.g., when someone avoids having an awkward conversation). Avoidance coping causes anxiety to snowball because when people use avoidance coping they typically end up experiencing more of the very thing they were trying to escape.

Psychology Today
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#anxiety, #avoidance-behavior, #bipolar, #depression, #health, #mental-health

One of my least favorite feelings in life is when you realize you’re coasting. That things are just moving. Work,…

One of my least favorite feelings in life is when you realize you’re coasting. That things are just moving. Work, home life, whatevs. It’s all on cruise control. I hate it so hard.

Any time you think of changing it up, you tell yourself you don’t have time. You tell yourself not to interrupt the coasting. Don’t turn off cruise control and make your own speed, just keep rolling down the highway in the right lane. Don’t pass anyone. Don’t exit the highway. Don’t make any stops. Don’t take the scenic route. Don’t try that local diner which boasts the best burger in town.

I hate it. So hard.

Time passes, and then you look back with the eyes of regret. You should have stopped. You should have changed lanes. You should have tried that damn burger. But now the road is ending, you’re entering a one-way street, and the diner has been closed for years.

#anxiety, #depression, #featured, #mental-health

Mercedes has a new home, and she’s wrapped in Cellophane

I told you I had a big update on Mercedes coming, and it’s huge. Big. Bigger. Enormous. Gigantuous. Okay, that’s enough of that. It’s just some really cool news. But I’m also wrapping this big update in Cellophane, which will make sense later down the read.

She has a new home.

What do I mean by this? Well, she’s moved over to Emerald Dragon Tales. Why? Because after some hard consideration, I’ve decided to publish her through my publishing brand Emerald Dragon. Emerald Dragon is the same brand we used to publish the collaborative novel Fatal Flaws, and will be using to publish the second String-Along GUN soon.

What does this mean for Mercedes? It means you’ll be finding a lot more about Mercedes over at the Emerald Dragon Tales website. So head over there and snatch the blog RSS feed for your Feedly or however you follow blogs. Also, sign up for the email newsletter to stay up-to-date. And check out her own page. There you’ll find a list of future working titles in the series of novellas I plan to do with our frustrated hero, Mercedes Masterson.

Where are things at?

I have a first draft complete of the first novella in the series, and am halfway through editing draft 2. When the second draft is complete, I’m gonna have some beta readers give it the once over. After that, I may make some more changes. And after that, I’ll need a professional to edit it, and then after all the butchering–publishing! And reading!

I can’t say for sure when the first book will land, but I would like to see it land before the end of this year or at the start of the next. GUN is currently slated to unveil this year, so that is taking priority publishing-wise.

Mercedes is wrapped in Cellophane.

Way back in the day, 2005 to be precise, I wrote a screenplay for a short film and introduced Mercedes for the first time. It was primarily a character written for the purpose of giving a friend a role in the film. We were 4-5 actors wanting to make a movie and as I began work on the screenplay of choice from the group, I realized I didn’t have enough characters in the original concept to fill the cast with all of us. So, I thought for a bit and asked myself what was missing from the little film noir homage I was working on. The cops. A murder took place almost immediately at the start of the script, and yet I didn’t appear to have any investigation taking place around it. While the investigation of that murder was unimportant to the plot, and more importantly the character development, I still needed to show that there were consequences in this story.

My solution? I created a female homicide detective strictly for that purpose and for giving my friend, Heather, a character to play.

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Heather Jackson-Chirban, the real Mercedes Masterson.

I can remember sitting at the PC, with huge (read thick) monitor by today’s standards, trying to come up with a name before I could write the first line of her dialogue. I wanted a very traditional, noirish sounding detective name. I settled on Masterson. I also wanted a very distinct, equally fantastic first name, one that would roll right into that Masterson name well. I chose Mercedes, an homage to the character of the same name in Alexander Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. A French connection, which I liked, and felt there could always be more to that. I had it: Detective Mercedes Masterson.

When we went to film the first scene with Heather as Mercedes, something felt really right. Not only did she nail a lot of what I had in my head, she went beyond. She brought a lot of things to the table, some things I had only scratched the surface a little on in my head, others I had not even thought about. She was seeing the character on a higher level. And that brought it to my attention in a way, I had not even intended it when starting out. Remember, she was originally only a plot device.

When it came time to write the second screenplay (yes, it was planned as a trilogy), I had so much more to work with Mercedes and Heather. I knew this was a big character, and one I wanted to really develop. She became a much more prominent character in the second script, and Heather and I shared many conversations about the development of the character. That’s when she shared with me a song she listened to while getting into character for the first film, a little ditty called Cellophane by Amanda Ghost. I had never heard it. But I listened to it, and liked it. It felt appropriate to the character.

I always try to keep the song Cellophane around when I’m working on Mercedes. But I hadn’t really listened to it, I mean really listen, for several years. Until a few weeks ago. I set it on repeat and just listened to it over and over, each phrase of the lyrics. Really breaking it down with regards to the character. And I picked up on a lot.

Cellophane by Amanda Ghost.

A lot of this character is in this song. And so, I’d like to break down some of the ways I can I hear Mercedes in Cellophane by Amanda Ghost.

Firstly, I’d like to give credit to the songwriters: Lukas Burton, Ian Dench, Amanda Goseine (Ghost), and Sasha Skarbek. They have written a beautiful song with incredible lyrics that are very relateable.

You can listen along here:

Nobody moves me…
Right off the bat, this one grabs me. First line of the song. And truly, it would seem that nobody moves Mercedes. She has gone through a lot of relationships in her life, and from her point of view all relationships end poorly. And so the notion that nobody moves her, sounds about right to her view of the world around her and those in it.

I’ve been through this life
With no place that I can call my own…
Again. Relationships. This time on a much bigger scale. Through all of her life to date, she still can’t feel comfortable calling any place home. She’s lived in Babylon her whole life, grew up there. But it doesn’t feel like home. There’s no neighborhood she can call home, no house. No family she can call home.

I never seem to find anybody that can feel like home
And I try and I try and I try…
Carrying on with that theme, it strikes home more apparent. Despite all her trying, all the relationships she’s been through. She can’t seem to find anyone that feels like home. Someone she can call family. Someone that will always be there, through thick and thin. She tries and she tries and she tries, but all relationships end.

Funny how it feels
When there’s nothing to say…
Now we’re into the chorus, out of the first verse. This little piece speaks to me about her overall social anxiety. This is only something I’ve been able to understand more accurately in recent years, as my own social anxieties have kicked in. A lot of her social anxieties are wrapped around her general distrust of people, because of previous relationships and experiences. Another reason is because of her ideals…

Trapped with my ideals
I can’t contain…
If you’ve read or watched anything with Mercedes yet, you probably get this line. If not, you probably will. I always liken her as a good cop who occasionally goes vigilante when the justice system fails or is corrupt. She would burn the whole system down, if she determined it was the best possible outcome. And she surely can’t contain her ideals, as she has no problem speaking her mind in no uncertain terms.

And just to make sure there’s no confusion here, I’m not considering “ideals” with the most obvious definition. But rather as “a standard of perfection; a principle to be aimed at:” (Oxford Dictionary). She has her ideal of what justice is and anything that falls short of her definition, that standard or principle of justice, she can’t contain herself.

Nobody told me
Obsessive needs were always following me around…
I think in many ways this just speaks volumes to her overall character, and I like the idea that she’s blaming someone else. Nobody told her. Classic. But it also could be a reference to her “evil conscience” as I often refer to it. She has an identical twin so to speak, a figment of her imagination who follows her around. Occasionally appearing at the worst possible times, to give her the worst possible advice. To nag her about her obsessive needs.

And you can’t ignore me…
Word that. You can’t ignore Mercedes. You can try, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Look at my face and then tell me my place in town…
This one grips me, because it says something but I’m not even 100% certain what it all means. I feel like this line has tapped something I haven’t even tapped into yet with Mercedes. Her trying to find her place in Babylon. I don’t think this is something I’ve even addressed in the slightest, despite having written so much about her. Having meditated so much on her and discussed her so much with Heather. I feel like there is a conversation that needs to take place around this single line. We need to look her in the face and tell her what her place is in Babylon.

And he’s in and she’s in and he’s in and she’s in…
This one speaks to me again about her many failed relationships. He’s in, she’s in, he’s in, she’s in. They’re constantly coming and going. She can never maintain a single relationship indefinitely. And that’s not to say it’s always her fault when a relationship ends, because it’s not.

Conclusion.

This has been a tremendously fun journey going through Cellophane’s lyrics with you all. It has given me a chance to think back a lot on Mercedes. She’s come a long way. A long, long way. Long, long. Really long way. And it’s always a pleasure for me to write any story with her in it. Heather and I have tried to bring so much to this character, so much. And I’m always happy to share more of her with you all. In many ways, she’s the person we always wished we were while at the same time being someone we can relate to through the pain. She’s a beast of a character. And I hope I never tire of her.

One last bit of trivia about her conception. My original thought on the character was to create a femme fatale who was also a protagonist. I think that still applies.

#anxiety, #book, #crime, #music, #novella, #writing

QUESTION: Name one thing you have lied to yourself about. Why did you do this?

QUESTION: Name one thing you have lied to yourself about. Why did you do this?

I suffer with bipolar and anxiety, I lie to myself all the time. I lie about big things, like about whether I’m worth anything. I also lie to myself about trivial things; like about how grievous it is to make my own sandwich verses buying one, or how taking a shower and shaving is a long and tedious task, and I don’t have time to do such things. It’s not easy, but it is super important that no matter how many lies our inner-voice tells us, we use another inner-voice to shout they are not true. It’s important to remind ourselves to be in denial of the lies. Otherwise we will let our lies consume our every waking thoughts and lives.

We are worth a damn, it’s easy to make a sandwich, and we feel better when we look our best. Lies were created to hurt, truth uplifts and breaks chains.

What about you? Do you lie to yourself? Sound off in the comments.

#mentalhealth #depression #anxiety #bipolar