Category Archives: Where’s My Towel

New Year’s Resolutions – The Year of the Phoenix (Cissell I)

What’s that? It’s not the new year?

Well it is for me. So there, motherfuckers! Don’t be a hater!

That was probably a little harsh, but I’m ready for a blank slate (no slate can be perfectly blank, I realize that) and I have some goals for the next 12 months.

Henceforth, 8/15 will be known as the beginning of the Cissell Year, a new reckoning of time that will, no doubt, become a reliable astrological something or other.

So, in The Year of the Phoenix (Cissell I), I am going to work on the following 12 things – 1 thing for every month in the year. The theme, based on the fact that it’s The Year of the Phoenix (Cissell I) is rebirth and growth.

I am going to need some help to achieve all the goals, but I am feeling so freaking positive right now, it’s ridiculous.

  1. Feel comfortable in new job by my birthday (2/24 in case you need time to plan your celebratory activities)
  2. Publish five books & 1 novella by the end of the Year (8/14/19)
  3. Find three new clients for the editing business I share with the Beer Guy
  4. Get married
  5. Have the most awesome honeymoon ever
  6. Find a physical activity I super enjoy and do it regularly for fun (preferably trail running)
  7. Develop a regular at-home yoga practice
  8. Stay meds compliant. I’ve never managed to be compliant for more than 6-8 months. I’m currently, as of New Year’s Day, five months in on my current medication. There will be the added challenge of switching providers and insurance.
  9. Find two really good pairs of jeans.
  10. Learn to appreciate massages.
  11. Become more comfortable with self promotion (preorder Oracle Bay #1! Buy sale copies of Eleanor Morgan paperbacks!)
  12. Develop an elaborate framework for the Cissell calendar and Cissell astrology.


Do you have any


Crazy Train

I have been largely absent the last few months. I come back in fits and starts with goals and promises, but then I disappear. That is due to a few factors.

  1. I am busy AF. I work a day job, am a freelance editor, and am a writer with three books coming out this fall and another four next year.
  2. I have a kid, and while I love that (not so) tiny Alvie Bean, this year has not been easy. Not easy at all. I know I’m vague blogging, but Bean requests that I not include real updates on the blog anymore. Internet privacy for six-year olds is a real thing.
  3. I have had some significant mental health struggles. I want to say “I’ve been struggling the last couple months,” but in reality, I’ve been struggling the last six years, with periods of intermission. This is the real reason I’m here today. (Sorry – no fun gifs or writing facts today.)

In 2012, my father was diagnosed with cancer in January and died in March when I was 38 weeks pregnant. He never met his grandkid and Bean never got to geek out about trains with my father. After I went back to work, I slid into a deep, dark postpartum depression. It was bad. Fortunately, I was able to capitalize on that experience by writing and publishing an essay about it, for which I got paid actual cash money that was worth more than the envelope and stamp it took to mail it to me.

The next few years were nothing but ups and downs. Every time I went down, I didn’t get nearly as far up as I thought I should.

2016 – the year of me – was…interesting. I separated from my now ex-husband, moved out, got divorced, lost my job. I also got my own super cute house, started writing again, became very attached to an amazing man, and went to Iceland. In the midst of all of that, I was starting to come apart at the seams.

It took almost a full year for the total breakdown. There were periods when things were better than others. But overall, things were, to put it succinctly, bad.

I started eating less and less. (Funny thing about not being skinny – no one believes you when you tell them you’ve mostly just stopped eating solid food.) I got really good at hiding my lack of food intake, and the fact that my body hoarded every calorie it got causing me to gain weight helped with my game.

Even after I’d moved in with the aforementioned amazing man and got a new job, I still found myself skipping more meals than I was eating. (Turns out that behavior is terrible for your digestive system, overall health, energy levels, skin, hair, and brain function.)

I was still performing, though. I published three books in 2017 and started my fledgling freelance business. I started a new job, sent the Bean to kindergarten, and took a trip to Mexico. Everything looked fine. (Narrator voice: It was not fine.)

It didn’t take much – a couple minor stressors and one major one – and I lost hold of the thread I was barely hanging on to. The last six months have been hard. Hard for me. Hard for the beer guy. Hard for anyone who has to deal with me.

And now to the main crux of my post.

I have bipolar II. I don’t talk about it much, and for the longest time dismissed every professional who tried to tell me that’s what I had. But there’s really no way around it at this point. Most of my cycling in the past was mild depression to mild hypomania – easy to wait out.

This was…not. I was a hot mess. It took a while to find a mental health professional that was covered by insurance, was taking new patients, and had appointments this decade. It actually took a referral from the doctor I saw about my torn rotator cuff to get me into the system that I’m in now.

This round has had soul-searing depression compounded with over-the-top anxiety. There are some work environment issues which really exacerbate everything, too. (Open offices are the devil…omg please stop talking I can’t concentrate ever please for the love of all things holy.)

Being this depressed means having to actively search for a reason to keep going. It means not trusting that the people who say they care are sincere – after all, they’re just sticking around because they feel sorry for you. It means knowing that any light at the end of the tunnel is probably a train, and if it isn’t, it’s still not a way out, just a reflection of an outside that you’ll never find. It means constantly figuring out if there are any loose ends you don’t want to leave behind. It means weighing the benefits of staying against the benefits of not. Will it be better for the kid to have a mom or better for the kid to not have to deal with a crazy mom?

I don’t have a real five-year plan. I can’t look forward into the future and see anything. I can say I do, but it’s all academic. I can’t envision being present for my kid’s high school graduation. I’m good for one year at a time, tops. I’m bad at long-term planning because what’s the point?

I used to believe that this was something I would grow out of. That mental illness scurried on out like a bug with too many legs and venomous fangs when you turned 35. 40. Maybe 45.

When there are high-profile suicides, they go into one of two categories for me. “Oh, he was 22. Poor guy. The disease got him.” or “Fuck. They’re older than me. They aren’t struggling financially. This isn’t something you can level up out of. This is what I have left forever. There is no other way to exist. It is nothing but darkness.”

I have a meds doctor, and a therapist, and an amazing partner (who is probably not just having the weirdest extended pity-relationship ever), and a couple amazing friends. I take medication every day, and I have people who check on me. I have so much to live for: first and foremost, I don’t want to be brought back by the people who are still mad about the way I ended the last Eleanor Morgan book. I have the best kid in the whole world who’s gonna need a mama like whoa. I am blessed with the most patient, kind, and frankly, delightful partner.  I have twelve book covers that haven’t gone out into the world yet, and that’s just a waste if they’re not used.

This isn’t a cry for help. I would never do that. This is a glimpse into the head of someone who’s struggling.

I’ve spent a lot of time on Twitter in the last week having arguments about mental health. I can’t believe it’s 2018 and there are still people in the world who want to convince me that mental illness is all in my head (heh) and that maybe if I just got off my ass and had some sunshine and kombucha and TRIED REAL HARD to be happy, that I could be. According to these people, I am literally just not trying hard enough. And what I want them to know – what I want you to know – is that I am trying as hard as I can.

Everyone else out there who has mental illness is trying, too. But remember, it’s hard. It’s so hard. And sometimes people need a break. And when they do, it is sad and it is tragic, but it is not selfish. Until you live every day struggling to achieve the most basic of accomplishments, until you have to use every ounce of energy to shine a light in the smothering darkness, until you spend every day in a pain that’s every bit as real as the pain someone with an illness of the body rather than an illness of the mind feels, you don’t get to judge when someone’s reached their end.

In conclusion:

  1. Medication is good
  2. Medical care is good
  3. If I can be denied insurance due to preexisting conditions, I will be uninsurable due to my bipolar, even though medical care and medication are vital at this point to my continued well-being, so that’s fun
  4. There’s a lot to be said for exercise and healthy eating, but they should not replace medical care or medication
  5. It’s no one’s business but the person in question and their care team how it’s treated, and people who judge someone else’s treatment are douchebags.

If you have any questions or want to talk you can comment here, on my FB page, email me (amyrcissell at gmail) or FB message me. If you are my mother, you may text me, but I might ignore said text. I’m okay, or near enough to count, anyway.

Depression is a lying asscandle, but I know how hard it is to remember that. If you need a reminder, hit me up. I can be your stranger in the internet supporter. Because you 100% deserve that.


May Day! May Day!

Well hellllooooooo! I have been gone lo! these many weeks. I feel like the last five weeks have been crazy, but then when I look back at my life, it turns out that crazy is the new normal. (That’s what my shrink says. Probably.)

Since The Broken World came out, I’ve been managing to keep myself busy. (True story – 99% of the time I type “busy,” I accidentally write “busty” instead. And I have definitely been keeping myself busty.)

ANYWAY. What have I accomplished?

  • I finished my first draft of “It’s Not in the Cards,” which will be the first book in my Oracle Bay series.
  • I started a new medication that seems to be (knock on all the black cats) working pretty well, now that the side effects have mostly dissipated.
  • I took a quick trip to the coast to visit Oracle Bay with the Beer Guy.
  • I’ve been editing for my freelance clients.
  • I’ve outlined Oracle Bay #2
  • I’ve spent more time learning about blocking IP addresses and dealing with Amazon customer service than I cared to
  • I’ve been momming at a very high level (side note: when does parenting get easy? asking for a friend)
  • I’ve managed to get through 4.5 seasons of Supernatural
  • I saw Hamilton (!!!)
  • I went to the Saturday yoga class that’s been on my calendar for a year. Yes, for the first time. (I’ve been twice now. I’m ready for my Yoga Journal cover shot.)

So, you know, since all that crap’s behind me…

I want to revive my habit of making monthly goals. But I also don’t want to get carried away. Small starts. I’m a huge checklist person. Nothing makes me happier (well, almost nothing) than crossing things off a list. And although I’ve been riding out this never-ending storm, I’d like to get enough perspective/distance to see if I’m just sitting in some rough water or if I’ve lost my ability to determine how hard things are. So. Goals.

May 2018 Goals 

  1. Yoga – six classes
  2. Oracle Bay 2 – 40K words
  3. Two Raj chapters/two Wing and a Prayer chapters
  4. Get the bike out and make sure it’s ridable. Then, if I’m feeling extra feisty, ride it.
  5. 3/6/12 month business plans.

That is ambitious, but achievable.

Dream big, pony boy.


And you? Anything big for May? I can’t believe the school year’s almost over and my kid is just about finished with kindergarten. How did that even happen?

Three Things Thursday: Travel Freakout Edition

  1. I am leaving next Friday for a sixteen-day European vacation. This is (a) my longest trip I’ve ever taken since college and (b) the first big trip I’ve taken with the Beer Guy. (We’ve done weekend trips, and a week-long trip to Mexico, but his family was there, and although I love them all, it’s not quite the same.)

    Vacation goal: pics of the two of us. Together. Because I have zero from Mexico or Colorado…

  2. I am a notorious overpacker. My packing list actually says: “Cardigans – all of them.” Which wouldn’t be excessive if I only owned two. However, I have at least a half dozen, perhaps more. I am trying to remind myself that I don’t need 2-3 options for every day, and that the Beer Guy will not make fun of me if I wear the same outfit more than once in 2.5 weeks. Probably.
  3. The worst part? My kidlet. It’ll be the longest I’ve ever gone without seeing him, even though I did arrange with his dad that I could spend a couple hours with him the day I get home, since he won’t come back to me until five days later. (My mom is coming to spend time with him, which is great for them and our cats and our house, but still…so long without Alvie Bean squishes.)

    Ack! This kid. My heart. *sigh*


Motivation Monday

So – a goals checkin. The month is 3/4 over – how am I doing?

My goal for the month was to work on my movement. I’m happy to report that I’m doing decently well, considering the shoulder injury, etc.

My shoulder is doing so much better! So much! I’ve been keeping up with my PT (gooooo me!) and have been cleared to do any kind of exercise I want, as long as I don’t push through pain.

I’ve been walking a lot more, and have doubled my daily walking average over the last month.

I’m hiring a running coach starting next month so that I have someone to be accountable to as I make my way to my first 10K in May. I am planning my triumphant return to yoga this week. I’m not sure when I’ll be back in the pool – that’s a lot of stuff to balance with everything else.

I am not doing this. Nope.

I’ve doubled my weekly average meditation time from 5 minutes to 10 minutes!

I have started a new medication and taken it every day since. I’ve also done really well at taking my vitamins, drinking plenty of water, drinking next to zero amounts of alcohol, and have done much, much better at getting to bed earlier. I’m still not doing well at getting up earlier, but as I’ve been so sleep-deprived, I’m just trying to catch up at this point.

The beer guy & I have booked all our hotels in Europe and have tentative schedules while there. I have also – and most importantly – ordered new shoes for the trip. They will arrive today, and I will share the magic with you tomorrow.

All-in-all? This month has been leaps and bounds better than the last couple. I’m still struggling with some stuff, but I’m working on things rather than just burying them. I hope.

Have a great week! I hope you’re on track for all your goals!