I was recently asked for my ‘author story’ and tbh it made me think more than I’d expected. Like so many of you, lockdown has been tough for me, but even before that I was struggling. I was deep in the depths of depression, dosed up on pills that were pretty much keeping me functioning and not much else – I managed to drag myself to work, do what was necessary to make sure the bills were paid and there was still a roof over our heads and that was pretty much it. No more spoons left! Things that I used to enjoy held little to no interest, I simply didn’t have the energy or the motivation for them. It made me sad and frustrated, which just made it even harder to want to try – and round and round we go!
When I finally managed to speak to a therapist I told her about how worried I was about not being able to do things; how I didn’t want to let down work by calling in sick again, or let down my best friend by not having this month’s rent, or let my family down by making them worry about me. Then she said something quite extraordinary. She said, “What about you?”
Does that seem extraordinary to you too? I know I’m not the only one who always puts themselves last, and let’s face it the longer you do it the more it becomes a habit that’s hard to break. Life is busy and stressful, there’s so many balls to juggle in the air and we tend to find ourselves right at the bottom of the list of priorities. But here’s the thing, if we don’t take care of ourselves, if we don’t carve out that little bit of ‘me-time’ to relax and recharge and just do something for us and no one else, then eventually we’re going to burn out and be no good to anyone. By looking after ourselves, we’re really looking after everyone else as well. But more than that, we deserve that ‘me time’ – consider it a reward for a job well done 🙂
Now, you may be thinking, ‘I thought this was supposed to be an author story’ – and you would be right! (Though would I really be an author if I didn’t go off on long and rambling tangents?) One of the things I most missed when I was struggling was being able to write. To get those words down on paper, to escape into my own worlds and into my characters. Since I was a kid then books and stories have been magical to me, that they allow us that chance to step away from everything that might be stressful in our own lives and go on an adventure to someplace completely new. It’s something I’m so happy to be getting back to and I honestly feel it’s being a big boost to my mental health.
I did have a long think though about whether I wanted to be an ‘author’ again. Yes, I was loving getting back to writing but that didn’t mean I needed to publish again. I could keep it as a hobby and not have to worry about any of the ‘less fun’ parts such as editing, marketing, one-star reviews (eek). But I kept thinking about that magic of escaping into a book, and while I’m under no illusions I’m the next JK Rowling (or, you know, someone as talented but less transphobic) then maybe, just maybe, I could do that for some of you. That if you’re having a rubbish day – boss is being a jerk, kids are screaming, boilers broken, dog threw up, etc. then you could pick up one of my books and just get away from it all for a little while (sadly I have not yet figured out to publish a ‘boss telling off, kid calming, boiler fixing, dog vomit cleaning book’, but I’ll keep you posted!)
So, that’s my goal, that’s my journey, and I really hope you come along with me on it xx
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