Brainiac

The Great Migration, Take 2

This is my last post to Livejournal.

If you don't already know why, you haven't been paying attention.

I moved my main activity over to Dreamwidth a while back, cross-posting entries to here. Most of the people likely to read this have probably already migrated; if you haven't found it yet I'm at http://digitalraven.dreamwidth.org. I'd urge anyone who hasn't yet to follow people over there.

This LJ will remain present as an archive, and because I have a lot of old links pointing here. I have turned off crossposting, however. If you stay here, you won't see anything more.

Datashadow

In addition to Dreamwidth, I can be found in other places:
  • Interesting bits of writing, including the longer stuff that would go here and cleaned-up old essays and bits of fiction are going on digitalraven.org, which is a pointer to my personal space over on Keybase.io
  • Stuff relevant to my RPG writing/publishing work is on Zero Point Information
  • Food blogging now happens at Little Pleasance Kitchen
  • I'm @digitalraven on Twitter
  • I post as DigitalRaven on SomethingAwful and as Vatican Broadside on RPGnet
  • I do have a presence on Facebook, but I heavily curate my friends list there so please don't be annoyed if I do not accept your friend request.
So long, and thanks for all the fish.
Brainiac

Pounded in the Butt by my Atypical Neurochemistry

With thanks to Chuck Tingle.

Let’s talk about mental health for a minute. Specifically, my experiences, because I can’t really talk about anyone else’s with any authority. I have rapid cycling type II bipolar disorder. It’s a mood disorder. Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down, and when I’m up I’m really up and when I’m down I’m really down. Like the Grand Old Duke of York, right? I have a relatively mild case. I’m high-functioning; never lost a job1 or been locked up or anything because of it. Hell, I didn’t get a diagnosis until I was 30, having developed (not entirely healthy) coping mechanisms of my own.

Everyone has good and bad days, though. What makes mine special?

Maybe 80% of the time, I’m normal. Beige. Happy days, sad days, but nothing outwith the blah blah blah of neurotypical life. The rest of the time is where things get interesting. Anticonvulsants help — before I started taking lamotrigine, normal states were 65-70% at best, and the incidences of abnormal mood could last much longer. I still cycle fairly rapidly, though.

Hypomania is “a sustained state of elevated or irritable mood” which (unlike full mania) is not linked to psychosis or disassociation from reality.

I tend to only flag specifically elevated states as hypo states, because otherwise the term is useless to me. In my particular case, it’s signified by being smarter, thinking faster, needing less sleep, being much more productive, and massive egotism. And yeah, I can get quite pissed off with people who aren’t thinking ten thousand brilliant thoughts a second. ‘Um…’ and ‘Ah…’ are mortal sins. Beyond that, a hypo also does away with my issues of being around people,2 a state that otherwise requires a couple of pints.

Depression is, well, depression. A state of constant low mood, low self-esteem3, insomnia, anhedonia, a general thrum of self-hatred, and causeless suicidal ideation.

Downswings are by far more common than other states. On the other hand, the drugs mitigate them — I haven’t been actually suicidal in a little under ten years at this point, which is a plus. And they’re the only states that get triggered by external stimuli as well as my own buggered brain chemistry. Unlike a hypo, depression leaves me massively anti-social and dulls cognitive faculties; it feels like my thoughts are swimming in treacle.

Many abnormal mood states don’t fit neatly into one little box. Clinicians who study bipolar II generally term these ‘mixed moods’, which is as much use as a chocolate ashtray. I haven’t properly tried to codify the effects of divergent states of mind before, but I might as well give it a shot to illustrate what can be going on sometimes.

Sometimes my brain misfires; a state that’s much like a hypo but without the focus. The thoughts come thick and fast, but they crash into one another and spark off like a Star Trek control panel. Restlessness, a need to do something but an inability to focus on one thing for more than a couple of minutes, massive irritability/anger, constantly being distracted, and a buggered sense of time — five minutes feels like an hour, while the next hour can pass in seconds.

An actual mixed mood blends the fast thinking of the hypo with the negative attitude and anhedonia of depression. Racing thoughts but focusing on everything wrong: mistakes I made twenty years ago, people I’ve hurt, every little thing about my flesh-sack that pisses me off, why the world is a terrible place, and how I am going to die alone and unloved. I get paranoid, and obsess over details and plot out what might happen if I do something — but of course I’m deliberately modelling the worst possible outcome, so I catastrophise like nobody’s business. Insomnia, irritability, and aggression. It’s like depression, but sped up to a hundred miles an hour.

Finally, there’s flow — a state common to people in knowledge-based or artistic professions. It’s what happens when the focus and clarity (and increased smarts) of a hypo show up without the racing thoughts. The world is easier to deal with, everything makes sense, and every problem has a solution. It’s the rarest state, but it’s how I write between three and six thousand words after and eight-hour day, or replace two hundred lines of buggy code with thirty that just work.

I have no idea why I’m writing this or making it public, but it might help people figure out what the fuck is going on in my head on any given day.


  1. I walked out of a job after half a day, but I maintain that it was a good decision no matter what mood-state I was in. 

  2. Not full-blown social anxiety, but feeling unable to contribute, especially to pre-existing conversations. 

  3. Or low esteem in everyone else, which isn’t quite the same. 

Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.
JuJu

Fuck 2016, Redux

As you may remember, I pledged that proceeds from my November and December sales would go to The Trevor Project, an American charity supporting LGBTQ youth. Because 2016 was a shitshow, and the results of the November election the icing on the cake.

Thing is, right now I’m on the long tail. My last two months’ proceeds are $15. That looks a bit anaemic, so fuck it. Over the last six months, my self-published games have made me $42. That’s more like it.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 12.42.40

Mirrored from ZeroPointInformation.

Originally posted at Dreamwidth.
Brainiac

Act One Scene One Brenda Blethyn Gets Shot

In a fit of insanity, I made resolutions last year. No, I don’t know what I was thinking either.

Might as well see how I’ve done…

  • Complete/release all the books currently on my slate. ❌ I’ve made progress (one released, others progressed through the production pipeline) but the Paradox/WW buyout scuppered things timing-wise.
  • Write on at least two new books. ✅ Signs of Sorcery and Geist 2e
  • Write/release one new thing for myself. ✅ Two bits of fiction, a micro-game, and a poem. Counting this as a win.
  • Be under 18 stone. ❌ I’m no bigger than I was at the start of the year, but no smaller.
  • Be cycling to work at least three times a week by the end of May. ❌ Hahahahahafuckno
  • Go on an actual holiday with J. somewhere outside the UK. ✅ (if you ignore the ‘with J.’ part)

50% is better than I thought it would be, to be honest.

Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.
Brainiac

Retrospective

I almost want to recap everything that happened in 2016. Then I remember that I spent much of January with an ice-pack in hand and knackers the size of a grapefruit, spent a minute dead getting my heart restarted in July, and Jane and I separated in September, after eleven and a half years together.

So frankly, just from a personal point of view, fuck 2016.

To be fair, I have since un-hermited and met a bunch of awesome people. But truth be told it's tied with 2004 for my shittiest year yet.

Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.
Brainiac

(no subject)

Down with the lurgy so whinging. Deal with it.

One of the worse bits about breaking up is accidentally (honest!) seeing a LJ post from your ex' new person, featuring the kind of conversation that the two of you used to have, then realising that they stopped happening a couple of years ago and that 'used to' should've been a sign that things were going to shit.

Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.
Brainiac

On the End

Okay, this is going to be personal. Also, I’m kinda scared to make this public in case my family sees, as they don’t know any of it and I worry that it paints them in an undeservedly negative light.

Also also, have a trigger warning for discussion of suicide.

Collapse ) Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.
JuJu

Fuck 2016

2016 is a shit of a year. Life has got worse for a tremendous number of people.

If I can make it better, even in a small way, I shall do.

As such, all proceeds on Zero Point Information stuff at DriveThruRPG until the end of the year will go to to The Trevor Project, a charity that helps LGBTQ youth in the USA.

Mirrored from ZeroPointInformation.

Originally posted at my Dreamwidth blog.
Brainiac

A Guide to Chairmaking

I don’t use my hands a lot in my line of work. I think and I type; I build systems out of logic and functions in my mind, a brilliant collection of interlocking ideas, then implement them in the limited representations available in the form of programming languages; shackling the sacred with chains of the profane. It’s all cerebral; in the end, what I do amounts to pressing pieces of plastic to make other pieces of plastic change colour.

It can get depressing, you know?

To fight that feeling, I started making things. Not ideas, not mental constructs, but tangible physical objects. I guess that makes me a bit of a hipster. I like the way that wood spins in the lathe, how the mallet and chisel cut grooves, how the saw and the die interact.

Collapse ) Originally posted at Dreamwidth, where comment count unavailable people have commented. Please join them. You can log in there with your Livejournal account.