Inbetween

My Non-Update, Update.

Writer’s block is a tough boulder to shift. I’ve written and eventually deleted 2 complete posts for this blog, feeling that I was either rambling on about nothingness or harping on about the same topic over and over.

I’m struggling a little bit with writing something that I can look at and not become annoyed with myself for bothering to spill out.

This isn’t my first brush with writer’s block. It won’t be the last in my long future as a writer, because this is my life, I love writing. I love weaving words and creating things.

Unfortunately for me, rigimg_0504ht now my mental illness had a fairly strong grip of me. It always had that grip but I convinced myself I was the one in control. What this means, of course, is that in my eyes anything I write is either complete repetition, boring, pointless or a reason to question whether my future as a writer is real.

I’m telling you this now because all I can put into words is this. It’s the truth, I have a dozen ideas popping up in my mind but I can’t seem to get them out just yet. On Friday, after what promises to be a hectic and stressful week, I’m going to sit down and talk it out once more.

This blog is for me, a place I can (albeit publicly) get things off my chest. I’ve considered and toyed with the idea of making a YouTube Channel along similar lines, instead of typing I sit in front of a camera and talk. While that does appeal to me, I’m not in a secure enough place to sit and edit footage of myself talking without picking myself apart.

So, that’s it, my non-update about being stuck for words. I still managed to write 300 words, so I guess I’m not as stuck as I believe.

See you Friday,

Emma x

Mental Health

What Does Depression Look Like?

What does depression look like?

Earlier in the week I booked myself an appointment with my doctor, true to my one massive goal this year. I sat down with a very nice man I hadn’t ever met before and bawled my eyes out. In between sobbing, he asked me questions that I answered as honestly as I could. Eventually, I came away humiliated because I’d broken down so much and with a new prescription for antidepressant tablets called Sertaline (if you’re interested).

While I was looking up this new medication on Google, my sister made the comment that ‘you aren’t depressed, you’re fine’. To put her comments into better context, I’ve never fully shared with anyone what I feel –or lack there of. She neither understands what depression is nor does she know what goes on inside my head. That aspect of my illness, I prefer to keep to myself because of both the stigma attached to it and my fear of burdening someone I love with concerns for my wellbeing simply by sharing this information.

So what does depression look like? I typed ‘depression’ into Google Images. As you’d expect, what I found was entirely stereotypical imagery of the mainstream idea of what depression is. According to this search, being depressed in grey, covered in mascara tears and faking the smiles.

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The top results of my Google Search

From my experience, this is both irritating and inaccurate. Depression isn’t easy to spot, due to the social stigma surrounding being mentally ill many individuals who actually suffer with depression learn techniques for hiding it well. I, personally, have mastered the art of burying those feelings so deep underneath a chirpy, cheery exterior that dances to music in her head and pulls stupid faces when someone isn’t look, I look like a happy, fully functioning human.

What does depression look like?

Depression is anyone around you. There’s no ‘look’ for depression, no one thing that you could pinpoint as what depression looks and behaves like. A lot of the time people learn ways of functioning while the storm rages out of sight in their minds. A lot of the time, like me, it’s buried and forced back into shadow.

Honestly speaking, I’m pretty sure some people in my life think I’ve faked my symptoms to try and gain sympathy etc. Which is fair enough, if you don’t know what depression is like for real, then you’re going to assume the happy-go-lucky one is faking.

We’ve been taught in all versions of media that depression is sitting in tears, not eating, dressing like a ‘goth’ –which has nothing to do with depression. So when confronted with the real thing, a human who isn’t sad, wearing dull colours and picking at their food thoughtfully, a lot of people have no fucking idea what they’re looking at.

Depression is numbing.

Personally, when I last checked in with myself, just ask yourself ‘how am I doing?’, I couldn’t find an answer. I guess I’m OK. But I can’t respond with any specific emotion, I’m not happy, I’m not sad, not angry, jealous, scared or really feeling anything.

I’m OK, still alive.

Hopefully these new tablets reawaken my life. I have huge, huge dreams of adventure and learning that I want to bring to life. For now though, I’m just OK. Just existing.

How are you doing?

Emma x

The Writing Bit

Writing Advice From a Novice Writer

The trick to anything is simply doing, whether you do it wrong, ace it, struggle but eventually succeed or even try it, realise it doesn’t work and change tact. The fact of the matter is that you did it. When it comes to many projects, creative, business plans or career plans etc. far too many people forget the important bit is doing.

In my experience as a writer, I’ve found myself bogged down with details. From having the right ‘work space’ the right ‘work ethic’ to spending hours trying to figure out how it should all be done because I want to get everything just so and perfect.

Years ago I read a book by author Walter Mosley, he addressed this very problem. A lot of people rely on superstition, luck and habit. They try to imitate the greats in their field but give up because it simply doesn’t work for them. What Mosley says is to stop believing you need the right anything and just do it. He sits down every day for 1 hour and writes. It doesn’t have to be good, doesn’t have to make sense or fit with the project he’s currently grappling with. Just 1 hour to write, whether he leaves his desk with 1000 words or 50, he did it.

This is a habit I’m developing, although my mind has about 50 projects I’d love to sink my teeth into at the moment. Every night I sit and I write. Doesn’t matter the subject, doesn’t matter if by the next day I’ll delete it all and start over. I’m writing again and I haven’t been able to do that for months.

Although this might sound contradictory to what I just said, which is don’t get sucked into imitating the greats, I disagree because I’m not imitating Mosley. I took his suggestion, write for 1 hour every day, and I adapted it to fit me. I sit down in my pyjamas every night, music playing and a blank page or some old project in front of me and I work on it.

Mosley wrote that he prefers to write in the mornings, before everything else begins, to get up and spend the first hour of the day writing. I tried and it just didn’t work for me. My days are occupied with something up until 9pm when my dog is walked one last time, fed and sleeping, my family are in their respective bubbles and I’m free to work without distraction.mosley-quote

Splitting hairs, I know, but it’s true.

Look at how the greats, the writers, artists, musicians, businessmen and women have done it. But then take their lessons and adapt them to your life. You might like the busy environment of a café or coffee shop, or need absolute silence.

Big projects are hard, they take a lot of time, concentration and belief in your abilities to see them through to fruition. Regardless of whether you tackle it head on, break it into smaller pieces, it’s all the same and it can be tiring. Especially when it seems you’ll only ever hit roadblock after roadblock on the journey.

Adapt the good habits of those you admire to fit your life. Don’t give up and keep pushing. Anything worth having doesn’t come easy. My manuscript has been rejected 5 times already, it gets disheartening and I’ve had moments of doubt about my writing and whether this story I’ve poured years of my life into is actually as good as I think. But, I remember that literary agencies are just businesses, they look for the quick buck. The client that will make them more money and notoriety the fastest out of 1,000 hopefuls.

It’s nothing personal, find someone else and try. You’ll get there.

Emma x

Goals · Mental Health

When Is A Good Time To Change?

I’ve made it abundantly clear that I am not in a good place right now. My mental state is in a fairly precarious place right now and there are stresses to it that I can’t really find a reprieve from but I’m working on that.

Leading on from this information, I’ve been wondering whether there’s any specific time that it’s OK to begin11885068_10153764682954245_1352930324503856663_n.jpg again. Whether this archaic ritual of ‘new year, new you’ actually holds any weight to it, or is it (like I believe) a good way for companies the world over to push the idea that new year means you must lose weight, must go on a diet at least for January. After that it’s Valentine’s Day then Easter then it’s the Fuck It Time of year until Autumn and Winter roll back around to give us an excuse to do whatever we want. I’m not in a good place, we’ve established that.

There’s very little I can change due to financial, time and general psychological constraints.

However, I do know the time for change has arrived and metaphorically punched me in the face to get my attention. Things have been slipped for a while, as is the case for many, we get complacent in a temporary place of comfort. Where our brains behave normally, even that perhaps we’ve finally conquered the illness plaguing our minds.

When is a good time to change?

Now.

There’s no such thing as ‘the right time’ to do anything. You could wait 1,000 years for that point and still never find it.

For me, the time has come because I need to regain control of my life instead of depression and anxiety calling the shots for me. It leads me to making some pretty reckless decisions, including eating sugary and carb heavy foods that I know aren’t good for my diabetes. I sleep through the morning, because I’m up until 1am without realising it. I get irritable with those around me. I’ve sat and cried my eyes out for no reason or as a result of a panic attack.

It’s time to change, Emma, it’s really time now.

As I said, I’ve referred myself back for treatment about this. I’m speaking with my doctor about anything else they can do to help me get through this particularly rough period as well as forcing myself to develop some better habits. That includes setting myself a bedtime (yes, I’m 28 and I need a bedtime) and forcing myself outside more.

This blog went from recording some other changes in my life to attempting to help other people to helping me. Whether I spend years updating only for no one to read it or I amass a following who read and understand what I’m going through. This is for me.

I need this kind of voice in my head, one that isn’t judgemental and scary, but comforting because the voice I choose to write in seems to know her shit. I’m going to become that version of me in all aspects of my life, not for this little blog that I keep, but because that is me.

Life is scary right now.

I’m scared right now.

But I’ll be OK, because I’ve been lost and I’ve been scared and I’ve been in a much darker place than I am right now.

It’ll be OK.

Promise.

Emma x

 

Mental Health

I’m Not OK, But I Will Be

I’m not OK.

I don’t know how to dress that fact in another way.

I don’t think there really is another way to say those words.

I, a human being, am not doing well.

There isn’t any particular reason for it, as such, there was no major trauma or ‘reason’ for me to end up in the spin cycle that is mental illness. Hormones or chemicals in me just aren’t doing their bit to ensure I don’t end up crying pointlessly at a blank page.

Yes, I am approaching this information in a very nonchalant manner because trust me, there’s no point in getting even more worked up or trying to trace the loose thread that is the cause of my mental state right now. I spent years trying to figure it out, believing something terrible had to happen before you can be depressed and then questioning whether I was making it all up because I hadn’t lost someone dear to me or experienced something hugely terrible.

Depression doesn’t need a reason to come in and fuck up your life, it just does.

After a low point that saw me slipping out of some habits I took a while to form, which I already explained in a previous post, it finally hit me.

I need help.

In late 2016, I finally bit the bullet and went to my doctor and through a lump the size of a boulder in my throat (I hate crying in front of people), I explained it. I explained my periods under a rain cloud when I can just about function, get angry at the drop of a hat or become very cruel to myself. She spoke to me briefly before confirming I was depressed and help was there.

In late 2016, after about 2 session of treatment, I realised how unhealthy and unhappy my relationship had become. Cutting a longer story short, I ultimately ended that relationship and saw an almost immediate upswing in my outlook.

People commented that I seemed happier. I wasn’t experiencing the extreme low moods that left me crying myself to sleep. I allowed myself to mourn the relationship. It all seemed very good and even a little bit efficient.

However.

After a particularly rough day of going through the emotional wringer, I’ve realised that I’m only halfway there to a good place and still need help going the rest of the way. After admitting this to myself (and crying mascara all over my face) I signed up for treatment.

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It’s hard admitting you aren’t able to carry your problems alone but it isn’t a sign of defeat. Only foolish people believe they can take everything on alone.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be ‘OK’ whatever that really means but I’m willing to spend as much time as I possibly can to get to a better place than I am now.

There’s so much that I want to do, taking care of myself is #1 priority though.

Emma x

Mental Health

Where Have I Been?

I took a bit of an unexpected hiatus, you may have noticed, you may have not. Putting that aside, I’m back on the blogging thing and hopefully won’t disappear for a while. Or at least if I do, it’s planned and I have stuffed scheduled so it’ll be like I never left.

The reason why I ended up with nothing over the past week is because, depression. While I never like using that as an excuse for anything and people that say ‘I have depression’ with the hope that they’ll be treated differently infuriate me like you wouldn’t believe. The fact of the matter is, yes, sometimes my mental illness will create some problems in my life and sometimes they’re small –like forgetting to write a post or sometimes it’s bigger, like deliberately missing appointments.

Mental illness isn’t pretty. I like to be completely frank about it and this past week has been a bit grim, from forgetting to write to even forgetting the last time img_20170117_131326I showered only to realise, it’s been about a week and I smell like an athletes sock.

So, now I’m sitting here with dripping wet hair in a minion t-shirt and pyjama bottoms, getting back into things. I had another post planned in my head, one that I will write and will post (unless I forget, in that case remind me or accept this as my apology).

Depression is a bastard monster and no matter how vigilant I try to be about it, it always managed to sneak up on me and throw me adrift. I’ll keep getting up every time and learn something new and one day I will have a proper hold on things. Until then, if you suffer with depression (diagnosed or not, you know how you feel) or you know someone who does, don’t sweat it.

Try to put things in place to keep you steady, prioritise your mental health above all else and don’t let the bastard monster stop you.

Emma x

Goals

The Forgotten New Years Promise

A New Year promise that I overlooked while writing my previous post on the subject is one to slow down.

The reason I overlooked this is simply because I had always assumed I was working at a good pace towards my goals. However, after taking stock of 2016 as a whole and receiving my 4th rejection email for my novel that said relatively the same thing as the others. I realised it. I rushed into making many decisions that should have been handled with much more care than I allowed them.

In my not so professional opinion, I believe this impatience stems from one of two places. The first being that I’ve watched my mother run from one chore to the other without stopping no matter how much we insist, bug or even bully her (lightly) into sitting down and letting us take over the jobs for a while. quote-shape

The second place is where most of this habit comes from. I spent most of my youthful and important years completely still. Remaining in one place, not willing to allow change into my life or daring to venture out into the world to pursue any aspirations.

Now I’m older and mostly healed up, with this voice in my head saying “you’ve wasted enough time! Go get it! Quickly!” at everything I dream up and plan.

I rushed into approaching literary agencies with a novel still in its infancy. Needing a lot more growing, cleaning up, editing and perhaps revision as a whole. Because around me people younger than me are writing and publishing their novels. Because I hear stories of how this person was published by 30 or this person had hit the number one spot on some bestsellers list by this age.

I take all these things as a benchmark for myself which is incredibly unfair. Those people who I hold myself up against have led wholly different lives to me. Maybe they have experienced depression or some form of tragedy but they aren’t me. I’m taking 2017 as a year to learn to slow it down. Not be in such a rush to get it all done just because someone before me has done it sooner.

It has been done before. Nothing in this world is original anymore. However, it hasn’t been done by me. My novel is a work of fantasy, today’s readers are tired of young adult fantasy novels. They’ve been swamped with them for years and years. But they haven’t yet experienced mine, which is something that keeps me moving forward.

My novel is coming but it might take a bit longer than I anticipated.

Emma x