Panic

For the second time in the space of seven calender days, I’ve had a panic attack. In fairness, I could see this one coming from a while away, once it became clear public transport was going to stymie my efforts to be in the right place at the right time. The biggest problem right now in my mind is notional control: when it blows out of my hands, brain simply fails to cope. In fairness I grasp this as well. It is not a surprise I ended up gasping for breath on a cold station platform, panicking as I couldn’t answer the phone and disconnect headphones simultaneously. These are the things Normal People do without thinking. I can also do this.

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I can cope, there just needs to be some thought as to why this is happening, and that’s hardly difficult to rationalise. I’ve made major changes to my life. I’m redefining who I am, and that process is going well in some places and not in others, and it is that which is attempting to derail me. I’m not afraid of change, or failure, but this time I can see a path to success, and that means not allowing my brain to stymie the development. Most importantly, I shouldn’t be trying to self-diagnose. I’m going to leave that to somebody else to do, and simply get on with the business in hand. There’s too much that needs to be sorted in the next few weeks for the wheels to come off now.

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Tomorrow would normally be a PT session, but instead I have a week of working and motivating myself while my lovely trainer takes a holiday. I’d like to try and lose another kilo by my weigh in next week, which should be eminently doable. It also means I’ll do Monday, Wednesday and Friday night after school, to leave days free to begin the Spring Clean that this house so desperately needs. I have a trip to the supermarket planned for the morning to grab the replacement bits I need, and then I’m off, throwing stuff away and cleaning anything that’s dusty. I’ve kept up with my #MinsGame too, so will require 13 things tomorrow and to do that will require a quite significant amount of thought.

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I can do this. I really can. I was never really a fan of affirmation until recently but the statement ‘I am good enough to get through this’ has never been more true or heartfelt right now. I can write well, and will, for another week and once we get to the 19th there is going to have been so much progress forward I will manage a Sunday without either stress or drama. Now, however, I’m going to have a lovely steak and Stilton pie as my last treat before I throw myself into ‘good’ eating for the rest of the month. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m really looking forward to an Easter Egg come April.

I think I will have utterly deserved it.

Big Time

Welcome to the first day of a new world. I’ve been promising myself that at some point I’ll stop fucking about, simply pretending to do this writing lark. Inspired by various friends who are making significant life changes and forging new careers for themselves later in life, I knew this was the moment. I think we’re in a position to make something stick.

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I’m never going to be a streamer. You and I both know I do my best work when not stuck up the front, after consideration and planning is allowed. Therefore, I’m pushing the personal agenda to the fore for the first time in eight years. There’ll still be Warcraft posts, but I feel that maybe if I stop lying to you that’s what I’m really here for then it will be easier to cope with life myself. That means this place and my writing is getting sold more, and I’ll be pushing my remit further afield. You’ll see absolutely no changes on the Twitter feed however, that remains exactly as is. It’s simply a redefinition, albeit subtly, of the rest of the stuff behind it.

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That means, going forward, I’ll be rearranging a lot of the back end, shifting project priorities and generally having a tidy up. This place, however, is now the key focus. I’m still writing a weekly Warcraft column and my stuff for the Community Mag but there will be days now when there’s nothing on Twitter from that Blog except a link to a previous post. The biggest trick in making time to write is prioritising what matters, after all. It also means I’ll be considering what is placed here with a bit more care in the months that follow, and to that end there’s already a boatload of planning to my right to support the change. However, for those of you who think this might mean there’ll be skimping on the fiction front, I’m here to reassure you that’s most definitely not the case.

The novel remains a major project and one of the reasons all this stuff’s being moved is to give me more time, not less. I’ve got my version of the book cover’s main graphic ‘in production’ right now and as soon as my commissioning artist is done I’ll be launching a section dedicated to it on my writing site as I go through the process of completion, editing and then attempting to find a publisher. That’s one of the goals from last year I’ve not hit, and until I do, we’re pushing forward with all speed. There will also be other projects: I’ve got a number of things sitting on the sidelines, I just need to organise myself away sufficiently to get them all moving, plus completion on the stuff that’s already started.

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There you have it. Most people who are only here for the Warcraft jazz won’t take a blind bit of notice of this, and that’s just fine. If you want to support me in my venture? There will be ways and means going forward, but not just yet. For now, we’ll do this for a while and get everything established, and once that’s done?

Anything is possible if I can do the work.

New Life

You can, for a while, quite happily pretend that even as the World collapses around you, everything is fine. I watch people do this every day. The speed at which we adapt to change is, after all, as unique as eye colour and shoe size. However, I will admit that I’ve been loathed to accept that my body is changing: not in a bad way, anything but. This morning, even though I feel pretty shitty (sinus infection can nick off) I found myself accepting that what used to pass for tight jeans are no longer so. In fact, the more I look at it, everything is smaller. Not just waist, but arse and legs no longer fill out the bits of trousers they did. The top I’m wearing now stretches around my upper arms. Somewhere between Christmas and here, real change is happening.

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This process has taken 16 years, people. It has experienced myriad false starts. I’ve been lighter than this, sure, but I’ve never been this fit or indeed healthy, because before a sinus issue like this would have completely buggered my ability to function. Yesterday, however, I fought it. Even when I was out of breath and suffering on a treadmill I didn’t stop. I pushed to do extra stuff I wouldn’t normally have even tried. There was no consideration of ‘oh, not well, better stop’ because I grasp how important exercise has become in keeping me fit, both mentally and physically. I’ll grant you I’m having trouble thinking straight right now, but that’s more fatigue and getting a washing machine fitted last night.

Most significantly of all, the fat that had sat around my waist for what seems like forever is undoubtedly diminishing.

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I really miss cake. I realise I’ll never get used to certain teas without honey. I can hear my sweet tooth in my head, trying so very hard to derail my effort, and I will admit I sneaked a Graze Honeycomb Flapjack or two into the evenings this week simply because I was desperate, but as I’m still at least 90% virtuous on most occasions, it isn’t pushing back my cause. I’ve also lost weight again this week according to my scales, which interestingly have recorded my lowest BMI since I started this whole things seriously in May. I’m now genuinely curious as to what the ‘official’ scales will register on Monday. Last weekend’s normal Takeaway even got supplanted by a healthier alternative, and I’m now beginning to think I might have changed for the better.

These are exciting times ahead.

Stepping Up

I’m not doing the right kind of exercise.

This is absolutely not a problem: my PT pointed this out yesterday, and I grasp entirely where she is coming from. Pure walking has now become insufficient to burn the calories I require to get my body to shift fat reserves that have existed for a very long time. If I’m going to move the last vestiges of my problem areas, I will have to work for it. That’s why I went to the Gym this morning and ran for 45 minutes before my scheduled Sports Massage. It is why I’ll do the same for the rest of the week (except tomorrow, I have a Mental Health Day with my daughter) and hopefully, by the time I get to next week, we might see some progress.

However, if we don’t, I’m no longer allowing this to derail any progress.

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I’m plucking up courage to take some pictures of what has changed. My arms especially, bear no resemblance to the things they were six months ago. To do that, I need to be comfortable, and this is not the best time for this with the other stuff going on with the World, because I am not more than aware how ridiculous vanity seems when the World is going to Fuck. If you’re interested, and you read this, let me know in comments, because that a) tells me who’s reading and b) will provide actual incentive.

Needless to say, Hard Bastard exercise just got even tougher.

Faith

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This is my last major Objective for 2016. I’m not talking about the second definition: sorry, those out there hoping for a quick Convert, it’s been tried before, and they failed. It’s not that I don’t possess belief, or confidence, because if I didn’t the health thing would be simply a possibility and not a truth. What I lack now more than anything else is a consistent faith in everything and not just the highlights I choose to share, and that needs to be addressed as a matter of priority.

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Social media makes you act differently, there’s no denying that when I get a compliment from a random stranger it becomes somehow more worthwhile because it was unprompted. What I crave most however is compliments from the people I care most about and to get those is going to take a phenomenal amount of hard work. This is where I lack most, and some might argue that it is other people’s jobs to change too and not simply mine. That’s only true to a point. You can be unique and special, but if you refuse to work in the World’s version of Reality (whatever that happens to be at the time) you’re screwed. I’ve never reacted well to change. I’ve always been slow and awkward and nervous. These are the true issues that need addressing in 2017, the ones I never share with you because I’m too afraid to find the right words.

These are the biggest hurdles I am yet to surmount.

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When all is said and done, I don’t want to be the person with their life laid out in public for everybody to see. This isn’t about standing up and unloading all the emotional baggage in one hit. A lot of what needs to be achieved is in how I react to things, managing when stuff doesn’t go to plan, what takes place when challenged with something that amends or alters my world view. This is where the biggest growth needs to take place, and in the last couple of weeks I feel I’ve made some genuine progress on this front. However, I’m not the one who judges that progress, it is the rest of the World, and they have very short memories. People won’t remember how great you were, only the bad stuff. You are only as good as the last review, after all. You have to try and make each one better than the previous, and that’s a tough ask.

It’s funny watching people decide how awful 2016 was for loss, when I know how much I personally gained in the last year. If I can maintain a fraction of that momentum I’ll be beyond happy. Three words will be written and inscribed on a Post It Note, and we’ll come back here (fates willing) in a year and see how I did. That should be the biggest take-away all of us who remain on this earth have from the last 365 days. We’re still here. Never stop fighting, learning and growing. Make every day worthwhile.

#BeBetter with every step you take.

Ful Stop

I see I’m going to have to explain this to a few people. That’s fine, it is no big deal. I’ve not really discussed the details of my illness with you so, tell you what, let’s do that now. 

Anxiety is a big deal around these parts.

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Being ‘not good enough’ is something I’ve carried about, in one form or another, since my teens. Taking the easy route, for a long time, was just how life happened. Only when I met my husband did life start being about better than that, but it is only in the last decade that I’ve really understood what the paralysis of fear and inability has wrought on my life. The whole exercise path has opened up an entirely new world for me to explore, but yesterday I was back in my teens. My PT suggested a series of repetitions using gym equipment, that she thought I was capable of doing, but my brain said no. In the end I was in tears, after 20 minutes of fighting both mind and body simultaneously. I couldn’t do what was asked, even though my body was more than capable of the task.

Sometimes, I am my own worst enemy.

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When you live so much in your own head, reality gets skewed. Because it is safer not to open your heart in case you get hurt, or simply hide yourself away because you feel people will not understand, there is potential for trouble. Inside your mind there is no failure or fault, and nobody will laugh at you if it all goes wrong. The problem with all of this internalising however is that when reality does happen, it can be difficult to live in both places simultaneously. The last few weeks on social media, with the terror of US Elections looming plus UK issues over Brexit and an increase in fascism as a concern… well, there’s a lot of people both unintentionally internalising and and quite deliberately externalising, all over my social media. This is, for many people, what they perceive as a ‘safe space’ for such things, but more importantly an opportunity for opinions to be heard, often by individuals who might have an influence on change.

It only occurred to me recently that I might be one of those people to others.

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The problem I have is believing my own hype. I am well aware that as a result of things I have both written and said, things have changed in the World around me. However, this does not make me an Influencer in my own mind, that ‘label’ is somebody else’s to stick. I just sit here and write shit and occasionally, I hit a target. I don’t think there has been anything I really wanted to change that ever did, either, and that’s the point that gets lost in amongst all the hand wringing and navel gazing. I’ve never been able to make someone like my stuff, and it was never the intention for anyone to hate me. Those are the only two things that matter, in the end, and when it matters most you will not be capable of altering the world to the way you’d like it to be. I wanted a Remain vote but got Leave. Bond’s never going to be a woman. The stuff that matters to me is so intractable, it’s just easier to live in my head for those things and not stress at all.

However, when I’m trying to be happy both inside and out and people won’t let that happen?

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Yes, sometimes it’s an effort to be happy. Fucking hell, people, anything worthwhile takes at least SOME notion of application. I can’t just eat chocolate and become a size 10. You don’t get good at gaming overnight. Maybe, if you grasp this, then understanding why making an effort to be positive is so fucking important, but NOPE that’s no on some people’s agenda. You’re only happy when it rains, when things are complicated and you’re stuck somewhere back in the mid 1990’s in your teens where everything was just so much easier. Well, newsflash Bucko, I did that midlife crisis and it fucking STANK so if you could just shut up and go away… and here’s the thing. Social media is two ways. Otherwise they’d call it ‘listening in an echo chamber’ media and nobody would have the Internet to begin with. All those brilliantly helpful people with their open arms and open hearts who are willing me to greatness don’t need to be told this shit. YOU DO.

It isn’t about ignoring you either (though I’ll be honest, some of that has gone on when it becomes apparent that arguing is pointless.) You can only balance when there’s two sides to your scale, or if you have impeccable gravitational awareness, and lots of you can’t even turn on your brain before pressing Tweet, so no chance there. In these cases, I don’t say anything, yet compose Tweet after Tweet in that wee window before deleting every word, over and over again. Part of me wants to tell you how to be better, to put the record straight, to direct your misplaced perceptive reasoning to important shit like cats or memes. Then I stop, and breathe, and know that maybe the reason you did it is that you want just this, me to respond, in one of those ‘notice me Senpai’ moments. Then I remember that the good people don’t need any validation at all. They don’t check Twitter until they’re awake, if at all. Those are the people I need to emulate, and this month I am determined to do just that.

Moan all you like. I just made a choice to stop listening.

Reality

Last night, I had a dream about the nature of linear time. It involved two travellers, man and woman, and I suspect it had a lot to do with Tanith Lee’s The Silver Sky being a seminal influence in my childhood. They key difference in this fiction was that my travellers were slowly evolving themselves, that the further backwards and forwards they moved in time, the less reliant they were on bodies until the moment when they dispensed with them altogether and simply became energy. However, the most significant part of the dream came when I awoke and was, for quite a while, convinced I’d evolved myself. Removing the pint of blood from my system had triggered a regenerative process I’d never experienced before, and suddenly there was no pain, or niggles from long-term injury. I was calmer than I’d ever been, and my body being forced to remake blood had somehow moved me forward to something not quite human.

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It was such a vivid set of circumstances I can still feel the calm even now. I was somehow different, better than I had experienced before, and I suppose that’s not far off the actual truth. The last few months has seen an awful lot of personal change, and it makes logical sense that my brain will react to that. What this did spur me to do was push today, despite only managing six hours sleep. I am feeling it now, that much is unmistakable, but as I pulled my wobbly legs home after rescheduled PT, it was with a sense of clam and satisfaction that I don’t want to lose, and have hung onto all day, even as my ability to function’s been eroded by the fatigue.

I am evolving; becoming better than I was. It’s an amazing feeling, and I love it.