Vlog: One Year Later

On this day last year, I posted a video about my struggle with depression and how I needed to reach out and get help. Now, a year later, I’m taking stock of where I was, how far I’ve come, and where I’d like to go.

What Has Been Happening

Hello, zine friends. This was a hard video to make, but… it’s one I’ve been saying I’d make for a long time.

I debated making this video, then debated posting it. What’s too much information, what do people want or need to know… In the end, I decided to go ahead and post because I feel as strongly as I ever have that we should be able to express ourselves about our mental health. Reach out when we need to. Talk about what we feel comfortable talking about.

This is a chat about what’s been happening, what I’m dealing with, and why I’ve fallen so far behind in pretty much everything.

Please note the warning at the start of the video.

Off Topic: Silence Not So Golden

Hello, zine friends!

Wow does it feel like it’s been an age since I typed that. It’s funny how our perception of time can be so different from the reality of it.

You may or may not have noticed that I’ve been a little more quiet around here than I usually am. I wasn’t able to film the Happy Mail Monday, The Zine Collector has been delayed, I didn’t wrap up Mini-Zine March on the first – that sort of thing.

If you know me, you know I don’t like delaying things, but this was absolutely necessary.

I’ve been doing something very difficult but ultimately something that has made me a better, stronger person. By extension, I will be able to bring more to how I live my life and what I do here.

So what am I on about?

I’m just recently back home after spending two weeks doing an inpatient anxiety program in Adelaide. It’s been an incredibly difficult, enlightening, and revealing experience that has been worth it in ways that I am still processing.

As much as I wanted to share the whole experience with you all as it was happening, I realised pretty quickly that all of my energy and focus needed to be on what I was doing. Posting a few duck videos here and there on Instagram as well as usual review-day activities was about as much as I could manage – and most of that was thanks to being able to schedule posts and videos.

I want to talk more about the whole thing. The inpatient experience, what the anxiety program entailed, so on and so forth. But I’m also not sure what people actually want to know. There’s so much I can tell you about my experiences and my personal program. I don’t want anyone to feel bored or

If you do have questions, feel free to put them in the comments or message me on Tumblr if you’d rather be anonymous. I don’t promise to answer everything, but I promise to answer everything I feel I can. For what I can answer, I may also bring the questions and answers into a zine I’d like to make about the whole thing.

Thank you for your patience, regardless of whether you really noticed any absence or any other lack. I’ve always appreciated this and everything related in my life, but I have a slightly different view of things now and appreciate it all the more.

I need a gentle step back into life after everything, but it is still my plan to put up reviews tomorrow and Friday as well as have videos go back to regular scheduling starting with a happy mail video on Monday.

That’s me for now. Here’s a card that still makes me smile that the amazing Keira sent.

Off Topic: A Whirlwind Day & Mental Health Support

Hello, my dear and wonderful zine friends.

Oh, what a day it has been.

I woke up this morning feeling similar to how I have the past few mornings. Only this morning, I knew something was actually wrong. I knew that a person should not wake up immediately feeling awful. The mental kind of awful that drifts in like the fog with no hints to where it came from or exactly when it will leave.

I tried my best to make it through, but in the end, I spent the morning inflicting my baseless anger at the weeds in the front yard and Spotify. (Why do I have to pay to NOT listen to Christian rap music, Spotify?! Let me love you!)

I knew I was already on a possibly-months-long waiting list to see a psychiatrist and get my medications back on track, but I asked Wanderer to call the intake nurse. I’d been taken off previous meds due to a possible allergic reaction, but surely I could give them a go again just to be sure it was the meds and not something else, right? Just for the time being? I wanted to feel close to normal again.

The news was good. I could give them another go for the time being.

Most of my spoons spent by hurling them at weeds and music I don’t like for a few hours, I later collapsed into my office chair and tried to mentally prepare myself for the work of the day. Lo an behold, an email came in with no message but only the subject line “call mental health – we’ve had a cancellation”.

So Wanderer called. Appointment today. In less than two hours, in fact.

I cleaned myself up and tried to stay calm. After experiences in both the US and Australia, I have an inherent distrust of psychiatrists. I prepared myself as much as I could for the invasive questions and myriad of ‘hms’ and ‘I see’ noises.

And the questions were invasive. This kind-but-firm looking person got to the heart of things – the heart of my anxieties, my distrust, my hurts, and my heart. We covered everything from where I was born to what a zine is.

(Always carry a ‘what’s a zine’ zine in your bag, kiddies. You never know when you’ll need one.)

I was used to this part. I’d been through various systems often enough to know I’d be poked and prodded until feeling raw an vulnerable.

This time was a bit different, though. This time, I found what I’ve been looking for in a mental health professional in more than a decade.

I found real, and genuine help.

This psychiatrist reiterated that people are people, and there for what they shared was only an opinion. I’m an adult, and so I can disagree. They provided a sympathetic but logical assessment of what my childhood was and how it fed into who I am now. They actually addressed my concerns as well as the complexity of the situation. I wasn’t just a mental illness – I was a woman who had more than one mental illness and physical conditions that also feed into my mental state.

What’s more? They have me a plan. A real, actual plan that involved more than a sheet of paper and a ‘you can have 10 free appointments this year if you can find someone who does it’ before sending me on my way.

I have a group to look forward to.

I have an inpatient study that has the possibility of really helping one of my conditions.

I have referrals that address my mental as well as physical conditions.

I also have recommendations for what to do while I wait for these things to start happening.

There is a multifaceted plan in place that looks at me as a complete human with multiple issues to address instead of forever hammering away at a single nail hoping it’ll all turn into a house.

So why am I sharing this? Why do I think people will care.

Honestly, I don’t know if anyone will care. The thing is that I want to share this story because I have been looking for this for over ten years. I have two countries’ medical systems experiences, and nothing has given me a sense of hope and possibility like the few hours I spent this afternoon has.

I am sharing this story for everyone struggling with the system and feeling like it’s hopeless. For those who have an inherent distrust of the various systems and those who work with it. I hope with all my heart that it doesn’t take you ten years or that it isn’t taking you longer than that.

I want you to know that there are competent people out there who have the ability and the desire to get you to where you need to be to get help. It can take a long time and a lot of not-so-great people to find them, but they do exist. Don’t give up.

Lots of love. Until next time,


Off Topic: If You’ve Had a Bad Day

I’m having a bad day. It started around… 1am and just is managing to bloom into an awful flower of problems and hurt feelings.

There’s so much going on, and I’m melting into puddles on a regular basis.

It’s so easy to fall into this pit of awful darkness and feel like nothing is right or ever will be right. Nobody cares and people will always be awful.

But here’s the thing – reality doesn’t exist in absolutes. This, too, shall pass.

So instead of wallowing here, trying to keep my head on straight while bemoaning the state of the world, I decided to reach out. In the virtual way, of course.

Shit happens. Frequently. Mean, awful people exist, and quiet, sneaky awful people exist. Things get stressful, and there are times when ‘stressful’ just doesn’t cut it as a descriptor. Sometimes everything goes wrong and you can’t seem to get your act together enough to put up some zine reviews.

Here’s a virtual hug for you.

Whether you’re having a bad day, a good day, a night to remember, or a night to forget, here’s a hug to you.

I care, and I hope you have a good day. Because in the end, even when you feel like you can’t do much, you can usually still spread a little sunshine.

It’s Etsy’s Fault

I’ve been debating a bit whether to post today. Not because I don’t want to but because, well, I’m just so grumpy – and it’s only Tuesday.

Nothing has been catastrophic, but it’s one of those times when it wouldn’t take a lot of convincing to believe that the world really does just like messing with me. Things have been that way for a while, but this week started with an email from Etsy…

We’re writing to let you know that Australia has introduced new goods and services tax (GST) rules that will apply to cross-border supplies of digital products and other services to Australian consumers beginning 1 July 2017. You can learn more about the new Australian regulations here.

What this means for your shop

Beginning 1 July, Etsy will begin charging GST on seller service fees and Etsy Payments processing fees (“Seller Fees”) for Australian sellers unless they are registered for GST and have submitted an Australian Business Number (ABN) to Etsy.

Do you sell digital items?

In addition to the changes above, if you sell digital items in your shop, Etsy will be responsible for collecting and remitting the GST on those items. Etsy will automatically include applicable GST in the purchase price, and you do not need to collect GST on those items separately. If you’re wondering what this means for your business, we encourage you to contact a professional advisor.

I like Etsy, but by my research so far, it was already the most expensive way to keep a shop front with listing fees (that expire and need renewing), transaction fees, processing fees, so on and so forth. Now this? Now it’s even more expensive.

On top of that, they’re automatically increasing prices on my digital items, which pisses me off.

It’s not just me bearing greater fees – it’s people who want to buy my zines.

Thanks, Etsy. Thanks a lot.

“It says you can register for GST, Nyx. Don’t be grumpy.”

Yep, I could register for GST, be spared the fees and ignore the fact that people have to pay more for digital products. That’s business, right?

Here’s the thing, though: GST registration is a requirement for businesses that have a $75,000 turnover. I have absolutely no doubt that there are Australian sellers making that much, but I am far away from being one of them.

So what’s the big deal? That I don’t know if it’s a big deal. That I need to make an appointment and pay $80 to someone who knows whether it’s a big deal. If I do register for GST, it could mean quarterly reporting, which means paying someone $80 four times a year to deal with the whole GST thing.

This all when I’m operating at a loss as it is.

The big deal is that Etsy is popular and it knows it, so it doesn’t give a damn about the small sellers who are hoping to better their lives and get out of their current financial situations by offering something to the world.

There is a culture of non-profit and trade within the zine community, and I’m okay with that. What I’m not okay with is being stuck with more – not new, not the first – fees on a website that touts itself as being so wonderful and helpful to creators.

Oh, I know the response I’ll get about how it costs money to run a website, have staff, so on and so forth, but that is no comfort when there were already listing fees (that expire), transaction fees, and processing fees. They’re piling on fees with absolutely no thought as to the ramifications of people who were hoping to be granted the promise that Etsy so temptingly waves in the faces of those who are able to do little more than make their handmade creations in an economy and a society that doesn’t value them or what they do anywhere else.

That, my friends, is why I am grumpy today. I’m tired of forever ‘surviving’ and then being told to ‘just do better’ when I stop being okay with merely existing.

Changing the Way I Look at Things

I didn’t intend to take off yesterday, but here we are, and there it is.

I’ll get to the TL;DR part first so anyone who wants to skip out the rest can. I have to adjust how I do things. I took of yesterday, and I’ll be taking off tomorrow to get myself on more solid ground. I’ll be back on Thursday and Friday with reviews… probably. I will definitely be back this weekend with calls for submissions, and next week will resume the normal way of things.

No biggie, yes?

I apologise if it seems like I’m getting into theatrics with this, but I honestly want to share this but don’t know how to go about it. I’m not looking for pity, and it only has a relation to zines rather than being about zines. In the end, though, I want this to be a conversation rather than a random spit out of information and reviews (as fun and lovely as that is). I want to tell you about the not-necessarily-zineish things that are going on in my life.

The past few weeks have been an assortment of tests and appointments with my doctor. After plenty of discussions, we were both all but convinced that I had lupus. That’s what everything pointed to, so we waited until I had a ‘flare’ of symptoms so we could do the relevant blood tests. Blood tests that came back negative. (With the exception of microcytic anemia, but that’s not an indicator of lupus.)

So we went over my history again and came to the conclusion that I need to start doing what I can do for fibromyalgia, ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis – commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but is so much more complicated than that), and restless legs syndrome.

Fibromyalgia and ME have come up as possibilities many times in the past ten years or so, but they are “diagnoses of exclusion” and I have never pursued the relevant testing. (I don’t always stick my head in the sand, but when I do…) Turns out that it took a mere ten years, and we’ve done all the testing to come around to the conclusion anyway.

What does all of this mean?

It means that, while these symptoms have been with me for many years, now they have a name. No I know it’s not just all in my head, that I’m not just lazy, and that I can’t keep operating as if it will all go away.

In many ways, this is a relief. I’ve never been good at taking care of myself, and having names for the faces, so to say, means that I feel less guilty about self-care. I’ve been going slower, going to bed earlier, sleeping in, puttering rather than mad rushing, and educating myself about the conditions. (And let me tell you, just keeping my feet and legs warm at all times has made a heap of difference.)

If I have my way, nothing will change here – other than I will endeavour to stop apologising for late posts or days when I don’t post. What will change is how I look at things, how I organise my time – especially my rest – and how I go about my days. Mostly things you won’t see or hear about.

Like I said, though, I want this space to be one in which we have conversations. Conversations that include what’s going on in my life even when it doesn’t focus on zines.

I wish you all the best for your week. I’ll be back with reviews on Thursday and Friday (99% sure that’s going to happen), calls for subs this weekend, and next week I will have a fresh happy mail post for you.

Until then…