Last Monday, I posted about how myself and my youngest tested positive for CV19. Monday/Tuesday, I started getting really sick. Monday, I’d been quite cheerful – after all, Artenapan, my daughter, had had three days of a cough and little else. That’s not how it played out for me (spoiler, it’s REALLY not how it played out for me). The net result of last week was a week spent either in bed, sleeping, in a cool bath, or generally feeling like I was being slowly boiling alive. I mean it’s been great for story ideas (that make zero sense now that I’m thinking through them, but they worked when I was awake at three in the morning, staring at the roof), but it’s also been less than brilliant looking at what I’ve wanted to do over the last few months.
And heading towards #Kaiatus too…
The plan was that by this time now, we’d have several books out, I’d be tending towards various more announcements, but the truth is, I’ve struggled, a lot. I don’t have excuses, it’s just how it’s been the last few…it’s just how it is. I’m planning on changing that as we move forward, but I’ve decided to go with the flow. We were going to offer a bundle for the rest of the year with various books, but I’ve got to be honest, I’m not sure I want to promise that. I’d like to say we’re doing something to move forward, but…I can’t say what we’re doing till we do it. I’m working on my pages, I’m working on projects, I’m working on my happiness. I’m working on my writing. I’m working on myself mostly. But I’ll be moving forward as I can. We’ve got so much back end work to do but it’ll be ok once we get there. But I can’t say when it’ll be. I’m just pulling myself up for now and hoping that we’ll eventually just make everything click. 🙂 And then there’s Camp Nanowrimo too!
On the 1st, I’ll be starting the A to Z, and I’m hoping that I keep improving, but I’ve been so tired and sore and it’s just…. hard to think about what I’m doing moving forward, until I’m moving. But the thing is, I am moving. So, we’ll see. I’m hoping too, to unveil a new look here, but that’s been delayed because I was sick.
Anyone else taking part in the A to Z? What are you doing?
Hi there guys. Normally, doing these, I do really try to get them up either as we’re travelling home on the21st December, but as everyone saw, I posted something else instead. So, I’ll do the retrospective today, and tomorrow we’ll do the ‘coming in 2022’.
I got nothing done…
I think the first thing to acknowledge is that personal goals wise, I’m not further visibly forward, but I did a lot of…I guess it’s ‘behind the scenes’ work. I did have a quieter, calmer year in some ways. Supporting the kids, supporting my partner, and trying to plan for what comes next. I think that though I did very little, overtly, there were a tonne of really great conversations that eventually led myself and my business partner to something we’re working on now, which we’ve tagged ‘AOK’. Goals wise, too, I didn’t published a dammed thing last year, and only really rebooted this blog about three months ago. I’m still working through how best to handle all of that, if I’m honest, but what I do know is that I’m a lot happier now with most of the things I write, when I write them. I did start a Substack. But, because I got ‘nothing’ done, I spent a lot of time with my family. I have regulated my sleep schedule a lot better, though I do sometimes need to switch to LA time to do some stuff, it’s not frequently expected of me. I’m sure next year may change that, but it’s ok. Mostly I’m just grateful for the space to think and spend time with my partner, son and daughter. We bought a Cricut so my daughter and I are still into doing crafty things, we all go out to get photos of stuff, we got to do the UK Games Expo this year…it’s all been really good and really comforting in many ways. None of us have gotten really sick, nor have we caught CV19, but we’re all fully boosted now, and flu shots to boot. We’ve been *very* lucky.
I did lots for clients….
So, I’ve said ‘I got nothing done’ but equally, it’s been an ok year for getting work done for clients. From tomorrow, I’m developing something that cuts back on the clutter for one client so it ‘just works’ and building sites for two others. It’s all looking really solid. I learned Divi a lot more, I’ve been upskilling both for my business and for my uni stuff and I’ve had a lot of fun along the way. I love coding, but I love solving puzzles more.
I (started to) heal a bit…
I think it’s fair to say this year I got on with the rather hard work of starting to heal. I’ve not had an exactly bad life, but I’ve been through a fair few really bad scrapes and my mental and physical health are kinda dented for it. I do totally think I’m dealing with some form of adrenal issue right now, though I’m also quite worried I’m anaemic again, but most of what I did was read, learn, sleep, and just accept that I can’t do everything, or work on starting to accept that. I laid foundations though for this year too – knowing what to do and when to do it hasn’t been the easiest thing for me, but I’m working in advance with a lot of my stuff now and though I sometimes bounce off deadlines, I’ve met quite a few too. in July, I was discharged from therapy. I’ve done everything I could with them, my therapist was moving on, and instead of getting used to another stranger, given the current pandemic based restrictions, we decided that it was best just to close my file and move on. I can go back if I need to.
And I took up more exercise
Last year, I was just starting Mount Fuji. I completed that and went on to do Giza, Petra, Everest and started The Great Wall of China. In total, I walked about 540km, based on my Fitbit tracking. I started walking outside by myself too. Didn’t last long, but will be coming back. In November, I went for a Ludosport Discovery session, fell in love with the sport and have now completed enough form 1 training that I can duel, and did for our closing session of the year, winning my team three points. I was rather shocked I managed it. I think everyone else was too, as I often refuse to duel, or withdraw when afraid. I am dealing with a lot more panic attacks though, but we know why and we’re working on that too.
I read… A LOT
Because I didn’t get to do very much in the way of travelling, I’ve mostly adventured through my books. Which, if I’m honest, has mostly involved serial killers, thrillers and murder mysteries. My Goodreads year in review isn’t *everything* I read (cause I’ve got books I read through Netgalley that haven’t or won’t log yet) but it’s close. If you want to see my year, it’s here, but seriously, a lot of it is basically true crime. 😉 Some of it was also audiobooks, which I count. I think the two books that stayed with me this year though were The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig and we’re currently finishing off Leviathan Falls, which is the final book of the Expanse. And finishing the show too.
I completed both Camp Nanowrimos and Nanowrimo proper this year, and in the end, it turned out that though it felt like I was pulling teeth, I wrote close to half a million in 4thewords, and another 750k in my various files. Not bad going but next year is going to be a bigger challenge. I didn’t publish anything that wasn’t someone else’s to take from me and put out there though.
And yeah, then there was the ‘also watched’
We watched so many good things this year but I watched less in some ways than my family. And more in others. I had more true rime on in the background during the day, but I’ve watched far fewer programs, and have promised I’ll watch a few of the pertinent ones when we’re back at our usual spaces next week. Outstanding for me though had to be Loki, Scrubs (which we binged to the last season then pretended that one didn’t exist), Elementary, which we’re catching up on, The Expanse…you get the picture. We’ve started watching Titans season 3, The Witcher Season 2, and The Expanse season 6, and we’re looking forward to The book of Boba Fett, Obi Wan and more.
Gaming this year has mostly been about my Switch and our PS5. We’re both having a blast, no pun intended, playing through Fallout 76, though each of us can’t play with each other as it’s not cross-platform. Been playing games on the Switch too, but there’s nothing of note that I’ve played, really. I enjoy Surviving Mars, but a lot of what I do is just play through stuff for a little bit, get listless, put it down. So a lot of my time has just been spent mindlessly shooting things, which I’m kinda good at.
Meditating, self care, religion, oh my
I always leave this bit to last, so if people want to skip, they can. I meditated almost as much as I walked this year. I’ve found Headspace to be an excellent way of dealing with my sleep issues and the sleepscapes and I have become best buddies during the Pandemic. But we already knew that from listening to the stories Calm put out last year. I decided to stick with Headspace, not Calm in the end, simply because I got on better with Headspace.
I’ve been home to my temple twice this year (which means I’ve been home to family twice this year) and moved my ‘I have to go do something, let’s go to my quiet spot) to a place nearer our current home. It’s not perfect, but it meets most of the needs of what my rules are. I’ve also enacted some pretty radical self-care, but that, and some other stuff will be in the books, in the new Year.
I’m sure I’ve missed tonnes, but I’ll be honest, I’m still not sure this year was actually a full year if that makes sense. Time isn’t right still, not since the interminable but necessary lockdowns, and we’ve been working through as much of being present and grateful as we can, but I’ll also be real about this, a bit of me is still sobbing away in the corner that something so horrible is ongoing. I may write on that later, but I’m healthy, I’m here, I’ve picked up some new skills and hobbies and though I lost my gran, as a family, we’ve been far more blessed than we could have expected, so really, I can’t complain.
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’m on a few weeks of classes, to learn how to work with one of the major systems we’re using right now. I’ll be talking about that more, and I have to say, I’m really excited. The next few weeks are also ‘Freshers’ for me. I start back at Uni next week, and have several exams that I need to prep for.
One of the major things I’m noticing is that I’m still as willing to do everything I used to get up to, but I get about three into my 20 piece daily list (I used to manage it), but I’m not who I was. Part of that, I have to be honest, is probably to do with being depressed. Part of it has to do with my issues with anaemia and persistent illness. A LOT of it has to do with maintenance insomnia. (I’ll be coming back to that one later, but the short version of that is I have *finally* taught myself to go to sleep pretty much when I go up to bed. Sometimes I go up and meditate and I fall asleep. Sometimes, I just go to sleep after reading for a bit. What normally happens though, is around 1am to 2am – one and a half to two hours before I’m thinking I fell asleep, I wake again. I don’t really help myself at this point, because I’ll have a drink of iced tea. Sometimes I can roll over and go back to sleep. Most of the time, I can’t. It lasts till…sometimes…8am, before I finally get to sleep. In short, it’s hard to plan a day when you don’t know how much sleep you’re getting the night before, and unfortunately, whatever else I have going on, sleep creates problems if I don’t get enough of it). Most of this is all pretty well known, if you know me, even in passing. It means that my hours are often a bit scattered, but, I’m working on that. My partner and I have talked. While I’m not an early bird, I don’t like that I’m split shift sleeping. I don’t know if what I’ll end up doing is sleeping for a bit, getting up to work, then sleeping more. It might mean I can write in a set period of time, I don’t know.
The changes though – to make things easier for myself, and the things I want to do, while I’m doing my classes on WordPress design and Fresher’s week for the Open University, I’m going to start setting up all of my blogs, and connecting them up, collapsing or closing those of them that I can’t spend time on right now. It’s not permanent, I hope, but even if it is, moving on isn’t always bad. So I’ll be mapping that out. It’s the first step in about a million, if I’m honest. I’ve got books, I’ve got information to share out, I’ve got things I need to – and want to – do.
Struggling with Writing
One of the things I saw that was interesting this morning – in fact, it was the first thing I saw opening my phone, was this post from Neil Gaiman.
I think there’s a lot of this that’s important. For writers, creatives. For life. We have bad days. We do what we can, but sometimes it’s just a day that doesn’t move…anything. And then, one day, a good day. Maybe a few. Maybe a whole bundle of them, in a row, like a huge gift. And really, I do mean this could be *anything* we do in life. Sometimes, we find that it’s hard to do things. That’s ok too.
I’m between my good and bad right now. On that middle ground of being able to see both. I might slide back into bad. I’m working on the things I can reach from here. It’s all ‘low hanging fruit’ and learning for me. Uni starts next week, and I’m getting through to finish year one of three just as soon as I pick myself up and get a plan on….
Which is next. You’ve got this guys. And so have I…
The last few weeks have not been the best for me, but by far and away, the things that hurt the most are, if I’m honest, the way a few friends have reacted to my boundaries. And how, from there, pulling in to defend myself has been ‘abandoning’ them. And how that’s left me with issues with all sorts, from what I do from here to my religious outlook, to how I move on. I don’t think I’ll address all of it here, it’s a bit complex. The two bits I want to touch on are boundaries, and being out in the barrens.
I’m actually fairly odd in the sense that I don’t ‘like’ boundaries for myself. I feel that it’s very artificial to tell someone you ‘can’t something’ that isn’t basic human decency. And that, I hate to say, was my first mistake.
The rank bitterness alongside that first mistake and trying to understand why people behave this way has been painful. Adding to the depression that was already settling on me, I’m really struggling to deal with anything right now, but, as I’ve been asked to write some mental health books if I get through this bout of crippling misery. But it’s made me evaluate a lot of things, and why my life isn’t ‘right’ and it all comes back to routine and boundary. Both of which, my brain seems to process much the same.
On the curves?
There’s another word for what happens when I lose everything, whereas this is kinda like where I end up when everything is gone and I’m left to clean up a mess or three. And there are many versions of this place. There’s the one I deliberately create when I need to move on from a bad place, and have to destroy it to cut ties. There’s the one that happens when I’m sick and can’t tend my stuff, and then there’s this one…
This version of it though is kinda worse. Because it’s a bit of both. In an irony, I’m honestly not sure even *I* really understand, when I’m sick and come off routine, that’s when the trouble really starts. Free spirit and all that, I still need a pretty firm framework. And currently…
I’m not sure I know what to do. I feel horrible, if I’m entirely honest. I’m not exercising or eating regularly, I’m not sleeping correctly. I’m disrupted understandably, because of the changes in the house (we’ve still got our BED to replace). And I feel a bit like a brat, if I’m honest, but we’ve changed so much in the last month and a half, and it’s been a lot of ‘I don’t really get the choice’ belonging disposal, as the garage flooded/was damaged. Again, I’m well aware I’m lucky. It’s not everything I own. It was a LOT of my books though, a lot of stuff we moved and stored (I’m now learning that storing in the garage is not for cardboard boxes. So, we’re converting what we are storing out there to plastic tubs.). It was stuff I’d protected when I left my ex. It was mine. It’s gone now. I don’t feel happy (Marie Kondo lied) – but I’m so overwhelmed, all I can really say was it was books, and some other ‘stuff’. Because at some point, to keep dealing with the garage, I had to just stop paying attention. So, I’m a little bit miserable, if I’m honest. I do really feel like of everything that went, it was old toys and lots of my things. It’s not *accurate*, but it’s been something I’ve learned over the last year – there’s a difference between what I know, what the reality is, and how I feel about it. And that I’m not – really – right or wrong. Just sad.
We then did the conservatory, the dining room (converting it to my office, in part), and we got brand new couches (I’ll share some before and after photos once we’re all settled properly). But, for someone that doesn’t *like* change, it’s been a lot for me to deal with. And it’s stirred up stuff I really don’t like.
This is where I say ‘no more’. Not no more change, just no more slipping schedules, no more ‘skip exercise, can’t be bothered’. No more accepting that I have to feel this way. We do, most of all, get to decide how we react and change things, if we can, and quite honestly, I would be remiss in not trying. I’ll be stuck within the limits of my spoons, of course, but I think some of this is…inertia. So I want to deal with that. Maybe it’ll turn out all I have is the spoons for this, maybe it’ll turn out that I’m just tired and not doing as well as I could because I’ve accepted that. I honestly can’t say on that score.
The thing is, this time, I’m going to talk about it, and whether what I’ve learned this year works, starting from about as close to ‘base’ as I get. And, quite honestly, though I’m not in a place of complete ‘clear board’, I *am* close enough that I can maybe get this to work.
I’ve still not decided exactly *how* I’ll be talking about it. Whether it’ll be a blog, or vlog, or a mix, but, as I’ve also been tagged to talk mental health for a series of books, and burnout is a real thing that often leaves people in barren areas a lot like this, so maybe this isn’t quite so self indulgent as it feels, and I should be less self-conscious. There are other elements to this, such as our complete inability to remain pregnant, which I don’t think is exactly helping my state of mind, but mostly, I’m just struggling to find my way, and I want to do something about that, even if that something isn’t what others think of when they think of the stuff I’m talking about.
To start, I’m going to do something about my wake/sleep cycle. And eating regularly. And, I’m going to see about exercising daily. That’s the framework. Everything else, like work and writing will still happen, and fit in around the other stuff… but….that’s what I’m going to focus on for a bit. Hopefully in time to start back at uni, who knows.
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).