I want to say I attempt to, but that isn't the case. I get swept up in weeks, sometimes months worth of inspiration in which I will find something that captivates me and makes me excited about words and how I can twist them to create the image and the emotion I am trying to convey. However, as soon as I get to a section where the words will not bend in the right way and the characters have turned against me, moving themselves into situations that do not make sense, revealing things that mean I have to go back and edit everything I have written thus far I fall apart. I toss the piece of writing aside and let it rot, hoping that magical inspiration will bless me once again and I will find the words, find the patterns, and the characters will fall into place.
That isn't really how to write though, I've discovered. I want the process to be perfect because, in my mind, that will make the product perfect.
But then I think back to being nine or ten, having this old computer with a CRT monitor that had a really dim, over-magnified screen which I could never learn how to fix. I remember loading up Microsoft Word and writing this long story about four friends for months. I had so many ideas, and I would sit and painstakingly edit and write and create after school because I really loved the story and cared about what happened to these characters. I remember the short novel I actually managed to finish when I was fifteen or sixteen, because I put the work in and wrote every day.
But the more vivid memories are reading those stories a year later and hating them. Going back in to see if I can now fix them with my supposedly superior writing skills and just creating more problems than I fix, before deleting all of it in a blind, miserable rage because it's not perfect. I want the thing that I love, the thing that I've dreamed about doing for a living to be perfect in all aspects of itself and if it's not perfect then I hate it.
It was going through university, graduating, being jobless, finding a job that I hated and having one too many breakdowns that I realised: this is sort of how I feel about everything in my life.
In terms of work, my boss was really coming down on me about my progress, and although I felt like I could learn things pretty quickly I have problems with taking initiative and knowing what to say at the right time. I kept making mistakes, which should be fine because I was new, but to me they felt like the whole world was caving in. It struck me, through talking with my boyfriend and conversations with my parents, that it's not really normal to be having panic attacks working in a supermarket.
It's probably a cause for concern when you're crying in the stock room because you can't manage your stress.
So, through advice from my boyfriend and his mother, I found out about IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies), referred myself, and got the help I needed.
(This is me when I got my letter saying my self-referral had been accepted.
I remember feeling happy,
like I wasn't just stupid there really was something I needed help with.)
I just had my last session this week, and I may refer myself again honestly because I feel like there is still work to be done, it's just each person has a limited amount of sessions because it is an NHS service and because of money resources are limited. My advisor told me to give it a few months before I re-refer though, to see how I feel managing on my own for a while. I think he believed in my strength more than I do, which is really nice to think about.
So I'm going to use this blog as a sort of post-therapy exercise and as a way to get me back into the habit of doing what I love and pushing myself to do it. That was actually one of my big problems that we established while I was meeting with my advisor: I've stopped doing the things I love, because I feel like I don't have time and I should focus on things like university or work to make them perfect to the point where my stress bubbles over, and I don't have those things I love to take the focus away from that stress. In my head, agonising over something is more productive than putting it to one side and coming back to it when I am in a better head space.
In the coming days and weeks I'm going to talk more about what I'm doing on a daily basis, how I have come to this point in my life, and things I have discovered about myself through therapy. Things like having panic attacks and not knowing what they are, GPs, the NHS, public opinion on mental illness, and all the things I have had floating around my anxious brain.
Hopefully, you find something here that interests you, or better yet something that helps you.