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).
I did mention that I punctuate the phrase ‘if at first you don’t succeed. Try. Try again’, and I got feedback from people asking what I meant by that. So. I thought I’d explain that.
And maybe show off some new stuff at the end of the post
If at first you don’t succeed. Try. Try againOne of the things that my wonderful psych team (Dr C and MW, my psych nurse) who I was discharged from at the end of last month, worked on with me, was my mindset. And this really does say everything about my mindset, in more ways than one.
It acknowledges, in part, that I’ll fall and get back up, over and over.
It acknowledges I don’t get it right first time.
But… unlike one of the comments (which turned into some serious nastiness, so was deleted) I had, it does not imply I’m setting myself up for failure. It does NOT imply that I expect to fail over and over. In fact, I’m often pleasantly surprised when I get it right faster than I expect, and I enjoy that.
It’s all about perspectiveOne of the essays in one of the new books announced this week, (Miles to go Before I Sleep, November 12th 2021) is called ‘it’s all about perspective.’ MtgbIs will be discussed in great depth later in the year, I guess, as an ongoing thing, but the perspective essay has a critical point in it.
“It’s really easy to say ‘I feel positive’ and be lying in some ways. Mental health isn’t binary. You can say ‘I feel positive’ and it really mean ‘but I’m still ready for it to go wrong’. It’s not a betrayal of positivity. It’s practicality. It’s just remembering that on that see saw, you’re supposed to be closer to ‘positive’ than ‘ready to deal with’.” And I think that’s what I try to explain to others. I am upbeat, positive and often, just chugging away. But I am also often prepped for things to need adaptation. I expect to fail, and have to keep trying.
And keep trying…How about some good news now? I’ve got three books up on announcement for release right now. I’ve told my street team, and shared on my own personal profile, and we’re just getting my publisher blog sorted out, but… And miles to go, Before I sleep Kill Kit Killers – Book 1 And A House at War – Book 1, House Arrath and With Benefits You can read more about them on KushkaPress
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.
Failure – a loaded word
The last few weeks have been really…weird for me. I *started* making strides on becoming happier, healthier and more confident in my skin by trying to go for a walk outside and enjoying myself. I say started – last Friday, due to the completely thoughtless actions of a company that I’ll still say ‘remains nameless’ but is a social media scheduling program, who increased my bills by an eyewatering 1151% a month, this week has been a week of disruption, sadness, and annoyance.
And it didn’t help that I was fixing a stupid video problem that very few people actually see (that’ll go on my other blog, probably this weekend. What I’m hearing myself say right ow is I have a lot of blogs to work on. It’s not a happy thought, if I’m honest), but is key to a few clients who work on those platforms. And of course, I worked my ass off to fix it. But still…it’s been a rough week, and that’s meant…no walks.
I’ve still not gotten back to a place where the house is neat and tidy and everything has a place. I don’t think I ever will. I keep trying to put my work back together, and every little thing that knocks me off track is so significant. So hard.
When the language is all about judgement, how do you not judge?I’m discharged from the team in question on Tuesday (hooray, I’m better…hang on), but the very last psych I worked with before I wrote this post, who I refer to as Dr C, finally said, a few Januarys ago, that he believed that everyone was a little bit on ‘the spectrum’, and in my case, I was VERY language focussed. To the point that I’ll get upset with language usage because people don’t use words precisely. It’s a form of control of course, but my psych says that he’d finally come to a conclusion that it wasn’t a power play. He thought I wasn’t/don’t do it to push people, to control them, but instead, to understand my environment. My ‘my brain won’t let this go’ is constantly stimulated. It’s language. In all it’s forms, really. What I do know though, about all of this, is that I’ve got a bias in how I perceive language. My language ‘understanding’ has an undertone of judgementalness. It’s how my brain works, and isn’t – really – about anything other than… I guess, when you grow up as badly bullied as I was, you need to find a reason for that. When you’re young, it’s most common to blame yourself. We think, unpicking everything, that my outlook is very much coloured by wanting to belong and not managing it because…children are children. I can’t blame the kids I grew up with (I can’t – many of them are in worse places than I ever ended up), and my family did their best. I just wasn’t… I’ll be blunt I guess. I grew up in an era where bullying was still viewed as character forming. Half of my teachers didn’t know what to do with me, and I must have been difficult for my family. I was sensitive, sad, often emotionally difficult, I guess. I began to prefer my own worlds to the ones outside. I didn’t interact well. If it happened now, as in, if I was a child/teen now, I suspect I’d have been put into a specialist education program, and I may – or may not – have turned out the way I am. And there I go again, judging myself. So. This week has been not optimal. Not even minimal. It’s been rough and hard and tiring.
But… I’m learning a lot of things. Always growing. So. I own this one. I didn’t do any exercise this week. I have good reason for it, I was disrupted, and upset and had a really ‘poor’ week. But, I’ve been able to think, plan, consider, when I’ve not been too preoccupied with reclaiming money that shouldn’t have been removed from my account. It’s been a frustrating week, but I DID get those video fixes sorted, I am working through stuff with clients to get on with. The week, on the surface, looks like a failure. But really? It’s just been a week that hasn’t worked out. If, at first, you don’t succeed. Try. Try again.
Adulting is overratedI don’t mean by this that I don’t think I should have zero responsiblities. I’m just really tired of not getting ‘a win’ in the things that I do, not really. All of my planned treats, no matter how small, have either fallen through, or I’ve had to ask my partner to pay for them after all – which makes me feel bad. He doesn’t mind as much, but it’s a bit hard to talk to my kids about being adult and responsible then running to my other half and crying because life is hard.
And lately, I’ve been crying a lot.
I try not to focus on bullying, because it’s not a positive thing to think about and it gives them power, but often, I’m finding a lot of people when they are challenged on what they say, suddenly try turning the tables and creating the idea that they’re a victim. That you’re in the wrong.
Compound that by the fact that often, this is over hosting bills or whatnot, and you can see how it hurts me to have people treat me this way.
Reality…Realistically, my company actually works, just about right now. I’ve got some work to do over the end of my Kaiatus to launch a few websites, but, we’re actually stable. Wire thin margins, but stable, so when someone starts complaining about their hosting bill, there is a bit of me that doesn’t want to engage. Another bit of me that knows I have to, because if I don’t, they’ll not pay. And a huge bit of me that’s wary, because I’ve been attacked recently for not considering giving away services free for the pandemic. I only really manage what I do because I’ve kept beta accounts with places that aren’t as great as they could be and finding ways to fix the shortfall, or doing the stuff that I need manually. But realistically, I’ve been out of spoons and upset for about a week now.
The thing is…I can’t really pillow fort. Next week sees the start of my graded exposure to the outside world. In laymans terms, that means for the first time in five years, I’ll be leaving my house and going for a walk…and trying not to throw up when I do. It’ll either be brilliant, or I’ll make it brillaint, but today was a day where I could have just done with hiding away and not needing to deal with the world. If I manage it though, Prime Day reward will be nice. I never get anything extravegant, but….treating myself to some new books for Uni or some additional research tools would be nice (cybersec isn’t a ‘cheap’ study area, Forensic linguistics even less, and honestly? I’m lucky. I’ve got access to stuff through my partner and friends). If not there, Humble Bundle always has cool books on AI.
See…I can adultWhen I start thinking like this, often, my friends point out that I pull myself out of it. I’m #blessed to get to do what I do. And, yes, I am. It doesn’t change though when nothing is going right and no one wants to do as they’re supposed to, and you need the books before the end of the month, or you’re looking forward to a tiny treat that keeps getting postponed, that you feel this way. It’s still not the ‘correct’ way to think, but….rewards are sometimes good. When applied sensibly. I can’t do it any other way. And for those of you pointing out ‘I can ask…’ I can. You’re right. Lucky me again, but….why should my partner bail me out when I’ve planned and it should work? Like I said, I don’t like adulting. At all. 42 years old and I wish I didn’t need to. I’m just so tired of everything being uphill. And don’t ask me about books. Still waiting for my 100 ISBNs…
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.
Or that I just can’t do it any more, it makes me feel sick to my stomach.
Imposter syndrome at the start…What was once something I used to refer to as a cross between imposter syndrome and writer’s block as evolved in some ways into a similar feeling I get when trying to leave the house. I’m perfectly capable of doing the things I plan, but there’s a lack of… willpower to stay on track instead of just stare off into space. It doesn’t hurt – my heart, the lump in my throat, my head, if I just check out, you know? But, I’m letting so many people down now and I just can’t keep doing it, so, I’m slowly pulling myself back together, or trying to. It’s not an easy path to slog up and down, if I’m honest.
Reorganising starts…where it startsOne thing I’ve discovered is mindset is everything with me. If I’m feeling positive, I manage so much better. But, getting myself motivated is one of those difficult things that I’ve found tiring, exhausting, annoying, hard.
I don’t think this is something unique to people with mental health challenges though. I think we’re all kinda feeling this way, and, coupled with imposter syndrome is probably one of those things that is difficult and tiring at the best of times, but right now? It feels insurmountable. But, I’ll get there, slowly but surely.
We’ll be doing a tonne of stuff to get me organised – starting with some cleaning in our room. From there, I’ll be arranging my dining room and creating a new office space. Woo?
I need to build up enthusiasm.
Lifting, lifting…In the UK, lockdown is mostly lifted – non-essential shops have opened, and we’re a year on from our first lockdown plus a few weeks. The weather is nicer, and while I can’t say ‘all’s well in the world’, things are feeling a lot more bearable, knowing that I can go back to the library, that we could do what we did yesterday and grab essentials and continue organising. Books too are starting to come together, and though I still really miss my gran, life has to go on. So, we’re going home and spending a bit of time with family, then I’ll be doing a lot of working on stuff.
The ‘little thoughts’ blog…WHile I was away, I realised that one of the things I used to do quite a bit, just for an internal group of us, was to share my ‘little thoughts’ for the day. They usually weren’t actually that little but gave people a jumping off point to … reason through some of the stuff they’ve been feeling. A few of those little thoughts grew up into big books. And I’ll be focussing on bringing the little thoughts and the books to the fore in the coming weeks.
How I’m doing that…Gotta be honest, there’s no one way I’m doing it. I sat down while at my MIL’s (she’s got a very peaceful house, and a very boisterous puppy which is the best combination to
Planning books, making goals and more. I’ve tried out several planners, and am trying this one. I’m not sure I’ll like it, but it’s looking ok so far. I’m not entirely certain of how I’ll use it, but balancing publishing, work, Uni, promo and family needs a legendary system. This might be it, and it was on offer, so win-win.
(You can get it on Amazon*).
Over to you guysI do really want to start featuring reads – of my blog and my newsletter – so it’s over to you. My next newsletter is 1st June and you can apply by getting in touch on my form, and I do mini ones on Twitter between Friday and Sunday, so, if you’d like to talk to me about exchanging project mentions, please get in touch! I have a few rules about it, which is why my exchange page explains a few things. If those rules aren’t to your liking, we just don’t exchange. I can’t bend these rules – having done so in the past, I’ve found that people take it too far. And while I don’t like to think some of it is deliberate, sometimes it totally is, so thank the people that didn’t follow through last time if you’re not able to swap with me because there’s a boundary you don’t meet. The option is always there though, and I always make room to pay forward.
Finally, some recommendationsI’ve got some tool recommendations, and reviews I’ll be offering in the future. Some are free, some are affiliate linked (marked with *). If they’re marked with *, I’ll earn something or get points or similar from them. If I can, I donate to charity, or give away what I earn, but if I can’t, I offset it instead.
Enjoy! K-Lytics - while many of my readers are, well, readers, some of you are authors, and I’ve found some really neat information in their reports. The latest one is sci-fi and fantasy, and it’s absolutely amazing. Their research and analysis is really interesting, and there are always nuggets in there that are really crucial to a great head start with planning books, either written to market or improving your writing. Evernote – Evernote is proving to be critical to my work, for more reason than one. It used to have a referral plan, it’s currently suspended, so I’m just recommending it I use this for organising study and storage. Scrivener – Might have an affiliate scheme, can’t find it, highly recommended regardless. I’ll always complain I can’t use it on Dex (Android, specifically my Samsung tablet) but it’s a minor annoyance for what I do. Remember, Nanowrimo participants get vouchers for participating sometimes, so if you’re looking to take part and do those projects, there’s always that option.