Mental Health Problems

I’m more than a little frustrated by the fact it seems like every post I make at the moment is about how I’m struggling to catch up.

I believe in myself as a writer, as a person who can set herself goals and achieve them. Well, mostly. Some days more than others. Since November I’ve made some pretty impressive improvements. Sometimes I just have to sit back and think that in the last three and a bit months I’ve written 106,000 words. That’s not something I should feel bad about, by any stretch of the imagination, but it doesn’t really mean much if I can’t keep it up.

One of the things people always say about writing is that you can’t just do it when you feel like it. It’s not about waiting for that inspiration to hit, waiting for the stars to align and everything to be perfect. You just have to write, every day if you can, and push through the tougher days but keep putting work out there and keep moving the story along. Sometimes you come back and find the stuff you struggled with was pants; other times, you can’t tell you were struggling at all. It’s Writing 101 – make time to write and fucking do it.

I suppose the bit I’m struggling with at the moment is when that then interacts with illness and disability.

Take today, for instance. I slept for longer than I meant to – again. It seems like I can either sleep for more than twelve hours or less than five, and any in between is impossible. I slip between days of adrenaline-thrumming tiredness, and days like today where I just feel zombified and unable to focus. I start to forget what it’s like to actually feel awake and alert. Simple things seem to take an inordinate amount of energy. My depression crawls up my back and sits on my shoulders and head and pulls my eyelids down. My thyroid says, ‘Five more minutes…’

I open the document, I get the right music going, but I just can’t focus. It takes me twice as long as normal to read the previous few paragraphs. I start a sentence – just a single word – then forget where it was going and delete the word. I try to think about what might happen next or what my characters are doing but everything seems to be operating through a cloud. It’s not ‘writer’s block’ – it’s not limited to my writing or my being a writer. It’s just that functioning at all seems ridiculously hard.

And yet I’m writing this post, aren’t I? I’m managing to get these words out, through starts and stops to form these sentences and make some kind of sense from it all. Am I just making excuses for myself?

It’s hard. When I feel like this, the world feels oddly two dimensional. Nothing seems quite real, just like looking at a TV screen where a show you’re not really following or interested in is playing in the background. Lighting sometimes goes a bit odd – things seem darker than they should, like there’s a shadowy filter over my vision. Maybe it’s just my right eye being rubbish. Not sure.

I’d like some Relentless – god bless taurine, the only substance I’ve managed to find that can even slightly penetrate this fog (caffeine does nothing, sugar makes no dent) – but it’s late and the shops are shut. Probably. I have to work to remember what day it is. Thinking about the things I did the day before seems so far away, it’s as if I’ve had some ghost time in between. A day where I didn’t really do anything in the meantime but it just put a blank space between me and action. Also drinking taurine makes me a really bad vegetarian but fuck it, I want hard edges and focus and sharpness. I want to feel alert. Besides, maybe drinking that stuff now would be a bad idea – maybe it’d just make my next sleep desperately inefficient and continue the cycle. The cycle that I seem chronically unable to break.

I remember times in November when I was ahead – when it wasn’t about catching up, but seeing how far I could extend my lead. I need days like that, where I can push myself so that days where I’m too busy to get anything done or too fucked to function can happen without scuppering the whole process. When I first started Project 10k I wondered if I would end up ridiculously ahead. Seems a bit naive now, but I was still riding the crest of a very efficient November and feeling pumped and awake.

Definitely need to make a GP appointment. This isn’t a helpful situation.

I’ll make some more tea, put the right music on and give it my best shot. Even a hundred words is better than none.

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3 thoughts on “Mental Health Problems

  1. Too true, even one hundred words is better than one!
    I feel for you, because I too suffer from mental illness, and it has a big impact on my life – on all parts of my life.
    Just a thought … when I get a really bad writer’s block, I use “Write or Die”, even if only for fifteen minutes or so. Do you know it? I love it – a fun and helpful way to move forward. And no, I’m not affiliated with the app in any way, just in case you thought I’d get a kickback! 🙂 I just love bashing out words against the timer, and being sure to avoid the consequences if I don’t crank out the words in a timely fashion.

    • Oh yes, I’ve used Write or Die before, although I tend to find it actually works better when I’m in a bit of a frenzy – it’s very good for encouraging you not to stop on that front! Written? Kitten! is also cool, although I sometimes find the cute a bit distracting.
      I managed 1.2k in the end, which got easier as it went although took me far longer than usual. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

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