Paging Frank Capra

I have some revision to do on the Oni Press proposal. The surprise short story was pretty much an Aphrodite in the shell moment, and as such it has already begun its journey into the world. To wit, Chris Cornell thinks I should write an anthology of Midwestern lycanthropy stories. Never would have seen lycanthropy as a metaphor for my life, but here we are. 🙂

Had my physical on Wednesday and everything looked good. Yes, my cholesterol is a tiny bit high at 108. Diet and lose weight and be active. You know the drill. The doctor said, “Is there anything that you want to know?” I said no. Well, it was true at the time.

Thursday morning was a low day. It was my mother’s birthday. Now, I’ve missed many of my mother’s birthdays, so I’m still trying to figure out why this one hit me so hard. I think that it’s because it was her 75th birthday, a landmark birthday. Bryon had been a bit upset with me the night before after a conversation about his mother, in which he thought I was trying to undermine his happiness about her living arrangements, and in which I was nerding out about modals of certainty. Go figure. So I was low going to bed and I woke up lower.

The next morning I woke up desolate and jittery. And I drove to work and entered the Depressed Zone (TM). I thought about things like how the world would be better if I didn’t exist. I did not visualize suicide exactly. I made no plans. I was ripe for a George Bailey moment. My existence didn’t matter and I wasn’t doing any good. Clarence? Of course, at the end of the day, I did bring it up to the spouse, because that’s what you do when you are on depression meds. Hey, I watch pharmaceutical commercials!

The following two days I have been just fine. JUST FINE. I think I had a moment of depression and feeling like a worthless daughter. I still feel that the decision to leave my family behind is the best one. I am grieving, not guilting. But there will always be some part of me that makes me feel like I am failing, and I am less worthwhile because I am not being a good daughter to bad parents. Should that have made me feel that I didn’t want to exist?

Well, no. Of course not.

There are other mitigating factors. Harsh news, busy work, tiredness. Maybe even medication at a certain level. Taking one less Xanax now. Feeling jittery with two and a Wellbutrin. We are monitoring my psychological thoughts, and I’ll see David at the end of the month, the soonest I could get in. Depression and anxiety are going to be a constant negotiation. We don’t get better. It’s sort of like we just go into remission.

And it’s goofy. I look at all the wonderful friends I have, and all the ways in which I make a difference and enjoy my life. I have no idea why this happened. It was truly kind of a scary thing.


I would really, really like to credit teaching for bringing me back from the depression edge. Part of me wanted to stay home and stew in my juices, but work made me work and reach out, and I did some great teaching and some students even thanked me for it. Even though I was low, I kept moving and talking and I grew back into it, leaving the bad thoughts behind. I love my work.

That said, how strange would it be for me to say that I can now see myself doing something different? Because my thoughts are really elsewhere these days. I’m not phoning it in, but you know I would like for Bryon and I to be spending more time together, doing things that matter.

Okay. I’ll keep you posted, guys. I’m on it. I’m not thinking I don’t matter and shouldn’t exist. I just did for about 3 hours on Thursday, and it passed.


The new short story is circulating, so I have 11 making the rounds. Several are close to trunking, EXCEPT I keep finding ONE MORE MARKET. I am back to Pawn of Isis.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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