April, challenges, lessons, life, monday check in, Uncategorized

Kill the Hare! I am the Tortoise.

For years I have been running on deadlines, on sleepless nights (child and study induced), on jam-packing my whole life with ALL. THE. THINGS. I studied, I wrote, I raised kids and played the perfect housewife. I raced everywhere, mostly against the clock, and against my emotions.

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE my life. My husband is my best friend, my kids are fucking epic. We’re incredibly lucky, and I am so blessed to be able to stay home with them. None of that changes that my brain is a bit wonky. I’ve always overcommitted and then burned myself out delivering. I have always taken on more than I can chew in an endless battle to fit more into the day/my life. I’d get so stressed out trying to do all the things that I resorted to binging everything. Work, study, housework even (yes it’s totally possible). I was the Hare, rushing rushing rushing to the finish line. I can go so fast! I can do it all!

Until now.

Just because. Flowers are cool.

I’ve tried many times over the years to stop these self-destructive habits – hell, I do so well juggling all those balls that people just kind of assume I’ve got it all under control most of the time – but I have tried. I learned how to say ‘NO’ more often, I put my own stuff first. I started saying ‘I’d really like to do that, but I need time to think about it before I can give you an answer’. Even then, I would still rush and push myself harder than I could. Well, until I fell apart and just couldn’t any more. And let’s be honest, I did that a bunch of times on a smaller scale over the years. Collapsing into a heap, exhausted, drained, unable to function well.


So in some ways this last round of major depression was a really good thing. I had to stop. I took my meds, and they wiped out my motivation so even though I kind of felt like I should be doing more, I just couldn’t. I could not. Nope. None of it was happening.

I think I really needed the break. All pressure was off, and if I felt tired and unable to do stuff, then I knew it was the meds, and that was a lovely thing to fall back on. Nope. I’ve just gone up a dose and am adjusting. Nope. I’m not quite where I need to be. Nope. Nope. Nope. No, I just can’t right now. I can’t.

And that was good for a bit. It was. And then I recovered, and now I am off them and OH DO I BURN. I want to do all the things. My brain is firing again. It gets excited and goes down rabbit holes and it feels all the wonderful pleasure of the world again. It’s a beautiful thing. The creative drought is over. I’m back, baby!

But the Hare is dead. I know I can take a breath. I know I can say no, and I can consider things, and I can put my needs ahead of others. My brain may be diving off, exploring options, but that incessant need to do ALL. THE. THINGS has dulled somewhat. I’ve got a voice in the back of my head, the ghost of the hare that tells me to run and binge and doitallnownownowNOW.

But I am the tortoise. I’ve looked at my daily habits, I’ve assessed my goals, and I know that burning out isn’t going to get me where I want to be. Since the beginning of the month I have written and revised more of my own work than in the last four months combined. And I’m not even working that hard. I’m writing a little bit. I’m revising a little bit. I’m doing my paid editing gigs a little bit. Each of those three things, every day, and the progress is delicious.

I’ve found a new, far more rewarding addiction. One I’d never thought would ever work for me. It’s called… pacing myself.

WTF. Yes. I’m still getting my head around it myself. But here’s hoping it serves me well for a long time – long live the Tortoise!

April, change, Uncategorized

Long time no post…

Hey! So, it’s April! The season is changing – nights getting cooler, mornings as well. I love it 🙂 Things have been ticking along here, and I have been focusing on finding some kind of balance, and adjusting back to ‘normal’.

Home School camp

As some of you might know, I’ve been dropping doses of my anti-depressants for a bit now, and am finally off them! YAY! It’s been a little over a week, and I think the side effects (the really bad ones) are starting to abate. Well, I hope so. Being that it can take quite some time to fully readjust, and the last time I did this I was in my late teens and no doubt just went cold turkey, I have nothing to compare it to. If I have learned nothing else from all this, it’s that everyone is different.

And I am different to how I was a year ago. In that time I have done a lot of learning. While the medication I was on might not have been the best one for me, and while it ultimately began to make things worse rather than better, I still think it was worthwhile. It gave me the space I needed to think things through, it meant that when I was feeling better I could work on some of the stuff I needed to, and when I was coming off them, allowed me to see that actually, anxiety is the real problem, and depression a side effect of long-term anxiety.

Early morning walk, sans kids

Am I still anxious? I think I’m anxious about anxiety – worried that now that I am off them I might slide back into the black hole, that things might start to build up on me again. And I’m okay with that. I don’t feel anxious about everything all the time, and that’s good. I’ve been able to develop some strategies for keeping myself balanced, and while that is hard, it is so worthwhile (I’ll post more on that another time!)

More importantly, I feel creative again. It’s a huge relief to find my way into some writing, to have the drive once more to revise stuff, and want to put it out there. It seems counter-intuitive in some regards to think that while I was medicated – not wallowing in misery, not constantly anxious, or always on a rollercoaster of intense highs and lows – I found creating so hard and lacked any motivation.

More bush walking!

I’m pleased to be free of that. I feel like I can soar again. Like I can handle what life throws at me, while also tapping into a full range of emotions. I feel more hopeful than I have in a long time, and I don’t feel depressed! I’m making positive changes, and I know that every day is a blessing.

change, February, lessons, life, monday check in, planning, reading

February, forward

After my last post, I made some changes – the biggest of these was having an action plan. Plans are so very important. They give you steps to follow even when you don’t feel like doing much. They help you feel pro-active and in control. I’m a big fan of plans, and eternally grateful to my good friend Meryl Stenhouse for helping me to come up with this one.

As a result of this plan, I am already seeing an improvement in my mood – see, just having a plan helps! I didn’t even wait til today to get writing! I started on Friday, with just 300 words. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but I can tell you this: I’d rather write even 300 words than nothing. It’s an achievable goal, even on the worst of days, and a jumping off point on the good ones. When I told myself I needed to get back into the habit of writing, I gave myself no goal, and so I flailed. I expected a lot, but never gave myself a chance to work up to it. Not only is 300 words totally doable, but if I can get them done before lunch it means I have heaps of time to get other things done.

post swimModeration. Balance. I’ve struggled with those things so for long, but I think this time I might actually be coming at it the right way. I’m writing. I’m exercising. I’m taking care of myself. I’m reading books. And I’m spending lots of quality time with my family – and not feeling frustrated, because I am actually fitting everything in!

I went to the Dr this morning, and she supports me in reducing my medication. We’re taking it slowly, and I’ll check back in with her in a month to see how I’m doing. I’m not so nervous about it now, because I think this is the right call (and I’m totally okay if it’s not. This is a journey, and I know it takes time and nothing is certain). I feel really good though, and I hope that at some point in the future I won’t need the meds. If I do, that’s fine, but if I don’t, then that’s cool too. I’m glad I tried them out, because they helped me through a rough patch, and helped me to find myself again.

Anyway, this is kind of all over the place, sorry! To sum up, I have a good feeling about February. I’ll be adding a second post to the week, so you can expect a ‘Friday, I’m in love…’ post in a few days time, on, you know, Friday. Looking forward to sharing with you some of the awesome things, which will help keep me feeling grateful 🙂

friends, January, life, Uncategorized


Well, we’re almost through the first month of the year, and I have very little to report. The three weeks I had booked out as ‘holiday’ quickly become a month, and more – and seeing as February arrives in just a few days, I’ve decided (with a little help from my friends) to officially declare January a holiday month.

This is completely abnormal for me. I don’t do holidays or relaxing very well, but right now, I can’t seem to summon the energy for much of anything else. Which really bugs me. I had big plans for the year, and right now, I can’t be bothered with any of them.

So, it’s time to go back to the Doctor. For me, there is little worse than feeling so blah. I can barely summon the emotion to feel upset, or happy, about anything. It’s like I am in zombieland. I would rather feel something – anything – than nothing. My creativity has entirely dried up, and even when I know doing something should make me feel better, I can’t make myself. I feel like I should hate feeling like this, but you know what? I cant even tap into that emotion right now. I’m living in a world of meh, where everything is grey and the air is dust. There is no joy here. And I need that to change. I don’t feel like me, I don’t feel authentic.

I think I want off my meds. Which scares me a little too, because I don’t want what I was feeling before either, and I’m not really sure what to expect. What comes next? I’ve been on this path since April last year, increasing dosages every 3-4 months as I flatline again, and again. Ug.

Mental illness sucks. But I know I don’t want this place where I’m at right now, and I know that I will try a whole lot of other things to find a way out of it, to find a place where I can feel joy again, because I want to be present in my own life, living it, not just walking through it in a daze. My family deserves that, and I deserve that too.

I AM okay. There is no need to worry about me, and I tell you that honestly. Life is a journey, and I will keep on travelling.

challenges, life, new zealand independent book festival

NZ Indie Book Fest: Part One – thank the gods for medication

Well, I am home from a crazy busy weekend and functioning a lot better than I imagined I would be! I learned so much, met so many amazing people – new, and previously known only online – sold some books, hung out with some of my besties, and had a (generally) really good time.

Which isn’t to say that the weekend was without issues. Friday, at any other time, might have reduced me to a quivering mess. I’m more grateful than ever that I asked the Dr to increase my meds because without that I don’t know if I’d have been able to have a good weekend at all.

So, I am going to break down my recap into a couple of different posts! Because I havNZIBFe SO much to say, and I don’t want to leave anything out.

This one will be about Friday – if you follow me on twitter or FB you might know that it was quite the day. It began at 515 am when I woke up (before the kids). I turned on my computer only to face the blue screen of death. I spent the next few hours trying different things, but not completely losing the plot over it, and thankfully my husband was able to fix it for me once he woke up.

I hit the road at 830 and had a really great drive to Auckland, and a lovely catch up with one of my besties before picking up Leigh from the airport. It was after that when things went downhill. My car started steaming and the heat went through the roof. We were on the motorway at peak hour Friday traffic and I was freaking out a bit about not having anywhere to pull off. When we did, we discovered a pool of water under the car, and a bone dry radiator.

An hours wait for AA… who basically could do nothing but call a tow truck… Tee picked up Leigh and our gear and went to the event centre while I waited for the towie, and then in the rain, we drove over the bridge and attempted to find the service centre that the AA insisted was at a specific address but was most definitely not. The towie was very nice, but still, after all the waiting and worry, and twenty minutes of driving around the block in the dark drizzle, I asked him to just drop me and the car at the motel. I was done.

And all the while, I didn’t break down. It had been almost 12 hours since I left home by the time I got to the motel, and I had a little cry then – not knowing what was wrong with the car, or whether it would be able to get me home was worrying. I hadn’t had anything to eat other than some chocolate since lunch time, so I think that’s pretty normal. Leigh and Tee had both commented on just how calm and together I had been throughout the ordeal, and I was! Leigh and I had sat in the car and laughed, and joked, and I had been fine 🙂 I was fine. I AM fine. Leigh kept recalling how last year when my flight was cancelled I’d had a complete meltdown at the airport and all I could feel was gratitude that now I’m more balanced. Now things don’t knock me over the edge. Having that comparison was awesome because it helped to really highlight how different things are now, and I am SO happy about that.

I am grateful for my antidepressants, and the balance they are helping to bring to my life.

Tomorrow, I’ll blog about the good and the bad, and then probably on Thursday I’ll tap into the people, because I met some awesome people, and they were what really made the weekend!

life, new zealand independent book festival, NZIBF, writing

Up, again.

Sun catching
Sun catching

The sun has been shining here for a few days now and I am feeling much, MUCH, better. I took the pressure off, allowed myself to just take it easy and do the things I wanted to rather than doing everything like I normally do (or trying to, anyway).

It’s under a week now until the book fest (in fact, one week from today you can expect a wrap up of that event here on the blog!) and I am feeling in a really good place about it. I know I’m going to be nervous as heck, but also that I will be there with some great friends and we’re going to have a kick ass weekend regardless of whether we sell any books or not. Plus, a few days kid free just being an author? That’s pretty awesome too. I could use the downtime from parental duties, and I am going to enjoy the hell out of the road trip listening to just my music, really loud!

I’ve finally started work on Flare again. I’ve spent some of my ‘medication adjustment period’ reading Take Off Your Pants, a book about outlining. This has always been the bane of my authorial life. I never outline properly and I always pay for it. However, seeing as I was only a few thousand words in, I got to put the tactics to practice and work on the outline for this novella. Which made me realize I had started too late. So I’ve slowly been drafting the new opening scenes (mostly on paper with pen, while lying on my sunny deck), and then I’ll finesse what I already had to line up to my new, stronger outline.

It’s interesting, because I am noticing this happening a lot more. I had until now been thinking that for some reason I was suddenly bad at writing. Like, I’d forgotten how to do it, and it was just that much harder now. While admittedly I am a bit out of habit with first drafting these days due to the heavy editing loads I’ve had, I actually am realizing that I’ve moved past the ‘blindly writing shit because words are better than no words’ stage of my career, and am actually thinking more carefully about plot, and character, and everything else. There is definitely still a place for first drafting quickly, but this being the sequel I never intended to write (my plans for the Mother book of this trilogy changed after people wanted more from Carmel) I need to tread a little more carefully, and develop the world accordingly. I’m actually invested in getting it more right than wrong on my first take now, and not willing to leave that to chance.

Generally, in the past, it’s taken me a good 10K on novels, and half that on novellas to really get a feel for my main character, but I’m working on knowing them better before I go in now, and that should hopefully help cut down my revision time later on.

Anyway… Life is good. I’m actually feeling happy which is kind of wonderful. I’m hoping it lasts this time.



meIt’s come to the point where I have had to accept that actually, I’m struggling quite a lot with my mental health. I hate to think of myself as being depressed, or having mood issues, but that’s actually the reality of the situation. It’s not a matter of there being anything particularly wrong, just a matter of there being significant stress in my life, and not being able to keep everything balanced all the time. I’m trying hard to improve that situation, but it can be a long slow path to regaining proper balance, and while the stress can’t be eliminated, it can be reduced. 

Funnily, the fact that I’ve acknowledged I have a problem has meant I’m not beating myself up so much for all the things I’ve let slide – the forgotten emails, the lack of progress on the writing front, or around the house. None of those things are really important just now – making sure my family is happy and healthy IS, and so that is where my main focus has been. 

I really can’t do it all. But that doesn’t make me a failure. It makes me human. For so many years people have said to me ‘I don’t know how you do it all!’ ‘You’re super woman!” “You’re so amazing!” and I have felt like I needed to live up to those expectations. I LIKED being thought of as really productive and together, perhaps because inside, I don’t feel that way at all. I feel like a bit of a screw up, to be honest, like I’m flailing around and it’s pure luck that I get things done, most of the time. It’s easy for me to think that any success I have is down to other people, or chance, though in reality I do work hard. 

Sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? Super woman, but not. Gaining things by luck alone, when clearly I’m a hard working individual. I didn’t invent the human brain, and it’s a complex thing, so I’m not going to try and explain how one can hold conflicting beliefs when faced with what is ‘real’. I know a few of you have called me on depression a couple times, even here on the blog, and I’ve brushed those thoughts aside until now because I really loathe that term, and everything that comes with it. I didn’t want it to be true, so denial seemed the best path. Of course, it doesn’t really help, not when you’re unable to function. Not when you’re paralyzed by fear or anxiety or sadness. Not when you can’t find a way through the mazes in your mind in order to do the things you need to do.

So I admit, I’m depressed. But I am okay – no need for anyone to worry. They say admitting you have a problem is the first step, right? Well, I do. I have a problem. And all I can do now is work on solving it.

Even when I’m struggling I still function on a day to day level pretty well, so now it’s just a matter of implementing the little things to help improve the overall balance. I’ve done it before, and I can do it again.  I will do it again. And in the meantime, I’ll be going a bit easier on myself, kicking that ‘super woman’ expectation to the curb.

I’m mere mortal, and I’m okay with that.