A Humble Plea For Help To Any Who Would Hear

Well, this is very hard to write. I hate being anything but positive in energy, and more than that, I hate asking for help. I was raised in  a family that helps and gives to others, not the other way around. We’re mostly very lucky and blessed and have always had a lot of blessings some others don’t have.

But the situation is dire. As depression goes, today is one of those days where you feel like you could lay down, go to sleep, and never wake up and the world would be a better place. It’s been a long time since I had a day like this, despite being on depression meds for almost eighteen months. But the burdens of the moment feel so overwhelming.

For those who don’t know, in May 2010, I was laid off/fired from my technical writing job. There were excuses made about work being adequate but no great and not having enough for me to do, but no one could or would provide concrete examples. Up to that point I’d been praised for my work. Some clients friends did some checking and found that the company had financial issues and one of them was providing health insurance, as a small business for their fifteen or so employees. Since my wife’s mental illness issues were flaring and she was on a lot of meds, in and out of the hospital, and having lots of medical appointments, I began to suspect it was more about that liability than my performance. Never had enough to prove so I had to let it go but I was offered a six month severance package and asked to sign a termination agreement to not sue the company now or in the future for anything. This just made me more suspicious.

In any case, I went on unemployment and began honing my resume and looking for work. As of this date, I am still unemployed. Three times I have reached third interview and had the company apologetically tell me they had a last minute hiring freeze. None of those freezes, to my knowledge, have yet been lifted. Twice I was a final candidate and told someone else had a slight edge and was chosen. I worked with many “resume” excerpts through this 26 months on various resumes and kept trying.

In the midst of this, my 18.5 year old cat died. She’d been with me half my life. I’m still getting over it and feeling like I lost both child and best friend.

Then my part time job decided since I was looking for work out of state, they couldn’t wait to see what happened and replaced me. About this time, misfiled paperwork from the full time job messed up unemployment in a cycle that cost us all income from November 2010 through February 2011. Just as we got it reinstated, my wife’s mental illness flared again and she spent the next six months in and out of the hospital. I was forced to commit her against her will multiple times and to file several thousand dollars worth of legal actions to get guardianship just so I could oversee her care. Although she did finally get the treatment needed and turn around, she also decided to divorce me as much for taking away her rights as anything else.

So I spent more money for a divorce and, finally, last Fall, relocated back to Kansas to be near family who could help with the dogs, etc. and to have cheaper cost of living. After going through 2.5 years of hell with very little close support (new city, new friends, not enough established ties so people mostly walked away or kept emotional distance), I finally came back where I at least had strong shoulders to lean on. But try as I have, and I apply to jobs constantly, revise my resumes again as I have, I am still getting nowhere on jobs.

To their credit, Grail Quest Books and Delabarre Publishing have given me some opportunities to both edit, copyedit, and to write kids’ books, etc. This has been good to have, but it’s not enough to get me back to financial stability and it’s also case-by-case, not steady. I still carry the burden of web costs for SFFWRTCHT’s website as well as related materials when the publishers don’t provide them. This includes postage and packaging for giveaways, etc. (You’ll notice we’ve been having less). I do this without complain because I love what I do and am proud to help the SFF community and other authors. But there are costs involved like anything.

This weekend I went to Con-tamination in Saint Louis. They offered me a free dealer table. I stayed with family. I ate most meals free. Just had to pay for gas. Sales were slow and paltry but I did make connections. But I also arrived to discover that somehow my digital camera LCD had been damaged. Then, driving home my engine somehow burned out and has to either be replaced or I may have to get yet another car. This car was bought in February with help from my parents.

My dad and mom are retired. They have been helping us now for 2.5 years and carrying an incredible burden. Several hundred a month to over a thousand when things came up. I was left with significant debt in the divorce, a portion of which they paid to refinance for me. I’ve so far made no payments on that but instead have had to pay on other debt, student loans, etc.

Sum it up by saying, I’m in big trouble here. I am living as frugally as I can. But I can’t cover this car replacement or repair nor a camera and my parents are really overburdened.

So I find myself asking if anyone knows of work or financial aid or anything that might help. It really hurts to ask. But the economy is not getting better. Unemployment benefits may well run out again because I’m on my last extensions. And I’m feeling lost and hopeless as to how to change anything. In any case, if you pray, I appreciate prayers. But if anyone call beyond that bryan.thomas at anchoredmusic.com is my PayPal. Or you can send by Dwolla at yaornw at yahoo.com. It sucks to be in this position but I’ve kept busy doing SFFWRTCHT and helping others promote books, writing, freelance editing, and volunteering even as I search for work. If I was paid for the hours I put in it would be full time. This crisis, unfortunately, is one too many. My second novel releases tomorrow. And I’m getting ready to cancel the next two cons etc. if I can’t get past this and maybe even if I can. I just can’t go on like this. We’re waiting on the final estimate but for a new engine or car it would run $2-4,000. My camera can wait, as I have a film one that functions, but I’ll have to spend $100-150 for that, too, at some point.

Anyway, thanks all for listening. I have nothing to give back other than time and friendship beyond what I already do. There are stories free on my website but I am mid-novels with nothing new to offer as an extra, so I count on your good hearts.



To The Woman I Fell In Love With

Okay, this is going to be a departure from the usual topics but tonight I just need to do this one for me.

There was a woman I fell in love with. We met in the Portuguese Speakers Wanting To Learn English room on www.orkut.com January 2nd, 2005. We talked for the first time on Windows Messenger and it was for four or five hours but it felt like much less because we enjoyed it so much.

I didn’t see her again for a day or two as I recall, and worried she hadn’t enjoyed the conversation. I finally left her a note, no response. But then one day I ran into her again and it happened again.

At some point I called her, and that connection was also special.

I had a mission trip to Rio, Brazil in April, so arranged to stop and visit with her. From the moment she and her grandma Cleonice met me at the airport, that was it for us. Bianca was mine and I was hers for the next six years.

I visited her every two weeks, using frequent flyer miles, whenever I could pass through on a mission trip, etc. 10-14 days at a time, but they were little slices of heaven. We were so in love and so connected. And it was the greatest feeling of my life.

In 2006, I asked her to marry me. Got on my knees, gave her a ring. She said “yes.” And so in April 2007, after her college graduation, she moved to be with me. In between was all the visa paperwork and immigration documents and fees, a lot more phone calls and a lot more IMs. But I had finally found someone to spend the rest of my life with. After 36 years, I had stopped believing. Bianca made me believe again.

April 14, 2007, we married in a small ceremony in St. Louis.

The marriage was pretty good. A few issues with adjustment to culture and weather and the realities of a husband who needed to work and a lonely wife who was in a new place. The challenge of money limits, trying to find her a job, etc. And although there were moments of odd behavior I now know the explanation for, we were happy, and life was good.

That lasted two and a half years.

The nightmare began October 5th, 2009, when I came home from teaching music in Mexico to find a desperate message from Bianca begging me to pick her up. She knew I was in Mexico. She’d ridden the bus to town to do a workshop for her new job, I thought. She should have been home hours before. What had happened? My cell phone was off to avoid International roaming. The house was empty. So my friends and I searched until early morning. I didn’t know where she was until a policeman arrived at 4:30 am. She was barefoot, had walked all the way downtown, 40 miles or so, thrown away her cell, her wedding ring, all her documents. And was dodging traffic on the highway.

Two days later, I got her forcibly admitted to psychiatric care, the first of five times in the next two years.  The treatment was hell because she was not herself and she blamed me. And the first time they let her out, I had to take her back kicking and screaming after only a few days.

But when she got out the second time, she forgave me, admitted I showed my love for her by getting her help and took her meds. A year later, it was hard to remember all that because life was so good again.

In January 2011, Bianca was at UTEP getting As. Her long time dream of finishing her education was a reality. She had a good job too. Everything looked really good.

Oh there were hurdles. I’d lost my job in May 2010, we believe strongly, because of health care costs from Bianca’s illness (something we could not prove sufficiently to go to court but did have strong evidence of). I lost my second job, when the employer was worried I’d leave town and needed continuity and found a replacement. Then unemployment got cancelled. Times were hard. But Bianca worked hard to support us and she encouraged me. And we made it through, got unemployment back. I even had a seasonal job at H & R Bloch. And Bianca was in school.

I was so proud of her. Just so amazed. She was so serious about it. So dedicated. And she did well. I was happy the loans had made it possible.

Then in March, I fulfilled a dream, by going on scholarship to Rainforest Writer’s Village. When I left, she was a bit mad that I was leaving her alone for so long, but things were otherwise okay. By mid-week, she sounded different on the phone. And by the weekend, she was full on manic. The Bianca I’d left behind was gone. And I haven’t seen her since.

She had three more forced hospitalizations, two in state institutions. Lost her job. Lost her school mid-semester. Everything she’d worked for, gone. And I was dealing with a person who hated me again and was mad at me because she was in the hospital. She still wanted me to visit so I could be verbally abused by her. But she denied loving me. Expressed regret of our life together.

I thought for sure the meds would resolve it again. But this time, she never came back.

On Tuesday, June 7, we signed divorce papers. We’d filed the previous Friday. Wednesday, June 8, Bianca flew home for Brasil, forever.

I lost my best friend. I lost my lover. I lost my companion. I lost my wife. And all I can do is cry and mourn the person I lost not only physically but mentally.

Things were so good, so many times. So many precious memories. So many wonderful moments.

The woman I fell in love with doesn’t deserve the life mental illness is creating for her. She deserves love and success and motherhood and so much that she may never have again because of bipolar disorder.

I may find love again. I may have my family. But I know a part of me is gone with Bianca. Because she gave me so much in our short love affair. And at the moment all I can do is wish it had been longer.

I miss you, Bianca. I really loved you. I really cherished you. I’m sorry I didn’t say that enough. I’m sorry I hurt you sometimes. I never meant to. And I’m sorry you have this horrible disorder that’s torn us apart and destroyed our love, the life we worked so hard for. I miss you so much. And our pets miss mommy too. I hope you can conquer this disorder. You’re so smart and talented, if anyone can, it will be you. A part of me just wishes, at least right now, that you could have conquered it with me beside you.

May God bless and keep you, my amor. Thanks for the wonderful time we did have. I’ll always cherish that.

For what it’s worth…

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host ofScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.