The Editing Struggle

When the week started, I was determined to get the paperback proof copy of Blindsighted edited, but it so far hasn’t happened for one reason or another. I’ve managed to get around three quarters the way through it, but the past couple of days haven’t been very productive.

I find editing a difficult thing to do when my head isn’t 100% in it. Generally, I don’t mind the process, it’s a necessary evil and is a critical process in writing a book, but when my head is having an off day, I just can’t get going with it.

Writing is something that helps me get through some bad days. The act of creating and engaging with the characters and worlds calms my brain and gives me something good on which to focus. With editing, though, I don’t get that.

As I’m going through something that I’ve already been through multiple times, nothing new is grabbing my attention and focus. I find my mind drifting and thinking about other things more often, and I end up missing things that need to be altered or corrected, which, in the end, will only harm the story.

As much as I want to get this draft completed – I think it will be the last – I don’t want to rush it, miss things and then put it out into the world only for people to pick up on my mistakes.

If I could afford to hire an editor, I would do, but as it stands, I don’t have the money available to me to do so. So, for now, I have to do the bulk of the work.

I’m really pleased with how Blindsighted has turned out; it’s very different from my last book, The Next Stage. It’s been good to write a different story genre, from something that was heavily sci-fi to this paranormal horror is a welcome change.

I don’t know what genre I want to write at the minute, or even if I want to stick to just one, I think I may end up being more of a multi-genre author. Of course, for that to happen, I need to get Blindsighted released.

I haven’t set a specific date for release as I don’t want to rush things and put more pressure on myself than I already do. I’ve said before that I’m hoping to release in the next couple of months, but if I set a date, I will probably only beat myself up if I don’t meet the deadline. There’s no rush, and it’ll be out when it’s out. My mental health is more important than publishing a book. I need to make sure that I keep my brain happy; everything else will come in time.

Reading this blog back, I can see it’s a little bit all over the place. I’m struggling even to type this, if I’m honest. So, that being said, I’ll leave things here for now and get back to trying to edit.

Have a good weekend.

Anxiety and CBT

Anxiety. Like many other people with bipolar, anxiety is an added unwanted bonus that comes along with it.

For many, anxiety is a feeling that occurs every now and then and may be associated with a big event; for example, a job interview, talking in front of others. These situations are considered a normal cause of stress.

Some of the symptoms of anxiety may include;

  • increased heart rate
  • rapid breathing
  • restlessness
  • trouble concentrating

However, when you have anxiety in conjunction with another mental illness, these periods of anxious feelings can last days, weeks, months and can have a more significant effect on your mind and body, and the symptoms listed above could become overwhelming. They may stop you from doing things you enjoy, seeing friends or going to restaurants. In extreme cases, they may prevent you from even leaving your house. If you don’t do anything about these feelings, they could get even worse.

I’ve previously talked about my anxiety in relation to a hospital appointment I had, but in the recent past, my anxiety would spike at anything from going to work to seeing family to thinking about going food shopping. Over the years, I have managed to gain a modicum of control over my anxiety, and it now only tends to raise its head at larger events, but that’s not to say that it still doesn’t happen unexpectedly.

To get my anxiety under control, I’ve had several bouts of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), which gave me some tools that help you take a little more control over your feelings. This isn’t a cure, it’s a management tool, and it doesn’t always work.

From CBT, I learned a few different techniques retraining my brain to not go straight to a particular situation’s negative aspects. For example, when I had to go somewhere, my brain would go straight to thoughts like “everybody will be watching me” or “what if X happens while I’m out.” To begin with, CBT was a difficult therapy for me, as it was all about pinpointing my thoughts about a given situation, which I found really hard to do as when I was sat with someone asking these questions, it was hard for me to think about what thoughts I would have.

For a time, I felt like I was going around in circles and that the whole therapy was a waste of time, but after finishing the sessions, certain aspects stuck with me, and I still use them today. For example, if I start to be anxious about going somewhere, I think about why that is. If I’m thinking that people are watching me or will be judging me, I tell myself that they don’t think that way and have other things to think about than me. Sometimes, even using this method, I struggle actually to talk myself into thinking everything would be okay, but those times are getting less and less as time passes.

When Alex and I got together, I struggled with going to her parents’ house. Although they are now family, I was worried about them judging me, and if I had a panic attack whilst there, I didn’t want them to think any less of me. I’ve since learned that they don’t care, and they just want to see me. It helped in a way that Alex and I both have Bipolar as she was able to tell me that they have dealt with her anxiety for years and mine was nothing new. It wasn’t something that they would judge me for or think any less of me for. It didn’t matter.

Unfortunately, anxiety still plays quite a big part of my life, and it can still be overwhelming at times. But for the most part, I’m getting better.

CBT isn’t a fix-all solution. There will be parts that help and others that don’t, but I would say that it’s worth at least a go if you’re really struggling. Of course, if you’re like me, you may get anxiety even going to the CBT sessions, which was fun. But after a few, I got used to them, and it just became something I had to go to for a few weeks.

Like with many things related to mental illness, anxiety can be difficult to talk about, especially if you think others are judging you. But be assured that everyone out there suffers from it at some time of their life and to varying degrees. You’re not alone.

Bipolar: The Manic Side

Before Christmas, I did an overview of Bipolar Disorder and what it means and what it causes. Being Bipolar/Manic Depressive means you not only have depressive episodes; but also manic ones.

In my life, the depressive episodes have far outweighed the manic ones. But allow me to let you in on how some of my manic episodes have gone.

When I’m manic, it’s not just that I feel happy. My brain runs 10x faster than it usually does and thinks pretty much everything is a good idea. There have been some bad outcomes to this, but also some good.

On the bad side, I tend to want to spend money I don’t have. This has resulted in me racking up a boat – possibly one of the few things I didn’t buy – load of debt. I didn’t always buy big things, but I would buy a lot of small items, and those little things mounted up. I’ve managed to pull myself out of this now, and it’s something that I don’t want to get back into. However, when I have manic episodes, I still have the urge to spend money I don’t have and need to spend some time talking myself out of it, thankfully I’m able to do this much easier these days, but it’s still hard. However, it’s something that always preys on my mind as I’m aware of just how easy it would be to slip back into it.

The other thing I get when manic is the urge to be creative. This has ranged from setting up online shops with various products – I’ve done a few of these that didn’t last long, although one of my t-shirt shops is still going over on Cafepress– to things that I actually stuck with for a long time like my animated YouTube series Todd the Zombie. Even my first book, Creatures, started as a need to get through a manic episode.

Todd the Zombie is something that I thought up one day when I was on my way home from work and had a need – like years later with Creatures – to get out of my head. The series is based around a zombie IT guy that worked at a large company, not unlike Apple – but shhh- a vampire security guard, a dumb receptionist, a ghost delivery girl, a devil accountant, and a totally inept boss. All done in an isometric 3D style, with a lot of game, movie, and TV references, sometimes the animation changing style to match the references.

Eventually, it would lead to me asking my brother to write some scripts, and I also had some friends that worked on it with me, either by doing animation or some of the voices. Soon I would end up meeting several other people online that would become part of TeamTodd. Sadly, after 4 years and 2 series, I kind of fell out with the process, everyone went their own ways, and Todd ended. But it’s still available online over on YouTube, and it’s website www.toddthezombie.com. I still hope one day to pick it back up and do more episodes.

Even though it started from a manic episode, it was something that I enjoyed and something that was positive. After years of only making mistakes when manic, it was a welcome change having something tangible come out of being manic. The people I met along the way also helped me through some of my worst depressive episodes, so I’ll be forever grateful to them and for all that they did.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is that for me, manic episodes can be just as bad as the depressive ones, but they can also lead to good things.

I’d say that one of the worst things about the manic episodes I’ve had, is that feeling I get when I know I’m manic and I become painfully aware that one day it will end and I will end up going the other way. The problem with that is that I don’t have the capacity when manic to do anything about what I see coming. It’s like running on to a train track as a speeding train comes straight at you, unable to move because the bright light transfixes you.

In my experience, it’s challenging to get a diagnosis of Bipolar. I would only seek help when I was in a depressive episode, so that would be all doctors or therapists would see. When I’m manic, the world is a beautiful place filled with shiny objects and pretty colours; I don’t think anything is wrong in my life. It’s also the time when I decide that taking my medication isn’t a thing I need to do anymore, and the urge to just stop them is overwhelming. Whereas when depressed, I know something is wrong, and I may need help with something. Although it’s still hard to go and get the help I need.

The manic side also doesn’t really catch the attention of other people. You’re seen as “the life of the party” or maybe just a bit “weird” or “random” as opposed to seeing a person that is struggling with a mental health problem. But when you’re in a depressive episode, people just see you as “grumpy” or ” angry,” or you’re just told to suck it up and get on with things; if only that were possible!

There is still a stigma around depression and Bipolarity. So the people that genuinely need help are either unable to get it or are too scared to ask for fear of people looking at them differently.

I’m still at the start of my journey of being able to talk about these things, so forgive me if all this is a bit rambly or disjointed, but it’s still hard for me to talk about some things, although I feel better for having done so. I’m also not trying to get preachy; I’m just trying to explain how my life and the lives of those around me are affected by the two sides of the Bipolar coin that flips in my head. Luckily it’s standing on the edge at the minute, but there’s no telling when it will tip to one side, and to which it goes.

I hope these posts help people, even if it’s just in some small way, with the knowledge that other people are struggling too. Thanks for taking the time to read.

An Author’s Holiday

As I’ve previously said, in May of this year I quit my job in IT, because I decided I just couldn’t do it anymore and it was affecting my mental health…blah, blah, blah, but this blog isn’t about that, it’s about holidays.

Now that I don’t have a “real” job and I’m writing full time, you’d think I could pretty much do what I want to, write? (Haha, see what I did there? Urgh) I’ve been trying to give my days a bit more structure because, 1) It helps my mental health and 2) it means I’m more likely actually to get something done. But, just like in a 9-5 job, I need time off. This year more than ever, time off is essential, to not only look after my mental health but also recover some from physical injury.

One plus for not working a 9-5 is that if I decide to take some time off, I only need to clear with my own brain. There’s none of this, trying to find out what other people have booked off, and trying to get it approved by some manager who you never see. The only obstacle I face is actually making myself take the time, and not deciding I will just write this little bit – and then realising it’s 4 hours later.

All I’m trying to say with this blog is that I’ve decided to take a few days off over Christmas and the new year.

Although I’m taking this time off writing, I’m putting together some blog posts and scheduling them, and I’ll probably still be around on Twitter.

As it’s Monday here’s a bit of a writing update.

I’ve shelved It’s All in the Eyes for the time being. I got a bit stuck with where I was going with it, and rather than muddling through and messing it up; I decided a break from it might help.

I’ve done some more work on the tentatively titled The Man (which may also be called Blindsighted, I haven’t decided yet.) I’ve still got a good idea where it’s going, and I’m almost at the end of creating the basic story, so I may pick this back up in the new year again to try to get the first draft finished.

This last week, however, I’ve been working on The Next Stage 2 – no that’s not going to be the final title…I just don’t know what it will be yet. I’ve got around 6000 words written, so it’s coming along. I’ve managed to put a few of my favourite ideas together, leaving some by the wayside for another time. I’m really hoping people will like it as much as the first one, but I guess time will tell.

Bipolar Disorder: What Is It Really?

I’ve mentioned before that I have Bipolar disorder. In the years since my diagnosis, I’ve come across several people that don’t really know what it is or misunderstand it. In this blog, I’m going to try to explain it a little so bear with me as things may get a tad technical/medical.

What is Bipolar, and what are the symptoms?

At a basic level, Bipolar is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings. So this isn’t just feeling either happy or depressed, it’s feeling them to extremes. These moods can last for weeks or months.

What we’re talking about is this;

With the depression side, it’s not just feeling “sad.” You can feel the below sometimes multiple ones combined;

  • feeling sad, hopeless or irritable most of the time
  • lacking energy
  • difficulty concentrating and remembering things
  • loss of interest in everyday activities
  • feelings of emptiness or worthlessness
  • feelings of guilt and despair
  • feeling pessimistic about everything
  • self-doubt
  • being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking
  • lack of appetite
  • difficulty sleeping
  • suicidal thoughts

On the flip side, being manic isn’t just “happy,” it’s all of the below;

  • feeling very happy, elated or overjoyed
  • talking very quickly
  • feeling full of energy
  • feeling self-important
  • feeling full of great new ideas and having important plans
  • being easily distracted
  • being easily irritated or agitated
  • being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking
  • not feeling like sleeping
  • not eating
  • doing things that often have disastrous consequences – such as spending large sums of money on expensive and sometimes unaffordable items
  • making decisions or saying things that are out of character and that others see as being risky or harmful

Sometimes, one side of the Bipolarity is felt more than the other, in my case – and indeed most cases – depressive episodes are experienced more often than manic episodes.

Between these episodes, you may have periods of feeling “normal.” Which is just not high or low, but still far from what other people would call normal.

The patterns for the highs and low can vary from time to time, and person to person. But these patterns can be classified as the below;

  • rapid cycling – where you repeatedly swing from a high to a low phase quickly without having a “normal” period in between
  • mixed state – where you experience symptoms of depression and mania together; for example, overactivity with a depressed mood

Living with Bipolar

Living with Bipolar can be hard at times sometimes – especially a manic episode – you may not be aware that you’re having an episode. After an episode is over, however, you may realise that you were and may even be shocked by what you did during it. But while you’re in it, you may think that people are just being negative or are against you in some way.

Just because you have a Bipolar diagnosis doesn’t mean that your episodes will be the same as someone else with the disorder, everyone can experience it differently.

The extremes of it may also affect your life in other ways. For example, it might be hard to stay in a job; personal relationships may suffer, and there’s also an increased risk of suicide. During an episode, you may also experience strange things, like hallucinations which can also affect your daily life.

Along with all this fun, you may also have delusions or psychotic episodes thrown in for good measure.

Causes

Bipolar disorder is widely believed to be the result of chemical imbalances in the brain.

The chemicals responsible for controlling the brain’s functions are called neurotransmitters and include noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine. If one or more of these is imbalanced, then you may experience symptoms of Bipolarity.

For example, there’s evidence that episodes of mania may occur when levels of noradrenaline are too high, and bouts of depression may be the result of noradrenaline levels becoming too low.

It is also thought that Bipolar can be genetic. So if you have family members with it, you’re at an increased of also developing it.

From what I’ve read, there’s isn’t a single gene that causes Bipolar, unlike other genetic disorders, but both genetic and environmental factors can cause it.

A stressful situation or circumstance can often trigger the symptoms of Bipolar disorder.

How is it triggered?

Some examples of stressful triggers include:

  • Relationship breakdown
  • physical, sexual or emotional abuse
  • the death of a close family member or loved one

These are life-altering events and could bring about a depressive episode at any time in a person’s life.

Bipolar disorder may also be triggered by:

  • physical illness
  • sleep disturbances
  • overwhelming problems in everyday life, such as problems with money, work or relationships

As far as my Bipolar goes, I’ve spent year’s trying to work out triggers. Sometimes I can pinpoint them down to life events, but others seem just to happen. They also don’t have a regular pattern so I can’t even work out when they might occur and plan for them. The fact that they can happen at any time is also a cause of stress because I find myself worrying about when a depressive episode might hit me

Getting diagnosed can be a struggle. In my case, it was hard to get because I would only contact the doctor when I was in a low mood. When high everything was awesome – much like the Lego movie; just without the singing – so at the beginning I ended up being told I just had depression. It’s only when the moods went up and down regularly that I questioned this and spoke about it.

I’ve done several rounds of CBT, spoken to psychiatrists and doctors and been on more medication than. I can remember before I got to the “stable” place I’m in now. Don’t get me wrong, I still ups and downs, but now they didn’t happen as regularly, and when they do, I can handle them slightly better.

There are, at times, still bouts of depression that floor me. I had one of these at the back end of last year where I felt worse than I’ve felt in a long time. The fact that it was the first really low mood I’d had in a while made it feel so much worse than it was. It was so bad that I didn’t want to be here anymore, and if I didn’t have the love and support of those around me – especially Alex – then I might not be.

Living with Bipolar is hard, but it is not all that I am – even though it might feel like it sometimes.

In future blogs, I’ll talk more about how both the depressive and manic sides have affected me.

One last thing before I sign off. If you’re reading this and you think, “This is me” and you’re struggling day-to-day, just know that there is help out there for you. It sucks asking for help, and I’m someone who finds it really hard to ask for it and say what I need, but without being able to make that first step, God knows where I would be.

As hard as it is to tell my story, I feel like getting it out there may help people realise that they’re not alone because I know that that’s how it feels sometimes.

Friday Catch-Up

So today is just an end-of-the-week catch-up.

Today, to celebrate The Next Stage getting over 50 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ reviews – 61 at the time of writing this post – the Kindle version is free over on Amazon. But, if you’d like a Google or Apple Books version, I have so promo codes to giveaway so just let me know.

I still can’t believe how The Next Stage has been received, and I’m exceptionally grateful the those that have reviewed it and especially those that have taken the time to do a text review. Reading how you enjoyed something I’ve written just makes it all worthwhile and like I’m actually good at what I’m trying to make my living doing.

In other news, I’ve decided to set myself a schedule for these blogs, so I have a vague idea of what content to post. It’s going to look something like this;

Monday: Writing update, where I’m up to with projects, and how I write, what I think about writing etc

Wednesday: Gaming, I’ll be doing reviews or retrospectives on gaming throughout my life.

Friday: Mental Health, these will be posts about how I live with bipolar, thoughts on how to deal with different situations, and general chat about it to get things out there.

I may deviate from this on occasion depending on what happens in my life, but I’ll be trying to stick to it where I can.

I’ve also decided to start Twitching again – game streaming, not the tick I get when someone mentions Twilight. My Twitch link is on the main page, but I’ll also be posting when I stream over on Twitter, it’ll probably be a weekend day, so if you want to join me, you’re more than welcome. I did a test run yesterday with Cyberpunk 2077, I’ll be playing through that, but I’m also going to be doing a try of all the months new PSNow additions – a blog about the one we’ve been playing recently will be coming on Wednesday.

As far as writing goes, I’ve been working on my ghost story, and I’m almost at 50,000 words, so it’s coming along. I’m hoping that I’ll have the story finished before Christmas and then I can polish it in the new year and hopefully release it soon after.

That’s it for today, so have a good weekend, and I’ll be back with more updates on Monday.

Physical Pain and Mental Health

As I’ve said previously, I have bipolar disorder. It’s something that I’ve relatively come to terms with as something that I will have for the rest of my life. I’m, I wouldn’t say used to it, but it’s there every day, and it’s just something I live with.

When it comes to physical pain; however, I’m not as well versed in how to get through. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve done things in my life that have hurt, I’ve struggled through toothache more times than I can count, but I’ve never broken a bone, – apart from when I split my head open (twice) when I was a young child – and never really been in that much pain.

Over the past few months, however, I’ve been in increasing amounts of pain with my hip.

In May/June, I started to experience a lot of pain in my hip. After several doctors appointment and a few months of low dose painkillers, it had gotten worse, so I went to A&E. Another few months of appointments and painkillers followed before I finally managed to go for an MRI.

Waiting for results for scans or blood tests is never fun for anyone, but with my already anxious and overthinking brain, I had started to fear there was some malignancy lurking in my joint. This took its toll on my mental health, the longer I waited, the worse it got. The relief I felt at finally getting my results was unbelievable, although then I started to find other things to worry about with it.

I’ve said it before, but for those that haven’t read previous posts, the results were that I have a torn labrum. Now, I had no idea what this meant and had to look it up. But basically, the labrum is a ring of cartilage that follows the outside rim of your joint socket, this cartilage had ripped somehow, and it’s the irritation of its movement that is causing me pain.

When they told what was wrong, they asked if I wanted to have a steroid injection into the joint to reduce pain and make it easier for me to mobilise to get strength back in. Me, being the dumbass that I am, opted not to have it and stick with the physio. As you may have guessed, this was a bad idea.

Over the months since getting the diagnosis, the pain has gotten worse and worse, so now I’m on even more potent painkillers.

The whole thing, of not being able to move around as much as I like and what little I do move, having to remember to use my crutch, being unable to do things around the house, even not being to drive, along with having to take painkillers regularly, has, at times, done my tree in. I’m not an overly active person, but not even being able to get upstairs or take my pants off without assistance gets to me. I’m 35; I shouldn’t need this kind of help.

This year has been challenging anyway, but it’s been even harder with not being able to do my job anymore and being in constant, and sometimes, unbearable pain. My brain has had enough of it and wants everything to get back to normal.

I don’t know how I would have dealt with the pain, had I a “normal” brain. But throwing bipolar into the mix too is sometimes too much. Sometimes I feel like crying, A; because of the pain, and B; because my brain has been stretched to the limit and I can’t take anymore.

Anyway, I’m hoping that the pain will be coming to an end soon as I’ve got my steroid injection this afternoon. But this too has left my anxious. I overthink about what might happen, and all the things that could go wrong. Like the other week with my orthopaedic appointment, I’ll probably be fine when I get there, but the wait is God awful. I also worry about what might happen after. Will it get rid of the pain? Will it make it worse? What will happen if it does, will I need a surgical procedure? What if something goes wrong with that?

It’s a rabbit hole that I can’t help but go down because of the way my brain is wired. It’s so tiring having a brain that moves at a million times a minute at times, filled with worries about what might happen.

In a way, this blog helps. I get to throw my worries out into text form. It doesn’t get rid of them, but it does make me look at them from a different perspective and see how truly unfounded they are. Perhaps the way I do it on this blog will also mean that other people who think the same way might look at their thought process a little differently too.

That’s it for today. Hopefully, I’ll have some good news after this afternoon, and maybe I can do some more writing, which I’ve failed to do for a few days.

Have a good week!

My Bipolar Life (A Long Post)

Looking after your mental health is just as important as looking after your physical.

I’ve never been the best at doing either. I’m the kind of person that will just suffer in silence and get on with things, and part of what helped me do that was work. So, when it came to the point where it was work that was causing the problem, I had to make the difficult decision to quit.

A bit of background; I was diagnosed with Bipolar in 2008. After years of going up and down between manic and depressive episodes and all the problems that came with it, I decided to finally go to someone for help. After months of doctor and psychiatric appointments, I finally got a diagnosis.

In a small way, finally putting a name to what I was going through helped, but there was still a lot of work to be done.

With a diagnosis, it was time to get medicated. I never wanted to have to take anything just to function, and it was a struggle for me to get it into my head that it was something that I’d have to do. So at first, when the first type of medication did nothing but make me throw up, it was tempting to give up. After a few different kinds of meds, I finally found one that not only helped my moods but also helped me gain weight -something that I’d struggled with in the past and was always stupidly underweight.

Now on medication, that made me a little more stable, I was going to regular psychiatrist appointments and was finally getting in control of my brain.

The next few years were difficult, that’s an understatement, sometimes it was pure hell. But I got through it, usually by getting on with things and working. In this time, I’d been on other medications when things got hard, been to God knows how many doctors and psych appointments, but the one stable thing in my life was my job.

I’d previously worked at a cinema, but when I got an offer to work in IT -something that I actually wanted to do- I jumped at the chance. I was at the same company for 10 years through good and hell times, up and down moods, alone and in relationships.

IT was what I did, it was what I enjoyed, and it was the one stable thing in my life.  I was able to turn off my brain when I turned on a computer and focus on the job. Most people at work didn’t know what was happening beneath my grumpy exterior, I didn’t really want them to know. Bipolar was still something that I was coming to terms with myself, so having to explain to other people was just something that I couldn’t deal with. A select few people knew, but that was it.

As time went on, I continued to go up and down. At times I tried to harm myself, or I wanted to stop taking my meds, but I got through it with the help of some close friends. Those close to me that I actually saw how they cared about me when I didn’t.

When the company that I worked at closed its doors, I was left without a job for a few months. I enjoyed having a few months to myself, to write (this is when I self-published Creatures), play games, watch movies and generally relax. By now, I was also with Alex, someone who I felt complete with. She also has Bipolar, so we helped each other through. But, after a few months of doing my own thing, I started to feel like I needed to get back into work. I missed the one thing that had helped me through the most challenging times of my life.

I got the chance to work with a company that I had worked with at my previous job, and who I had wanted to work for for a while. I was happy that I finally got a job there, and everything seemed to be getting better.

But, as with most things in my life, the good didn’t last. I had been at the company for a few months when my brain – for no good reason – started to rebel. I began to feel down and really started to struggle to do what I was supposed to do at work.

The job involved fixing computers, this wasn’t the issue. The problem was that I had to talk to people on the phone – something that I’m not great at – and this slowly started to take its toll on me. Along with this, the travel was also getting harder, especially when some days it could take me an hour maybe two to get home at night. I tried not to let this get to me, but it was eroding me from within.

Eventually, it got to the point where I had to admit to myself that I needed a break and despite really not wanting to, I had to take some time off sick. As soon as I decided this, it was almost as if my brain decided to open the flood gates, and I had an extremely nasty depressive episode.

During these few months, I was going to appointments here there and everywhere, changing meds, and trying to relax and recharge, but it was a long slow struggle.

After going back to work when I thought I was ready, things just didn’t feel the same. I was supported by a few great people there, but some weren’t so great. Those people, it wasn’t like they didn’t seem to know how to deal with my issues when I needed help, it was almost as if I was the problem and they couldn’t be arsed with me, which just made things harder.

I struggled through another few months, some days easier than others. But eventually, I ended up off sick again. This time I wasn’t off as long as the first and managed to get back sooner, but things still weren’t right. By this time I’d been going to work, coming home and sleeping. I couldn’t function at night because I was exhausted from the day and travelling to and from the office.

I spent a few months trying to figure out where the problem was. I slowly narrowed things down, but changing things in my life until I was pretty much down to the travelling and the job itself.

When things in the world went tits up, and Covid-19 made its appearance, we started to work from home. For a time, working this way and not having to travel made a real difference to my moods, and I began to feel better. I felt like I’d finally found where the problem was, and I was making some progress in getting in control of my life again.

This, unfortunately, didn’t last. As time went on, I started to go downhill again. I spent a bit of time trying to stick it out, telling myself that the feeling wouldn’t last and I would feel better soon. But when that didn’t happen, I had to look at other solutions.

After discussing it all with Alex, and giving myself a period to work things out, I decided it would be the best thing for my mental health to leave my job. This decision was tough because work had been the one constant thing that had helped me through my worst times, so now, realising that it was work that was caused the problem was difficult.

One day, I rang my manager, explained how I was feeling and that I was handing in my notice. After hanging up this call, I immediately felt a release of pressure inside.

The next month was hard, and I couldn’t help but second guess my decision, but I always came around to the inevitable conclusion that it was the best course of action.

So, that brings us to now. I have been out of the job for around 6 months and – not counting the pain from my torn labrum and everything that goes along with it – I’ve never felt better.

I’ve got into a new routine with my writing, was finally able to release The Next Stage, and work on other projects. Of course, there have still been difficult times, but I dread to think how I would have been now had I stayed in the job I have a feeling it would have gone downhill rapidly, and I just wasn’t prepared to put myself, or Alex, through that.

I’m now able to write full time, do things around the house and not be constantly knackered at night wanting to just go to bed. I felt like I’d finally made progress in getting myself to how I had been before.

Bipolar is something I have to live with for the rest of my life. So there are always going to be the ups and downs, but it’s about minimising these and being a bit more in control of what I can to make that happen.

As difficult as things are at times, when people ask me if I would get rid of the Bipolar if I could, I still say no. I am not this disorder, but it’s a part of me and has shaped some of my life. I don’t know who I would be if I got rid of it and became a “normal” person – whatever that means. There are things in my life that I wish I had never been through, of course, there are, but they’ve happened, and I got through them to still be here today.

There is always the possibility of manic or depressive moods hanging over my head, but I don’t focus on it. Now being happy in my life, and actually wanting to be here, gives me more reason to fight back and get through the worst times.

If you’re struggling, I hope you read this and realise that things can get better. Even if, like I used to be, you don’t feel like you have anything to live for, things can change, and as cliché as it is; things can get better.

I have been alone in life sometimes for years, but I’m still here and still fighting.

Anxiety

Just a quick update from me today.

This afternoon I’m going to my orthopaedic appointment where I hope I will have a steroid injection into my hip to help me with the pain and then be able to mobilise better.

I’ve not really had anxiety for a while, even going to the many hospital/physio appointments I’ve had recently. But today I’m feeling it.

Although I’m looking forward to potentially not being in as much pain, I’m still nervous about the procedure. When I had my MRI arthrogram, I felt a little anxious but something with this today as made me feel worse than then.

I know it’ll be fine and that I need to get it done, but part of me just wants to hide and ignore it and hope that it miraculously gets better on its own. But I also know that that’ not going to happen.

I’ve struggled with anxiety as part of my bipolar for years. But over the past few, I’ve been getting better at doing certain things that I used to shy away from.

Today is just a bad day for it, and I know tomorrow will be better, but as much as I try to distract myself this morning, I can’t shake the anxious feeling.

Anxiety sucks, and anyone that suffers from it needs a level of understanding from others. A lot of the time, it’s not that we don’t want to do things – although this is sometimes the case – it’s that we just can’t. Something in our brains just says ‘no’, and there’s nothing we can do make it go away.

There’s only so much that therapy can do, and a lot of it relies on the individual to try things to see what helps.

Like I said, I’m much better than I used to be, but that’s not without a lot of hard work on my part and having people around me that support and help me through the bad times.

But if you do suffer from anxiety, remember that it’s not your fault and it’s nothing to apologise for. There are always going to be those people that think it’s a cop-out or that you’re just being awkward, but those people can go f*ck themselves quite frankly, and they’re not worth listening to.

Anyway, that’s it for me today. I’m going to try to relax for the next couple of hours before my appointment.

I’ve got this, and so do you.

Ups and Downs

I decided the other day that I was going to aim to do a new blog every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I didn’t manage to do it this week, so I’m posting today instead.

A few months ago, I found out that I have a torn labrum in my left hip, this has meant for the majority of this year I have been in a lot of pain – even with pain management.

Yesterday was a particularly bad day as the pain seemed to overwhelm everything. As a knock-on effect of this, I also went downhill mood-wise. Most days, I can deal with the pain, but when it gets really bad, it even starts to affect my mental health.

With everything going on in the world, it’s easy to let it all get on top you. But it’s more important than ever to look after your mental health. Even those without diagnosed mental health issues can struggle in the current climate.

I have a hard time talking about the way I feel sometimes, but even I realise the importance of having people that are there for you and will help you through anything.

If you need to, make sure you talk to someone, a friend, relative, co-worker or even a stranger. Just being able to talk about how you feel will remove some of the burdens that you may be feeling.

It’s a tired saying, but it’s okay to not be okay.

In book news, I’m now over 14000 words on It’s All in the Eyes. It’s going pretty well so far. I think it’s going to end up being a mixture of sci-fi and horror, but that could change the more I write. At the moment, writing is helping me get through the bad times. Escaping to a world of my own creation and building it from within really makes a difference.

Today I also received my author copies of The Next Stage. With these arriving I feel like I can finally put this book to rest and concentrate on something new. It’s a strange feeling, but physically having the book in my hands makes it much more real, and something that I extremely proud of.

Hopefully I’ll be able to do another update tomorrow and actually stick to my own schedule.

Be safe out there.