An Update: Where the Hell Have I Been?

Big surprise: a writer who doesn’t post regularly on their website or social media. Well, I’m determined to change that, beginning with this blog post.

Admittedly, I’ve struggled with online interaction ever since I’ve had access to the Internet. This is due, I believe, to a combination of social anxiety and a reluctance to share information about my personal life. However, nowadays it’s almost impossible to succeed as a writer without an active online presence, so I’m determined to change my habits. Also, I sincerely wish to interact with friends online, share my love of horror movies and fiction, and generally devote more time to engage with readers. The only reason I even mention these struggles is because I know I’m not alone. The Internet can really fucking suck sometimes and it’s often easier to simply delete Facebook and Twitter from your phone, get stoned, and melt into the couch. And, you know what, that’s totally okay. Our mental health is important.

Anyway, think of this post as a casual conversation. If you give a shit, I’ll fill you in on what’s been going on in my life, and discuss future writing projects I have lined up.

Without further ado, here we go…

The primary reason for my absence has been the need to focus on family. My sister gave birth to her second child in June, and just a few days after the birth, the child was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. The news was a considerable blow to everyone and we are still struggling to navigate this new and frightening territory. “New” in this context is subjective, however. This is the first instance of CF in our family—that I’m aware of anyway—but my family is no stranger to illness.

When I was fifteen years old, I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus. The disease affected my brain, resulting in psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations (both visual and auditory) delusions, and migraines so intense I sympathize with the exploding-head-guy from Scanners. I had an opportunity to write about my experiences in detail for the Town Crier—thanks to my good friend (and exceptional poet) Rebecca Salazar—a couple years ago. If you want, you can read it here.

About a year after my diagnosis, my mother found a tumor in her breast. Following intense radiation and chemotherapy, she entered remission, and eventually underwent a double mastectomy to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence. More recently, she started experiencing seizures and lapses of memory that culminated in the diagnosis of epilepsy.

There’s more, but I won’t dwell on the details. Suffice it to say, if there’s a genetic lottery, we fucking lost and then some. A good friend of mine once said, “I don’t mean to be insensitive, but the Vidito genes are something else” and he’s not wrong. So, yeah, illness has been, more or less, a permanent fixture in my life. And it crushes me that my niece will be bearing that burden into the subsequent generation. The only silver lining I can think of is that she will have people to talk to, people who lived through similar experiences, people who survived, who persevered. She won’t have to feel like an outcast. Not if I have anything to say about it, at least. I’m determined to be not only a cool ass uncle, but someone who can help keep at bay whatever fears will arise throughout her time contending with this disease.

On its own, this news was a lot to take in, obviously. But it hit me especially hard since one of my greatest fears—ever since I was diagnosed—was the notion of bringing a sick child into the world. This fear was so acute I even had the good ole snip, snip last year to ensure I can’t produce children. (This might sound like over sharing, and I mean—it probably is—but it’s not like I haven’t made this fact public before. I posted an image of myself wearing a dog cone on Instagram minutes after the procedure, for Christ sake) Anyway, you have to understand that my sister had no idea she carried the gene, neither did my brother-in-law, which makes the diagnosis even more surprising and heartbreaking.

Inevitably, witnessing the diagnosis of another family member triggered my own trauma response, and it usually takes me a while to snap out of it. I’ve been in remission for five years, and though my physical health has been stable, the scars of living with a chronic illness persist regardless of how much time has passed. So yeah, recently my time has been split between family and taking care of my own mental health. For those struggling with trauma, please know that you are not alone, and it’s okay to take a break and focus on recovery.

If you read my work, you probably noticed an overlap between my fiction and my personal experiences with illness. Many characters in my stories undergo horrifying transformations, contract strange diseases, or possess disabilities that make it difficult for them to contend with the horror. The truth is writing has always been cathartic for me. So, even though this time has been trying, I will continue to work and share my stories with you. Writing sustains me, keeps me alive, and helps me navigate this confusing, fucked up world. And I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has purchased and read my work. I love you all, and I hope you will stay with me as I continue to come up with shit that makes you go:

So what have I been working on? Well, progress on my novella, The Inoculated, is coming along nicely, and will now release in 2022 through Clash Books. I’m working on a few short stories, and a novel I’m very excited about (it involves, to some extent, a surrealist take on the stuff I mentioned above). I’m also hoping to release a book between now and The Inoculated, possibly another collection (a spiritual successor to Nightmares in Ecstasy) so stay tuned for more news about that. But yeah, things are picking up again, and I’m happy to be back in the game.

In the following weeks I will also be posting articles I had originally written for Yes Clash on my website. These include such gems as “Ten Movies Guaranteed to Give you a Weird Boner” and “A Horror Fan’s Guide to Love and Sex”. I just love these dumb lists so much and they’re no longer available online, so I’ll rehome them here.

Once again, if you reached the end of this post, thank you very much, and I hope you take care of yourself and have a fucking awesome day.

P.S. If you have gone through something similar, or just want to chat, feel free to drop me a line. I’m on pretty much every social media platforms as Brendan Vidito (I even recently signed up for *swallows* TikTok).

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