Full stop

Today is semicolon day.  Semicolons are kind of ambiguous as far as grammar goes; you either don’t know what they do at all, or; you abuse them. Guess which category I am in?
I love semicolons. When I was in elementary, and later middle school, teachers would get on my case for writing waaay too long sentences. When I learned how to use semicolons, this seemed to solve the problem. Ever since, I have happily sprinkled my writing with them wherever I feel they are necessary.

However, a semicolon is much more than just a grammatical tool. In recent years, it has become a powerful tool in the battle for mental health awareness.
Semicolon tattoos started appearing as the result of a social media movement in 2013, and is a way for people to express their struggles, progress or victory over their own demons, or to remind themselves that it’s not yet over.

For a very long time, I have had a small tidbit in my brain that I have been unable to write down, however, once I did write it, it came out nothing like what I had imagined in my mind. As usual.
In any case, I thought today would be the perfect time to share this little piece.
Please read, and don’t be shy to comment if you liked it~

Full Stop

The small, spartan apartment was unnaturally clean, and unnaturally cold. All surfaces seemed to have been meticulously cleaned of excess belongings, cleaned and dusted. A wastepaper bin was the only thing bearing witness to any kind of massive cleaning; it was overfilled with balled-up paper, one such ball having fallen out, landing a few centimeters away from the bin. It was as if the tenant had gotten rid of any kind of personal effects and purposely turned off the heat, even though it was in the middle of winter, and the sane thing to do would be to keep the heating cranked up.

To anyone unfamiliar with the tenant, it could have seemed like he was someone who didn’t possess a lot of things. Perhaps someone who was in the process of moving, who had left nothing but the essentials for the time being; or perhaps, just gone away for a period of time and turned the heat off in the meantime, to save expenses.  The faintly unpleasant odor might have been thought to come from a forgotten garbage bin in a kitchen cupboard.
To anyone, except to the man who had once been closer to him than anyone, who still loved the parts of him that he had loved, before it all went wrong and became too much for both of them to handle.
Standing in the unnaturally clean apartment, he had instantly noticed objects missing from their regular positions – before he had noticed the body.

His trembling hand was curled around a plastic cup patterned with mascot characters. He sat hunched forwards on the very edge of the bed, watching the paramedics.
The young man was cold. Not only from the freezing temperature in the apartment. The man on the bed tried to avoid looking at the marks on his throat. His gaze shifted, falling on thin, scarred arms instead. He knew those scars were only the tip of an iceberg, an ice berg which had now surfaced in its entirety.

He heard one of the paramedics commenting on the small tattoo on the inside of the young man’s wrist, his tone questioning. Maybe he thought it was only a scribble in marker or something, maybe he was looking for some kind of deeper meaning.

“It’s a semi-colon,” he heard himself, his voice hollow, echoing in the cleared-out space.

Symbolic. Victorious. Hopeful.

“A semi-colon is where the author could have chosen to end the sentence, but didn’t.”
He averted his eyes, feeling his throat tighten painfully.
The young man had written on, hesitantly, but the full stop had been unavoidable.

 

**終**

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Absence and reasons

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time, but somehow time just never seems to be on my side. Torucon is about two weeks away, so I’m working with the rest of the crew more or less around the clock to get everything in place in time for the convention.
I also just came back from Tokyo three weeks ago, which of course was amazing! We had such little time, but still made it to several really cool and nerdy locations – not least a couple of locations from SNOW as well, which was super exciting, so I’m gonna make a separate post about that one of these days (I’ve been meaning to basically since we got back home).

But now for the main reason for this post: I’ve been more or less absent for an entire year at this point.
I haven’t written anything, on this blog, on tumblr or anything else for that matter in this past year, and it’s mostly due to two factors: I’ve been busy, but more importantly, I’ve been sick.

I’ve tried to be open about my struggles, and illness, so I want to continue in that tradition, but I haven’t had the time or strength to talk about it until now.
This past year has been incredibly difficult, with a lot of stuff happening in my personal life, not only to me, but to people close to me as well. I’ve also been a full-time student this year, which really wasn’t the best of choices as my health was already deteriorating before the school year had even started.
I’m not looking to go into detail, partially because it’s private, and partially because there’s just been so much happening, and I don’t even know where to start. I guess it’ll suffice to say that I’ve been, and to a certain degree, still am sicker than I’ve been for many years.

The thing about mental illnesses is that you get used to them, especially if you’ve been ill since you were born, which is basically what my life has been like. I don’t define myself as my illness, nor do I see the illness as part of me, but it has obviously shaped me and my life to some extent. When you’ve never been completely healthy, you don’t know what it is like to feel healthy either. So in a way, you get used to it, and you live with it. But sometimes you feel better. For the past few years I’ve been a pretty functional human being. I’ve been able to do a lot of things that were impossible before, and I’ve learned a lot, I’ve grown, gained skills and confidence. However, I tend to forget that I’m not entirely well, even when I do know my limitations and try to work with myself as best I can – but sometimes you relapse. This year has just been one long relapse, and for the most part, in addition to being dreadfully busy and stressed, I’ve been depressed, my anxieties have flared up, and I also received a “new” diagnosis (meaning that I’ve apparently had it for a while, but nobody bothered to tell me). It’s not “serious”, but my condition has been really bad. Add to this a lot of personal stress, and you get the reason for my absence. It’s very difficult when you are already feeling bad, and then you get the stress of uncertainty put on your shoulders as well. I don’t know what I’ll be doing after August, and that’s a huge stress factor as well. I want to write, but I don’t have any energy for it, or the time to do it.
I’m hoping that this fall will be calmer and that I’ll find my way back to my writing then, and also to posting regularly again maybe.
But for now, I need to listen to my body and take care of myself, because I haven’t really been doing that for this past year.

To anyone reading this who are struggling; Please know that it’s okay to take a break, it’s okay to break down, and it’s okay to be sick. You are not a failure, and the best thing you can do for yourself is to take care of yourself.

Also, I had my (long overdue) birthday celebration yesterday, and the fact that I have people in my life that makes me smile like this, makes me think that somehow, I’ll be alright. ♡

Smairuuu

New Beginnings and all that

It seems I only pop in here to complain about never writing, and proceeding to never write…
Well, to anyone reading this, Happy 2016 in any case! I sure hope it will be for every one of you!

A couple of days ago, I wrote on my author page: “4 days into the new year, and I’m already behind on everything”. I still am, which is why this end-of-year post is six days late, and might be kind of half-assed. Sorry about that, but I also hope that you will still read it, because there are some things I want to express, though I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to say everything frankly or not.

To start with; 2015 wasn’t all bad. In fact, it had a lot of really good things to it, not only to me personally, but for the people around me as well, which to be honest, is a really great feeling!
For me though, 2015 was also a really rough year. The latter half in particular, which is largely the reason for my absence on social media, as well as my lack of social life in general.

Last year, I wrote about 2014 having been hard, with the tons of private exams, the change of jobs, the class I had to take and also a lot of private issues that put a damper on an otherwise good year.
This time around, the stress and tumults of 2014 appears to only have been the prologue of what was to come in 2015.
I really don’t want to go into details, because the wounds are still quite fresh, and the road forward from here is unpaved, but basically, after a rough start of 2015, due to some chaotic personal events, the months February ’till late July were full of exciting, good happenings; catching up with old friends I hadn’t seen in a while, traveling to Stockholm to not only see, but also meet one of my favorite bands, cosplay events, festival events and preparations for Torucon and so on.
From late July and into August this kind of died down, and though there were assorted flecks of light, most of the time until right before Christmas was fairly dark and depressing.
I had to take time off from social media, even tumblr, where I wrote a short notice on having become ill, but not elaborating.

It’s no secret that I’ve had my bouts with mental illness for most of my life, but for the most part, it’s manageable. The past years have been relatively stable, so when it it again with such force, I was completely bowled over by how bad it used to be. I haven’t been this sick since 2008/2009, and I was hoping I’d never have to be here again. This time around, I’ve got so much on my plate, obligations and expectations, and no idea how to decide whether it’s time to stop and move in a different direction. Making the right choices is terribly hard, and so I’m stuck in this stand-still, where nothing really improves, trying to move forwards as best I can. Because of this, I’m probably going to remain offline and vague about things for a while longer.

In many ways, 2015 was a complete hell, but I also had a lot of good times. Particularly the last couple of weeks of the year, spent entirely surrounded by the best people; my family and friends who were all home for the holidays. I know I am going to crash when these days are over, but it was nice to have a break, and things to look forward to for a while.

As usual, I kept one of these:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

A jar of lovely things that happened over the course of the year, and though the latter half of 2015 was so hard,  I still had a lot of good things happen that made me smile throughout the year:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

From the simplest signs of spring, to the greatest of 2015’s moments, some of the good memories accumulated this year included the following (no fancy image this year, because I had to reinstall my laptop and I haven’t been bothered installing PS yet):

♥In spite of it all, going to the reunion
♥Good friends and warm hugs
♥Sisterly bonding
♥Flopping bunny
♥ADAMS live
♥Meeting lovely readers
♥Reliving childhood, aka sliding down a hill
♥Surviving
♥Cosplaying Pinky
♥World’s best Gran
♥The year of BL (hopefully) (Comment; despite writing this down early in 2015, I’ve barely had time to check out any of these new BL things!) ♥Taking a walk for the first time in forever
♥Love and understanding
♥Hyde Cosplay ♡
♥Friends who buy you energy drinks and snacks
♥Still having things to be happy about
♥Love letter from Outland
♥“Team Bastard” vs “Team Loser”
♥Tears of happiness
♥Fanmail about Love Addict
♥Building a snowman despite the terrible snow
♥Crying Torucrew
♥Being a trusted ally for a friend
♥Shibuya-ward legislation!
♥Laughing again
♥Verdens kleineste filmkveld
♥Gaming inside with the storm raging outside
♥People being interested in Yuuki
♥Fangirling with Boo again ♡♡
♥Giving heartfelt compliments

This year, a lot of the loveliest things were related to love, support and co-dependency, personal feats and strength and…a surprising amount of mentions of food and presents (in the form of food) from friends, haha~ I’m lucky to have these people in my life!

I always like looking back at these notes of happiness in the start of the new year; to reminisce about every little moment, and smile at thinking about them. And it’s always so strange, like; there were some memories from last January, when we had a friend staying with us, of shopping, ice skating and trips to the forest – and then from December, having talked to the same friend on facebook. She’s back in Japan, and I received a present from her yesterday. It really makes you realize “Oh wow, it’s been a whole year!”
Amazing, but kind of melancholic at the same time.

2016 is looking out to have a rough first half as well, but I think eventually I’ll be fine. I have no resolutions, but I have made a few moves towards making a decision. I have some tentative goals. I hope that come summer, I will be back on track and back to writing. Even if this year won’t be the start of something grandiose, I think it will still be an exciting and challenging year, in a good way too!
Please wait for me 2016, I’m coming after you!

But first…I need to get to the doctor and deal with this eye infection. Such a great start to the new year!

If you read all of this, thank you very much!
I don’t know when I’ll be back in earnest, but I’ll do my best to hang in there. Take care guys, I hope you’ve had a lovely holiday season

 

 

Maaya says: Suicide Prevention and Awareness

September 10th; World Suicide Prevention day.
I know there are many people around the globe who scoff at days like these, who comment on the hypocrisy and how there’s need for prevention and awareness all year round.
Personally, I think that is why days like these are important; they put focus on something that many people might not consider in their daily lives. Seeing posters, statues and updates on the subject raises awareness, and influences people all over the world every year.
It’s not about jumping a bandwagon and doing what’s expected of you as a good person, but about being aware of what’s happening around you.
All year around.

According to WHO, apporx 1 million people committ suicide every year. That means there’s a high possibility someone close to you is considering, or has considered suicide at some point.
Like I’ve mentioned in a previous post, media and online communities has the power to spread messages – both good and bad, and thus has the power to affect in many ways. One of these ways is to look out for each other, and support one another.

Suicide is a serious concern in today’s society; particularily amongst young people. Peer pressure, bullying, high expectations, unlikely expectations, mental health issues… the list of reasons seems almost endless. Everyone has likely gone through a period in their life where it felt like they couldn’t go on – most get out of it, some don’t. Some need help and support to get out.

So please, if someone you know is going through a rough time, if they’re struggling with depression or self harm; stand by their side. Show them that you care, talk to them.
If you see someone making a post that makes you feel concerned – contact them. Don’t simply reblog.

But remember that you can’t carry it all on your own shoulders; talk to someone trustworthy; a hotline, a teacher, a councellor or a doctor.

If you’re struggling, and you’re considering suicide, remember that there is another option.
You can find someone to talk to:

International Suicide Hotlines: http://suicidehotlines.com/international.html
Spotting the signs, and helping someone suicidal: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/suicide_prevention.htm

Norway:

Mental Helse hjelpetelefon: 116 123
Kirkens SOS: 815 33 300
Landsforeningen for forebygging av selvskading og selvmord
Ung.no (links, advice and contact information)

US:
Suicide Prevention Line

It’s more than just reblogging a photo.
Remember that you matter. To someone, you make a difference.

そう気付いてたのに

As I’d sent my script off for my editor to do round 7, I found myself with way too much spare time on my hands. Having worked non stop on this thing since summer vacation started, not having anything to do was frustrating. so I decided to start plowing through the things I had wanted to do during summer, but never had time for.
I started with manga.

“LIFE” by Keiko Suenobu is a heartwrenching, gut-churning story about a girl who finds herself in a nightmare as she enters high school and becomes the victim of severe bullying.
When I first picked up this manga years ago on a whim, I think I was drawn to it because of Suenobu’s lovely drawings, but also by the synopsis on the back. Little did I know that I would be so affected by reading this story.
“LIFE” has little dialogue in each volume, and large spreads of drawings and expressive panels. This makes for a strong impact, and an easy read.
Getting through the manga is anything but easy though, as it hurts.

I stopped reading “LIFE” some odd years ago when the volumes stopped getting translated. They were already irregular, but I found myself stuck on volume 6, with no way to get a hold of the last four, even though they had been printed. At long last I was able to get volumes 7-9, and then moved on to reading online. With TokyoPop going under, I doubt “LIFE” will ever be completed in English.

The timing for me picking this series back up randomly clashed with the anti-bullying campaign they’re launching in Norway this year. Maybe that’s why, reading about people’s battles against bullies, reading about desperate parents, blind teachers and clueless politicians, this round of reads had an even stronger impact on me.
Although “LIFE” occasionally stretches things a little too far in that way manga sometimes does, bringing in far too many dramatic and sometimes unrealistic elements in short time, it certainly lives up to it’s title. For so many, this kind of thing IS their life; dreading school, having nobody listening to them, being crushed against the wall of terror. It also shows those who look on in silence, thinking they’re not involved, and those who turn dark and no better than the bullies when faced with the option of revenge. And the teachers who turn a blind eye to what’s going on in the school.
It’s a complex, sad story, while spurting hope and sometimes pure happiness.

This got long. Reviewing something else than yaoi on this site wasn’t intentional. It’s just.. It’s a far too important series to go unnoticed. In these days, it’s a picture perfect presentation of how many kids are struggling every day.
Having read “LIFE” again in one sitting just last week, and then paying attention to the newspaper coverage of the bullying statistics and how people intend to deal with it made me feel like I should take it up in here.
Moreover, I feel like perhaps sharing my own story as well. If I do, it will be in another post.
For now, I’ll leave you with this review, and the warning that “LIFE” the manga can be tough for some to swallow, it might be triggering, and it might be infurating, but I do recommend it.