I got nothing done…I think the first thing to acknowledge is that personal goals wise, I’m not further visibly forward, but I did a lot of…I guess it’s ‘behind the scenes’ work. I did have a quieter, calmer year in some ways. Supporting the kids, supporting my partner, and trying to plan for what comes next. I think that though I did very little, overtly, there were a tonne of really great conversations that eventually led myself and my business partner to something we’re working on now, which we’ve tagged ‘AOK’.
Goals wise, too, I didn’t published a dammed thing last year, and only really rebooted this blog about three months ago. I’m still working through how best to handle all of that, if I’m honest, but what I do know is that I’m a lot happier now with most of the things I write, when I write them.
I did start a Substack.
But, because I got ‘nothing’ done, I spent a lot of time with my family. I have regulated my sleep schedule a lot better, though I do sometimes need to switch to LA time to do some stuff, it’s not frequently expected of me. I’m sure next year may change that, but it’s ok. Mostly I’m just grateful for the space to think and spend time with my partner, son and daughter. We bought a Cricut so my daughter and I are still into doing crafty things, we all go out to get photos of stuff, we got to do the UK Games Expo this year…it’s all been really good and really comforting in many ways. None of us have gotten really sick, nor have we caught CV19, but we’re all fully boosted now, and flu shots to boot. We’ve been very lucky.
I did lots for clients….So, I’ve said ‘I got nothing done’ but equally, it’s been an ok year for getting work done for clients. From tomorrow, I’m developing something that cuts back on the clutter for one client so it ‘just works’ and building sites for two others. It’s all looking really solid. I learned Divi a lot more, I’ve been upskilling both for my business and for my uni stuff and I’ve had a lot of fun along the way. I love coding, but I love solving puzzles more.
I (started to) heal a bit…I think it’s fair to say this year I got on with the rather hard work of starting to heal. I’ve not had an exactly bad life, but I’ve been through a fair few really bad scrapes and my mental and physical health are kinda dented for it. I do totally think I’m dealing with some form of adrenal issue right now, though I’m also quite worried I’m anaemic again, but most of what I did was read, learn, sleep, and just accept that I can’t do everything, or work on starting to accept that. I laid foundations though for this year too – knowing what to do and when to do it hasn’t been the easiest thing for me, but I’m working in advance with a lot of my stuff now and though I sometimes bounce off deadlines, I’ve met quite a few too.
in July, I was discharged from therapy. I’ve done everything I could with them, my therapist was moving on, and instead of getting used to another stranger, given the current pandemic based restrictions, we decided that it was best just to close my file and move on. I can go back if I need to.
And I took up more exerciseLast year, I was just starting Mount Fuji. I completed that and went on to do Giza, Petra, Everest and started The Great Wall of China. In total, I walked about 540km, based on my Fitbit tracking.
I started walking outside by myself too. Didn’t last long, but will be coming back. In November, I went for a Ludosport Discovery session, fell in love with the sport and have now completed enough form 1 training that I can duel, and did for our closing session of the year, winning my team three points. I was rather shocked I managed it. I think everyone else was too, as I often refuse to duel, or withdraw when afraid. I am dealing with a lot more panic attacks though, but we know why and we’re working on that too.
I read… A LOTBecause I didn’t get to do very much in the way of travelling, I’ve mostly adventured through my books. Which, if I’m honest, has mostly involved serial killers, thrillers and murder mysteries. My Goodreads year in review isn’t everything I read (cause I’ve got books I read through Netgalley that haven’t or won’t log yet) but it’s close. If you want to see my year, it’s here, but seriously, a lot of it is basically true crime. 😉 Some of it was also audiobooks, which I count.
I think the two books that stayed with me this year though were The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig and we’re currently finishing off Leviathan Falls, which is the final book of the Expanse. And finishing the show too.
Wrote too…I completed both Camp Nanowrimos and Nanowrimo proper this year, and in the end, it turned out that though it felt like I was pulling teeth, I wrote close to half a million in 4thewords, and another 750k in my various files. Not bad going but next year is going to be a bigger challenge. I didn’t publish anything that wasn’t someone else’s to take from me and put out there though.
And yeah, then there was the ‘also watched’We watched so many good things this year but I watched less in some ways than my family. And more in others. I had more true rime on in the background during the day, but I’ve watched far fewer programs, and have promised I’ll watch a few of the pertinent ones when we’re back at our usual spaces next week.
Outstanding for me though had to be Loki, Scrubs (which we binged to the last season then pretended that one didn’t exist), Elementary, which we’re catching up on, The Expanse…you get the picture. We’ve started watching Titans season 3, The Witcher Season 2, and The Expanse season 6, and we’re looking forward to The book of Boba Fett, Obi Wan and more.
GamingGaming this year has mostly been about my Switch and our PS5. We’re both having a blast, no pun intended, playing through Fallout 76, though each of us can’t play with each other as it’s not cross-platform. Been playing games on the Switch too, but there’s nothing of note that I’ve played, really. I enjoy Surviving Mars, but a lot of what I do is just play through stuff for a little bit, get listless, put it down. So a lot of my time has just been spent mindlessly shooting things, which I’m kinda good at.
Meditating, self care, religion, oh myI always leave this bit to last, so if people want to skip, they can.
I meditated almost as much as I walked this year. I’ve found Headspace to be an excellent way of dealing with my sleep issues and the sleepscapes and I have become best buddies during the Pandemic. But we already knew that from listening to the stories Calm put out last year. I decided to stick with Headspace, not Calm in the end, simply because I got on better with Headspace. I’ve been home to my temple twice this year (which means I’ve been home to family twice this year) and moved my ‘I have to go do something, let’s go to my quiet spot) to a place nearer our current home. It’s not perfect, but it meets most of the needs of what my rules are. I’ve also enacted some pretty radical self-care, but that, and some other stuff will be in the books, in the new Year. I’m sure I’ve missed tonnes, but I’ll be honest, I’m still not sure this year was actually a full year if that makes sense. Time isn’t right still, not since the interminable but necessary lockdowns, and we’ve been working through as much of being present and grateful as we can, but I’ll also be real about this, a bit of me is still sobbing away in the corner that something so horrible is ongoing.
I may write on that later, but I’m healthy, I’m here, I’ve picked up some new skills and hobbies and though I lost my gran, as a family, we’ve been far more blessed than we could have expected, so really, I can’t complain. How was your New Year?
Oh, it was November. Wow, ok.
So, here’s the roundup, I guess.
New hobby!So, normally, the big news in November would be my birthday, or Nanowrimo. But, actually, this year, the big excitement is Ludosport! My beloved and I (yeah, that’d be the guy in ‘a Nanowrimo love story‘) started learning Ludosport, aka Lightsaber duelling. Already though, I know it’s more than that. It’s a whole culture of support, care and honesty, and a really good workout. But it’s accessible too. I’m managing almost as well as the rest of the people training, and that’s even with my numb leg and nerve damage on the left side, it’s been great! I did a trial event in October, and we started in November, just after my birthday. My uniform and lightsaber blade is here, which I shared on my Instagram. I’m sure I’ll be talking about this a lot more in the next few months, but I’m pretty certain that it’ll mostly be on a new blog, called Run Girl, Run. It’s not quite live yet, but I’m going to be talking mental health, recovery, and growing physically and mentally as a person. It’ll be about how I find my feet, how I find my way back into the world, and we may even get to talk about extending our family, though, right now, it’s about making me whole. Holistically, I think that’s important, but I also think that it’s equally important to talk about it, and share what I can. Mostly because though we feel like we’re alone, we’re really not.
NanowrimoI completed my 19th Nanowrimo, just shy of 85k. We ran the online only project again this year, at the request of HQ, and my region stepped up. They were awesome. Next year, for my 20th year, I’m looking forward to doing something special.
Other writingI’ve got Glass Block and several of my short stories back, so I’ll be working on them, and I’ve got copy and client work coming up, so I’m excited. Plus we’re getting ready for Yule, keeping an eye on the various variants in the UK, and hoping we’re getting to go home. How was your November?
Boundaries 101I’m actually fairly odd in the sense that I don’t ‘like’ boundaries for myself. I feel that it’s very artificial to tell someone you ‘can’t something’ that isn’t basic human decency. And that, I hate to say, was my first mistake. The rank bitterness alongside that first mistake and trying to understand why people behave this way has been painful. Adding to the depression that was already settling on me, I’m really struggling to deal with anything right now, but, as I’ve been asked to write some mental health books if I get through this bout of crippling misery. But it’s made me evaluate a lot of things, and why my life isn’t ‘right’ and it all comes back to routine and boundary. Both of which, my brain seems to process much the same.
On the curves?Honestly? There’s another word for what happens when I lose everything, whereas this is kinda like where I end up when everything is gone and I’m left to clean up a mess or three. And there are many versions of this place. There’s the one I deliberately create when I need to move on from a bad place, and have to destroy it to cut ties. There’s the one that happens when I’m sick and can’t tend my stuff, and then there’s this one… This version of it though is kinda worse. Because it’s a bit of both. In an irony, I’m honestly not sure even *I* really understand, when I’m sick and come off routine, that’s when the trouble really starts. Free spirit and all that, I still need a pretty firm framework. And currently… I’m not sure I know what to do. I feel horrible, if I’m entirely honest. I’m not exercising or eating regularly, I’m not sleeping correctly. I’m disrupted understandably, because of the changes in the house (we’ve still got our BED to replace). And I feel a bit like a brat, if I’m honest, but we’ve changed so much in the last month and a half, and it’s been a lot of ‘I don’t really get the choice’ belonging disposal, as the garage flooded/was damaged. Again, I’m well aware I’m lucky. It’s not everything I own. It was a LOT of my books though, a lot of stuff we moved and stored (I’m now learning that storing in the garage is not for cardboard boxes. So, we’re converting what we are storing out there to plastic tubs.). It was stuff I’d protected when I left my ex. It was mine. It’s gone now. I don’t feel happy (Marie Kondo lied) – but I’m so overwhelmed, all I can really say was it was books, and some other ‘stuff’. Because at some point, to keep dealing with the garage, I had to just stop paying attention. So, I’m a little bit miserable, if I’m honest. I do really feel like of everything that went, it was old toys and lots of my things. It’s not *accurate*, but it’s been something I’ve learned over the last year – there’s a difference between what I know, what the reality is, and how I feel about it. And that I’m not – really – right or wrong. Just sad. We then did the conservatory, the dining room (converting it to my office, in part), and we got brand new couches (I’ll share some before and after photos once we’re all settled properly). But, for someone that doesn’t *like* change, it’s been a lot for me to deal with. And it’s stirred up stuff I really don’t like. This is where I say ‘no more’. Not no more change, just no more slipping schedules, no more ‘skip exercise, can’t be bothered’. No more accepting that I have to feel this way. We do, most of all, get to decide how we react and change things, if we can, and quite honestly, I would be remiss in not trying. I’ll be stuck within the limits of my spoons, of course, but I think some of this is…inertia. So I want to deal with that. Maybe it’ll turn out all I have is the spoons for this, maybe it’ll turn out that I’m just tired and not doing as well as I could because I’ve accepted that. I honestly can’t say on that score.
But…there’s more…The thing is, this time, I’m going to talk about it, and whether what I’ve learned this year works, starting from about as close to ‘base’ as I get. And, quite honestly, though I’m not in a place of complete ‘clear board’, I *am* close enough that I can maybe get this to work. I’ve still not decided exactly *how* I’ll be talking about it. Whether it’ll be a blog, or vlog, or a mix, but, as I’ve also been tagged to talk mental health for a series of books, and burnout is a real thing that often leaves people in barren areas a lot like this, so maybe this isn’t quite so self indulgent as it feels, and I should be less self-conscious. There are other elements to this, such as our complete inability to remain pregnant, which I don’t think is exactly helping my state of mind, but mostly, I’m just struggling to find my way, and I want to do something about that, even if that something isn’t what others think of when they think of the stuff I’m talking about.
To start?To start, I’m going to do something about my wake/sleep cycle. And eating regularly. And, I’m going to see about exercising daily. That’s the framework. Everything else, like work and writing will still happen, and fit in around the other stuff… but….that’s what I’m going to focus on for a bit. Hopefully in time to start back at uni, who knows.
It’s odd. I’m a writer. I should be able to explain this. But I’m depressed. It’s a hard time to write in the first place, and then, to write about how sad I am… I guess it makes sense that it’s hard to deal with.
Depression just isBelieve it or not…this is one of the millions of faces of depression. And it’s mine. That’s me on Saturday, after The UK Games Expo. My daughter and I had a ball, but I went to bed Saturday with the post-con blues, and woke up with full blown, not done this for a while, “oh, I thought I’d seen you for the last time, oh well,” depression.
I have CPTSD, I’m somewhere on the autistic spectrum, I have anxiety and psychosis. Depression is a MAJOR part of my life, unfortunately, but, I’m not particularly gracious about it. Depression isn’t something we need to be gracious about, but… as a mental health advocate, I kinda feel like a fraud posting photos and smiley selfies when I feel like rubbish. I do want to talk about that later – it’s important, and it’ll be linked from here when it goes live. But, I guess this is the other side of it. One of many sides, I feel. You won’t look at me and think ‘that’s a depressed woman’. Not unless you see me in what we call my ‘meltdown moments’. But just because I’m smiling, or interacting on social media, or Facebook, it doesn’t mean I’m ok. In fact, often, I find that’s when I know it’s coming. When I have to start forcing myself to open my laptop, I know things are getting hard. I know it’s really hard when I can’t find nice things to say to people when they need help. I know I have to step away when stupid incidents wind me up to spitting teeth, and I DO walk away when I’ve had a week like this, where I was bullied. It’s not overly common, but it does happen. Add all of it together – the post-con blues, bullying, sadness and inability to focus, and oncoming depression?
That’s kinda a perfect storm for me to get into real trouble if I don’t step away and let the darkness pass over me.
It’ll pass, but it’s not the bluesOne of the conversations I’ve had when talking about writing about depression of any kind is that it just is. A friend that talked to me last night, when I mentioned I wanted to make this post but I was struggling with it, suggested that I should call it ‘I guess that’s why they call it the blues’. Other friends have talked to me about telling people about how I battle, how it’s a fight.
I can’t do that. It’s not that I don’t agree that people frame it their way. I just can’t frame it that way. Depression just is. It’s a part of my fabric, and there are, when I’m in less bad places, I guess, upsides to it. I understand exquisitely the depths of darkness and the heights of joy. I know it’ll pass. It always has in the past. It’s not easy to keep that in mind right this second, but, it does. I know it does.
Depression just isn’t….It just isn’t something that goes away. As I’ve mentioned, I don’t really deal tell other people how to feel, but I’m not really comfortable with the stuff that comes with talking about depression. So, I’m going to say, if you’ve read this post, please remember three things:
- I’m currently *very depressed*. Be kind, because I’m not in a place where I’m very good at censoring myself.
- I don’t want to be ‘sold’ to. I meditate, I use essential oils, I read and write self-help books. I know all of the suggestions that I’m to follow. In the coming days, I’m going to start pulling back, start making space, start going back to basics. I’ll probably talk about that later, but less social media, more real life time basically sums it up. Eat properly, and go back to a rigid schedule till I feel more comfortable.
- Finally, if you don’t have anything nice to say, please don’t say it. No ridicule, no bullying and please, this is one of the few times I also ask that you don’t say ‘oh, I know how you feel’ and launch into why. Knowing others are depressed (which I *know*, believe me, I know) doesn’t help me. I will take advice without needing people to explain why they want to give it. But if you’re struggling right now, I’m sorry, I’m not the person to tell. It hurts more.
When I’ll be backUsually I am gone for a week or two when this happens. Sometimes I pick myself up and get back into writing, or find something that I can be proud of, or things turn around. My mood is related – a lot – to what I do, what I succeed and how I spend my time. I’m hard on myself, as many people are. You don’t need to have depression to be tough on yourself.
But, living with depression when you feel like you’re failing…it’s so hard. Getting up and out of bed, cooking…eating. Even staying clean and brushing my hair…it’s all so many more spoons than it takes me to get to where I am just to sit down and do my work during the day. Work is…. daunting, terrifying, horrible. Even when I complete something, it’s never enough. Not for me. I’ve done some really amazing things for my clients, and I know I have because they’ve told me that I’ve done something amazing. (I moved someone from an Exchange server for Pete’s sake! It might not be a big thing, but I’m not Windows. I’m Linux. It’s a daunting thing to move 7+ years of archived emails. I discovered, as I researched that it’s not actually that difficult, it’s just…a bit…fiddly to get people swapped over for access if they’re not really technical, but we did it. People are happy. I’m even talking to people on the phone to do it.)
All of this is HUGE. I still feel terrible though. And a lot of this is my mindset. Some of it is worry that I’m doing stuff wrong, because I’m always learning new things. Some of it…I dunno. Some of it is just life. I feel like I’m not achieving much when I’m moving things around and reorganising my own stuff, which is what I’m doing now. But…I’ll be back. I’m going to keep working on my books, if I can. I’m going to keep the business running. I’m going to try and do what I can to help others, when I’ve got spare spoons. But mostly. I’m just going to work on resetting things. My meditation practices have slipped. I’m not exercising as much. I’m not eating more than once a day, most days. And most of all, I’m not interested in going and messing with my Cricut. We’ve got a new resin printer here and I’m not asking to unpack that. All I really want to do is lie in bed and wait till this passes. (and yes, I know that’s stupid. That I can’t just wait it out. I’m not very good at looking after myself, but food is one of those things I just kinda view as ‘I need to do this’ when I’m in this mood. I’m lucky, my partner looks after me, as do my kids, but seriously, don’t pillowfort till you feel better).
A historyWaaaaay back before I had to be discharged from the mental health team locally and was granted the right to see a therapist in the county opposite, one of the things they put me on was a DBT course. It was ostensably because they kept arguing I had EUPD, and EUPD is primarily treated with behaviour modification and management, not meds. But I don’t have EUPD. I have CPSTD. It does also respond well to DBT, but only parts of it, IMO. One of the worst weeks I had in class, and when my partner and I realised that no, coming home crying after class wasn’t because I was making things better, I was getting worse was when there was a list in one of the chapters about everything you have to basically do in a day to keep yourself and your living space clean. It was under a heading of ‘mastery’. Everyone in the class started deriding the fact that this was in there, while I very quietly (at first) sat and withdrew into myself because I realised I wasn’t even doing the basics of self care (to be fair, the list included ‘moisturise yourself every day, paint your toenails if you’re a girl, trim your beard if you’re a guy’ and I got so wrapped up in it being an example, and the ensuing argument about it that I didn’t catch what I should have, which was ‘we make our own survival lists’. The hardest bit about missing that was also that I was called some really unrepeatable things by fellow class participants, who suggested ‘anyone that couldn’t do this was’ (insert name here, not pleasant, at least one of).
The basics list was bornAfter arguing, and realising I was arguing with people that didn’t understand, going home, crying, asking on Facebook, and privately feeding back to the tutors that I had found that horrible, and that it might be better reworded (they asked me to, I did my suggestions on paper, in private), I started thinking about what my list should look like. It became my back to basics list. And before you ask, yeah, that was the beginning of the end of me attending any group classes for therapy. I was lucky that the next team that got me understood and caught where there had been mistakes, or I might not be as philisophical, nor aware about it all. And yes, you DO encounter bullies in those groups. Sometimes it’s the people leading the group. The less said about that, for now, the better. Whenever I feel things slipping, or I start feeling as horrible as I did because I’m missing things that ‘everyone should be able to do’, I stop, I clean up whatever I’m doing, and I do my basics list. It’s not actually all that involved.
The basics list
- Get up and make the bed.
- Brush hair and teeth
- Tell Alexa to ‘Start my day’ (tells me the time, the news, and loads Headspace so I can meditate for ten minutes, minimum). If still unsettled, pick a longer meditation, or watch ‘The Wake Up’ (again, Headspace app).
- 1 walk, outside if possible. Alone is great, invite someone if not.
- Make and eat lunch, even if it’s a tiny amount
- Write 500 words OR design one page
- If I’m feeling up to it, bake bread, or make something nice for others in the house.
- Answer client emails honestly
- Tell friends why you’re not around if asked.
- Laptop OFF by 9pm
- Bath if stiff, feel like you need a clean or are restless
- Bed with Tempus, if he’s home (10:30pm)
- No tech at night.
Structure…mostlyI tell people that the reason it works is because I don’t do well with chaos and unstructured things, but honestly… it’s a checklist of things that are either ‘must do’ or ‘can do’ and if I don’t do the ‘can do’ ones, it’s ok. Not at the time, but one day I’ll learn to be gentle with myself all the time.
One of the biggest things it does stop though is being online constantly. Social media is a place where I can talk to my friends, but it’s also a place where I see things that make me unhappy. It’s hard to filter the world news, and the other things I’m trying not to see cause it doesn’t help. So, mostly, getting back to basics restricts my time online, which helps me at least work on stabilising my mood.
But… ‘new normal’ and ‘freedom day’…In the UK, they’re referring to something that
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 knowWe 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.
(backdated, sorry I was late! It does mean I get to use pretty photos I got on Sunday though!)
Well, sort of.
I’m actually more of the ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” which is another truism I believe in.
But, when it comes to my mental health, I can’t make excuses. I have to keep healthy boundaries, and work hard. There is no ‘try’ at living after all.
But it’s not easy…
The thing about trying to have a ‘can do’ attitude, in the context that I use it, is that it’s almost always about protecting myself. And it’s all about protecting, I guess, the spoons that I have. (In case you’re not sure what the spoon theory is, here’s the woman that wrote the base idea, and I am republishing my spoonie’s guide soon). ANd not always having the energy to do something is not the same as ‘there is no try’, and I think that’s the mistake many people make about what I mean.
If I can’t do something, I’ll wait. Unless I have no choice.
One of the things I started noticing about a year and a half ago, when I started having a few of the things explained to me that made no sense in my life while asking questions and hitting issues with my therapy, that I’m very much of the mindset that (probably unfairly) that if I say no, that my friends won’t like me. I’m very much a people pleaser, to the point that I often do things I shouldn’t. And it’s gotten me into a really difficult pattern to break.
So, my ‘do or do not’ is a complete sentence now. I will do, or I won’t. There’s no emotion attached to it if I can’t do the things I’ve had asked of me. I might feel guilty about saying no, but I can’t always do everything I want to (and as I’m actually writing this on my E day, I’ve already talked about planning fails, I know this). And if they don’t like it, I guess that means my friends aren’t actually my friends. And that might make me sad, but I’ve got to accept that. Luckily, it means that I’ll be ok.