Stuck in a Depressive Episode

At the minute, I’m not feeling great. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been descending into a depressive episode, and I’m struggling to keep my head above water so that I can get out of it. This isn’t to say that I’m not happy in my life. I’ve got an amazing partner who does everything she can to make me happy, we’ve just moved to a beautiful house that we’re still in the process of making our own, and I have a lot of things going for me. But I can’t seem to bring myself out of the funk that my brain is putting me in for whatever reason.

I feel like I can’t do anything and that I’m just no good for anyone or anything. I’m not as bad as I have been in the past, and as much as I don’t see any point in me being around right now, I’m not feeling suicidal or anything, but unfortunately, I feel like it probably wouldn’t take a lot to make me feel that way.

I’m struggling daily just to get through and generally feel like I just want to spend my days in bed doing very little. But, I’m not doing. I’m getting up every day and doing whatever I can, no matter how little that is.

To help me through this time, Alex and I have created a schedule for me to give me some sort of routine. It’s not much, but it at least tells me what I should be trying to do that day. For example, today (I’m writing this on Monday) is a blog day, so I’ll be spending my day – working the same hours that Alex does – working on blog posts and trying to get ahead of the game.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) will be a writing day in which I will be working on my new WIP. I’ve not really spoken about my latest WIP all that much. In last week’s Friday blog, I said that I’m working on it and how much I’d written, but I’ve so far not revealed much else. I feel like I’m going to keep my cards a little closer to my chest than I have with previous novels and maybe only reveal some details when I’m a bit further on with it. However, I will say that it’s a bit different from my previous novels, and I’m really enjoying writing it.

On Wednesdays, I’m going to be working on game stuff. This might range from just playing stuff because I can or to review or even doing streams over on Twitch. I did my first proper stream at the weekend – I’ve finally got a set-up that allows me to use my camera and mic – and I really enjoyed it. I don’t know who watched it, but I had a few viewers, and it did a lot to help me keep my mind off the way that I’ve been feeling. I’m hoping that I can come up with a schedule that will allow me to do it on a more regular basis.

Thursday and Friday will be reserved for more writing. Writing does help me, although sometimes I struggle to get going, but when I do, I get lost in the story and characters. It’s a great way to get out of the depressed side of my head and create something that I can be proud of.

As of writing this, I’ve contacted the doctor and I’ve been given a new medication that’s been added to the ones I’m on already to hopefully help me through this tough time. As with every depressive or manic episode, there’s no telling how long it will last. I just need to try what I can to get through it and to the other side. I want to be positive as I know deep down that I have a lot that I can be thankful for and proud of, but at the moment, it’s hard to push past the part of my brain that’s telling me I’m just not good enough. I know it will get better; I just wish I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m just going to carry on with my schedule, adjust it if I need to, and get through this depressive episode the best I can.

I hope your week has been good and that you have a great weekend.

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 causing 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.

Good News Monday

Yet another Monday hits us in the face like a brick.

I woke up feeling sick and in pain, but as the pain meds kick in and the sickness fades away, I’m left with at least some good to come out of a Monday.

The Next Stage and Creatures are now available on Google Books in 66 countries.

With this new outlet, it means that my books are now available through Amazon, Lulu, Payhip, Apple Books and Google Books. I’m hoping that these distribution channels will mean that more people will be able to read and enjoy them.

I’ll add the new Google links to the Books page of this blog with the others.

Last week I also started a giveaway with the Apple version, I’m going to extend this giveaway until Friday of this week and add in the Google version, so when you enter you can let me know which version you’d prefer to receive a code for.

In other news, I’ve several more reviews in for The Next Stage, and I’m happy to say that the full 5-star rating on Goodreads hasn’t been changed. Everyone seems to really enjoy this book and every time I receive a new review – and it’s another 5 – it makes all the work I put into the book worthwhile and spurs me on to want to get it out to as many people as I can.

As far as the writing goes, I’ve not done a great deal over the past week, that’s to say I’ve done none…

I’m hoping that now I’ve been on these new pain meds for a week that the side effects start to settle down and I can concentrate on things again. The only thing I’ve really been able to do this past week is play Skyrim. That’s not a bad thing, and I got another platinum trophy out of it, but I miss writing, and I want to get back into it as soon as I can. But I also don’t want to write for the sake of it and end up churning out crap.

Once I’ve posted this and update the links and whatnot, I’m going to attempt to do some; I guess time will tell.

It’s Been Another (Long) Week

As far as writing goes, this week has been a write off. From pointless hospital appointments taking up a day to new pain meds, making me spaced out, I’ve not been able to do a great deal.

One plus has come out of this week though, and that’s that both Creatures and The Next Stage are now available to those of you with Apple devices as they are now on Apple Books – links are available on the Books page of this blog.

I’ve been working on making them available on both Apple and Google Books, the Google stuff I started last week, and I’m still waiting for my account to be approved, the Apple I started on Wednesday and got them up in a few hours. Google really need to pull their fingers out. But, at least I’ve got them out there so hopefully more people can read them.

In other good news, the reviews for The Next Stage started to come in and so far has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve had 8 ratings so far, and they’ve all be 5 stars, which I think is just incredible. I never thought that something I wrote would be received so well. That’s just another reason why I want to get this book out to as many people as I can. In this challenging year, I hope it brings a little bit of respite from the chaos outside.

In addition to all the purchase options I’m working on, I’m also considering doing a competition for readers to get a signed paperback copy of The Next Stage. I’ve got a few author copies that I want to give away, I just need to iron out what I’m going to do and when, so keep an eye on my Twitter and Instagram for further details.

As for today, once I’ve uploaded this blog, I’m going to try to do some actual writing. I’m torn at the minute of whether I carry on with It’s All in the Eyes, or I do some more work on my ghost-like story which as the moment is temporarily called The Man (I’m hoping a better title will come to me as I write.)

That’s it for blogs again for another week, I’ll hopefully be back next week and able to do a little more, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the side effects from these new painkillers settle down and I can concentrate more on writing and less on shiny things.

Have a good weekend all.

Dopey Words

First off I would just like to apologise if this doesn’t make sense or I start to ramble. I’ve just been put on some stronger painkillers for my hip, and well I’m kinda spaced out.

I’ve spent the majority of the day looking into more ways that I can deliver my books to you, the readers. I’ve posted previously that they’re now available not only on Amazon but Lulu and Payhip too. I’m also working on both Google and Apple books, I’m just waiting for approval.

I’ve been trying to price up different options for the best way to distribute. So far, due to my available funds, my options are somewhat limited. But one option I’m looking at is getting a bulk order of the paperbacks and then selling them on through this site; I don’t know if people will want that, but it’s worth a shot.

Basically, a lot of this has come about because The Next Stage as been receiving amazing reviews and so far hasn’t got anything below 5 stars, and I want to get it to as many people as I can.

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve reread some of the reviews because it still staggers me that something I created and spent so much time on, people are actually enjoying, and enough to write about why. It’s an odd feeling, but it’s a nice feeling as @HorrorPaperBack said earlier on Twitter, it’s bewilderfying.

I’ve not really done much writing this week due to being in pain, but I’m hoping I can remedy that over the next couple of days as long as this new medication helps…it’s undoubtedly doing something right now.

As more selling options come up, I’ll continue to update and let you know where they will be available. But for now, check the “Books” page of this site to get your copy from where they’re available now.

Oh yeah, and I’ve also updated the links on the home page below my photo.