My husband has been ill with an undiagnosed stomach issue for coming up to two years now. We have seen many doctors and had umpteen tests. none of which have been able to shed any light on what is actually making him ill.
The most frustrating aspect of this illness is the unpredictability. it is almost impossible to plan things because we have no idea whether he will be well enough to leave the house. This is, unsurprisingly making him feel low.
It turns out I am pretty dreadful at coping with other people’s emotions. I find it incredibly difficult to negotiate my anxiety and depression when I feel like I should be caring for my husband. This week I hid within myself. Keeping busy until there’s no energy to keep going. My Novel seemed like a colossal mountain and even five minutes of mindfulness was almost unbearable because of the barrage of negative thoughts.
Things are a little better now. We’ve spoken and decided to have an action plan for keeping positive and motivated even when he has no energy. I did manage to work on my novel this morning and sorted out a bit of dialogue which was bugging me. The first Three scenes are now completed and I’m over halfway through the fourth.
Simultaneously feeling isolated and overwhelmed. Out at a meal today I had the tightening of a dread knot in my stomach, clumsy words and an intense desire to leave the table and never return. I’ve not felt this way in a while. This morning I didn’t find any joy in writing my novel. Uncomfortable and anxious at the epic task ahead of me.
There are a plethora of reasons I could be feeling this way. I will always jump to the worst conclusion; My depression has returned with a vengeance and I will feel this way forever. However, it is far more likely that my busy week has left me feeling just a little run down. Not to mention a dramatic bus ride home in which I hugged a crying little girl as her drunken dad picked a fight.
I’ve avoided practising mindfulness and pilates, two activities that force me to pause in the day. Instead, I’ve been bulldozing through, sidestepping any silence. I have a check list for such scenarios.
Tell the husband and support network
Figure out what I’m feeling and why
If things do not improve go to the doctor
Address pressures and anxieties
Look at Schedule to make sure I’m not pushing myself too hard.
I am so fricking excited to have a shiny new laptop! I had an Asus Chromebook for a while. It suited me really well, long battery life and light weight. Even after I spilt water on it causing the arrow and shift key to stop working I still had an affinity for my little Chrook (because who doesn’t love a portmanteau).
When it started turning off at random intervals I started looking for alternatives. Not long after that it point blank refused to turn on. It was at that moment I realized how much I relied on my Chrook every day. My mental health took a hit. I am eternally thankful for a loan from my mum, I would have been waiting a long time to save enough money.
After looking at a fair few Chromebooks I decided that I wanted windows based operating system. Scrivener is my writing tool of choice and Chromebooks are unable to support the programme. Browsing John Lewis I stumbled upon the Lenovo Yoga, Super lightweight, nicely spaced keys, decent sound and good quality video. It actually holds up to the claim of eight hours of battery life, really simple battery saving mode too. I’m enjoying using the Cortana voice recognition for dictation. I never thought I’d use the touchscreen or convertible mode, the screen can rotate 360 degrees. However, I’m finding it really useful. My husband and I like to watch shows in bed and folding the keyboard back gives us a bit more space. I’ve ended up using it as a tablet too.
For any writers out there interested in a lightweight laptop I can recommend both the Acer Chromebook and Lenovo Yoga, depending on your priorities. The Chromebook has 12 hours battery and a larger screen.
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’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.
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.
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.