creative writing, Life

When is your next book?

A while ago I published my first book – it’s my other book baby and I’m proud of it. But it’s been a while. Overall, people liked what I published (and not just friends and family!) so naturally people tend to ask; when is the next one?

It’s a fair question. I have been asking myself about it too. In truth most of the next book is done, it needs some editing, and it needs a cover. Still, it’s within the finish line. Life just got in the way. Mental health got in the way.

I lost my enthusiasm to write during the pandemic. At first I thought all the extra time would give me so much space for productivity. In reality, I was trying to entertain a toddler who was getting more irritated by the day. We were also bored. It would seem boredom doesn’t do much for my desire to write. I wasn’t doing anything so I had nothing to say. There was no fuel for creativity.

Throughout that time I dabbled in some other projects. I have a good chunk completed for a novel, and another sizable chunk for my Evolved Energy series. Right now I’m giving myself some room to explore new characters and ideas before I revisit older projects. Ideally, I want to look at what I have for this next novella with fresh eyes. I refuse to publish something I’m not feeling excited about. If I don’t feel interested, then I don’t think a reader will.

So the shorter answer is – I don’t know yet, but it is coming soon, and it hasn’t been abandoned. I hope you will love some of the other characters I’ve been spending time with – I hope I can share them in the near future!

Life, mental health, Parenting

It’s been a while…

This poor blog has been neglected for a while. I never forgot about it, and I probably should have used it more than I have. Writing has always helped me with life but recently I haven’t been in a place to process that. More accurately, I didn’t want to.

Anyway, I’m taking the plunge. There’s so many things I could write about and loads of topics I want to catch you all up on but….. that’s another post. Instead, I want to tell you that I am now the parent of a THREE year old. My kid is three.

I started writing this blog in earnest when I was expecting my son. Time flies. Back then, I was struggling with postpartum depression and it has left me with serious, lasting health issues. What I would love to say is that I’m in a better place but I think the more honest answer is just that I’m in a different place. All the challenges and goal posts have changed. The person I want to be has changed – partly because life is moving on. Time didn’t stop for me to get healthy and catch up.

I will always be a little heartbroken that my mental health robbed me of so much time I can’t get back. More importantly, I missed out on memories and experiences. A lot of the time I still am. As the list of regrets stacks up, the fight to combat my health gets harder.

In the meantime, I am blessed with an intelligent, funny, curious and confident little boy. He strolls into nursery without looking back. Today he told me he’s making friends. A new chapter in life has commenced for him and while I’m so pleased that he has hit the ground running, I’m sad because I feel as though I’m standing still.

Physically my health is problematic- it’s a world of pain and fatigue. Pushing myself to do things for a day or two often leaves me in bed for over a week. Mentally, the world is a little bit darker.

But my son is thriving. Despite all this, and all the grey clouds looming, my son spends the day smiling, chatting, learning. It is those moments that show me it was worth fighting to stay alive two and a half years ago. It’s a reminder to keep staying alive for what will come next.

mental health

What if it doesn’t get better….?

Before anyone gets too far into this post, I’m going to be brutally upfront about the fact that this isn’t one of my cheerier posts. I keep this blog for me, and to help organise my thoughts so I can reflect on them so if there’s anything about mental health that makes you uncomfortable, I won’t take it personally if you find the off ramp.

I’ve been thinking a lot of late about the possibility that my mental health issues could be permanent. When all this started, I had it in my head that it was going to get better, it was all fixable, and by the time Gabe was a bit older I would be back to “normal”. It’s nearly been three years and I’m not far off where I was at the beginning. In many ways I’m worse. Sure, I’m not self harming but it’s a very fine line more often than not.

Laid out in front of me, I can see the many things that contribute to my mental health feeling worse. Much of it is not fixable right now but, what concerns me the most, is that I know there are elements that I may never be able to resolve. There are thoughts within me that repeat on a loop during my darkest periods to the extent that even when everything is already bleak, I can’t dig further than their surface level because I fear the drop into an abyss that will swallow me whole. I can patch up surface wounds, but I’m not able to fix internal damage. Some scars will always be visible.

So what if I never get better than this? I’m not actively suicidal, I’m not self harming, I don’t want to leave my kid without a parent or anything like that. But I also don’t really want to be here. There is a glimmer of sadness each morning where I think “damn isn’t it a shame that I woke up again”. I’m not saying that to alarm anyone – I won’t leave my son – but it’s exhausting pretending to be enthusiastic about life. If I were to be hit by a bus tomorrow, I wouldn’t have had a hundred things I still wanted to do beyond seeing my child grow up. So it’s getting harder to imagine living like this forever.

This situation is exhausting for me, and it’s exhausting for the people who love me.

Life, mental health

So I took a break

I put my blog on a hiatus for a little while. Recently I’ve not felt like writing – for any reason – and I put it down to the weird circumstances we are still living in. I thought all this would be over by now if I’m being honest. This feels never ending. At the time I’m writing this, I have just received my first vaccination, and I should be feeling excited about getting my life back. I don’t know why I’m not.

Tonight I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that my mental health has deteriorated more than I have been willing to admit for a while. I knew my physical health had declined, but mentally…. I think if you are someone who has been mentally unwell since before Covid, it was easy enough to believe nothing much had changed. After all, I was still anxious and depressed, so what’s new?

I’m in constant consultation with my doctors at the moment about medication. We’ve been trying something new recently, and we’ve toyed with it twice now. But still, in the last week, my anxiety has hit a peak. I should have probably blogged about it. I try to keep this forum very honest and open – I have always tried to use it for that purpose and ultimately for myself. Recently, I’ve not felt like being honest with myself about how I’m feeling.

People tell me a lot that I’m strong or brave. I don’t feel strong. I certainly don’t feel brave. To the contrary, I’m scared of a lot of things in life. I can be strong for other people because I value the people I have in my life, but I can’t always be strong for me because I don’t always value me. That thought is looming over me a lot right now: it’s the permanent elephant in the room. Without being fully aware, I seem to have made friends with my own darkness instead of trying to address it, and I don’t think that’s been the right choice for me.

I have always said that my mental health is a part of my life, and something I have to live with and manage in similar ways to my asthma or, now, my fibromyalgia. Something has changed. For a while I have been more depression than I have been myself. One reason I am less enthusiastic about leaving lockdown is the knowledge that I will have to face myself again, and I’m now more scared of me than of the depression.

I have been asking myself who I am. What do I like? What do I want to achieve? I’m not sure I have any real answers to those questions. I try to be me, but I’m not sure if I’m particularly likeable. I certainly don’t like me for any length of time, and so I’ve systematically closed myself off from the world and that’s been fine because the entire world is closed anyway. That won’t be the case for much longer.

I don’t know how to reintegrate myself into a world I’m both terrified of joining, and terrified of being rejected from. Generally I want to hide because I don’t feel like I have a place. I’ve never really fit in anywhere, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon. I’m tired, so tired, and I don’t know what the future holds.

Life, mental health

Long Term Mental Illness

There’s a misconception which lingers during discussion of mental health at the moment, and that is the belief that you are dealing with a completely curable illness. There is this idea that because mental illness has an emotional component that it will last only as long as any emotion. It’s true that many people overcome their illness, recover, and go on to a normal life. Unfortunately it’s not true for everyone.

The hardest part is that the longer the illness goes on, the more frustrated other people become. Naturally, people want to help a loved one who is ill but it’s not so easy when nothing you do is working. It’s hard to be patient all the time, or listen to the same pains repeatedly. Loving someone with a mental health condition can be difficult.

It’s easy to tweet ‘keep fighting’ to someone or to offer to listen. But it’s much harder when the illness goes on for a prolonged period of time. I’m stuck in the position right now where I have relapsed in a major way despite professional help, medication changes and a loving support unit. I’ve accessed everything available to me, so why am I still unwell? And I know the people around me wonder why too. There’s a belief that there must be a reason – or worse, that if all the help is being given, then it must just be something within me that is flawed. Perhaps I’m just not doing things correctly or being honest enough or pushing hard enough. But it’s been two years of pushing uphill and trying, and retrying, every suggestion I’ve been given.

I want to be categorically clear before I say this next thing – I am not suicidal nor do I have intent to harm. But I can see how people get there. When you have a horrific chronic condition that destroys every aspect of your life and then also makes it so the people you love struggle to support you, it’s not difficult to see why the end result would be death. After all, death is the final destination in life and the outcome of any number of serious illnesses. The sad part is that most people with mental health issues don’t want to die, they just want to feel less ill. I don’t want to leave my son or the people I love – but the battle is getting harder instead of easier.

This is the first year I have ever wanted to skip Christmas. I don’t want to decorate or shop or wrap, and I’m not even looking forward to the food. I don’t look forward to anything at the moment. What’s the point when the only two emotions available are bleak sadness or crippling anxiety? I can see all the reasons why people may be happy or excited but I don’t feel them. It’s been well over a month since I went to bed hopeful that the next day would be better.

Still, I keep trying. I don’t plan on giving up. My kid is excited about santa and presents and Christmas songs. He thinks our tree has magic and he likes to look at the lights. I won’t miss that for the world – even if I can’t share in his joy.

Life

Demisexual

This is a weird post to write. It’s another one of those topics that I think are important for transparency on this blog. This is not a new topic for me, but I’ve still been reluctant to talk about it at any length. Regardless, I’m Demisexual and yesterday was National Coming Out Day.

So what is demisexual? What does it mean?

It falls under the asexual umbrella and it basically means asexual with the possibility for an exception if the emotional bond is strong. It doesn’t mean heterosexual but celibate, or sexual but wants to ‘take it slow’. Some demisexuals can deeply love a partner and never have sexual attraction for them. The base point is often asexual, there’s just a CHANCE in certain circumstances.

It doesn’t mean demisexuals don’t have sex. Some absolutely don’t – like, ever – but many do. Think of it this way, if you’re straight and attracted to men/women then consider how you feel sexually about gender you’re not attracted to. The same goes for homosexual people – what’s your general sexual feeling regarding the opposite sex? In general, for both cases, the answer is likely ‘not interested’. Asexual just means ‘not interested’ for everyone and demisexual means ‘95% not interested but a chance if I am strongly connected to a person’.

Generally this doesn’t effect my life much despite it being a part of my identity. I have known for five years, my husband has known since day one, and our relationship isn’t particularly effected because our bond is strong. But in all seriousness, plenty of asexual people struggle with relationships and I’ve recently been reading about the issues regarding sexual assault for those identifying under the asexual umbrella. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to talk about it, because although I can pass comfortably in life as I’m in a heterosexual relationship, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m demisexual. For example, I can appreciate aesthetic beauty but I don’t get sexual attraction to an actor or a person I meet in a bar.

This likely won’t be something I talk much about if at all after this because ultimately my relationship is private. Anyway, I wanted to share this extra part of me.