Mid-Year Stocktake

It's June! Although it feels like the year just started to me. Anyway, I thought I'd do a little update on how things are mental-health and writing-wise, but first, I want to share about a podcast episode I listened to this week:

Joanna Penn's podcast this past week was an interview with Michaelbrent Collins and it was so good that I wanted to share my thoughts on it. But before you read that, you should definitely go and listen to the podcast episode, which you can find here.

In the episode, something that Michaelbrent said really struck me. He talked about how when he's in the midst of a major depressive episode, suggestions like “go put on clean clothes” or “take a bath” don’t make sense because he only sees one option - stay in bed

While I’ve only suffered from a mild depression, I can really get the “only one option” thing. I already have a tendency to stick to decisions made, but when I’m feeling depressed, whatever decision or thought I have literally feels like the only right one. Like:

“I have to quit this job”
“I am unlikeable and unworthy of friends”
“I don’t contribute anything”

And so on.

In happier times (like now), I can recognise that these thoughts aren’t necessarily true or the only path to take, but when that black cloud is there, the voice of rationality goes away.

He also mentioned that one thing that kept him from suicide was that it would be an inconvenience to his loved ones, and while I don’t think I’ve had suicidal tendencies, in my lowest moments I have wondered if crashing my car would “break” the glass I felt existed between me and the world.

The two main things that stopped me from doing that were:

1. I wasn’t sure if my insurance covered it
2. I was also sure that God wouldn’t approve

And as I’m typing this, I just realised that whenever counselors asked me about whether I had suicidal tendencies, I’d be like “nah, because my faith wouldn’t approve” which is something similar.

Hearing all this and realising I’m not the only one who thinks like that made me feel slightly more normal.

To be honest, I think that even if you’re not a writer, this episode is worth listening to.

Mental Health Update

Even though I just mentioned that I've been doing better now, it’s been a very stressful the past one and a half weeks. While I am finally in a job that I love and that excites me, I'm encountering that pesky reality problem where I have to deal with troublesome people who end up wasting my time (thankfully this person is an external contractor and not part of my company).

Thanks to that plus a family crisis, I’ve been extremely stressed. While I like to think I lead towards “fight” in the “fight or flight” response, the truth is that stress causes me to shut down.

I have been extremely cranky (sorry to my cell group, who had to put up with me arguing more than usual), been shying away from conversations (replying messages in a timely fashion is hard), and have been way more distracted and forgetful than usual.

All in all, I've not been a very likeable person.

But thankfully, I managed to recognise the start of the spiral and I'm thankful that it probably won't become any worse because:

1. I'm making sure I get enough sleep and water

I should probably exercise more but following the advice of my counselor, I’ve been taking care of my health, which means getting enough sleep and drinking more water.

I’m still stress eating, but not as much as before so I don’t really feel guilty for doing so.

2. My workplace has been very supportive.

This applies to my colleagues, boss, and interns. My boss will ‘chase’ me out of the office when it’s time to leave and he encourages me to stand up for myself so the troublesome person won’t bully me. My manager, too, actively encourages me to leave work at work and is a fantastic anchor to remind me not to stress out over the small stuff.

And while having to manage an intern is a lot of responsibility, I am so thankful for him because he’s a quick learner and can help shoulder some of the work. I try to give him meaningful things to do but sometimes I just have to spend an hour or two liaising with people and that’s when he steps up to do some of the more tedious work.

3. Pushing myself to do things that are not work-related

I had two Church things going on this week and while I was initially reluctant to go to them because of stress (which thinking back is how I started withdrawing from the outside world back in Japan), I did go and they did me a lot of good. By reminding me that work isn’t the end-goal and that there’s a much bigger world and much bigger God, they helped to pull me out of myself. At least for a while.

So while the situation right now isn’t the best for my mental health, I am grateful that I have support systems and some knowledge on how to deal with it, which means that while I’m dealing with it badly, it’s not as badly as before.

Writing Update

This is probably going to be the shortest part of my update, because not much has been going on. I had a pretty nice writing spurt fictionalising my grandmother's life story (and I should probably post a chapter or two here), but I haven't been writing much since I started working.

I have, however, managed to make quite a lot of progress on Twilight Children, the fourth book in the Coming from Darkness series and I hope to be able to publish that soon. The rewriting and editing was done at the end of last year/beginning of this year, and I've finally started to apply for ISBNs and get the cover so the end is near.

Fingers crossed that I'll be able to announce the next book soon!


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