Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Where I’ve been (emotionally)…

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

I have depression. I’ve always had it. I mean, like, my earliest memories are generally me being sad. In elementary school I’d fantasize about getting hit by cars on the way to school (not to die, just to be hit), so yeah. I’ve always had it.

I began taking meds in high school and they worked for a while. Over the next 18 years, I went on and off various meds with varying success. I’ve done therapy. I’ve made great strides! I even had a few good years in my 20’s off meds, but it turned out I was just ignoring it until it made me very physically ill and I had to go to the doctor and get back on meds.

Cut to more recent years. The meds do less for me and have side effects that make it hard to live the kind of life I want to be living. So now what? I started doing research into alternative neurological options. I found something called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).

It sounds like made up nonsense like those magnets that improve your balance or similar gimmicks. They blast your brain with very targeted magnetic waves that stimulate a section of your brain that is often less active in depressed brains. After enough blasting, the neurons wake up and start balancing out your mood. It should last months to years before another treatment is needed and it’s generally just a short treatment period then. It’s got a pretty good success rate in clinical trials, it’s FDA approved, and covered by many insurance companies.

It turned out a friend of mine had done it, and it changed her life. Not an exaggeration. It’s pretty easy to spot where it happened in her life trajectory.

So I contacted SoCal TMS centers and decided to do it. It involves going to a treatment center for up to an hour a day, every weekday, for 2 months. I took a hiatus from acting since I couldn’t shoot during the week, obviously. My day job was cool with me taking a 2 hours lunch every day, which is really making up for all the lunches I generally work through anyway, so I think it evens out.

First TMS session

You can kind of see my eyebrow twitching here. it feels stronger. Also my teeth chatter a little. #TMS

A video posted by Laurel Vail (@laurelvail) on

Oh, did I mention it’s really loud? And I can’t really move my head during the session. I can read though, and they have TVs if you want to watch something. The time passes pretty quick.

Then after 4 weeks I felt better. Like, actually good. And just kept feeling that. It was incredible.

I wrote this for the Center to use on their website and for new patients:

Everyone’s depression is unique to them. I generally gauge mine by how many knives I’m imagining stabbing me at any given time. One knife? Pretty average day. So many I can’t count them or stop thinking about it? Time to call the doctor again.
I’ve been on and off various medications at various doses for about 18 years. They’ve had various levels of effectiveness, less so over time. It becomes a battle with being miserable from side effects or being miserable because I’m not on enough medication. Something had to change.
When I learned about TMS online, I asked my social network if anyone I knew had tried it and one good friend said she had. It was easy to tell when because her life took a dramatic shift upward. I had read the stats (about 72% success), but hearing it from someone I knew was more reassuring. And if it didn’t work, at least my insurance covers most of the cost so I didn’t have a ton to lose.

So here I am, 7 weeks in and it’s night and day. For me it hit the 4th week when I had a good day and then another and another… I’d had a few ok days in the last month, but now it was actually good. People are noticing the change in me. But most importantly I’m noticing the change myself.

Here are some FAQ’s I often get from my friends when I tell them about this:

What does it feel like?

It’s like there is a little woodpecker in my head behind my eye. It goes for a few seconds then takes a long break, then goes again. My left eyebrow twitches a little and my teeth chatter a little.

Does it hurt?

I guess? Sort of? It’s not really happening long enough to bother me. I’d describe the sensation as technically painful, but the amount of time is so slight that it’s over before I really feel uncomfortable. If they turn up the juice, so to speak, it hurts a little more, but it’s still just as short an amount of time in each burst.

Are there side effects?

There were maybe 2-3 times in the beginning where I experienced a slight dissociative episode for less than an hour. Basically my hands felt like they were somehow in the wrong place or that I was a few millimeters out of alignment with my body. This is something I’ve experienced before during bad migraines or other times, so it wasn’t unfamiliar. I also had one migraine. Otherwise I’ve had no side effects that I was aware of.

When did you think it was really working?

After about a week and a half of solid good days in a row. I was cautiously optimistic, but going froward from there I had another week and another. So I can say confidently it’s helped me.

What has changed for you?

Well, pretty early on the self injury thoughts went away. Then the next thing was I’d sometimes have an ok day or two. Then when I had a good day, I kept having good days. Instead of hating everything around me I loved everything around me. Instead of obsessing about my mood and my flaws, I started thinking about literally anything else. I started wanting things again. I started being able to work on my goals again. I went from not being able to bring myself to do anything, from hating myself, from shutting down entirely, to being an emotionally healthy person with dreams and self confidence.

So anyway.

Now that I feel like myself again, I’m ready to work! I’m writing again and working on producing a short this year. It’s very exciting. I’ll try to have more updates as I get back in the rhythm of things.

Feelin' better!

Oh Hai.

Monday, September 14th, 2015

So, it’s been a while since I posted anything. It’s been a long weird year.

Last time I posted (February) I was unemployed. That continued until the end of April. I did some freelance motion graphics and web design stuff. I worked on learning more web skills. I was a PA for a commercial one day. I tried being a Lyft and Uber Driving, about which I have mixed feelings. I eventually got super depressed and returned to medication and therapy, which I hadn’t been doing because of health insurance and all that garbage.

But then I got a great new job and things were much better. Then work got really, really busy this summer. It didn’t really interfere with auditioning though since I wasn’t getting any. I didn’t have time to self-submit, which is where I book most of my gigs. So I really only worked on one or two projects. I did a really funny short for my friend Doug at Psychic Bunny. (That reminds me to check in on the progress of that.) And then.. no I guess that’s it.

So then at the end of summer I was chatting with some folks about how I have wanted to dye my hair red for a really long time, but didn’t because I’d need new headshots and maybe I’d get less auditions, etc. But I was getting zero auditions anyway, so those were dumb excuses.
I’m happy to report that I now have red hair! I even got new headshots so I’ll probably keep it a while and see how it does.

Then after all that hair stuff, I learned that my theatrical agency was shutting down, so now I do not have an agent. I decided to also drop my commercial agency since they’ve only gotten me out maybe twice in like 2 or more years? Has it been that long? I’m pretty sure they forgot about me after maybe 6 months anyway, and then me dropping them back in 2013 as theatrical rep maybe didn’t encourage them? Eh, who cares? I’m totally un-represented currently. I figure I’ll leave myself open for something new to come along. It’s sort of bad timing since I am in a theatrically released film right now (more on that later), which is nice to note when you submit on projects. Oh well.

Mainly I’m planning on focusing my energy on producing my own stuff. It’s what ‘they’ all say you have to do now. And it’s what I want to do anyway. So I’m writing a lot and have a bunch of project ideas now. I just have to figure out which is the more feasible to accomplish first. And then I have to make that all happen. Which, weirdly, I think will be easier than getting a good agent.

Happy Holidays and stuff

Monday, December 1st, 2014

So, I took a break from blogging for a bit. I could say I took a break from acting, but really my normal jobby job was super busy for a few months so I didn’t have enough time for everything. Plus some misc personal life stuff was pretty stressful for a while. But things are ok and normal now. Unintentional break, over!

In the meantime I worked on a few student projects down at USC. I volunteered at a home for teen girls to help with a writing class a friend was doing. My husband and I did a very silly Hulu ad, which I haven’t seen, but apparently a friend of his mom’s did!

Oh and, Delivery: The Beast Within came out on DVD and got some more good responses. I preferred the theatrical poster, but this one is at least better than the UK version. They ended up photoshopping my face on another body, so I didn’t recognize it. I was like, “Those aren’t my ankles! I wish they were, but they are not!” They haven’t announced the streaming or cable dates yet, so I guess those deals are still in the works.

Then this month I get to be in another movie. I can’t say what but it’s going to be very fun. I can’t wait. As a bonus I booked it because they saw me in Delivery, which is pretty rad.

I’m also going back to class with Craig. I haven’t been in class in forever, so it’s so nice to be doing that again as well. All in all, I’m feeling optimistic about 2015. I’m hoping to be more focused than I was the last half of this year. I feel like I got pretty derailed and now I’m taking steps to getting back on track. Wooo wooo! (that is a train noise.)


Anyway, happy holiday season!

Back to class

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

So, we’ve almost finished paying the wedding debt, so I decided I should start spending some money on class.  It’s been waaaaay to long.  I go to regular workshops, but that’s not really enough.  This month I’m taking an on-camera audition technique class from Meg Morman and Sunny Boling.  A friend recently took it and really got a lot out of it.

We are one week in.  The first class they treated like it was an audition for the first half and the second was more of a lecture section.  Next week we get feedback.  I already know what mine will be, though I just watched it and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was.  So that’s good.  I prefer to forget about auditions shortly after leaving, so this is one I don’t get to forget until next week.  Should be fun though.  More group exercises next week.

The class is all women.  We had a lot of waiting time to chat and ended up talking a lot about TV, aliens, and astrology. I like hearing what people are into, especially when I don’t know anything about it.  Fun stuff.


New Agency! Working with Castle Hill.

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Today I met with Lisa and Alan at Castle Hill and they scooped me up across the board! Kim at ABA was understanding about it since they couldn’t add anyone to their theatrical roster at this time and it’s hard to find theatrical representation by itself.

I always feel a little bad leaving places, but sometimes you aren’t a right fit somewhere or they might not know how to market you, etc.  I left Daily Talent a little over a week ago, so I’m glad to have a new agency to work with already.  I’m hoping to parlay the good press from Delivery into some new opportunities.  Next month my goal is to find some workshops with casting people I’ve never met and hopefully soon I’ll be able to afford going back to regular classes.

Yay new beginnings and new goals!



Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

I decided to cut my hair back to a long pixie on Friday.  I tried tolerating the bob as long as I could, but I didn’t like it most of the time.  And as much as people would say they liked it, I did not.  I didn’t feel like I looked good unless I spent a bunch of time styling, and I’m not really into that everyday.  I’m one of those lazy actresses.  So, I chopped it off!  I feel so free!

Then an hour later I got a callback on  a commercial.  Oops!  I don’t think it mattered though.  And I think it looks better this way anyway.  ;)

Good start to a new year

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Ah, 2012. You were ok. More of a bridge between bigger things. As acting stuff was slow I occupied my time with wedding planning, so I wasn’t bored. I did finally join the Guild. Met new people, professionally and socially. Was super busy with my day job. But all in all 2012 was pretty good and has carried me to now.

I’m going to try and blog a bit more this year. Well, at least more when I’m not super busy with other life stuff. This year is already gaining momentum. Had 2 auditions today and another tomorrow.
The early one was a mousey girl in glasses with low self esteem, and then a masculine goth chick. Gotta say changing from glasses to contacts in the middle of the day is disorienting. Also, I do look different with this longer hair. The second one got my headshot mixed up with another girl because I brought an older punk one. It’s pretty likely that I will go shorter again after the wedding. I just think this longer cut will work better with my dress. :)

I guess that’s all that’s new.

Hello there. Not much is new.

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Things have been pretty slow lately if you haven’t noticed.  I’ve mostly been doing workshops and classes and such.  Also writing.  I figure I might as well work on writing if there aren’t any auditions happening.

It’s been slow for many of my actor friends too though, so I think it’s just the way it is right now.  Good news is that I’ve been getting in for TV co-stars recently, so at least it’s picking up a bit- plus some good commercial auditions too.  It’s the nature of the business.  I haven’t let it get me discouraged.  Luckily I’ve been busy at my day job, plus wedding planning, so my brain is pretty occupied.  ;)


Friday, March 30th, 2012

Well, even though they wouldn’t let me vote (I joined AFTRA too late apparently) there were enough (86% I think) others who voted for the merger that it passed. So now I’m officially in Mega-Union, which is the name I have decided to call it. Personally I am relieved that it happened.
Hopefully the growing pains won’t be so bad. I understand the concerns of folks who were against it, but I think now that there is one union, they’ll be able to address the concerns more directly.

Knowing my place

Monday, March 5th, 2012

I often catch myself making lighting and camera suggestions when they are trying to figure out how to make a shot work right.  I have this instinct to be helpful, but that’s not a good habit to form since some people don’t like actors trying to step on their toes.  It’s tough for me because I feel like we are a team, but I have to remind myself that I’m not in charge and they should figure it out on their own.  But then sometimes it just seems faster to point out what I can see from where I’m sitting.

I should try not to though unless I know the crew won’t be bothered by me.

This was not triggered by anything, I just noticed it’s something I was doing and realized maybe I shouldn’t. No one said anything to me about it, I just try to be self-aware.