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.
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.
Wednesday really did open my eyes up to a lot of myself. One of which was writing my thoughts down. This is something I’ve known I’ve wanted to do for a long time but I’ve never been able to do it. I’m not really sure why but I think it might be a combination of the new medication I’m on, I’m having a little therapy, and it feels like something broke or changed in me on Wednesday.
Realising just how much fear and anxiety have ruled my life has been devastating in one degree, but freeing in another.
Fear was something we touched on in therapy on Monday, and I’m glad we did. The therapist recommended a book about fear that I listened to a big chunk of on the journey to and from the coast on Wednesday. And I think where it was something that we’d spoken about on the Monday I had realised that I was scared of everything and the therapist talked to me about it. Then going down the coast on Wednesday pushed open the door that was unlocked on Monday.
I think about the excuses I used to make. For not going to the beach it’ll be things like I don’t like getting my feet sandy, or wet, or both. Or getting sand in my car (I was a var cleaner for almost 20 years, sand is a nightmare to get out of a cars carpets), but that doesn’t matter. It’s just sand. It was fear defeating me.
Even simple things like sitting in my garden to write or read. I wouldn’t do it, it would rarely even enter my head. The last couple of mornings I’ve made a cuppa tea and then gone out and had my tea while writing my thoughts done as the dog is running around doing his business.
This morning I was sitting there in shorts, t shirt, a hoodie and my sandals. I had Max jump up on the seat next to me as I wrote. It was chilly this morning. We’re moving into autumn here in the UK (almost halloween season!!!!!), so the weather is cooling and after a while I did retreat into the house. I am going to keep going out there till the weather is too brisk for my taste.
One of the fears I’ve had the last few days is that I wouldn’t be able to sit and writer as freely inside as I have been outside, but I managed to do it okay today. I’m not sure I can write like that when I’ve got loved ones around me, simply because of the distraction but I’ll give it a go at some point.
My fear seems to be focused on failure or disaster. If I drive somewhere I could be in a crash. But that could happen driving to work. It doesn’t stop me doing that. Yes, I could crash but the odds are massive of that happening.
As for failure. Well, it’s a case ‘well what happens if my book doesn’t do well?’ that’s something I can’t control. The best thing I can do it write the next story. If I play online and join a group doing a team mission and I screw up, what’s it matter? It’s not the end of the world. Learn the lessons from it and try again.
I only fail when I don’t try. When fear stops me. I’ve lived in a state of fear my whole life.
I’m not doing it anymore.
My eyes are open, I’m realising what I can do to move forward and over come this fear.
I’m going to do what scares me. I’m not fearing the anxiety I used to.
Today I went to where my old boarding school at Dumpton Gap is. I wasn’t planning on documenting the experience at all let alone as I did, which is why it might seem to start suddenly. I’m going to write it verbatim, as I wrote it. I hope you all enjoy it.
As I sit here on the concrete water break thing I have a desire to go and walk through the surf, bare feet. I have the urge to go into the English Channel up to my waist. Up to my chin even. I didn’t bring a swimsuit. I don’t even own one that fits. I don’t even have a towel!
I have no reason to be scared of the sea. I do fear open water. The sort of water that my feet will never touch never be able to touch the bottom. I’ll never go too deep in the water. Chin deep, no. but waist deep, why not?
For today I’ll sit here and drink this can of Pepsi Max. I’ll let the breeze off the sea wash over me, giving me that hit of sea air salty sea air I remember from so strongly from childhood.
It’s emotional sitting here. Seeing my old school abandoned and left to crumble is heart breaking. My two years there changed my life in many ways. Most of which I hadn’t haven’t even realised yet.
If I had the money I’d buy it and makin make it into a retreat and a centre for young people. That’s a pipe dream though. In this world of raping our heritage it will likely be torn down and an ugly block of flats built that doesn’t fit.
On a clear day we’d look for France on the horizon. Today it’s a clear, beautiful day but I can’t see our European neighbour. I see Haze. I’ll be buying some binoculars, a beach towel and some swim shorts for my next visit to the coast.
I am going to go into Broadstairs, but I’ll take a gentle drive and save the walk along the beach front for another day. I can feel wisps of anxiety creeping in, in and I don’t want to push myself too hard.
This is so much more overwhelming than I thought it was going to be. The salt air, the sound of the waves gently crashing in. The wind across my bare skin. The beautify of it. Why did I allow fear to stop me ex exploring this for so long?
I finally get the courage to sit on the breakfront. My hands are shaking and I need to pee, but the wave splashing mere feet from my feet occasionally splash on my legs and it feels good.
I only realise now how crippling this irrational fear had been.
The water in my eye I tell myself the tears in my eyes are because of the breeze but I know that’s a lie. Its emotionally overwhelming.
I get the best view of my old school from here. Such a beautiful building. The one that replaced it, I drove by. I’m sure its very good and but it lacks the character of Gap House.
I’d forgot how the sea could be two different beautiful colours.
Sitting in my car I see seagulls atop the roof of Gap House. Its character is still there. A lack of maintenance, no care for it will ever erase that.
I’m going to take a slow drive into Broadstairs town now. Curious for the memories and emotions that’ll conjure.
Does this qualify as a pilgrimage?
The beach is called Dumpton Gap. This is my second stop in as many minutes since I pulled away from where I was parked.
I couldn’t park in Broadstairs. So I drove back to Dumpton Bay, having decided to walk along the seafront.
I have a yearning to be here. For the sound of the sea and that salty sea air. Even the raucous seagulls. My parents go on holiday to Paignton each year. my dad spent a small part of his childhood there. I thin kI understand why he is drawn back there now.
Is this where I belong? on the coast? Id This feels like somewhere I shoaled be striving to end up.
Time to walk the short walk into Broadstairs.
Those two shades of colour of the water, the greener of the two seems to be where the bay begins. I’m sure theres a scientific reason for this. for me its just beautiful.
This time down here I look at the haze on the horizon and can just see darker shapes. Is this France? or boats.
Is this just nostalgia? or is this where I belong.
I walk along the top of the sea break. Yes there is fear a section of concrete will break away and I fall, but I was sitting on it not that long ago. I know the chances of it breaking are slim to nothing. I walk along it in the hope of the surf splashing up.
I remember walking along here when I was young. With fellow students, teachers and house parents. The older children could walk into Broadstairs town without adults but in at least pairs. Not along the beach though. We had to have an adult with us if we went onto the beach front.
It feels good being out in this air. This is not a million miles away. It’s a simple drive. There is nothing except my own fear holding me back.
This overwhelming but it feels good.
I’m craving the sand between my toes. The sea water on my feet and around my ankles. I must be able to find a beach towel somewhere. I know I don’t need one but I feel like I do.
As I approach Broadstairs town and beach it strikes me me how I’ve just walked a walk I haven’t done since I was eleven. That’s 28 years ago. I wouldn’t have been able to do this even three weeks ago.
I’m looking at hotels and wondering what their rates are. I need more time down here.
Walking on sand in trainers remembering how different it is to walk on. On the walk back I will be barefoot.
I always forget how big, and arrogant seagulls are.
I’m full of regrets and a little anger at not having done this before now. Of not exploring more.I’ve been saying for years I want to get out more, see more of the UK to start with. Realising how much fear and anxiety has held me back, that I’ve allowed to hold me back, hurts. But I’m not letting this sour the day. This is fuelling the urge to get out. The more I can do this, the more I overcome these fears that have no reason to exist.
The next time I come to Broadstairs I will park at Dumpton Gap and make the walk. It’s good for my soul.
This feeling is alien to me. My head should be screaming at me to flee, get back to my car and get home as quickly as I can. Even the fact my car is a ways away should fill me with anxiety. It’s not though. This calmness, this peace isn’t alien. It’s what I should be feeling. Not fear and anxiety.
I don’t find a beach towel, but I do walk through the sand barefoot. The sand is cold in the shade and hot, but not unbearable, in the sun.
I almost walk back along the concrete barefoot but it’s just a little too harsh for comfort.
I’m looking forward to the walk back. From Dumpton Gap to Bay to Viking Bay, and back again.
I’ve brought trinkets and notebooks (they had awesome notebooks!) in th a couple of the shops at Viking Bay. I spend a few minutes w off the seafront in the town, but not long.
As I start my walk back I realise the tide is slowly going out. I stop to watch th as seagulls skim the surface of the with a precision that I can’t comprehend.
The seaweed is so pretty as the retreating tide exposes it.
I watch the people swimming and admire them. I we don’t think I’ll ever be brave enough or a strong enough swimmer to do that. I’m okay with this.
Is promenade the right word for this concrete path? It seems to fit but I’ll look it up later.
As I walk back to my car I feel I’m walking a little quicker. Not much but just that bit faster. I don’t think it’s anxiety. I think it’s where that feeling of being overwhelmed is softening. There’s been times where I’m feeling almost fuzzy headed. So much to feel. So much to take in. I think It’s going to be a few days at least as I’m processing all this.
Maybe this quicker pace is an urge to get home? I think my mind, mind body, and soul are ready to be in my safe space again. I’m not panicking though. There’s no tightening in my chest. No thumping heart. I’m just ready to take a nice and steady drive home.
Thinking of driving I realise I wasn’t nervous or anxious or scared driving down. This pleases me.
It has struck home just how much I’ve let fear and anxiety ruin me and my life. I’m not going to dwell on it though. I’m not going to let it fester.
My brother has inflatable canoes. Maybe we could bring them down here one day.
This urge to go home isn’t stopping me from stopping and writing my thoughts down.
I hadn’t planned to document they but I had that need to. I’m glad I brought my bag with notebook and pen. Although I haven’t touched my iPad of the book I brought with me.
Money is tight at the moment. But I can afford the fuel and I had a small budget that I’ve stuck to. I’ll be more prepared next beach trip.
I’ve always had a fascination with the sea. I wish I hadn’t let my fears suffocate that.
I haven’t spoken to many people. I regret this but thats something hat will come with more time and exploration.
I feel a little silly and weak with what I’ve felt today. Even sillier for realising just how much I’ve let fear and anxiety ruin my life.
I set out today with only a vague feeling that I needed to do this. I didn’t know what I was hoping for. What I’ve discovered is likely just the tip of the iceberg.
As I sit on this bench, my car a couple of hundred yards away, I’m fearing that I’ll loose this urge ability to act on the urge to explore. That the fear and anxiety will take it from me again. I can not let that happen.
This was something I had to do on my own. I’d like to these with someone else to share the experience, but somethings I need to brave on my own. To build my confidence.
I’ve stopped at a services close to home. I should have stopped sooner, got a drink as I haven’t drank or eaten enough today. But I did go over my budget a little and I’m close enough to home not to worry about it.
I haven’t been watching the clock on the sat nav on this journey. Not long ago I would have done. I can feel anxiety, but it doesn’t feel as dominating as it used to be.
Now I’m home and reflecting on the day I feel more determined that ever to continue this exploration. Yes, summer is almost over but that’s not going to stop me.
Today was a hard hit. A hard realisation of all the time I’ve lost. Now’s the moment to make sure I don’t feel this way in twenty years time.
This coming week I’m off from work. So I’m going to try and have a productive week. I’ve got non-writing bits and bobs to do but I’m going to have a nice few hours to get some work done. Relaxing and some self-care is a priority this week.
I’m liking where my head is. The new medication is working well and I’m feeling better than I can ever remember feeling since childhood. I’m still having rough moments, but I’m handling them and feel like I’m managing my emotions well. I’m finding doing some gaming is helping, but I’m being thoughtful and not letting it become a negative. I’m playing a lot of Grand Theft Auto V online, which used to have moments when I’d feel like screaming (normally trolls), but playing it now I’m not only not getting stressed out while playing it I’m pushing myself and exploring more of the features. I’m still not fond of doing missions but I’m getting businesses running and being proactive about making money! When I game I turn off from everything else pretty much, which I find helps once in a while.
I am planning on getting out and about, visiting places I’ve always wanted to go to but was always defeated by my anxiety. I’ve got a few hurdles in the way still, but I’m working on it.
Diet wise I’m trying to be more thoughtful about what I’m putting into my body. I’m not doing as well with my lust for sugar, but It’s something I’m conscious of. I think I mentioned in my post about hating my body about being heavier now than I’ve ever been. I know I’m not huge, but I’d like to loose a bit of weight and get back to where I was.
I do like my energy drinks a little too much, that I am pleased to say I’ve got a nice handle on. I’ll admit I had one today but that’s the first I’ve had in a few days. I’m also drinking less cola and more squash.
Getting a little fitter is a thought as well. I’m going to start walking. I’ve got some great scenery around me so why not enjoy it more. I’m sure Max the doggo wouldn’t be against this!
I’m also getting my head back into reading again. I’ve finished two books that I’ve been reading for far too long in teh last month and feel like I’m getting back into the habit nicely.
Sleep is still a struggle (overlaid and was almost late for work today!), but I’m working on sleep hygiene and making my sleeping environment much more calming.
I’d like to talk more about my mental health journey on here. Where I’m not feeling as anxious about it I feel able to open up about certain elements of it. I don’t often see men talking about mental health. I think it’s this sense that we’re seen as weak if we do, or that it’s just not done. That’s one of the reasons why I never used to talk about. Men don’t talk about their health, especially mental health. I think that’s why male suicide is so high, because we bottle it up and then we can’t take anymore and it all explodes and we can’t handle it. I’ve had brief suicidal thoughts. I say brief because I’d have the thought and then I’d immediately shut it down.
Don’t be scared to ask for help. There are organisations out there to help. Like many, I can’t afford therapy but thankfully there are organisations who will provide help. Even if it’s not much, it’s a start and you’ll be surprised at how much of a difference a little help from someone who’s been trained can make. Hell, even if it’s the Samaritans it’s worth calling.
Each day is a small step. Some times its day by day, and as a friend said tonight, sometimes it’s an hour by hour. Reach out for help, speak to a friend who you trust, who will be sympathetic. Men, women, non-binary’s, don’t hold it in. It only makes it worse.
Remember, it can always get better. It just takes patience and work.
I was talking to a friend who’s a writer and I was telling her/him that they have some serious writing skills. Believe me, they do. But it got me thinking about self doubt, and imposter syndrome. I think most writers and artists in general have it to a degree. I’ve heard a twenty plus year veteran hint that they’ve been lucky, when luck doesn’t play much of a part in it. It’s rare someone consistently gets published as frequently as this individual does for it to be luck. Yes, there might be a little of being in the right place at the right time, but if you don’t have the skill to produce something people are going to read, and be dependable then you won’t keep getting work.
I am at the very early beginnings of my writing career. I’ve been published in five anthologies as of writing this post. Was I a little lucky with my first piece being published? Maybe. One of the editors pointed me towards the submission call. Despite fearing only got in because I knew that person, our that there wasn’t many people who submitted don’t hold water. The editor is known for being brutal with the red pen, and I doubt she would accept a story just because she knows someone if it isn’t good enough. And if there wasn’t enough decent submissions, the publisher would drop the anthology. Which is something they’ve done in the past.
I’ve been published in four more anthologies since then. Each story had to stand on its own two feet.
There was one story that I thought was weak. But I had a little bit of good feedback from beta readers and an editor loved it (to the point where he invited me to another anthology that sadly fell through). When that anthology cam out my story was compared favourably to a Stephen King one. Yes, I may have been bouncing for a week after that one!
In a way, it doesn’t matter what we, the writer, may think of our work. It’s an editors choice if they are going to publish it, and that’s their job. What about self-publishing? I hear you ask. When it comes to self-publishing then it’s the reader who’ll decide. Does that suck a little bit? Yeah I think so. But for me it doesn’t matter because I’m writing what I want to write. One I might be working on pieces that I’m aiming at a particular market, but right in these early days I’ve got to write the tales I want to tell.
Trust yourself, and even if you still don’t then send it to someone you trust who’ll give an honest, but not mean, opinion on it. Don’t self-reject because of self doubt. It’s not worth it when the buzz of being published is as amazing as it is.