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.



18-Month Do-Over

Have you ever wished you could have a do-over?  Go back and undo something you did, however large or small, and just make different choices?  It’s something we used to holler as kids “Do-over!”  Now here I am as a 41-year-old adult feeling the same way.  If I could go back and redo the past 18 or 20 months and make different choices how would life be for us?  How much of the present trouble could we have avoided?

We couldn’t likely have avoided my wife’s medical crisis.  Signs of that impending issue were evident months before we moved.  It would have been dealt with differently in some ways, but much of that issue would have been faced the same as here except for a closer network of family and friends to provide support.

We probably would have yet to live in a house, which changed our perspective on housing forever.  We just adored it.

The restlessness and stagnation of life we felt before we left St. Louis might be worse.

I might well have still lost my job at the unnamed company I telecommuted for. 

We’d still be in Saint Louis for one thing.  And having lived there for 9 years, the support system we’ve found there is wider and deeper in many ways than anything we’ve had time to establish here locally.

We wouldn’t have our beloved dog Amélie or cat Doce, whom we adopted from shelters in El Paso.

There are people here we care about whom we wouldn’t know.

And there were some classes I taught in Juarez I wouldn’t have been able to teach.

Overall, though I still wonder what would life be like?  Would I be unemployed?

Would I have written the two novels and dozens of short stories I’ve written?

Would I have made all my Twitter friends?

Would I have gone to the conventions I attended?

I would not have had the stress my challenging part time position has brought to my life.  There are benefits of experience as well as some songs I wrote through that which might not exist, but I do think our life could have been just fine without that stress.  The only thing is, again, I met some fine people whom I think the world of and wouldn’t have had the chance to know without that.  Those would be a loss.

It’s hard to say, looking at all of this, if I’d really do it or not.  I think I’d make a few different choices, and I think I’d put my foot down stronger in some ways and places also.

For one, the friends who never called us at all despite all our difficulties, never offered help or encouragement, whom we only heard from to criticize us for something they found disturbing in a FB post or blog, etc., well, I’d stop thinking of them as friends.

For two, I’d stand up more firmly to both recently employers far sooner about issues which ultimately backfired by getting fingers pointed at me undeservedly.

For three, I would have made sure my wife got to do some fun things she’s wanted to do since we came which I never made time for and we now can’t afford.

I wouldn’t stop being honest about the troubles because I’ve heard from many who face similar situations whom it has helped and I’ve heard also it helps those who haven’t been through such situations to empathize more with those who have.  Empathy is a very good thing.

I wouldn’t stop using Facebook and Twitter to mention things I find ludicrous.  Even things from my daily life or relationships.  That’s what those are for.  And commiserating with those people has been a true pleasure and support.  I wouldn’t change some of the friendships I’ve made, although I might have considered them at different levels than I had been thinking they were (so they’ve proven to be).

So would I really want a Do-Over?  On specific bits and pieces, yet, but overall, probably not.  After all, how could I live without my Amélie and Doce?  And not without the true friends I’ve found along the way.  Sometimes I just wish there were more of them.

For what it’s worth…

Special Request For Help

Dear Friends:
Some of you have been praying for me or at least are aware that as of next week I will have been unemployed 6 months.  As of Sunday, my part time job also is going away.  They wanted someone permanent not someone who might well need to take off.  So I am going to be in real financial straits until something comes through.
I have written a little book which is getting really good reviews (see below for examples), but hasn’t taken off yet in sales.  I need money to keep going and people of all sexes and ages from 9 to 65 have enjoyed this book.  It’s not Christian in focus but has some Christian characters.  Even non-SF fans have enjoyed it.  It’s short with small 4 to 5 page chapters (each episodes of a larger story).  It makes great Christmas gifts.  Please consider buying a copy today. 
I don’t like being pushy so this is my one and only request.  But you’ll be helping our food and rent budgets a ton, and you’ll enjoy it, I promise.   It’s light escapism.
If you’d rather have one of my music CDs, I have tons of those available to.  The book is $7.49 plus shipping.  CDs are $13 each.  You can get a discount and get the book for $5.50 plus shipping.  If we can sell 125 copies (the current on hand stock), you will be helping with $687.50, 75% of our rent.

To buy the book, please go to www.bryanthomasschmidt.net and click the BUYNOW button on that page or here.  It will be up and functional with the new price by tomorrow.  If you want CDs instead, email me and I’ll work that out.
Thanks for your friendship and support.  Here’s some reviews to wet your appetite.
Description: Ellen Maze
May 12, 2010
Ellen Maze rated it Description: 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: star trek fans, space opera fans, all ages
Shelves: books-to-review
Captain Janaai Resnick has her hands full in this first installment of the North Star Serial. Not only does she have to prove herself to her crew, but also as soon as they head out, she must prove herself a capable leader when the ship is attacked by the Korelean threat.

Author Bryan Thomas Schmidt creates for us a likable and believable female lead that is supported by a cast as three-dimensional as those at the helm of the Star Trek series. With snappy dialogue and genre-correct technology, I think anyone who enjoys the space opera will put this one at the top of their list. I don’t usually read this genre, and I was pleasantly surprised at how fun it was.

As a bonus, at the end of this tale, Schmidt includes novel excerpts from a couple of his upcoming works, THE WORKER PRINCE and SANDMAN.

Ellen C Maze
Author of Curiously Spiritual Vampire Tales
Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider (less)

Description: Chad
May 27, 2010
Chad rated it Description: 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: first-reads
I really liked Part I of the North Star Serial. I am looking forward to further adventures of CAPT Janaai Resnick and her crew against the Korelean forces. This is a good sci-fi book that keeps the unnecessary subjects of sex and vulgar language out of the space battle storyline. The book is clean, wholesome fun that I know my 10-year old son will really enjoy and he is one of those that does not like to read.

The Koreleans have a deep hatred for Christians who have colonized the galaxy after escaping persecution on Earth. CAPT Resnick has just been given command of NORTH STAR, a destroyer in the Coalition Command fleet. While on her first assignment she comes into contact with Koreleans forces and thus the war begins. Many themes are at play here and the storyline is solid. I want to follow the story a find out what happens to the entire crew in future parts of The North Star Serial.

I also really enjoyed the excerpts from both The Worker Prince and Sandman. I will keep my eyes open for these novels as I am certin that they reach bookstands

I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. Thanks to Bryan for making this book available in the giveaway program. These first 13 NORTH STAR Serial stories are the start of a great adventure! (less)

Living Inside Depression

It’s been a hard decision whether or not to blog about this.

First, I wonder if anyone cares?  Does anyone even read this blog?  I rarely ever get comments.  I am running a sale on my book for the first 15 who comment on my last entry, and after two days, I have 1 comment.  Most of the other posts have no comments. So it’s obviously not high traffic.

Second of all, writing about depression is depressing. Who wants to read that?

Third, this is my author blog.  Most people who come here probably would rather hear about books, writing, etc, not this stuff.  Although my whole life is wrapped up in this current state, still, it’s personal.  Do people want to know that much?

I finally decided I’ll blog about it because writing is therapeutic for me.  And because I have spent a good portion of my life doing everything I can to serve and help others, maybe a glimpse inside the mind of a depressed person will help someone else somehow.

We recently were forced to give up a home we had hoped to purchase and moved back to a town home.  For 15 months, we lived in a house.  I had not lived in a house since leaving my parents’ home.  Bianca had not lived in an apartment until she married me.  The difference in housing types is night and day and we much prefer the house.  Privacy, space, personalization — the advantages are numerous, but ultimately, it just fits us better.  Now, my part time music ministry job is going away as well, and the options out there are retail at 41 years old, a place I never wanted to return to and which, frankly, pays 1 third of what I have been making and what, up to may, we were used to living on.  Because of the debt load we carry, in part due to medical expenses, in part due to living stupidly beyond our means, taking a retail job at such low pay will require me to work tons of hours to make up for the loss of the part time job income of $1200 a month.  If I work more than 29 hours, I lose my welfare of $880.  So instead of having $2080, I will be providing $1250 or so for us to live on.  We cannot live on that.  I am told I do not qualify for the Federal Unemployment extension because I have “marketable skills,” although how you can label something as marketable which no one seems to want is beyond me.

Since being laid off from my lousy last employer in May I have applied for 500 some jobs (rough guess).  I have done 1 in person interview and 3 phone interviews.  I have worked hard on my resume, now in its 9th draft since May, consulting professional sites, advisors, etc.  In fact, I imagine I have spent close to $800 trying to get employed which increased out debt, but the economy is awful, don’t let the Obama lies fool you, and it’s not getting any better.  My Texas Workforce advisor says most people are taking over a year to find jobs.  Every time I hear or think about that, I wonder how we will survive?  We already are facing potential bankruptcy.  I am ashamed of being such a failure.  I am angry that I have spent 41 years and have no career path, making my job search harder.  The fact that I dedicated much of those years to missions and nonprofit work doesn’t seem to matter.  I look like an unstable employee who floated around freelance and never held a job.  That says nothing about my real dedication, effort and capabilities.  It also sucks to not be able to do what you love.

My part time job was supposed to be that.  Church music ministry.  I have been writing and performing songs all my life.  Finally to get paid to do it.  And to lead people into relationship with God, which I love and is a real humbling honor and privilege.  WOW!   But instead, I found myself working for a man who micromanages to the finest detail, doesn’t seem to trust anyone but himself, and, despite my 15 year track record, treated me like I just fell off a turnip truck.  People with no experience and less qualified education are allowed to do things I’ve been doing for 15 years but am not allowed to do at that church.  And despite the fact my worship team are amazing people, whom I adore, it has been a humiliating, hurtful experience with no opportunity for personal and professional growth.  Attempts to discuss this with the boss were met with cold ears and a “my way or the highway attitude.”  Here’s a man who preaches mercy, acknowledging sin, and apologies but has not practiced that toward my wife and I.  Anything we do to offend him, an apology is demanded, yet in 16 months, I don’t recall ever hearing one back.  The wounds we carry for it are deep.

My full time job at the software vendor whose product I had worked so hard to promote and implement while consulting at a Fortune 500 company for four years, was one of the harder places to work.  One moment they praised you as valuable and like family, the next your job was on the line.  No warning.  I never got regular feedback.  I only heard from them when they had some major issue.  I got very little training and yet was criticized for not doing things the way they wanted them.  They put me into positions with which I had little or no experience and didn’t do anything to help my succeed.  I was on my own.  Then, they laid me off at a time when they knew our struggles financially from a medical crisis my wife had last fall.  They got mad when I told them all of this, demanding I be respectful.  I was hired for technical writing.  Everyone praised my work at that.  It’s where my gifts lie.  Did they really expect they could throw me in unfamiliar territory with no support and I’d be a star?  Wish I could, but it was hard.  They have too few employees for the number of high demanding clients and it’s stressful and you’re expected to know everything.  Since I don’t like to lie and I won’t damage my integrity by pretending to know what I don’t, it’s hard.

So here I am, feeling like a failure.  Wondering why my life sucks so much.  Why was I born?  Why in the world am I supposed to have hope when everything gets worse and worse?  I have not even mentioned some other issues, but, trust me, they are one disaster after another.  Why is it that I am called overqualified and underqualified but can’t seem to find myself qualified?  How am I supposed to feel when I can’t provide for my wife?  When I can’t seem to hold a job?  Or when I get one I have passion for, why does it have to suck?  When I can’t get anyone interested in my “marketable skills?”  Why am I doomed to jobs that are not my passion where I struggle with focus because of ADHD and lack of true passion and end up regarded as unsatisfactory or expendable because of it?  Why was I cursed with ADHD?  Why can’t I do what I love?

I don’t know the answer, and I don’t expect you will either, but I can tell you that when I mentioned to my friend that I was lying here feeling like a worthless lump and he told me to get up and go outside, my response was:  “If I go outside, I’m afraid I won’t stop walking until I reach Interstate 10 two blocks away and throw myself in front of a car.”  Right now, I can’t even find the motivation to do that much.

So, if you want to know how it feels inside depression?  Here’s your glimpse.  Hope you don’t think it’s pretty.  It’s not.  It’s a deep, dark pit where the sun’s rays can’t penetrate and event he Almighty God himself doesn’t have arms long enough to reach.  Welcome to my world.  For what it’s worth…