Blog Posts

Stress and NaNo

National Novel Writing Month, or NaNo for short, is an absolutely wonderful experience. I can hardly recommend it enough. When I first heard about it, I was quite sceptical how can something that someone writes in a month be any good? But that’s not the point the point is encouraging people to write every day, and to get into that habit.
It’s a great habit to be in as a writer. Sadly it’s not one I’m in at the moment. I’ve mentioned previously how I’m currently feeling quite overwhelmed with stress. I had initially been looking forward to NaNo, as I have for the past few years. The NaNo community in Brisbane, which I am lucky enough to be a part of, is truly wonderful. We have some fantastic Municipal Liaisons (MLs) who provide us with sugar, and cheap coffee, as well as organise memorable events. From the Kick Off party, to the Thank God It’s Over party, November is usually a fun month where I churn out the words. For the past few years I’ve managed to go above and beyond the 50,000 that designates “winning” NaNo. Last year I even managed to double that word count.
This year, however, I have been struggling hard. I usually enjoy writing, though now it’s a struggle to come up with words and ideas. I have a story in mind, with an idea of where it’s going to go. This has never failed me before. However I feel so overcome with stress at the thought of writing, that I can barely bring myself to do it.
I’m not going to win NaNo this year. Which is fine. I have accepted this, and in doing so felt at least one cause of stress leave me. It’s sad that something I truly do enjoy can be a cause of such stress, but that’s sadly something I have to live with.
I was first diagnosed with depression when I was 18. Of course, being more aware now, I know that I was suffering for a few years before that. The anxiety diagnosis came later, and was more or less lumped into my depression. Again, it’s something I was struggling with long before the diagnosis. Knowing can make a huge difference though.
Of course, knowing why I am struggling to put words together doesn’t help me put them together. Even though I have given up trying to “win” NaNo this year, writing is still coming hard for me. I want to write. I have a novel I’m working on which I’m actually excited about. I have an idea for a visual novel, which I’ve started working on, and again am extremely excited about. However I look at tge words I’ve written, and I simply cannot find a way to continue.
Thankfully, the Brisbane NaNo community is truly wonderful. Even though I doubt that I will be able to write anything, I know that I will still feel so welcomed and supported at write ins. Sadly I haven’t been able to make the last few, though there’s one tomorrow I intend to go to.
I’d like to spend a quick moment now expressing my adoration for any of you with similar issues. It might not be writing. It might be spending time with your friends. It might be playing a game you like, or going to work. Often times we experience those moments we want to give up, or points we just can’t pass. Today, I managed to write this blog, despite how hard words have been to put together for me lately. Tomorrow, while I doubt it, I may just end up writing something at the write in.
Never be afraid to admit when you’re overwhelmed. Sometimes we all need to take a step back. We need to breathe, and take things one step at a time. I know I won’t win NaNo, and even writing this blog feels like a big step for me write now. That being said, here it is in black and white.
Just breathe and relax. Sometimes, a smaller goal might be necessary. Even when you’ve managed tougher ones before.

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Blog Posts

My Mental Health

So, I started writing this a bit later today than I originally intended to. Hopefully in the future I’ll be more on top of this, have blogs and Books books ready to go up regularly. Now, however, I am not that organised.

I already started writing the blog I intended to put up today earlier, unfortunately, I encountered the dreaded blue screen of death, and none of my work was saved. Thankfully, it was only a few hundred words, so it’s not as tragic a loss as some I have already suffered in the past.

Ultimately, the reason I ended up not posting anything last week, and why I didn’t start writing until later this evening (into this night, even… Okay, it just ticked over to morning), is due to my mental health. Those of you who know me, know that I am an open book. I am entirely unashamed to talk about things that other people might prefer to not talk about. Mental health and sexuality being among them. My sexuality may be a topic for a different blog. For now, however, my mental health.

I have been diagnosed with both depression and anxiety. Anyone out there who has experienced the same at any point in their life can understand me when I say how hard it is to live with this. Many of you will also be aware of how these illnesses aren’t just in the heads of those who are affected. My brain simply doesn’t produce the same chemicals that most peoples brains produce. No free serotonin for me. Similarly, my brain reacts to situations that are perfectly normal with a fight or flight response, pumping unnecessary adrenaline through my body. This is sadly a fact of life for me, just how my brain is wired. I will live with depression and anxiety throughout the rest of my life. Therapy and medication can help, though that’s really hardly an ideal way to live my life. For one thing, it can be expensive. For another, people can take it the wrong way when you say you have to take medication everyday just to exist in a way that some people could consider normal, or when you say you need to see a psychologist.

Living with depression can be very hard. Most days, when my alarm goes off, I just lay in bed with my eyes still closed, wondering if it’s even worth the effort of getting out of bed. Inevitably I do. Sometimes it just takes longer than others. On days when I have to go somewhere, or do something, I will sometimes feel compelled to get up because of this. Other times, however, even the necessity of getting up is unable to persuade me, and I feel overwhelmed by what I have to do. On these days I get out of bed, and don’t leave my house. Which is sadly how I exist most of the time when I don’t have to do anything or go anywhere. Chances are also quite high that if I don’t have to leave the house, I’m still in my pyjamas. (What can I say, they’re comfy! Particularly my onesies.)

I’m not exactly the most hygienic person, sadly. I don’t shower every day, although I know it would be good for me. I did, for a while, but then I just let the habit slip, and it’s really hard to get back into it. My room is quite messy (a kind of organised chaos most of the time, although sometimes it does delve into straight chaos) because I can rarely find the effort to clean it. When I do my washing, my clean clothes will sit in my hamper for a few days before I can be bothered to fold and put them away. Which inevitably means that my old clothes lie on the floor waiting for my hamper to be free. It’s a whole cycle that I go through.

My room isn’t the only thing that’s hard to clean. I am so lucky right now that I live with my amazing Grandad and that he’s able to put up with me. Because I know that I’d hardly be the best roommate. (One day I’ll probably get into a story about that, but today is not that day.) Sure, he might make pointed comments now and then about the fact that I don’t always do the dishes, or tidy up, or that I buy too many books, but he still puts up with it, and understand that things can be hard for me sometimes.

With the cleaning though, a lot of it isn’t just my depression. That’s one of the things where my anxiety kicks in hard. So, a story for another day can be summed up in that I used to live with a neat freak. Who would yell at me if I did even the slightest thing out of the way he thought was best. To this day, dishes are my worst enemy, due to how many times that would have started an argument. (The water I used wasn’t hot enough. I used too much soap. I used gloves which meant I couldn’t feel that while appearing clean, some of the dishes were still greasy… The list goes on, and repeats a fair bit.)

I also have anxiety catching public transport. To be fair, I’ve had a few bad experiences of falling off of public transportation. Including that one time, often told, when I broke both of my ankles (and dislocated one) while stepping off of a bus. I’m a clumsy person. Stepping down almost always gives me a miniature heart attack. Stairs are my absolute nemesis.

The small step to get off of public transport isn’t my only problem, however. I also have quite high social anxiety, and being around too many people can be incredibly draining. When I get on a bus or a train, I need to find a seat where I can sit by myself. I always feel uncomfortable when I sit next to someone I don’t know. It gets worse when there are more people, and during peak hour I find myself unable to even get on trains. They tend to be so full that I can hardly breathe.

As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m in my final semester of uni. Not just for the year, but potentially for life. It’s quite scary. And I want to do well. Or at least, I want to pass. I want to have it all over and done with. But I have to rely on other people because three out of four final assignments are all group assignments. Always the worst part of any uni coursework. I’ve got a couple of decent groups, but then I had another where the communication was miserable, and teammates contributions felt quite weak to me.

Last week, I was feeling particularly overwhelmed with all of that, and with my fourth piece of assessment, which while an individual piece, was also quite upsetting to me as I had to miss the tutorial where I could have gotten any feedback on my work due to the fact that I had to be on set for another assessment that day. Sometimes things can be annoying like that. The fact that there were only three face to face tutorials in the entirety of that subject really annoyed and stressed me out, as well.

This wasn’t the only reason, of course. As mentioned previously in this very blog, I’m not exactly the most organised of people. My medication ran out on the Sunday. Due to various circumstances, I wasn’t able to get it filled until the Thursday. For quite a lot of last week I felt oddly woozy and not quite myself. It likely exasperated my stress to the nth degree. Even though I still feel quite stressed now, I don’t feel nearly as bad as I did last week.

Again, apologies for the late post, and the lack of post at all last week. Hopefully things will change looking in the future. Posts in November may also vary quite dramatically due to the wonderful and terrible thing called National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) which I shall be participating in as I have for the past four years.

Anyway, for now, good night!