Can I mark a book five stars purely because my own ideas have been going haywire since I started reading it? That seems fair, doesn’t it? I have such a love for Aimee Bender despite the fact that I’m not nearly quirky enough to understand half of what she is saying. She gives me pause, though. The kind of pause that is hopeful with regards to my own self and my own abilities. I have lead a life of such rules. Always. This is what you have to do to be an acceptable girl. An acceptable scholar. An acceptable human. All the wrong things I have blamed on myself: my unacceptableness, my inability to grasp the rules. The rules of how you should be in order to be acceptable. But all of Aimee is just bonkers a bit. And if Aimee can go around being bonkers and making up her own rules and just writing whatever the hell story she feels like writing even though sometimes they don’t make sense even when they do make sense. Well then maybe I can give up this list of rules and just do what I want to do too, right? I love you, Aimee. Thank you.
Last week I asked you for some ideas for what I could put at the top of my Bucketlist after my daft self went and actually completed my #1 travel dream last year. It’s kind of tough to come up with a new #1 I must admit. And I have not actually achieved this goal even though I’ve been thinking about it all year. I imagine the answer to this is that perhaps one day my #1 will instinctively reveal itself to me and I will just have to wait until that happen. So there’s no ultimate #1 anymore (why does this make me so sad?!) but I do have a list of things that make my heart soar a little so I thought I’d share those instead.
I should disclose up front that it is most likely this list will get neglected a bit. Not because I have no intention of completing it but because the things at the top tend to be the most costly and I am just silly little old me we a tiny budget so some of them are a little (a lot) pipe dreamy.
In no particular order:
- Drive from South Africa to Kenya over a period of 6 months
- Swim with the pigs in the Bahamas
- Eat pizza in the place where Elizabeth Gilbert ate pizza in Eat Pray Love (where was that?)
- Be in Japan when the sakura trees are blossoming
- A cruise to Alaska (where I will hopefully see killer whales in the wild)
- Rent a car in Iceland and drive around the whole island (when I’m richer than God)
- Disney – I don’t even care which one I just want a selfie with Minnie Mouse
- Dance lessons in Argentina
- Tulip field photoshoot in Holland
Good list, right?
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…)
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…)
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.
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”.
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…
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?
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.
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…
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.