Archive for the ‘real life’ Category

When I said things have been wild and complicated, a lot of what I was referring to is my most recent Alopecia flare. I didn’t want to make this blog my Alopecia blog, so I have been waiting to post about it. These changes have been the last year or so, and the story is not over, but I couldn’t wait any longer to write about it.

When I was waiting for the situation to accumulate, I never imagined it would be like this. I never thought it would be this severe and take over my life.


I had my first Alopecia Areata flare when I was 17 years old. It was one of the most stressful times in my life. Two spots appeared, one at my temple and the other climbing up from my neck. Neither were very large. At their biggest, perhaps a quarter. I remember my sister snarkily pointing the first out. I didn’t believe her until I ran my fingers along the deviation in my hairline in front of the mirror.

I went to a dermatologist and got steroid shots in the spots. To my pre-childbirth, pre-tattoo skin, it was excruciating. Particularly the one at my temple. But the hair came back with only one treatment, and it was behind me.

For a couple decades.

My Alopecia returned with the pandemic and lockdown. Small spots appeared, maybe 4-6 of them. As far as I could tell, they were behind my ears and in my undercut. They may have been more widespread, but my hair was so thick and I couldn’t go to the salon so I would have never noticed unless I was hunting for them.

After lockdown lifted, mad with freedom, I scheduled an undercut tattoo. Premeditated impulse.

The tattoo unexpectedly was as effective as the steroid shots. My dermatologist theorized that the trauma/healing of a tattoo distracted the immune system from my hair the same way other treatments would. As my skin healed, it once again seemed to be behind me. I guess, in my mind, I always assumed it was something that I would get over and be done with. I never really knew about how Alopecia flared, how it was forever.

It came back again. It was not decades this time. Months maybe. It started slow, a small spot behind each ear, one at the back of the head. When they steadily spread, I reached out to a dermatologist again.

This Flare

This flare has been different than any of my previous ones. It has not responded to treatment. And it just keeps spreading and getting worse. The hair poured out of my head. I held chunks in my hands. Nothing I ever imagined dealing with.

The spots crawled across my scalp. I ignored them, downplayed them, listened to people as they said I shaved half my head anyway. It sounded nice. With my thick, long hair, I told myself it would pass again.

The steroid shots brought back tiny patches of hair. They were like tiny islands in the smooth ocean of flesh. And the sea kept rising.


The loss accelerated. It exploded. Literally. An explosion of hair cascading from my scalp. It was wound in my fingers. It was stuck to my shower wall and sinks. It was clogging my drains. It was filling my trash cans. It was tangled in the carpet and choking the vaccuum. I had no idea I could lose so much hair and have any left attached to my head.

It was every time I touched my hair, the worst when I washed or brushed it. And every strand was traumatizing. Every strand felt like it was being plucked out of my heart. Pieces of myself falling away. It was the evidence of me losing to my body with every breath and movement.

The bald spots climbed over the bottom and back of my head, meeting nearly in a band. Once I lost that ground, I extended my undercut above my ears. It felt like a retreat; it felt like a surrender. But it let me keep my hair, gave me a hope at hiding the loss. I told myself I was meeting my body and my Alopecia where they were. I was compromising. Yet it still felt like giving up.

Then it was no longer spots. My bangs began to thin, so I had my stylist move them back to thicken them. Then continued to rain down. After shaving two thirds of my head, I continued to lose handfuls. Every day, it was breaking me down. I could not focus on anything else. It was only the loss, only the failure.

To escape that daily trauma, I gave up. I reasoned that even if the hair grew back, I would have to start over anyway. It would never return smoothly. I imagined a fluffy fuzz branching out through the surviving long strands, the patches of regrowth sticking up on my head. No matter what I did or what happened, I would have to start from nothing.

So I truly surrendered, and I shaved my head.

I have been going to the same stylist for YEARS. We met when she saved me from a botched bob. She first suggested my undercut. We tried an array of cuts and colors. I let her do what she wanted to do with my hair, and her art shown. At the time I started really losing my hair, it was damn near perfect. It was what we had been growing and working toward for years. It was smooth and healthy. It was the exact style I wanted. It was great for dancing. I remember thinking how much I loved my hair.

Right before it started to go.

Even though I could have easily shaved it off myself at home, I went to her. She had tried so hard to save my hair along the way, so it seemed right to end it together. We cried; we laughed. I cried A LOT. The entire experience was surreal, like there was no way I could be in that moment, losing all my hair. It felt like it was happening to someone else.

Then I was bald. As upset as I was by it, it was done, and I turned to adapt to it.

I thought this was it, time to deal. Only it hasn’t been it. Somehow, I have continued to lose.

I noticed a stripe in my eyebrow, so thin my husband assured me it wasn’t loss. I noticed that hairs I had plucked out on the right side never returned. Then the right brow continued to thin before its sibling followed.

The eyebrows were more upsetting to me. I hated how I looked. I could scarcely look in the mirror. I took to makeup to fill the blank flesh, but I became paranoid about it. I wouldn’t go anywhere without eyebrows.

None of my hair grew back. I buzzed my head and shaved parts of my body in October. None of it grew. I continued to lose of my head, leaving only a stubbly patch at the top. Yet no more shaving my armpits or legs. No plucking what was left of my eyebrows.

And most recently, the eyelashes. Like the eyebrows, it started as one questionable spot before making itself undeniable. Now I am the same way about my fake eyelashes as I was with the eyebrows. Sticking them on, constantly adjusting, glue in my purse for touch ups. Anything to not advertise my loss.


Once hair loss is clearly Alopecia, you’re referred to a dermatologist. I showed this flare to my primary care, and she immediately referred me out. My case was clear.

My dermatologist is the only one in his practice who handles hair loss. He is not my favorite. He started off very flippant about the whole thing. It did not seem like he was minimizing, but it did feel like he was not on the same page as me as to the severity or how fast it was progressing.

Until I showed up looking like a naked mole rat after just a few weeks. I went from having 1/2 of my hair still intact, long and well past my shoulders, bangs to not even eyebrows.

We have tried all the basic treatments. Steroid creams. Some other creams. Steroid injections. I extended my scalp tattoo.

Nothing had any effect. It just kept getting worse. And so fast.

After the last appointment (when we got on the same page about how bad it is), the current plan is to try the new JAK inhibitor that came out last year, Oluminant. It is supposed to selectively suppress your immune system to prevent it from attacking the hair. The clinical trials had good results, and people I’ve seen in online support groups seem to be enjoying success.

I didn’t want to do pills. I didn’t want to do immunosuppressants. The potential side effects are terrifying. Like, is my hair worth risking a stroke? Oluminant has only been on the market for less than a year. Thought it did well in trials, that speaks nothing of the real population. It’s like buying the alpha version of tech. All the bugs. So when it was just the hair on my head, I wasn’t going to do any of them.

Losing my eyebrows and eyelashes changed what I was willing to gamble. So here’s to trying pills. I just have to clear the bloodwork and insurance first.

Because somehow as my body kills its own hair, this is all cosmetic.

I also got my first round of eyebrow tattoos. I had looked into microblading and was told my tattoo artist did that. But when I went in, she was setting up ink and a gun, so I went that route instead.

It hurt like a BITCH. Not as bad as my lower back or my collarbone. However, the face is quite sensitive. Whenever the needle moved toward my nose, my tear ducts just emptied.

But she did amazing work, borderline magical work. From a distance, I don’t think you would ever guess they were entirely fake. I need to return to make them a bit thicker and fill them in, but I have absolutely no regrets. Having eyebrows again, putting down the pencils reduced my depression remarkably.


If this experience and my feelings about it were a fire, the reactions of others would be a downpour of accelerant on top of it. I am an empath. Childhood trauma has made me keen on reading people. Everything said and unsaid, every mannerism and behavior cross referenced against the baseline means something. It all speaks to me in a silent language.

This skill is useful. I make a great unofficial psychologist. I do well with customers and networking at work. Yet, at times, all this subtext, all this extra information hurts.

Times like now.

I have a great support system. I have people who are there for me, who care about me, who are willing to help me. And people are all very supportive… at the beginning. When the hair falls out and it’s new and the start of it all, they are all there with full cups of sympathy. Yet as it drags on, as it becomes every day, they fade.

Just as I began to process things, as they began to really hit me and become my life, people started to move on with theirs. And why wouldn’t they? It’s not their life. It’s not in their day-to-day. They have processed it at arm’s length and moved on. Just like anyone would.

I am just acutely aware of when that line is crossed, when my pain becomes redundant static to a person.

I can also read what they don’t say about it. I can see how much they pity me. I can feel how grateful they are not to be me. In all their awkward flinches, the way they just feel bad for me disgusts me. It makes me more insecure than being bald ever has. I never wanted to be that person. I never wanted to be looked at that way.

And the toxic positivity. I hate the words just and at least.

It’s just hair.
You can just wear a wig.
At least it’s not from cancer.
At least you can just wear makeup.

Poison fucking words to minimize my experience and make me feel weak to be grieving. I realize how asinine it is to be grieving over hair. I know how much worse it could be. My feelings don’t give a shit. They twist me up in knots just the same.

I appreciate the intention. And I know trauma makes people uncomfortable and they don’t know what to say. Often, there is nothing right to say. So I’m not mad at them. I hate the words, not the people trying to help or comfort. I’m mad that I have to be here at all to have these reactions.

I don’t want to be brave. I don’t want to be told I’m beautiful even without hair.

I want someone to crawl into the hole with me, hold me in the dark and say fucking NOTHING. But most people avoid that hole their entire lives. They may be looking down at me extending a hand, but I don’t want to be seen in the blinding light up there. I just want to keep sinking.


I have shaved my head. I have tattooed my scalp. I have tattooed on eyebrows. I have bought fake eyelashes.

I am trying.

The obvious solution that is always thrown in my face is wigs. And I have tried them. I shaved my head in October so, with Halloween, prime wig season. I picked up some cheap, ridiculous ones to try. I am ridiculous, and I also thought it would be easier if I didn’t feel like I was trying to get away with being bald. Sheer white or glitter red would obviously be a wig.

So I tried one in public. I wore a stark white bob out to a show. My head felt warm for the first time. I didn’t think about people staring at my scalp. I noted the weird glances, but overall, I felt okay about it. Then two of my friends drunkenly read me down about how horrible of a wig it was.

I appreciate honesty. I always want to know the truth rather than have my feelings spared. But I didn’t ask. And I definitely didn’t ask to keep hearing it. I was too raw to receive criticism. I was like a baby fawn trying to stand, and it was just a kick over. I was too weak and sensitive to receive the honesty I usually demand.

I haven’t really wanted to try wigs since.

I did wear one for Halloween and a dance performance that was well received. My Morticia.

However, the feeling of the long hair, the way it brushed my shoulders and swung from my head, was extremely triggering for me. I was acutely aware of all the ways the hair felt and how strange it now was, how much I didn’t have it anymore and missed it. It highlighted the loss. It tickled the basic sensations I was missing. This was also when I was quite tender, so I could barely handle it.

Wigs also feel like faking it to me somehow. I am over disclosive and have no filter. I advertise most things about myself. I find that putting on a wig or drawing on my eyebrows feels like lying. The disguise makes me more insecure than the ugly truth.

My entire life, when I put makeup on, a hateful and insidious voice whispers, just putting lipstick on the pig. Putting a wig on that has that voice screaming about trying to pass a pig as a person.

Instead, it’s hats. My hat collection has exploded. Usually, I rock a black beanie in the Joe Pesci in Home Alone vibe. But hats are where I hide. I know they don’t erase my lack of hair, but I feel more comfortable with just that layer of cloth.


In short, I am not coping well. If that was not already obvious.

I am a fucking mess. My depression and insecurity have filled me with every impulse to become a hermit. I have lost myself and I’m grieving, all the while feeling stupid and weak for being so affected by just hair.

Every time I get a foothold on adjustment, the Alopecia is like, “but wait… there’s more!” I settled with losing my hair… then the eyebrows. I managed that… now the eyelashes. Every addition kicks me back farther than where I started. I don’t think I would be okay even if we stopped at my head, but the constant kicks make it harder to even know where I am. Eventually, I will run out of hair, but by then, I may be an emotional disaster.

If I’m not already.

Mirrors are the worst. Maybe even more painful than pictures (obviously I still take plenty of pictures) and people’s reactions. I could be having a great day, feeling comfortable in myself again, allowing myself to interact with people and be happy, letting myself feel good. Then I see a fucking mirror. I see that stranger, all that hairless flesh, and it’s all ruined. I start all over again.

I’m a very social person. I’m an exhibitionist. I take a shit ton of pictures. I am a dancer and perform on stage. I like to be seen. Shit, I need to be seen. Now, I don’t want to be. I want to cover my massive bald head and fake eyebrows and fake eyelashes and hide.

The lack of socialization is already hitting me (hard) in just these few months. It’s not who I am to not be with people. It is definitely not who I am to not share what I have going on unfiltered. But I can’t keep saying the same thing, and I can’t take their eyes full of that damned pity.

The isolation is amplying my depression exponentially.

When I shaved my head, I told myself I was done performing. I had already worried that I had gained too much weight to be on that stage, and I was convinced I was not at the same caliber as the other performers in the shows. But I loved that public expression of art and needed the community.

I am trying to force myself back in. I changed almost all of my profile pictures to bald pictures. I signed up to perform a duet later this month. I am making plans out in the world. I don’t want to… but I have to.

It seems trivial to resign from life over hair loss. Just hair. But I would love to see how everyone who said that felt with chunks of hair in their hands, throwing hats across the room as they cried on the floor.

Losing control of my body and how I physically express myself has fucked me up. I can’t keep trying to deny it. If I ever want to get over it, I have to accept it and what it is doing to me.

I have already written a horror short infected by this experience. Now to find a place to release it into the wild. If nothing else, I can hide in my words.

Christina Bergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Fuck 2022.

2019 was an unpleasant year for me. Since then, every year has leveled up the bullshit. Even having the audacity to make things global.

This post is brief and mostly pictures because much of it is personal and tender bruises to poke. I also just don’t want to talk about it. This year could largely be summarized by dance and medical adventures. With a lot of life sprinkled in between.

I hit the last year of my 30s. It feels like the pandemic swallowed half the decade. I celebrated with goats and yoga.

I attended Telluride Horror Show, of course. The festival was great. However, the experience resulted in some family drama. I have always had tense and complicated relationships with my close family. I was taken off guard when the same sort of issues arose in my chosen family. It hit harder. But I guess people and core dynamics are all the same.

I returned to a bit of horror modeling, which felt like an old glove sliding on.

I danced and performed a lot, basking in expression and community. I’m not very good, but I do keep finding a spot on the occasional lineup. The events at Club Q hit very close to home, a place I know and have danced at, a community I’m a part of.

And more than me, my family is constantly dancing. It’s a lifestyle for us.

I have had a sprinkling of minor health issues for a while. However, they seemed to culminate this year. They have developed from insignificant and inconvenient to barging into my daily life. I don’t want to go into a detailed medical history, but so many acute conditions have taken over.

I’ll write about it later, but the most recent and noticeable is losing my hair. It has been more traumatizing than I realized it would be.

As part of these health changes, I lost many of my coping mechanisms (unhealthy as they may have been). So I dealt with ink therapy. Getting tattoos seemed to be a way to exercise some control over my body again.

Author-wise, I did finish another novel (using NaNoWriMo to focus) and worked on the previous. I wrote a few short stories. “Enjoy Your Show” is published in The Horror Collection: Sapphire Edition. “Elves Watching” is up on Meghan’s Haunted House of Books.

So pretty productive for a shit show year.

I also finally got back out there and did some vending and signings. None were wildly successful, but I did see more action than most of them.

There were plenty of bright spots in a dark year, plenty of life and memories being made amidst the stressors. I told myself over and over during the year to not let the bad things take over, to not let them steal this time from me that I would never get back. I’m not sure how successful I was, but I did try.

I know the new year is just an arbitrary date on the calendar we made it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t treat it like a fresh start, year after year, and hope it actually takes one year.

Christina Bergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

It has been about a quarter since my last accountability post about my writing progress. I am happy to say that the plan has worked. I have found my way back to writing. (Medication also doesn’t hurt, but that’s for another post.) Perhaps my passion and enjoyment is not as high as it has been at other times, but it has been good.

Broken Glass Photography

My life has descended into a bit of chaos. Writing became expression and escape once more. As it always has been for me.

Broken Glass Photography

I was dreading restructuring my WIP novel (partially because the critiques undermined my perception at a weak time). And it was a slog, a long road with many turns, rest stops, and detours. Yet I reclaimed the fun in the process. Once I let myself be swept away by the world and reacquainted with my characters, I lost myself there. I enjoyed creating new chapters to expand things. The story grew in my mind, and that is one of the best parts of writing.

Now, the WIP novel is off to some gracious beta readers to let me know if I have stitched Frankenstein together to resemble a man. Then I will give it an end to end edit (likely hidden in a hotel as is my usual). At that point, we will be back to where I started, and I can try to mount the publication hill once more.

And it has definitely moved me up the agenda:

  • Get to the next milestone in the new story ✔️
  • Outline the restructure of the rewrite novel ✔️
  • Restructure the rewrite novel and write new scenes ✔️
  • While rewrite novel cools, edit fan fiction novel ✔️
  • Post fan fiction novel ✔️
  • Edit rewrite novel
  • Return to new story

I have been posting my fan fiction novel, Father Death. My playful escape, my writing jumpstart is still bringing me joy. It tickles me to live on that side of the movie, so putting it out in the world makes me happy. Especially just in time for horror season.

It is nice to feel like myself mentally as my physically form is enduring minor deterioration. I return to writing as my safe space, my break in the storm, my center. While it is not perfect, as nothing in this life is, it is familiar.

I have even done some author events in person. The first since the pandemic. I’m still pretty terrible at promoting and selling, but I am trying to adapt to the shifting landscape. Though I would prefer to focus on only creation. This is part of being a published author, I suppose.

So I interrupt the regular posting of Father Death episodes to say I am alive (if not a little wounded); I am back to writing; and I am making progress. One of my favorite things is to check things off a list.

Tell me… how do you distract from the madness around you? How do you coax yourself into being productive?

Christina Bergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

They hiss “narcissist”, the word flattening to slip between their teeth, yet that is not the right word. That is not the correct disorder.

My reflection has always been a stranger. In my dark youth, she mocked me, tormented me. Yet, once she lost her teeth, she remained an other. Even now, after these decades together, I study her, mesmerized by any capture or reflection.

I have no solid sense of my physical form. My consciousness feels too expansive, too malleable to align with the flesh. I know my mind, could recite the wrinkles between memory, emotion, trauma, and motivation. The paths are deeply carved and familiar. Yet my own appearance eludes me, shifts and changes in the photos and mirrors that transfix me.

I do not take the pictures to worship my form, rather to trap it in an image so I might get acquainted with it. So I might know myself. Then inevitably to scrutinize it, to evaluate each curve and angle and compare it to my twisted expectations.

Would I feel like her if this changed or that?
Is this what I look like to other people?

When I glimpse a me I like, a me that seems to resonate as true, I post it. Not to be showered by likes and comments but to be seen, to pin it into existence, to hope that it is me and someone else agrees.


It has been a while since I have posted an update, particularly a personal one. I have been happily distracted with posting Scream fan fiction.

The mini post above has a touch of truth to it, a vein of accuracy. Maybe it always has but especially now when I find myself at odds with my body. I suppose I have always struggled with my body due to my profound ungratefulness. Now, it has rewarded me by undermining the care it used to take of me.

I won’t delineate the details because they ultimately don’t matter and I have a medical chart to hold them. For a couple years, my comfort in my flesh steadily declined. In tandem, my mind stumbled downward, lost in the dark sea in my chest (ahem, Mid-Life Terminus).

Recently, my doctor has finally found some treatments to reduce the more dire symptoms. Suicidal depression, constant discomfort, bloodless digits have been quelled for the most part. Yet that calm allows the smaller, more superficial ailments to shift into focus.

And so, even without the pain, my body does not feel like mine. Even more than usual, I do not recognize what I see. I don’t feel right in my skin, like I belong in a different form. I want back what I never appreciated.

This all has me confronting my vanity, what I consider to be defining and important about myself. My mind tells me one thing, but my emotions refuse to heed it. The expectations I have do not align with reality, and I cannot seem to accept the gulf in between.

So what is the point to all this whining? Nothing. It is all just a little context to the small piece that spilled out of my head. Sometimes, we like to hear where things came from.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screamicon.webp

Christina Bergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

Where am I now? Not dead, for one.

But more importantly, where am I with my writing plan and goals? This is an author blog, after all (or so I tell myself between sappy, self-indulgent posts). As you may recall, this was the agenda:

  • Get to the next milestone in the new story
  • Outline the restructure of the rewrite novel
  • Restructure the rewrite novel and write new scenes
  • While rewrite novel cools, edit fan fiction novel
  • Post fan fiction novel
  • Edit rewrite novel
  • Return to new story

Shockingly, despite all the efforts of my mind and body to derail me, I am currently working the third/fourth bullets.

I am in the midst of restructuring my rewrite novel, marching through the new outline, rewriting scenes, and adding new pieces as I go. And I am actually loving the work. The book is taking a new shape that I don’t hate, and I am enjoying being back in that world. I remain a touch salty about abandoning my initial vision, but I am making my peace as I see the potential in what it is becoming.

I also sent the fan fiction novel to an editor. I have it back now, so I just need to prep it to release here on this blog. I have an artist friend (anyone who follows me closely knows who) who might contribute some creepy visions to accompany the words. I believe my plan is to release it serially by chapter. Perhaps one per week. It might be more apt to wait until horror season or when the franchise releases another movie but… fuck it. This is a passion project, so it’s about me.

I feel good. I feel like I am regaining my stride, nothing like before this slump (crash/burn/near abandonment of the writing I’ve done since I could hold a pencil). However, I have accepted that I do not need to always be that vicious with my time. The pandemic changed my perspectives (a little) on time management, balance, and being busy.

My marketing and promotion has gone to shit though. Aside from trying to recapture my joy and there being no joy there and trying to find new avenues post-COVID, mostly I am lost in the algorithm-laden bullshit of social media. It is inordinately challenging to connect with people now, even more difficult to get traffic on posts without paying. It’s all content into the abyss. And I have not landed on an alternative yet. I have been spending so much time trying to rekindle my drive that I have not been able to cast a glance in that direction.

Problems for another day.

I am looking forward to having produced something to release into the world. Without the traditional publication process and formal requirements just makes it easier. I am looking forward to reshaping my rewrite novel and hopefully creating something better so I can find a home for it. Then I can return to my WIP novel and start fresh again.


On an unrelated/related note, (I don’t want to jinx it but) I feel like I might be coming out of the recent heavy gloom. I don’t want to be faked out by a fleeting mania, but this feels more substantial. As if I have finally breached the surface and can breathe again.

Christina Bergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

“Did you miss me?” she said into the abyss.

I have been out of it as far as writing, posting, connecting. What happened to me?

Christina Bergling

Like my writing? Check out my books!

  • Followers – You never know who is on the other side of the screen. Followers is a mystery and thriller that blends women’s fiction with horror.
  • The Rest Will Come – Online dating would drive anyone to murder, especially Emma.
  • Savages – Two survivors search the ruins for the last strain of humanity. Until the discovery of a baby changes everything.
  • The Waning – Locked in a cage, Beatrix must survive to escape or be broken completely.
  • Screechers – Mutant monsters and humans collide in the apocalyptic fallout of a burned world. Co-authored with Kevin J. Kennedy.
  • Horror Anthologies

I don’t know how I feel about summarizing this past year–2021. In some bizarre time anomaly that is the current state of things, it simultaneously feels like I was just reluctantly typing my 2020 in Review and as if 2021 alone spanned five normal years. I am not sure how time can sprint by in a blur while raking in painful slow motion. Yet, here we are.

2020 was simple and easy to review. It was shit. 2021, however, was more complicated as so much continued to be messy and challenging while other components attempted to limp back toward “normalcy.” I found myself weak and damaged.

Floundering is a good word that comes to mind. Yet I did flounder through, and when I look back from a more pragmatic hindsight, I can see progress, accomplishments, and healing mingled with my struggles.

When I compare 2021 to 2020, I can truly appreciate the highlights. Right now (and in this post), I am choosing to focus on the highlights.

Followers Release

Perhaps the largest highlight of my year was the release of my fifth book, Followers, by Crystal Lake Publishing.

Crystal Lake Publishing was a pleasure to work with, especially in challenging times when I could not celebrate or promote a new novel in ways I have in previous years.

Followers is a novel that allowed me to question and play with themes and concepts that have come up during my time in the horror genre. It also got me to stretch and grow writer muscles. I feel like I took a step forward with this book. And it makes me want to take another. (I think I did with my yet unpublished WIP, and I stand poised for another with the next I plan to start.)

Publication is always an accomplishment for an author.

Telluride Horror Show

Telluride Horror Show was back in person this year! Vaccinated and masked but in Telluride!

After traveling next to none in more than a year prior, it felt so good to go somewhere. It was comforting to be in one of my favorite places. Even with the precautions, the event maintained itself. Most of the festivities were able to happen unchanged or simply migrated outdoors.

There was no more appropriate time to go than right after releasing Followers since I included the Telluride Horror Show in the book. While writing and editing and reading and re-reading Followers, I had been dying to walk to streets of Telluride again.

It was the vacation I needed.

And of course, we snuck in an amazing winter hike. Because one cannot survive on horror movies and booze alone… right?


Yes, I returned to the challenge, the torment, the sprint for a second year. Last year, I used the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo – 50,000 words in one month) challenge to complete my novel Green Eyes. A novel I am still working and querying a year later.

This year, I was struggling with my relationship with the craft. I wanted to use NaNoWriMo to find my way back to my passion for writing. I wanted to strip away all the collateral parts of writing–the querying and editing and publishing and promoting and marketing–and return to just the act itself. So I turned to a genre I have never attempted, fan fiction.

Fan fiction can never be published for profit, due to copyright infringement. Since I could never do anything with the story, there was no pressure in writing it, just the creation of the story, just the pure act.

So I took my first and one of my favorite horror movies: Scream. I focused on the original movie from the perspective of the killers, with some before and after. I watched Scream a bunch of times and combed through the script. It was an experience, and it accomplished the goal.

I don’t know that I’ll ever do anything with Father Death. I have mused on polishing it up and posting it to this blog. However, it was fun to compose and brought me back to wanting to write again.

Now, I just have to wait and see how it aligns with Scream 5.

High School Speaking

Odd and out of character, one of my favorite author things to do is speak at schools. During lockdown, I even did it over Zoom. But I did miss it, especially during spooky season when everyone wants to talk about horror.

This fall, I got to return to one high school and talk to classes all day long. There were a lot of masks and distance involved, and the pandemic has definitely changed how students behave and interact, but I loved it just the same.

At these sessions, one of the teachers read one of my pieces to the auditorium. It was multiple layers of surreal. Reading my own work aloud is always a trip, but having another person read as I listened and watched the reactions added another layer.

It was not the same as when I have visited before the pandemic, but the world is not the same. We cannot expect things to snap back when years have passed and so much has happened. So instead of noting the differences, I appreciate how fun it was.

Metal Fusion Dancing

One thing that is better, that I do more of since the pandemic is performing, which seems odd. My metal fusion dancing is unrelated to writing. However, it does share a lineage with my love of horror. I often include horror themes, props, or imagery in my performances. For example, Pennywise or fake blood.

I used to dance and perform constantly with my troupe in Tennessee/Georgia. However, it has been slow returning to the activity since moving home to Colorado. I began finally dabbling and finding my way back to the stage preceding the pandemic and lockdowns. Yet as things have opened back up, I have found more opportunities, producers, and shows. I am seeing more traction.

I also continued to dance with my Southern troupe over Zoom and joined an online metal collective. So dance is firmly rooted back in my life.


It would be inauthentic to gloss over the depths of my depression in the past year or the ripples my struggles are still sending through my days. However, that darkness does not mean the entire year has been dark. There were plenty of highlights and joy. The best way to keep my head above the waves is to keep my eyes on those points of light and remember the tide will swell and recede.

So it is onward into another year. No resolutions. No expectations. Just the ambition and hope to continue progress and recovery and hopefully grow the ratio of highlights versus darkness.

Christina Bergling

Telluride Horror Show, back in person! If I can accurately stalk my own social media posts or count my own souvenir badges correctly, this was our fifth Telluride Horror Show attendance (inclusive of last year’s virtual rendition). I was thrilled to back in Telluride this year.

For the past two years and pandemic, the festival itself managed to go on largely unchanged. There were masks indoors and wristbands to verify vaccination or negative test status. Some events were held outside. Otherwise, all the things happened.

However, this won’t be my typical Horror Show write up because this was not my typical Horror Show experience. Not due to the fest–the fest itself was as normal as it possibly could be. The call was coming from inside the house. The trip to Telluride afforded me the time to finally take a breath, and when I did, many things surfaced in my mind. Horror has always been a coping mechanism for me, so I supposed it was an apt time for some processing.

In all cases, it was much needed.

Bridal Veil Falls

Sure, three days of horror movies and events is enough to fill a weekend. However, considering we have to drive across the state to get to Telluride, we decided to cram more into the trip. Plus there is always that masochistic outdoor streak.

My father has been scolding me yearly for being in Telluride and not doing the Bridal Veil Falls hike, so this year, we finally got it together and did the thing.

The weather was amazing. My Viking heart was singing through the frigid snow contrasted with the blazing fall colors on the trees. I was euphoric and zen, in my total happy hiking place. We took the long walk through town to the trailhead to truly absorb it.

When we got to the trailhead, there was even more snow on the mountain and we were the first on the trail, so there was no trail. We had to trailblaze through the untouched powder the entire way up. It was an adventure. And a slog. Lots of slipping and sliding. For just over a mile, it was a journey.

Totally worth it. Gorgeous frozen falls times three. It was the perfect way to kick off the weekend and get the blood pumping before sitting in theaters for three days.

Author Stalking

One of the highlights of Telluride Horror Show for me this year was all the author events. Telluride always hosts an enviable set of author activities. I have seen Paul Tremblay and Jeremy Robert Johnson in previous years. Yet this year included Stephen Graham Jones.

I was introduced to Jones’s work this year when a beta reader suggested The Only Good Indians as a comparable title to my WIP novel. I read it and fell in love with that book and Jones’s style in general. I immediately devoured My Heart is a Chainsaw and Mongrels. I was hooked and so excited to see him in person.

Jones and Tremblay both read (and Johnson riffed) at the Creepy Campfire Tales. Then, prior to a book signing, the three held a Horror Summit to discuss writing and horror genre topics.

This all hit at a strange time for me. I find myself a bit lost in my writing career, and I’m not entirely sure why. I just released my fifth book (Followers) with Crystal Lake Publishing. I have wanted to work with Crystal Lake for a long time, and releasing a book is always a success, so I should feel happy and accomplished. I already have another novel drafted and ready to submit. Though it has garnered a bunch of agent rejections, I still love it.

So, why am I questioning my writing career? Why is my resolve weakening now? Listening to these professional authors speak somehow left me feeling even more conflicted, made the real dream seem even farther away. I left the events full of admiration… and increased self-doubt, which is uncharacteristic for me.

The Movies

The Telluride Horror show is really all about THE MOVIES! So what did I see?

Admittedly, I saw less this year than I usually do. My social stamina was not where it used to be, so I did not have the drive to attend every round of every day. We also had a baby in our party, so I took several child care shifts. Then I devoted a good portion of my time to the other events (authors and trivia). Plenty of horror movies still happened.

The viewing experience was somewhat off for me this year too. At first, being in a full theater was bizarre. It had been two years since I was in a packed theater. The first time I was seated directly next to a stranger, I found myself curling toward my husband, as if I was going to crawl into his lap like a cat. But I got over that quickly and reacclimated to being social.

More than that, my triggers were misaligned. Movies that were hyped up to upset me passed over my mind smoothly, while others that seemed inane stirred unexpected responses. Ghosts were moving beneath the surface of my mind that I could not identify. The horror called to them.

The Sadness

HOLY SHIT this movie. The Sadness gets every trigger warning. Graphic, gory, disturbing, fucked… but brilliant.

The movie is unsettling enough with its COVID parallels. The news reports sound all too familiar. Then it takes a swan dive off into horrific. Yet it is not splatter or shock gore. While traumatizing, it is all calculated. The despicable things depicted contribute to the story, drive the plot points.

The movie is about showing what terrible things are right below our surface, right under our thin veil of control or civilization. The Sadness renders a sublimely sickening vision of what is behind that veil. Yet it maintains lines where the camera pulls away and leaves even worse things for the imagination of the audience. That control made what is deliberate on screen all the more effective.

While a challenging and one-time watch, The Sadness is my favorite from the fest and a movie I needed to see.

Sinister Stories Shorts

The “Sinister Stories” shorts block included some creepy and interesting offerings.

Koreatown Ghost Story was my favorite short of the fest. Extremely succinct and unnerving, it offers just enough to draw you in and deliver the right impact. I loved it.

Face Not Recognized. Try Again has an interesting concept that left me with numerous questions. You’re Family Now delivered a creepy interpretation of grief.

Let the Wrong One In

Horror comedy is always a solid bet for our group. We love it, and even when it goes wrong, it is usually ridiculous enough to keep us entertained. Let the Wrong One In brings Irish vampires. One junkie brother shows up bitten instead of strung out, and things unravel from there. The movie is funny and entertaining as long as the brothers fumble in their own house. Once the story left that structure, it sort of lost cohesion.


The big budget, mainstream closing night movie. I have very mixed feelings on Antlers. On the surface, it is a formulaic, highly produced, entertaining horror movie with a very good monster.

Yet the formula is also a bit tired. As the story borrowed the wendigo from Native culture, it felt like another instance of white characters telling a not white story. It could have been more interesting with a couple steps out of the typical box.

The ending is also pretty weak.

When the Screaming Starts

More horror comedy. When the Screaming Starts is a pseudo mockumentary about an aspiring serial killer starting a cult. The story has a lot of potential, yet much of the comedy does not land as strong as it should.

Broadcast Signal Intrusion

To be honest, I slept through part of this movie, so I’m not sure how inclusive my opinion can be. I was well schooled on the inspirations for the movie, which definitely made it more interesting. I found the first half very intriguing, a solid mystery. Then the movie lost steam. When I woke up for the ending, I was left confused and wanting (more so than from being unconscious).

Black Friday

I was potentially the most excited about Black Friday. Holiday horror comedy with Bruce Campbell? Yes please! I was expecting something in the vein of perhaps Krampus. I’m not sure what the fuck I got. I don’t know that the movie knew what it was.

I think I was expecting the commercial commentary to be foundational, a la Dawn of the Dead. Instead, it was more sprinkled like salt as random references. Then the threat shifts from zombie-like shoppers to some sort of amalgamation monster, and that transition is poorly portrayed. All the characters are extremely cliché, but it is not pushed far enough to be caricature. Ultimately, just so disappointing.

“Folked Up Horror” Shorts

Folk horror is not my preferred genre. I definitely have selections I enjoy, but I am in no way an expert. The shorts in the “Folked Up Horror” block were bizarre. The musical taxidermist in Stuffed is fantastic and more entertaining than I usually find musicals. Then The Wet Nurse personally traumatized me with breastfeeding flashbacks and horrifying potential. The others fell relatively flat or outright confusing.


We always attend Fright or Wrong trivia and muddle our way through. By some miracle of betting on the right question last (in person) year, we won. We managed to pull it off again this year. This time, the feat was accomplished by the combination of having two experts in 80s horror combined with two strangers joining us more fluent in filmmakers and modern horror.

Win or lose, it is always a fun time. And ridiculously hard questions.

In the End

Despite whatever cycles or processing I had percolating under my surface, the breath this trip afforded me to acknowledge them was so needed. Vacations or breaks of any kind have been scarce since the pandemic, and I am glad that we used it for Telluride Horror Show. The fest managed to preserve itself and return post lockdown with the same level of horror, community, and events.

Can’t wait until next year!

Christina Bergling

I want to give it all up.
All the striving.
All the pushing.
All the trying.
I just want to stop
and forget I ever wanted to.
I won’t.
But that’s what I want right now.
To quit.

Upon reflection, I realize I have motivation cycles. Perhaps more aptly, I have bouts of despair or abandonment compulsion (I WANT TO GIVE IT ALL UP) cycles.

I seem to fall into these sinkholes in the following circumstances:


As a horror author, fall is a significant time of year. Halloween and spooky season are ultimately horror season. This is the time of year when I should feel the most engaged, excited, and inspired. This is the time of year when everything I love should just be in the air around me. Yet, more and more each year, I just feel daunted. The expectations of the season have almost sucked the joy out of experiencing it.

Launching a Book

Again, a time when I should be thrilled. I am an author, and I have a book being published. This is what it is about! This is the success! Yet it is simultaneously so draining. It is like the last mile of a marathon or labor at the end of pregnancy. Yes, a wonderful accomplishment and bliss is on the other side, yet as it gets closer, it feels farther away. As I slog through promotional preparations and launch requirements and steel myself for the incoming negative reviews, it feels like I will never cross the line, my baby will never see the world.

Querying a Book

Trying to get a novel published may be a torment only surpassed by editing the damn thing. After pruning, packaging, fluffing, and presenting the manuscript with more diligence than when job hunting, my tender heart is only met with a barrage of rejection or silence. Insecurity, doubt, and self-loathing are all that swell to fill that void.

Looking at the Numbers

Any numbers. All of the numbers. Sales. Downloads. Reviews. Followers. Works in my library. No matter how I grow them, they seem insufficient. No matter how I scrape, they never seem to match the effort. Comparison is the thief of joy, as I tell my children, but these numbers are all based in comparison to other numbers I never meet.

Any of these things, all of these things weaken my resolve, cue my insecurities. Each beckons sweetly to just set down the heavy burden of the dream and let it simply float away forgotten.

This round, it is more than a beckon, and it is surely not sweet. I don’t just want to quit writing. Life itself is beating me up, for many reasons, and I want to quit just about everything. Add to this that I am experiencing ALL of these triggers at once. Fall and Halloween are approaching. Crystal Lake Publishing is releasing my novel Followers on September 24th. I am currently querying my novel Green Eyes to absolutely no success. And all my numbers mock me as my socials seem to have died.

It is all the things, all the things that make me want to give up on being an author.

What makes me not want to give up? Writing.
What am I not doing? Writing.

If I remain calm, I know from experience that these things will pass. I will excavate my motivation again. Yet the confluence of all the triggers compounding the angst and depression from the rest of life is challenging.

I feel overwhelmed and burned out. The chorus of the world right now.

I want to quit, but I am not going to. This too shall pass. I will ride this wave back into the writing for which I am here.

Christina Bergling

I have been a woman online for a long time. Not to date myself, but I was a young girl back on AOL, making IM friends with absolute strangers. The platforms and technology have advanced substantially since that horrendous dial-up tone, yet that cyber reach across the world, that pseudo-anonymous access to strangers remains the same.

In my tenure, I have seem some things. In more recent years, I have had the decided displeasure to experience one laughable phenomena: the unsolicited dick pic.

Now, we could delve into the psychology of photographing one’s genitals then thrusting them upon a stranger via their DMs. I’m sure plenty of smarter people have already analyzed the topic. I definitely included it in my horror novel about online dating, The Rest Will Come. Because, honestly, can you write a book about online dating without including a few dick pics?

Maybe you have never snapped a picture of your engorged member. Maybe an uninvited phallus has never graced your inbox. Maybe they are part of your daily ritual. Maybe you love receiving a foreign eggplant snap and they brighten your day when they pop up on your screen.

Leaving motives and judgements aside, for those of you who send, let’s instead just touch on some basic dick pic etiquette. (Of course, “dick pic” suggests one kind of genitalia; however, I think these guidelines can be neutralized and applied to all gender expressions. Take the “dick” vernacular to mean whatever you like.)

Dick Pick Guidelines

If you feel compelled to document and share your anatomy, consider the following:

1. Consent – No dick pic should ever be unsolicited. There’s a reason exposing yourself without permission or in public in the real world is illegal. No one should open a message and be confronted with a piece of your body they did not agree to see. I suppose with a large enough sample, you might see some success and positive response. However, I have to think a targeted approach where you secure consent before the dick comes out would be more successful in the long term. Like real life, talk before you whip your dick out.

2. Sender Beware – As you are blasting pictures of your anatomy across the internet, consider permanence. Let’s remember that things on the internet are forever. Even with an expiring, view-once message, there are screen captures. Even a deleted thread still exists on a server somewhere. Just because you can no longer see it does not mean it is gone. I would caution not sending anything you do not want popping up in a more public forum. And if you are stepping out of a relationship, recall that your partner may recognize your member out wandering through other people’s inboxes. And if you did not refer to #1, this could become more of an issue.

3. Realism – No one thinks that porn still is you. No one believes you have studio lighting and a professional manscaper. If you have followed #1 and found someone who wants to see it and considered #2 and feel safe sharing, maybe use your actual dick. Otherwise, what are we even doing here? Unless perhaps the purpose of the exchange was phallic catfishing. If your intent is ultimately a physical follow through, they might notice.

4. Composition – If you have made it through #1 and #2 and even committed to #3, let’s talk about picture composition. I understand the convenience of shooting in the bathroom. Your pants are already down. Perhaps you saw your dick and thought it was popping in the lighting. But perhaps you could angle yourself to exclude the toilet. If you cannot crop that out, could you at least flush? You may be undermining your goals by not considering your background.

I appreciate the tempting, seeming anonymity of the internet. It can appear like a dark corner where no one will notice. In reality, it is more tracked and surveilled than the real world. When in doubt, follow the same rules that apply in the real world. Get permission. Don’t do something you’ll regret. If you’re going to do it, make it real and look good.

Ultimately, this is the internet. This is THE place to find the person who is into whatever you are into. So if you are into sending off pictures of your genitals, I wish you the best in finding a willing and happy recipient. A little cyber etiquette could not hurt in that endeavor.

Christina Bergling