Friday, December 26, 2014

Making the #Divergent #Quilt


My niece is a huge fan of the Divergent book series. Not so much the movie, which she barely made it through, but she's read the books at least a dozen times each.

She's at that age (14) where I was stumped when it came to getting her something for Christmas so I decided to follow in my mom's footsteps and try my hand at making a quilt. (Mom has been quilting for as long as I can remember and as a teenager I was forbidden from touching her machine, which of course, never stopped me... You can check out some of her creations on her blog by following this link.)

Keep in mind that I haven't touched a sewing machine in so many years I've lost count. (I know, I know, quite embarrassing to be my mother right now but I'm a writer, not a runmyfingeroverwithaneedler...)

I struggled to find a pattern online that I was comfortable with using, so finally made one up. 

This topper represents the Dauntless Faction (I've shamefully never read the series, so I have no idea what a faction is but I assumed it was similar to the houses in Harry Potter -- which I have read. Several times.)


The words 'Be Brave' machine embroidered-ish over the faction symbol.


I based the colors on her favorites, nothing to do with the series. The black birds, which were a pain in the ass, by the way, I believe are tattooed on the main character? Again, no idea, but for a while my niece had them markered on her collarbone so they seemed relevant.

The great unveiling of this project (which kept me away from editing the manuscript for a significant chunk of time in November o.O) was yesterday. It's not quite finished yet -- I had to put a hold on it so that I could actually finish editing...


She seemed pretty stoked and knew what everything meant. She also did a happy dance. 

So what do you think? 

Hope you're all enjoying the holidays!

~ Keeley

Monday, December 22, 2014

Electronics Hate Me. And Happy Holidays!

I'm back. For now. *Deep breath, Keel, deep breath*

I thought to myself earlier on this year that I was over skipping around singing the smurf song. Clearly that was a lie.

No updates would really be relevant aside from:

1.  My phone fritzed out two weeks ago.
2.  My computer fritzed out last week.
3.  My coffee maker fritzed out this morning.

All have been replaced.

I believe all of my devices missed the memo advising them that it's the holiday season. I have eleven glorious days off from work and am have a "staycation". I've popped around to visit some friends -- my almost twelve year old crashed out on their couch this afternoon. Their two year old and five year old looked at him with raised eyebrows and laughed. So did I.




Writing wise I'm finally putting my hard copy edits into the computer so I can send them back to the editor. I loved Fallen before I sent it to her. I love it even more now. The cover is ready to go. Everything is waiting on me. And I'm on staycation, if you recall...


I hope you're all enjoying the holiday season! Mr. Jones certainly is! (Notice there is nothing under the tree... The dogs have already eaten a video game so far this season. They'll be put away until the twenty-fifth. Lol.)



Sunday, July 13, 2014

#8Sunday - Desolation - Episode 27: Pushing the Eject Button




Good morning!

Welcome back to another Sunday of Weekend Writing Warriors and another eight sentences from my WIP "Desolation".

For those of you new to this, head on over to the wewriwa for the guidelines and for links to the talented writers participating this week.

This posting follows last week's.

To summarize --Andie, the main character, is in a leg cast after a serious injury. She's been kicking her husband around while he sleeps so he's been snoring on the couch. He startles her when she goes to wake him up and she has just fallen on the floor... Definitely not her favorite place to be on a good day, but she's also pregnant...

~

I took a tentative step towards the table but that was as far as I got. My insides ached and burned as the dinosaur feet attacked me with white hot pokers.

I had obviously never mastered the fine art of hiding my pain. James was at my side in an instant, dragging a chair with him.

"What happened? Is it the baby?"

"No," I lied, until a foot kicked down, clearly trying to make an early escape. "Yes," I groaned clutching my stomach and doubling over.

~

And there we have it. Any thoughts?

I'm writing this sitting outside of my hotel room in Cornwall, Ontario, this morning. My son is still sleeping inside the room and I want him to stay that way for at least another hour. We've been exploring the War of 1812 AND there was a Civil War reenactment yesterday (3rd Battle of Winchester!) that we got to see. Then we went for a haunted tour of Gananoque. Lots of walking, lots of driving, he really needs the sleep. And so do I ;)

Thanks for stopping by!

Keeley

Friday, July 11, 2014

Morrisburg! Day 1 - Civil War Reenactment

After a long stretch of overnight shifts - the last one leaving me wanting to throttle absolutely everyone - I'm off to Morrisburg, Ontario, for a Civil War reenactment weekend. Apparently a General Longstreet actor will be around. I'm pretty stoked.

The boy, on the other hand, is not at all excited about this. He still doesn't know where we are going but has already decided he doesn't want to be there. Because whatever it is we are doing isn't nearly as much fun as sitting on our butts playing on the Xbox until eyeballs liquefy... I offended him when I told him to pretend to like it because I pretend to like some of the stuff he does. Ah well...

More to come ;)

Keeley

Sunday, July 6, 2014

#8Sunday - Desolation - Episode 26: This Time It's Serious

Good morning, and happy Sunday!

Welcome back to another 8 Sunday post from Weekend Writing Warriors -- taken from my Camp NaNo WIP "Desolation".

For those of you new to this, head on over to the wewriwa website for the guidelines and to find the links to the wonderful and talented authors participating this weekend.

This posting from Desolation actually follows an excerpt from 2012 (Episode 2).

To summarize, Andie -- the main character -- is in a cast after a serious injury. She's been kicking her husband around while he sleeps so he's been snoring on the couch. He startles her when she goes to wake him up and she ends up on the floor... Definitely not her favorite place to be on a good day, but she's also pregnant...

He's offered to help her up and this is the response he gets:

~

"Touch me and I will beat you to death with a plastic cup," I hissed.

He was thinking better of laughing, for the first time in months, I noticed, pulling myself up with the counter ledge as support. At least the groan it emitted was genuine.

There were two words I could use to describe what I was feeling as I positioned the crutches under my arms. Ouch, pain. To say I hurt was an understatement. To tell James I had hurt myself was handing the man a death sentence. I was in no mood for his stupid jokes.

~

And there it is...

Thoughts?

I brought my work home with me this morning so I could leave in time to get this posted, so I'll be delayed on visiting and commenting. See you all soon, though ;)

Thanks for stopping by!

Keeley

Monday, June 30, 2014

#CampNaNo

Camp NaNo July starts in a few hours. I'm participating -- I have books to write and I work best under deadline. I'm seriously nervous about this, though. I mean sweaty palm, hyperventilate nervous...

This isn't my first NaNo. November 2011 I finished -- in the midst of exams. August 2012 I signed up but fate had other plans for me. November 2013 I signed up as well. And lasted all of two days. Fate had other plans for that as well...

This year -- Fate can kiss my rear. I've been writing steadily for over a month. Sometimes as many as seven thousand words per day. And I am stoked. I realize that this doesn't seem long but I went for seven/eight months without writing anything, so yeah... Six weeks is great!

I finished "Fall From Grace" the other day -- Friday afternoon. One of my betas complained about the ending. Though I tried arguing with her, she did present valid points. So I changed it Saturday morning. And then I banned myself from getting a start on the NaNo manuscript -- because that would be cheating. I have re read all my notes, though, so I can jump in first thing after I get off work at 7 tomorrow morning.

Parts of this month are going to be busy. Boo (my son) and I are heading to a Civil War reenactment on this (the Canadian) side of the border. We'll be spending three days at Fort Henry/Upper Canada Village. I'm not entirely sure what to expect with that. He's more into his video games right now then leaving the house, but to hell with that. We spend the bulk of every summer vacation holed up in the house; leaving for three days surely will not cause the X Box to explode. And if it does... Well... Thank goodness no one is going to be home to get hit by flying debris!

Busy or not, I'm pretty focused on where I need to be at the moment, so I don't see my mini vacation as being much of an issue.

Anyways... I'm off to get ready for work. I may or may not be blogging this week -- until Sunday that is. I'll be busy with writing!

Anyone else participating this month?

See you Sunday!

Have a great one :)

Keeley

Sunday, June 29, 2014

#8Sunday - Fall From Grace - Episode 15: Rest In Pieces



Hello there!

Welcome back to another 8 Sunday post from Weekend Writing Warriors -- taken again from my WIP "Fall From Grace". 

For those of you new to this, head on over to the wewriwa website to find the guidelines and the links to the wonderful writes participating this week. You never know, you may find your new favorite author. 

My 8 this week actually comes just on the heel's of last week's excerpt. To get you up to speed: the Captain just watched the helicopter carrying her friends to safety explode in midair, and she's leading her team to check for survivors. It's a long shot, but there's always hope.

~

"Captain?" Jude watched her, smearing dirt and ash on his face with his shirt sleeve.

She looked up at him. "Load these men onto stretchers and get them back to base."

"But --"

"Do it now," she refused to repeat the order.

His uttered 'yes ma'am' didn't even faze her, so focused was she on figuring out her next move.

She didn't register her men loading the pilots onto stretchers and hauling them away. The daylight faded and the air cooled before the medics found her; crouched beside the wreckage, her skin reddened from the sun, streaked with dirt and sweat.

~

And there we have it! Thoughts?

Next week Camp NaNo starts, and yesterday morning I *finally* finished all my rewrites on Fall From Grace, so I'll probably be taking a break and posting something from my Camp project. It's not a new project, but I'm hoping to have new excerpts to post ;)

Thanks for stopping by this weekend, your feedback is always appreciated!

Keeley  :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How Many Managers Does It Take To Screw In A Lightbulb?

I have a job -- that dreaded forty to fifty hour per week inconvenience that actually pays my bills -- as a manager at a local quick service restaurant (which shall remain anonymous for this story, lol). It's open twenty-four hours a day, and I am one of the few lucky people who get to work night shifts. (I really work every shift, they seem to like messing with me that way, but I digress.)

My restaurant is located in close proximity to government housing, several bars, nightclubs and one very un-prestigious gentlemen's club, so it's safe to say that it can be pretty busy overnight on the weekends. It can also feel like I've stepped into a twilight zone.

Since the weather has been nicer people have gotten crazy. Several weeks ago a woman stripped naked in the lobby and proceeded to chase one of the staff through the restaurant. Over the counter, out the drive thru window, around the outside, back inside, rinse and repeat... You get the picture.

Two weeks before that I woke up a young man sleeping in the dining room and he jumped up and punched me.

The week before that there had been a fight over a chicken burger and one guy threw the other guy into the soda fountain. We had to operate for 12 hours with the water lines to all beverage equipment shut down. Fun times.

Last weekend a guy who had been out partying lost his phone (because he put it down and walked away!) and demanded to see the video footage -- which I don't have access to. When I told him this he asked me what I would do if he robbed me at gunpoint, if  I would have access to them if he PULLED OUT HIS GUN RIGHT THERE AND ROBBED ME. Nope. We call this being hypothetically robbed at gunpoint.

On and on it goes.

This morning... Ah, this morning...

I sent all the tired night shifters home right at six on the dot because we're trying to cut our labor costs. They were worried because no one was there to replace them. I told them not to worry about it, thinking that everyone would arrive within five or ten minutes. No big deal, so off they went.

Half an hour later everyone was still missing. A manager from another store came in for product. The opening manager walked in at twenty to seven and that's when the power decided to glitch out. It was only for a half a minute, but when it came back all the equipment (including the registers) were down, and the fire alarm was going off.

There were seven cars in the drive thru waiting for coffee and I was the one who had taken the orders and the only one who was available to fill them. So I served the customers and ignored the alarms. There were three other managers there tinkering, by that time. How many managers does it take to turn off an alarm?

Ten minutes and twenty customers later they finally managed to get the alarm shut off. What had I been doing the entire time? Serving coffee in the drive thru, because that's what needed to happen. One of the managers gave me a slap on the back and laughed about how calm I was while the store could have burned to the ground around me. The other said that I should have turned off the alarm myself -- I was the manager on the floor, after all. Insert eye roll here. I laughed and said that someone would always find something critical to say about choices that we make. But really... How many managers does it take to turn off an alarm?

Anyone have any interesting work stories they want to share?

Thanks for reading ;)

~ Keeley

Sunday, June 22, 2014

#8Sunday - Fall From Grace - Episode 14: Remind Me Why I Let You Live.



Welcome back to another #8Sunday post from Weekend Writing Warriors and another eight sentences from my WIP Fall from Grace.

For those of you new to this, head on over to the wewriwa website to find the guidelines and the links to the wonderful authors participating this week.

The sentences for this week follow those from last week, which you can find here.

To bring you up to speed:

The helicopter carrying her friends to safety was just hit by an RPG, and the Captain is pretty pissed off about this. She's in the middle of a heated confrontation with the base Commander -- because she believes that he's responsible. Maybe she's placing the blame on the wrong person, but she hasn't been wrong yet.

~

"Lieutenant Maddox had it coming, and we've been over this before. If this were Vietnam his Sergeant would have sent his impulsive ass home in a body bag for leading his men into ambush."

"This isn't Vietnam," she reminded him, her voice low. "And even if it was, those pilots were just following orders. Your orders."

She wanted to smack the smirk off his face. "Commander, I'm having a very difficult time remembering why I let you live after our last meeting."

"Maybe it's that conscience you speak so highly of," he laughed.

~

And there we have it. Thoughts?

Thanks for stopping by this weekend! Your comments are always appreciated.

Cheers,

Keeley


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Another Long Road. #BPD

As mentioned in almost every post I've written since I began writing again, my niece, Kaitlyn, has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). She's thirteen. And Oh. My. God. 

We've been reading up a lot on the subject, trying to find strategies to help us cope with her. And by "us" I mean her mom and myself. We need to cope. She needs a padded room somewhere. Preferably far away from us.

Two weeks ago she "tattooed" herself with her razor blade on her leg. She managed to remove the safety guard and tear out one of the blades. So mom took it away and Kaitlyn refused to shower or change her clothes for nine days until she got a new razor, then got pissed off because mom sat in the bathroom and monitored while she shaved her legs.

On Sunday she pierced her own ears -- five times -- giving herself a total of three earrings in each ear and one in the cartilage. I think she was drunk, and I think this because yesterday morning she was hung over. At least now we know what she's doing out until almost midnight every night.

Anything I read about BPD just confirms that these kids are seriously self absorbed attention seekers. (That's obviously not exactly how the professionals put it, but I'm paraphrasing.) Suggestions for dealing with it include monitoring everything and setting up priorities differently. One doctor says that when Kaitlyn realizes that she is less of a priority than work, bills and the dogs on the priority totem pole, she will feel slighted, but she will always feel slighted, 100% of the time, so it doesn't matter and we shouldn't feel guilty.

We had a placement at a residential psych home at the end of the school year. She attempted to use that to hold her mom hostage for a few weeks, even though she was the one who wanted to go in the first place (she has an obsession with group homes at the moment). That, unfortunately, fell through the other day. Now we are now waiting for a bed to open up in September. We just need to make it through the summer.

I will continue to provide updates on this -- I know we aren't the only ones learning to cope with mental illness in a teen and there's no easy fix. I'm thinking about grabbing the camera and doing a "Borderline Personality Disorder -- In Photos" post in the near future but I'm still debating. Any thoughts?

Thanks for reading.

~ Keeley

Saturday, June 14, 2014

#8Sunday - Fall From Grace - Episode 13: A Conscience? Some Of Us Don't Have That Problem...





Welcome to another weekend of Weekend Writing Warriors and another eight sentences from my WIP Fall From Grace.

For those of you new to this, hop on over to the wewriwa website. There you will find the rules as well as links to the excerpts of the wonderful participants there.

The eight sentences I selected for this week immediately follow last week.

To recap: The helicopter her best friends were on was just blown to smithereens, and the Captain is pretty pissed off about this. She's convinced the base Commander did it, and she's very rarely wrong.

~

Johnson brushed off the insult as though it were a bug flying into his ear. He popped the cigar back into his mouth. "You are your father's daughter, Captain," he sneered. "Did daddy ever tell you why he left the military?"

She laughed. "Because murder is against the law," she looked him straight in the eye. "And while he could have pinned your untimely demise on the Taliban and gotten away with it, he knew that if he did his conscience would never let him sleep again. Apparently some of us don't have that problem." She waved her hand in the direction of the wreckage.

~

So there it is. Any thoughts?

Thanks for stopping by this weekend!

Cheers,

Keeley

P.S: This weekend, typo's are being blamed on Mr. Jones. He was "helping" ;)


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Writing - A Cheap Form of Physio

A year ago in January I was at work minding my own business - working - when I felt an unwelcome tingling sensation behind my right collarbone. Three days later I was at work - again, working - when I felt my right elbow tighten. I stopped what I was doing immediately, looked at my colleague, and said "this is going to hurt."

I wasn't wrong. The elbow popped and I spent the next nine months visiting a surgeon to learn how to live with a virtually useless right arm. And I'm right handed, for the most part. It was good times.

What no one wanted to deal with was the misshapen collarbone - something that has remained bulging grotesquely to this day. The surgeon wanted a new referral from my GP, and the GP just kept telling me that it would take a year and I needed to live with it. 

So I put on my big girl panties and sucked it up. I spent the ensuing months taking a cocktail of painkillers and anti-nflammatories, living with a Tens machine taped to my person and sleeping with a heat pack. It sometimes took hours to get comfortable enough to sleep and there were many, many days when I would come off night shifts and literally scream in agony trying to get into bed. It's been fun. 

I'm a redhead. We apparently have a high threshold for pain. My ears have popped and dripped grossness before I realized there was an issue and I've gone to the doctor, only to have her shake her head and berate me for waiting SO long to see her about the newest ear infection. I've had metal chunks go through my feet and walked around with them for days before I've realized that there may be something stuck in my sole. 

I'm not one of THOSE people who needs constant medical attention. But this hurts. A lot. I saw five doctors because of it, none of whom wanted to do anything about it because of the way it happened. At one point I was asked if I was in a car accident or fell off a ladder, because that is how an injury like this happens. When I said no, they decided that it must not be what they were originally thinking. And on it goes.

Earlier I mentioned how much better I was feeling since Kaitlyn's diagnosis of BPD. Hilariously enough, the shoulder/collarbone combo that has driven me to tears in the last sixteen months seems to be getting better on its own. I still need to medicate at times, but it's nowhere near as bad as it has been. I attribute this to writing. It's always been my go to form of stress release, particularly since the last few months I've been too lazy/in too much agony to go to the gym.

I'm starting to see it as a case of writing healed me, but the jury is still out.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

#8Sunday - Fall From Grace - Episode 12: Cyanide and RPG's



Happy Weekend, My Lovelies.

It's been a while since I posted anything for WeWriWa (or really, posted anything at all), and it's been two years since I posted anything about this story. I'm currently rewriting it, and it's been pretty all consuming these last few weeks.

To recap, and get you up to speed, the Captain has just watched the helicopter carrying her friends get blown out of the sky and she is pretty sure that the Commander has something to do with it... It could be because of the smell of cordite lingering around him, or maybe the RPG he had stashed in his office -- who really knows? She certainly thinks she does.

~

"Captain," he stopped in his tracks, choking on the smoke. "I'm a little surprised to see you back."

"Surprised to see me alive would be more accurate," she forced a chuckle. She could not remember being so angry; her hands shook and her eyes teared with the rage she fought to contain.

"You look like you're going to pop a blood vessel, Captain. Let's say we step into my office and have a drink. I have a fine scotch in my desk and we can talk more privately."

"I'm going to have to decline without thanks, Commander," she offered him a tight smile. "I don't drink with the enemy, you see, and I'm allergic to cyanide."

~

Something tells me that the Commander is for a world of hurt. What do you think?

Check out the WeWriWa site for links to the very talented writers participating this week.

Thanks for stopping by :) Your comments are always appreciated.

Cheers!

~ Keeley

Friday, June 6, 2014

Harper's Ferry - Day 4: Antietam


Last November roomie and I took a trip to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, specifically because I am a dork who adores history. No lie. If someone would pay me to sit on a computer all day and research the crap out of anything (and I really do mean anything), I would be the happiest nerd around.

This post is obviously very late, considering that it's June and I'm going back eight entire months. Better late than never.

But anyway:

~

"My God. Imagine the slaughter that took place on this field."

 
I said these exact words to my sister as we headed North along the Sharpsburg Pike. To the right all there was to see was flat empty fields.

 
 
Keep in mind my previous comment -- the American Civil War was NOT something that I learned about in school. (Neither, in fact, was the War of 1812, but that's another story for another day.) Antietam was not an exception; I had never before heard of it.

I was solemn as we drove towards the visitors center. The sky was clear. To the right -- a Napoleon cannon. To the left -- cannons and a row of Civil War monuments.


 
 

The Park Ranger did an amazing job recanting the history of the Battlefield.

23,110 men. 12 hours. The bloodiest day in American history.

He spoke of the cornfield, the bloodiest piece of land in America; the sunken road ("Bloody Lane"), where the battle waged for three and half hours and left approximately 5,600 combined casualties. The 700 m road was littered with bodies.

We learned about Burnside bridge -- a humiliation for Union General Burnside -- and the Mumma and Pry houses. He told us of the mess that was left in the aftermath of the battle. Not just for the families. For all of Sharpsburg.

The general theme was devastation. So many lives lost.

We picked up the audio tour after the lecture and headed back to the car.


Dunker Church
 
 
Monuments dedicated to the fallen
 

 

The Poffenberger Farm
 
 

The Clara Barton Monument

The Mansfield Mortuary Cannon
 
Georgia's Confederate Monument:


"We sleep here in
obedience to the law
When duty called we came
When country called we died."
 
 
It stands in front of the cornfield, near the monument to the Texans. A small Confederate flag has been placed in front of it.

 
 
Bloody Lane.



 
 
We have photos of Burnside Bridge somewhere (other camera, I believe).
 
The audio tour ends at the cemetery -- where not a single Confederate is buried.
 
Antietam was a tactical draw. General Lee moved back into West Virginia after the battle which gave General McLellan the "victory". He failed to pursue the Confederates, and President Lincoln stripped him of his position several weeks later.
 
Every year 21,100 candles are placed on the fields of Antietam and lit. One candle for each man, Union or Confederate.

It was an exhausting day, in general. Not because we did a lot of walking -- because we definitely did not -- but because it was such an emotional experience. At least for me.

Fear not. We quite obviously made it back to the hotel where we had cupcakes for dinner. Comfort food always helps. So did a hot shower and a beer.

Thanks for reading.

~ KSJ


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Getting Back on Track #CampNaNo

Last week I posted for the first time in months. It was about Kaitlyn - the 13 year old girl I live with and why I have maintained internet silence.

To update on that end, she no longer has a bed at the residential psychiatric treatment center, so her mom and I are kind of girding our loins for the upcoming summer months ahead. I would say that things can't get much worse than they already have been, but for some reason I feel that that would be issuing a challenge to the gods. Or to Kaitlyn. And in either case I can hear the favourite line "challenge accepted".


On Friday I saw this photo on Facebook and anytime I start to feel overwhelmed I look at it. It serves as a reminder that I need to keep myself focused on the things that I can change, as I have spent so many months wearing myself down and stressing out over all the silly crap that I cannot. It's been strangely liberating, since my last post. I haven't been sick or spending entire days sleeping. I've been writing and moving forward with my life. We all have our days - and mine are far from perfect - but I've come to accept that it just is what it is. So we modify and adjust. We've stopped letting this kid be the entire center of our focus. 

I think her mom would agree that, as exhausting as it is to keep up with the mood swings, we are on much more solid ground since receiving the BPD diagnosis.  Neither one of us is breathing deeply yet, but it no longer feels like there's an elephant sitting on our chest restricting us. 

The manuscript I've been working on for eight years is almost finished being written - properly, this time. I have been losing sleep over that, of course, but not over the silliness that teenage drama is. I have a deadline for initial completion - the end of the school year - so it can live with the Beta readers over the summer break and be edited in the fall.  And I signed up for Camp NaNo in July so I could have that motivation and focus while I pen the words to the elusive "Book Two" that people have been waiting for since Unclean was released four years ago. 

Once my computer finishes reconfiguring windows - again - this morning, I'll be signing up for WeWriWa  so I can fully get back into the swing of things. I still have a lot of blog posts to catch up on, dating all the way back to November and my trip to Harper's Ferry, but I'm in a much more tranquil place right now, and I'm up for it.

"Challenge Accepted"

Off to get ready for work. Have a great day, my lovelies.

~ KSJ. 




Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Long Road

I've taken about six - probably closer to seven - months off writing and blogging. We've been dealing with some very serious issues at home and between work and the issues there has been very little time and motivation to do anything.

I've been living with a friend of twenty years and her thirteen year old daughter for about five years. I'll call them April (mom) amd Kaitlyn (daughter) just for the sake of brevity. Throw a couple of dogs and cats in the mix and it's constant chaos. 

This morning April and I sat down with a worker from East Metro Youth Services and, after all these months of being involved with our strange family, she laughs and says that Kaitlyn is making herself a character in a book, and that is why she relates to me so well. 

My response: 

"If Kaitlyn were a character in one of my books I would have killed her off by now."

Of course everyone gets a good chuckle, but I'm not kidding.

April and I can see a light - a very faint light - at the end of the tunnel, but Kaitlyn thrives on self sabotage. It's been a very intense last few years.

I've been thinking for quite some time that I should write about what I actually know, and this includes mental health issues in youth. By some time I'm more meaning a decade, as I've been surrounded by these invisible disabilities most of my life. My brother, my sister, and now, Kaitlyn.

I thought I had finally moved away from it. Moved on. I'd grown weary of being a spectator and escaped the hellish existence that completely overwhelms and overtakes you. I thought I had moved past this when I left home.

That was fourteen years ago.

And it was a ludicrous pipe dream made out of sand on a perpetually flooding beach.

I'll rewind a few years and give the Readers Digest Compact Version, since I'm due at work in a few hours and this society is comprised of individuals with the attention span of a peanut.

Three years ago some genius thought it would be a great idea to take Kaitlyn off her seizure medication. They said she didn't have seizures. April said awesome, no meds, let's do it. Three weeks in and Kaitlyn was on a downward spiral. She was having accidents, being violent, and throwing tantrums over being told to brush her teeth. April asked for help. The medical community, backed by child services, shut her out. They said she was making it up, that Kaitlyn was being a normal teenager (at ten), and mom was making mountains out of mustard seeds. 

On it went. Police attended eight times in 2013 because Kaitlyn was more violent, was uttering suicidal threats and was running off. She trashed the house, attacked her mom... You get the picture. All things that normal teenagers do at twelve. It was still mom making something out of nothing the doctors told us.

In November of last year the psych discharged Kaitlyn, despite increasing self harming behaviours and threats of suicide. She told mom that this was normal behaviour for a thirteen year old, that mom needed to suck it up and stop looking for something wrong. We were told to accept this as the new normal. That was November 16th.

On January 3rd Kaitlyn came home, relaxed and happy, took 55 pills, wrote a suicide note and went to bed. We found her some thirteen hours later; she was awake, her limbs were paralyzed and she couldn't speak.

You can say what you will about parenting skills. What kind of people wait thirteen hours before checking on a child, etc etc. The truth is, she had been checked on. Mom needed to get a necklace off her belonging to the neighbours son. Kaitlyn had been out of it, but that was normal for being woken up. There was no reason to suspect anything was awry. Don't judge.

Turns out she had found a prescription bottle from her seizure medication stashed in the far corner of the medicine cupboard. When weaning her off we would take the old one and put it at the top of the cupboard so there was no confusion. Most had been returned to the pharmacy, that one, for 400mg of Tegretol, had been pushed to the back. It was discovered during the blackout over the holidays when we were scrambling for candles after a nice storm levelled the power lines for a few days, right before Christmas. 

April and I thought she had maybe taken Benadryl. It was the only medication in the cupboard that wasn't inspected while we waited for paramedics. It took twelve hours for the hospital to find out that it had been the Tegretol. At that time, the dose in her system was 120 units. Lethal is 81. 

When Kaitlyn was well enough, she admitted to taking the Tegretol as well as a half a bottle of Valerian - the natural sleep aid. She assumed she would fall asleep and never wake up. 

She was moved to the adolescent psych floor and put on mood stabilizers - but not without a fight. After five days she came home. And we all started to breathe and settle down into a new routine. Kaitlyn was laughing and joking. She was angry that we took her razor and doorknob, but she wasn't violent. No cops were called, no people were harmed. It was new. It was nice. It provided us with a very false sense of security.

In March the Tegretol finally vacated her system, and it was again, downhill from there. Police were called. She was walking in at midnight, having freak outs, stealing, lying, running off... We found notes about death and suicide... We were still waiting for the follow up appointment from her January discharge (Yes! Two months without being followed!). The facility where she has been a patient for seven years gave us the run around. Enter: Nightmare No. 2 in E flat, where E stands for everything.

More appointments ensued, this time with Residential Adolescent Psychiatric facilities in the area. Her paediatrician, who had been writing the prescription in the absence of appropriate psychiatric care, refused to renew it without the advice of a psychiatrist. We call the clinic, we fight with them, we get an appointment for June 16th - six months after a major suicide attempt. I know, right?

Thank God for the paediatrician - he referred her to another clinic and they saw her and assessed her on Friday, a week after the treatment center agreed to take her on - if she is willing to go, which she's not anymore.

We've been told that what she has is called Borderline Personality Disorder, and after much reading, we are breathing a sigh of relief. A small one, because the larger sighs of relief always seem to set her off. Apparently this is symptomatic. 

There is no way to change what has happened, but I think a shout out to the medical community for stonewalling us is in order. Years of violence and watching the place get trashed, having everything that wasn't nailed down stolen (still happening - but that's another story for another day), years of being on edge and sleeping with one eye open or sleeping in shifts because we needed to make sure she wasn't running off in the night... It has devastated any ability for us to function as a unit. It has stretched out the bonds of family so far that the rubber ties that bind have started to snap and they will never be able to resume their "before" state. Mom has been sick, I have been sick. We have both gained, lost and gained weight as if it were unwanted facial hair. The tips of our toes ache and our floors are littered with eggshells.

But humans are resilient, so I have been told, and there's no going back now. Onward we must push, because the only other option is backwards, and why in the hell do we want to go there?

Enough for now, or I'll be late for work. Thanks for sticking with me.

~ Keeley