(Don’t Google that, if you plan to watch Loki, the TV series, as the titular character sings it).
I’ve been equal parts restless, equal parts full of wanting to get on with changing things, but not having the energy to do any of it. So, as is my usual tactic, I’m actually travelling today. I’m going home. Tomorrow morning, I’ll be heading to my temple, called Goddess Falls. It’s known as another name in Edinburgh, but I’ll be taking my lightsaber with me in the morning.
Travelling, thinking, going home
We’re hoping that we get to go (so, either this’ll be going out as I’m on the road – in fact, I should be just getting to our end destination), and my tradition is to think and write and make notes, and hope that nothing goes wrong while I’m out of touch. Maybe do a bit of crochet, which I’m teaching myself.
Mostly though, today is a holiday. So Joyous Yule, may the wheel bless you as it turns, if you celebrate. And Merry Christmas/Happy holidays too!
Every week, I talk about putting out books, about editing, but I’ve been slow. Really slow, so I’ll keep trying but honestly? Pressure has never been my friend, but I’ve got to start moving on with my books. So, I’ll be thinking about that too while travelling. We’ve got little TV trays for our knees, so I’ll be travelling with one of them, my diaries, and my surface. Just in case.
Going home though… it is in my bones. I’m a Gaelic gal to the core, to the point that I feel home in my very soul. I bring a little bit of it back every year for my shrine. Today also marks the 25th year of being a standing High Priestess. Solitary, but still… it means this year I think I’ll be talking about my beliefs, my dreams, and what I’m doing it with my books to honour that stuff. But…regardless. I hope your Christmas period is good. I hope you see those you love. I hope you get to spend time with your family. I’ll be taking time out with mine.
Quite honestly, I’m not entirely certain how I feel right now. There are so many different things that I’ve been thinking about. How we measure success. What we consider ‘worthy’ work, when we think about our lives, and how we decide to measure what we’re doing. Like water over rocks, we often smooth away the knowledge we don’t like and find a way to let it settle. And time, like water down a hill, never stops.
Judgement – my own worst enemy
Self-judgement that is. And I think that’s true of all of us. We’re ALL our own worst enemies when it comes to deciding if we’re ‘doing what we’re made to do’. Which in itself is a loaded sentence.
I really hate the whole “we’re human beings, not human doings” concept. It distils and negates a lot of the struggle we all have with the needs and responsibilities, the wants and the necessities we all carry and balance. I’m a human being. I am. What I am right now? A little bit stressed, a lot melancholy. Because I’m judging myself against a list of things that I just can’t expect to meet. What I can say though is that I’ve achieved a lot that isn’t ‘obvious’. I was discharged from therapy, and told I’d successfully completed the work they wanted me to which is…awesome. I went into recovery care with the local unit over seven years ago. I moved two years ago, this week, to the unit the county over. I’ve put a commendation about Dr C. and my nurse, M, with my MP, I feel that strongly about their care. The whole NHS should be praised, for the last few years, of course, but the team that cared for me over the last few years especially, since just after my 40th birthday, are people that went above and beyond and made a real change to my life.
The grain silo, Being Human and more…
I’ve talked about these essays but never finished them. Some are actually in ‘And Miles to go before I sleep…’ and expanded upon. So, along with the retrospective coming for the rest of this week, and looking forward over the weekend (the blog is going to be busy), but I’ll be releasing the essays ‘The Grain silo’ and ‘Being Human’, along with the pre-order link for ‘And Miles to go before I sleep…’ over this week. I’ll maybe even get to talk about the major business project we’re launching. On Saturday or Sunday, I’ll release our sort of calendar, and aspirations we have. And they are aspirations. Not deadlines. Not must do’s. The pre-orders are fixed, but.. other than that, we’ll adapt. And the we in this case is my beloved, my family, my friends and I. Being Human isn’t to be alone. And I’m not.
I’m not sure if people have much of an idea of my history with Nanowrimo, but I’ve been writing every November since 2003. Every November, I write 50,000 or more words. The only time, to date, that this wasn’t the case was 2004.
It started in 2002 actually…
In 2002, while I was writing after breaking off ties with someone I’d been working with, and working on some pretty difficult stuff, someone told me about Nanowrimo. At the time, my ex and I were still together, and though everyone thought we were ok – I mean, my daughter was a year old, we had a three year old son. But he was pretty convinced that I shouldn’t be allowed to write, that if I was going to manage it, I’d have written that bestseller. Already. He wasn’t a bad man – we have two amazing children, but neither he nor I were not good for one another. Between 2002 and 2003, we seperated.
Fast forward to 2003
Single, unhappy and lonely, I decided that I would take my mum up on her offer, and I vollunteered to run as an ML…for the whole of Scotland as it happened then. We all met in a very loud pub, I made lots of friends, and discovered a gaming club called GEAS. 2003’s Nano was also Glass Block. And Elliot Peters firmly entrenched himself in my life. Elliot is Glass Block. Eventually, when the library of posts comes back online, that’ll make more sense, but he’s one of my backlist books. Tomorrow, he goes to an editor for update before we re-release him, thanks to my beloved’s help. In 2003 though, I hadn’t even met him. Instead, I had Elliot, waking me up at 4am and telling me stories. Y’see, Elliot thinks of me as a confessor of sorts. And Internal Affairs as he’s a cop. As I live with psychosis of several kinds, this is completely normal to me, but I know some people find it uncomfortable that my characters are *really* real. Others aren’t. It’s ok. I was seven months from my other ‘leading man’, Farran. Five or so from Tempus. And I quite honestly had a ball during Nano. Honorable mentions at this point to John, James, Gregor, and everyone else I met during those months of writing. You all made my Nanowrimo so much fun, and in fact, that was true for the whole time I helped out and ran Scotland as the ML.
I did promise you a love story, didn’t I?
Well, the truth of the matter is, and it’s a story I’ve told several times, without Nano, I wouldn’t have gone to GEAS, and in all likleyhood, Tempus and I wouldn’t have met. I can’t actually say that for sure, because I might have taken it into my head to look into D&D again, but… I’d given in on that having my kids. Tempus and I have been together 17 and a half years. We origonally just decided we wanted to hang out and have a bit of fun, but…a year in, when it came down to actually thinking about the future, neither of us could actually picture a time without one another. By 2006, we’d moved to where we are based now for his work, as he’d graduated in 2005. 2007-2011, Uni for me. It’s not all happily ever after. My mental health is a challenge we meet with varying success, but he and I share many interests (newest one, solving our arguments with lightsabers, aka we’re both going to train and learn Ludosport.). It’s no secret we’re both gamers, and we’re both super geeky, but we do have enough divergent interests that we can be together or apart. But, I truly believe I was lucky, and that Nanowrimo plays a huge part in that for me.
Our love story isn’t over. I don’t believe it ever will be while either of us are here, but it’d be nice to think that we’ll have a child together and live long, happy lives together. I really do love him, and without Nanowrimo, who knows if I’d have had this chance.
You’ll note, I don’t refer to him other than ‘Tempus’. It’s because he’s not keen on talking about himself online. There are a very few pictures of us together, and I’ve added on to the bottom of this post, but I do know one thing. My life is a very good one, and I love that it’s with him.
This is me and him, 2018, in the Dominican Republic. The full length shot of me with a boogie board was taken about an hour before, for those that know it.
He’s my bad idea bear, my beloved, my companion, my gaming and sparring partner. We talk books, games, movies. We tell each other jokes and pass on research from cyber security and infosec, and have a date night every Saturday. We go exploring good places to eat, we giggle at one another playing Fallout 76. We have our friends over for Gloomhaven. We’ve raised two wonderful young adults together since the 20 year old (@artenapan) was about 2 1/2, and her older brother too (he’s just as private as Tempus in many ways, so you’ll see him referred to as ‘Wonderboy’, or Titanboi. He’s in his 20’s too, and a wonderful man, and all of us are gamers of one sort or another. But Tempus… He’s the best person in the world, and I’m so blessed.
And, one final, bonus fact. He’s the reason I have most of my pen name. He encouraged me to stay as Kai when I explained why I’d changed my name, and I did. In late 2004, after we’d been together for a few months, I asked him if I could use his last name so that when we get married, I didn’t need to rebrand. He didn’t even blink. Like I said, he’s an awesome guy. And that’s my Nanowrimo Love Story 🙂
So, firstly, I’ve spent the last week with shingles all up one side of my face. It’s not *the most* painful thing I’ve ever felt, but gotta be honest, it’s close. Because of this, my ‘October announcements’ post and this one have kinda rolled up.
The pot of my soul, cracked as it is
I’ve been talking about ‘levelling up’ a lot on my private groups. I’ve been talking about several things really, but I want to be clear. My major one is community. I talk – a lot – about #payitforward and that the #writingcommunity is very important to me. To do that, I’ve been thinking about levelling up my life. I’ve lived my whole life accommodating various things. Mostly, I guess, psychosis. My mental health is a major element of my life, and even when I’m at my best, I’m… not? I live with imperfect cracks, like a little jar, a Kintsugi pot fixed with the things I find around me. My soul is visible in places – in others, it’s patched and safe. There are raw patches, that I guess I’ll eventually cover over. But that little pot is pretty tight right now. I’m managing to fill it up a lot more often, even if there’s…less space in there. We’re working through various things as a business team, because we do sort of have some plans. For now though…
This is my newest project. I’ll be sharing snippets and more. But this Kintsugi thing? I’ll be talking more about it. As for levelling up? Because I’ve had shingles this week, I’ve not managed as much as I wanted to. But I’ve taken a couple of things forward. I’ve grabbed a Duotrope trial, to start working towards getting to my stories out there and building my name as a writer, but also to bring in a challenge. To ‘earn’ it, I have an amount I have to be paid for the pieces I submit, and that’s ok. It’s a low goal. I’m using my diary again. I’ll be clearing my office space. I’m also getting Uni work done – I’m booked in for tutorials, and I’ve got my books ready to go. I’m a bit excited to complete my first year of Uni, and start moving towards my PHD. And I’ll keep condensing down stuff to here. I’ll talk about that more in the coming weeks, but it’s pretty much a clean up and combine exercise right now 😉
I’ve been on about three false starts for this post, this week. And I’ve tried to write and explain this feeling… this weight for years. It’s odd. I’m a writer. I should be able to explain this. But I’m depressed. It’s a hard time to write in the first place, and then, to write about how sad I am… I guess it makes sense that it’s hard to deal with.
Depression just is
Believe it or not…this is one of the millions of faces of depression. And it’s mine. That’s me on Saturday, after The UK Games Expo. My daughter and I had *a ball*, but I went to bed Saturday with the post-con blues, and woke up with full blown, not done this for a while, “oh, I thought I’d seen you for the last time, oh well,” depression. I have CPTSD, I’m somewhere on the autistic spectrum, I have anxiety and psychosis. Depression is a MAJOR part of my life, unfortunately, but, I’m not particularly gracious about it. Depression isn’t something we need to be gracious about, but… as a mental health advocate, I kinda feel like a fraud posting photos and smiley selfies when I feel like rubbish.
I do want to talk about that later – it’s important, and it’ll be linked from here when it goes live. But, I guess this is the other side of it. One of *many* sides, I feel. You won’t look at me and think ‘that’s a depressed woman’. Not unless you see me in what we call my ‘meltdown moments’. But just because I’m smiling, or interacting on social media, or Facebook, it doesn’t mean I’m ok. In fact, often, I find that’s when I know it’s coming. When I have to start forcing myself to open my laptop, I know things are getting hard. I know it’s really hard when I can’t find nice things to say to people when they need help. I know I have to step away when stupid incidents wind me up to spitting teeth, and I DO walk away when I’ve had a week like this, where I was bullied. It’s not overly common, but it does happen. Add all of it together – the post-con blues, bullying, sadness and inability to focus, and oncoming depression? That’s kinda a perfect storm for me to get into real trouble if I don’t step away and let the darkness pass over me.
It’ll pass, but it’s not the blues
One of the conversations I’ve had when talking about writing about depression of any kind is that it just *is*. A friend that talked to me last night, when I mentioned I wanted to make this post but I was struggling with it, suggested that I should call it ‘I guess that’s why they call it the blues’. Other friends have talked to me about telling people about how I battle, how it’s a fight. I can’t do that. It’s not that I don’t agree that people frame it their way. I just can’t frame it that way. Depression just is. It’s a part of my fabric, and there are, when I’m in less bad places, I guess, upsides to it. I understand exquisitely the depths of darkness and the heights of joy. I know it’ll pass. It always has in the past. It’s not easy to keep that in mind right this second, but, it does. I know it does.
Depression just isn’t….
It just isn’t something that goes away. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t really deal tell other people how to feel, but I’m not really comfortable with the stuff that comes with talking about depression. So, I’m going to say, if you’ve read this post, please remember three things:
I’m currently *very depressed*. Be kind, because I’m not in a place where I’m very good at censoring myself.
I don’t want to be ‘sold’ to. I meditate, I use essential oils, I read and write self-help books. I know all of the suggestions that I’m to follow. In the coming days, I’m going to start pulling back, start making space, start going back to basics. I’ll probably talk about that later, but less social media, more real life time basically sums it up. Eat properly, and go back to a rigid schedule till I feel more comfortable.
Finally, if you don’t have anything nice to say, please don’t say it. No ridicule, no bullying and please, this is one of the few times I also ask that you don’t say ‘oh, I know how you feel’ and launch into why. Knowing others are depressed (which I *know*, believe me, I know) doesn’t help me. I will take advice without needing people to explain why they want to give it. But if you’re struggling right now, I’m sorry, I’m not the person to tell. It hurts more.
When I’ll be back
Usually I am gone for a week or two when this happens. Sometimes I pick myself up and get back into writing, or find something that I can be proud of, or things turn around. My mood is related – a lot – to what I do, what I succeed and how I spend my time. I’m hard on myself, as many people are. You don’t need to have depression to be tough on yourself. But, living with depression when you feel like you’re failing…it’s so hard. Getting up and out of bed, cooking…eating. Even staying clean and brushing my hair…it’s all so many more spoons than it takes me to get to where I am just to sit down and do my work during the day. Work is…. daunting, terrifying, horrible. Even when I complete something, it’s *never enough*. Not for me. I’ve done some really amazing things for my clients, and I know I have because they’ve told me that I’ve done something amazing. (I moved someone from an Exchange server for Pete’s sake! It might not be a big thing, but I’m not Windows. I’m Linux. It’s a daunting thing to move 7+ years of archived emails. I discovered, as I researched that it’s not actually that difficult, it’s just…a bit…fiddly to get people swapped over for access if they’re not really technical, but we did it. People are happy. I’m even talking to people on the phone to do it.) All of this is HUGE. I still feel terrible though. And a lot of this is my mindset. Some of it is worry that I’m doing stuff wrong, because I’m always learning new things. Some of it…I dunno. Some of it is just life. I feel like I’m not achieving much when I’m moving things around and reorganising my own stuff, which is what I’m doing now.
But…I’ll be back. I’m going to keep working on my books, if I can. I’m going to keep the business running. I’m going to try and do what I can to help others, when I’ve got spare spoons. But mostly. I’m just going to work on resetting things. My meditation practices have slipped. I’m not exercising as much. I’m not eating more than once a day, most days. And most of all, I’m not interested in going and messing with my Cricut. We’ve got a new resin printer here and I’m not asking to unpack that. All I really want to do is lie in bed and wait till this passes. (and yes, I know that’s stupid. That I can’t just wait it out. I’m not very good at looking after myself, but food is one of those things I just kinda view as ‘I need to do this’ when I’m in this mood. I’m lucky, my partner looks after me, as do my kids, but seriously, don’t pillowfort till you feel better).
I know this is an odd concept to raise for someone that’s a business owner and often works as hard as I do to advocate for others, who has raised two children to adulthood and when I think about it, survive what could be seen as serious negligence by my older psych team, but sometimes, do you wish you didn’t have to ‘adult?’
Adulting is overrated
I don’t mean by this that I don’t think I should have zero responsiblities. I’m just really tired of not getting ‘a win’ in the things that I do, not really. All of my planned treats, no matter how small, have either fallen through, or I’ve had to ask my partner to pay for them after all – which makes me feel bad. He doesn’t mind as much, but it’s a bit hard to talk to my kids about being adult and responsible then running to my other half and crying because life is hard. And lately, I’ve been crying a lot. I try not to focus on bullying, because it’s not a positive thing to think about and it gives them power, but often, I’m finding a lot of people when they are challenged on what they say, suddenly try turning the tables and creating the idea that they’re a victim. That you’re in the wrong. Compound that by the fact that often, this is over hosting bills or whatnot, and you can see how it hurts me to have people treat me this way.
Realistically, my company actually works, just about right now. I’ve got some work to do over the end of my Kaiatus to launch a few websites, but, we’re actually stable. Wire thin margins, but stable, so when someone starts complaining about their hosting bill, there is a bit of me that doesn’t want to engage. Another bit of me that knows I have to, because if I don’t, they’ll not pay. And a huge bit of me that’s wary, because I’ve been attacked recently for not considering giving away services free for the pandemic.
I only really manage what I do because I’ve kept beta accounts with places that aren’t as great as they could be and finding ways to fix the shortfall, or doing the stuff that I need manually. But realistically, I’ve been out of spoons and upset for about a week now. The thing is…I can’t really pillow fort. Next week sees the start of my graded exposure to the outside world. In laymans terms, that means for the first time in five years, I’ll be leaving my house and going for a walk…and trying not to throw up when I do. It’ll either be brilliant, or I’ll make it brillaint, but today was a day where I could have just done with hiding away and not needing to deal with the world. If I manage it though, Prime Day reward will be nice. I never get anything extravegant, but….treating myself to some new books for Uni or some additional research tools would be nice (cybersec isn’t a ‘cheap’ study area, Forensic linguistics even less, and honestly? I’m lucky. I’ve got access to stuff through my partner and friends). If not there, Humble Bundle always has cool books on AI.
See…I can adult
When I start thinking like this, often, my friends point out that I pull myself out of it. I’m #blessed to get to do what I do. And, yes, I am. It doesn’t change though when nothing is going right and no one wants to do as they’re supposed to, and you need the books before the end of the month, or you’re looking forward to a tiny treat that keeps getting postponed, that you feel this way. It’s still not the ‘correct’ way to think, but….rewards are sometimes good. When applied sensibly. I can’t do it any other way. And for those of you pointing out ‘I can ask…’ I can. You’re right. Lucky me again, but….why should my partner bail me out when I’ve planned and it should work?
Like I said, I don’t like adulting. At all. 42 years old and I wish I didn’t need to. I’m just so tired of everything being uphill.
And don’t ask me about books. Still waiting for my 100 ISBNs…
Looking forward to those recipes.