Still Here

In case anyone was wondering!

Apologies for the lack of posts over the summer, turns out that having two jobs, and two kids and trying to write a book is ever so slightly time consuming, and doesn’t leave time for much else!

Also *types under breath* I kind of hate summer and find it one of my most difficult times of year.  There, said it.  I know it’s a hugely unpopular opinion, but for me summer is mainly sweating, getting migraines from the sun, and trying to cram in as much QUALITY FAMILY TIME with my kids as possible whilst battling the urge to strangle them when I step on yet another mothafucking piece of lego with goddam bare feet.  This summer has been an odd one because I’ve been working four days a week, so I’ve not been around much and then when I have, I’ve felt this incredible pressure for us to have Perfect Family Fun together, which rarely if ever works out how I envisage it.

We have had some good times though, and thanks to Chris taking some annual leave each week to be home with the boys, they’ve enjoyed having him around a bit more and not missed me too much, I don’t think.

My new job is going…ehhh…well, it’s going anyway.  My CIDP is behaving itself, and the book I’m writing is the slowest project ever but it’s keeping me sane (ish).

And honestly, that’s pretty much it.  Every now and again I think about archiving this place, since I’m not really actively blogging anymore, but then I see people finding old posts about CIDP/Molar pregnancy/Miscarriage etc through their google searches, and I think- ‘well what if reading about my experiences helps someone?’  So it’s staying, for now.

Who knows, maybe one day when I have more time (not clear when that’ll be, but let’s play pretend) I’ll be a bit more active (and possibly even witty?!) but for now, this will have to do 😉

 

 

 

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I wrote a book

I wrote it a while back now, and I even blogged about writing it at the time, so this is not really news.  I came up with the idea in 2004 (!) forgot all about it for a wee while, had some babies etc etc, and then finally came back to it and started writing it in 2014.  I edited it in 2015, gave it to some beta readers (thanks you lovely lot) in 2016, and since then I have done…PRECISELY NOTHING WITH IT AT ALL.

Seriously.  I looked at the file information on the word doc today, and it was last modified in March 2016 (i.e. when I received it back from my final beta reader).  I also have a paper copy in an A4 file, that has been sitting on a shelf in the study for so long it has gathered a significant layer of dust.

Why haven’t I done anything with it?  You might ask.  Well…a billion reasons really.  I still wasn’t sure if I’d achieved what I’d set out to do with it.  It had evolved so much both in the decade between the idea and the execution, and also during the writing, that it had become something else altogether, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.  Also it had some flaws, as all stories do, and I wasn’t sure how minor or major they were.  The feedback from my beta readers was good, but two out of four of them were related to me, and another shares my bed, so I mean…how critical were they ever going to be?  Was it secretly shit?  Should it ever see the light of day? Etc etc.  And so you can see, I think, how it almost became easier just to move on to writing the next thing, rather than devote my time to working out what if anything else needed doing to the book and how it should be shared with the world- if at all.

In the time since, I’ve successfully bashed out a first draft during 2015 NaNoWriMo (that I’ve yet to go back and edit at all), as well as starting and then abandoning two separate WIP’s (oops), and right now I am busy working on the first draft of two very distinct stories, and they’re actually going- dare I say it- ok?  One is probably a couple of weeks away from being ‘done’ (in the sense that I’ll have completed the scenes necessary for the plot, and be ready to step away from it for a while) and the other is nowhere near done, but I’m not rushing it and I’m enjoying myself in the process.

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about that first story- the one that’s been idling in the wings, and wondering what it’s fate will be.  It seems a shame to have spent two years on/off working on something for only four people to ever read it, so I brushed the dust off the physical copy yesterday and had a flick through, and to my amazement I felt like- it wasn’t awful??  Usually when I read my own work I find myself cringing in that way that basically everyone does when they hear their voice on a recording.  Like: “damn, is that really what I sound like?”  And yes, ok reading some passages, I was like “Dafuq you on about in this bit?” or “Goddam girl, you need to get you some grammar lessons,” but on the whole I came away thinking that it seems a shame for it to go back onto a shelf and be ignored for the rest of eternity.

And so…I am probably going to put it on Wattpad.

I only joined last month, and I have a grand total of 2 (yes, that’s two!) followers, but if they both read it, that will increase the book’s audience by a whole 50% at this point, and honestly, even if no one does- at least I’ll have put it out there.

More and more (and I genuinely think WORLD EVENTS are having an impact here), I am coming to realise that putting stuff out there, is what’s important.  So long as what you’re putting out isn’t hateful bullshit I mean.  But just creating things that didn’t exist and saying “hey, this is a thing I made,” and spending less time worrying about:

  • If it’s the best thing you will ever make
  • If it’s the worst thing ever made in the history of the world
  • If everyone is going to hate it/you or
  • If your efforts will in fact be ignored completely

Because honestly, all that shit is a. exhausting and b. uncontrollable.

I don’t actually think that this story is the best thing I’ll ever make (pretty sure my kids take the biscuit there tbh), nor do I think it’s the naffest story ever (otherwise I wouldn’t have inflicted it on four people I love), and as for people hating it/me- I’m trying to get my head around the fact that someone always will, and I can’t let that stop me.  As for being ignored- honestly I don’t think shouting into the void on Wattpad will feel much different to talking to myself on here 😉

So really, the only thing that remains is for me to DO IT.

I made the decision today, and this blog post is a way for me to hold myself accountable in case I wake up tomorrow and go “Whaaaaat?  That’s a stupid idea, past Rebecca- no way!”

So my plan will be to post two chapters per week (the way Wattpad works, you have to release a section/chapter at a time, like a serialisation) probably on a Monday and a Friday, and see how it goes.

Before I encourage any of you to join Wattpad and read along, I should possibly give you a bit more information about the story, but I’ll do that in a separate blog post (probably tomorrow, because this one is already super long, and it’s almost midnight- when my laptop turns into a pumpkin and my jeans transform into pyjama pants- oh, who am I kidding, I’ve been in pyjamas since 7pm already 😉 )

So yes, if you want to know more, then please do subscribe to the blog/ follow me on Wattpad / follow me on Twitter / but probably don’t actually follow me in real life that will definitely freak me out.

 

“a bag of nerves”

I guess that’s essentially what we all are, but I feel like it sums me up quite nicely, as it manages to encapsulate both my damaged nervous system and my propensity for anxiety.

My anxiety, and in fact my mental health in general, is not something I’ve ever blogged, or really spoken about before to be honest, and I can’t say as I feel a great yearning to suddenly change that now, but as those of you who know me “IRL” will be aware- I have started making a nod to it on Facebook now that I’m actually at a stage of acknowledging it and seeking help.

I think it’s really telling that I have written at length about my experience of being diagnosed with and living with CIDP and had a lot of (mainly positive) feedback around that, and yet still not felt willing or able to share my similar experiences of suffering from startlingly common mental health problems.

As it’s 2017 (although you’d be forgiven for some days wondering if we’ve slipped back in time to the 1930’s) I think we all like to think that we’re pretty open-minded, and terms like ‘depression’ and ‘anxiety’ have lost some of the negative connotations or power that they once held, and in a way that’s probably true. After all, this morning I admitted to no less than four separate people in the playground that yes, I did have a good time on Friday night thank you, but I then had a panic attack in the early hours of Saturday morning that kind of took the shine off.  Being able to share that information with people and not think they’re going to start slowly backing away and turning down my childrens’ party invites, means that yes- we’ve definitely moved on from the notion that suffering from mental illness makes you inferior, or to be avoided.  But on the other hand, here I am still feeling incredibly hesitant about hitting ‘publish’ on this post, because the truth is- there is still that suggestion- whether internal or external, that your mind is something you can FULLY CONTROL.  So if it’s not working quite right- it’s within your power to fix it, and your fault if you then can’t.

I’ve been experiencing anxiety attacks for well over a decade and am only just now holding my hands up and saying, “so this is a thing I need some help with.”  I live with a mental health professional who has been (supportively) encouraging me to get help for the majority of that time.  So if it’s hard for *me*, then how much harder must it be for other people who don’t have someone holding their hand (either literally or metaphorically), rubbing their back and reassuring them that no, they’re not actually going fucking insane, or you know- if they are- then it’ll be alright and no one will hold it against them.

Until recently, my mental health mirrored my circumstances quite accurately, so when things were not going well, my mental health wasn’t great either (makes sense really), and so I told myself that it didn’t really matter how shitty I felt because sooner or later, things would calm down and I’d calm down too.  And that kind of philosophy worked ok for a while.  But for the last couple of years it hasn’t worked out that way- the sea can be flat, crystal blue without so much as a ripple on the surface and I’m still there in my boat yelling “WE’RE GOING TO DROWN!!!!!!”.  This juxtaposition has finally prompted me to actually admit that this is something I can’t just keep ‘riding out until it settles’ and that I need help.

Three little words with so much power.  How terrifying that is to type, let alone say.  But it’s true- I do need help.  I can’t keep waking up feeling like my heart is about to explode out of my chest, struggling for breath and wondering why the hell my body and mind are conspiring to kill me off while I sleep.  I can’t keep squashing down all the inconvenient, messy and downright traumatic bullshit that I’ve put off dealing with.  I need some help, and although that help might not take the cure of a magic wand wafting all this ridiculousness away, I hope at least it will mean I can steer my ship safely, regardless of the tide or the weather conditions, without constantly feeling like I’m about to be nommed-to-death by sharks.

I’ve also decided to be as transparent as I can be about all of this.  Because frankly, if I can blog about my feelings on fostering or that time I collapsed on a bathroom floor, or about pregnancy loss, or my Dad’s death etc etc then I should be able to be open about this kind of thing too.

So…my name is Rebecca and I have anxiety.  The level of anxiety that means that the woman who did my assessment a week ago called me up today to tell me I’m not suitable for low-intensity CBT and she’s referring me for high-intensity instead.  The level of anxiety that means answering phone calls is terrifying, the level of anxiety that wakes me in the dead of night to go check that my children are breathing, the level of anxiety that means I am constantly expecting SOMETHING TERRIBLE TO HAPPEN without knowing specifically what that might entail, so just worrying about every possibility- as a precaution.  The level of anxiety that means my panic attacks have gone from an occasional annoyance to a regular feature that if I wasn’t hyperventilating and crying at the time, I’d probably roll my eyes at.

So- that’s a thing and I’m getting help for it, and because there might be someone out there who is remarkably similar to me at any other point in the last decade, going “oh that’s familiar, but the idea of asking for help is scary”, I’m going to try to keep you all updated on just how scary (or not), this whole ‘getting help’ thing is.

In the meantime- have some helpful links:

https://www.selfhelpservices.org.uk/

(support, services and signposting- this is the link a friend sent me, that finally prompted to action, and I’m now on a waiting list, so if you’re thinking about taking that step, do check it out)

https://mind.org.uk

(Mind are a well known mental health charity and there’s loads of useful info on their site)

http://www.nhs.uk/pages/home.aspx

(nhs choices website, you can type literally any condition in and get some reliable information on, and usually some information and advice about getting help too)

https://anxietyuk.org.uk

(a user led organisation)

 

 

 

2016

Well, here I am again, rounding-up a year in which I hardly blogged at all, in a blog post.  It does seem a little disingenuous, but the alternative was to continue letting virtual tumbleweed blow through here, and have all five of my regular readers wonder if I was ever coming back.

Well, hello to the loyal few, and thanks for sticking around.  2016 was an utterly bizarre year for a whole host of reasons on both a personal and global scale and honestly, there were several parts of it I would rather not revisit mentally here, but there was a lot of good too.

I started out the year with ALL THE INTENTIONS.  We’d just said goodbye to our foster baby and I was about to throw myself into the return to nursing program and full-time work and I also had other more personal plans afoot- but quite quickly, like literally by February- I knew that the year was not going to turn out how I had planned it would.  I quit the course- sorry, stepped off (sounds much more considered and responsible) and I’d been in a minor but fairly traumatic car accident, and totally separately to that been given an official diagnosis of PCOS.  Basically, by spring I’d scrapped every single resolution/goal I’d set myself and instead was in a place where my mission for the year was to- get a job, and survive.

Fortunately I managed both. And not only did I manage to find a job- but a job I actually really enjoy- working as a library assistant. Bonus! I also set up my own etsy shop, and managed to break even before the end of the year (another major bonus) and started work on no less than three separate WIP’s- two of which I abandoned and the third of which I’m still working on right now, well…not *right* now, since I’m here writing this, but you know what I mean.

The thing is, 2016 felt almost quiet in comparison to what I’d had planned for it- I was braced for so many HUGE changes to our everyday lives, that what happened instead- my quiet contentment with my part-time library job, and pootling away with my crafting and writing- seemed almost sub-plots, with me waiting to see what the over-arching storyline would be, but then there wasn’t one (aside from the world seemingly crumbling around us that is) and now it’s over and we’re three days into January and I’m wondering if I should even bother to make any GRAND PLANS for 2017 or just suck it and see.

I’m tempted to go with the latter although I do have a couple of things I want to pledge to myself- I WILL finish the first draft of this story, no matter how many times I read it back and groan or find myself writing notes to myself like WTF IS HAPPENING HERE in the margins, and I WILL NOT give in to the temptation to just shave off all my hair despite it’s unbearable appearance during this weird in-betweeny growing out stage.

Hugely important life goals, as you can see, but whenever I try to think bigger/look wider I feel overwhelmed, so for now a commitment to getting words down on paper and leaving my hair alone are all I can manage, and that will just have to be enough.

Happy New Year to my readers- I can’t promise a greater frequency or quality of blogging in the coming year but I won’t entirely abandon you either 😉

Compartmentalising

I suck at it.

So I recently re-joined twitter, and moved my blog to these shiny new pastures and I was all “Right.  This will be for this, and that will be for that. And never the twain shall meet“.

However it turns out I am completely incapable of that kind of separateness.  Already I have been tweeting and blogging about a great plethora of things unrelated to writing in any way shape or form.  I have read countless articles and advice pieces telling me this is A Very Bad Thing, because if people are following me (either on twitter, or here- and there aren’t many of you) to hear about writing-related stuff, and I spend the day tweeting about misadventures in potty training, or posting photos of myself in fancy dress then you’re all going to get bored, assume I’m not your cup of tea and presumably piss off elsewhere.

And I don’t want that to happen, really I don’t.

But I also don’t want to feel like I have to hold back parts of myself because they don’t ‘fit’ with an image I’m supposed to be building of myself.  The truth is, yes I am a writer.  Although no one actually pays me for it, so I feel kind of funny claiming the title if I’m honest.  But I do spend a significant proportion of each day putting words on to pages and will continue to do so even if no one ever pays me for it, so I guess that’s what I am.  But I’m also a mum, and will make no apologies for thinking my kids are awesome (or complaining when they’re not).  And I’m also someone with a fairly newly (ish) diagnosed medical condition, that I talk about from time to time.  I read, and I swim and I love my rabbits, and eating cake and planning my next tattoo (sometimes at the same time with those last two) and I want to be able to talk about this stuff.  Both in real life and here.  And it doesn’t really matter to me if no one actually reads it, or replies, and if I’m just shouting into a void, because, well it’s my void and I want to fill it with the words that are important to me, even if they don’t matter to you.

My friend died a week ago, and there is currently a pretty huge crisis going on within my family, and neither of those things are really mine to share in any detail but I want to be able to at least say that they’re happening, and that if my tweets and blog posts are all “why is the world so fucking crazy” then that’s the reason why.  I am no good at pretending that x,y and z aren’t happening because I’m not a robot.

So, dear reader, whoever you are.  I’d like you to stick around, even if you’re not interested in half the stuff I blather on about, because you never know, something might pop up that you’re actually vaguely interested in.  But if all you want are blog-posts-on-a-theme, then please do look elsewhere, because that isn’t what you’ll find here.  This isn’t a writing blog, a book blog, a mummy blog, or a foodie blog.  It’s just me.  The good, the bad, and yes sometimes the ugly too.

 

 

The Import/Export Business

The observant among you may have already noticed that it’s looking a lot fuller around here.  I finally made the decision to port (most of) my old blog posts over.

I think it’s the right decision as a lot of what I talk about doesn’t make much sense unless you know me personally or have read older posts, and it’s a bit much to expect folk to visit an entirely separate blog to get the whole story should they want it (not that I flatter myself that any of it’s that interesting, but a whole story is surely more interesting than a snippet of one?!)

The only thing that is really annoying me is that the import/export business has completely messed up the formatting with a lot of the posts, so if you do decide to read back a bit, please forgive me the crazy spacing and lack of discernible paragraphs, it honestly isn’t my fault.  I have tried to correct them but having a “computer says no” response. Gah.

I’ve updated all the back-links as far back as the start of 2014, but the idea of amending them beyond that is frankly depressing so in the interests of my mental health I’m not going to bother 😉

Also I’m anticipating being pretty busy this month on account of Camp NaNo, and, you know, life…so if I don’t manage to post as often as usual you’ll all have plenty of reading material to trawl through.  Because, who wouldn’t want to read about that time I traumatised my child with Nemo?  Or get an insight into what it’s like to have a birthday three days before Christmas?  Or re-visit the blog post in which I realised that my life was a series of GCSE Maths problems?

Failing all else you can always marvel at the way in which life can be completely tipped upside down without so much as a minute’s notice.

So…enjoy!!

 

Change

Lots of changes are happening right now, and this blog is one of them: HELLO!

I haven’t yet decided what I’m doing about my other blog There were four in the bed and the little one said but it felt like the right time to move somewhere new.  I may yet bring some of the posts over with me (especially since this place is looking a little stark) but with 170 posts to choose from it could get messy.

So for now, I’m starting afresh.  I’ll probably still be writing about the same stuff, just in a shiny new place with my name in the bar (check it out!)  I would’ve just re-named the old blog but apparently R L Holland is already taken, as is every other variation of my name you can think of.  Same story on Twitter *sigh*  The moral of this story is, not to be a decade late to the party every single time.  Ah well.  To be honest, given my antisocial nature, y’all are just lucky I turned up to the party at all 😉

I think a sparkly new start was in order anyway, and hopefully it won’t be long before this place is looking like home 🙂 In the meantime you’ll have to bear with me!