I am still fighting off a virus and it has robbed me of most of my spoons so apologies if this post is short and incoherent.
Everything hurts. I am exhausted. I’m even too tired to be angry that Jack Dorsey of Twitter thinks that mediation might help people with chronic pain. Today it took me an hour of meditation to martial my resources enough to close the blinds.
I have to go to an education meeting at my son’s school tomorrow. That means I have to be awake and vertical and dressed and if at all possible showered as well. Today it took me an hour to close the blinds.
I have to go to the meeting even though there is literally no point in me being there. Nobody in the meeting will care about anything I have to say. None of the information they give me can be used for anything. My only purpose in being there is so that I can say I went. If I didn’t go then the meeting would be slightly shorter and that’s the only difference my absence would make.
When things are this bad it’s like being trapped inside a giant robot body that you don’t understand and can’t make work properly. There’s a million things I should be doing right now but I’m stuck in here trying to get the alarm signals to turn off at the same time as working out why the arms won’t do anything.
But at least I have a new writing chair so that’s a thing I’m trying to feel good about.
I am not having any fun.
It’s worse than that. I’m having whatever the opposite of fun is, the Anti-Fun possibly, and I’d really like it to stop
Everything hurts, doing anything takes an insane level of effort, judging by the weather someone has opened a portal to hell over Scotland and the rest of the world seems to have gone nuts while I wasn’t looking. It’s hard to believe that there’s any point in doing anything.
I have done some things recently but I’m pretty sure that nothing will come of any of them. However, since I’m typing anyway, I might as well type an update about the few things I managed to con myself into doing.
I decided which of my novels to attempt to pitch at Bloody Scotland. I even wrote a bunch of 100 word pitches for it and picked the best one with some help from my spouse and one of my friends. However I haven’t sent it in yet. I don’t know if there’s any point.
I’ve been working out with weights a bit. As much as I could manage what with my health and this insane weather. I have no idea if it’s making a difference or not.
I am continuing to wear compression garments for my Lipoedema. They seem to be working but I’m currently awaiting new compression leggings. I was measured for them on the 9th. The manufacturer still hasn’t got round to making them. I don’t know how long it will be before they do get round to it. I had to make phone calls to chase things up. I hate making phone calls.
I am so bone tired that I need a new word for it. Exhausted just isn’t enough. Neither is knackered. I am heartsick of the continued burden of existence. I see no point in anything.
I’m trying to persuade myself that I’m excited about the new series of Doctor Who and the trailer for Shazam. I haven’t seen Ant Man and the Wasp yet. There’s Captain Marvel to come. And there’s Infinity War part 2 next year. I haven’t read all of Ben Aaronovitch’s excellent Peter Grant books yet.
You’ll notice that there’s none of my stuff on that list. I’m not even pretending to care about my own novels. They are important to me. I love them. I just can’t muster any enthusiasm for the idea of showing them to anyone. What’s the point?
I have decided that the regular diet updates were as boring as hell. I don’t want to ditch them entirely but I want to change the focus. I think my overall health is more important than my weight. And I’m sick of this blog getting followed by diet and weight-loss blogs.
Some of you will be thinking ‘I bet that means she’s put on weight again’ but no. Actually I’ve lost half a kilo which is just over a pound so my total weight loss is now just over 15kg (33 pounds). I don’t know how. I’ve not been sticking to the strict eating plan and I’ve hardly been wearing my compression tights so I don’t think it’s all fluid. All I can say is that my body continues to be a mystery.
No news on the replacement compression hosiery. I hope they’re going to arrive soon but it’s possible that they’ve been doubly delayed by the weather. Either that or the manufacturer has lost the order again. Not much going on with exercise because of the fibromyalgia flare up that caused the horrible back spasms. My back pain might be easing off but it’s too early to be sure. It could just be lulling me into a false sense of security.
In mental health news I’m doing an excellent job of seeming ok but I’m having serious executive function problems so I know that something is not right. Or maybe it’s just the same thing that’s never been right and I’m just less tolerant of it than usual.
In creative news I’ve got some excellent ideas for the sequels to the completed novel that I was querying and to the novel I’m finishing off. Sequels are great in theory but if I don’t get those novels published then they’re just more wasted effort.
Warning: This post doesn’t seem make a lot of sense but it’s the best I can do right now. Feel free to ignore it. Hopefully the next post will make more sense.
This post is two days late. I’m finding it increasingly hard to blog. I want to say that I can’t find anything to blog about but that’s not true. I have ideas I’m just reluctant to use them because I don’t feel like I deserve to use them.
Is this a kind of burn out? Am I experiencing a slow mental health crash? Have I reached the end of my positivity?
That’s a weird thought. I wasn’t aware that i had any positivity and yet I appear to have used it all up. Perhaps I’ve been underestimating how much positivity is required in order to create anything.
I’ve always thought that creativity can be optimistic but it can also be pessimistic. It’s an act of optimism to make anything but the attempt to create something that will live on after you is surely the act of someone who is pessimistic about the possibility of an afterlife.
Much of my creativity is neither optimistic or pessimistic. It’s compulsive. I write because I can’t not write. I crochet and draw and do calligraphy because if I don’t have something to do with my hands then I’ll go spare. But perhaps this compulsion stems from a desire to prove myself worthy of life. If I’m making stuff then I’m justifying my existence.
So when I’m finding it hard to make stuff is that because I don’t feel the need to justify anything or is it because I feel like that justification is impossible.
Once again I feel like human garbage. This happens often. Today it has happened because I can’t keep all our finances in my head.
That is how it’s done, right? You know how much money comes in. You know what all the bills are. You keep a running total. You pay the bills when you have money and you know how much you have left over. It’s not rocket science. My parents did it. My Mum still does it and she’s on the other side of 70.
But I just can’t make it work. I’ve never been able to keep it all straight in my head and it’s not because I can’t count. I’ve tried to externalise since the other way wasn’t working. I make notes in my diary. I have reminders on my phone calendar. I have a banking app that means that I can check how much money there is at any given moment and move it between the current account and the savings account.
It all seems very organised it but I keep running into the same problem. I want to buy something, or we need to buy something, or my spouse wants to buy something and I keep making the decision based on how much money we have right now. Not on how much money we’re going to have tomorrow, or next week, or on whatever mystery date the next bill needs to be paid.
Yes I do absolutely understand that I am poor and therefore I should never spend any money on anything that gives me joy. But there’s a limit on how many times you can say no in a day There’s also a limit on how long you can live with no joy.
Also I am weak and stupid. I must be stupid. Managing money is so easy. Everybody says so.
Sometimes my brain just doesn’t want to cooperate. Which is kind of a problem for a writer. You might assume that I mean writer’s block but I am a firm believer that there is no such thing. Nothing is stopping you from writing. It’s just that the writing isn’t fun, or it isn’t good, or it isn’t relevant to the thing you wanted to work on. The only way to deal with that is to keep writing and fix it in the edit.
The edit. Now that’s my problem. Editing is almost all brain work. Editing is “when we make the words not suck.” I think that’s a Chuck Wendig quote but I can’t find it so I might be wrong. Editing is not just tidying up the prose it’s also working out what’s missing and what’s extraneous. It means knowing roughly what shape the story should be.
At the moment my brain isn’t talking to itself. The normal chatter of thoughts is quieted. It’s eerie. Normally I’m thinking about eight million things simultaneously. Normally my biggest problem is getting enough of those thoughts to be about the thing that I’m working on. Normally the problem isn’t the silence it’s the deafening background noise.
My mind feels tight. Like a balloon, like a drum, like a pressure vessel. It feels like there are no moving parts in there. Maybe it’s just a migraine coming on. Or maybe it’s just stress. I am usually stressed enough for any two people.
Or maybe I’m just temporarily flattened by the crushing weight of the pointlessness of me attempting to do anything. I expend a lot of effort attempting to do things and most of it is wasted. I can reliably finish a computer game. I can read all of a book (but not every book I start). I can usually finish crocheting something shawl sized or smaller. Pretty much anything else just seems to end in failure.
I mean I’m not going to stop trying. You’ve got to fill your time somehow. But maybe it’s time that I stopped expecting to actually get anywhere? Surely I’m the arbiter of when a novel is finished. If I’m the only one reading it then I’m the only one that has to be happy with it. If only have to please myself then it doesn’t matter if the story is the wrong shape or has plot holes or doesn’t make sense.
Yes. But not the way you think.
I’m aware that I’m taking a risk starting like this but so be it. If I want to speak to the people who need to hear this I have to start this way. Some of my readers are going to feel attacked but please bear with me.
Depression is one option on a multiple choice test. For some of us this test is an occasional annoyance. For others it gets delivered every goddam day. The test looks like this:
Pick one option only
- Substance Abuse
Everyone starts out ticking the Denial box. Nobody wants to be depressed. Depression sucks. So you tick that Denial box. And then you tick it the next day and you keep on ticking it. But it gets harder. The box goes grey and then black and eventually no matter how hard you press down on the paper your mark won’t show up.
For some people that’s enough to go straight to the Depression box but some people think that’s for quitters. So some people go to option two.
Choose your poison. There are so many ways to pretend you’re not depressed. Alcohol will cover it up and the next day when you feel like shit you’re not depressed you’re just hungover. Hair of the dog will sort you out. If you don’t like booze there are so many drugs out there. Some will take you high enough so you can’t feel the depression. Some will take you down so low that you won’t care. And if you don’t trust drugs there’s always food. Suffocate those damn feelings under handfuls of sweet, sweet food.
But over time the Substance Abuse box keeps getting bigger. It gets easier to tick. Eventually it gets it’s own denial sub heading so that you can deny that the substance abuse is a problem. And then comes the day when you realise that the words ‘Substance Abuse’ are written on a label. They’re covering something up. And when you scrape or peel the label off you find that underneath it is the word Suicide. Because substance abuse is just suicide the long way round.
That Suicide box is always tempting. It’s practically talking to you. Telling you that if you tick it right just once you’ll never have to worry about the damn test ever again. Some days that box is huge.
But if you care about the people around you that option is out of the question. So you move to the bottom of the test and you tick the Depression box. The hardest one. The one that means admitting there’s a problem. The one where you seek help and take pills and talk about your damn feeling. The one where you have to practice self care instead of pretending that you don’t exist. The one where you have to cut the toxic people out of your life. You’ll know the toxic people because they’re the ones telling you that you’re selfish or weak for ‘choosing’ to be depressed.
The worst thing about depression isn’t that it lies. It’s that it keeps telling you uncomfortable truths until you’re too weak to keep saying “so what”.
When my depression tells me that no-one will miss me or that the people I care about will be better off without me I know that it’s lying. No matter how worthless I am they would miss me because they are good people and my death would hurt them because they’d feel like they failed. Clinging on to that has kept me going. I’m not living for me and I haven’t been for years.
When my depression tells me that none of that matters in the grand scheme of things it’s not exactly lying. My life and the lives of everyone I know are meaningless when placed against the span of human history. All of human history is insignificant in the whole history of life on our planet. And that’s just on a local scale. Our whole solar system is not even a mote in the eye of the universe. Sometimes it’s a comforting thought. I am so insignificant that there’s a real limit to how badly I can fuck up.
When my depression tells me that I don’t matter that’s old news. When it tells me that the Universe is huge and ancient but still young and that it’s impossible to conceive of how brief and tiny my life is by comparison I can agree. But when it starts to say that’s also true about everyone I care about then I have a problem. I’m only living because I don’t want to hurt them. But if their pain is unimportant then there’s no reason for me to keep going.
I’m going to stop writing this now. I have no idea if it’s making any sense. The depression is very bad right now and my brain isn’t communicating with itself very well.
This week I lost half a kilo (about a pound) and I am already underwhelmed with weight loss after only 4 weigh-ins.
I find the entire process of dieting deeply unsatisfying. It’s expensive, it takes ages, it requires constant vigilance, and it leads to me obsessing about my appearance.
I’d really rather not think about my appearance. I’ve tried very hard to either like how I look or not care that I don’t like how I look. Dieting invariably seems to involve more thinking about how I can’t fix the problems with how I look and I’ve so far failed to fix how I feel about that.
Dieting also means not using food as a painkiller or an antidepressant. It means having to deal with pain, both physical and psychological, that I could avoid if I wasn’t on a fucking diet. And I have to expand precious mental resources working out what to eat rather than say, just having some toast. I find myself just having a cup of coffee to suppress my appetite because then I don’t have to think.
Context is everything. I’m a fat middle aged woman so me deciding to drink coffee rather than eat seems like a neat diet hack. But it’s just as dysfunctional as a skinny teenaged girl doing the same thing. It’s neither healthy nor moderate and it may not be sustainable but who cares because the number on the scale is headed in the right direction.
For more information see Update 4 or the Diet Page.
One of the problems with chronic pain is that it’s a lot harder to treat than acute pain. With acute pain you can just knock it back with strong painkillers and then wean yourself off the painkillers. Acute pain also has a limited duration so there’s the option of putting up with it till it goes away.
Chronic pain isn’t going anywhere and over time the painkillers tend to become less effective. My pain is variable so I deal with it by only medicating it when it gets particularly bad and ignoring it the rest of the time. This is not ideal.
For the last week I’ve been experimenting with CBD. That’s cannabidiol which is a non-psychoactive component of marijuana. That means it doesn’t make you high. There’s some evidence that it can be used to treat anxiety, inflammation and pain. Sadly it’s the THC in cannabis that works really well against pain but that’s the stuff that makes you high and you can’t buy that legally in the UK.
I’ve been vaping CBD oil as it’s the fastest way to get it into the system. I’ve been using it to deal with those times when the pain suddenly gets bad. Oral painkillers can take up to 40 minutes to take effect so something quicker would be handy. I’ve also been using it when I’m feeling anxious as anxiety can make Fibromyalgia worse.
It seems to be working. It’s been helpful when joint pain hits while I’m out and about. It’s too early to be sure but I’ll keep you updated.
For now I’m using a disposable vape pen in blackcurrant menthol flavour. I was dubious about that as a flavour combination but it’s surprisingly nice. I will probably move to a refillable one now that I think it’s worth the money. If anyone else wants to try the same supplier I’m using I have a referral link. If you use it and you buy stuff I get a discount. Here’s the link – https://cbdlifeuk.com/?raf=ref1943134.
There have been some proper trials done on CBD that showed a positive effect. However only a couple have been large scale double blind trials. Most of the studies have been of quite poor quality. So I would suggest that if you are going to try it you take it slow, don’t spend loads of money on something that might not work for you.