A New Member of the Family

Getting a pet is something that Alex and I have discussed on and off for quite some time. Whenever we talked about it, though, we realised that it just wasn’t the right time. The main reason behind this was the fact that we were always in rented accommodation, whether it be a flat or house. The issue being that we’d either have to pay a stupid amount to allow us to have a pet or worry about and repair any damage that it may do to the property. But now we’ve bought a house, and we don’t have to worry about those things. We’re both now also in a better place mental health wise, and we can see only positives to getting a pet – well, I say pet, I mean dog.

Whenever we discussed getting a dog, the one breed that we always came back to was German Sheperd. There are a few reasons why we wanted this breed; they’re easier to train than some breeds, they’re obedient and loyal, great for guard dogs and a breed that will generally want to go out – something that we sorely need to do.

With my hip getting better, I will now be able to take a dog out for walks, and by doing this, it will hopefully make my hip even stronger. Both Alex and I enjoy going out for walks, but we struggle to find the motivation to do it. It’s generally just easier to stay in and play or watch stuff sat on our arses. But having a dog that needs to be walked will be the best motivation we could have.

The other day we were discussing it again, and we found a breeder and some puppies that we were interested in. We made an appointment and were able to go and view them that evening. It was a bit of a trek, but it was worth it for a reliable breeder.

When we got there, we found that there were only two puppies left available, both female. We weren’t really too bothered about which gender we got, so we were happy to see the girls.

We sat for over an hour with the two puppies, playing with them and learning about them from the breeder. We found that they were both adorable and the urge to have both of them was strong. We watched how they interacted with each other and us and made our decision based on the temperament that we saw exhibited. By the time we were ready to go, the one we had decided on was dozing off, and the other was still darting about the room. As much as we wanted an energetic dog, we also wanted one that we could tire out, and that would relax with us.

Happy that we had made the right choice, we made our way home. While in the car, we were discussing names for our new doggo. One that we’d mentioned before was Rogue. This was mainly because, in my book Blindsighted, the protagonist gets a German Sheperd and names her Rogue. While we were talking to the breeder, she mentioned that the puppies’ fathers name was Zeus. That got us thinking about names that revolved around that. Alex was looking things up, and we found that one of the daughters of Zeus was Athena. She was all for this, but it took me a while to come around to the idea, but I did. We now had a name for our puppy.

We couldn’t take the puppy away with us when we viewed her because they can only leave the breed when they are 8 weeks old – we were a few days short of that. But we made an appointment to go and pick her up on Saturday morning.

With this arranged, we now had a couple of days to “puppy proof” the house. This meant us taking up one of the rugs, lifting some plants off the ground and hiding some cables and wires that were available for the chewing. I also spent most of Thursday running around various shops picking up bits and pieces that Athena would need; a crate, collar, bowls, toys etc. With all that done, all we have to do now is wait until tomorrow. This is harder than it sounds.

I’m sure that there will be a lot of pictures and videos posted either here or on my Twitter and Instagram. But below are our first pictures of our little bean.

Bring on tomorrow!

First Week Done and Dusted

Well I started this week an absolute bundle of nerves. I was worried about everything from getting on a train, to being around and meeting new people. But I have to say that now my induction week is over, I’ve really quite enjoyed uni so far. I spent the week meeting lecturers and students, finding out a bit more about my course and having a wander around campus.

One of my main worries was how I was actually going to get there. I eventually, and I’ll say, reluctantly opted for getting the train in each day. I was worried about this because I couldn’t even say when I’d last gotten on a train; I just know it was years ago. But after spending a week of going to a fro, I’ve realised that it’s not that bad. It probably would have been worse trying to drive in. At least with the train, I don’t need to worry about how I get there, where I can park and then remember where I’ve left my car. Plus, getting the train has given me an opportunity to catch up on some reading. I’ve already read a few short stories that have been on my to-read list for a while. For now, I’m happy to keep doing what I’m doing.

Another thing I was anxious about was finding my way around. I’d already been given a little map, but I still thought I’d get lost. But I quickly realised that everyone else was in the same boat as me. Every single one of us was wandering around, trying to figure out where we should be. In the end, though, I’ve found it relatively easy to find my way around campus. Next week I’ll have to start again because my actual lectures are in different buildings to the ones I’ve been in this week, but I’m more confident that I’ll work it out.

Happily I’ve found a place where I can get coffee and a park I can either sit in or have a wander around when I need a break from the busyness of central campus.

I’ve met some really lovely people, both students and lecturers, and I already feel less alone than I did on Monday.

It will take me a while to get into my new routine, but I feel like I’m already well on my way to adjusting to all the change. I know that it’s not bad change, but historically I’ve never been very good with any kind of alteration to my life and routine.

Overall I feel a lot more positive about things now and am even more looking forward to getting stuck into my course.

Having said all this, after this week I’m absolutely knackered. It feels like it’s been a very long week with lots going on. I’m so very ready for the weekend.

I hope you’ve all had a good week and will have an even better weekend.

Coming Next Week: University!

Next week I have the start of all things university. I’ll be beginning my induction week on Monday, where I will learn more about my course and meet some of the people involved in it.

I’m simultaneously both looking forward to this and dreading it.

My anxiety is hitting the roof right now and only seems to be getting worse the closer I get to starting. This is usually the case when I have to do something, especially something new, but I’m generally okay once I start, so I’m hoping this will follow previous patterns.

I can’t wait to start, it’s a whole new adventure for me, and I look forward to everything it brings.

I’ve had my schedule through for when the course actually starts, and I’m not in all that much – in fact, I’m only in 2 days. As I’ve not been in full-time education for years, I’m doing what’s called a ‘foundation year’. This will ease me into uni life slowly and teach me how to study again (something that I’ve never been great at historically). I would imagine that my schedule will be a little busier when I start my true first year of the course.

For now, though, two days where I’m required to be there isn’t too bad and depending on what I have to do for uni, I will be able to continue with my current schedule of writing and blogging, at least for a bit. However, I’m sure I’ll eventually have to work out something new to take into account my course requirements.

As I said, I’ve got a mixture of hope and fear going into this course, but I’m mainly trying to stay positive. It will help me with my writing and maybe even help me get a job in the future.

While I’m studying, make my day even better by picking up a copy of one of my books. Each book bought puts a smile on my face, so head over to Amazon and check them out.

The Joys of Physio

Yesterday I went for my monthly physiotherapy appointment. Over the last week or so my hip has felt a little worse than it has done and it’s felt like the exercises I’ve been given have just been irritating it. I mentioned it to my physio and he had to do his usual range of motion stuff and he told me that my hip is starting to seize up slightly. I’ve now been told to add some rolls into my exercises…It just gets more and more fun!

One good thing, though, is that I’m seeing the consultant on the 20th of September to hopefully discuss surgery. I feel like this has been dragging on for ages now, and I’m totally fed up with having to take pain meds multiple times a day. There are days that it really gets to me. If they’re still going to drag their feet with the surgery, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Don’t get me wrong, the thought of having surgery fills me with so much anxiety that that alone sometimes tips me over the edge, but it’s either that or being in pain even longer; and if rather not be in pain any longer than I have to.

But, looking on the bright side, in further along with the whole thing than I was a few months ago, so there’s that.

This time next month I will have started university. I’m hoping that this will keep my mind occupied and away from my hip pain. I just hope that all the moving around won’t make things worse for me.

I’m trying to stay positive, but sometimes it’s hard. For now, I just have to throw myself into my writing and hopefully I’ll be getting my surgery before I know it.

That’s it for me this week. Have a good weekend all.

University Nerves

Come September I’ll become a student for the first time since I was 17 as I head off to university to study creative writing.

I had my place confirmed several months back, but when this week I officially registered, it all became real; I’m actually going. Although I’m excited to go to uni and study something that I love doing, there’s still a part of me that’s very anxious about going.

I quit my job in IT back in May of 2020 as it was having an adverse effect on my mental health. After working in the industry for around 13 years, I had gotten to the point that I really didn’t want to work in IT for the rest of my life. I had started to resent it. It was a big step for me to take, as work had always been the one constant in my life, and it’s what got me through some tough times. So when it no longer helped, I felt lost.

I had no idea what I would do, but I knew that I wanted to give writing full time a try. However, there was always something in the back of my mind telling me that I’d probably end up having to go back into IT, even though I didn’t want to.

When it got to Christmas, I felt like I had to do something; otherwise, I’d spend my life feeling kind of worthless, so after discussing it with Alex, we decided that I should apply for uni.

Again, I didn’t want to do anything IT related; if possible, I wanted to do a course that would help me with my writing as I felt that I could really make a go of it. After browsing some courses online, we came across the creative writing one. After reading it, I was excited about the possibilities that it could create for me. I already loved to write, but I wanted to get better, so why shouldn’t I give the course a go.

I applied that night, but there was still a part of me that thought that I wouldn’t get in. Due to some pre-diagnosis struggles with my mental health back when I was doing my A-Levels, I didn’t get the best grades and thought this would hold me back as there would be someone better that could take my place.

I spent the next few months on the edge of my seat, waiting to hear back. Of course, I knew I would only hear after a certain date, but that didn’t stop me from checking the UCAS portal daily to see if there had been a response.

Pretty soon after the end date for applications had passed, I got an email offering me a conditional place. I didn’t know what this meant, but I already dreaded what I might have to do to get a confirmed place. Luckily, the only thing they wanted was a copy of my A-Level results and not long after I had sent this in, I had a full unconditional offer for a place. I couldn’t accept it quick enough – I’d done it.

There was still that annoying part in the back of my brain that was telling me that something would go wrong or that it had been a mistake, and they’d soon realise and rescind the offer. But they never did.

With my place confirmed, all I had to do was sit back and wait. I’d gotten my student finance sorted pretty quick, so now I just looked forward to starting.

So, here I am now, a month or so away from starting, and it’s hit me – I’m going to university. I never thought that I would ever have the chance after f!cking up my A-Levels so spectacularly and never having the confidence just to apply. This is one of the biggest things to happen to me in my life, and I still can’t believe it.

I don’t think the anxiety will leave me for a while yet. I know once I start, I’ll probably be fine; it’s just the anticipation and not knowing that kills me. It will all be new to me, and I’m never great with new things. But I want this so much that I’m willing to fight through the anxiety and my stupid brain to get where I want to go. I’m going to make the most of this opportunity that I never thought would happen.

Over the past few years, I’ve done several things that I never thought I would do, get engaged, write a book and now go to uni. Despite all the issues I still have to fight with, I feel that my life is actually going somewhere now, and I like it.

I’m going to spend the next few weeks putting together blog posts and continue work on, And Then I Killed Her, as I don’t know how much time I’ll have for these things when I start my course.

I leave you with this if there’s something that you’re thinking of doing but haven’t yet:

Another Friday Rolls Around

Damn, it’s been a hectic week.

I was at physio on Monday. It’s going quite well, and the physiotherapist is happy with my progress. However, he decided that the exercises that he had given me were now too easy, so he’s given me some harder ones and holy hell, are they harder. I struggle to do as many reps, but I can already feel them doing something. I’m hoping that this change means that I will soon no longer have to go to physio and that I will soon get my appointment to see the consultant and finally discuss surgery. Although the physio has helped me be more mobile, I’m still relying heavily on prescription painkillers, and I’d rather not have to take them for much longer. But I guess we’ll see.

Tuesday, I went over to my mum’s and spent the day with her, helping her to do some jobs around the house. Even though I’m not great at the minute, I still like to help her where I can. She’s not getting any younger, and I don’t like her struggling with things that I can do easily. It’s hard to think that my mum will be 70 next year. My brother and sister are useless, so I have to be the one that is there for her. I’m youngest; I should be the one that had disappeared into the ether. But yet, I’m the one holding the bag. I could rant all day about it, but I’ll leave it there.

Wednesday was spent doing the shopping and tidying up the house. I try to do as much as I can around the house, but I still hit a limit to what I can do much quicker at the moment than I ordinarily would do. The rest of the day, I spent playing Watch Dogs Legion.

Thursday, I spent writing this weeks blog – including this one. I don’t know what I did after that because I’ve not done it yet. I’ll probably play some more games that are review fodder, but I’ve not decided yet.

I’m hoping Friday will be a more relaxed day. But I’m not saying that too loud because if I do, something will happen to spoil it.

I’m still struggling some with my mental health, but the new medication is working, and I do feel a little better than I have been feeling over recent months. I know that this is all part of being bipolar, but it doesn’t make the ups and downs any easier to deal with. The medication can only do so much, and I still have to do a lot of work myself, but I’m getting there slowly.

I’m hoping that tomorrow I will be able to do some more streaming over on Twitch. Last Saturday, I did an epic run where I faced so truly odd enemies, but I kicked their ass to survive another day. I’ll stream around the same time (8 pm GMT), so if you’re free, why not join me.

That’s it for now. Have a good weekend!

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.