Howdy folks, It’s the first really blistering warm day of the year here in the UK. So obviously I’ve spent a fair chunk of it at my desk. I did spend about four hours in the garden sorting something out, and have now got a sunburnt bald spot. Lovely.
But writing wise, I’ve written 2356 words on a non-fiction piece that I needed to type up, and it’s done now. This is one of those pieces that is acting a little about self-therapy. Analysing elements of life while I try and figure myself out better. This one was about the car trade of which I spent nineteen and a half years in. I’d love to publish it, but I think I’ll hold off for a while, if ever. It’s something I’ll have to see how I feel with it.
I’ve also done one of these on confidence, well my lack of confidence. That’ll be typed up next. Before that though I’m going to start working through Black Blood again. I’ve got a lot of notes that need to be transferred into it, and hopefully this’ll be my second to last post before sending it off to beta readers.
Right, I’m off for the evening. I’ve got work tomorrow then I’m off kayaking with my brother and his partner.
I have had a productive morning. I did a wee bit of tidying and rearranging before getting stuck into writing today. I managed 1023 words on typing up a short story that I wrote a few months ago. This afternoon I had a nap. I’ve got an early tomorrow and I never sleep well when I’ve got an early, so I’ve found that nap during the afternoon to be essential.
I posted a new flash fiction piece to my Ko-Fi tonight, please support and check it out if you’d like to.
There’s been a lot changing in my life recently, one of which is that my mental health medication was increased. I’ve been on medication for anxiety and depression for a couple of years now and with this adjustment it feels like the dosage is right.
That’s not the only element that has helped, I’ve been working on listening to my body. Whether it’s about how I feel after eating certain foods, or how something makes me feel. What the increased dosage of my medication has done is shut down the anxiety better than anything I’ve ever tried before. I was working out in our garden a few weeks ago, taking down an old shed that has long been past its use. We’re hoping to repurpose some of the sides of it, but it needed to come down. Half of the roof had collapsed and it needed to come down. As I was taking it down though I was feeling good about the task. I wasn’t hesitating in how to take it down, I was even thinking about how to make use of the space. After a good few hours of work I took a break, sat down, had a drink. I was also texting a dear friend who I was talking to about what I’d done that morning, when it struck me that I wasn’t anxious. I wasn’t questioning myself in any way. I actually broke down, began crying and text my friend ‘Is this what life is meant to be like?’ she called me and said, quite simply ‘Yes’. We then talked about it, as I cried. So many fucking years living scared of the world. Some days I was fine and did enjoy life, but these were few and far between. Most days I was anxious to leave the house, mainly doing so because I had a job (that I told myself I loved, but in truth I hated it). There was so much I wanted to see and do in the world, but I was too scared too. Twenty, twenty-five years of my life gone. That day as I was sitting in my back garden talking to my friend I cried with a sort of relief at finally feeling free of the prison that my mind had put me in, but also at anger of having let myself be in that prison for most of my life.
Male suicide rates are significantly higher than that of women. Here’s some numbers from the Samaritans. And yes, I was suicidal on a couple of occasions (Not anymore though). There is so much more to what I put myself through over my life, but I’m not going into it here, not now. Partly because I haven’t figured it all out yet. When I mention non-fiction that’s what I’m talking about. Trying to break down the why of this all. I’m slowly getting there, I’ve had some counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that has helped immensely. I’ve also opened up with my loved ones. Instead of hiding my problems, thinking it’s better not to worry them, that’s bollocks as well. Being open and honest with what I’m going through has made it easier to work through all of this. Having that support, that I’ve always known is there, has been priceless.
Ask for help, Mental Health in this country needs a major overhaul and we as a society need better education on the subject. But there are resources out there. Speak to your GP, Google mental health hotlines, there are plenty of organisations, charities, out there who are able to help. Yes there are waiting times, yes it is hard to admit to needing help. Trust me though, it’s worth it.
I still have bad days (I took a big self-esteem hit recently), but they don’t last as long and I’m able to manage my moods so much better. I listen to my body, mind, and soul. Trust me, it’s paying off. I’m happier now than I have ever been, shit, I can’t ever remember feeling this settled and capable. There’s a lot playing into that, but we need to be open to seeing it. To appreciating what we have, to loving what we have.
Okay, this became a much heavier post than I was expecting it to. But too many people out there are struggling with mental health. And the amount of men who are struggling that don’t seek help because it is not what ‘men do’ is costing too many lives.
Life is amazing when we get out of our own way. From a writing point of view, I’ve been more productive in the last few months than I feel I have ever been. See, brought it back to writing.
Today I have edited 7408 words of Black Blood, adding 87 to the overall word count. That was a little bit of a slog but I got in done in about two hours or so.
I’ve also set up a few posts to go on my Ko-Fi page, including one flash piece which has gone live today. I was feeling a little behind with this so I got a few posts set up so I don’t have to worry about it too much for the next week or two. I do offer a membership in addition to one-time tips. Here I post an original short story each month in addition to bonus content. All for £1 a month!
Something I do want to touch on is that this month is the first that I have worked everyday in a very long time. For those of you who don’t know I have anxiety and depression, amongst a few other mental health bits and pieces, but my medications dosage was recently upped and I’m very much feeling it. Two months ago if I wasn’t feeling like working, I’d not. (when I say working here I mean writing. With the day job I haven’t missed a shift in a little over two years). At the moment I am working each day even if it’s just a few words while on my day job’s break. On days when I’m not at the day job I’m getting stuck into editing and making sure I get a decent start early in the morning and am normally done by midday. I’m making sure I have breakfast on these days and am getting a lot of little bits and pieces done that I’ve been putting off.
When I’m at the day job it’s a little different but I’ve found I’ve still been coming home (after a morning shift) and getting at least a little editing done. That’s normally in addition to writing something before work while sitting in my car, and during my break.
I’m feeling much more organised as well. I’m making notes on Black Blood on things like building a chapter to a conclusion to character motivations. I’m also listing what I’ve posted to Ko-Fi because knowing me I’d end up putting up the same story twice! I’m sure most people will be okay with a slight hiccup like that but people are giving me their money so I’m trying to be as efficient as possible.
I have had a hit to my self-esteem recently (I look hideous etc.) but I know how to rebuild that. I’ve done it, with help, recently and I know I can do it again.
Life is moving in the right direction and I feel like I’m getting to the point where I can able do the things in life that I’ve always dreamt of.
I have tea, Raven is climbing over my printers while Dizzy is sitting staring at my from besides my chair. A scrap is imminent….but I’m awake. I’ve got a late shift today so I wanted to get up and get cracking early and for once it feels like I have done. There was no ‘snoozing’ of alarms. No rolling over for ‘another five minutes’ which always turned into at least another half an hour. I have an Amaranthe playlist via YouTube playing and I’m ready to get some words cracked out. I’m even dressed!
So, what’s the day got planned for me. I’d like to knock out another thousand words of zombie. I think that is very achievable. Just plug away until about midday I think and then that gives me a little time for lunch, half an hour on GTAV and a few other bits and bobs before heading off to work.
That all sounds really straight forward. It’s not. I’ll be editing as I type of the hand written draft of zombie. So I’ll be having to think on the go and I’m going to try and read the scene before I type it up so I know what point the scene is taking the story to. I am feeling quite a bit of pressure with zombie. This will be my first release and it’s got to be right. I don’t want to be that person who puts something out into the world and it’s poorly put together. Typos, spelling mistakes, bad layout, and so on. I trust my editor, she is incredibly good at what she does and I know she won’t let me embarrass myself.
But, I’m pushing through. I’m not letting my self-doubt stop me. I’ve had far too many months where that doubt has had me dragging my heels on writing. I know the why of this, and I’ll talk about it one day but it deserves more than a few sentences in a daily post. I know I can do this. I know it’s time to step up. And I know I keep repeating this, but that is more for myself. It’s me keeping that positivity at the forefront of my consciousness.
Self doubt, imposter syndrome, what ever you want to tag it with, is a prick. It’s a horrible feeling and one that when it takes hold it can shut me down in a heartbeat. But it will not win. It may gain ground by winning small battles but I will win the war.
I’m going through one of those periods where my sleep is all over the shop. So I’m working on trying to adjust my evening routine so that I hopefully get some sleep. Part of that is watching an episode of a tv show or a movie I haven’t seen before. Something that’ll relax my mind a little. I’m also hoping it’ll help me get through some of my backlog of TV shows and movies that I need to catch up on.
I’ve fallen into the rut of rewatching a lot of shows and movies I’ve seen before, so pushing me out of a comfort zone which is toxic. It is comforting to know what happens in a show, but it can also suffocate us a little because we’re not experiencing new things. We’re not feeding our souls, and as creatives it leads to us stagnating. (Some, not all of us). We need those new tales to fuel our own creativity.
That’s what I’m working on. I’ve recently watched the newest adaptation of Nick Hornby’s book, High Fidelity. Now, I’m a fan of the original film (am yet to read the book). Okay, it has its faults and has some great examples of double standards when it comes to genders. It’s still a fun watch though. When I heard that not only was it being remade but with a gender flipped main character I was curious as to how it would come out. I was a little unsure about Zoe Kravitz in the lead role, and I’ll admit those first few seconds I feared that concern was going to have truth to it. I was wrong though, as soon as she started talking I was in. She had it down, perfectly. The rest of the cast was pretty spot on, and I liked the changes they’ve made from the original movie. I will read the book one day, because it’s a story I’ve always enjoyed.
Right now though, I’m watching The Man In The High Castle. I’m about three episodes into season three, after having a couple of years away from it for a number of reasons. Which I regret. I wished I’d watched these last two seasons sooner. I enjoyed the first two seasons immensely, and so far season three is proving to be as intriguing as the previous two. It’s very different from Phillip K. Dick’s original novel, but I like what they’ve done with it.
Let’s end with a little writing update. I wrote 300 words today on the short story I’ve been working on, it’s taken a turn I wasn’t expecting and what was going to be a secondary character has become the protagonist of the piece. I’m not sure if I can weave it and the original story together, but I’m going to move forward with the intention of the original story being a part of it.
Good morning, folks! How are we all doing this this morning? I’d imagine there are a few sore heads surfacing from their beds, sofas, or wherever they found themselves waking after seeing the New Year in. Me, I was in bed and well off to sleep as the clock brought 2021 to an end.
I’m not really one for making a fuss of new years. When I was in my early teens my step-grandad died on New Years Eve and since then I’ve only had a couple of new years that I’ve felt were good. It has become somewhat of a time of year that I can come to dread. Some have been pretty darn awful. So I don’t really pay too much attention to them.
The same could be said of New Years Resolutions. I never really saw the point in them as most people give up on them after a few weeks, and if you really wanted to change something in your life you’d just start doing it, right? Well, this year something feels different. I’ve woken up with a new determination to get my arse into gear and change a few things in my life.
The last couple of years have had a lot of change and growth for me, and I’m getting better at recognising when I need to be more proactive with making changes. I’ve known a few of these changes I’ve been needing to make recently, but I’m not someone who can just snap my fingers and make those changes. I need to let things process a little before making a start.
One of the big ones is I used to be able to get up on my days off and make a start on writing. I think back to when I was in the car trade and my one day off a week would be a Sunday and I’d get up and be working on a blog post by about 8am. If you’ve been reading my blog for more than a few years you may remember my ‘Good Morning, Sunday’ posts. Those started because I liked getting up, having a cuppa tea and knocking out a post about what I wanted to get done that day. I felt good getting up and having a good start to the day, and that more often than not led to a decent day. I’ve found if I can get a blog post written early on, or get a few words written, then it gives me a boost for the day. I feel like I’ve already achieved something for the day, which gives me a good vibe going into whatever the day holds.
Over the last couple of years I’ve lost my way with that, and I need to get back on track with it. And I’m starting today. This is the first time I’ve sat down and ever tried to write a blog post at this time of the day in a long time.
So although I’m not going to make resolutions, I’ve got a list of things I’m looking at being a little more proactive with improving.
Happy New Year, folks! Make it a year to remember for the right reasons.
I work at a supermarket and when I’m not on the shop floor I’m on a till. When customers ask me how I am I more often than not I’ll reply with “I’m alright, I’m always good me,”
Even when I’m not okay I say it, and I’ve been thinking about this and the mindset I’ve got growing of seeing the best in life despite what I’m feeling. There are times when I’m feeling down and not as positive as I’d like to be but I still say it.
Some of that is the ‘faking it ’til I make it’ mentality. But what I’m not doing is ignoring what I’m feeling. I’m listening to my body, looking at why I’m feeling like that. This is what I’m doing for all my moods. The more I know and understand what’s going on inside of me; mind, body, soul, the lot. Then I’m going to be able to draw myself to the elements that give me the most positive experience of life.
The biggest element that I’ve noticed which affects my mental health is tiredness. So, that is one of the major parts I’m focussing on improving. I’ve started adjusting my sleep patterns a little, but I think there’s a lot I’ve got to suss out with it. At the moment I’m focussed on getting my head down earlier on nights where I have early shifts. I’m also watching my intake as the day progresses. Definitely no energy drinks after about 3pm, as little sugary snacks after about 7pm (this one I think might be a little harder). I’m trying to wind down my head a little bit as the evening progresses as well. A little less proactive mind, and a little more passive input. Movies, TV, books etc. Gaming does relax me, as does writing and blogging, but those are both pastimes that require proactive thought. Other things are more passive. I can let them enter my mind without them firing up my creative mind too much. Something proactive makes me alert, brains firing and it’s harder to let my mind rest.
Getting good sleep makes all the difficulties of life easier to manage. It makes the fog less thick.
This blog post comes to you from a man who isn’t dead tired!
Where I’ve had lots going on recently I’ve not been getting much sleep, and the sleep I have been getting isn’t good sleep. Last night though I was gaming and crashed a car because I nodded off briefly (which in real life can be disastrous). And I decided to get an early night. I was in bed a little after eight with The Simpsons on (something that lets me shut off the constant stream of consciousness, but also something that if I miss any of it I’m not going to loose out on a plot point), and got me head down.
I’m not sure what time I nodded off but I woke up about ten or so and turned off the TV and the next time I woke up was when Max barked his head off and I went down to see what had alerted him (I think it was a fox or something). That was about three this morning. I went back to sleep for forty-five minutes or so and got up when my alarm went off at four.
And you know what, I feel pretty awake today. That’s the first time I’ve tried doing that and I’ve managed to sleep. When I’ve tried early nights before they just haven’t worked.
This evening I’ve read through eight more pages of my source file for Penal Earth book two. I’m getting ideas and thoughts on how I want to proceed with it as I’m reading, and I’m realising there’s not going to be a lot I will be able to carry over into the next book. Some of it will be used further down the line but right now A lot of that will be put to one side while I craft a story around what I will be taking from it.
Right, I’m off for the night. I’ve got an early start tomorrow and despite feeling very wide awake, I’m going to try and sleep.
It doesn’t cost anything to be kind. That is one thing the world needs more of.
I’m going to leave you with a video by the fantastic Leah Solmaz where she talks about boosting your moods. It’s really helped me tonight and I think it’s worth a little of everyones time.
When I’m stressed out I overeat. When I was younger it was really bad. I’d eat two or three bars/bags of chocolate a day, and I’m talking the large share bags/bars of chocolate not the little ones you get at a newsagents.
It’s a coping method and something I just did. There wasn’t any thought going into it and it’s not been till the last few years where I’ve started connecting the dots and realising its a problem. I try and figure out what pushed me to food, and I find I’m a little grateful I wasn’t going out drinking in those days. Addiction is something that I’ve always feared, so I never really drank too much alcohol and definitely never did any illegal drugs or abuse legal drugs. I didn’t realise that sugar was sneaking in and claiming me, not until many many years later. I used to think ‘at least I’m not an addict’ not realising there was more to addiction than alcohol and what I thought of as drugs.
As I’ve got older its harder to eat as much, and that’s coincided with me realising it’s a problem. And in particular the last eighteen months or so it’s something I’ve been trying to manage better, not very successfully but I’m trying. Writing this post will hopefully help with that as it’s admitting it in such an open forum.
I’m listening to my body a lot more, and that’s something which feels like it’s changing. I used to stuff my face and then wonder why I was feeling rough, totally ignoring the tub of ice cream I’d just eaten. Now I’m realising when I’m full, but also managing to stop myself from eating more. It used to be that I would keep going until the bar/bag was finished. The thought of leaving some for tomorrow either didn’t occur or seemed like an obscene concept.
Since realising just how bad I can binge eat and figuring out how to firstly manage it, and now try and beat it I am feeling better. I know the days when I don’t beat it. I feel heavy and sickly. I’m putting so much rubbish into my system and I need to at least compensate with more water for example (drink two litres of water a day folks!). But I feel like I’m going in the right direction with it. I drink less energy drinks, try and eat less sugary snacks and snacks in general. After my evening meal I feel full now, and if I do have something I’m trying to just have a bit but I’m working on not eating if I feel full.
I’m also thinking about the ‘when’ of eating. Too much sugar in the evenings affects sleep, which when insomnia is something you battle with you don’t really want to give it an ally. I’m trying not to eat after 9pm and with the exception of an occasional hot chocolate I try to just drink water or squash after 9pm as well. I’d like to cut this down to 8pm if I can but for the moment I want to be consistent about having that 9pm shut off.
At times I feel like I’m winning, and then I have a major setback and feel like hell and guilt trip myself for failing so hard, which then strengthens the urge to binge eat. It’s one of those vicious circle things. But I feel like I can get the balance right. Am I likely to give up sugar? no, but I can live my life without it dictating my intake of it. If I consume less sugary snacks I’ll start feeling it both physically and mentally and I’ll hopefully loose a little of the extra weight I’ve gained this last year, I’ll feel better mentally and that’s a win all around.