So I just noticed that the last few blogs I’ve written have been to do with my mental health. I think this means I need to do more than simply writing to do lists.
I can plan to my hearts content but the reality is i’ve got a hell of a lot of events coming up. I’m not sure I have a quiet period til christmas.
Oh Lordy, Christmas! That’s another mountain to climb.
I’m writing this on my phone as my Chromebook has decided to shut down at random intervals. It’s where I tend to do most of my writing. I don’t dare now for fear of losing passages mid-sentance.
Today’s wordcount: 436, mostly the newsletter for work
My week has been a whirlwind of activity. I cannot think of a single day in which I had time to rest, never mind write!
I can feel my mind becoming overloaded. Manic bursts of energy followed by pure exhaustion. Days rush past with unnatural speed. Tight cracking jaw, the frustrating insistence of a tension headache. Thoughts rush with anxious urgency then vanish with the next task. Pin pricks of guilt. Forgotten obligations.
I need space.
I need silence.
I’m working on sending a submission to Horror Tree under the headline Ghosts on Drugs. A nasty bout of depression which stole my motivation, which meant I missed the deadline for my novel. The computer is a bit of a scary place now, it’s a place where I fail to write my novel. My laptop is fine. It doesn’t judge me. I’ve not taken a lot of drugs…
I’ve not taken a lot of drugs…actually, that’s not quite right. I have not taken many drugs which were not prescribed . For the past three or four years, I have taken medication every day. 150mg Sertraline in the morning and zopiclone to help me sleep. Eating the right amount of food and recovering some form of mental stability has meant I’ve weaned myself off the zopiclone. Oh and let’s not forget the Symbicort and salbutamol for my Asthma.
The dreaded message came with my latest lot of subscriptions Please make an appointment with GP for medication Review. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it sure as hell hit me like one. Right now I’m avoiding the whole thing until after my driving test.
back to the story, if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you’ll be aware that I suffer from depression, anxiety alongside an eating disorder. For my ghosts on drugs submission, I will enter the mind of a protagonist who is struggling with depression.
Should I be writing things that could be potentially triggering? It’s great to promote understanding but I know it can also send those suffering from similar conditions into a downward spiral. It feels wrong shying away from such issues. I am not writing in any gratuitous way, simply writing from a point of view of a girl who is depressed. The point of view I know best! One thing I can say is that the first line in my story lays out the premise of my story.
By the time I realized I was off my meds I’d already been dead for a week.
Today’s word count: 685
Whether it’s a tempory high or a sign that this current haze of anxiety and depression is passing, my motivation is back with a vengeance. There are lists upon lists of things I want to write, make and fix.
One terrifying task looming on the horizon is the dreaded driving test. I am straddling the line between avoidance and obsessively worrying.
It’s been nearly a month since I wrote a post for this blog. In that time I have written a little but have mostly spent time planning and honing my skills with sentence structures and narrative arcs.
Back in May, I wrote a piece of Flash Fiction for Winchester Writers’ Prize. I had no luck with the competition but I’m relatively happy with it and decided to share it with you lovely people. The prize offered adjudication for an extra charge. I haven’t done any editing since the adjudication, though i do think the feedback is useful. I’ll include it at the bottom. Let me know what you think.
Court shoes cling with tacky insistence to rotting floorboards. Each breath brings the dank scent of mold. My toe catches on a bottle. It’s chime echoes about the hall a mockery of the music that once played. It comes to jarring halt against a piece of wood, blocking the stairway to the stage. One shaft of light reaches the raised platform. The glass ceiling all but boarded over,
‘What have they done to you?’ I place one gloved hand on the board. A sharp pain stabs my palm. A spot of blood pools about the splinter, staining white gloves.
‘Perfect. Just bloody perfect,’
A scraping noise resounds, I lift my head to see a girl skating towards the stage.
‘Were you talking to y’self? Only mad people talk to themselves’
‘Nonsense.’ I say pulling the splinter free.
‘S’what I heard,’ she shrugs and skates up the plyboard onto the stage.
‘Do your parents know you are here?’ The girl slides back down and circles me on her heels.
‘They split a year ago. Dad’s workin’ and Mum’s moved away,’ she scuffs the floor ‘It’s the only place I got to skate.’
‘It was an ice rink when i was young. Dottie and I would dance by candle light the stars and moon shining down upon us.’ I look up to the boarded ceiling ‘all the magic’s gone now she’s dead.’ I push back the pain in my throat. ‘You don’t want to hear stories from an old lady.’
‘I don’t mind.’
I look her up and down, she seems genuinely curious.
‘If that’s the case I have something to show you. Here help me move this’ the board moved easily with her help. I bend low, my light blue skirt skimming the floor. I pry open a floorboard, my gloves growing messy with sticky dust. The tin box stils, just where Dottie and I left it. I open it, inside lies a photograph and two pairs of leather ice skates.
‘This is Dottie.’ I says pointing to the woman on the left, laughter lines crease her eyes and curls fly forward on a gust of wind. A younger version of myself stares at Dottie, besotted.
‘You miss her’ the girl says, it’s not a question. ‘I miss my mum too, we used to skate here, when it was a roller disco.’ I press the photograph into my pocket and pull out the blades.
‘Watcha doin?’ The girl asks as I prop myself against the wall and pull on a pair of ice skates.
‘Here put these on.’ I toss the other pair to her
‘There’s no ice.’
The boards covering the windows slip away. Crystal clear light refracts onto white ice. The stage fills with ghostly musicians.
‘The magic never left this place after all.’
The girl slips and I skate to her side placing a firm arm under her back.
‘How did you-?’
‘I’m going to teach you how to really skate.’
The University of Winchester Writers’ Festival added a note.
Note: The interaction between the old woman and the girl is moving in parts – I believe the girl is genuinely interested at the end. The piece is unnecessarily confusing however — knowing where they are, that the narrator is an old woman, would improve the immediacy of the story. Be careful of grammatical mistakes — they also make the story difficult to comprehend. But some nice work here.
Today’s Wordcount: 475
p.s Grammar is a super difficult thing for me, dyslexia is a bitch
I’ve been feeling pretty dreadful recently. This is my escape to the mountains, day four.
Hotel Armin, Selva Val Gardena,Italy
29th June 2016, 12.50pm
I only left the hotel an hour ago. Yesterday was incredible, but tiring. We managed to spot some edelweiss. They are a strange flower. A group of german walkers were delighted when my father-in-law pointed them out. I’ve been practising my german, to varying degrees of success, I think this group possibly understood about a third of what I said.
I am burnt to a crisp, my nose is bright red,my arms tender and swollen. It turns out I should have taken my pilates instructors advice when she told me to get my hip checked out. After a painful day yesterday I ended up not being able to walk down stairs without swearing. I slipped a disk a few years back and ended up with sciatica along my left leg. I think over the years I compensated my right leg and managed to mess up my hip. This became apparent whilst half way down a very steep descent, my hip gave up on me. Whilst trying not to put any weight on my hip I put way to much pressure on my knee. The end result was that I was unable to walk down a flight of stairs without muttering profanities.
Tom and I spent a little time in the spa yesterday. He took a little bit of convincing but I think he had a nice time. This morning I was feeling too rotten to go down for breakfast. The lovely staff at the hotel prepared me a pretty breakfast tray with two croissants and a cup of tea.
We had a wonder about the town and picked up snacks from one of the bakeries. I borrowed one of Tom’s shirts to keep my arms protected. We’re now sitting on the balcony tucking into Apfelstrudel.
I may sound like a broken record but here goes anyway.
I’ve been feeling a little down recently.
I bet if I bothered to check, that phrase would be the most common throughout my blogging. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve suffered from depression for a fair while now. For the most part, I’m coping far better. but the problem is…depression doesn’t go away just because you’ve figured out all the coping mechanisms. It comes back in insidious ways. Right now my depression is taking the form of lethargy. Everything is just that bit harder to do. Particularly anything involving social pressure.
Today I managed to revise a couple of scenes before succumbing to exhaustion.
Today I wrote: 870 words
I now have a couple of months in which to edit my first 10,000 words. Reading back over my previous revisions I realised it was a little dull. The information is there, laid out in a concise effective manner. The world has magical aspects but the wonder of that magic has been lost. Today I spent time re-writing the first paragraph. I went to it with fresh eyes and no pressure.
I absolutely love what I’ve written.
Todays word count: 180
Today feels better than yesterday. I survived social pressures of the dedication service and managed to leave relatively unscathed by well meaning relatives. I find it increasingly difficult to reply to the question how are you. particularly when i am not doing great. I tend to reply with a non-specific, ‘I’m doing ok thanks.’
It’s not a lie and certainly, or at least not a bit one. The only problem is, people want more. I’ve got nothing else to give.
Pressure is listing off me slowly. I’m hoping life will return to some semblance of normality soon. I need rest, time and a lot of space.
I’ve been feeling pretty guilty about not working on my novel or going running. I’ve not been eating as much as I should and it’s been effecting my energy levels badly.
I am trying to stop thinking about the things I have not done and focusing on the things I have done. In started with writing a post about all the items of clothing I have made so far. it was a lot of fun. Tomorrow I will write a small to do list. One which I will complete easily.
Today’s word count: 1200
I’m struggling. with writing, with sewing, with socialising. I’m even finding it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. I’ve managed to do bits of writing, but it’s the bare minimum.
I feel sad. A heavy, tiring sadness. The melancholy is punctuated by moments of happiness. Today I saw my niece who spent the first ten minutes smiling at me and nuzzling my head with hers.
The happiness carried an undertone. We were spending the afternoon making decorations for my niece’s dedication on Sunday. I’m feeling pretty stressed about the day. I am going to the ceremony, and staying for tea and cakes afterwards. This will be a stressful event as there will be a lot of people there, most of whom I don’t know.
My sister invited me to a big family meal afterwards. There will be at least thirty people there, though I have been able to go out for food with friends, a big occasion with so many people and an unfamiliar restaurant will just be too much. I had to say no for my mental health.
It’s really really difficult making these kinds of decisions. I know my sister is disappointed. I’m trying very hard not to feel too bad about myself. The guilt is pretty overwhelming.
That day is also the only time I can see my father-in-law, for his birthday, before he goes on holiday. I know the morning will be difficult and tiring. I don’t know if I’ll even be able to make it out the house again to see him. I feel like I’ll be betraying my sister if I do anything at all. guilt piled on guilt. I’ve been trying to do couch to 5k. I had scheduled to go out for a run this evening but couldn’t move from the sofa when I got home.
Guilt piled upon guilt. I’ve been trying to do couch to 5k. I had scheduled to go out for a run this evening but couldn’t move from the sofa when I got home.
Another small niggle which seems to be triggering my eating disorder issues is skipping out on a run. I’ve recently felt well enough to start exercising again and have been trying to do Couch to 5k. I had scheduled to go out for a run this evening but, rather fittingly, couldn’t move from the couch when I got home.
So there’s my post. It’s miserable because I’m miserable. Here’s to a less miserable week.
Today’s word count: 500
This morning I got up, out of bed and sat happily down at my computer. After compulsively changing wording on my previous scene I decided to word with a tried and tested method. I set an alarm for ten minutes and write any old rubbish that vaguely related to the scene.
It worked. I spent about five minutes messing about, but when the alarm went off I irritably turned it off and wrote happily for over an hour.
Today’s word count: 680