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Quarantine Week 4

This isn’t how I meant to spend April tenth. It’s not how any of us expected to spend April tenth.

Some things haven’t changed since my last update. For example, homeschool is still the worst, although this was April vacation, which made me so happy.

Writing is still a challenge, but I’m getting caught up in Lioness all over again, and my excitement has allowed me to push past some of the things that make writing hard. The fact that this has been April break has not only lessened the strain of homeschooling, but it’s given me a lot of free time to write, too. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m worried bout my productivity falling off again until summer. I have to get my kids through June fifth, and then we can FINALLY stop homeschool. (I don’t know what happens in August–we’re a hot spot that has had success with flattening the curve–Santa Clara County, CA–but that doesn’t mean that life will be normal in August.)

In my part of the country, toilet paper, paper towels, and baby wipes continue to be difficult to find. I was lucky enough to stumble over this package yesterday at a Walgreens, when I went to pick up prescriptions. But my family is just really lucky that we got our monthly delivery of toilet paper a week before quarantine and the run on toilet paper began.

I’ve been grocery shopping about once a week (down from my popping in every other day for just a few things here and there) and each time I go, things are different (apart from the tp etc shortage, which is consistent). I feel like in some ways things are starting to even out, but in others things are still in short supply.

I took this picture today. In the last week my grocery store has made aisles one-way to try to cut down on traffic jams. Of course, almost no one was obeying them, but I’m giving them points for trying to mitigate the spread.

They don’t allow you to take re-usable bags into the stores anymore. I had stopped using my bags, and had been feeling a bit bad about the waste of taking store bags until the stores banned re-usable bags.

Safeway has someone at the door–I think they’re limiting the number of people in the store at any given time. There are lines on the ground outside the store to wait to enter. But I was lucky today and there wasn’t a wait to get in. I read that Target, Costco, and Walmart are also limiting the number of people in the store at any given time.

Between living in Asia for seven years and still being in the slow buildup of local friends, connecting with my friends via text and call is nothing new to me. But the kids have had to learn all these new technologies (that they took to like a duck to water) and not every friend is available via every type of tech, and there are friends they just don’t have much contact with.

My eight year old and I came home from a walk to a note on our driveway from a friend of hers. So in the picture above, eight is drawing a message in reply. My eleven year old has also drawn a note on a friend’s driveway.

I have a ton of coronavirus memes and parody songs to stay entertained with, of course. This is a favorite of mine.

I sometimes (usually) write contemporary stories, and like many writers, that has raised the question of “do I include coronavirus in my romance novel?”

I have come down on the side of “not yet.” We don’t know how long this is going to last, what the impacts are going to be, and FOR ME it feels a little irresponsible writing it into my books. It’s writing from the center of the hurricane and you don’t know what the fallout will look like. It will be callous to put your long distance lovers story against high unemployment, a crashing economy, and a presidential race.

Related– because it’s an election year, there are Dem/Rep enemies to lovers stories, and that just feels gross. Sorry, your denying people’s humanity isn’t us having a difference of opinion, it fundamentally changes–lowers–my opinion of you. There’s no coming back from ‘women shouldn’t have abortions’ or gross statements about immigration or people of color or poor people. I care about people and you care about corporations–BTW so so glad the CRUISE SHIPS are going to get bailed out while college debts hangs over millions of heads, and erasing that debt would have a much bigger impact that saving floating petri dishes. So, you see, just as D/R enemies to lovers stories are just in incredibly poor taste, and I feel like coronavirus love stories are equally in poor taste.

So for now it’s just lalala, what pandemic? Which, honestly, makes writing a good escape, too.

How about you? How goes quarantine for you?

Life in quarantine

My life

Did you know that Shakespeare wrote King Lear during a quarantine? Well, I do now. To which I say Shakespeare wasn’t the primary caregiver of two children who are suddenly home until May 4th (but probably the rest of the year).

Well, The Lioness and the Mouse isn’t exactly King Lear, but editing is going. I’m working on a couple of other projects, but nothing worth sharing about yet.

My writing sanctuary is now a little more full these days. I’m trying to figure out what time of day now works to get my writing done (right now my kids are having “P.E.” so I’m stealing the time at my kitchen table, which had been my favorite writing spot ). My partner and I are trying to figure out who works where so that he can do his meetings without being bothered and I can get my work done without being bothered. I was thrilled when he decided our youngest daughter’s room was the best place in terms of light, privacy, and a power strip that wasn’t already full. That leaves our bedroom and bathroom to me (I hate using the kid’s bathroom–it’s messier than ours).

The fact that I was a teacher for five years (six if you count student teaching) is completely irrelevant. I used to teach middle school math, but today when my oldest had to figure out the height of a triangle based off the base number and the area number. I’ve taught how to do this. I don’t remember it at all. My husband stepped in, and he found out that our daughter hasn’t been watching the instructional videos, so it’s not surprising that she was struggling so much.

The fact that I was a teacher doesn’t matter to my eight year old when I told her she could add more details to her story (which was like five sentences). I was on my bed, so she faceplanted, then rolled around whining “I don’t want to” and then “I don’t want to be an author.” I suggested to her teacher that he do a call a week where the kids could connect, and my daughter was rejuvenated by the contact with her friends (and has now added details).

Speaking of becoming an author, my oldest is writing a Percy Jackson fanfic with two or three of her friends in GoogleDocs, which I think is the coolest thing ever. When I was in high school, I subscribed to a Mercedes Lackey fan zine called Queen’s Own, I think. (I Googled and I couldn’t find the name, which makes me a little sad.) One of the features of the zine was finding pen pals, which I did. My penpal used the name Jaila, and I used the name Lyria. We began a joint fanfic, but one of us would write a chapter and then we had to mail it to the other person. Neither of us had access to a word processor or computer, I guess, because I know it was all handwritten. I’m so sad it’s lost to the sands of time—it was such a product of our ages and the 90’s and how much we both really wanted a talking horse.

I think for me one of the biggest struggles with confinement isn’t the confinement (I”m an introvert, and I already worked from home), it’s dealing with my eating disorders in this context. One of my coping mechanisms over the past two years has been to not eat. I’ve definitely had that, and I’ve missed some meals. But I try to remind myself how awful the experience of refeeding and attending a partial hospitalization program was and that has forced me to eat something at least even when I don’t want to. That’s my anorexia in action. My ARFID (avoidant restrictive food intake disorder) means that I have a relatively small amount of food I consider “safe” to eat, and most other foods incite anxiety and nausea. When I grocery shop, I carefully plan out what I’ll buy and cook in advance. Now I have to go to the grocery store and wing it, which is really stressful.

But you know the hardest part of doing quarantine with an eating disorder? How everyone is joking that the quarantine will make you fat. Eating Disorder patients are already on edge just like you. But when you joke about getting fat, it wakes up the part of us that we fight against every day. Please think before you post.

Okay, less heavy…

Anyone else just realizing how much they touch their faces?

How are you coping with quarantine? Are you quarantined? It blows my mind that like half the country is just out there living their lives. It’s so alien and surreal.

Lioness Excerpt

I was going to post and then the whole Covid thing came up and I got overwhelmed. I know I’m not alone in that. Welcome to the Delilah Night homeschool for cranky children (to be fair, it’s cranky child–the other one is fine). It sucks.

How am I coping? In part by editing Lioness with my awesome editor, Jess. I’m not getting much new writing done, but Lioness is doing great. In honor of that, here’s an excerpt

To set the scene, there’s been a growing romantic tension between Shan and Molly, but they haven’t owned it or done anything about it at this point in the book.

Dream casting for Shan

“Are you always so well put together, Molly? It makes me want to rumple you.”

Molly laughed. “I’m plenty rumpled on the weekends. Hard to do yardwork in my work clothes.”

Shan gave her one of those long, lingering looks. “I’ve never seen your hair down.”

Molly’s heartbeat had stuttered. She wanted Shan to see her hair down, now that she’d said something about it. Molly met and held Shan’s gaze. She reached back and pulled out a bobby pin, and dropped it on the side table next to her wine. The need was inexplicable and undeniable.

The bobby pin made a plink as it hit the wood.

Plink.

Plink.

Plink.

Ten plinks later, Molly let go of her bun and shook out her hair. Feminine pride flickered through her body when she saw the way Shan was looking at her.

“It’s just Mousy brown,” Molly had said, trying to find her way out of the sudden tension between them.

“Not from where I’m sitting. I see beautiful chestnut hair. Nothing mousy about it,” Shan said, taking a deep drink from her glass.

Molly had swallowed around the lump in her throat. When was the last time someone had complimented her looks?

Molly cursed her fair skin, knowing that she was turning as red as a tomato, all because Shangela had complimented her hair. She’d glanced down at the rug, then back at Shan’s eyes.

“I think your eyes are beautiful,” she’d said, all the bravery in her body in that one compliment.

Shan’s lips had curved into a playful smile. “We’re becoming quite the mutual admiration society, aren’t we, Molly?” Her tone was warm, and her eyes sparkled with amusement.

Molly, but sexier

Don’t forget that you can read Lab Rats free on Kindle Unlimited or purchase it for 2.99.

Reading habits

My children are eight and eleven—which in our house translates to “not really reading on her own” and “won’t stop reading on her own.” In fact, I was my eight year old’s age when I found the book series that was really responsible for turning me into a reader–The Babysitter’s Club.

I remember stumbling across one at a Waldenbooks (remember those?) in my local mall. It was like eight year old crack, and a new book came out every month to feed my addiction. It was perfect to make the shift from reader to READER.

One of my favorite places to read was sitting in a laundry basket. No, I have no idea why.

These days I’m much too big for laundry basket reading. So instead I read

  • In bed (mostly)
  • In the shower (waterproof phone)
  • Waiting for my kids to get out of X
  • Waiting in line

Using ebooks on my phone have given me the freedom to read everywhere.

My eleven year old doesn’t yet have ebooks, but she reads a lot of fanfic, so I mostly see her in her chair or on her bed, head bent over her phone (or in my car).

How about you? Where do you do most of your reading? What sparked your reading habits?

The Music of Lab Rats

I’m an obsessive music listener, and I’ve always found music to be helpful in processing or adjusting my mood. Or, in the case of my books, to be a way of connecting with the story deeper.

Here are ten songs out of the seventy-five that are on my Lab Rats playlist in no particular order.

I Knew You Were Trouble by Taylor Swift

Given that this is an enemies to lovers story, the lyrics really worked for me. “I knew you were trouble when you walked in/So shame on me now” because at the start both Diana and Ben know they shouldn’t lust for the other, but can’t help themselves. It is mostly a Ben thinking about Diana song.

Shoop by Salt-N-Pepa

This is very much a Diana thinking about Ben song. It’s a song about wanting to fuck. It objectifies men for the most part, so I think of Diana and not Ben.

This Love by Maroon 5

This is a Ben thinking of Diana song. I interpreted the lyrics a bit. “Her heart is breaking in front of me/And I don’t have a choice because I won’t say goodbye anymore” really resonated when thinking about how Ben reacts to learning Diana has seen her twin in captivity.

Dirty Diana by Michael Jackson

I put this in purely because of the title. But the lyrics “She looked me deep in the eyes/ She’s touchin’ me so to start/ She says there’s no turnin’ back/ She trapped me in her heart” work for the book

Teeth by Lady Gaga

Show me your teeth? C’mon, of course it’s there.

Irish by Goo Goo Dolls

This is quite literally my favorite romantic song. It opens with “I’d give up forever to touch you.” It’s on every romance playlist because I want my couples to feel that way.

One Woman Army by Porcelain Black

I picked this song because at one point, Diana thinks maybe she could be a one-woman army. (She can’t.)

Heart Attack by Demi Lovato

This is very much a Ben song. The idea of being terrified of real feelings, especially when it comes to romantic feelings is very Ben. He’s so scared that all of that is out of reach for him. “So I’m putting my defenses up/Because I don’t want to fall in love”

I’m in Love with a Monster by Little Mix

The title is why. No real explanation. I also love Little Mix.

The Kiss from Last of the Mohicans Soundtrack

So I saw Last of the Mohicans when I was a fairly impressionable youth–in 1992 I was thirteen going on fourteen, and I was very Not Woke (I’m doing better today, but I’m sure I fuck up constantly, and am working to do better) so I didn’t understand the problematic elements of the story. What I did know was that when Nathaniel meets Cora (I had to look up names) and they just start to kiss, and it grows more passionate against the beat and the fiddle of the music–mmm, just works for me, so it evokes that feeling when I’m writing and I hear it.

Now Available: Lab Rats

Lab Rats is out and available in the world! 2.99 on Kindle or free on Kindle Unlimited.

Everything changes the moment heartthrob Justin Carson shifts from human to Were Wolf on live television and is subsequently captured.

Dr. Benjamin Wells is tapped by the government to create a test from Justin’s blood intended to identify anyone who might be a Were. Dr. Diana Lutz is the Were Wolf sent by the Were leaders to stop him, and to find and hopefully free Justin, her twin. The only thing stronger than Diana and Ben’s mutual dislike of each other is their sudden attraction. Soon that attraction explodes, and in the same moment Ben learns the truth about his heritage—he’s part Wolf, and Diana is his mate.

As they race to be the first to discover the blood test and prevent the other organizations from endangering all Weres, Ben must decide whose side he’s on. Will he betray his people? How far is Diana willing to go to save her brother, and what is she willing to sacrifice?

CW: Violence

Here’s an excerpt, right after Ben has shifted back to human for the first time.

Finally all that remained was the nude form of a human man on his hands and knees. He panted, his sides heaving as he sucked in great gasps of air.

“There. You did it. Try not to shift without me until you get the hang of things,” she said, laying a hand on his shoulder.

His head snapped up, and he pulled away as if she’d burned him. “I didn’t try to shift this time, as you phrase it. How can I prevent it? Then I’ll never shift again, and I can pretend this was all the result of some food poisoning.”

She crouched down. “At some point you’ll start craving it like a drug. If you wait too long, you’ll lose control. There’s a reason we don’t let our children into your world until they’re old enough to keep their form. There’s a reason that werewolves figure into mythology. You have to maintain control. Emotions will make it harder—anger will cause a growl or a snarl, for example.”

“Then you should stay far away from me,” he pushed to his feet, gasping from the pain of his skeleton realigning. “It’s your fault that I shifted in the first place!”

Diana toyed with her braid. “If you don’t let me help you, I’ll go straight to the Lioness, right now, and she’ll assign someone else to you. Assuming she lets you live.”

“Who, or what is ‘the Lioness’?” Ben took a step toward her, then looked down in horror at his nudity. His hands immediately cupped himself to hide his privates away from Diana.

“She’s the ruler of Boston. Think of her as the Queen.” Then she smirked. “You’re going to have to get over any prudishness you have over nudity.”

Ben’s face grew crimson, although how much was anger and how much was embarrassment, she couldn’t tell. “I have a spare set of clothes in my office.”

“Go get dressed and we’ll talk more.”

She watched Ben storm into his office. The lights went on, then off a few minutes later. When Ben came out, dressed in his spare set of clothes, his shoulders were hunched. “Fine. I will accept your help.”

“We’re going to have to tell the Lioness eventually. She’ll find out,” Diana warned him. “But I think it’s best if you attend my ‘So You Found Out You’re a Werewolf’ seminar first. You have a lot to learn, and no time to learn it.”

“You can do all of this quickly? Does it still hurt?” Ben’s face was vulnerable and frightened. A child who’d just learned that the rules he’d lived by no longer applied. He picked up his torn shirt, then let the fabric slide through his fingers.

“You won’t notice it after a while, it’s over so fast,” she said.

Diana stripped off her clothes and shifted. She shifted back, and tossed her unbound hair over her shoulder.

“See? It gets that easy,” she said with a smile.

Ben was frozen, barely even breathing.

“Ben?”

“Y-you’re naked, Diana.”

She glanced down. “Well, yes. I don’t have spare clothes here like you. I told you, you’re going to have to get over whatever Puritanical belief system you have about nudity.”

His pupils were dilated, and he kept looking at her body then looking away.

“How can you be calm about being naked in the middle of a lab?” Another peek and another quick look away.

“Because I don’t have the same human hang-ups about nudity? Here, I’ll get dressed.” Diana rolled her eyes and pulled on her clothes. By the time she’d pulled her top over her bra, Ben was studying a box of pipettes as if they held the winning lottery numbers.

**Ben, it will get easier. I promise.**

He looked at her, although his eyes dipped to her now-covered chest before moving back to her face. His eyes searched hers.

“I can’t be a monster.” His protest was soft, almost tearful.

Diana’s instincts scraped at her. Another Wolf was in pain. She needed to do something. There were no Alphas to step in and deal with the hurt. She was the only one who could help him. She closed the distance between them, and pulled him into her arms.

“Oh, Ben. We’re not monsters, we’re just a different kind of p—”

Diana’s voice cut out as her nose told her something terrible.

Ben wasn’t just a Wolf.

He was an Alpha.

And she was his mate.

I have free copies for any reader who promises to leave a review. I have pdf, mobi (kindle) and epub (nook/kobo/google play books) versions available. Leave a comment here to be contacted, or email me at delilahnight at gmail dot com.

Meet Ben, Diana, and Justin

One of the fun parts of writing a book is imagining your characters. On pinterest, I like to create boards where I effectively cast my books. Here are my takes on Diana, Ben, and Justin.

This is Diana. I looked for someone with their hair in a braid, as Diana does in the book, but I couldn’t find a picture I liked. So I shrugged it off, and found a picture of the character with hair down. I really liked this picture.

This scene is after Ben shifts for the first time. Neither Diana nor Ben had known he was a Wolf.

Diana’s instincts scraped at her. Another Wolf was in pain. She needed to do something. There were no Alphas to step in and deal with the hurt. She was the only one who could help him. She closed the distance between them, and pulled him into her arms. * “Oh, Ben. We’re not monsters, we’re just a different kind of p—”

Diana’s voice cut out as her nose told her something terrible.

Ben wasn’t just a Wolf

He was an Alpha. And she was his mate.

Ben was the hardest character to cast. I couldn’t find a scientist picture that I thought was hot enough, so I started looking at professors and found this picture. Ben doesn’t wear glasses, and he’s a bit young for Ben, but he’s the closest.

This scene is right after he’s shifted back to human, shortly after Diana’s excerpt.


He couldn’t have pulled his head away from her neck if he wanted to, which he did not. Her scent was the only thing tethering him to his body. Without her, who knows what sort of horrific outcomes would happen? He clung to her. He stroked up and down her back. He ran his hands through her silky hair. His tongue slid out of his mouth and licked her neck. Licked her neck?

“I hate you,”he muttered.

In some ways, Justin was the easiest character to cast. Hot actor with dark hair and light eyes? Little bit of smolder? Check.

This is from chapter 1, just before Justin shifts.

Despite everything. Despite Weres being involved in the project at every level. Despite all the care being taken to turn out strong performances, even if they couldn’t exactly portray Were society. Broken Dreams should have been his. He was fucking perfect for that goddamned role. But no, they had to cast a human. And Stephen had let them.

Have you ever cast the books you write or read?

My self-publishing experience

My first book, Capturing the Moment, was put out by Totally Bound in 2016. I had to do all the marketing, but Totally Bound dealt with the final edit, the formatting, the cover–all that jazz.

I have chosen to self-publish the Weres of Boston series in part because I want to switch between m/f and f/f and m/m stories, and it’s not easy to find a publisher that is willing to let you jump around in your pairings like that within the same series. I have made less than $100 USD on Capturing the Moment, and the ability to put my book on KU is also a big appeal to self pub.

The first part of self-publishing was easy. I wrote the book, sent it to my betas, and sent it to my editor. The difference is that once that was done, it was all up to me.

For my cover, I went to Fiverr. I looked for an artist who did book covers, and for less than $50 they did my cover and made my Twitter and FB banners as well. (It was more than $50 after the tip). The people I worked with are called spotondesigns and they were great.

I naively went to kdp and set up Lab Rats for pre-order. I rushed and didn’t read the fine print, and once I committed to 2/11, it was basically set in stone. Which was too bad for me because I didn’t understand how hard formatting is to learn. I didn’t really have enough time, so I hired out my formatting to Robin Covington, who I know through a Romance Facebook group. She knocked it out of the park.

Last night I loaded the print pdf into kdp along with the book cover. The book will be priced at 8.99, which is too high, but Amazon didn’t give me much in the way of choice. The kindle version is 2.99 or free on Kindle Unlimited.

However, it wasn’t quite as smooth as it sounds. I worked with a second cover artist, and the covers they sent were laughably bad. Had they been my only option, I would have gotten really discouraged. I also wanted to hire an artist off Deviant Art, but they were too expensive (although I’d love to hire them eventually to make a piece of art based on Weres of Boston). Before I found Robin, I was also being quoted numbers two to three times higher than Robin’s rates.

Having gone through it would I do it again? Yes. I think self publishing has a learning curve, and it will get better (and I’ll have more skills) with each new book.

Cover Reveal: Lab Rats

Lab Rats is coming February 11, 2020! Pre-order here.

Everything changes the moment heartthrob Justin Carson shifts from human to Were Wolf on live television and is subsequently captured.

Dr. Benjamin Wells is tapped by the government to create a test from Justin’s blood intended to identify anyone who might be a Were. Dr. Diana Lutz is the Were Wolf sent by the Were leaders to stop him, and to find and hopefully free Justin, her twin. The only thing stronger than Diana and Ben’s mutual dislike of each other is their sudden attraction. Soon that attraction explodes, and in the same moment Ben learns the truth about his heritage—he’s part Wolf, and Diana is his mate.

As they race to be the first to discover the blood test and prevent the other organizations from endangering all Weres, Ben must decide whose side he’s on. Will he betray his people? How far is Diana willing to go to save her brother, and what is she willing to sacrifice?

CW—violence is committed against the captive Wolf by the soldiers holding him captive

Cover by Spotondesigners on Fiverr

Anorexia, or where I’ve been

Guys, I have to be honest with you that 2019 kicked my ass from start to finish. I had significant depressive episodes, and I was battling and losing to anorexia. It’s been a lot of therapy, and my medication is still being adjusted. There was also a lot of energy absorbed by the usual–chronic pain, parenting, etc.

I stopped posting here because I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t maintain the facade that everything was okay when my life was the farthest thing from okay. Not the lowest point of my life, but it’s among them.

I’ve decided to share my story in hopes that it might help someone else. I was not educated about how fat people can still be anorexic—in fact, I joked that I could be “anorexic” until I was actually anorexic. I thought of anorexia as something that happens to teenagers, not mothers in their forties.

I have a long history with hating my body, and I have been restricting since I was young, although never like this. Primarily my restricting has been the other component of my eating disorder–what’s called Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, or ARFID.

The restricting that turned into full blown anorexia started by accident in the summer of 2018—what a therapist called momorexia, because I was eating small bites on the go, stopping at the first hint of fullness because I was super busy. I lost weight, and since I was losing at a “safe” pace of 8-ish pounds a month, or 2-ish a week, I shrugged off my initial concerns that maybe the weight loss wasn’t such a good thing, or, more to the point, that it wasn’t happening safely. I kept restricting further and further, taking every less bite of food as a moral victory. After all, I’ve been in a body that has weighed 200+ pounds for the past twenty years, and every doctor I’ve talked to from my back surgeon to my pcps have urged me to lose weight. I’ve done dieting. I’ve done exercising until I hurt myself. But I never was able to move the needle much at all (because, as science tells us, our bodies tend to have a set point weight, and it’s really hard to move that needle when it’s possible at all) until restricting.

When I told my doctor that maybe I wasn’t being safe in late November (by which point I was eating less than I ever had, and my weight has never been about overeating). She told me to eat at least 1200 calories a day and it would be fine. AT LEAST. My fucked up brain said if 1200 is good, under 1200 is better. After all, it’s not like I’m losing weight too fast.

Then I began counting calories explicitly. Weighing food. Measuring food. Then my weight plateaued in February 2019. Then came the spreadsheet, and the game I played with myself, which was effectively “how few calories can Delilah eat without having dizzy spells?” In April I blew up at my therapist over eating—the first time she’d seen me fully lose my composure in nearly four years of weekly or bi-weekly therapy. I ended up confessing everything. She talked to a colleague who specializes in eating disorders. The colleague strongly urged me to seek evaluation and treatment. I made an appointment with Stanford’s eating disorder clinic for evaluation, but I also made an appointment with a plastic surgeon. I knew how many pounds I was away from “overweight” as opposed to “obese.” I was constantly getting positive feedback.

I shopped in straight sizes for the first time ever as an adult. Clothes became a way I compensated myself for all the awful shit I was putting myself through. But I was a pretty absent mom because I was so exhausted all the time because I wasn’t eating.

Then came the first week of June. I ended up in the ER for pain we thought was a kidney infection, but was actually a cyst on an ovary. But as they ran tests, they found that my potassium was extremely low–even dangerously so. I was given a mega dose, and told to follow up with my doctor. Then came the multi-day nausea (which I now suspect was a series of worsening panic attacks as there is a clear pattern between nausea and anxiety attacks for me) and dry heaving, during which I ate virtually nothing and threw up what I did eat and drink.

I got evaluated by the eating disorder team, and it didn’t go well.

But the real bottom of the barrel, and the reason I ended up getting help was that I collapsed at my older daughter’s fifth grade graduation. I felt like shit—I could barely pay attention because it felt like there was something on my chest and that I was struggling to breathe normally. I survived through it, although I remember nothing beyond what I was physically experiencing, which took over everything. When the room started telescoping, I told my husband that I needed to leave and go to the hospital. He agreed, and I went to the car while he went find our daughter and tell her what was happening and why we were leaving. At the car I started feeling really faint, and staggered to the front office where I asked them to call 911. I got taken away, dehydrated, mid massive panic attack (the source of the chest pains, most likely, based on tests), and on the verge of fainting in an ambulance. Instead of celebrating graduation with my daughter.

For what it’s worth, my daughter is so understanding of all of it–which almost makes it worse. She’s forgiven me. I have yet to forgive myself.

Inpatient treatment was recommended, but I was able to find what’s called a partial hospitalization program near me. Partial hospitalization was a six and a half hour a day commitment, but I could live at home. I’d go there, eat lunch (supervised), do two hours of therapy, eat a snack (supervised), two hours of therapy, dinner (supervised), then home. I was at that level of treatment for pretty much the entire summer, initially six days a week, although I moved to five pretty quickly.

I have mixed feelings about my treatment program, but I can’t deny that they saved me from a far worse fate–despite being 180 pounds, despite losing at a safe rate—I was courting heart damage and death with my actions. I developed and still have a problem with being orthostatic (blood pressure changes dramatically when moving from laying to standing, which can cause fainting among other things) because of it.

I went several months without treatment and began to backslide.

In late 2019 I was able to connect with an eating disorder specialist and dietician, and I am currently working with them to pursue recovery.

Were there any bright points? Lab Rats was 90% edited during 2019. I started leading my younger daughter’s Girl Scout troop. I had a short story in an anthology. I wrote the forward for an anthology put out by Jayhenge (again, I’ll highlight that in another post). But that’s about it.

So how to move forward when I’m not quite out of the woods yet either eating disorder or mental health meds-wise? Well, I started 2020 by putting Lab Rats up for pre-order (I’ll do a promotional post with an excerpt another day), so that feels significant.

Writing feels foreign to me as I’m really out of practice. I didn’t write much of anything new for 2019–editing Lab Rats was all I could manage. But I’m starting again, and even if it feels hard and stilted and sucky at least it’s happening.