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 spent the last few months trying to work out what I’m going to do with myself. I’m not sure if I mentioned it, but the plan at the beginning of the year was to release 52 books this year. And when I said it, I was sincere, and I still am. But, had I known then what I know now….
I might have set the bar a little bit lower.
I wanted though to touch base. It’s been a busy first couple of months, and I’ve got several pieces of news. Firstly, the books are on track. I’ve got several draft books that I’ll be working on the proof copies of each. I’ve currently got three proof books to work through, all of which so I can release them as paperbacks. I’ve also finished Run Girl, Run, as a book, so will be establishing the site really soon and doing occasional updates there too. That site really is going to be designed around how I’m rebuilding my health ad life to manage my mental health, with the help of my hobbies and some other stuff. I want to talk about everything that goes into prepping for that book too.
Beyond that, I’m looking forward to everything that I’m working on and writing – mostly because I’ve got my new writing space! I shared a video on my Facebook, which I’ve attached here, but I’ll be setting more and more up – we’re talking about getting some bonsai trees for the desk for me too, so that’s going to be wonderful.
Books coming up
So, I’m excited to announce the next set of books that I’ve got coming out. These aren’t all of them, and the backlist books aren’t a specific date.
Memento Mori – proofing
Glass block – print proofing
10 hour Marketing Plan – proofing
12×12 – free book, social media support tutorials.
The Vivarium – a free story set in Darkness PD
A House at War has been postponed
Starfall’s Edge – by the end of the month
The Endless lake (Starfall’s Edge book 2) March 13th
Of all the books though, I’ve already got Cry Havoc up and out. If it’s not linked, please check out BooksbyKai, there will be news on there, or the newsletter.
Alongside all of this, I’m studying, I’m improving my my mindset and more. But with the new space I have, I think I can do it all. I know I can. I’ll still be hosting and working on formatting and more still, but I’m slowly shifting to doing more stuff.
And then there’s the new stuff.
I’ve been asked to really focus on some stuff that I wanted to do, or I’ve been challenged to do. So I’ll be writing about that next, on Thursday, on BooksbyKai. BooksbyKai is also where AuthorInterrupted now lives, so if you’ve been looking for those old posts recently, it’s there.
I’ve spent the last year trying to think about how to explain the basic changes I’ve gone through in the last two years. And one of the major things that I’ve been thinking about is gratitude, and ‘dancing in the rain’.
What is dancing in the rain?
For me, it’s a core concept to living with what I do. It’s accepting that I’m not always going to be happy, that the skies aren’t always going to be ‘clear’ but even if they aren’t, I can go outside and ‘dance in the rain’.
It’s a gratitute attitude, I guess.
Dancing in the rain is also the name of an essay that I wrote for ‘Miles to go before I sleep…’, which I’m sharing below. If you like it, please hit the link to sign up for an email when the book goes on Pre-order 🙂
Dancing in the rain from ‘Miles to go before I sleep…’
There’s a gratitude attitude, A way to look at the things you face. It’s not a way to ignore or negate pain, but, instead, a way to move forward. I’ve called it dancing between thunder and lighting, or dancing in the rain. Each step I make towards feeling better, each step towards feeling the way I do, and focussing on the best in my life that I can.
It’s also about crying in my own tears, and keeping my head up, my shoulders back, and trying to remain calm, cool and collected. And I do that, a lot.
When I started writing this book, it was long before I started with Ludosport, and it’s something I keep in mind now, a lot, because I’ve discovered that I’m not doing well with some of the things I’m challenged to do at practice. But I’ve learned how to so many things in the last two years, and I’m sure that with the support of my Academy (shameless plug for them!) that I’ll be in a much better place. From making some amazing friends to learning to dance – properly (cause you need to be pretty coordinated to duel with a lightsaber), dancing in the rain is a whole gratitude attitude that I’ve chosen to adopt. And I’m happy that I can feel that way now. I’m not sure I could have two years or more ago.
So, while Dancing in the rain sounds sad, and kinda miserable, it’s not. It’s about making the most of what’s around me and having a lot of fun, even when I am sad. Even when the ‘rain’ is my tears. Even when I’m being drowned in a torrent of sadness.
I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to say in this post about books, because those people that know me also know it’s pretty much all I talk about outside of Ludosport and gaming and my family. I was going to share a cornucopia of ‘coming soon’, but then I got Covid (next post) and that kinda got scrapped. I’ve been struggling really, and it’s not a pleasant feeling.
B for Books also links to N for Nanowrimo
At the core of my writing, whether it’s clear or not, is a project called Nanowrimo. I write a lot during the three months of Nanowrimo, and am…less disciplined the rest of the year, though, to be fair, I do write, every day. Just not always my books. And to be honest? That’s something that kinda bothers me. I’m pretty sure that I’ve said this before, but I’ve always felt I was built for certain things. Writing, being a mother (though, honestly? That came less naturally. I was still different to what people expected, but I found – and still find it – very hard.). Beyond that, I live with some other roles that I am – an advocate, a friend, an artist, a student. I’m constantly, consistently all about words though.
I wanted to announce books today, so I think I shall 😉
Out among the Stars comes first and will be FREE. It’s a short story from an old anthology I was part of. DungeonBashers and Black Monday are part of the same universe. Teine, which is Gaelic for fire, is my latest collection of essays and stories. Get news on them by signing up on my newsletter, and all the free books (Out among the stars, Footnotes to a Lesson, The Firemaids’ Temple, Vivarium, and finally, Funhouse. Want info on all of them? It’s coming really soon!)
And how does it relate to the theme I’m trying to write about? The duality of knowing I need to write books versus finding everything from the motivation to the time, I am often at war with myself.
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.
But, I’ve got a few things to talk about…
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…
Actually, it’s not….really. Made you look 😉 I wanted to get your attention – what I actually want to talk about is language, but profanities, and our use of them, apparently dictates how linguistically intelligent we are.
Not quite yet…
I don’t quite buy into the studies that suggest that if we swear, we’re more intelligent. What I do agree with is if you can express yourself in varied and interesting ways, you are probably more intelligent, so it’s possibly a false indicator, as it was suggested in a 2016 study there was no correlation between profanity and the use of cussing and intelligence, but instead, it’s to do with the wish to extend vocabulary.
I’m really interested in linguistics, so I thought that this was a phenomenon I wanted to start talking about it more. So, my quick post today is about swearing, and asking you guys what you think.
Do you think it’s a sign of intelligence on it’s own, or do you think it’s more to do with whether you’re working on extending your vocabulary and finding different ways to express things?
(also, I’ll be re-releasing ‘The Secret Language of Fiction’ edition 2 soon, watch this space! – well, actually, watch my book announcements page!)
That sounds like so much fun! I love games, especially RPG. Haven't played with a group in a few years.…