This is one of my harder blogposts to write, because though I talk – a lot – about the impact my mental health has on my day to day life, and has done for a while, I’m pretty sure that this is the bit no one really understands, causes the most…misunderstanding and I hope, because I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, they can’t relate to. If you didn’t know that psychosis was a feature of my mental health diagnosis, or didn’t understand if you’d heard it mentioned before now, please…don’t start changing your opinion of me. That’s the biggest reason those of us with serious mental health issues aren’t as open as society needs. Because we lose people.
It was so hard to write in fact, that I didn’t, for a day. So, you’re not imagining it, this post went up a day late.
Sensitive child, with imaginary friends
I wish I could say that I know things would have been different now versus 30+ years ago, when I was growing up, but I’ll add this disclaimer to the beginning of the post. Currently, the mental health crisis, and in fact, the whole NHS service crisis, caused by politicians, is going to result in more young people growing up in various states like I did. My family did their best, and a lot of what I now know to be ‘just not right’ was ascribed to me being a sensitive, empathic child with a high intelligence. While I’m not saying that’s not true, I do feel that the fact that I wasn’t caught as autistic, or having issues with sensory processing, or possibly even ADHD as a child and teen says a lot about how the school system is ill-equipped, in a standard setting, to recognise that intelligence and mental health ‘quirks’ don’t always go hand in hand. I have a very high IQ, but, here I am, at 44, and I basically live a life that is safe for me thanks to my partner. I’m not saying it’s not because I can’t work, because I can and I do, but…I’ve had to build a job around my health, and right now, I’m at a bottleneck and don’t like it.
I grew up on a ‘working class’ estate (in quotes, cause I hate the terminology) in Edinburgh. By the time I sat my Highers, I was really struggling with my mental health, and it was basically ignored by the school. Hindsight being what it is, I was already becoming isolated and a bit insular, but I wasn’t the most popular girl in school, and was in fact bullied for most of my life, and…along with other incidents, the things I took comfort in – everything in my imagination – began to twist.
I’ve always seen and heard things. Always. But as an adult, those things became more violent, and more inward aimed.
I’ve addressed this a few times on Facebook, but…I hear and see one specific person. When I’m having a really bad day, she can distract me enough that she can convince me the house is on fire, or that people are coming for me with knives. But even on my ‘good’ or ‘neutral’ days, she’s there. She’s shouting at me now, for writing this, reminding me that I’m in a house on my own and that I’m on the top floor, and anything could happen. She…she’s always been there. Always. Whether she’s a manifestation of the things I think about myself, or something else is pretty much up for debate, but…I’ve never known a time that I can’t hear and see her. I’ve tried antipsychotics, and they don’t get rid of her, they just dull down the constant anxiety I live with (and hadn’t actually realised wasn’t supposed to be there until I asked after a trial on meds), so I find it easier to maintain a facade of not listening, and not reacting.
It’s hardest in situations where I’m either not in control, or there’s a lot of noise – especially loud noise – and motion around me. Which is why, I think, even my GP is surprised that I like LudoSport so much. And I’ve noticed that my best days are when I’m focussed on Petrichor (other post today, she’s my blade), and just doing what I’m told, rather than trying to keep track of everything and everyone. My BEST days are when I can wall her off for a bit, and do the things I love without fear. Tempus, my other half, supports me in finding those slots, but those days really are few and far between.
The best I can do to manage ‘her’ is to remember mindfulness, breathe, and try to ground myself.
No one knows unless I tell them – or they see me react
I think the most surprising thing about having any type of psychosis, even though it makes perfect sense if you think about it logically, is unless you tell someone, they don’t know. But… I’m going to explain why it’s surprising from, well from my point of view. Maybe others that live with similar (and again, I hope you don’t, it’s horrible, wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy) will agree, but if you live with psychosis for long enough, it’s normal to think that it’s real. If you’re so used to it being real, it’s…surprising that no one realises that you’re reacting to that, not something else. So, I understand why people are surprised when I talk about psychosis in such…steady and measured terms, but I still marvel at the idea that I’m the only one that actually sees her. That no one knows unless I let on.
And that’s the biggest issue with psychosis, after the physical and mental effect it has on those of us with it.
I bet, if you didn’t know about what I deal with, you see me a little differently now. And that’s ok – we always change how we see, and feel and think of people. But…I know that people will always wonder if I’m so unstable that I’ll hurt them – or others. Because that’s how people with a psychosis are portrayed. Whether it’s a component of schizophrenia and those cluster of diseases, or standalone, like mine (well, not really, I have CPTSD, Anxiety and other issues), I know that people see me as the media portrays psychosis.
It’s why I wrote run girl run. That’s a shared ‘R’ on Friday, because that’s my big news this year.
Like any other mental health issue though, instead of believing what pop culture portrays, think about me when you hear ‘psychosis’. If you didn’t know about it before this post, think about what you thought of me back then – I’m sure ‘funny’, ‘intelligent’ and ‘caring’ featured in there somewhere. That’s far more important than my mental health issues, because I still am. It’s important – and stigma breaking – to remember that label just means that I need extra help sometimes, that I’ve got an underlying reason for being a bit nervous of certain things, and that I’m no different from the Kai you knew going into this post.
I’ve got a really cool collection of Oracle and Tarot cards. I use them when writing, when considering what to do next, and just for comfort. Today, I thought I’d share some of my favorite oracle and tarot decks, and why I love them so much. (I bought mine, mostly, from my friendly local gaming store, Etsy, or was gifted them – most of the links to purchases for these are either Etsy, or if I can’t find them there, Amazon, so some might be affiliate links).
This is just a small set of my decks.
How I use them…
I use my tarot decks and oracle decks for everything from asking a question about something I’m struggling with, to using them to plot stories or seek inspiration. I have even generated out random stories to just spread my wings or play.
I love my Oracle decks the best really – the Starseed one often shows me ‘wait’. Until recently anyway.
Pictured – Octopus Tarot (Kickstarter) Elemental power Tarot Supernatural Tarot (I also have a Stranger Things, Diablo, Skyrim deck, and a fairytales deck which is my absolute favorite tarot right now). Urban Oracle Deck – from the creator The enchanted Map Oracle cards And the Starseed Deck, which I got on Etsy from a lovely store. (she doesn’t have that deck any more, but I get ALL of my stones from her that aren’t picked out in person, so if you are looking for lovely stones, check her out! I also have other tarot and oracle sets from her – she always goes above and beyond to ensure everything is perfect!)
What I’m doing going forward
Now that I’ve gotten set up in my own office, I’ll be offering three card oracle and tarot readings with the deck of people’s choice, and I’ll be sharing my oracle and tarot draws on a new page. If you’re interested in seeing the artwork or how I interpret my pulls, please sign up at my Facebook page (it’ll be a blog eventually ;)). And yup, it’s shared with my daughter, Artenapan :). We’re also in the process of designing a tarot tracking book, for all spread types that we use, so that’s fun.
I guess, as I’ve spent the last month planning everything, that I didn’t realise how serendipitous this week would actually work out.
Yesterday, I was lucky enough to spend a few hours just…soaking in the natural beauty in an arboretum called Batsford. Batsford Arboretum is one of those places that I’ve been, again and again, to relax. When I lived in Edinburgh, I wasn’t far from trees, water, nature (Colinton Dell), so when we moved, it was kinda hard for me, because though we still lived on the outskirts of towns, it wasn’t as easy to get to places as it was. I do have my front yard, and back garden now, but it’s been difficult to really get at the pretty, nature based things I love.
Recharge, reset, renew
I use my time in nature as a recharge, a reset and a renewal. I love trees and greenery (I’m lucky too now, that my office has a little space for greenery. I’ve got a bonsai tree and a hydroponic plant above my main writing shelf, and it’s just the best thing in the world to look at. When I’m really struggling too, my partner often takes me into a park or out to a place where I can just spend time surrounded by trees and other stuff. And, we’ve got four ‘go to’ places that we really love around there. Crickely Hill, which is a park nearby, Robinswood Hill, which is also nearby. We also love to go to two local Arboretums – Batsford and Westonbirt. And we spend *a lot* of time there.
So, yesterday, my daughter needed photos for her college work, and I spent the afternoon just…enjoying the blossom trees, and the magnolias. I’ve got some photos, I thought I’d share them today 🙂
First, the magnolia tree we found. It’s not one I’d ever seen before, with the branches growing straight up. It’s gorgeous.
Super slowmo chill
One of the things I’ve taken this time is some super slow videos of the waterfalls too.
What do you think? Peace, quiet, tranquility and a lot to see this spring 🙂
Today, I’m setting up my office (it’s our walk in wardrobe with the cutest Edwardian (style?) writing desk, covered in plants, pens and books, having managed to luck into a free day of writing. Normally, we’d be at another friend’s, playing Gloomhaven, but plans fell through, and my partner and I decided to use that time to do other stuff. He’s off having coffee with another dear friend, and, as I have a horrible ear infection, I was going to stay in bed and generally feel sorry for myself. And then I thought I could just get the room sorted for the summer season writing projects, so I did.
Music is a big part of my life – before Spotify, I’d turn my computer on in the morning, and we’d listen to music getting ready. Before that it was a stereo and CD’s, or tapes, or Vinyl. I grew up in a household where music – many styles – were enjoyed, so I’ve got a pretty wide-ranging set of tastes for music, and enjoy playing instruments too.
From woodwind to string, percussive and piano
I was really lucky, growing up, that I was given the chance to enjoy learning multiple instruments. I played the recorder, the piano, the flute, the cello, the guitar, and eventually, the tuba, officially at school, then went on to play various instruments. I’ve still got my flute, but I also play the mandolin now, something I’m almost confident enough to film myself doing. Music though, has always been something I’m obsessed with – mirroring today’s post is a post on my writing blog about the music that influenced my books.
It’s easier now to enjoy music, in some ways – I have access to most of the songs I love via Amazon, Spotify, or my own collection, and I still enjoy live music. I still sing, and my friends even know me well enough to know that I can’t compete in games for identifying music, probably because I’d never duel to get the points, but also because I know most of the music they picked. (Ludobury, I get to keep score!)
Today, I thought I’d make it easy to get to know me by sharing some of the stuff Spotify knows about my music taste – my yearly favorites for the year, and my “happy” playlist.
Just under a year and a half ago, I took part in a discovery class which changed my life. And I don’t mean that with any hyperbole. I mean it literally.
I have, as i’ve mentioned, CPTSD, anxiety and I’ll talk a little about psychosis later in the month. It’s also something I talk about in ‘Run Girl, Run’, which will be on my other blog later in the month.
How I joined…
(I’ve talked about LudoSport before a few times on my blog, so you may already know some of this)
Lockdown was, I guess, sort of the normal point of my life for the last five years, so 2020 wasn’t the shock it could have been to me. In fact, the only thing I really missed was going out for coffee with friends, and gaming with friends, which were not regular things. We stopped attending the cinema, but again, it was something I didn’t miss. My world was basically, Tempus, my kids, my cats, and I was even pulling away, I guess, online. I saw my family occasionally, when they visited us, and we visited them, but, I lived a very isolated life. I’d run Nanowrimo and Camp Nanowrimo, as I could, but I didn’t like to leave the house. At all. I’d go see my psych for treatment, and even then, by lockdown, all that happened was that I was living in a world where everyone in the UK was, basically, doing the same as me.
We both came out of lockdown looking to do something about our health. In my case, I went along to the discovery session to see what Tempus was talking about, because I fully expected not to enjoy it. But I did. A year and a half (nearly) later, and here I am, an Initiate, moving through Form 2, looking forward to the summer and more training, and then hopefully Form 3. I don’t duel often, but Thursday, unless I’m sick, is reserved, always for LudoSport. And if I’m sick and not contagious, I still often try to attend. Even if I can’t train, watching everyone lets me absorb so much.
We train, to our own needs, year round. We compete in the UK, and internationally (well, I mean ‘we’ as in the Academy. I rarely compete, because it’s not what I enjoy. And, honestly? That’s also ok. I don’t compete as much, but I go along and I provide help. If you know my role in the indie author community, sound familiar?) 🙂
That was October 2021. By December 2021, we both joined the Order of the Tempest, Clan Siren. We joined an amazing community, with so many wonderful people. Our Order, in Bristol, is the home of the current UK champion (our co-Rector and a good friend) and we’ve had several UK champions before him from our Order. More locally, there’s an academy in Cheltenham, Order or St Luke’s (who were not running when we started, and but we do join them for duelling when we’ve got time), and then there’s Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester. There are more hopefully coming, as, there’s now a push to train people to open academies.
A special community
I wanted to be clear on this – LudoSport isn’t pretending – it’s a controlled, rules based, safety oriented contact sport. It’s an all over workout. It’s great fun. And yes, it does really involve lightsabers. But, I think what makes it for me, more than all of that, is all of the people I’ve met. From the team at Bristol and those that I train with, and out visitors, but beyond that, there’s so many nice people in the UK, and those that I’ve met from the international community. And I did say ‘they changed my life’. There’s the easy stuff I can point to is that I’ve gone from 110lb, to 95lb. I’m a bit more confident and can do stuff that I’ve not been able to manage for years – I can go into shops and I can talk to people again. I can go off and grab my own little bits and pieces when others need to be somewhere. I can sometimes even leave the house to go for a walk, and frequently do go outside to the shared lawn near our house and practice with my saber. It might seem like small things to others, but… I even managed (mostly) to battle at Reignite the Light this year. For someone that, at one point, refused to leave my bed, and was told that I’d be untreatable, I think this is huge.
And while I know a lot of what appears (including in the Times, recently, for our international ‘Reignite the light 2.0’ tournament) is about the lightsabers, the thing I want to talk about in LudoSport isn’t just the fact that we get to duel, and are learning an interesting, engaging, FUN sport, but that they’re so good to us while doing it.
LudoSport is all inclusive. Doesn’t matter what you’re comfortable with, you can do everything that you can, and accomodations are made to support you. And just saying it like that isn’t…quite…enough, I guess. It doesn’t explain how caring and supportive everyone is. When I’ve had a bad night at training, whether it’s been because I’ve managed to ‘trigger’ myself (as in, something has made me unsettled, or I’m having a bad day because of my mental health and it hasn’t improved while training, the distraction hasn’t worked), or because I’ve just had an uncomfortable night in general (cause honestly? Any sport that you train in can just not be great, as in, it wasn’t a good, optimal day, you couldn’t feel good about what you did…all of that), and we all check in with one another. Our clan chats are hilarious, and as an Academy, we’ve been to a concert together. And, honestly, part of the ‘community’ is Porksides. Social events, sometimes after tournaments, where we all eat, meet, socialise together and hang out. There’s international tournaments, and a week of training in Italy, during the summer, for those that want intense practice, but…it really is all about what you want to get out of it. And, I guess, what you put in.
Would you like to join in?
I’d love to see LudoSport explode and give everyone a chance to enjoy it. I love the community and feel that there’s a lot that can come of it. I don’t know if it’d work as therapy the same was as it does for me, but I am talking to people about that. What I do know is that we’re a good community – the world over – and there are academies opening all the time. And the discovery sessions are a great way to get into it. If there’s not an Academy near you, keep an eye on LudoSport UK (for the UK) and LudoSport International for the rest of the world, because we’ve just had a batch of technicos train, to teach others to run an academy. The UK is running a class soon, while I’m sure there are others running elsewhere.
Let me know if you’ve got questions – if I can’t answer them, I’ll tag someone that can, and let me know what you think?
Wanna see some EPIC combat? Check out the pages, watch out for when we announce tournaments, and have a look around. I’m only at the beginning of my journey with the sport, and I’m in my 40’s, so it’s not just for young people either. Give it a try!
(With thanks, as ever, to my LudoSport community, who helped me put this post together, gave me the graphics, and the links to use. You guys rock!)
(please note, this is a rare blog with affiliate links in. Please do remember that when or if you click through). I have a Kindle Scribe. I got it as soon as I’d heard it came out, because I’d been eyeing the Remarkable for years, and when the Kindle Scribe came out, I jumped at the chance. It was a birthday present from my family, though I’d ordered it beforehand, and was excited to get it, and when it arrived in December, I was over the moon.
And I still am.
My everyday companion
I haven’t quite given up on my paper diaries, but, I’ve got everything else on my Scribe. Between it and Todoist, 99% of my ‘must do’ is all up to date. I’m finally at the point where I can, I guess say that everything that I’m not disrupted because of swapping stuff over, so I can say fairly confidently, that I’ve found everything easier since swapping over. And I get to work on my books on my Kindle – my book editing flow is so much better now.
The Kindle Scribe comes in three sizes, with two pens. I’ve got a 32GBs with premium pen, and I’ve grabbed another pen, which looks like a pencil 🙂
That sounds like so much fun! I love games, especially RPG. Haven't played with a group in a few years.…