Searching For Solutions

I know it’s probably not best to diagnose yourself. We’re always telling each other not to do such things. Don’t Google your symptoms you’ll only conclude you’re dying… Or something like that. And the labels for mental health? Well those can be a bad plan too. I worry sometimes. Like what if I call myself depressed and then I use it as an excuse to eat ice cream all day? Funny how even when you know that’s not happening you still think of it as a possibility for yourself.

For me, learning about what might be happening to me – whether it be physically or mentally – is a way for me to cope. Understanding why is a big thing for me. Use logic. Put the puzzle pieces together. Have you been watching The Good Doctor? Well you know how he thinks about what could be the problem and then illustrations show you what’s in his head? It’s kind of like that. Except I don’t have Savant Syndrome. Which I’m a little bummed about if I’m honest.

Here are some of the things I used to “fix” myself:

*I think a special note should be made here that the reason I now have all of these things going into me is a credit to my husband. I fail at routine. Continuity. Time management. But every morning he puts these supplements by my bedside so that I don’t forget to take them. I would forget without him. I would be stuck in my hole without him.* (more…)

What to do when you’re falling apart…

This title is misleading. I certainly don’t assume to tell you what to do. I can tell you what I did to get through one of the lowest times in my life though. And why.

I didn’t want to go to a doctor when I was feeling my worst. This was for two main reasons:

1.) I wasn’t emotionally up to it

I get that this will have you shaking your head. There are things that you think I MUST do, no doubt. But I know myself. The stress of making a doctor’s appointment for myself would have pushed me over the edge at that time (I am right now in this moment ok with the thought, though it is far less necessary now than it was 8 months ago). (more…)

Bomb Proof Baby

I’m doing a terrible job of sharing my journey. It makes me giggle to think how many times I’ve been told “Oh you should write a book about your life” and I just smiled and nodded while thinking “glory no one wants to read that”. It occurs to my now that possibly I’m not capable of writing it anyway. I’m doing a terrible job of sharing this little section of my life. I shudder to think of the job I would do of a whole life. Hopefully I am better at fiction.

I keep telling you that last year my mental and physical health took a scary dip and then not really saying anything other than that. And yet what I kind of want to do is at least sort of explain what happened and the steps I took to fix the situation. Though I fully disclose that I am still very much a work in progress.

I don’t know if everyone else’s bodies work this way, but my health seems to very much be tied into my emotions. For instance, I absolutely cannot lose weight if I am unhappy. I will just gain and gain no matter what I do. Let me be happy though, and my new weightloss plan is seven pizzas and a glass of wine and look here you guys I lost ten kgs! Depression is an asshole like that.

Depression & Anxiety have been my shadows for pretty much my whole life. I always thought I was relatively ok at hiding it. I remember as a teen I once tried to confess my melancholy to a friend. “You’re not depressed are you?” she snarled at me, with a look of utter disgust on her face. I added being depressed to the list of things I do wrong and have pretty much never brought it up again until now.

These two shadows of mine infiltrated not only my mind health last year, but my physical health as well.

Anxiety, especially, decided to go into overdrive in about June last year. Depression I can kind of live with. But Anxiety? She’s a bitch, man. That Cow has been telling me for my whole life how everything about me is wrong. And let me tell you the things that other people do/say is used as evidence of your incompetence when Anxiety is your friend. Nadine is too this too that. Too loud. Too shrill. Too excited. Too intense. Too too too too too. You’re all wrong, whispers Anxiety, and everything is about to go wrong. Good luck with that…

Before last year the last time I had a severe panic attack (meltdown) what the day before Noah was born. There was a period of about three months last year when I was having panic attacks maybe once a week. And the worst part is that a lot of them were happening in my sleep.

I have never felt more hopeless or ridiculous in my life.

You see, when you’re conscious and something sets you off you can kind of grasp that. Like ok I’m really upset right now because xyz happened and I might be overreacting just a smidge but I can’t seem to stop myself and that’s fine we’ll ride this meltdown out and it will be ok. And even if you’re melting down for no reason at all, you can still say to yourself ok you seem to be panicking for no reason your body is just reacting to something that’s not physically there but that’s ok we’ll ride it out you’re still ok.

But when it’s happening in your sleep. Bloody hell it makes you feel stupid. You wake up in full blown panic mode out of nowhere. How do you talk yourself down from there? I’d say “it was just a dream” but waking up from a bad dream and waking up because your heart is about to leap out of your chest are two very different things. At least in my experience. So what do you do? You (I) just feel stupid…

And then there was the matter of the frights. When someone could make me flinch just by talking to me when I didn’t expect it. When gunshots on TV would cause my skin to shrink. When Noah could touch me gently on the arm and my whole body would jump.

Everything gives me a fright.

This is pathetic.

Obviously something would have to change…

There were other things, of course. Niggles in my body. Things that had started to become unbearable. But none of them like panic originating in the depths of my subconscious. This one I could not tolerate. This one I could not shrug off with a small laugh at my ridiculous self. No. This bully living somewhere in the in my forgotten dreams would have to go. And it would have to go very quickly.

And so I started taking steps to make myself a little more bomb proof.

Review: Emotionally Weird ~ Kate Atkinson

Emotionally WeirdEmotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hmmm…. I will admit (as I already have on numerous occasions during the consumption of this book) that I may be a little lacking in the amount of intelligence required to “get” it. I imagine others got it from the beginning but it took me a really long time! That said: I think I finally did “get” it and so by the time I got to the end I was very glad to have persevered even though I considered giving up quite a few times.

Basically Nora and Effie are telling each other stories about their lives. Effie’s story takes up most of the book (and if it feels like nothing happens the entire time) with Nora adding her little bits here and there. All if it a long pre-amble to the point which nicely ties up at the end.

I think, in part, that Kate Atkinson might have been poking a little bit of fun with this novel. Of course I could be entirely wrong and maybe obnoxious, and maybe I should just shush with my assumptions… but someone once credited me for parallels in my own novel that I certainly didn’t put there on purpose and it was kind of lovely because I felt like it made me look clever so maybe other authors also like it when people go “oh maybe this is what she meant”.

I digress…

The thing is this: I remember reading so many novels in the late 90s and early 2000s that seemed to have very little plot. Like you got to the end and you were like, “ok…but…and?” and it was quite confusing. I specifically remember these sorts of stories because they kind of made me feel hopeful for my own career as a writer. Like gosh, Nadine, you don’t even really have to come up with a plot if you’re not capable, you can just write things and then say it’s a book and no one can say “that’s not a book” because look here this has no plot and it IS a book it has a cover and everything!

So I think KA was playing with the idea of that trend a little. Poking fun at it. Pointing it out. Nora moans that Effie’s story is weird and plotless and that there are too many characters and how must she remember all these people etc and she bemoans the lack of intrigue. All the while KA is threading the story with actual intrigue that you only get to enjoy once you have consumed it as a whole.

So it’s sort of like those weird plotless books that I used to read in my late teens, but at the same time it isn’t because it’s only pretending to be that.

I’m quite impressed really.

And very untalented…

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A Different State of Mind

Last year when I decided to split my blog into two separate blogs it was with the intention of keeping my travel musings (a mostly happy space) separate from my more personal musings, which have a tendency to become a little political. This space is more the writer’s space, though as of yet I haven’t shared much writing that isn’t in the form of a diary entry. I do hope to change that. I have, in the meantime, tried to make peace with the fact that I’m not a writer so much as a writer-in-limbo at the moment. I have sort of put my writing fantasies on pause while I raise and homeschool my family. Sometimes it can be a little tough because I feel like I’m not entirely suited to this task. But it’s ok.

The point is, I suppose, that when I split my blogs I had it in my head that this would probably end up being a space where I vent my (probably political) frustrations and share some benign triumphs (as I have done in the past) with the odd bit of poetry or photography thrown in for funsies. What I didn’t expect was that it might become a space where I started to get very personal. It seems though that my instincts are pulling me in that direction.

I feel like I keep emphasising this to the point of becoming annoying, but after an exceptionally hard year of fighting with my own mind I can see I am becoming more willing to open up about personal demons that I face on the constant. I suppose the reason for this is catharsis on the one hand, but on the other hand it is that there is also value for others in being honest about experiences. I learned in the last year that being open about what you’re struggling with is in itself a help. It also allows others to at least try to understand where you are coming from. They won’t always hear you, but that’s on them.

Anyway that’s enough talking rubbish from me. Next week I’ll start telling you about how I used supplements to start propping my fading self back up again. Or maybe I’ll moan about Trump. Who even knows anymore?

 

The Neverending Suck of 2017

I had a nightmare last night about a broken friendship. Again. These dreams were the theme of my 2017, many of them culminating in panic attacks that happened in my sleep. There are few things that have made me feel quite so stupid as this. You can’t even reprimand yourself for panic attacks that happen while you are not conscious. At least when you are panicking while awake you can still sort of tell yourself “are you sure you’re not just being silly” and then breathe a bit or have some chocolate. I don’t know. Panic attacks while you sleep feel really bloody ridiculous.

Of course I’m kind of used to dreamy sleep. And even nightmare sleep is par-for-the-course when you’re me (another sports reference!) but over the last year it has been a bit extra intense. Too much dreaming can leave you exhausted and this lack of reprieve played a huge role in the downward spiral I experienced in both my mental as well as my physical health. For some reason, I had convinced myself that in 2018 these nightmares would stop being a problem. This year is supposed to be better. So far it’s not co-operating but I’m hopeful.

I haven’t watched the first season of Grey’s Anatomy in a really long time, but I think it was there that someone (possibly McDreamy) had a policy of allowing themselves to panic, for five seconds only. And then after the five seconds were up, they would get on with it. I always loved that. Yes, panic. But then stop.

2017 was supposed to be my five seconds. I panicked for 2017. And in 2018 it was supposed to stop.

Of course real life doesn’t work like that. Real life doesn’t observe the clock striking midnight and imbue magic to the act. Real life doesn’t care that you’re only allowed five seconds. It takes a whole bunch of bad-assery to force life to conform to our own timelines. I know there is nothing rational about giving healing a time limit. Still I feel a little betrayed by this silly body of mine. It needs to stop now. The heart palpitations that come out of nowhere need to stop. The seemingly insurmountable fear that likes to sneak up and try to drown me needs to stop.

I am done with all this suck. So I’m trying to put the five seconds behind me and just get on with it.

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

Case Histories (Jackson Brodie #1)Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m charmed. I’ve been a crime fiction reader pretty much for as long as I’ve been a reader. In Case Histories, Kate Atkinson kind of blends this usually more “easy reading” genre with just the right amount of family drama to make you feel like you’ve read something significant. I won’t say it was a very twisty-turny sort of read, but her style of writing plays well in the mind and her characters are quite memorable. The sort of reading that leads you to kind of smile and feel grateful that this time you got through a work of fiction without too many traumatic wounds. Sadly I don’t have the next book in the Jackson Brodie series (I have the 4th) so I’m certainly going to have to do some searching at my local second hand book stores. I’m weirdly excited about this prospect…

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Can I read 100 books in 2018?

Probably no. But I’m going to try anyway. Because I’ve kind of failed at it for the last 5 or so years (I’ve been trying to pull this off for a while) and I imagine that if I keep trying I might eventually get it right. Oh…and I suppose I should mention that I’m back to book blogging for the year. Or at least I hope to be. Of course a re-start is necessary so it will take a bit to time to put my site back together.

But I want to read this year. Because above everything else it is important to read if I want to write. And I really want to write. Even if it has to wait until life is a little less chaotic. That’s fine.

And of course: since I’m a bit fan of watching too much telly I can at least use this space to share a bit about all of that too, now can’t I? Of course I can… It’s my blog.

 

Have you resolved to be resolute this New Year?

I know all the cool kids are sharing memes of Robert Downey Jr rolling his eyes about New Year’s Resolutions, but as far as conventionally celebrated holidays go, New Year’s is not only my favourite, it’s pretty much the only one I like. They should create a new Scrooge/Grinch character who hates Christmas AND Easter AND Valentine’s Day AND Halloween and they should name her Nadine. Besides that: I am not one of the cool kids so it’s all good.

I love the new year though. I suppose in the same way that I kind of like Mondays (although admittedly I like them less now that I home school). No, I’m not in to the parties and the drinking and the low-key experiments with drugs or the accidentally bumping into people having sex in public stuff. I kind of make it a point not to leave my house on New Year’s Eve these days (although funny enough even though we had a very low-key New Year’s at home again this/last year, we still managed to accidentally stumble upon some awkward hanky-panky in the middle of the crescent…well…my husband stumbled upon it while trying to figure out why all the dogs were barking…he told me though so I knew they were there and even though I couldn’t see them it still felt awkward…)

I do like the symbolism of it all though. The idea that the old can be put away as we make room for the new. Even though it will mostly fail. Even though, like every other year, the coming one will throw you the sorts of curveballs that even my writer’s mind could never have hoped to conjure. That’s ok. It’s still a hopeful feeling. (also it’s weird that I made a sports reference…though granted I’m not entirely sure which sport)

I don’t really know what my resolutions are this year, to be honest. I have a vague idea, I suppose. Like if I sat down and thought for a little while I could probably come up with a hundred things. Or I could just google a generic list I suppose. I usually have giant writing aspirations that spiral into failure around week two. The writing stuff tends to be a little too big though. You know? Fitting my style of work ethic as far as novel-writing is concerned into family life is a little bit like bashing one’s head against a rock, but without the added benefit of becoming blissfully concussed afterwards.  Maybe my resolution should be to disappear once a year to one of those month-long digital nomad retreats. That would be super confusing though: would I share those experiences here or on Passing the Open Windows? This is what I get for going niche…

Smaller resolutions though. Perhaps I should start there. With silly ones like painting my nails more often, purely because chipped nail polish makes me happy. Or learning how to actually put on mascara without it being a mess. Maybe I should get a tattoo or dye my hair purple. Definitely I’d like to buy a new lens for my camera, and continue to learn how to use it more effectively. And I need to save for travel. Do more yoga. And probably I should practice doing flat-lays because the one I made for this post is bloody terrible.

These are bandaids, at least, right? Small bites of distracting pleasure while I choose to neglect the thing that I should have locked myself away to focus on years ago.

Perhaps I need to learn how to turn the writing into small bites…

Because the thing is: If I die before I’ve finished writing them all down then they die with me. And that really fucking bothers me.

Choosing NaNo Over Novemberitis

So every year I have this huge issue with Novemberitis which I’ve mentioned at some point somewhere but since I haven’t actually properly set up this particular blog yet I actually don’t even know if it exists as a published post anymore….

My God I digressed in the very first sentence. Ok then….

I decided this year that instead of being crippled by Novemberitis (guys, it’s so real….) I’m going to throw myself into NaNoWriMo like a fiend. Of course I haven’t actually started yet. Instead of waking up early I woke up late and now it’s almost 10am but you know most writers aren’t even awake by now (lies) so it’s all good, right?

The thing is, this particular load of nonsense doesn’t actually count towards my wordcount so perhaps I should mosey away from here and just move on over there, right?

I’ve only ever completed NaNo once. And honestly that manuscript is the biggest mess that could exist. I wrote it all out of order and of course by now I’ve actually forgotten the order so…. fek…

This year I’m actually doing a sequel, which is something I kind of thought I’d never do because with the exception of Harry Potter (and weirdly, Karin Slaughter’s books) I’ve never been a massive fan of books that are part of a series. I need closure. When people keep writing more books to go with the other books I just get all floopy like why are you doing this to me. Do you understand how much Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them anxiety I have? No, you don’t. Although come to think of it…it’s nice anxiety… You guys when in the hell is the next movie even coming out because I can’t!

I may have digressed again…

Oh yes. I’m doing NaNo this year. I am Queen_Nayes on the forums because I didn’t realise that I could name myself without using underscores. I’d link you to my profile but honestly I can’t even find it. After many years of failing NaNo I still think my biggest failure is my inability to figure out how the hell the site even works.

You are welcome to drop your NaNo IDs in the comments if you’d like me to follow you though!

Good luck, writers and um…. Yup that’s it.