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!

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Blog Posts

Welcome to October

It’s coming into October, my favourite month of the year. Ever since I was a child, I have always loved Halloween. Imagine my disappointment to have been born in Australia, one of the few big Western nations that doesn’t particularly celebrate Halloween. Naturally, all the Australia’s love for all things American when it comes to TV just made everything worse. After all, is an American TV show without a Halloween special actually an American TV show? I don’t think so.

Don’t get me wrong, Halloween not being overly celebrated in Australia never stopped me from trick-or-treating. My Mum and Nana would help me with a costume, and then my god-sisters and myself would walk around my Nana and Grandad’s neighbourhood. I have no idea how Americans always seem to have pillowcases filled with candy by the time they walk around a neighbourhood. I mean, sure, perhaps the neighbourhood I would walk around wasn’t quite as big as the American neighbourhoods, but that wasn’t the real problem. The problem was that no one was prepared for trick-or-treaters to come around. Not when I was growing up. Well, no one is an overstatement. A few people had some candy or chocolate bars. The vast majority, however, would just shrug and say “Oh, it’s Halloween? Sorry, I don’t have anything for you.” A couple of people were really nice, and they would give us two dollar coins instead.

The world is changing, and I like the way it’s changing. Now it’s becoming common for children in Australia to trick-or-treat. We still have a long way to go before it’s as normal as it is in other countries, such as America, but we have come quite far from when I used to be the only child in the neighbourhood to go trick-or-treating. There’s even a set of rules that are being generally acknowledged by parents, children, and just people living in houses. If you wish to participate and have trick-or-treaters come to your house to give away candy, you just leave your outside light on. So parents will take their children around neighbourhoods, going to houses with their lights on. One day it may even be as common here as it is in the United States.

I don’t go trick-or-treating any more. I’m a bit too old for that now, sadly, and don’t have any children to escort around. Maybe one day I might steal a child from a friend. That’s not to say that Halloween is any less boring as an adult. Now, I can just buy all the candy I want to eat and binge-watch Halloween movies.

Which is, of course, my plan for this Halloween. I have a bunch of friends who I plan to voice call while watching the wonderful world of Halloween movies. The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Hocus Pocus are naturally two of the first movies on our list. Of course we’re also going to be watching some Beeltejuice as well. There are just so many other good Halloween movies out there as well that I don’t know what else to add to our list. Especially since I’m trying to educate a couple of my friends, who haven’t seen some of these movies before. (I know, believe me, I’m just as shocked as you are. Don’t worry though, they have agreed to being educated.) Any particularly important must-see Halloween movie suggestions would be more than welcome.

There are three other things that I’m particularly looking forward to this wonderful spooky month. Firstly, there are Halloween events. I don’t necessarily mean at bars, or places like that. Although if I can find any events like that, I may very well do just that. However, what I am talking about is the wonderful world of gaming events. Okay, so, the one game in particular, although I can hope that other games might also have events. For example, I’m hopeful that the Harry Potter mobile game, Mystery at Hogwarts, might have a Halloween event. Given that it’s still a growing game and mostly in development, I would not be surprised if such an event didn’t happen this year, however they are doing some events for unique skins fairly regularly, so I think my hope may just pay out.

The game I’m particularly looking forward to, however, is Overwatch. Now, I haven’t been playing this game since it came out. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not good at it. I’d like to be, but I’m only a lowly bronze player. (In comp as well as border). Maybe upgrading to a better mouse and keyboard might help with that for me. Or maybe I’ll just find out that no, I’m still horrible at it. Though, my skill level isn’t the point I want to talk about right now. Instead, I want to talk about the Halloween event. I had so much fun last year when playing Junkenstein’s revenge. It was the first special event arcade mode that I played, since I joined at the end of the Anniversary event last year.

Overwatch is great, I’ve been enjoying playing it a lot lately. Although it’s one of those things that’s definitely better with friends. Even better when it has those Player vs Environment events, as opposed to constantly Player vs Player. I’m just going to ignore the whole trend towards Battle Royale that games seem to be going to at the moment due to the popularity of some certain free to play ones, because let’s face it, those modes are undoubtedly my least favourite. The PvE modes, however, Junkenstein’s Revenge, Uprising, and Retribution are some of my favourites. Let’s face it, Overwatch players can get quite salty sometimes, whether you’re playing with them or against them. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing competitive, quick play, or arcade, unless you’re playing with a six stack, you’ll almost inevitably find a teammate who doesn’t co-operate. That’s not to say that you don’t find that in those PvE modes. In fact, sometimes you get players who either disconnect or purposefully leave, which results in a very unbalanced group, since unlike other game modes, there isn’t any back-fill for these PvE games, which are designed for four players to work together.

The game mode isn’t the only thing that’s got me excited. I’m a pretty big fan of some of the skins that already exist in the game, but Halloween skins will always be among my favourite on any game that has such a mechanic. Some of the ones that I got last year during the event are still up there among my most-used skins. The Dragon Symmetra skin, and the Cultist Zenyatta skin in particular are absolutely wonderful. As someone who currently “mains” Moira, I’m naturally hoping and praying for a Goblin Queen Labyrinth-style skin. If not this event, perhaps I’ll be lucky next year.

The second exciting thing about this month is that it’s going to be my last month at university. Now, I’m not going to say forever, at this point. I know myself too well to say that. Maybe one day I’ll go on to do a Masters. For the moment, however, with what I’m currently studying, I am nearly done. This is both exciting and absolutely terrifying for me. Having to go out into the real world as an adult with a degree? What on Earth will I do? It doesn’t help that it’s a Fine Arts degree. I’m just going to be so employable!

The third thing that’s happening this month is connected to the second, and is essentially the main reason I’m writing this whole thing right now in the first place. I’ve just spent the past three years working on a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing. Naturally I want to go on to do something with this. Which is why I’m starting this blog. The blog is just a small part, of course. I’ve also taken steps to become a sole trader, so that I can begin getting paid for writing and editing. It feels like a big step for me, quite possibly because it is. I’m going to be putting myself out there, which hasn’t always ended well for me in the past. Not that such things have always ended horribly for me, but when you have anxiety, you always begin to expect the worst.

So here goes, the first blog for my site, talking about my favourite month, and letting everyone know that Marlee McDougall, writer and editor, is officially open for business.