Category Archives: Mental Health

A Quick Wednesday Update

I’ve had bad anxiety for the past few days – never sure if the nightmares set it off or it causes nightmares, or both just go round in circles… but it’s just a Bad Brain which got particularly bad last night, and left me in a heap.

Today’s been a little better, albeit rather shaky; work’s absolutely lovely about it and I have wonderful and supportive co-workers (even if one of the support methods is an unexpected bag of Haribo dropped in front of me; that made me jump!) And I had a good cry on my partner at lunchtime when they hit me with something lovely that released a tangle, so that helped whack a few of the weasels occupying my brain.

So hopefully on the up from it now; still shaky, just had cereal for dinner (because it beats not eating) and going to do some self-care this evening, but the world’s looking a bit better.

Ps. I’m writing! Snippets of characters, but there’s writing there!

sloth by neil slorance

Duelling Weasels: conversations about mental health

One of the strangest and most amazing things about my life at the moment is the fights I’m having with weasels. Over the last few months, I’ve been having so many wonderful, painful and helpful conversations that identify and clarify the voices in my head; both with my partner, and with friends – and with myself!

It has mostly been my partner who’s responsible for the growing. We’ve both got a lot of background from growing up and from previous relationships – as has anyone, I suspect – but after starting off our relationship on an entirely honest foot, it’s just continued from there. Our conversations are peppered with mental health shortcuts; weasels, pins, owls, tangles, ducks, balloons – they do all make sense to us, honest! – and they all really help to be able to analyse how we’re feeling and what we need.

But the best thing, the most amazing, and sometimes most painful thing, is the ability to say, “I feel like this. And I think this is why.”

The first step is usually being able to identify an emotion – to stop, and think, “Well, ouch…but this is what I’m feeling”.  Sometimes I can’t identify it, or it’s a tangle of things; a lot of the time there’s multiple strands to any emotion, and it takes time to unpick them. So it’s just slowly untangling, or appreciating that maybe it’s too big a tangle, and putting a pin in it to come back to. Sometimes it’s just a case of different expectations. Sometimes it’s a complete misunderstanding. And sometimes it’s just a weasel sitting in my brain going NYAAAAAhH. But very often, I’m able to sit there and think, “Yes, I can put my finger on this. I’m angry/sad/upset/jealous/hurt/hyperactive/depressed/nervous.”

But identifying doesn’t mean suppressing it – that’s something I’ve been trying to work on too. Things like jealousy and anger and frustration are healthy! If I’m angry, it means something’s wrong. If I’m jealous, it means there’s something I need to deal with. If I’m miserable, it’s often just my brain having a depressed moment. It is really hard, when I’m feeling something, to make myself stop and analyse when all I want to do is scream or grumble or curl into a ball. It’s hard to stop the knee-jerk reactions, and just be able to step away. But it’s also so, so satisfying to be able to recognise it; to say, “yes, I’m feeling that – and that’s ok. Let’s look at why.”

And it’s really satisfying to be able to talk about it; to try to figure out why I’m feeling like this, and what – if anything – I can do. It’s something that I’ve noticed in my interactions with my partner, and with friends – and I think, I hope!, that it’s making all of my relationships healthier. If nothing else, it’s preventing misunderstandings based on past experiences or a missed word or simply an email with no context – and if it means that I can be a happier and healthier person, then I think that’s a really good thing.

So, self-reflection and talking: hard work, but absolutely worth it!

(Also, weasels are derps.)

A Kate Update

I’m not doing too well at the moment. I got flu last week, and had three days off work (over a weekend, as well, so ended up being ill for about five days). A week later and I’m now off again as the lingering cough has developed into a full-blown raw throat and hurting chest, plus a mild bout of food poisoning yesterday, plus nightmares that mean I’m not sleeping well. My partner’s been ridiculously sweet about looking after me, but there’s only so much you can do when everything just needs to work itself through.

Fuck this I'm going back to bedMy mental state isn’t the best either. I know that I should be feeling really happy – I have a wonderful partner, a place of my own, a job I love – but everything’s feeling pretty overwhelming. I know that it’s mostly just brain weasels and depression talking; the point when I start thinking that I “should” be happy is usually the point that I know it’s not entirely me talking. But it’s also really hard to cope when I feel like my list is growing, and it all feels incredibly endless.

(…sort a plumber for getting the dishwasher out, and then sort them coming back to replace a part – and get the dishwasher fixed or replaced. Paint the shelves, and then again, and then sand and paint again. Email a solicitor about some niggly divorce financial stuff and then understand the answers – which I am seriously struggling with – and then have to do paperwork which is a task in itself, as printing and getting ID documents sorted and sending them is apparently a multi-day job. Get my boots fixed (again). Finish a formatting job for a client and then do six lots of corrections and then do the ebooks. Start another formatting job plus email a quote back to someone else. Sort a vet checkup for the cats, which involves ringing them as none of them put fees on their websites. Sort the council tax, which is in the wrong name and is somehow very confusing for them. Read five books for friends and give feedback. Think about the Grimbold Patreon because that’s getting urgent. Worry about my laptop screen not working in certain positions which means it’s going to fail soon, and have I backed everything that I need up recently? And this is on top of go to work, sort food, write blog posts, tell my partner I love them (not that that’s ever a chore), be nice to the cats, see friends, see family, email my Aunt, text my Dad about the latest thing he’s worrying about (although that was actually a new table he’s got, so that’s nice), work out which hug gif I haven’t used recently for my friend, book dinner with Badger, remember to ask another friend about their medical procedure, remind Otter that we’re baking eclairs and blues dancing sometime soon…)

I think one of the things that always gets to me is that it never stops. My task list will never be done; it’s quieter now than it has been due to my deliberately trying to throw some things out, but there’s always things. There’s always so many “shoulds” even on top of the task list – I should write more. I should see more friends, appreciate the people in my life more. I should read more. I should take more time for me. I should find space to improve myself or do more things that I want to do. I should be better at using my time than I am… I know it’s a familiar thing for a lot of people, and it’s something that won’t ever stop. I’m being whiny and silly. I do like being busy, I like having tasks – and I do this to myself! I could stop. I could just…say no. Stop doing it. This business and the subsequent tiredness is on me. It’s my own damn fault, and I shouldn’t whine.

But there’s reasons to do all of it. Some of it is shoulds. Some of it simply needs to be done. Some of it is for other people, for friends, for family. Some of it is expectations. Some of it is just because I don’t want to throw away a year’s hard work (the formatting) or 5 years hard work (the blog) or X years hard work (the writing). And some of it is because I do honestly want to do it.

cosy christmas with a book

I’m just very, very tired right now, and a lot of the tiredness is because there isn’t help available. I’ve asked for what I can; and now the only person who can do the rest of it is me. I just need to get on with it.

Anyway! I am going to be ok. I have a cup of tea, some sunshine, a fantastic sofa, and hugs promised this evening. I’m slowly doing what I can. One thing at a time, and I’ll be fine.

Distrusting the Voices

So I’ve been musing about the voices in my head, and how you know when they’re real: how do you distinguish between the anxiety weasels and actual voices that say needed things?

How do you know if you are ugly or beautiful? Worth something? Annoying or funny?

Anxiety means it’s all lies; so how do you actually know what the truth it? When do you start believing the voice in your head, having always shouted it down for lying?

I don’t really have any answers yet, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot.

The image is from Nerds with Vaginas on Facebook.