Feeling the need to journal – Anxiety 2021

Happy New Year. How’s everyone doing?

My anxiety has been high, unfortunately. Lockdown 3 has been a sudden change. I do not like sudden changes. It messes with my head. After the interruption to routine that is the Christmas and New Year break, I was looking forward to getting back to swimming this week.

The sudden imposition of lockdown at midnight on Monday/Tuesday meant that the pool was closed and my plans were thrown out of the window. I need to swim because it provides structure to my week, aerobic exercise that I enjoy in the form of walking and swimming, and a sensory environment that I find soothing. Warm tiles, the smell of chlorine, the all-around pressure of the water on my body, floating and stretching my muscles and lungs. It’s absolutely the best thing for my brain.

The state of the world isn’t helping, although my dogs are. Ezzie has taken up standing next to me when I’m at my desk and keeping her eye on me all the time. Gyfa takes over at night. She has a bed in my room and likes to climb into bed with me until I fall asleep.

I last left the house on Sunday when I had to go to the shop to get dog food. I have to go out later to get more dog food. I’ve spent the last three days persuading myself that it’s safe to go out to walk the dogs. We’ve just been out for a half hour walk, though so I managed to push through it. I need to go out with them again tomorrow or Sunday. I’m dealing with the anxiety of other people, the dogs being reactive and people treating us badly because they’re reactive, with dogs off their leads running at us and the dogs feeling threatened.

I’m scared of humans generally anyway, but there is a level of judgmentalism by dog owners at times. Ezzie and Gyfa are protective of me and reactive around strange dogs, while my anxiety makes it hard for me to talk, so it can be hard to be around other people and dogs. I prefer going out at dusk when it’s quiet, but I need to go to the shop later. That means I had to take them out earlier than usual.

I’m mentally gearing up to go to the shop. I have my visor ready, my bluetooth headband has a fairly full battery so I can listen to an audiobook and put the visor on. I tried wearing masks but the sensory pain is too much when added to the sensory overload of the shop. I like to go shopping in the evening when it is quieter and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. On Sunday it was rammed; I was not happy, I got so overwhelmed that I had to get a taxi home, and I think that put me in a bad place to start the week.

Every time I have a bad experience I have to treat the next time I do the same thing as though it were the first time and reset my anxiety and routine. It can take a while to feel comfortable again.

I need to rebuild my routine and make it through the lockdown.

I really want a bicycle

There’s an awful lot of people out on bikes at the moment and I’d really like to get one but past experience tells me that standard bicycles don’t really work for me.

  • My arse is too big for the standard seats on a bicycle
  • The tyres are usually not robust enough
  • My balance is terrible
  • I could do with power assist sometimes, especially on hills.

I’ve been looking around. Tricycles seem a good option for the balance challenged and they come in electric and with fat tyres, but they still have the uncomfortable seat. Recumbent tricycles have a decent seat, plenty of arse and back support but they’re too close to the ground and I haven’t seen any electric ones. And they tend not to have baskets.

What I need is a tricycle with a recumbent style seat, fat tyres and a decent battery. I’ve been looking at various websites for options. I couldn’t afford one even if I did find one that was suitable.


I are confuse

I’ve noticed something and I’m confused. A review I wrote in August is suddenly getting a lot of views (557 in October, November and December, 135 so far this month). I can’t think why, unless the book was released in the U.S. recently? That seems to be where a lot of the views are coming from. It’s unusual for any of my reviews to get this many views.

Personal stuff, Ignore if you aren’t interested.

Also, I have been crocheting a Willendorf Venus for a friend today and I’m supposed to be going to the Adult Autism Forum Cafe tonight. The topic is hobbies. I think I’ll take my Venus with me.

I had some trouble from a couple of the other people who go, the last forum and cafe were distressing for me, so my sister is going with me. Six months ago I told someone who couldn’t respect my boundaries that I wasn’t friends with them, then I treat them with the usual polite distance I have with most people. They, on the other hand, have been engaging in nasty pettiness and in November helped trigger a meltdown (haven’t had one in a couple of years), and have since recruited other people to harass and slander me as a bully at events.

People are weird.

The facilitators have been mixed in their response, one has been incredibly supportive and the other has been making weak sauce ‘can’t get involved’ excuses. This person was the instigators psychologist for a long time so I suspect they just don’t want to have to deal with them.

I’m so stressed by it all I started scratching my scalp until it bled again, my blood pressure is high, and I have acid reflux again.

Must go, got to meet the little sister after work

I can’t read ebooks at the moment

It’s the brain, I can’t focus on the words and I just don’t want to touch a screen. If that makes any sense. Blogging isn’t fun at the minute, sorry.

I love to read and one of the the major bonuses of books is they allow me to escape. But, when my mental health is bad, as it has been for several months now, I need the tactile sensation of paper and turning pages to be able to focus enough to actually read. So screens don’t work for me.

I’ve thought long and hard about it, and I’ve decided to cancel all ebook reviews for March. I have one physical book blog tour review booked in, ‘Stray and Relation’ by Dizzy Greenfield, which I have already read and the review will be posted on 17th March, but any other reviews will be for books I have in my TBR pile from various publishers. I also have a couple of books for April that I want to get read and reviewed ahead of time.

There’s another problem, I am feeling under pressure to agree to so many blog tours I don’t feel like I have time to just read for the fun of it, everything has to be done to a timetable, and I’m just not up to that right now. When my mental illnesses are playing silly buggers I can easily read the four books I have scheduled for this month in about ten days. But right now, the added pressure of ‘I must read this book by this date’ is too much for me.

I need to take things easy for a while. I had to cancel a couple of tours in January, but February was mostly physical books and I managed the two e-books fine, but I can’t do it this month, I’m overwhelmed and close to shutting down entirely. I’m going to email the affected blog tour organisers after I finish this post, but I thought you, loyal readers, should know first, that regular service has broken down and it’ll resume when I’m up to it.

I have three books on the side by my desk that I’ve read and haven’t reviewed yet because I haven’t been up to it. I have a pile of Pen & Sword books that I’ve started that I’m struggling to finish because I can’t focus. I’ve read 12 Tamora Pierce books since January, because Tortall is where I go when I can’t be here, when being here is too painful.


I have a new support worker, who is helping me with my emotional stuff and my regular appointments with the psychologist continue. I have sent my PIP paperwork to the Tribunal service because I was denied it at Mandatory Reconsideration. My rent goes up next month and I’m unsure of my ESA at the moment. After my Christmas Eve assessment I was moved to the work related activity group, so I sent new evidence and requested a Mandatory Reconsideration. I also contacted my MP for advice. I got my MR notice on Friday and I think it says I’m getting Support again, but I’m waiting for the award notice before I feel certain.

All this stress has, strangely enough, taken a massive toll on my mental health, which is never robust at the best of times. My resilience is low, unfortunately, despite all the support I have from my family, especially my sisters who bear the financial and emotional brunt of my mental illness and autism. I had been making progress, until about August last year when I started to go down hill again. It’s easy enough, one little thing trips me up, and then it spirals until I can’t function and I’m suicidal again.

To be blunt, I don’t need something I do as a hobby making things worse than they already are.

Can people please spell my name correctly?

It’s Rosemarie.

People have been getting it wrong for 3.5 decades and I don’t appreciate it. It’s not even as though it’s hard to spell or pronounce. I’ve seen more complex, or unusual names, or names from unfamiliar languages, that people have managed to get right. Usually the same people who get my name wrong.

Continue reading “Can people please spell my name correctly?”

Post! Book post!

Yes, I know, I get over excited when books arrive, but today I have to show you my collection. I got 14 books from Pen and Sword today, five last Saturday while I was away, and of course, there’s my books for blog tours too. Book post makes me happy and I learn something new, either factual or in terms of writing techniques with every book I read.

I have questions…

Specifically, questions about the universe.

Right, so the universe is expanding. Current theory and available data suggests this.

My question, a question I’ve had for about 20 years, is, what is the universe expanding in to?

This is another of my ‘brain won’t shut off’ thoughts.

I was trying to visualise it all last night but I struggled with something. When people refer to ‘the universe’ do they mean the mass and energy created in the Big Bang, that now forms the galaxies of the universe? Or are they referring to everything, all that is?

I tried to come up with a way to visualise what I mean and I’m struggling. The best I’ve got so far is a balloon. At Big Bang, the singularity of energy that ‘exploded’ to produce all the energy and matter in the universe, is represented by a flaccid balloon. It starts to inflate and expands as air is forced into it, representing the expansion of the universe. There’s lots of energy produced, formation of stars, dark energy etc.

Now, what is that balloon expanding into?

Is there a reality outside of the universe, a box the balloon is expanding into? If there is, does the ‘box’ grow to fit the ever expanding balloon, or is there a limit that the balloon will reach? And what is the nature of that box? And, if we continue the analogy, will the balloon burst at some point in time, stretched to breaking point by the mass and energy that makes it?

Say there isn’t a ‘box’, what is there? Does something come into being with the expansion of the universe into that space? What is the nature of that space?

It’s all so confusing!

My confusion was added to when I read an article in New Scientist a few years ago about bubble universes. What’s in the space between?

See, this is why I never got anywhere as a scientist, my brain gets distracted by probably pointless questions that others have probably already answered. In the other hand, it does provide me with inspiration for writing. Got something bubbling away.

I am almost definitely not a great loss to science

I was having one of my ‘can’t turn brain off’ nights last night. I had a few thoughts, like autistics are about 1% of the population, add the other neurodivergents and that probably comes to 5 – 10% of the human population. Maybe there was a evolutionary advantage to having a small number of people in a group that thought and processed the world differently.

And then I got up this morning, did my usual Twitter, Facebook and WordPress gander and realised, it’s all been thought before and articulated better, by people much more intelligent than I am.

So I think I’ll go back to writing stories.

Dissertation update: Week 9

I got a bit of feedback from my supervisor earlier in the week on the most recent draft. Still need more of the city in the description. So on Wednesday morning I added 1400 words describing the first trip Lucie and Robbie take from Nettleham to Washingborough adding lots of details about the route and scenery.

Google Maps is a life saver! I’d mostly remembered the route correctly but it helped to have it mapped out with images.

Apparently the essay is good now. I just need to get everything arranged properly for the final presentation, provided my supervisor is happy with the creative piece.

I’m other writing news, I managed a thousand words this morning and a read through of everything I’d written so far of Her Last Death. I’m up to 21949 words now. I’m hoping to reinstate my 1000 words a day policy but it depends on what else is going on. I’m currently achy as hell but I can’t decide why. I think I’m going to do nothing this weekend.

In reading news, I’ve read one of the London Mysteries I’m reviewing a week today, and my copies of Wrecker and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot which I’ll be reviewing later in the month have arrived.

I’m what else I’m doing news, my rainbow draft excluder is coming along nicely, the garden is beginning to pick up and my cross-stitch is looking okay. I’ve been swimming and to the AAF café this week. That’s probably why I ache, I’ve pushed myself a bit. Oh, and next week I meet my support worker!

Anchor chains

I was laid in bed thinking last night about the connections we make with other people, especially our families. My brain came up with a metaphor. I get metaphorical at times, it helps me understand the world.

Our links to family are the anchor we’re born with, keeping us firmly in place. We learn to know who we are and where we are, just the basics, a starting point. That’s our port of anchor, our home. Eventually we grow up, and want to sail away, so we haul in the anchor and head out to sea. We take our anchor with us, a security against losing ourselves. Got lost? Drop your anchor, check your compass and charts, rest and then head back out on your journey, safe in the knowledge that you can stop and rest if you need to. You can go home if you need to, to repair the anchor, replace the mooring ropes, get a decent cup of tea.

Sometimes the rope is rotten and the chain rusted. It snaps in time, and you flail around unconnected until someone throws you a new rope, and you can get yourself a new anchor. You might have tried to keep going, with that rusty anchor chain and the fraying rope, hoping to repair it soon, but never being able to. The break, though inevitable, still comes as a shock.

If you’re lucky, you have a few spares, ready and willing to help hold you steady (friends). If not, you’re thrown about on the waves, struggling to get to shore. This is how I think of those with abusive families. From observation, the rope, to an outsider, is fatally flawed, but the sailor keeps sailing, hoping one day things will change but they never do. The rope gets more frayed, the anchor chain rustier. Eventually it breaks, it was going to, but the break is painful for the sailor because they’ve relied for so long on the faulty equipment. This is the part of your brain and society that reinforces the message that says “No, you mustn’t cut of your narcissistic/abusive/controlling mother/father/sister/brother, they’re family.”, or the abusive person that tells them they have no one else, that none will ever love them, look after them, the way the abusive person does, even though common sense and your friends say “Run away as far and as fast as you can. Cut off all contact, they’re bad for you.”.

The fact is, the anchor – the abusive family member – doesn’t care, it’s doing its own thing and now at least it isn’t being hauled around by/constantly connected to the ‘demanding’ sailor. Oh, it might wish you were still there, but only so they can continue abusing you. They’ll say you cut the rope, it’s your fault they left, but that’s just deflection. They were rotten to start with.

Leave the anchor, deep and lost on the seas.

Sail away and find a new way to get to shore.

Call for help.

If you have spare ropes (friends) that’ll hold you for a while, you can tie up elsewhere, find another anchor, one you choose, rather than one foisted on you. Maybe the old ropes and anchor stopped you from getting spares, (social isolation) and you struggle to get to shore.

Call for help.

Someone will answer, maybe they’ll lend you a temporary anchor, just until you find yourself a new one. This is a support group, or a therapist, that sort of thing.

Some people have perfectly fine anchors and ropes, strong, unfreyed, uncorroded, and still choose to cut themselves loose, leaving a dangling rope and a lost anchor. They have their own reasons, even if they don’t make any sense from the outside. They might have other anchors, ‘better’ ones, waiting to be used; or they might believe their perfectly fine anchors and rope are damaged and they need to be thrown away.

Or, maybe they just want to go on an adventure, are tired of being in one place, feel stuck or scared. So they cut their mooring ropes and sail away. Maybe everything will go well, they find temporary moorings, borrow new anchors and rope, and eventually come back. Full of stories, ready to fish up their old anchor, clean it off and start again. And maybe they’ll need help. Maybe, they’ll discover they left the anchor on the seabed for too long and it’s rusted and too far gone to be cleaned up and reused; maybe someone else fished it out, appreciated that it was a fine anchor and decided to make it their own. So, disappointed, they have to get a new anchor. Maybe they’ll keep the one they abandoned but tried to recover as a memory or souvenir, or they’ll see it hanging from another ship’s anchor chain, having been rescued soon after being abandoned, and feel sad they’ve lost something they hadn’t really had the chance to appreciate. And they’ll sail on.

Make of that what you will. My brain in a strange place.