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🌍Please Stay Safe

Hey babes,

Guys, I totally missed the fact that ICE raids were happening this weekend when I sent out the Newsletter talking about covers and visual novels and damn…

I’m so sorry. I’m living in my own little world of illness and creativity, and I’m really fucking privileged to not have to personally worry about this. The news is so full of misery that I can only tune in so much. To all the people with family, friends, loved ones and acquaintances facing this hate based ethnic cleansing currently tearing through the US pulling families and communities apart, my heart goes out to you. Please stay safe, and stay strong.

You are worthy, just like we all are, and I’m so sorry that you have to live in fear based on something as wholly insignificant as the place of your birth. Humans keep making these inane, insane rules and then point to them like they’re supposed to mean a fucking thing. No wall or border or culture or language or accumulation of wealth can separate the fact that we’re all human, all deserving, all equal of being treated with respect and dignity. I hate that it’s the worst of us running the show, while the best of us are just wondering how to fucking cope with it all.

Remember, don’t open the door. “An ICE deportation warrant is not the same as a search warrant. If that is the only document ICE brings to a home raid, ICE does not have a legal right to enter a home.”

Stay safe. You’re loved even if these bigoted fucks make you feel anything but.

💞Seriously Cool Stuff This Week!❤💕

Hey babes,

Okay, so cool stuff this week! For one, Wendy has released her Foundling Trilogy. And might I say, the covers are absolutely spectacular. *preen*

 

The Foundling Trilogy

Wendy talks about the creation of this trilogy, and in it, a bit of her process as an mm author. She jumped into the genre writing field after coming from a literary background, and part of the beauty of the Foundling Trilogy is watching her find her voice when she shares these characters with the world, book by book. On her Facebook page, you can find more interesting tidbits from her behind the scene world as a writer, as well as on her group page, Wendyland.

 

A Little History on How the Foundling Trilogy Came to Be… (by Wendy Rathbone)

Back in 2012 I knew gay porn was being written, and some was romance, but I didn’t know there was a whole genre called “mm romance.” I’d never heard the term.

I come from a background of many different writing experiences including non-fiction, poetry and fantasy short stories. I wrote a ton of slash fanfic and was always hungry for more male/male (in the past we spelled it out and put the slash between the ‘m’s). The mm romance genre was young and new, and I had not heard of it yet.

At that time, I also had a wonderful obsession with Anais Nin, who wrote beautiful and poetic erotica back in the 1930s and ‘40s for a mysterious benefactor who paid her and her friends a dollar a page for sex stories, and she had two volumes of erotica published, as well as very sexually explicit diaries of her life and her sexual exploits juggling a husband and multiple lovers. I couldn’t stop reading her lush prose, her amazing insights, her deep thoughts about her explicit sexual encounters. But she comes from another time, thus she writes phrases like: “He stormed and sought to conquer.” “He made of their room a den covered in rugs and tapestries, perfumed.” “A long member came out from the middle of one man and penetrated another from behind.” She even eroticized rape. And yes, these books are sold on Amazon despite taboos in them because they are considered “literary.”

I was in a dreamy swoon over it all.

I had an idea for an original gay love story and had the thought, after encountering mostly gay porn (not romance) for several years that I wanted to tackle the experience of writing beautiful erotica and try to stay away from typical porn-isms for just one short book. Not that anything is wrong with porn. I love porn. But I was in a swoon over Anais’s ability to write in a different (albeit “dated”) language. And I am a poet at heart, and was trained in literary writing as well.

I deliberately chose to write a hard-hearted character, someone who is the last person you might expect to tell a story from a swoon-worthy point of view, but he can’t help it. A man has entered Diego’s edgy life and he is instantly challenged by his dramatic feelings and transformed.

This was an experiment. It was supposed to be a one-off. I had zero plans for three books. I’m a pantser, so I didn’t even know there would be more story to come after the first erotically poetic short novel.

I put the story on Amazon under gay erotica. I called it a hot gay love story. I did not understand the language or terminology that existed then for mm romance.

When I wrote book 2, the plot just came to me. It was a year later and I decided to use a more straight-forward third person writing style. Yes, it’s still lush, and it’s hot, but I was less Anais-influenced and more wanting to write in a fever about these characters. I saw mm romance then. I was still exploring it as a genre, still new, but I was happy to find it as a reality! So with the second book I deliberately made it more relate-able.

Two years later, book 3 came to me out of nowhere. I am a pantser which means I use zero outlines and very few notes, if any. I just hear a character and go with them.

I was writing another novel at the time, but suddenly Alec started talking in my head. Dictating his story. He was shy and afraid at first. He wouldn’t let me know much at all about him, so I let him babble. He’s emotionally unstable, a bit messed up (for good reason!) That book is first person, and because Alec is himself in a dream-state a lot of the time due to amnesia and nightmares of his past ordeal at the hands of sex traffickers, I let him go on. The first parts of that books show his mind-state. It’s a dreamland a lot of the time. He’s not right in the head. But the second part is intense angst and very straight-forward as he finally confesses, and finally remembers himself. It is, I think, the strongest of all the books, and makes me cry every time I re-read it.

What a ride this was! All of it was an experiment. I didn’t consciously do formula romance. I focused hard on setting-as-character and how it affects emotion. And I focused on character-driven 100%.

On the re-release of these books of my heart, I updated everything I could, editing, proofing, tech, covers. It’s been almost a year in the works to re-do and re-brand these books.

I write this history because I want people to know how these books came to be and how and why they differ in style from each other and from my more recent books. My journey has been my own, unique and wonderful, writing from a state of pure love.

The mm romance genre continues to be a hard place to actually experiment in and win favors, but I love it so much! I read it all. The bestsellers, formula, and especially seek out the unique and on the edge authors who unabashedly blaze new paths into kink, dark and taboo. And some of the more poetic authors… I sink into your books!

I think it’s all wonderful and I thank you all every day for letting me be a part of it!”

Free on KU<3

I gotta say, I do love when authors share their process. It’s like getting a little window into their minds. These three books are an amazing exploration of love and lust in the settings of a dark, humid jungle to the streets of San Francisco. The characters unfold, resistant in their defenses and deeply felt pain, to both each other and the reader. The journey is a glimpse into the soul in all the right ways.

book 1

Rescue Me

book 2

Sacrifice Me

book 3 *release date 7/15

Remember Me

 

The Foundling Trilogy Covers

 

 

I was really excited to be invited to take on the Foundling Trilogy cover project and give them a contemporary makeover. Working with stock photos to ensure that the covers all look related can be damn difficult, especially when sifting through models and trying to get the right look and feel (and face! @[email protected]) But there was something about this project that just clicked, and I felt like I grew a lot as a cover artist as a result.

I used color pallets I’ve avoided before this project, especially yellow. (Yellow has been such a challenge for me. I found interesting research that it could be linked to the Parkinson’s and how the brain perceives tone and color, which might be used to diagnose the illness.) I truly feel the second cover with the yellow/purple color theme pops—They all do, really. (Do I get to say that? Like, is that just narcissistic as fuck?) There was just something about that touch of cherry red on the bridge of the third cover that I fell in love with. Anyway, I’m super happy with the results. I got to give readers a peek into each book, hopefully appealing enough for them to want to crack the story open and give it a read.

 

I started the visual novel project!

 

 

I started the Demon Virus one too, but it’s only for members. Everything Demon Bonded is free—cuz fuck yeah, Demon Bonded! I think it’ll be interesting to watch these games grow.

So it’s all preliminary stuff at the moment as I try to understand the game engine and how to get my vision to manifest. But it’s been so much fun! (Frustrating too, let’s be real XD) but I’m really enjoying this approach to telling a story and engaging readers in a new way. I only have placeholder images. I need to take some time to sculpt the characters and actually learn the texturing in Blender so I can get some color on them. I want to do the background scenes and everything with 3D modeling—it may seem like a lot of initial work, but everything I make can be reused.

It’s why I’m making two games at once “Demon Bonded” and “Demon Virus.” Both are long games that will require reuse of the characters. If I’m going to put the effort in, it should be for strong story based stuff that can be revisited, chapters added with ease, art made with the character models to collect, etc.

These project has been a long way coming. Not just because of the illness. I’ve been struggling with adulting, if I’m honest.

It’s one of those things where I think if I do ‘the right thing,’ I’ll get good results. Instead, I just get bored, and frustrated, and fight myself like a kid having a tantrum. I know as a ‘proper’ writer, I should stay on focus, write what I’m ‘supposed’ to. It’s good business. But my creativity just doesn’t work like that. Which I fucking knew when starting, yeah? Once I hit the 10,000 word mark, I want to write a new story. All the time. But I’ve been fighting that and I think it’s been stifling my creativity a lot.

When I resist my impulse to play (which writing used to be for me,) writing becomes this horrible, mean job where I can’t find my happiness. Working on these visual novels has been a lot of play for me after a really long time of telling myself I have to work instead.

I don’t know if it’s my neurotic brain, something to do with the low dopamine, or what, but I get stuck in these really dumb ideas of ‘supposed to.’ I mean, really dumb. I know they’re dumb every time I stop and question it, but there I am, stuck anyways. I start judging myself, telling myself real writers work like machines and write what they’re supposed to, not what they love or are inspired by in the moment. I start thinking people are judging me, angry I haven’t finished other projects (and fuck, I get PMs along those lines, lets be real.) It’s hard to remember I’m a human being, not a human doing, and I have limitations.

I can’t be a machine; I don’t want to be a machine. I want to have fun. I started writing to have fun and it’s really important I figure out how to keep that fun in my life.

I think these visual novels are going to add to that fun and help break up the monotony of ‘supposed to’ I’ve trapped myself in. I enjoy learning— when I learn something new, I am having the most fun. So I need to make sure I’m learning while I’m also writing novels and series and such. I need to start adding that into my priority list of being human.

I hope you’re all having a marvelous weekend and enjoying the weather! I keep waking up when the sun is about to disappear, but even so, I may have tanned a bit. XD Not quite as pale and ghostly as before. Good stuff. 😉

💋Visual Novel Update And The Slave Harem💋

Hey babes,

No worries, no long ass ramble this week. XD I thought I’d check in and let you all know what I’ve been up to. It’s kinda exciting because I think I finally found the perfect software to be able to make the visual novels/interactive novels I’ve been looking to make.

But first, Wendy has a sexy new book out!

The Slave Harem: A Kingdom of Slaves Book by Wendy Rathbone

FREE IN KU!

The slave harem is all. If you enter, you can never leave. Contact with the outside world is forbidden.

With a secret talent for seeing auras of physical and emotional arousal, Ren, a sought-after pleasure slave, is sold to a mysterious master in a foreign land where he will become part of a collection of beautiful men.

Though the men appear welcoming, there is competition and jealousy among the ranks. And their mysterious master who is heard but never seen elicits more questions than answers.

One friendly slave, Li Po, helps Ren settle in, but it is the voiceless man, Zanti, who draws Ren’s attention. With his wicked beauty and bratty scowls, Zanti is the least welcoming of them all, and Ren’s training and control are put to the test.

Gay harem, slow-burn, enemies to lovers. Extraordinary and strange. Hot and cold. This book explores the many levels of sex, lust, loneliness and belonging. And maybe, just maybe, there can be love.

 

 

That back burner project…

I’ve been thinking about visual novels and interactive novels for a while, but I’ve been dealing with a lot of little roadblocks. And I’m not just talking about my current writing responsibilities which I consider to come first (or my health issues which keep smacking me down whenever I get complacent.) My biggest concern is time– Okay, let’s be real, it’s money, cuz if I had crazy $$$, I wouldn’t even have to think about juggling. XD But I live in a limited reality, and time is my current currency.

The two current problems holding everything back on developing visual novels were:

1) How do I make a game on a time schedule where I’m writing other stories at the same time?

2) How do I make pieces of a game and be able to share it on the website without having to distribute it in big patches?

For a while now, I’ve had ideas on how to solve these problems but nothing solid. The last half of the month I have found what looks to be the answers to both problems, and it’s pretty fucking exciting!

Solution to problem #1: 3D Modelling for fast, customizable art

With time being an issue, I realized I didn’t want to make character art by hand the traditional way. I didn’t want to draw a dozen different poses for each character (the Demon Virus visual novel starts off with about ten main characters and expands as it goes. @[email protected]) The amount of artwork required just seemed mind boggling. I knew the answer was 3D avatars or modeling so I could design, dress, and pose a character into all those versions, and that way I wouldn’t have to draw it all.

I’d been doing a little research off and on, keeping my eyes open. Then I realized the software I’d been seeing people pose avatars in could easily be used to actually sculpt characters. With a free program, I could make completely unique characters in my style. The last couple weeks I’ve been teaching myself Blender 2.8, and yeah, I think this program is going to be the answer to the art situation.

My First Trial Run

This is a one of my little footlings or ‘Lokies,’ small spirits that jump into the bodies of less complex life forms and walk around being brats. ^^ I learned a lot just sculpting this little guy, and currently learning a lot retopologizing (so boring but essential if rigging is involved =_=) and soon to be texturing/coloring.

I’m just in the preliminary stages of understanding the program, or 3D modelling for that matter. Been watching a lot of youtube tutorials to figure it all out. Conceptual art stuff that I just think as one thing is now all these separate stages in the art process, such as lighting, the viewpoint, surface texture, colors and materials, rigging a character to pose, etc. It allows for so much more versatility than a 2D image, but I have to learn it all first along with all the damn menus that go with each aspect. Eventually, I may be able to do little animated cut scenes, which would be super cool for a visual novel. I don’t really want the characters to look 3D, but I think there are tricks in lighting to help make the 3D model look 2D in the end.

Right now, it feels kinda tedious, but at the same time, I’m well aware how much work it takes to make a character look like that character from a zillion different poses and I am just beyond the patience at this point in my life. So I’m learning 3D modelling, taking the time to save me time later, so I don’t return to the path of neurotic details as an artist. I’ve got better things to do, damn it.

Solution to problem #2: A web browser based game creator

While researching game engines/software, I kept coming across wonderful final products created in Ren’Py. It’s a versatile program I think would be perfect for my needs of the final game. But it’s not what I want in the development stages. I need something I can smack on the website and update as I please until it’s finally ready.

I think I may have found it in the name of an open source program called Monogatari. I just found it the other day and I haven’t delved too deep into the functionality and limitations of it, but it looks like it’s going to be a good fit.

Why a web based storytelling mode? I could regale you with smart marketing shit about how having people show up at my site to play a game helps brand me into people’s minds so they will come back to read books, etc. I mean, it’s a perfectly valid reason… but this is more about avoiding problems in terms of content.

Let’s be real, some of the stories I plan on making could be problematic if they’re obtained in ways without proof of age of the consumer. As much as I cry foul when it comes to all this insane, Puritan based censorship, I have to because some people end up fined/in jail over sexual drawings of characters. It’s one of the reason that, although I’m an artist, you don’t see a lot of sexy art from me ever since I started writing erotica as a business. Looking into the business side of things revealed to me the disconnect when it comes to the laws in my country and the understanding of what is real and what isn’t. It might be a modern world, but some peeps are still running on drone minds who think drawings are people, and when you draw something, it must mean you want to do the same in real life to real people. It’s a problem in our laws I’m too aware of to ignore.

Having these sorts of things contained to my website, stuck behind a paywall that involves the acknowledgement of age and the viewer’s responsibility if lying about age protects me as a creator… and I guess it protects people from ideas they can’t handle. I’ll have less mature demos on the main site where no one needs to log in to read, but the fun stuff is going to be exclusive until a final game is built. And some content may be forever exclusive and never sold when I get into the more taboo subjects because of very real fears. (The moment imagery gets involved with erotic content, free speech is labelled obscenity and targeted. Text alone seems to be ignored outside of censorship, but images are what gets people thrown in jail if not careful.) Until the world gets better or I can afford a better legal understanding, it’s just safer to cover my ass.

Life keeps moving along

That’s about it for now. I’m still trying to figure out the answer to the apathy. I’ve had super good days and some really dead inside days since I put out that last newsletter. Being real here. Spicy food, or at least capsaicin may be a helpful tool in battling the problem. It seems to release serotonin in the gut and spark dopamine, and I’m seeing positive results with it.

We’ll see. I’m not giving up. I want this problem solved so that I don’t have to fear my creativity slipping away. I’m sorry that it means I’m less active as a writer atm, but again, to be real about it, if I don’t figure this shit out, I may never want to write again, you know? Apathy steals motivation, drive, lust for life. I gotta win this asap. Every time I ignored the problem because I felt good, the apathy slipped back in and I wasn’t prepared with a way to battle it. I’m hoping I’m more prepared now with what I’m learning.

I hope you’re all safe with the crazy weather hitting. Stay out of burning fires and heat waves and rainstorms flooding giant swatches of land. I’m in a relatively stable area atm trying to enjoy some sunshine (in very limited doses to my vampiric skin. XD)

Oh, and I hope everyone enjoyed the free 24 hour pass. That was a super cool promo I have a feeling I’ll be doing next year given the great responses. You guys rock! Ttyl, babes! ^.^

🎉A Birthday Gift to You!🎉

Hey babes, I’m doing a reverse gifting this year. 😉

If you go to my website, up until the end of Wednesday 6/19, you can signup for a free membership day pass. That means for 24 hours you can read whatever you want on my website for free.

You guys have been awesome, and this gig has brought me so much happiness and fun in my life. I want to be able to share that on my birthday. Please, enjoy. <3

Now, if you happen to be interested in getting me anything this year, can I make a suggestion? There is an amazing woman (an MM reader at that) raising money for the 3 teens she has taken in. These kids are from difficult circumstances and are at critical points in their lives where they need help to keep them from letting their traumatic pasts decide their future. Patricia is doing her best, but life cost $$. I would love anyone looking to pay their good fortune forward to pay it her way to help her and her family keep doing amazing work.

Website update

So I had to switch back to the previous membership software on my website. I really wanted the new software to work. I had put so much time and work and damn hope into it, but it just refused to live up to expectations. No one could sign up. It would be these bouts of Paypal refusing to work with the software, and it was crippling everything. Last week after being contacted by another individual trying and failing to be able to sign up, I realized this wasn’t going to change and I finally dealt with it.

You’re probably not going to notice much different with the fix. I had to rebuild the shop page and products from scratch, but it looks spiffy. A few visual differences mostly in the member’s area, and the auto-renew now works. The software has updated since the last time I had it installed and they now have a marvelous cancel auto-renew button so people don’t have to go to Paypal to figure it out. The last thing I want is for people to feel trapped in a subscription (and on an equal level, this avoids people having to hunt me down to get what should be a simple thing taken care of.)

It was kinda painful to let the dream go of the other software, but whatever. At the end of the day, shit needs to function. So sorry I took so long in addressing this.

Bright New Future

So as I hit my birthday (it was on the 12th) and look at another year of life, I’m happy to say I seem to have finally figured the health problems all out. *fingers crossed just in case* I’m finally feeling like myself, aka, I’m obsessing over projects and feeling the creative spark. It has been so liberating after having felt dead for so long.

I touched upon this a bit some weeks back, but it was a topic just so life-consumingly miserable, I didn’t want to talk about it. Or maybe who I was when like that made me less communicative? I don’t know. But I’m going to go into it now because I seem to have found a tentative answer when it comes to emotional flat lining, aka apathy, I was living in the last months.

A Chemical Girl In a Chemical World

The last months I have been consumed with the hard reality that I am a chemical being, and when those chemicals don’t spark, life is not interesting. We don’t notice it, mostly because our chemical reactions are so damn distracting. I’ve had problems since I started my latest Parkinson’s treatment experiment March. It wasn’t apparent at the time. I was focused on all the ways I was getting better—and I totally got better. No more weird claw hands, or pain everywhere, or bouts of narcolepsy/extreme exhaustion. I was spending a lot of time training myself in how to just live again, how to slowly start adding in aspects of life to juggle. It wasn’t until April I started to notice something was wrong.

My body was fine. Strong, no longer wheezing in response to allergies—I haven’t taken an allergy med in weeks and I stopped the shots months ago. But I couldn’t get myself to work. I couldn’t get myself to focus. I couldn’t get myself to care about things. I could see it, forever observing myself as I had to force my body to move, to do what should be so easy. I didn’t care about anything; not my health improving, not the art I love to create, not anything. Rationally, I knew not doing things was detrimental to life, and it was only through rationalizing that I could make myself act. But I wasn’t depressed—I had been depressed for long years and I damn well knew I wasn’t that. I wasn’t anything.

I started chasing down the usual suspects, certain in something was the answer to this weird apathy. Allergies, PTSD and dissociation, hormones, drug interactions with my supplements, food choices messing up my gut biome. And while doing that, I was training myself on how to do things while not caring. How to get up when I had to tell my body to move instead of my body just moving. How to clean when I didn’t care if things were clean. How to make myself write, even if it was just a couple hundred words and I didn’t feel inspiration or emotion in a single one of them.

I thought about what it is to live, and in lesser amounts, die. I was not alive as I know living to be. I was occupying a body that wasn’t responding to stimuli. I thought it was only emotional at first; I couldn’t feel joy. I couldn’t feel intellectual curiosity. I couldn’t feel. I would find myself staring at a painting or listening to a song and feel nothing, no spark of anything. It was so broken because I remembered what I was supposed to be feeling but I couldn’t reach that place. During this time I understood exactly what is was to be a chemical being that didn’t get feedback from stimuli, and it was robotic and lifeless. There was no reason to be around because this wasn’t living, and I kept wondering how long it would take for death to take me now that my body was strong. How many years would I have to live like this, not caring, not loving, not laughing, not wanting or responding? The misery of being ill seemed somehow better than whatever I had become because even in that insanity, I still felt alive.

I suspected it was Parkinson’s related. Apparently apathy hits about 40%, and with it, for those with caretakers, it is probably the hardest aspect of the illness because the individual doesn’t care, doesn’t feel, isn’t motivated. They literally can’t engage in life and their caretakers have to endure it all. Here I was with early onset Parkinson’s, having found a way to cure every fucking symptom placed in front of me, but with one aspect so damning, I could easily see myself leaving my family to spare them the person I was becoming.

Then I got a new symptom, one that forced me to not give up, to work around my apathy and seek an answer. I started losing physical sensation.

A Little Background On My Wild Parkinson’s Experiment

So some months back in March I took a leap and tried something creative when it came to the Parkinson’s. I couldn’t find any info of anyone else trying it for a treatment, but I figured I’d see what it might do. I decided to make my gut bacteria work for me by seeding it with probiotics that produced dopamine. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, but it did, beyond any expectation I could have expected. It was practically overnight, and I kept waiting for it to go wrong, but it didn’t. My body moved again, my brain functioned again. I could interact on levels I hadn’t been able to in years. You know how I was talking about the website fix? That took 1/2 a week when the fix before took 4 months. My brain and body were working and it was a freaking rebirth.

But something wasn’t right. One day I found myself standing with my hands in scalding water wondering why it didn’t burn, why I wasn’t moving away like the instinctual base animal I was. My tongue and throat had bouts of numbness. My fingers lacked sensation. My sense of smell was weakened. I would repeatedly poke myself with toothpicks to see where the numbness was, if it was getting worse, because all of a sudden it wasn’t just my emotions but my senses that were failing to get information to the brain.

I of course thought tumor or brain damage from the mold exposure. Combined with the lack of emotional response, I was suddenly seeing an alarming image of potential brain deterioration in aspects not linked to cognition. I looked into hormones (perimenopause was a suspect) and other neurotransmitters imbalance potentials like serotonin. Allergies too–numbness is connected there even if I hadn’t experienced that symptom before. Something wasn’t registering in the brain, wasn’t reaching where it needed to get.

I tried a few different experiments: eating spicy food until my numb senses would suddenly scream in reaction, same with hot water on the skin (not damaging levels) trying to stimulate a response, trying to see if whatever neurons were failing were still there to react or not. They were, and sometimes I would wake out of it, the same way I would wake out of my bouts of Parkinson’s before.

That’s when it clicked. It was just like the Parkinson’s, but new symptoms. Not an excess of pain but a lack, not an exhaustion or a weakness in the body, but not any excitement either. No cognitive issues but clearly some sort of brain hiccups where emotions and sensations failed to register.

I first tried increasing the dopamine, going back to my old standby of Mucuna just in case the probiotics and kombucha (made with neurotransmitter rich probiotics) weren’t doing the job. Then, after feeling just brief moments of humanity only to lose it, the desperation that came with being numb again inspired me to be more extreme and go off all dopamine support for a day to see if it was some sort of overdose. I had heard that schizophrenia was too much dopamine but none of my symptoms matched that, but I figured just in case, just to see. Really, what did I have to lose?

I started getting subtle emotions and sensation back, but at the same time, the Parkinson’s symptoms flared up again. I decided to compromise and just lower the dose. When I first started this experiment, I had looked at probiotics and probiotic drinks like a medicine, yet here I was drinking it like a staple now. I cut the dose and made sure I didn’t sip through the day, but instead had measured amounts at predetermined times. The Parkinson’s symptoms again alleviated (thank fuck) and I started getting trickles of me back.

Reactivating Reactivity

I found myself staring at a vibrant blue, outdoor wall a few days after I cut my dopamine dose down. I couldn’t even tell you why, exactly, because it wasn’t a shade of blue I could even say I like when in my normal state of mind. But there I was staring, straining for something familiar. The entire day I had been out in the world and had felt nothing, but this blue wall had garnered some sort of reaction. Something in the color sparked me. That evening, I had two arguments. Full out shouting matches. I hadn’t realized I hadn’t been feeling anger either until I found my emotions turning on. By the second argument, I was actually feeling something in my body during the experience.

If you think that sounds weird, the previous months when I smiled— well, when my body smiled… My body would have an impulse reaction to a joke or familiar happy setting and I would smile, sometimes laugh, and then stop. My face felt like a mask, fleshy and stretched, and that was it. I was observing myself wondering why the chemicals weren’t flowing. There was no feedback, no reward to the action of laughter or smiling.

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for motivation. Now when you hear motivation, you might think big things, like having the grit to go after a life goal, or get a master’s degree, or what it takes to crawl out of a cozy bed to go to a crappy job every day. But chemical motivation is happening in every single thing we do. When you taste something, the chemical reaction is your motivation. You may not know it because you’re already trained to the Pavlovian response to expect a reaction as normal, part of the process. But if you had spent the last months the way I did, you would see that without a response to taste—be it registering taste, salivating, having hunger—you wouldn’t eat.

Without a chemical reaction in the brain, a sunset can’t be beautiful. Without the chemical reaction when meeting people, you might as well be alone. I found myself talking to someone who I usually enjoyed seeing, remembering how hyped up our conversations would get, but I was forcing myself through the motions, not feeling anything. Even something as simple as picking up an object: there is a reaction, a sensation, something that sparks in your brain to reward with information about the object, sensation, texture, pleasure if it’s soft and soothing, or pain if it’s sharp and bitey. As biological beings, everything we do is in reaction to real world stimulation, or the thoughts in our heads—and if a happy thought can’t make you feel anything, you’re not going to have happy thoughts. You’re not going to have any thoughts after a while because why bother? Without a chemical response, life is a big bowl of who gives a fuck.

Cutting the dose worked. I can’t say for certain why it worked but I have numerous theories. I didn’t realize dopamine couldn’t cross the blood/brain barrier when I first started the probiotic experiment. That means the dopamine being produced in my gut (although perfect to fill all the dopamine receptors in the body) couldn’t reach my brain. Only the dopamine precursors (amino acids from protein) could, and then the brain had to convert it to dopamine to then transport through the brain to utilize.

My initial theory is that by lowering the gut dose to ensure all the dopamine receptors in my body weren’t full, it allowed my body to send a signal to my brain to start producing dopamine there, which in turn started to reignite my senses and emotions once the dopamine receptors were receiving again. My second theory, after having read some interesting information about the thalamus in regards to Parkinson’s, makes me wonder if it’s not the dopamine in the brain itself that excites things into normal activity, so much as the signal that dopamine is low.

We are biological beings that need dopamine to function in basically all aspects of our bodies. You are looking at your screen right now because you get feedback from it that your brain uses to make dopamine. It’s why the phone is so addictive, why it’s so hard to put down little video games or how you can get lost in social media for hours without realizing it. When we don’t have dopamine, our bodies seek to create it. How? Through seeking stimulation and food that will lead to the chemical reactions that create dopamine. When dopamine levels drop, hunger kicks in. It may not be the dopamine itself that gets people motivated to act, but the lack of dopamine which then pushes people to seek out things that stimulate production of it.

A Sensory Obstacle Course For Life

So I figured out this ‘cure’ last Sunday, and although everything feels amazing atm, I’m afraid I’m wrong about it all and I could slip right back in to that terrible state of being. I’m working to stimulate my brain to ensure that it’s producing dopamine properly, because once you lose those receptors in relation to Parkinson’s, they’re gone. It’s been an interesting challenge (now that things can interest me.) I feel like I’m setting up an obstacle course for my life while totally trying not to look at it as recovering from brain damage. I’m trying essential oils for the olfactory senses, music for the ears, I plan on digging out my acrylic paints for visual stimulation, and at the core, brain puzzles and challenges to stimulate my intellectual curiosity. That one has been the easiest to feed now that it works again (fuck, I missed my curiosity T_T ) and I’ve been wonderfully frustrated as I try to teach myself Blender for 3D modeling.

Ha, that has been a total revelation! The battles I constantly have with my creativity— the neurotic, obsessive insanity I fall into as I slam against a wall trying to understand something new— that’s not just a habit of who I am; that is how my brain has adapted to produce dopamine. It liked clawing through tough challenges because that gave it chemical stimulation in reward. The insanity I put myself through as an artist is solely because my brain wants the best hit of dopamine it can get.

The body doesn’t care if it’s positive or negative stimuli; it just needs stimuli to have essential chemical reactions for life. Which probably explains why I’ve been snappish lately too. >_> Did you know anger addiction is a thing all because of dopamine? (This is probably why the world is so fucked. Anger is a chemical rush, and some people feed off of it. Talk about drama.)

Getting Back To Living

Long ass story short, I’m back, peeps. Mostly. (I fucking hope this is permanent. >_<) I’m still not 100% with some things, a lot to do with my drives and curiosity and ability to feel joy or even sensations. My time is going to be focused for a while on habit forming for stimuli in my life until I feel safe that my senses aren’t dying on me. It hasn’t even been a full week since I got myself back—it has felt like the longest week in some ways, though. When the senses kicked back on, it was so easy to just sink into experiencing life.

I expect once the newness of returning wears off and I have a positive set of habits to ensure I’m getting needed stimuli, I’ll be back to my proper writing schedule. I spent the first half of the week fixing the website and now just indulging in getting my ass kicked by inanimate software. I’m learning the 3D model stuff because I want an easier solution to make a fuck ton of gorgeous art so I can try my hand at a visual novel. It’s damn exciting to finally feel like I’m moving forward on that.

I’m already getting a feel for the tools and vocabulary of Blender 2.8 (free, btw, if you ever want to go play around with this stuff,) and I’m pretty sure my background in digital painting is going to translate well once I get this all figured out. There are even animation aspects I could utilize, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. XD I’m having fun (I can actually have fun!) and it’s just great to be alive again.

I hope you all enjoy this marvelous week. Even when things feel tough, remember that every challenge you face is also something that stimulates your body/brain to be able to experience life fully. Chemical beings live off of the downs just as much as the ups. There’s value in it all.

Comments <3

Minor Construction

I think it’s done… It was weirdly easy, so it’s hard to trust that I didn’t mess something up. XD Emails have been sent with passwords. Sign ups should work as expected now. I have rebuilt the shop (cuz it worked with the old software) and everything is back in there. I’ve only moved active members, aka, if you let your subscription lapse, you’ll have to create a new account, that’s all. For those who bought art and audiobooks and aren’t active, the old membership system is still in place. So if you want to download a backup, you can. You can reach your old content here.
~Sins

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.