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.

Bipolar Disorder: The Depressive Side

In previous blog posts, I’ve explained what Bipolar is and how the manic side can affect you. In this post, I’ll discuss how a depressive episode can come about and affect you.

When people think about depression they generally think about someone who is a bit sad for a given reason. This is absolutely not the case.

For starters, a depressive episode can come out of nowhere. Yes, an episode can have a root cause – something that has happened in the person’s life that has brought their mood down – but they can also occur for no real reason, which in part makes them difficult to control. This depressive side of the Bipolar coin is a hell of a lot more than just feeling “sad”.

When in a depressive episode, life can feel pointless and it’s a struggle to find anything that’s worth living for – no matter what you have in life. Some days it’s difficult to get out of bed and get dressed. The pain and hurt that you feel goes right to your very core and premieres every bit of your being. You can be surrounded by people that care about you, but you will feel utterly alone in the world and like no one can possibly understand what you’re feeling. In a word, it’s hell.

As with manic episodes, depressive episodes can come out of nowhere. You can be feeling perfectly fine, and suddenly you feel like crap and can’t see a way back. This can be particularly tough if you’re coming off the back of a manic episode where everything feels great, and you can do anything in the world. Sometimes you can experience an event that will cause one of these bad episodes, but at times, you can’t figure out where it’s come from. If you do CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)  this can help you figure out what’s caused the episode but sometimes even that doesn’t help.

CBT can also sometimes help you get through these tough times, but there are times when this just doesn’t work and trying to think about what has made you feel this way just makes you worse.

These types of episodes can also last for varying lengths of time. It could be a few hours to months, and there is no telling how long it will last until it’s over. It’s not something you can rush through either; you’ll come out of the other side eventually. You need to stick it out the best you can.

When I’m feeling bad, I have to find ways to distract myself. I write, I play games or watch movies. Anything that will keep my mind off the way that I’m feeling. Everyone has different coping strategies for dealing with a depressive episode. What works for me might not work for you. It’s all about finding out what does and getting through it the best that you can.

I recently had a moderate depressive episode after we moved house. The change in location and the disruption of my routine knocked me for six, and I struggled daily with how I was feeling. I spent my time playing games and focusing on anything that wasn’t my brain imploding. This time it wasn’t as bad as previous episodes that I’ve had, and I’m pretty much out of it now, but the threat of going back down is always there.

At times Bipolar disorder is exhausting. Trying to preempt future events and what might send you one way or another is so tiring, and that alone is enough to drag you into a downward spiral, and it’s a fight to stop that from happening.

Bipolar disorder can leave you feeling alone. It can make you feel isolated and that no one understands how you’re feeling or that you’re wrong for feeling the way you do. I’m here to say that’s bullshit. You’re not alone, and some people understand. I completely feel that way, though, and that it’s hard to ask people for help, but if you read this and feel alone, know that you’re not.

I’ll leave it here for now. Have a good weekend all.

A Bit of a Dip: Taking a Break

This blog is a little late today as it took me a while to write it for reasons I’ll explain below.

It’s been a stressful few weeks. We’ve moved into our new house, and since then, it’s been pretty much non-stop with people coming in and out doing jobs.

I wish I could say that I’ve been okay through this, but the stress has hit a limit over the past few days and has sent me down into a depressive episode.

So far, I’m doing okay (compared to other episodes). I haven’t forgotten where I am or thought that everything was a dream – so that’s good. But I’m still not feeling right. I only went back to writing last week, and I just couldn’t get into it. I’ve managed to write a couple of blog posts for the bank, but I’ve not been particularly productive other than that. I managed to do a read-through of what I have written so far for The Next Stage 2, but when it came to writing something new to continue the story, I just hit a wall. I don’t want just to type anything because I don’t want to ruin what I have, so for now, I’m just going to leave it.

I can’t pinpoint precisely when this depressive episode has come on, it’s just been bubbling under the surface for a few weeks, and I’m now realising it for what it is rather than just trying to push through. Tears have been shed, and now I’m just exhausted.

I think a break from things is required, so I don’t think I’ll be around all that much on social media until I feel a bit better. I’ll still try to do some blogs because writing does help me when I’m able to do it. I’ll try to work on my stories where I can, but I’m not going to force myself to do it if I can’t.

Alex and I agreed that I need to talk to my doctor about it, but as usual, she’s not in this week, so for now, we just have to try to manage this as best we can.

I’ve had some good news about something in the past week, but even that’s not been enough to pull me out of this episode. I know that I have some great things in my life, and I’m surrounded by people that genuinely care about me. But when I feel like this, it’s hard to see that. I feel myself just wanting to be alone or hide from the world.

I hope this episode won’t devolve into the one I had a couple of years ago when my mind pretty much melted, and I couldn’t function at all. I just need to manage it the best I can and do what I can to help me through.

That’s it for now. See you soon and have a good week.

Back At It

This week for the first week since we moved when I’ve been able to sit down and do some writing. It feels really go to be able to sit down and make some progress on my current WIP.

I consciously took some time away from it while we moved so we could get things sorted for the old and new houses. I’d say we had some down time after the move, but we didn’t stop during those two weeks. We were either having people in doing jobs for us or we were busy unpacking boxes.

Although we never stopped doing stuff, by the end of last week I was ready to get back into my writing. I miss it when I’m not doing it and although I’ve not done a great deal this week – I’ve just been going through what I’d already written on The Next Stage 2 – it was a welcome return and my head has been happier for it.

Buy The Next Stage on Amazon now

I took a bit of a knock last week. I’d been waiting to see the orthopaedic surgeon and hoping that we would get to discuss the surgery for my hip. But unfortunately, he decided that if I had the surgery now, my recovery wouldn’t be great due to the loss of strength in my leg. I’m now going to have further physiotherapy (apparently my last physio was pointless according to the surgeon – woo!) I felt a little deflated after my appointment and felt like the past year had been a complete waste of everybody’s time, but now I see that physio can only be a good thing, especially now I’m probably under a surgeon. I’m trying to look on the bright side of things but at times it’s hard, especially when I’m in near constant pain.

To make matters worse, I woke up this morning to my back being extremely sore and I’m barely able to move…so that’s great. But I’m trying to keep my head above the line of depression and just taking this opportunity to write and work on some other stuff that I’m planning to do soon, hopefully I’ll be able to talk about it very soon.

It’s not been all bad though. My website has just hit the 5000 viewer mark, which is amazing. I didn’t think I’d hit that for a long time. I’ve also had a post reach the 100 views target too – you can read it here. So there is some good mixed in with the bad. I’m just trying to focus on that.

I hope your Friday is going well. I’ll be back on Monday with a fresh post. Have a great weekend.

The Return!

Well, after a couple of weeks off while we moved house, I’m back.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, moving house is stressful!

We’re now fully moved into our new home and have been for around a week or so. We’ve spent most of the past couple of weeks either moving our belongings, deep cleaning the rental or unpacking boxes. The first two have now been done, but we still have a number of boxes that we still need to unpack – mainly books and DVDs. But until we have shelving sorted out, we have nowhere to put them. We’re just happy to finally be in a place that is ours and properly feels like home.

If you follow my Twitter or Instagram, you’ll have seen some of the progress we’ve made on unpacking and finding new places for things to live in. As usual, the main thing I’ve been working on is the games room. All the consoles are now out, tested, and ready to play on, and if I do say so myself, it looks pretty damn awesome.

Since we got the keys, we’ve hardly had a spare moment to ourselves. We’ve had a near-constant stream of people in and out of the house, either working on the floors or the site team fixing defects. Today is the day both Alex and I get back to work, and for me, it couldn’t have come soon enough.

I misjudged just how unsettled I would be when we moved. The move to our previous rented house was so easy compared to this one, and I wasn’t prepared for just how much we needed to do. My brain has almost imploded with everything going on, and I got to the point where I just didn’t want to see another soul outside the two of us that live in this house. I just wanted us to have some time on our own to relax in our new home. I’m hoping that now though, with both of us going back to work, things will return to a semblance of normality as we once again get some structure to our days.

In the past couple of days, my brain has been doing overtime with new ideas for some of the stories I’m currently working on, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to work on them.

Along with my writing and blogging, I’m hoping that soon I can start doing videos regularly, whether they are video game streams or something else – so keep an eye out for more info about that.

But for now, I’ll leave you with some pictures of our new home (plus some bonus pictures of a neighbour cat I met this morning) and I’ll get back to work.

 

100th Post!

As we’re in the middle of our move and I’m currently not doing any writing due to this, I wasn’t going to do a blog post, but I noticed that this would be my 100th post, and I didn’t want it to pass by without acknowledging it.

I started this blog back in September 2020, intending to share my thoughts on things in my life that I enjoy and discuss mental health issues, and I think so far I’ve been doing a pretty good job if I do say so myself.

The blog has also allowed me to connect with more of the writing community and the wider internet population. I’ve been able to share my thoughts on writing, gaming and mental health and been able to hear what your thoughts are too.

Some of my posts have been more popular than others, but I think I’m gaining a decent audience that reads my posts regularly and even follow me on here and on my social media profiles.

I’ve also been able to share updates on my writing and give readers an insight into my and other writers processes. Showing that not everyone works in the same way and how different writing styles allow writers to create in unique ways.

So far this year, I’ve had nearly 3000 views. That’s an audience that I never dreamed I would have.

I’m hoping to continue this blog far into the future, and I hope you continue reading and enjoying my posts.

Once the move is done, I’m hoping to get back into my regular posts and writing and work on some new things that I don’t want to go too much into at the moment.

For now, though, I want to thank all of you for reading and supporting me.

Here’s to the next 100 posts.

Have a great week!

P.S. don’t forget that my latest book Blindsighted is available over on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback formats, as well as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Plants, Mental Health and the Tale of Momma

If you’d told me ten years ago that I would find tending to plants relaxing and good for my mental health, I’d have said you were a total stinking liar (sorry, but I would.) I didn’t see myself making 30, so anything beyond that was unobtainable.

But I’m still here. I’m now a writer, and I’m probably the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. What does this have to do with plants? I hear you ask – well, if it’s not you, it must be one of the other voices in my head. Anyway, someone asked, so I’m going to tell you.

I’ve never been great at taking care of things. I didn’t take care of myself, so looking after any other living thing was a no go. But now I find peace and relaxation in the taking care and nurturing of plants; I blame Alex for this.

When we moved into this house 3 years ago, Alex’s mum bought us a plant. We have no idea what type of plant it is; we just refer to it as “Momma.”

We were given the plant with the notion that we probably wouldn’t be able to keep it alive. But so far, we’ve done that and then some. So far, Momma has provided us with maybe 30(ish) baby plants – hence Momma. You see, it’s all
falling into place now.

Momma. First of her name. Mother of plants. Calmer of minds. Birther of babies.

Some of these young plants have been given to friends and family. These plants, in turn, have also produced young, so Momma’s family tree (that’s funny ’cause it’s a plant) now goes down several generations, and she’s still not finished. The last time we checked, another 2 babies were growing by her side.

Before Momma, the only plants I’d had were several cacti, a Venus flytrap and a chilli plant – I didn’t manage to keep any of these alive. But with her arrival, I’ve grown to appreciate the serene feeling you can get from watching something grow.

We’ve had several other plants over the past few years; some have lived, others haven’t. But Momma just keeps on going.

Although the only gardening that we can do in this house is watering the indoor plants, there’s something nice and calming about it. When I’m feeling a bit down, even just looking at the plants gives me some kind of peace and quiets
my noisy mind. On most days, I find myself checking on them, seeing if they need water or turning around to get better sun etc. It’s another thing for me to focus on rather than giving in to the negative thoughts that bounce around
inside my head.

We’re moving soon to our own house, and neither myself nor Alex can wait until we have a garden that we can actually do things with. We’re making plans for all the plants we want to buy or grow from seeds, and even this is kind of
relaxing, so when we’re finally able to get stuck in with it, I’m envisioning us becoming some kind of self-sufficient hippies that spend a lot of time outside in our little patch of garden.

As I said, I never thought I would feel this way about looking after plants. I owe this to Alex and her mum for opening my eyes to how it can feel to take care of plants.

Hopefully, Momma will continue to grow and flourish in our new home and will be with us for years to come as a symbol of my and Alex’s relationship moving on to new chapters and of what we can do if we take care of ourselves and others.

I’m having a few self-care days myself due to the imminent release of my next book, BLINDSIGHTED, so I’ll be checking on the plants and making sure that both myself and they are okay.

By the way, if there are any horticulturists out there maybe you could enlighten us as to what type of plant Momma is.

Take care of yourself and have a good weekend.

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.

Friday Restday

Earlier this week, I finished my latest draft of my next book, Blindsighted.

Before I did anything more on that novel, I tried to do some further work on Creatures 2. This didn’t go as planned.

When I finish a project that I’ve been so into, like a novel draft when I finish, it leaves me feeling somewhat lost. I try to jump straight into something else despite knowing how it’s going to go *Spoiler Alert* it doesn’t go well.

I don’t know what it is, but I sit there with a project open, and I’m raring to go, but I just go “meh” and can’t get started when I look at it. I generally try to push myself through the feeling and try to get my enthusiasm back, but it tends just to frustrate me, and I don’t do anything, and if I do, it’s not my best work.

Also, I find myself doubting everything that I’ve just done on my current WIP during this time. I feel like it’s not as good as it could be and that no one will like it. I went through all these stages when I was working on The Next Stage, so I know that people do enjoy my work and that I am good at what I do. There’s always that nagging doubt that I find it difficult to get rid of at the back of my mind.

I don’t know whether this is part of my bipolar or anxiety that is telling me I’m not good enough and gives me the imposter syndrome that I’ve mentioned before. But whatever it is, it’s bloody annoying!

Yesterday after a couple of hours of work, I gave up and played some of the Final Fantasy VII Remake. Today I’m not even attempting to work because I know I’ll just get annoyed – plus my hip is killing after doing some house stuff – so I’m going to spend the day sitting on our new, very comfortable bed, playing something and working myself up to doing more work on Monday.

Have a good weekend all, and hopefully, I’ll have some new exciting updates on my writing on Monday. Don’t forget, though, if you need to take some downtime to get your brain a break and get your mental health topped up; it’s okay to do so.