I’ve just spotted it’s Time To Talk, a day organised by Time to Change, an organisation aiming to end mental health discrimination. I’ve talked about my brainweasels here before, but I thought I might write a little something today, since it seems the ‘pour out honest opinions’ posts are popular…
The weird thing about mental health is that it can be totally fine for a long period, and then suddenly, bam! All your problems come back at once. January’s been a total pain in the arse for this, between the swathe of celebrity deaths, migraine-induced mood swings and weeks of complete and utter writer’s block. When I’m in this state, it only takes one tiny knock to send a pile of brainweasels tumbling down. That polite rejection that you’d normally go ‘eh’ at and brush off? It’s a complete disaster, and you’ll spend half an hour analysing the text to see how much they hate your writing. Someone looks at you funny? Self-image anxiety funtimes!
The way round this, for me anyway, is to counter it with bits of mini-positivity. It’s like wading through treacle, but step by step, the brain chatter dies down and some vague thing resembling ‘normal’ comes back. Here’s how I managed it
with this one weird trick:
- The rejection only stung because I was in a vile mood full of angry thoughts for no reason. What I needed was a validation of my writing existence. Then I reminded myself that my writing’s still in the Museum of Childhood (and you can still go and see it, guys! </plug>). And on an offchance, I took part in the #Pit2Pub Twitter pitch contest, resulting in three favourites from indie publishers and one ‘I’d read the heck out of that’ from a follower. If you’re curious, this was the pitch:
(And if you liked that, there may be more of this sort of thing on the 11th February, when #PitMatch is on. Condensing imaginary back cover copy to <140 characters is fun.)
- When your brain starts on a negative tapeloop, it’s hard to stop. This leaked into the day job, and turned into a massive groundless despair bubble. And all it took was one small compliment about what a good job I was doing on prodding words into shape to make me feel 100% better. Because my coworkers are all awesome people who understand that sometimes, brains just do a massive fart for no apparent reason and that’s okay. Oh, and today I was reading the awesome in-house style guide and wondering what talented person wrote such a fine thing. Then I remembered it was me. #humblebrag.
- I’ve restarted salsa after a year off. I really enjoy it, and most of the folk in the class are nice enough, though everyone except me and another girl are there with their partners. This week, one lady marched up to me and shouted ‘YOU’RE THAT GIRL THAT HAD TO DANCE WITH THE TEACHER LAST WEEK,’ then called over her husband to shout the same thing at him. At this point, a crowd had gathered. I was migrained, loaded with codeine and feeling shit. And here was a woman suggesting that I was some sad spinster to be pitied. ‘BUT YOU DID SO WELL, CONSIDERING,’ she added. ‘What can I say? It’s such a hardship,’ I said, gesturing at the attractive, built like a Cuban brickhouse teacher. Once the penny dropped, she guffawed like a lobotomised fish. I started the class wanting to run out the door. Half an hour in, though, I was dancing with both teachers again, acing every single move and getting a double high-five from the aforementioned beefcake. At this point, the woman and her husband mysteriously had to leave the class. Because haters gonna hate.
(No, I’m not this good yet, but it was an excuse to post footage of my favourite brooding YA dancer Gleb. So nyah.)
What I’m saying in all this ramble is that I sometimes walk a very thin tightrope between happy and crushingly sad. And when I fall over onto the wrong side, I now realise what’s happening and try and find ways to climb back up. Sometimes I fall right back down again- and actually, as I’m writing this, another rejection has just appeared- but on the whole, I think I’m starting to kick the OCD brainweasels out one by one. One less day fretting about imaginary crises, one less day with my worse compulsions, is a victory of sorts. Others aren’t so lucky, and I’d recommend reading the excellent resources at OCD-UK if you want to find out more. I’m considering running a 10k this summer with a writing buddy, and if I do I hope to raise some money for these guys like I did when I ran a 5k years ago.
Anyway, take care of the brainmeat. They’re complete arseholes sometimes, but you can make them your friends eventually. Honest.