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 now…Well, now, I’m travelling home for a week. This will be the first time I’ve travelled, really, since last September/October, but, more importantly than that, it’s the first time I’ll have seen our family since Christmas 2019. We never got to travel when lockdown was loosened, Christmas 2020 was just a clusterf*ck for so many reasons (I had shingles, the youngest needed to self-isolate for CV19 contact, and to protect as many people as possible, the rules kept changing to the point we just couldn’t go home. Which I bitterly regret, as we lost my gran in February.) So, that’s part of why we’re going home. Another part is none of us have done anything remotely ‘holiday’ since….well, before Christmas 2019. Christmas 2019, I was kinda distracted with my son’s health and getting him to a place where we could support him. Tempus and I did go on a small trip late 2020, but it was his work and I was too sick to be left alone. Go me?
So…home?Home, for those that haven’t been around for long, is Edinburgh. Shockingly, the gaelic speaking girlie comes from Scotland (anyone that’s seen my videoes will not be surprised. I have a recognisaibly Scottish accent). So that’s where we’re going. If I’m lucky, I might get to go get some reference photos for a book I want to write, but, if I don’t, the place I want photos of is easy to get to when were in Edinburgh, so it’ll keep. Mostly, I’ll be spending time with family, and, as I do when we travel (it’s a six+ hour drive), I’ll think, and do some planning. I’ve got a ‘Legendary’ Planner, which I’m going to be trying out. And I’ll be doing some decluttering and house re-org, planning books, and getting ready to do some study for Uni. AND reading some books that I’ve been putting off for a while. In short, I’ll be ‘off’. Buuuut…blogging more First though, home. I’ll be sharing in real time on my Instagram, and I’ll do roundups as I can. Be good without me The featured image? Well, one is me working while I go, the other?
That would be a view of Edinburgh, with an inconvenient lamppost.
(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.
(again, as this is backdated, I’m writing this with the benefit of hindsight).
I did actually have this rather neat post about ‘a day in the life’, but, the last few days led to a bit of an epiphany.
You know there’s an Instagram bubble? I think when we write ‘days in the life’ that we sometimes make ‘blog bubbles’. So, instead of talking about what my ideal day should look like, and what it does when I’ve planned it out, I’m going to write about what my day actually is. And for the first time, I’m even going to include some of the mental health stuff I deal with – so this post could be mildly triggering.
I’ll be possibly alluding to self-harm, definitely talking about psychosis and depression and anxiety and insomnia. And I have a favor to ask at the end of this post.
A day in the disordered
I fell asleep at 11:30pm – a year of training and working with an app called Headspace and other meditation apps (honourable mentions to Digipill and Let’s Mediate (I have them on Android, they may exist on iOs), alongside my partner, which is now 80% of how my sleep works out.
Unfortunately, about 1:30am, I wake up again. I wake up to a voice, that I always hear. She’s my constant companion, and she’s very hurtful. If I’m lucky, I take a sip of water, I go to sleep again, and I might get to stay there for a bit. Most nights lately though, I’ve been waking up and finally falling asleep again at 5am.
The advice is, of course, if you’re not able to sleep in bed, to get up. But if I do that and she starts causing trouble for me. At her worst, she can trap me in the smallest rooms in the house. She’s the reason that I can’t get out of the house alone. She’s the thing I’m fighting back with my favor, but we’ll get there.
If I don’t get to sleep until 5 or 6am, I’ll either stay asleep till 8am, or 11am, or sometimes, I’m asleep till 2pm. And because of that, my day is always harder to plan for. How do I plan to be up at 9am, and exercised and ready to work, if I’m not getting to sleep until 6am? The answer is I don’t.
Insomnia is a difficult and hard to live with disorder – couple it with anxiety and psychosis, and though meditation helps, I’m frequently operating in arrears of sleep.
And that’s why I can’t talk about a day in my life. I have half an hour when I wake up that’s a set routine (get up, unplug and box tech coming downstairs with me, plug in anything, such as my Bluetooth headphones or spare batteries that need charged, wash face, rarely moisturise (I’ll be talking about that in S for skin routine, cause apparently, I’m annoying as all hell about that), meditate for ten minutes after making the bed, then come down. At night, I either go up before Tempus and grab a bath, then make my juice/waterbottle for my bedside, plug everything in, brush my teeth, get my Bluetooth headphones connected so that I can meditate, set up the book we’re listening to on Audible. Depending on how I feel then, I either read for 20 minutes, then meditate, or lately, I’ve just meditated, and used a sleepscape to go to sleep to. And then wake up again at 1:30am.
I can’t talk about this really here, but there is going to be an I for Insomnia over on bi-polarbears (the link won’t work until the post goes live )
And that brings me to a favor…
As many of you may or may not know, I’m an author. My major project this year is to talk about the fact that I live with a pretty severe (though not the worst, by a long shot) psychosis. I think I’m probably at the end of the ‘living in the community level of it,’ though, she’s quite hard to deal with. As an author too, it becomes difficult. I ‘hear’ my characters, and I don’t like that I hear and see things as well as part of my mental health.
On my birthday, I’ll be releasing a collection of mental health books. I’m not putting up the pre-orders yet, but I am asking people to subscribe to my newsletter, so I can start talking about the run-up to releasing them.
There may be a Patreon, there may not.
What I want to do though, is to remove some stigma surrounding both hearing voices and other psychosis, but I also want to acknowledge that authors do hear voices, and that *is not* as far as I’m concerned, is a psychosis. But I guess that’s between you and your healthcare team.
What I do know is that she’s stolen five years of my life. I’ll never get them back, and while I’ve done some things in there, I’ve not gotten everything that I wanted to do, done. There are other things, of course, that got in the way, it’s not just been mental health, but if I can remove from the whole concept of ‘we don’t talk about this, we’ll get into trouble’, then I will.
And I hope you’ll help me.
If you’d like to, ALL I need you to do is to sign up for my newsletter and join my mental health street team. That’s it. If you also want to share this post or the post about the project, I’d be delighted.
I’ll be talking about about this at P for Psychosis, because it’s important to me. Here, and at Bi-polarbears. I’ve avoided telling people I have issues such as psychosis for so many years, that it’s a bit uncomfortable for me, but I also know I’m in a good community, that accepts me for who I am, and knows me as I am, psychosis or otherwise. I hope to help others like me – because I think in the coming years, as we come out of lockdowns and the shadows of what we did to deal with the pandemic, that mental health is going to be a major issue – more major than even now, and I want to help people that need help. So I am.
I’ve had many ‘this is my hardest’s to deal with – probably more than anyone my age has any right to deal with in some ways. But this one hit the hardest about three days ago, and I thought there was going to be a bit of give, a bit of wriggle room, but no. I finally encountered the words that just broke me in two. And I won’t repeat them. I’ve deleted them. But I came to a screeching halt, and I’m not sure how things will change, but change they absolutely will.
But first – I have a heck of a lot of grieving and coming to terms with things to do – and I need to build an actual, sensible plan to sustain my businesses. And I have to accept that part of that is digging out my work ethic and dealing with everything that’s gone on lately and putting things right. And I’ve come to the conclusion that to do that, this book needs to end. This story, no matter that it’s not a happily ever after needs to become something that we relegate to the ‘not touching’ drawer. Not everything that’s happened – no, they’re elements that can be reused. But the tale of the sad girl that lives inside her house and does nothing…that’s a bust. That’s so much of a bust we’re not making it past the first draft.
I’m not ashamed but…
When you’re where I am, you’re not *supposed* to admit bullying gets to you. I’m the moderator of one of the biggest indie communities on Facebook, I run a lot of things for a lot of different people and I find myself, daily, waking up and dreading the comments that appear here, and on the other blogs, I run. In my inbox, on Twitter, by PM on Facebook. And, in with that realisation is that I’m as unkind to myself as all of these people. My self-talk is terrible. I’d rather sleep (or try to) than work. And I hate admitting that, but my sleep is disturbed again, and it’s getting difficult to do *much* of anything.
I do have one ray of light though, beyond my family, who are just the best, and my friends, who equally rock, and that’s my books. I’ll be talking about them more naturally in the coming days, but for now, I just wanted to thank anyone that’s supported me as a writer. I don’t always get to write, but it is one of my few places of solace. And if I’m walking off this earth to another, I couldn’t do it without knowing that I was writing the story as I went.