The Truth About Living With Mental Illness.

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For a long time I used this blog as a platform to write about my life. It was a place of freedom. It was a space where I could write down the uncensored and vulnerable musings of my experiences, to share a little piece of my world with others. Then, last year, I had to step away. I had to stop sharing my opinions, views and experiences on this blog because of the profession I chose. I had to distance myself from the online world, due to my words being misconstrued and misinterpreted by others. My voice was silenced. But now I feel ready to share again. Starting with the truth about what it is really like living with a mental illness. If you are offended by swearing or uncomfortable about the topic of mental illness, then you better look away and find another blog to follow because shit is about to get real. 

If you break your leg, the immediate reaction you receive from others is sympathy, empathy and understanding. They want to know what happened, how long your recovery will be, is there anything that they can do and will your leg ever be the same again. You get a chorus of “Oh, you poor thing, it must really hurt.” People gather around to sign your cast, send you get well soon cards and hold on to you as you wobble your way through recovery.

If only mental illness was treated in the same way.

The shitty truth is. We still live in a world of stigma and denial, a world where people are forced to believe that the only way to deal with mental illness is to shut up, cheer up and take a pill that will numb how you feel. It is unbelievable that despite the fact that 1 in 4 human beings on the planet are suffering with a mental illness, it is still shunned as an unimportant inconvenience and the bottom of everyone’s priority list. Why is the idea of being mentally unwell so difficult for us to talk about?

Well, whether you like it or not, I’m going to talk about it.

I’m human. We are all human. We are supposed to feel, think, do and be. We are emotional creatures. We all cry, scream, smile and laugh. We all feel guilt, jealousy, happiness, anger, loneliness and sadness. We all want to love and be loved. Life is a mixture of darkness and light, good and bad times, achievement and failure, love and pain. We all struggle at some point in our lives. So why do we still fall silent when we hear the words ‘mental health?’ Why is there still a wall of secrecy that people feel they have to hide behind? Why do we still consider a connection to Wi-Fi more important than the connection to ourselves and others? Why, in this modern society, can we be surrounded by people but still feel alone?

Lets start at the beginning of my mental health journey… Anxiety came first. At the age of 18, I developed an anxiety disorder – GAD (general anxiety disorder). It was the beginning of a difficult journey for me, years of panic attacks, mental breakdowns but also many mental breakthroughs. Then, a few years later, my anxiety made a friend, called depression.

Living with two mental illnesses was like standing in the middle of a pair of scales, waiting to see which side tipped first.

I could feel hopeless, useless and unmotivated one day and stressed, manic and agitated the next. It can sometimes feel like I am fighting a losing battle but most days, I find the strength to win. It took me a long time to accept that I have two mental illnesses. No one wants to believe that they are sick. No one wants to be anything less than perfect in this fucked up society that we live in, I was no exception. Only when I actually accepted that what I had was an illness, something beyond my control, something that was universal and not only affecting me but millions of other people, that’s when I started to believe that no matter what, I would be okay.

I have found strength in knowing that I am not alone in my struggle. I surround myself with people I know won’t judge me, they hold me as I cry, listen as I pour my heart out and release the fears and worries that weigh me down. Those people know who they are and without them, I don’t think I would still be here.

Living with a mental illness is hard, living with two can sometimes be unbearable. There is no sugar-coating it. It’s fighting with yourself every single day. It’s trying to silence the negative voices in your head. It’s trying to get through the day without crying. It’s analysing every word of a conversation and worrying about it weeks later. It’s laying awake at night not sleeping or staying in bed and sleeping too much. It’s hoping and praying that things will get better.  It’s fighting for a reason to stay alive.

Do you want to know what the hardest part of living with mental illness is? Keeping it a secret.

When people ask how you are and you respond with ‘I’m fine.’ You’re not fine. You just don’t want to burden those around you with your pain. You don’t want people to judge you. You don’t want to feel the stigma of others. It shouldn’t be this way… but unfortunately it is.

Living with a mental illness is like living in a cage that you can’t escape. It’s messy and complicated. It’s also fucking painful. One day I can be on top of the world, smiling, laughing, sharing positive pictures on my Facebook feed and the next, I could be crying hysterically, clutching my chest, forgetting how to breathe.

My disorder is not a decision. I am not choosing to feel this way.

Sometimes it takes all of my strength to get through the day. My biggest achievement on a bad day might be having a shower and getting dressed. Over the years, I have learned that running away, hiding from my own feelings, smiling and pretending I am okay to please others, only makes my illness worse. The most important lesson I have learned is:

You can’t stop the waves from coming, but you can learn to ride them.

Now, I ride the wave, I feel every emotion no matter how strong it is and wait for the storm pass. I speak up and no longer feel ashamed. I am choosing to blog about my struggles, I am choosing to write poetry about it, I am choosing to be a mental health ambassador to not only help others but help myself.

The only way we will see change is if we fight for it. It was time for me to speak up. Be one voice among the many that will play a small part in that change. 

Colour Me Calm: The Adult Colouring Book Craze

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We all remember the joy that colouring books brought to us when we were small, our parents would give us a colouring book and some crayons and we would stay quiet for hours, focusing on staying in the lines, with our tongues sticking out and wrinkles on our forehead.

Unfortunately, as we turn into adults we close the doors on our childhood, we forget everything we used to enjoy and focus on making a living, worrying about money and what we think we should be doing with our lives. We tell ourselves that everything we did when we were children should be left in the past and we should just be adults, responsible adults who have lots of important decisions to make.

I’ve always loved colouring, as a child I would entertain myself for hours, scribbling and drawing and using felt tips to colour in blank silhouettes of cartoon characters and princesses. This is why I stopped. There were no colouring books suitable for adults, until now. It might be the latest craze that will fade into obscurity in a few months time but I think it’s an excellent idea to get adults in touch with their inner child. Instead of getting caught up in the anxieties of modern life, why not sit down, switch off your brain for a little while and colour? Brilliant.

Studies have shown that colouring is a great way to relax and turn off the world. We’re so animated all of the time, whether it is scrolling down our Facebook news feeds to see what our friends are up to, working in a busy office nine hours a day or travelling on trains and buses, we find it difficult to just stop and focus on one thing. Psychologists say that colouring stimulates areas of the brain that are related to motor skills, the senses and creativity and when we enter that creative state of mind, naturally our worries melt away, it’s the perfect relaxation technique.

Some adults will shake their heads in dismay at grown-ups sitting down with a box of crayons and a book of patterns to colour in on a Friday night but if it transports them to a place where they feel calmer, happier, even nostalgic then what’s the harm? I have always found colouring to be therapeutic and since buying my ‘adult’ colouring book, I have found a new hobby that enhances my creativity, makes me feel calmer and keeps me entertained when boredom hits. The first day I opened my new colouring book, I left my laptop screen and coloured for nearly three hours. I think that’s the longest I have been away from a screen for a while.

If you feel like you need an escape from your every day life and want to reconnect with your childhood innocence then pick up an adult colouring book from your local book shop, try it, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Twenty Two

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Tomorrow is my 22nd birthday.

I was re-reading my post Twenty that I wrote two years ago today. I remember writing it like it was yesterday. I am still the same person that I was when I wrote that blog post, I still have the same dreams and I still believe that turning twenty was a defining moment in my life. Since then I have graduated from university, I have visited Dublin with my boyfriend, I have started an internship at VIVA magazine and I have started to make plans for my future.

Honestly, it has been a hard two years, there have been a lot of struggles but everything I go through is making me a stronger person. I’m trying to live my life day by day instead of year by year but my mind always wanders to the future. I’m a dreamer, I always have been and always will be.

Another birthday is passing by and I might not be where I want to be but I have to be patient, I have time. I have years to accomplish everything I want to do. I am enjoying my life right now. I might not have a job or enough money to buy the things I want to buy and go to places I really want to go to but I am surrounded by love. I have to believe that my future will be bright. I have to believe that things will get better and I have to believe in myself.

If there is one thing that changes every year on my birthday, it’s my perspective. Whenever my birthday approaches, I look at life in a different way. I look back on the year that has passed and what I have achieved in that time. Life is a journey and sometimes we don’t appreciate moments until they are memories. I’m going to start enjoying the present. I’m going to be patient and grateful, I am going to smile even when I feel like I can’t and I’m going to keep hoping and dreaming that I will make it to my next birthday and I will be one step closer to my dreams and one step closer to the person I want to be.

Liebster Award – I’ve Been Nominated!!


The first time I was nominated for the Liebster Award was June last year by Dare To Dream, Live To Write. She said some really nice things about my blog and since then my blog has taken on a different identity, attracted more readers and inspired many people so thank you to KatWilson04 for nominating me for the Libester Award 2015.

Here are KatWilson04‘s questions and my answers:

  1. What cartoon character would you be and why? I would say I’m Tinkerbell from Peter Pan. I’ve been called Tinkerbell quite a few times by different friends growing up. I’m small, fiesty and can be ill-tempered. Tinkerbell has two sides to her personality, she can be jealous and firey but also kind and loving. Minus the blonde hair, I’ve been told by a lot of people that I remind them of Tinkerbell.
  2. One item of clothing you couldn’t live without? Oooh, that’s a hard one. Probably my favourite pair of jeans that I wear most of the time. Although I really love my fashion scarves. I have quite a collection now and wear them with different outfits, my favourite is a pink butterfly one that I have just bought. It’s not the piece of clothing I couldn’t live without per say, but it is my favourite thing to wear right now.
  3. What made you start blogging? We were told in our first year at university on my Creative Writing course that we had to create one for class, so that we could review the books that we were reading but since then AnotherBeautifulRhyme has become so much more than that. It’s a place of expression, inspiration and motivation. I want to inspire people with words, talk about my journey as a writer and talk about my love for yoga and my journey to happiness. I’m really proud of how my blog has turned into something positive and I love seeing how many people like my posts, it makes my day.
  4. What’s the best question you’ve ever been asked and why and what was your response? The best question I’ve ever been asked is if you could live in another era, which one would it be? I love questions like that because I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live in the 50’s, I’m fascinated by that era and although being a woman in that time period was extremely hard, I really love the idea of living in that time, I love the style of music, the fashion and the simplicity of life. I sometimes think I was born at the wrong time.
  5. If you could be part of a band/music group, who would you choose and why? I would be Taylor Swift’s back up singer definitely. I’ve always been a huge fan of hers, I found a video of her playing on YouTube before she was even famous and before she even released her first CD. I’ve been a fan ever since and I feel a connection with her even though we have never met. If she lived next door to me and she wasn’t a famous singer, we would probably be best friends because we are very similar. I would be her back up singer because I feel like I have always been there for her as a fan, so it would be cool to be on stage with her every night and watch her shine.
  6. What’s your favourite recipe, and where did you get it from? I’m not really a cook and it isn’t my recipe but my mother in law makes the best Spaghetti Bolognese. She’s shown me how to make it a few times and I just love it!
  7. If you could move to live in another place or country, where would it be and why? That’s a hard question! I’m one of those people. I’m in love with countries I have never visited and in love with people I have never met. I can’t wait to travel the world, explore new cultures, meet new people and experience new things. I like the idea of Italy, Rome to be exact. There is a romantic notion associated with it and I believe that it would be a great place to live and it would be a great place for a writer to be inspired on a daily basis.
  8. What one thing would you change about the world permanently and why? I would change the way we treat each other, the way the world is divided. Without money, religion, race or class, the world would be a completely different place, a nicer place. I would get rid of these divisions somehow. I have never understood the way the world works and I often dream of a better way things could be.
  9. Favourite animal? I love animals, I have a Guinea Pig called Theo and I adore him, I love dogs, orangutans, elephants, tigers, bears and meerkats. I prefer animals to humans sometimes.
  10. Favourite perfume/fragrance? I love Taylor by Taylor Swift, it smells sweet yet sophisticated at the same time, I love it!
  11. If you could give one tip or one bit of advice to a person, what would it be? I give a lot of advice to other people but rarely follow it myself and I really should. My one bit of advice would simply be this, be happy. Find a way to be happy with your life. We all have problems, challenges to face and things we are waiting for but if you learn to be content with the way your life is right now you will be much happier. Don’t forget to appreciate and love the people around you and most importantly, love yourself.Thank you for the questions KatWilson04! 

    Here are eleven random facts about me.1. My eyes change colour, sometimes they are green and sometimes they are blue and sometimes they are both green and blue (magic!).

    2. I prefer the inbetween seasons, Spring and Autumn. Winter is too cold and Summer is too hot. I love Spring because of the pink blossom on the trees and I love daffodils. Autumn is a beautiful season because of the orange and red leaves falling to the ground.

    3. I started writing poetry at the age of five, yes really, I found one of my old poems and I was five, nearly six when I wrote it. I’ve always loved poetry and always been obsessed with rhyme, hence my blog title.

    4. I love pugs! I’ve always wanted a dog growing up and I really want a pug and hopefully, when me and my boyfriend get our own house in the future, we can have a pug or maybe even two!

    5.  I am the world’s biggest procrastinator. I want to write, I let ideas float around in my mind for weeks before I actually write them down. I start the day with hopes of writing my novel ideas down and writing poetry but I always end up watching Pretty Little Liars or searching for new music on YouTube.

    6. I always want to learn something new, I taught myself how to play the guitar and keyboard and I have recently reached level one in British Sign Language and I really love it. I’m not sure what the next thing will be, maybe I will learn Spanish or learn how to draw.

    7. My favourite colour is Green.

    8. I love old music, anything from the sixties, seventies, eighties or nineties. I prefer it to modern music.

    9. I wear glasses, I can’t see anything clearly without them.

    10. I started doing yoga over a year ago and it has changed my life. I practice Hatha Yoga and also love to meditate.

    11. I play acoustic guitar, keyboard and sing.

I nominate…

AHeartAFire
SendSunshine
LifeIsGolden
JennyInNeverland
InsaneOwl
LemonsAreSweet
CatLumb
SheWritesOfLife
LittleOnionWrites
BookBooster
TheBookKitten

Here are your questions:

1. What’s your favourite season of the year and why?
2. Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
3. What’s the meaning behind your blog name?
4. What’s your favourite thing about life?
5. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be and why?
6. Which three novels would you recommend to your friends?
7. What is your biggest dream?
8. What is your biggest fear?
9. What’s your favourite thing about yourself?
10. If you could be any person for one day, who would you be and why?
11. Why do you love to blog?

Six Simple Rules Of The Liebster Award

Writers Write

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There is nothing more frustrating for a writer than a blank page.

For the last few months there has been a lot of blank pages. I have made no progress with any of my writing projects. I haven’t settled on an idea yet for a novel, I’m not writing poetry or short stories. I’m struggling to write articles and I have to sit down and remind myself to constantly update this blog.

It’s like I have nothing to say. I try my best to write but the words don’t come. I sat down at my typewriter a few days ago. I started to write a short story. I got about ten lines into it when I decided that it was rubbish, I threw it away and sat there with my head in my hands. I was frustrated with myself and I still am. Why can’t I write at the moment? I feel like I have lost all of my confidence and I have no ideas, nothing.

Writers write but right now, I’m not writing. I don’t know what to do. I feel like I have tried everything. I have given myself time, I have tried to read a book to try and get inspired, I have tried writing prompts. Some writers have to feel pain or sadness to write, for me, I think I need to be happy. At the moment, I’m not entirely happy. It’s hard to explain. I feel tired but it’s a tiredness that cannot be fixed by sleep. I don’t find writing enjoyable right now and this is hard for me because writing has always been an escape. I feel like life is trying to bring me down but I have to try and stay positive.

One day soon I will pick up my pen and write, for now, all I can do is wait until that happens…

 

 

Letters To Emily

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Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

I’m still amazed that I completed NaNoWriMo in 2014. I set myself the challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I completed it and now I feel like I am ready to write another novel. Writing 1:58 was an amazing experience, I finally finished a novel. It was a big achievement to actually finish something. 1:58 is technically a novella but it’s definitely given me the confidence boost that I need to move forward.

I learnt a lot from the NaNoWriMo experience, I found that discipline was extremely important and I learnt to turn off my editor voice in my head and just write. I really loved the characters in my story but once I wrote the finally word and ended it with a full stop, I knew that the plot definitely had to change. My original story fell flat and I knew I could do better. That’s when I started to plan Letters To Emily.

There were many different titles but I’ve decided to settle on Letters To Emily because it fits the idea I have in my mind perfectly. I’m still using the character’s Eleanor Hemming and Lacey Collins because I loved writing about their lives in 1:58. However, instead of the story being centred around two babies that were switched, I’ve decided to change it to a child that is taken.

Now, I know that the idea has been done many times before but there are a few twists and turns that I have planned to make sure that my novel stands out. There will be many different forms in the novel. Letters and messages will be embedded into the narrative and the story will not only focus on the lives of Lacey and Eleanor but their daughters Charlotte and Erin and let’s not forget Lacey’s husband Ben.

A big secret will change the lives of both families and I want to focus on how a tragedy can effect a family. I also want to write about the bond between mother and daughter and another layer to my story is how the internet has become an important part of our daily lives. Charlotte and Erin meet on an online chat room, they become friends and confide in each other about the daily problems that they both face. Erin feels disconnected from her mother Eleanor, they never stay in one town for long and she finds it difficult to meet new friends. Charlotte is tired of constantly being in Emily’s shadow, her mother is still obsessed with finding her daughter even though ten years have past. Ben doesn’t know if he can save his marriage and Lacey is either running her bookshop or posting in an online forum about missing children.

I am confident that this is the book that I want to write. I know that 50,000 words is achievable in 30 days so I shouldn’t have an issue with writing 80,000 to 100,000 words with no deadline. Of course I would love to finish the first draft of the novel by the summer, so I can edit it and make it better and hopefully get it ready for publishing by the end of this year.

Lost At Sea

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Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on Pexels.com

I feel like I’m lost at sea and I am barely keeping my head above the water. I kick my legs to stay alive and I can see the sun on the horizon but no matter how hard I try to swim towards it, the waves take me in a different direction. Some days, I feel the warm sun on my face and I believe that I will make it, to where I want to be and other days I feel like I can no longer stay afloat.

Clear blue water, I can see everything around me, the past, the present and the future and the images blur in my mind. I try to look forward, to stay in the moment and forget the past. Why does it feel so difficult to think of it all? My legs are tired and my heart is beating quickly in my chest. What’s the point of all of this? I try and nothing happens. I want to swim straight. I know where I am going but I don’t know how to get there. The waves are taking me away from the control I thought I had. The sun is disappearing and soon it will be just me and the night sky.

When the sky is dark, my feelings are too. Everywhere I turn I see nothing but black water, it swallows me up and I feel so small and insignificant. The moon is high in the sky, it seems so far away. I know that there are people in the world struggling to survive and I should feel happy that there is breath in my body and life in my eyes but sometimes I lose that spark, I lose my light and I give into the temptation of negativity. Wouldn’t it just be easier to not care? To bob along in the waves of life and see where the wind takes me? Why can’t I be free from restrictions? Why can’t I close my eyes, picture a place and be there? The answer is simple. Life is unpredictable like the sea, the waves can pull me in various directions but as long as I keep looking at the horizon, I will be okay.

The waves carry me into morning and the light from the sun gives me hope again, I smile, all I can do is hope that the day will bring me some happiness.

New Ideas & NANOWRIMO

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 I’ve decided that this year is the year that I will not only attempt but win NANOWRIMO. Now if you don’t know what NANOWRIMO stands for, I will tell you. It stands for –  National Novel Writing Month. That’s right, I’m going to attempt to write an entire novel…. in a month! That’s impossible, you’re probably thinking. It isn’t. Thousands of people do it and this year, I will be one of them. I have all of my character profiles done but I still need to write down plot points from the beginning to the end of my story, I still have time though. Once I’ve done that I will confidently be waiting for the 1st of November when I can get my first draft done in just 30 days.

This is the first year that I am seriously taking up the challenge, I have plenty of time on my hands. I have no job and nothing to tie me down, the only thing I lack is motivation. I’ve added some writing buddies on my NANOWRIMO page and if I get stuck I can talk to one of them or one of my other writing friends. I need to do this. I need to prove to myself that I can really do it. I know I can complete a novel from start to finish, I just need to believe in myself. Winning NANOWRIMO will help me with this self belief.

My new idea is my fourth attempt at a novel. I feel like I haven’t found the right story or the right genre yet. I’m sure I will find out during the NANOWRIMO process if this is the right fit for me. The story is women’s fiction, I would describe it as a chick lit with suspense. The story follows two woman who have an unlikely connection, the story will reveal a big secret and there will be plenty of shocks and surprises to keep the reader turning the page.

I’ve worked out that writing 2,000 words a day would get me to 62,000 words and I only need 50,000 to complete the NANOWRIMO challenge. I’m sure I can manage more then 1,500 words each day. There will be distractions, situations and obstacles but I am really excited about the challenge and I hope that my confidence stays high and I remain focused on the goal. I would love to post another blog at the end of November and tell you all that I did it. Wish me luck… I’m going to need it!

The Muse Has Returned

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For a while now I have been leaving my novel alone, not intentionally of course. I’ve been avoiding writing all together. I don’t know why I do it. I love to write. I feel better when I write. I ignore my compulsion to write. Why do I depriving myself of it? I’ve figured something out about my writing process though in the last few days. I can’t focus on just the one writing project. I blame university for that. I got so used to juggling several projects at once, short stories, poems, scripts and novels that I can’t help but do the same thing now I have finished my degree (I got a 2.1 by the way, go me!!). So now I’ve started a new poetry collection from scratch, a new short story collection and I’m carrying on with my novel. I don’t understand the impulse I have to do this but it’s worked, my muse has returned.

Today I have written two poems, I have three new story ideas for my short story collection and I have started writing chapter nine of my novel I Choose Life and it’s only 1pm! Hopefully this will be the end of my writers dry spell and I can finally get something done. I love the feeling of finishing a piece of writing but I have yet to complete an entire first draft of a novel. That will change by the end of the year. If I work hard, I can get my first draft done by the end of December. Most writers claim that the editing stage is the hardest but I think I might find that easier than getting the story written. The problem is, I question myself. I think about all of the things that I am going to change once I get to the second draft stage and I really need to focus on just writing the story from beginning to end.

I need to believe in myself like I do when I write short stories or poetry. Anyone who claims that writing a book is easy, obviously isn’t putting their heart and soul into it. Anyone can write words but it takes a truly disciplined person to be a writer. Although I sometimes lack motivation and give in to the negativity that tells me that my writing isn’t good enough I know that I have the strength to eventually start writing again. There is no way that I am giving up. I will finish the first draft of my novel. I might decide in the second stage of editing that I hate my story and I no longer want to pursue it, if that happens then I will still be pleased that I reached the milestone of writing a 50,000 word draft of a novel.

I’m going to leave it there because I have to get back to my novel. Then I have to write another article for Women Make Waves. Then I might start another short story this afternoon. My mind never stops. I might need another two coffees to help me but today is definitely going to be a great writing day!