So, the hiatus went on a little longer than expected but as part of my pledge to write 200,000 words in 2019, I’m back. More on that pledge later.
2018 hasn’t been a great year. Between work and my mental health, it’s been rough. We had big plans at the beginning of the year and few have come to fruition for various reasons. We found and lost a donor, had some attempts at getting pregnant that came to nothing and now we have to start to process over again. That was a rough couple of months and not something I’ve talked about much.
Bethend has found the year particulary hard too, with disapointments, mental health, dealing with me, my work issues and being a mum has meant it’s a taxing year. Through in some health problems at the end and well, we’re all a little run down.
Snappy has had a great year. He’s speaking in full demands sentences, recognising letters, counting to ten. He has almost all of his teeth and the last four – his canines – are coming through finally. His potty training is coming along and he’s really social now when he goes to playgroup.
He also figured out how to put the television on, a dvd into the PS4 and that if he presses enough buttons on the controller it will play too. This is less of a milestone and more of ‘oh boy are we in trouble’.
He’s also discovered the word “why”.
My in-laws visited for two weeks for Thanksgiving. They got to experience the full toddler experience. Several viewings of the Music Man, operas, Cinderella ballet and Snappy riding around and around on his bike in the nude screaming. I had to work most of the time they were here but we did manage to go to Chester so the Zoo and see the light festival there which was fantastic.
My current job is fantastic but still leaves me a little up in the air. Hopefully, I’ll get a contract until March and then after that it depends on the budget. This is what happens when you work for a charity. I’m hopeful though, I get on well with my boss, it’s good work, I’m home by six every evening and I don’t work weekends.
It’s left me a lot of time to spend working on my mental health, my relationship with my son and my writing. All of these things have improved. I’ve changed my medication over – though the week I spent between them was bad. I cried every single day. My boss was very understand and as soon as I started the new meds I felt better. In generally my mental health is getting back to normal (my normal).
Writing in 2019
In July I started writing again. Dragon Age fanfiction again, and just that at first and then I started branching back out into original fiction again. Other than the blog, I hadn’t written any fiction since July 2017 (I checked). By December 31st I’d written 103,887 words in six months.
I redid my writing website and I also built up my Patreon a little, so now I have six patrons. My focus is fantasy, science-fiction and fanfiction, with wlw (women who love women) and non-binary characters. I hope to grow it even more in 2019. In December I did a Trope Advent Calendar and posted something every day, the smallest fic around 500 words the largest around 5000. I hope to do similar things in the coming year. Feel free to check it out and sign up for $1 a month.
I also discovered a website called Get Your Words Out. It’s a word count and habit pledge site. I put together a spreadsheet of all the fiction I wrote in 2018 and as I mentioned I wrote 103,887 words. That doesn’t even count the blog posts I wrote last year. So I’ve pledged to write 200,000 words in 2019. That will include all my fiction and blog posts, Apparently, I can count poetry as well but we’ll see.
I plan to write and finish a novel this year and I think the pledge will, help with that. It works out at 548 words a day, and well, this blog posts is already 716 words long. It will also get me writing in the blog again.
QLF in 2019
I’m going to make a conscious effort to update the blog regulary once more. What I won’t be doing is promoting it as heavily. It taks time away from writing and I don’t always see benefit from it. Emotionally at least. I just want to write and get back to the roots of blogging and not blogging as it is now, a business.A competition.
So I will write, and take part in things like KCACOLS because there is some real benefit in communicating and supporting other blogs but threads and promotion and guest posts I probably won’t be bothering with as much.If you want to keep up with the blog it’s easy to do – you can like us on facebook , or follow us twitter or instagram account.
With the Summer holidays officially upon us (can’t you tell by the rain), here is the first of a few posts I’m gonna do about places to visit in Wales. They’ll focus on my little part of the country at first and expand as I travel around (and by that I mean, once I learn to drive).
Aberystwyth is the last stop on the train line, a popular place to visit especially if you’re from the West Midlands and on the edge of nowhere. The best time to visit in my opinion is between May and June. After the students have left and before the kids have broken up. But if you have kids, then there are a lot more activities on during the summer holidays including the Big Tribute Festival and The Sea2Shore Food Festival.
Here are just a few of the things to do and see in and around Aberystwyth.
Places To Visit In Aberystwyth
Constitution Hill is home to the Cliff Railway and the Camera Obscura. You can walk up the hill (I actually got engaged on Consti) or take the funicular railway that has been there since 1896. Either way up, the views from the top are amazing. There is a cafe at the top too, and a games room that has ten pin bowling. The railway is open seven days a week during the summer.
Aber Arts Centre is one of the largest in Wales and has a cinema, theatres, a cafe and art exhibitions. There is always something going on at the arts centre as they have a full schedule. During the summer there are often arts and craft classes for kids too.
The Castle is all ruins now but offers great views of the area. it’s a great place to have a picnic and there is a park nearby and when it’s open mini golf. It’s a fun place to run around for a while and get some sea air.
National Library of Wales
The National Library collects and preserves Welsh history. there are often exhibits and events. and guided tours also workshops based on items they have. There is reading access to but you need to contact the library about that beforehand.
North Beach is a shale beach, with a jetty and lifeguards during the summer. there are a lot of events on the prom or in the bandstand (nicknamed the Madonna since the new bandstand was built). There is also a cafe and ice cream on the prom and it’s not too far from the shops or more cafes and restaurants.
The Leisure centre has a gym, squash courts and a swimming pool. the Pool is open to the public all summer but they still have certain swimming times for lanes and lessons. On Saturdays, they have a fun swim with floats and things. There is also a small soft play we often take our son too.
There is a huge sand pit on the prom! It used to be a paddling pool once upon a time but to be safe it needs extensive and expensive work that may not actually work 100%. So they filled it in with sunny sand and huge deckchairs. There are toys or you can bring your own!
At Devel’s Bridge
The Commodore has been open since and usually shows a different film every week (sometimes two), there are matinee viewings on Saturdays all year round and often matinee viewings most days during the summer. check their site to see whats on. The price of a ticket is really reasonable and there is a bar and snacks.
The pier has a bit of everything. The arcade has been around since and is your typical arcade. It also has a bar with snooker and pool tables, a restaurant upstairs (a pretty good one that’s really nice inside and looks better than the outside), pizza and a nightclub. Recently they put in bumper cars in the nightclub during the day. Eight bumper cars on an indoor track.
The stream railway travels between Aber and Devel’s Bridge and is an absolutely gorgeous trip. But expensive. If you can drive and aren’t fussed about the train trip you can still enjoy the scenery by driving up there. The road runs parallel to the train line for much of the way and then you can spend as much or a little time in Devil’s Bridge as you want.
There’s more of course, especially once you venture out into the county a little. There is Bwlch Nant Y Arian and The Butterfly House. There are dozens of places to eat but I personally recommend Sophies or Sophie Bach (the dog cafe). Also, Baravin and Medina are both very good.
There are even more places to stay, depending on if you want a hotel or a B&B, or a campsite. Or even one of the caravan parks dotted about the place. Every village has something, depending on where you want to stay and how far you want to be from Aberystwyth itself. You can pick a B&B right in town, or stay in a village like Llanrhystud.
Have you been to Aberystwyth? What would you recommend?
At the beginning of April, I started to come off my medication. My depression had hit a four year low, and my anxiety a four year high. To be honest it was all because of work. That was the root of my issues, and I realised then that my medication was no longer fit for purpose.
I’ve been on Seroxat (the generic name is paroxetine but I’ve always been given the brand for some reason) for about a decade. It was one of a few different medications I’ve tried for my anxiety and depression and at the time it made the difference. I didn’t really notice any side effects, but my anxiety was better and so was my depression. Not markedly so but enough to survive, to get by, without being suicidal or agoraphobic. My social phobia was really bad back then. It took a little while to get into a groove with them and adding Tegretol on as a mood stabilizer a few years later helped. I wasn’t diagnosed with BPD formally until a few years after that even but my GP seemed to think I needed them.
The Tegretol definitely helped with some of my outbursts. I came off that about a year ago because I just didn’t feel like I needed it anymore. The BPD diagnosis still stands, it’s never going away, but the worst of the symptoms have settled or subsided.
Medication Is A Good Thing
I was one of those people who didn’t want to comply with their medication. Because anti-depressants were bad. They changed you. I believed the stigma.
Needing medication for mental health problems is not a bad thing. There is nothing wrong with taking anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, hell, even tranquillisers if you need them. They are not “mind benders”, they do not turn you into zombies (and if they do, you need to either change the dose or change the medication). You may or may not be on them forever. Some are addictive, more aren’t. They save lives, they change lives, they can make the difference.
The first one you try might not work. But it might. What have you got to lose by trying? And what do you have to lose by supporting your friends or family who are taking medication?
The stigma around medication helps no one. And no, medication isn’t going to make everything better, but it can help and sometimes that’s enough. Given the state of mental health care in the UK, it may be your only option while you sit on a long-ass waiting list for counselling, therapy or whatever else you need.
People take medication for headaches, hayfever, diabetes, heart conditions, more and more and more physical symptoms alike. Taking medication for your mind is no different. I take painkillers for my headaches, and beta blockers for my panic attacks. I’m not ashamed of it. And I shouldn’t have to even clarify that point.
Coming Off My Meds
I’ve played with the idea of coming off the Seroxat for a little while. I wasn’t sure I really needed it anymore, let along such a high dose. I’ve had some GPs say I couldn’t have more than 60 and some say I could have 80mg. I hit 60mg pretty early on and stuck with it for most of my time on the medication. What had always put me off was the fact that any time I missed a dose or two (or a few) the withdrawals were a bitch. The headaches come first, then complete physical anxiety attacks, then suicidal ideation.
I wasn’t keen to experience any of that.
But it wasn’t really helping anymore, in fact, it was making my OCD worse. I’m not formally diagnosed with OCD that I know of (you lose track sometimes), but I had mentioned when I first started taking it, that it was making my OCD worse. I noticed on February how bad my eating issue had gotten (I’m a very fussy eater). Any dinner with meat in it was becoming very difficult to eat and impossible to enjoy.
So I needed a change but I had to get off the Seroxat first.
From 60mg to 20mg
The worst of those withdrawals haven’t happened this time around. At least the bit where I end up in a pit of despair. The headaches every time I went down a dose were awful, not migraine bad but enough that I actually asked for a box of 100 of my painkillers instead of the thirty I get from time to time. They passed after a couple of days, but I had to take the prescribed dose of painkillers (1-2 every 4-6 hours when required).
The anxiety was bad too, it’s only the last two or three weeks that I’ve not woken up to a panic attack or in the middle of a panic attack. My GP had already prescribed me a beta-blocker propanolol which works on the physical symptoms of a panic attack. So I’ve been taking one of those most mornings since April.
Coming down to 20mg was pretty easy, things got harder after that. I was going down by 10mg every two weeks; slower than my doctor had suggested actually. When I hit 20mg the anxiety got worse, but that was compounded by work and money issues again. I stuck with 20mg for a while so I go to some job interviews and then tried went down to 10mg.
Ten, Five, Zero
A selfie from May.
I tried going from ten to zero but that was awful. The anxiety was just unlivable. It really affected us all and it just wasn’t fair to my wife and kid. They shouldn’t have to suffer when I am. The propanolol helped but I can only take 40mg of that a da because it lowers your blood pressure and mine is on the low side of normal most of the time so any more would make me dizzy. I’ve got a lower dose tablet now cause some days even the 40mg made me dizzy.
So I went back on the ten for a little while, to get my head straight again before I started snapping the tablets in half and taking 5mg. That went okay actually, same as before. Headaches and panic attacks. I let my mind and body get used to that dose for a bit while dealing with life (work, interviews, toddler).
Now it’s been three days with zero Seroxat. I went from 5mg to 5 mg every other day to none because life is evening out and I feel really, really sick. I was dizzy on the days without Seroxat but not having had a propanolol to cause it. I kept going though cause I was so close and not it’s been three days and I can’t shift the headache but that will pass soon. The dizziness isn’t as bad a sit was, it doesn’t help that I finally caught the stomach bug that is going (my son had it last week).
I’ll stay off it though. People have been saying I shouldn’t be doing this now but I’m sure the worst is past. There’s never going to be a better time than now to get off it. There is no good time to change medication, come off it or start it. You just have to do it, would’ve appreciated a little more support in doing it though. It’s taken me three and a half months to do it.
I won’t be seeking more therapy, counselling or any other services from mental health. I’ve had therapy a couple of times and plenty of counselling. I’ve got as much as I’m ever going to get out of it. I had an OT for a while too. Recently they offered me a mindfulness course but I refused because I didn’t like the woman who offered it to me (she was dismissive and condescending) and I don’t think much of mindfulness.
I don’t know if I’ll try something else though. I don’t feel nearly as bad as I did in March and when I originally thought about coming off then I didn’t think I need them or anything. I’ve talked about it with the GP but right now the beta-blockers are good enough for the physical symptoms for now and we’ll see how things go.
If you have any questions about any of this or about my experience with other medications or my diagnosis please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Leave a comment or use the contact form. I will talk about any of this and help in any way I can.