Diary of An Author With Multiple Sclerosis – Mental Health Edition

Well, shit. It’s been over a year.

Does Anyone Even Remember Me? I barely remember me. It’s been a long time…

I’ve fought for the last couple of months to stay away, but the itch has been, well, itching, and it is with great excitement and MASSIVE trepidation that today I am finally sitting down in front of my Mac typing again after thirteen months away.

I think I’ll have to leave the reasons to a whole other post which I will get to in the near future, but if anyone is interested (and I know at least one or two people have been visiting this blog – thanks, mum), a quick glance back at some of the last posts should give you a flavour of what’s been happening – or happened – to me.

Suffice to say that my focus has shifted / is shifting somewhat. I’m still working on my short horror and speculative fiction and I’ve still got 70k+ words written of my first novel that need editing, but I need to spend less time stressing over all this and more time doing the things that make me smile.

I could turn this into a Diary of an Author With Multiple Sclerosis post, but this is something a bit more – hell, I’ve just changed the title. It IS now a Diary post. See that? A decision made (that’s a bigger deal than it sounds, believe me).

Writing (well, really, NOT writing)

As this is really the first time I’ve sat at my keyboard to do anything other than watch ‘Like A Boss’ video clips on YouTube for the last few months, I don’t feel in an authoritative place to talk about the craft of writing; never did, to be honest – more factual accuracy, admitted out loud for the first time. What I do feel I can speak about at this moment, are the dangers of listening to that internal voice. The one we all have – most have, anyway – the one that says Go back to bed. You’re not worth talking to or dealing with, that one, yes? I’d ask if anyone can relate, but you’d probably just say No, you weirdo, that’s just you, and that wouldn’t do me any favours, so I won’t ask. The voice is loud today.

Brain in chains

The danger in listening to that internal monologue is that nothing ever gets achieved. Where’s my evidence? Check my last post – JULY 20th 2019. That’s over a year ago. That’s like seven years for a dog, or something like that. **Internal voice says something derogatory**. Let’s push on

The danger in listening is that you start to listen to it like you would a trusted friend, colleague or family member. It’s the friend that gives you good advice when placing a bet on the horses, or the parent that tells you the best way to get the dough to rise when you’re making bread. It’s good advice. Trusted advice from a trusted source. That friend wouldn’t give you advice that would lose you money. That parent wouldn’t want your bread-making to fail. Right? Well, this internal voice doesn’t want me to fail. Surely not. It’s just trying to protect me from embarrassment and shame. Right? It’s only got the best of intentions for me. Absolutely. Wrong. I don’t pretend to understand the psychology behind why we do these things to ourselves (note to self – ask my clever psychotherapist friend), but it’s not always a trustworthy actor. Sure, I want that voice to tell me that going outside naked is probably not a good idea. Save me from embarrassment. But do I want it telling me what I can and can’t achieve and aspire to?

For the last two months, my mind had started to come around to the idea of writing something again. It took me 6 of those weeks to sit down at the keyboard before I could even dare attempt it. But when I finally did, I dusted off (as far as you can dust off a digital file) an old story and started to rewrite it, with a head that is three years older than when I originally wrote it. But guess what? It’s s**t. Now it could just be that the story sucked in the first place, but luckily *sarcasm* I‘ve got an internal voice that helped me out: No, Steve, it’s not that the story is s**t, it’s you that’s shit. Phew. I was beginning to wonder. Oh, and one more thing: give up now. Starting again will just be a waste of your time. I’m only thinking about you, Steve.

Well, today I decided to ignore that oh-so-helpful voice *more sarcasm* and start writing. How did I do it? I decided that I would write a blog post. Mildly less stressful than fiction. But what if someone actually reads it? They’ll see through you. Shut up. 

Moving on from that, I’ve got some fun posts I’ve been writing and more updates on my progress towards a comic. That all seems fun to me, and less stressful than writing fiction at the moment, and I’ll get that posted ASAP. Strike while the iron’s hot.

So, the answer? Well, for me, it’s been focusing on the things I have found pleasurable and waiting for the other things to come along and join the party. And hopefully they will. 

I would just add that continued use of Nortriptyline and several months of counselling were involved in the making of this post. If you struggle at all with mental health difficulties, speak to your GP. That’s your first job.

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