Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hi, my name is Autumn: a more formal introduction.

I suppose now would be a good time to delve a little more into who I am, what I'm all about, and why I'm writing this blog.  I hate trying to describe myself, and I'm currently going through a phase where I'm refining and redefining who I am, so I'm a little unsure of what to say.  But here goes.

My name is Autumn Damiana.  It's not my real name, but a Pagan/professional/pen name I picked out a few years back when I decided I wanted to become a metaphysical writer.  I picked this name because it's decidedly witchy, but still sounds like it could be a real name (and of course it has personal meaning to me as well.)  I am a Pagan/Wiccan writer and artist, and I have extensive experience in crafting.  I have been a mostly solitary Witch for about 14 years, and I use a pseudonym because I am only partially "out of the broom closet."

I have been going through a process of "finding myself" that started a little less than 3 years ago when I went through a period of severe depression, went to therapy and got back on medication, and ended my 12 year "marriage" with my ex (he and I lived in a domestic partnership, but were never actually married.)  Being back on meds was a huge step for me, and I believe it was the right choice because after some time, I felt better than I ever had.  To give you a little background on this topic: 

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder when I was 17, and I took lithium to counteract the mania associated with Bipolar.  When, after some time, I still had problems with depression, I also took Zoloft.  I stopped meds about 1 and 1/2 to 2 years later, right after I moved in with my ex.  I didn't like the way that lithium made me feel, nor the side effects associated with taking it and I began a YEARS-long period of denial about my condition, believing that I didn't actually need meds.  I wish now that I had explored other options sooner, but I also lived without medical insurance for most of that time, so therapy would have likely not been possible for me anyway.  I currently am taking Seroquel (which wasn't approved for treatment of Bipolar until about a year after I stopped taking meds) and I am completely happy with the results.  I'm on a low dose and the side effects have been minimal, and even though I still have intermittent problems with depression (mostly seasonal, like SAD), I feel like a brand new person compared to the one I was 3 years ago.  I don't usually tell employers or casual acquaintances that I'm Bipolar, but all my family and friends know and I'm very open to talking about it with people who are interested, even strangers.  I hope that sharing my experiences will help, especially those who are not Bipolar themselves, but who are trying to understand the disorder because it affects someone they are close to.  So feel free to ask me about being Bipolar if you like.  I'm not shy or ashamed to talk about it.  It's a part of me, for better or worse, and might even be the most influencing factor in my life.

As for more on the "finding myself" part, I've almost started from scratch since my conversion to meds.  This is one more reason I am glad to be taking them, is that I didn't realize how much of who I was before was due to letting my Bipolar go untreated, and the daily struggles and drawbacks of trying to live that way.  Since I've cleared my head, I've scrutinized, torn down, rebuilt, and in some cases strengthened aspects of my personality, my beliefs, attitudes and perceptions I've held, my habits, almost everything, really!  As a result, I feel like I've finally "grown up" a bit, and I've definitely become more myself and in charge of my destiny.  I'm developing more self-esteem and confidence, and I have gained a lot more self-respect, self-discipline, and drive and motivation to pursue what I want in life.  Being on meds also makes it much, much easier to focus and be more objective because I don't have to constantly wrestle with mood swings and "out-of-control" emotions, which has always made it difficult to deal with even day-to-day occurrences, let alone "major" life events.

There are unfortunately some things that even medication can't fix, however.  One of these is the growing feeling of dissatisfaction I've had over the past few years with the life I'm leading, and the feeling that I'm constantly caught between two worlds.  As I'm beginning to "own" my Pagan beliefs more and more and try to live my life according to them, I've realized that what I've been doing most of my life and am still partly doing doesn't work very well for me anymore.  To elaborate:

I've never gotten into a real career.  I've mostly worked different jobs here and there just to survive and pay the bills.  My head just wasn't on straight enough to tackle school at the time that I tried to go, and now that it is, I've thought about going back to school, but I don't have a huge drive to do so.  Luckily, it doesn't seem like that is strictly necessary to become a writer, and that's a good thing, because I have decided that I definitely want to write.  Writing is very enjoyable to me, seems to come fairly easily, and I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from the pieces I've published so far.  So now I've decided the career part, and just have to work hard at making it happen.

I also dream of owning a small piece of land.  My idea of heaven would be to live in an eco-friendly house or yurt, in some rural or less populated area, spending my time writing, selling my crafts, making art, raising a lot of my own food, and devoting my life to my spiritual pursuits.  Yeah, I know, it sounds like I want to be the solitary cottage witch or hermit out of a fairy tale, and that's not really too far off, I guess.  Although I don't need to live in a forest or in the mountains to be happy, because even some of the more sparsely wooded hilly landscape near where I live would be fantastic.  And having this goal to work toward is (overall) a good thing too, but it makes me really hate the drudgery of living day-to-day in the middle of this sprawling suburban environment that, by comparison to the natural world, feels so soulless and spiritually deficient.  And so these are the two worlds that I am caught between: the dream of my Pagan heart, and the reality of my physical being. 

And so here I am, and here is the reason for the existence of this blog.  "Sacred Survival in a Mundane World" is meant to be a way for me to share with others how I stay connected to the Divine and how I find ways to "walk my talk" as a Pagan, but of course it's becoming more and more a tool of self-discovery as well.  And when I don't write in it for long periods of time, such as recently, it shows me how disconnected I've been from that Divine presence and how caught up I've become in everyday bullshit and all the mundane trappings of "normal" life.  Because writing, especially in a journal (such as this) is in itself a spiritual pursuit (or at least it can be), and I never shrink from it or put it off when I'm feeling spiritual.  Likewise, when I'm forgetting to commune with nature, when it's been awhile since I've acknowledged the God and the Goddess, and I haven't meditated, prayed, or even done divination or ritual, these are the times I also don't write.  And that shows me where I'm at.  Sometimes its also a good indicator that I haven't visited any of my witchy friends in awhile or had any good in-depth spiritual conversations, and I need to watch this, too.  It's easy to isolate myself, and I have to work at being social because I'm a natural loner, which is still OK for me, but I've realized isn't too healthy in large doses.

So this concludes my "formal introduction," and now you know a bit more about me and why I'm writing this blog.  This is becoming quite the learning experience for me, as I've always been an introvert and a really private person, and now I'm having to talk about myself and decide what I want to share with the world and what I want to keep private, and it isn't easy.  There are things that I don't want to talk about that I feel like I should share, and surprisingly, sometimes the opposite is also true.  At least I'm writing again, which is always a good thing.