Holy shitballs, guys, it's been over a year since I last posted and told you I was committing to weekly updates.
I think anyone who's followed me for any length knows that I meant well and intended to follow through, but, as always, I tripped and lay on the sidewalk groaning for the next 52+ weeks.
I posted pretty regularly on TikTok there for a while, but for reasons I will get into later on in this post (I have a feeling it will be a long one. TL;DR: My mental health sucks, and I'm trying. I can't hide who I really am anymore. I need your help in the form of encouraging words, uplifting images, general laughter, and whatever other happiness we can create together); I have also stopped creating content there as well.
I'm not exactly sure what I want this post to be. I thought about filming it as a video and sharing it everywhere, but that also makes me feel stressed out and vulnerable. I've always been better at writing what I want to say than trying to speak it. So, here we are. It's going to be a doozy.
It's time to share my secrets. At this point, I don't know if anyone is even around to read them anymore 😅
To start things off, I'm definitely doing just fine in the grand scheme of things. Everything I'm about to share is legitimately my own personal shit. I don't expect anyone to swoop in and save me (I'll do my own saving, thank you very much). My anxiety has kept me from sharing the majority of this because, well... it sounds like a lot of unimportant complaining about everything. Some of my problems are probably "first-world problems" to the rest of you, and that's okay. Again, I don't expect anyone to do anything for me after this. I'm not trying to single a specific group or person out and blame them for all that's going wrong right now. I just honestly feel like if I have to keep all of this inside my head, hidden for the sake of professionalism and fear, I am going to die one way or another.
I have PTSD. Well, I likely have PTSD, as I've been too chicken to go to a psychiatrist and get officially diagnosed like my family doc wants. She has a second degree in psychology (which is 100% why I go to her and think she's the best doctor ever because she actually LISTENS to what I'm saying). I don't like telling people I have PTSD because it's not officially diagnosed. I feel like I'm cashing in on something that I don't technically have because I haven't had the right doctor diagnose me officially. And the one time I was at the vet with my dog Moose and mentioned I was thinking of having him trained as a service dog for PTSD a very nice older man asked me what branch of the military I'd served in and telling him that I'd gotten it from something far less traumatizing than going to literal war felt like I was spitting in the face of every veteran I've ever met, seen, or heard of. Everyone seems to naturally think that I was raped after they find out I wasn't in the military, which is also not the case.
The fact of the matter is, what likely gave me PTSD is still an ongoing situation in my life. I'm not going to get into the nuts and bolts of it. Suffice it to say, some stuff happened to me in high school that has stuck with me pretty strongly (going on 14 years now, holy crap) and is, every now and then, exacerbated. My family is very aware of what happened and has been very supportive. I don't remember some of the things that happened to me, but they do, and they are always right there to try and help me sort it out. They've gone to the doctor to help me fill in the blanks and explain the pieces that I've lost. These gaps in my memory are the basis of my family doc believing I have PTSD. However, as I said before, I'm afraid to go to a psychiatrist for help. I don't want to drag out the box all those memories are hidden in and find out what they are. What I do remember is already bad enough. I'm terrified that those involved with the situation will have to be brought in to talk about it, and I've been pretty happy acting like it never happened and pretending that I'm fine.
Now that you know all that, it's probably not a surprise that I have pretty bad anxiety and depression as well. I haven't been quiet about that, as I'm not ashamed of it. I know lots of people suffer with their mental health and I've always been happy to share the pieces of my journey with others so they know they are not alone on their path. I feel the same way about my hypothyroidism, which I've also shared about in the past and how it can affect my moods and productivity. I rely on medication to treat all of this. I take four and a half pills in the morning and three and a half before bed. My body is a bitch, so the dose usually only lasts for a little while (or a little more than a year, I don't know. I've been on these so long and had the dose and brand changed so many times), and then I have to go get it switched up again and reacclimate to whatever I'm taking.
Here's my first real big secret, are you ready? I've been smoking pot to help. And it has helped. Arizona legalized cannabis for recreational use in 2021, and since then I've probably had marijuana in my system about 95% of the time. It's actually a problem now. I have to take so much to feel any kind of relief that I really need to do a cleanse and let my system reset. We're worried that my increased anxiety (thank you Russia, Congress, assholes, and anyone else who's giving me anxiety right now) is actually being exacerbated by how much cannabis I take every day. So, as of today, I'm trying to quit cold turkey for the next couple of weeks to make sure the increased anxiety isn't from being hopped up all the time. If you didn't know, marijuana isn't a physically addictive substance. It is, however, a mentally addicting substance, and I'm a little scared to be sober for a few weeks and find out what my brain does to try and cope with everything the weed has been making unimportant for me. Wish me luck!
If you're still with me at this point, you might be saying "but, Kamery, you're a member of the LDS Church, and smoking or taking any kind of weed is against that!"
Here's my next big secret: the only part of me that is still Mormon is the piece of paper at church headquarters that says I am. I even want to get rid of that, but I've literally never broached this subject with the members of my family who are still active in the religion. They all know I'm inactive, but I'm guessing from the number of missionaries that have shown up at my house and all the text chains trying to get me to bring my kids to youth activities and services on Sundays that they're all harboring a hope that it's just a phase.
It's not a phase. I have religious trauma from the LDS Church, some of which is involved in my possible PTSD diagnosis. I do not believe the church is true, I do not support a good majority of their beliefs, and I do hope to be completely someday distanced from them without causing a war of the worlds among my relatives. I've been an outspoken advocate for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the past, both on my personal accounts and my business accounts, which is why I'm being so frank here. My ancestors joined the church during its founding. They are mentioned by name in several church documents. My church-going relatives are very proud of this fact. It is hard for me to blatantly say I don't believe it any longer. I know it will hurt their feelings, maybe even make them try harder to get me to come back. I'm not coming back. I mean this with all sincerity; if God and Satan were standing before me and God told me the Mormon church was the only way to be saved, I'd walk backward into Hell and not have a single regret about it.
I know a lot of the readers who found me when I first started out are also LDS. I do not blame or condone you for anything you believe to be true! I'm happy that you have religion and direction in your life. I just don't need it, and I'm tired of tiptoeing around acting like I do because I'm scared it will end my career as a writer or create rifts among my family members. I deserve to be happy, damn it, and being Mormon is not that for me. In short, I support you believing what you want to believe, so long as it doesn't hurt me or anyone else.
So. I'm a godless pothead now. (Technically, I'm an agnostic pothead, but I digress.) Might as well share my next big secret, since people tend to assume once they know about the religion thing: I'm not a Republican. I don't talk about politics much, and I will continue not to do so because it's an anxiety trigger for me. However, I will say that I am a more conservative libertarian, with my political views evolving and changing as I learn and grow as a person. I will not be casually dismissing any random hate speech under the guise that I'm a polite little Mormon girl who doesn't want to upset anyone anymore. If I'm in charge of the area, everyone will get along, and they will like it, or they will leave. My brother is married to a man. My sister is marrying a woman this fall. I have a nonbinary sibling. There are many others in my life that fall under this umbrella, and I will stand up for them if I need to. I'm tired of letting people walk all over me for the sake of being polite and trying not to upset their lives. My life is getting wrecked trying to be the person that everyone wants me to be, and I'm done doing it. Someone told my kids that there was a DEMON in my sibling because they were possibly trans. It's not right, and I'm tired of steadying the boat for those people instead of kicking them out into the cold water where they belong. Believe what you want, but don't come spewing hate around me. I can't take it anymore.
My next big secret: I was almost homeless last year. Technically speaking, I had somewhere to go and wouldn't have been "homeless," but my family was still almost thrown into a challenging situation. Thankfully, because of the wonderful members of our family and the people who love us, we were able to work it all out. Where we live hasn't changed, but I haven't exactly been forthcoming about it over the years. My house is a great source of anxiety and depression for me. It's got holes in the floor, the countertops are all broken and falling off, the roof has a tiny leak, the pipes can't keep it together, it doesn't have any central heating or cooling, etc. Now, I am SUPREMELY grateful for my home and the shelter it has given us over the years. It wasn't in great shape when we moved in, and it's not in much better condition now. I've come to realize that I believe everything has a spirit, though, and my house is a fighter. She's doing what she can to keep us safe, and while it hasn't been an easy road and will most likely result in her being torn down in the future, I'm happy that we've been through the struggle together.
We've finally reached my biggest secret: I've lost my love for writing. I still think about stories and characters and things I would like to do, but actual writing has not happened for me in over a year. I believe I'm massively burned out and have been trying to take a break for (let's be honest) the past couple YEARS, but I never let myself fully disconnect and rest. I constantly feel like I should be working on something, promoting something, reaching out, networking, reading, growing my business. Writing used to be fun and expressive for me. Now it's work, and hard work at that. I don't fault writing for being a difficult profession. I allowed myself to get sucked into the negative aspects of it though. I had some networking occurrences that made me feel like I couldn't reach out to other professionals anymore (I was mocked. To my face. Until I cried). I met some authors who I'm pretty sure put me on a smear campaign with their closest readers and tried to bomb Swept Away with a bunch of negative reviews and redirect people to a different author to read. I met some readers who were absolutely awful and made me not want to be part of the community anymore. It felt like everywhere I looked were people fighting over stupid things (audiobooks ARE reading btw, gtfo if you're one of those elitists who thinks it's different), and I honestly just couldn't handle it anymore.
That was when I stopped posting regularly anywhere. I didn't want to be on social media, but I was scared that if I weren't, I would lose all my royalty income (spoiler alert, I did.). When I discovered TikTok and the Booktok community, I fell right back into that love of storytelling and sharing with others, so I posted on that platform for a bit. Once I started trying to treat it more like a business and promote my books, I immediately lost interest in posting anything. I tried to push through for a bit, but it's honestly exhausting. I spend hours and hours creating content, both short and long form, and it feels like no one sees it. No one cares. Honestly, I'll be surprised if anyone even reads all of this. Even now, I sometimes still feel like all the world wants out of me is to be miserable and force out content for the three people who read me regularly. And I love you three! Hearing from you and seeing you reach out to me is a balm for my tired soul. But it's hard to remember the three of you when ten thousand more walked right by and told me that 99¢ was too much to pay for my years of hard work. (Second spoiler alert, that's why I charge more for my books now. I'm not going to talk about how much I do or don't make, but the price increases were my way of telling myself that I was worth more than a dollar a pop).
And here we are now. The one platform I really enjoyed is currently under smear and possibly being banned, so I don't know where I'll go after that. I've had a few people reach out and ask where the best place to follow me is, and the honest answer is I don't know. I haven't even been sending out letters to my mailing list. I have no idea how long I will be drowning in this sea of discomfort and self-loathing, or when I'll at least manage to find a stray board to help hold me afloat. And that's okay. I'm okay with the fact that I need to take some more time for myself. I feel a lot of stress over it, and I want to be the main money maker for my family, but I don't know if that will ever happen with my writing. And that's okay.
If I do manage to get it together and release something new, I'll of course share it here. I have a lot of ideas, but I've been scared to face some of them. Writing has always helped me think through things and form my own opinions. I don't know if the world (or myself) is ready for me to take on the monster of thoughts and opinions I have to discover and sort through. Something tells me a fantasy about an evil cultist group trying to take over the world and the poor PTSD-riddled Chosen One might be a little too on point for me right now, haha. I do think there will be a day when I'm able to create a story again, though. I see glimpses of that mind when I'm high sometimes. Marijuana has helped me feel creative again after literal years of slipping backward and feeling like I'd lost whatever fire was burning inside me.
If you made it this far, thank you. I've been holding all that in for a while now. I know there are going to be people who are upset with me, possibly even family members who are angry with me for what I've shared. Take comfort in knowing this was never about any of you. It was about me and trying to be more upfront about who I am and what I believe. I'm on a journey of self-discovery and understanding, and boy has it been a messy one. Feel free to sidestep the mess and go on if you need to. I'm going to stay here and try to sort things out, though, and if you want to stay and help, I'd be happy to have you around.