Tag Archives: depression

Blue Monday

Today is Blue Monday, the third Monday of January is the glummest day of the year due to a combination of post-Christmas blues, dark days, gloomy weather and the arrival of the dreaded credit-card bills. I suspect that those trying to follow Dry January or Veganuary aren’t helping themselves to a certain extent, self-denial often makes one feel worst.  Though alcohol is a depressant, so should be avoided, and I like steak too much to comment on Veganuary.

However, we can all try to make this a less depressing day.  Thinking about or doing stuff for others often helps, and though you can’t exactly go round and have a cuppa with your neighbour, you might be able to call them and check they’re okay, have a chat, make sure they aren’t feeling too alone, and in the process ensure that you aren’t feeling too alone either.

Mental health affects us all, I openly admit to suffering depression, it makes life hard sometimes, and I know how lucky I am to have a loving and supportive family. The things that make me feel better, are, usually, simply, and freely, conversations. I like hearing good news from others. If the others don’t have good news, then I’ll listen to that and sympathise, or help if I’m in a position to, even join in the slag-fest if that’s where the conversation goes.  I’ll encourage where I can. I’ll use a shoulder when all I can do is cry.

The point I suppose is even when we are blue, we don’t have to paint the town red, we just have to share a moment with the people around us. A wave across the street. A note on social media. A chat on the phone or a message/text. So reach out, you are not alone, please don’t be lonely.

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“What was that?” Belgarath asked, coming back around the corner.

“Brill,” Silk replied blandly, pulling his Murgo robe back on.

“Again?” Belgarath demanded with exasperation. “What was he doing this time?”

“Trying to fly, last time I saw him.” Silk smirked.

The old man looked puzzled.

“He wasn’t doing it very well,” Silk added.

Belgarath shrugged. “Maybe it’ll come to him in time.”

“He doesn’t really have all that much time.” Silk glanced out over the edge.

From far below – terribly far below – there came a faint, muffled crash; then, after several seconds, another. “Does bouncing count?” Silk asked.

The above is a quote from David Eddings, from the book Magicians Gambit.  I picked this to share because I love this book, but also because it kind of feels like what I’m doing.

Yesterday really was a terrible day, the day before was worse.  I’m less depressed today, but not back to normal by any means.  While hubby was working (he would have been there for me otherwise) a mate of mine helped talk me back from the dive last night, and I’ll always be grateful for that. 

A condition like depression isn’t easy, it doesn’t comes and goes, and often for no reason.  I don’t know what kicked this downturn off.  I haven’t been sleeping, but I think everyone is suffering with that in the current heat.

All I want to say is that I am on the upsweep, bottom of maybe, but getting there.

Thank God for friends.

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Bad Day

I grew up in a council estate. Went to a comprehensive school. Been working since I was 12, started on market stalls, cleaned lots of places, worked in an old peoples home. I studied hard to get A-levels then had to give up my first degree and moved away from my hometown. Moved up to office work. I met a man, got married, started studying for the degree I now have while working full time, began the course 8 months pregnant with my son, ended it six months pregnant with my daughter. I’ve written many novels, two published by an independent publisher, one self-published. I’ve got contracts for one more standalone, and a series of five steampunk novels.

You know what this makes me? 

An arsehole.

You know what I see in the mirror?

A failure.

I dislike the book “Wuthering Heights” because there is not a single likeable character, they all deserve the misery they got.  They are all nicer people than I am.

Real bad day, sorry.

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“Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

― Samuel Johnson

No one is getting hanged, but one of the guys I work with is leaving the business at the end of next week.  This guy is very good, very clever, and he’s key to one of the development projects that I’m working on. 

While I was off, nothing was done – at least nothing that was actually useful. So since I’ve been back I’ve been trying to get this thing sorted.  It’s complex and takes a lot of concentration, and I am getting there.  But I’m worried that with my contact leaving, that I won’t get the information I need after next week.   What was worse, is that his manager added requirements to the list today.  I’m not sure that I can get all that done by the end of next week.

Here’s the problem with that – the reality is that I probably can get the development done in that time.  But knowing that I have no leeway piles the pressure on.  There was a great temptation to stay ‘at work’ this evening and get more done, but I know that that is the road to workaholic hell.

I’ve actually had to have a talk to myself to turn the laptop (works) off and stop.  What I couldn’t do was stop work and relax, I had to have something else to that needed doing – so I did a load of ironing.  Which is no bad thing, chores do need to get done and that was starting to nag from the corner.

This indicates to me that I’m finally getting into stride with stress management, and that has to be good, it should help me avoid falling back into a depression.  I’ll worry about the database tomorrow.

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Small Victories

I have achieved today.

Now there’s a thing I don’t say often enough.

The wonderful organisers of Virtual Noir at the Bar have asked me to do a spot on July 8th. They’re offering 10 mins of reading from my next-to-be-published book.  That’s scary.  I’ve known about the event for a weeks.  When first offered, I chatted to Vic, the host, and she was wonderfully understanding because the offer came just after my depression hit. I haven’t been sure I was ready for it, so I’ve been putting off finding the right passage. 

Picking such a section is harder than you might think.  There are a number of ways to approach the selection.  The ones I look for are the hook or illustration of either main character, or main theme.

The book is split between two locations, and two sets of characters, which makes selecting one character to focus on difficult. This is also a standalone book, unlike anything I’ve produced before so I wasn’t sure who to pick.

The hook is good, but if I start at the start and read for 10 minutes, it stops partway through the introduction of two characters I love. 

The theme is about the revelation of identity. Who the characters really are.  I’ve got an absolutely wonderful scene in which two characters are revealed for who they really are, but that reveals too much of the overall plot. 

I felt lost for a direction.

So I returned to the start, there’s a scene in that’s important when you read the book needs to be there, but I’m promoting the book, so I took a chunk out, read it out loud and it’s down to 9 minutes.  That’s perfect. 

This means that, rather than dreading it, I am finally looking forward to the night.

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Woke up with a hangover this morning, had a bad evening yesterday and a bottle of wine.  Normally one bottle I’d be okay with, but this one must have ganged up with the one I drank last week that didn’t give me a hangover at all, and they hoodwinked me.

Unfortunately, a discussion yesterday about returning to work turned me inside out, mentally and emotionally.  It’s something that I have to get past because I need to return to work at some point, finances and all that.  I just have to learn to deal with the stress and avoid the depression it brings on.

The hangover was dealt with by multivitamins, re-hydration, a couple of paracetamol, and a 3.5 km walk.  Actually really enjoyed the walk, same walk as the other day, but my legs feel less stretched than the first one, that’s an improvement.

On the positive side, since then I have worked out the plotlines of two novels.  The last of my steampunk series of five and a standalone crime one. Guess I need to start writing them.  Just not right now.

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Late with this because yesterday was full.

In isolation we all need to reach out where we can, and yesterday I had four contacts. All made me feel simultaneously better and worse.

Depression tends (for me) to lock me in my own head where negative niggles becomes bloody great un-ignorable shouts. Contacts help broaden horizons.  When really depressed I tend to shut down, I did when I got to my worst recently, but then that was what I needed because other voices were just too much. I removed social media from my phone so I not to be disturbed and now only go back on via a laptop, max of an hour a day, much more manageable.

My contacts were:

  • A website. It was professional, took a bit of time, but we sorted some issues. That engendered a welcome sense of achievement.
  • An editing job. I love helping people with their writing, so this felt good. But it also felt bad because it took me away from my writing, which I’m enjoying again. Though the edit isn’t urgent, a job is a job and must be done.
  • My son. He lives away and he’s isolating with his partner who is vegetarian, allergic to gluten and suffers with an exhaustion condition. They are both fine, but because of that way they have to eat, they’re struggling to get hold of the right foods. The downside here was  feeling useless because there’s nothing this mum can do to help.
  • My sister. Thankfully she and her family are safe, so upside! Downside – her wanting details of my illness which she got, but talking about it just made me feel bad.

Point is, now more than ever we need these contacts, especially those of us with mental health issues, so make sure you get them.

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Straightening out

Exercise is beneficial in treating depression, yet even knowing that, I’m struggling to encourage my fat backside off the couch. Not sure why, I enjoy exercise when I get to it, I just seem to have some invisible barrier between thinking about exercise and actually exercising.

The bigger problem than the width of my backside, is the state of my brain. The more I don’t exercise, the more my head tells me I’m lazy and worthless. It’s a downward spiral that feeds straight into the dragon of my depression.

Since I am trying to slay that dragon, I needed to get up today and do something. Exercise wasn’t happening so I needed something else.

Modern advise is that the average women needs 2,000 calories daily. Rubbish. Aside from anything else, there’s no such thing as the average woman. The thing is that figure was calculated many decades ago, back when there were a lot less time / energy saving devices. The ‘average’ woman had to work harder at the housework.

Back when we first got together, my husband and I couldn’t afford a new washing machine, so we got an old twin tub that would otherwise be scrapped.  It took hours and effort to wash clothes then.

My point is doing chores use energy. So instead of exercising, I dealt with the basket full of clothes that’s been nagging me to iron them for a fortnight.

The pictures 10 yrs old, but only one I could find of ironing.

After taking three hours to work to the bottom of the pile, my legs and back certainly feel like I did a workout. More importantly, it feels good to have achieved something, to have ticked something off the to do list.

This probably sounds like nothing to most, but when in a depressed state, it’s hard to do anything, so doing something is good.

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Rock Bottom

I’ve hit it. 

I spent most of Saturday in my local hospital unable to stop crying, struggling for the breath to explain that all I wanted to do was kill myself.

Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who was able and willing to stick with me through all this, without him and the kids I would not be alive today.

I’ve been having suicidal thoughts for years.  The earliest happened when I was nine. I say earliest, that’s the earliest where the memory is clear, and I know what the trigger was, but I don’t think it was actually the earliest.  But this weekend there was a really good chance that I would actually have done something stupid.

Thing is, I’ve seen the families left behind by suicide, and it’s not easy for them.  The devastation is not something I would wish on the people I love. And it is love that’s finally helping me pull myself together.

The diagnosis was ‘severe depression’, textbook case apparently.  That didn’t exactly come as a surprise.  Like most depressives, I know it’s building up, and like most depressives, I do what I can to mask it, this time however, I lost any ability to cope.

Today, I gave myself a metaphorical kick in the head. This is my body. This is my life. I have to take control.

So I’m going to.

This blog is about to become on part of my selfcare treatment. Short, no more than 300 words, bursts of info on what I’m doing to help myself.  Most of the time they won’t be major changes, but there will be changes.

I have no idea if people will respond to this or not, if anyone will even read it.  But there again, I’m doing this for me. Responses are welcome it you want to.


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In the Bleak was Midwinter

I’ve been too quiet of late on my blog, and for that I’m sorry.  I’ve not, in fact, fallen off the edge of the earth.  I’ve been very busy.  The day job’s been taking a lot of energy, especially the commute, that’s really getting to me again. And I’ve been working hard, there’s the preparing for publication, preparing for agent submissions, arranging/attending events, the writers’ circle, the holiday season, the tax return, reading, and, of course, writing.

You may know that I’ve always self-published my steampunk work, but now I’m self-publishing “Locked Down”, the last of the Locked Trilogy, so getting covers and blog tours and everything else sorted for that has taken me some time.  I’m still waiting on the final artwork, but that’ll be with me soon, then I can put the paper back up for pre-order.  The eBook is already there for pre-ordering if you want it, find it at: Locked Down

I also finished the re-writing of another novel, stand-alone this time.  This one I wanted sorted as I sent it to an agent and wanted to be sure that it was ready and polished.  Though I suspect it’ll need other checks and edits yet.  The agent’s had it for a while, but I’m still hopeful.

I’ve also been arranging events, not just for me, but for other authors too.  That takes a fair amount of time and effort and an awful lot of e-mailing.  Can’t reveal the details yet, but I’ll be posting them up as soon as I can.

The rest, I’m sure you can appreciate just how absorbing they can be.  Still, enough of the poor me for now.

The other thing I haven’t mentioned above is friends.  Yes, shocking I know, but yes, I do actually have friends.  And I’ve been spending some time with them.  It’s surprising how many people I’m friends with who walk with the Black Dog and Christmas is always a bad time for such suffers, so there have been a lot of supportive chats going on in the background.  People I’ve helped and those who have helped me.  I just want to say a thank you to them and to let them and others know, that if you need me, I’m here.  Even if all you want is to unload, I’m here for you any time you need me to be.

Well, that’s it from me at the moment, I’ll blog again as soon as I can.

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