If you're not interested in NaNoWriMo and think this will only be a post about that-- I ask you to please bear with me and keep reading. Because while it mentions NaNo, that is far from the real subject at hand.
It's no secret that I've had serious writer's block for a long time.
In fact, the last time I wrote anything of length was last year's NaNoWriMo novel; which has been pared down and is now available as the novella Each Little Soul on Wattpad (link in sidebar of this blog.)
Aside from a few lines of flash fiction, writing to short prompts and a little bit of poetry here and there, there has just been nothing in my brain to write.
It was as though someone tripped a breaker and turned off the section of my brain that processes creative ideas and thought. I've been struggling with painting too (which has become more of a frustration than anything else) and became extremely depressed, I am certain in part because of my inability to produce anything creatively.
The reason for this has been clear to me, and to my doctor, all along; but the past week has provided absolute, concrete evidence as to the cause behind my inability to write, and to tell you the truth finding this out for sure has led me through the gamut of emotions from relief and elation to fury and despair.
The reason I haven't been able to write is because one of my generic medications does not work like the brand name version does.
I had kept a bottle of the brand name of this med in storage at my doctor's prompting... holding on to it until it was just about due to expire, just in case the depression got so bad we ran out of other options to try to get me at least a breather from it.
So I wrote to her about ten days ago and told her I couldn't take any more. I needed to take those pills and see if they worked better than the generic. I needed an escape from the unrelenting depression and the exhaustion that accompanied it.
I needed to know if taking the brand name med would help me be able to write something-- anything-- again.
She agreed now was the time to try. So I opened that precious bottle of medication, worth 900 dollars retail, and I started to take it.
Two days in, I started writing down every random idea that came to me in a notebook as potential NaNo story. That was my first indication it was working: suddenly, I had ideas again.
Three days in, I had decided on a story that I really liked, and had drawn a sketch of what the main characters would look like in their costumes as street performers (my novel is about performers who work busking as living statues. It's a romance.)
Five days in, I sat down at the keys and starting with zero words written on the story and only very basic character bios and story notes, I started to write.
That was day 1 of NaNoWriMo 2016.
I wrote 12,362 words that day.
The next day, I wrote 13,088 words.
The next, I wrote 7876 words.
Then, on day four of Nano, I hit an all time personal best for writing in one day: I wrote 17,042 words, and reached the 'goal' target word count of 50K with 368 extra words on top.
But the story wasn't done. So on day five I wrote 10,152 words.
Yesterday, despite the fact I'd locked up my neck, shoulder and arm by typing so much in so short a time I wrote 1690 words to fill in a gap in the story that needed filling in the middle.
So the novel sits now, a 'finished' first draft at 62,210 words (I tinkered a bit here and there the past two days) and now I have to tell myself to keep my hands off of it before I start editing. I always let my NaNo novels sit for two months before I edit them, and this one should be no exception.
All of this writing made possible by the little green brand name pills that work, as opposed to the little blue generic ones that do not.
So why can't I just take the brand name all the time, you ask? Then I'd be able to write, and in theory paint, draw, and do all kinds of creative things whenever I had the physical energy to.
Because Medicare will not pay for the brand name med. Under any circumstances. Period. No way to appeal it. Also, I do not qualify for any manufacturer discounts or assistance, because I have Medicare. Why that is, I cannot fathom.
It's hard enough to find a Medicare Part D plan that pays for the generic at a percentage that you can actually afford. Believe me, after several trips through the so-called 'donut hole' (the Medicare D coverage gap) there is no way we could afford to even keep me on the generic unless I switched Part D plans in 2017, which I have set in motion.
It makes me so angry that there is medicine that helps my Bipolar more than others do (and I've tried the cheaper alternatives, my body couldn't tolerate them) and I can't have it all the time to help make life more livable. To give me back my sense of purpose I feel when I can write something... anything... instead of sleeping all the time, feeling even too numb to cry over my mental state as the Bipolar depression kicks back in and takes over my brain.
People have asked if I just flipped over to being manic and that is how I wrote so fast. No, not this time. In the past, yes; I did go on manic writing sprees to write most of my other books. But this time was different. I ate, slept, rested, and went at a comfortable pace instead of feeling so driven, driven, driven to get the word count up.
I just let the story tell itself to me and went where it wanted to go.
I need to remember that even if no one else ever sees it (and that is the current plan... this was written just for me, what I call a 'trunk novel') I was able to write it, and that's a personal victory.
It's also a powerful reminder for when I run out of the brand name med in five days time and have to go back to the generic and the depression creeps back as I know it inevitably will... I now know for sure that it's not me; it's my brain. It's the disease. It's the medication used to try to treat the disease. These are the things preventing me from writing; not being lazy or not trying.
No one will ever know how hard I tried during all that time when I couldn't write.
So now I'm left feeling the range of emotions... and most of all sad knowing that soon, feeling better will come to an end, and all because of the almighty dollar.
Those forced to live with a disease like Bipolar-- we all deserve better than this.
We all deserve access to the medications that can actually help us.
May the day come when we finally have it.
Until then, even when I can't write I need to look at this story, Still As Stone (working title) and remind myself that I am a writer.
I still am a writer, after all. I'm still me.