Discoveries : March

I have been looking forward to putting this post together for weeks now!

If there’s one thing you should know about me it’s that I very rarely switch off. Even when I think sometimes that ‘perhaps it would be nice to have a quiet head for a while,’  it’s not often that I’m mentally capable of it being so.

It has quite a lot to do with the fact with the fact I live with bi-polar, and it’s an illness that’s renowned for not letting its carriers allow their thoughts to rest. And it has quite a lot to do with the fact that I’m just too bloody interested in my interests to be able to let my mind drain out. I tried it once last year, to just be without putting out my feelers, and I felt like it was the end of the fucking world.

Anyway, here I present to you many of the great things March informed me about in its 31 days. If there’s something that moves you or inspires you or gets really under your skin or perhaps you know of a better way that I could document my discoveries, let me know…!

P.S. The little bullet points are the rune Kenaz which symbolises – among other things – knowledge, illumination and creativity.

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Creative

< Having a baby can change a writer for the better

This quote was lifted from my friend, writer Carmen Thompson’s Facebook page.

‘I admit it I was so scared about how having a baby would affect me as a writer. How could I go from the fast paced intensity of deadlines to doing nothing but baby? But he’s made me slow down to his time until I see the details in each moment. What is innocence but having the patience to wonder? What better way to write, to live?’

Stephen King Doesn’t Write In A ‘Room Of His Own’
< The Influence English Folklore Has Had On Writers
< Darby ‘Old Hag’ Lagher Is Learning To Express Herself Through Drawing
< The Man Who Runs Free With Hoses In Iceland
< The Heartbreaking Difficulty Of Getting Rid Of Books
< Caitlin Doughty Has A New Book Coming Out Called Here To Eternity

Macabre, Death & Wyrd

< Turkeys Circling A Dead Cat
15 Historical Time Consuming Torture Methods
Yeti Could Be A Sub-Species Of The Himalayan Bear
<  The Term Sasquatch Was Coined By A Journalist In 1920
New Digital Document To Help You Find Out If You’re Descended From Witches
< Zana The Wild Woman
< Baking Students Create Chocolate Geodes

History

< Why Greenland’s Vikings Vanished

Mental Health

< Shawn Cross Illustrated Mental Illness & Disorders
< Why Mental Illness Makes People So Tired
< Conveying Depression Through Photography

Nature

< Icelandic Aurora Photo Published By Nasa
< Quest To See The Northern Lights
< Peculiar Crack Forms In Þingvellir Lake
< Satellite Detects A Massive Anomaly Under Antarctica
< Norway Prepares For A Mass Slaughter Of Reindeer

Things To Try

< Viking Bread Recipe
< Turmeric Lemonade
< A Clothing & Sigil Protection Spell

 

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It’s Like Going Up Everest With No Oxygen : On Living With Fatigue

At the end of 2016 I publicly apologized for being such a shitty friend, for being such a shitty freelancer, for being such a shitty pretty-much-everything else.

2016 had seen me become the shadow of the shadow of my former self. It had started as a beautiful year; full of so much promise, full of so much hope, full of so much good stuff, all that good stuff that you think won’t ever happen to you, and then when it does, life really lives like a beautiful work of fiction. My writing career was on the up, and I could practically touch my goal – to be a full-time freelance by the time I turned 30.

I had my bi-polar pretty much under control, and being on planet earth was something I really wanted to experience. But then, mid-year, I was swallowed up by a chaos I thought I’d left far behind, and existing became something so fucking difficult.

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Fatigue like I’d never experienced before set in, and everything became a struggle. The motivation that made me me vanished. The enthusiasm that I carried with me wherever I went evaporated like a ghost caught in sunlight. I was losing life so fast it should have terrified me, but I didn’t have the energy to care.

Logging into my Outlook account to look at my emails was draining in itself, actually replying to anything was like going up Everest with no oxygen. I just didn’t have it in me to do it. I didn’t have it in me to do anything.

Getting out of bed in the morning took a colossal amount of effort. Once I was up, I’d eat some cereal, make some tea, then be back into bed before I’d had the chance to take a mouthful of my brew. That’s when I knew things were really bad – when I couldn’t drink my tea.

Sometimes I’d sleep until mid-afternoon, then stumble around in a daze for the rest of the day, mumbling incoherently and doing things like forgetting to turn the oven off, or putting my clothes on inside out, or forgetting to brush my teeth until it was time for bed again.

I felt lost, afraid and worthless. I’d always prided myself on keeping on top of my communication. I’d always met deadlines with work. Not being able to reply to people for days, weeks, in some cases months had me wanting to disappear into the forest and not come out. Not being able to work to the standard I had set for myself damaged my soul. It was almost as bad during the manic periods. Unable to sleep I was endlessly restless but unable to focus and do anything constructive.

This quote from Martha Graham sums up the experience well…

‘There is a fatigue so great that the body cries, even in its sleep. There are times of complete frustration; there are daily small deaths.’

…as does this one from Sylvia Plath…

‘I feel occasionally my skull will crack, fatigue is continuous – I only go from less exhausted to more exhausted & back again.’

I envisaged people saying ‘don’t trust that Katie Metcalfe, she’s fucking useless.’ After 30 years of building up my reputation – both as a writer and a friend – I felt like it was as vulnerable as Arctic ice. There was nothing I could do but brave the storm and wait to see which faces would be there when the clouds cleared.

The clouds have started to clear now. I’m finding my footing again and feel supported. But fatigue is still something I need to deal with on a nearly daily basis, and it can impact me in some fucking ridiculous ways like…I’ll start to put my makeup on, then, before I’m even half done applying my foundation I’ll think ‘I can’t finish this.’ Or, I’ll want to wear something different, but don’t have the energy to decide what, so I throw on what I’ve been wearing for the past three days. Or, I’ll start washing my hair and already dread the energy it takes the dry it. Or, I’ll go to bed in my clothes and makeup because taking them off is just too much.

But I have a plan to weave in some coping mechanisms to make existing with fatigue that bit easier:

I will…

  • Go to bed at the same time every night – 11.30pm (Hard because we’re re-watching American Horror Story : Murder House…)
  • Wake up at the same time every morning – 7.am
  • Avoid the TV and my laptop right before bed
  • DRINK MORE WATER.
  • Actually get out in the sun

While I’m counseling myself to think positive and adopt bravery like never before, I think it’s important to share this quote from Alyssa Reyans.

‘Bipolar robs you of that which is you. It can take from you the very core of your being and replace it with something that is completely opposite of who and what you truly are.’

Just because you can’t see the hurt and the torment and the sheer fucking hellfire of a mental illness doesn’t mean it isn’t there.