I hate the phrase ‘new normal’. Much like the fact that I don’t like mental health being classified as ‘normal’ or ‘abnormal’. Quirky language bit of my brain aside, I think making judgements like that is something that makes it difficult to accept that we’re all a little…different. There’s no one way to be.
But… ‘new normal’ and ‘freedom day’…
In the UK, they’re referring to something that may be (it actually has been postponed) postponed, called ‘Freedom Day’. In the UK, the day we lifted lockdown was literally going to be referred to (by our rather off-piste PM, I have to say) as ‘Freedom Day’ and all it really represented was us finishing lockdown and seeing if we see a new spike.
Don’t get me wrong. Since March of last year, things have been really difficult for many reasons. But my life had been about lockdown before lockdown was a thing. I’ve not left the house on my own for…. well, up until last week, with a few very notable exceptions, I’ve not left the house alone since around 2015, I guess.
It was insidious at first. I’d stop wanting to go into town unless I had a reason. Part of it, of course, was because of the really bad fall and learning to walk again, but by that point, we had a treadmill in the house. But I guess that’s around when I stopped leaving the house. By the time we were treated to the holiday *of a lifetime* (and I’ll be real, I’ve actually had two since mid 2015 – one in 2016, one in 2018) to Disneyland by my in-laws and hubby-to-be, they were making arrangements with the staff to make sure I wasn’t startled during large events, and I wasn’t able to leave the house. I wasn’t really working outside of the house either – I tried a few times but it never really…took, I guess. My terrible mental health got worse too because I didn’t mesh with my care team and a few things were missed. By the time the pandemic was in full flow, it had kinda…snuck past me because I was dealing with my son’s kidney issues, and though he’d been cleared the morning we went into lockdown, there was something…almost unreal about what happened for those first weeks.
Privileged, I know
We weren’t badly affected by the furlough, though my own buisness didn’t qualify for any help, most of my time was actually spent supporting my young adult children through the various challenges that the pandemic was raising for their mental health, mine and everything else.
We are a year on now, and though a lot has happened, I actually think that I’ve come out of this a lot less ‘scathed’ than others, I’m not sure that any of us will know normal again. And I don’t really know how to explain it. What I do know is that life – in all its forms are fragile and it’s hard to talk about it in terms that we all relate to because I can’t think of anything that is remotely like this, not in my experience.
Whatever the ‘new normal’ is, I hope our PM understands that his cliched behaviour and almost childish soundbites aren’t helping. Sound and fury, signifying nothing.
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…
So, as a few of you have noticed, I’m already behind. I’m not sure if it’s something to do with some last minute plans that were thrown in my path, taking time out to support a friend, or that I just don’t have a great grasp of time since the UK entered lockdown (what do you mean we’ve already had Easter? no way… wasn’t it just New Years?), or if I just didn’t practice great time management, but I’m a touch behind.
So, today’s titlted EEEEEK!
And I’m going to share a few tips of how I try to manage it, when…I get it right 😉
Time management 101 – leave room
And I think that’s where I made the mistake. I didn’t leave room this week – at all. And while you can’t plan for emergencies properly, I always have a rule that for every piece of time I have planned, I leave 15 minutes on either side of it. Got a therapy appointment? Keep thirty minutes spare. Date night? Thirty minutes. The thing is, I’m absolutely going to be pushing this to the limit, as today is the first official day of TM112, at my OU degree, for Cyber security. Which means I’m going to be planning more time, and putting in more space.
The other issue I have with this is it’s advice *I* give. I’m terrible at following it. I was planning yesterday’s post to be ‘a day in the life’, but reading it back, I realised, I really should rewrite that post as ‘a day in dissaray’ because my ideal day in the life isn’t the one I live.
And when all else fails?
Like now? Apologise, work out how to catch up, and go for it. Seriously. Life is too short to punish yourself. In my case, I’ll be doing my main blogs, and keeping the 26 prompt story to go back to. So bi-polarbears, here, my book blog, and, as Deirdre has injured herself, I’m probably picking up These our Fandoms too. Once I’m caught up, I’ll try and get ahead.
What do you do when life and plans collide? Got any hints?
As to WHY I got a bit behind? Normally I do my catchup on Sunday, but instead, I was in an Arboretum, taking photos, falling down hills (no, really, I’ve twisted my hip and scraped my leg. The camera is fine tho!) and spending time with my family in the spring air. The UK is coming out of lockdown, so we didn’t get to do everything we might have liked, but we did a lot. (this is Batsford Arboretum, and these are unedited photos – my daughter, Artenapanwill be posting some later on her Instagram, and has already!)
(again, as this is backdated, I’m writing this with the benefit of hindsight).
I did actually have this rather neat post about ‘a day in the life’, but, the last few days led to a bit of an epiphany.
You know there’s an Instagram bubble? I think when we write ‘days in the life’ that we sometimes make ‘blog bubbles’. So, instead of talking about what my ideal day should look like, and what it does when I’ve planned it out, I’m going to write about what my day actually is. And for the first time, I’m even going to include some of the mental health stuff I deal with – so this post could be mildly triggering. I’ll be possibly alluding to self-harm, definitely talking about psychosis and depression and anxiety and insomnia. And I have a favor to ask at the end of this post.
A day in the disordered
I fell asleep at 11:30pm – a year of training and working with an app called Headspace and other meditation apps (honourable mentions to Digipill and Let’s Mediate (I have them on Android, they may exist on iOs), alongside my partner, which is now 80% of how my sleep works out.
Unfortunately, about 1:30am, I wake up again. I wake up to a voice, that I always hear. She’s my constant companion, and she’s very hurtful. If I’m lucky, I take a sip of water, I go to sleep again, and I might get to stay there for a bit. Most nights lately though, I’ve been waking up and finally falling asleep again at 5am. The advice is, of course, if you’re not able to sleep in bed, to get up. But if I do that and she starts causing trouble for me. At her worst, she can trap me in the smallest rooms in the house. She’s the reason that I can’t get out of the house alone. She’s the thing I’m fighting back with my favor, but we’ll get there.
If I don’t get to sleep until 5 or 6am, I’ll either stay asleep till 8am, or 11am, or sometimes, I’m asleep till 2pm. And because of that, my day is always harder to plan for. How do I plan to be up at 9am, and exercised and ready to work, if I’m not getting to sleep until 6am? The answer is I don’t. Insomnia is a difficult and hard to live with disorder – couple it with anxiety and psychosis, and though meditation helps, I’m frequently operating in arrears of sleep.
And that’s why I can’t talk about a day in my life. I have half an hour when I wake up that’s a set routine (get up, unplug and box tech coming downstairs with me, plug in anything, such as my Bluetooth headphones or spare batteries that need charged, wash face, rarely moisturise (I’ll be talking about that in S for skin routine, cause apparently, I’m annoying as all hell about that), meditate for ten minutes after making the bed, then come down. At night, I either go up before Tempus and grab a bath, then make my juice/waterbottle for my bedside, plug everything in, brush my teeth, get my Bluetooth headphones connected so that I can meditate, set up the book we’re listening to on Audible. Depending on how I feel then, I either read for 20 minutes, then meditate, or lately, I’ve just meditated, and used a sleepscape to go to sleep to. And then wake up again at 1:30am.
I can’t talk about this really here, but there is going to be an I for Insomnia over on bi-polarbears (the link won’t work until the post goes live 🙂 )
And that brings me to a favor…
As many of you may or may not know, I’m an author. My major project this year is to talk about the fact that I live with a pretty severe (though not the worst, by a long shot) psychosis. I think I’m probably at the end of the ‘living in the community level of it,’ though, she’s quite hard to deal with. As an author too, it becomes difficult. I ‘hear’ my characters, and I don’t like that I hear and see things as well as part of my mental health.
On my birthday, I’ll be releasing a collection of mental health books. I’m not putting up the pre-orders yet, but I am asking people to subscribe to my newsletter, so I can start talking about the run-up to releasing them. There may be a Patreon, there may not.
What I want to do though, is to remove some stigma surrounding both hearing voices and other psychosis, but I also want to acknowledge that authors do hear voices, and that *is not* as far as I’m concerned, is a psychosis. But I guess that’s between you and your healthcare team.
What I do know is that she’s stolen five years of my life. I’ll never get them back, and while I’ve done some things in there, I’ve not gotten everything that I wanted to do, done. There are other things, of course, that got in the way, it’s not just been mental health, but if I can remove from the whole concept of ‘we don’t talk about this, we’ll get into trouble’, then I will. And I hope you’ll help me.
I’ll be talking about about this at P for Psychosis, because it’s important to me. Here, and at Bi-polarbears. I’ve avoided telling people I have issues such as psychosis for so many years, that it’s a bit uncomfortable for me, but I also know I’m in a good community, that accepts me for who I am, and knows me as I am, psychosis or otherwise. I hope to help others like me – because I think in the coming years, as we come out of lockdowns and the shadows of what we did to deal with the pandemic, that mental health is going to be a major issue – more major than even now, and I want to help people that need help. So I am.
While AuthorInterrupted and other blogs will be talking about writing and stuff, Kaiberie.com has always, and traditionally been about everything – writing, artwork, photography, and life. And it’s life today that I’m addressing.
Corona, Lockdown, my government
I don’t hold a positive view, really, on my current government in the UK. I’ve seen exactly one action that seems to be in advance of everything else (cause last year, exams were stressful, and not worked out until June – so, props for that), but we’ve gone from ‘you can go home for Christmas,’ to ‘no, you can’t,’ to ‘and you’re in tier 4, to ‘hey, national lockdown’. Except….that’s a misnomer. Takeaways are still open, essential services (and those have extended, thankfully) are still open, schools are closed, ans basically, it feels like a bitty solution to something really serious. We’re locking down until February, but I’m currently seeing reports that suggest we may be in it until the new tax year, which is April 1st.
What would I do differently…?
That’s the rub. I can’t really work out what that answer really is. I’m not a politician, I don’t know everything about all of the statistics that are being used to decide, but what I will say is that once again, it feels like mental health has become not just an afterthought, and that’s not pleasant at the best of times, but quite honestly, there’s been a total disregard for mental health entirely in this conversation with most people. Newspapers literally focussed on the impact of closing betting shops and pubs (hello addictive behaviour – of all the examples they could choose…) and talking about how terrible this lockdown is. I can’t really say I’m happy or comfortable with that, and the complete non-response from the government about how they’re addressing mental health and isolation, but if the NHS only has a finite pool of resources, and mental health was already cut down to bare bones and little else, it’s not surprising that this (and cancer and other life-threatening issues) are being put on the backburner. And critically, for that, I don’t blame the NHS at all – I blame the government. I blame Boris for a lot and while I try not to go overly political, I guess this is one of those times I am kinda.
So…what I’d do differently. I’d listen to the advice of the people I was asking to be my experts, I’d be leading by example, and I guess I’d accept my tenure wasn’t popular. Can we expect that of Boris Johnstone? No. Not at all.
I’ve spent the last few months trying to find my way, and sort out everything, and as ever, because November is Nanowrimo, I’ve discovered that it’s most important to me that I keep writing. So, I’m planning to change a lot of stuff around and work on everything so that I can get to a place where I’m doing everything I’m happy with. Uni is pretty much under control, so I’ll be planning the rest of it, as I can. I’ve also discovered a love for bullet journalling, so I’ve incorporated that too.
I’ll be blogging more once I import everything that belongs here – I’ll be converting everything and moving it back to here – Author Interrupted is staying as my author specific blog, but everything else is coming back onto here. Mostly so I’ve got specific places to post to 🙂
Looking forward to those recipes.