Alternative Thoughts – Updates on My Mental Health

“Don’t worry Abi, don’t worry.”  These are words that inevitably I tell myself a hundred or more times a day when I’m feeling anxious.  Of course it’s more than just worrying.  It’s a constant stomach ache, it’s not being able to relax, it’s a tiny voice in the back of my head always telling me something will go wrong.  It’s an endless cycle of feeling fine and then feeling so not fine. It’s not being able to text someone back for an hour because I’m scared I’ll say something wrong, even if it’s just a simple conversation. It’s not being able to leave the house because what if I forget to close the door and my cat runs away.  It’s a driving need to be perfect so that nothing will go wrong, but knowing that I’ll never be perfect and always screw up despite my attempts.

Anxiety for me usually starts as one thought, and then it spirals. One second I’m preparing to send an email to my internship and suddenly I wonder, “What if I did this wrong?” From there it just goes down-hill. From “Of course I did this wrong, now they’re going to be mad” to “I’m going to get kicked off the job, and then they’ll tell everyone how horrible of a writer I am.” And then I’m paralyzed with anxiety, not knowing what to do or how to make things better.

When my counselor was able to talk to me about these spirals, we started working on recognizing the thoughts that begin the spirals. Once I’m able to recognize the original anxious thought, I begin a process to form an alternative thought. First I have to take time to write (or think, depending on how bad I feel) all of the evidence that supports my anxious thought. Then I write out all of the evidence that does not support my thought, and from there I come up with a more balanced thought to replace the anxious thought.  Like in the case above, a more balanced thought (after considering the situation and all the evidence) I might come up with is: “Maybe I did this project wrong, but I did the best I could, and I can always fix my mistakes.”

Anxiety makes me feel like I need to be perfect, but the simple fact is: I’m not.  My counseling is helping me to give myself space to not be perfect, to accept the fact that things go wrong, and to not get so worried about it.  Life is messy, ups and downs happen, and I will always make mistakes. The good news is I can also always fix those mistakes.

It’s been hard work, learning to take myself out of the moment and take a step back.  But slowly I’m making progress. I had a very good week two weeks ago, but last week was a rough week.  This week has been okay and that’s okay.  At least I’m working on getting better. And that’s my balanced thought about this topic.

Thanks for letting me share. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this process. If you do something similar feel free to let me know what, and how it helps you. 

Taking A Small Break from NetGalley & Others

Earlier this month I was able to get a library card! This was quite the momentous occasion for me, as it’s been about 2 years since I’ve had one (and it wasn’t even for an English library).  Needless to say I’ve been reading a ton lately. Currently I have 8 books checked out and 4 books coming in on hold. It’s been a blast!

So there’s only one downside to having so many library books, and that’s that I’m getting behind on my reviews. I’ve debated about what to do with this, but ultimately I’ve decided not to sweat it.  I’m going to finish out September with my library books and then come October I’ll go back to reading more of my review books. This also means I won’t be taking on any more books to review till at least the end of October. I will still be posting a few reviews, but it won’t be my priority.

Thanks everyone for reading! I hope you won’t mind too much about the reviews. But in the meantime please let me know if you think there’s anything I can do better. Is there anything you like about the way I review? Anything you hate? Thanks again.

50k in 3 Days – The Aftermath

I woke up this morning exhausted. Well actually I woke up several times this morning. After not being able to sleep till 1 in the morning, I woke up at 4, 5 and 6 with my head pounding and my nose stuffy.  This really wasn’t how I was expecting Sunday to go, but sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.

Friday Grant and I started off on an insane adventure. We decided it would be buckets of fun to attempt to write 50,000 words in three days. By Friday we had 18,000. By last night I was at  34,004.  This morning  I was falling in and out of restless sleep, and when I got up at 9 and found that Grant was 2k ahead of me I let him convince to me stop.

Trying to write 50k in 3 days is one of the most insane things I’ve ever done, and even though I only made it a little over halfway I’m really happy with what I accomplished. As I sit here writing about my experience Grant is still going strong and has made it to 40k, all on one story too! As for me I wrote 20k on a novel and the rest on three short stories. All of which I hope to start editing later this week.  The novel was set in a science fiction world, with laser guns and memories being stolen and sold on the black market. The short stories were about college students bonding over finishing school, a woman being caught up in a religious visionary experience, and an absurdist fiction story in the style of Whittgenstein’s Mistress. 

I plan to rest today. My fingers hurt, my English skills have been all over the place, and my head feels like I’ve torn every story idea from it. I’m very happy to leave this computer after I finish this blog post. I’m going to pick up a book, turn on a tv show and drink copious amounts of tea.

I probably won’t be trying this again. But like all experiments, I am left feeling better for trying. Writing 50,000 words in 8 days is much more manageable and I really liked doing that. Maybe someday I’ll try in five days.😉

I hope you all have a great weekend!

On Writing, Dreams and Real Life

Ever since I can remember I’ve had a driving need to create. When I was a little girl, barely able to spell I rewrote a kid’s book in our house. I thought it was boring so I drew some pictures on one half of the paper, wrote the story on the other half and folded them in and stapled them to make a book. I had to have my mom help with some of the spelling.🙂  In between then and now I picked up painting, drawing, music and writing, trying to find somewhere that I could fit in.  It turned out I had exactly zero talent for drawing, a bit of talent for music and halfway decent talent at writing.

Stories enthralled me. Characters from books have been my best friends ever since I can remember reading.  Anne of Green Gables, Eowyn from the Lord of the Rings, and Jo from Little Women are just some of my childhood favorites. I knew them more than I knew people. And the older I got and the more I read, the more I decided I wanted to write my own stories.

I was 13 when I did NaNoWriMo for the first time. Failing of course, since it was my first time trying to write that many words in so little time. I wrote around 12,000 words total that month, but found that I loved the community and loved the challenge. The next year I wrote 45,000 words and the year after that I finally won. And it wasn’t just the winning that made me happy, it was sitting in my chair staring at the document where I had put the words “The End.”  I had done it. I had created a story entirety out of my own head and it was beautiful.  I mean it was a first draft, full of plot holes and misspellings and terrible grammar mistakes, but it was all mine, and I was in love.

As I grew older, and adult life became deathly real I tried to find other things to do with my time and energy.  My family traveled the world as missionaries and that seemed like a worthwhile cause as any. I tried and ultimately found mission life was not for me. A couple years later I got married and found myself coming face to face with my depression and anxiety.  I’d always known I had something that I wasn’t quite right.  Mood swings and finding social situations terrifying were just not normal. So in the midst of all this I went back to my stories, finding comfort in my ability to create something. It made me feel less like a failure in life.

Today I’m still not sure what I’m doing with my life. I guess that’s what this whole post is about. I’m writing daily. Poetry, short stories, novels and blog posts. I’m getting help for my anxiety and other issues. I’m happily married.  But at my core I’m still not sure what I’m doing. Is it enough to just keep on peddling my writing? I don’t know. For now I’m just going to keep on doing it.  Because at the end of the day writing, creating, living like this makes me happy.

This was sort of a rambly post, but it’s a topic I’ve been thinking about over the past week. And while we’re on the topic of my writing, please consider checking out my Patreon and maybe supporting me.

Thank you all for reading.

Let me know in the comments about what makes you happy.  Let’s talk about dreams and real life and how to put them together please?  

 

Writer’s Life Tag

So I wasn’t tagged directly in this but I saw it on a friend’s blog and thought it looked fun. So here we go!

Write-fuel: What do you eat/drink while writing?

It depends. I actually don’t have a go to writing snack or drink. My life is just generally full of tea and snacks. Especially now in the fall because I’m baking all the apple and pumpkin things.  :)

Write-sounds: What do you listen to while writing?

For me it depends on the book or story I’m writing. I listen to everything. Like now for instance I’m listening to soundtrack from the movie Carol. I like soundtracks, mostly piano ones not so much the epic scores. But I also listen to music with words. I have a story playlist that has a very R&B sound with Pop mixed in.  Another playlist as indie singers such as Daughter and Aurora.  I usually put together a playlist that I feel mirrors the tone of the book.

Write-vice: What’s your most debilitating distraction?

The internets. For sure.😀 Facebook, Twitter, etc…

Write-horror: What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you while writing?

I’ve lost up to a thousand words at times because of computers being butts or internet cutting out or whatever. That’s always the worst. I’ve thought I’ve saved drafts only to see that my google doc wasn’t connecting well and thoughts paragraphs of words. It’s always so hard to loose words!

Write-joy: What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you while writing, or how do you celebrate small victories?

It’s so hard to pick a ”best” thing. There are so many great things about writing. The feeling of finishing a story. The feeling of seeing a story in print, knowing people are reading it. It’s so rewarding.

Write-crew: Who do you communicate with or not communicate with while writing?

Grant, my husband whose also a writer, is the pretty much the only one I talk to while writing.  He’s my best idea bouncer, even if it’s just me spewing things out to him and he’s just listening. He reads my stories, no matter how strange or creative I’ve written them. He edits, he challenges and celebrates with me.🙂

Write-secret: What’s your writing secret to success or hidden flaw?

Hidden (or not) flaw would definitely be procrastination and how easily I get distracted. Ideas flow fast and furious and it’s hard to not get distracted by the next shiny plot idea.

As for my secret to success…I’ve really thought about this before, but now that I do I think that having Grant is the only way I get things done. He loves my writing and is so encouraging. He’s there to help motivate when I need it, or tell me to take a break or just to listen when I complain about tiresome characters.

Write-spiration: What always makes you productive?

Documentaries. When I’m feeling uninspired with a plot hole or even when I think I have nothing to write. A good life documentary, or reading a memoir always helps.

Write-peeve: What’s one thing writers do (or you do) that’s annoying?

I find it annoying that I get so distracted. I just want to finish more things. I’m working on getting better at staying focused.

Write-words: Share one sentence from a project, past or present.

Here is a small poem that I wrote the other day.

Personal drivers/Catch me asleep in my own bed/Maybe I shouldn’t have left the window /Open/But I was catching starfish late into/The night.