I am not okay.

Those are words that many people see and FREAK the HELL out over. For good reason: they’ve lost someone to mental illness before, or they’ve seen the way mental illness can tear a person apart. They understand that sometimes, being “not okay” is a Really Bad Thing.

But it’s also okay to not be okay. It’s okay to need to say “I am not okay.” Just because I’m not okay doesn’t mean I’m unstable or not safe. I’m safe. I’m stable. I have a wonderful, supportive husband, parents and siblings who love me and support me, kitties that give me purpose and cuddles, books to read, books to write. I’m not going anywhere until I ride this beautiful, tragicomedy of a life to its close. Which will – hopefully! – be many, many years from now when I am old and wrinkly and even more ornery than I already am.

I’m just going through some stuff right now. And I need to talk about it, get it off my chest before I implode.

June 10th marked my eight year publishing anniversary. I’ve been publishing my books for nearly a decade now. And fuck, it’s been a struggle. It’s been a struggle uphill, barefoot in the snow. It’s been taking job after job to survive while still trying to write my own books. But surviving often means putting my own books on the back burner, focusing my energies and efforts on paid work and just trying to pigeonhole writing in when I can. When I left a day job to be a full time writer, I also started taking on EVEN MORE freelance work. Working from home doesn’t mean rolling in money; it means tracking down work wherever you can and trying to find whatever talents you have to survive. Which, alas, means doing more work for other people than for myself.

People look at me and see a strong, independent woman who’s going somewhere. They see my name on Amazon with more than thirty books and counting. They see me running newsletter services, designing bomb ass covers, launching list aiming boxed sets. My inbox blows up daily – Facebook and email, more messages than are humanly possible to answer. People think I handle it all with grace and pizazz. “How do you do so much?” or “You must be wonder woman!”

But I don’t. I’m barely keeping my shit together. Sometimes, I drop the ball. I fuck up regularly. I DON’T write my books because I’m spending every last second trying to do business to pay my bills, which spirals me into a well of depression and self-loathing. And goddess help anyone who asks for more of me when I’m already stretched thin, because I’ve been known to lose my shit on them, too. I have recently reached an absolute breaking point, where I can’t keep dealing with the stress and drama of the indie author industry anymore. I just want to fucking write books, and instead, my EVERY DAY is sidetracked, waylaid, steamrolled by other people acting like fools.

I feel very lonely and isolated. I’m no longer sure if anyone is my friend because they actually love me or if they’re my friend because it benefits them, because I can do things for them. Even people I’m supposedly close to demand so much of me.  I feel like I’m ripping the skin right off my body to hand to everyone around me, until I’m skinless, naked, and lost.

I feel like nobody understands me or cares about my mind and emotional state. When my entire world is in meltdown mode, my husband is the only one who’s there. Who tells me he knows I’m in a bad headspace, but he loves me and he’s proud of me and even when I’m a hot mess, quote, “You’re my hot mess.” Other than him, the only other person who seems to care about my emotional state is my psychic stepmom who seems to know just when her daughter needs a phone call and needs to hear she’s loved.

But while I’m dealing with all of this, I also feel like I’m on the verge of some kind of awakening. My bones don’t feel like they fit my skin, as if I’ve metamorphosed and my skin is the last to get on board with the change. Maybe the very tumultuous past five years wherein I’ve rebuilt myself over and over again have finally led to something. Maybe I’m finally going to shed the old me, like a snake shedding its skin. Shed the baggage. Shed the dead weight. Focus on ME and MY NEEDS going forward.

Over the last few years, I’ve really learned who I am. I’ve discovered how hard I can be, how easy it is to ignore haters (and also, jesus, there are a LOT of haters out there trollin’). I’ve learned how the assholes of the world can be loud – but I can be louder. How they can stab me in the back, but I can pull the knife out and throw it at their feet, because I’m the better person in every way.

Maybe it’s time to burn it all to ash and figure out if I can rise stronger.

For now, I’m going to go get something really bad for me for dinner. Come back, make a margarita, and watch mindless television. Because I’ll need to be back to work early tomorrow, prepared to offer the skin off my body to people who don’t deserve it.