Person buried under a doona and pillows, only their arm sticking out

Executive dysfunction – when laziness isn’t laziness

Let’s talk about laziness, and what it isn’t.

Recently a friend was telling me about how someone in his family – someone he by necessity has to live with – calls him lazy because he takes on too much and then doesn’t have the headspace to get it done. I told him, that sounds pretty toxic of them, and he responded, it’s understandable. It’s just me being a trash human.

“Lazy” is one of the biggest sticks that gets used to beat people who can’t achieve as much, or as regularly, as what’s considered “normal”. Other people use the “lazy” stick on us – and worse, we use it on ourselves.

It’s easy to think of ourselves as lazy, or useless, or trash humans, when we don’t live up to our own or others’ expectations of what we “should” be able to get done. Goodness knows I did, for many years.

I called myself lazy because my house is always a mess. Because there’s always another load of dishes waiting to be done. Because of the pile of clothes in limbo by the sewing machine, waiting eternally to be mended. Because even when I was doing a job I loved, many days I still had to drag myself, unwilling, out of bed and off to work.

It’s taken me many years to shed that way of thinking. But now I know: that’s not laziness.

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A person sitting down and holding a brighly-coloured piece of paper in front of their head, with a sad face drawn on it

Learning lessons from my bad days

As you may have gathered from my last update and from the lack of blog posts generally, the brain weasels have been biting hard.

Stepping down off Effexor has been a painful process. At the higher doses, it was mostly a case of waiting out the first week of adjustment: the dizzy head-spins, the oversleeping, getting motion sickness from something as minor as looking at my phone while walking. As I’ve hit the lower doses, though, I’ve started to experience effects that don’t go away as I adjust.

It’s been hard – but it’s also been instructive.

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I’m back! I’m better! Well… sort of.

Right – I made it through Continuum, and it’s time to bring back my regularly scheduled blog posts. I have a lot to talk about, but some pretty important life changes came up during the lead-up to Continuum that I didn’t have time to write about at the time, so for context I want to start with a basic round-up of Where I’m At Now.

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Sand sculpture of several people being lifted off their feet while hanging on strings attached to baloons that look like brains. One looks happy about it, another distressed, another determined.

Why can’t I just focus?! Further adventures in weasel-wrangling

There’s an old joke-cum-truism about being a writer: the fear of a blank page.

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I’m well familiar with that phenomenon – I’ve even written about it before.

What I haven’t admitted before, though, is that for me the struggle to put words down doesn’t end when the page is no longer blank. And lately I’ve begun to think that that struggle might be due not to anxiety, but to another species of brain weasel altogether.

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A rulling landscape of scrub, with mountains in the distance and a stream flowing over rapids in the foreground

Clearing out the mental clutter (without going on a four-day hike)

I recently returned from a four-day hiking trip. Hiking is an activity I don’t undertake often – it usually takes a year or so for the memory of the aches and pains, poor sleep, and lack of refrigerated food to wear off to the point where I start yearning for the positive aspects of a long hike.

Besides the beautiful scenery, one of the elements that keeps bringing me back is the amazing sense of mental clarity hiking produces in me.

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A mess of straw

The horror of small habits: handling habit overload

Some years ago, I went to see a physio about recurring headaches brought on by neck tension. When he was done poking and prodding me, he taught me a set of neck stretches. “Do these for five minutes every day,” he told me, “and you shouldn’t have to come back here.”

Years later, I still do those stretches religiously as part of my morning routine and my neck is much happier. In theory, it would be brilliant if all my problems could be solved this way: take up some small, daily habit and never have to worry about mess, stress, health or happiness ever again.

And yet.

Recently I went back to the physio with lower back problems. But this time, when he finished up with, “Let’s look at some simple preventative exercises…”, my heart sank. The very thought made me want to execute a hard reverse out the door.

So what’s changed? Simple: I’ve hit habit overload.

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A mess of jigsaw puzzle pieces

How to get things done when you’re struggling: start with the easy parts

This isn’t the blog post I thought I was going to write today.

I have a whole thing started about asexuality and the simultaneous prevalence and absence of sex in Western society that I though I was going to finish. But when I woke up this morning, I knew it was going to be one of those days: my gut hurt (something bad I ate yesterday? Or just my old friend, referred stress?), and I had a long list of things I needed to get done hanging Damocles-style over my head.

I didn’t even want to get out of bed, let alone write something pithy and thought-provoking about how our society treats sex.

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Mental illness: stigma and silence

A quick note before I start: Folks, for a number of reasons December is always the busiest and hardest of months for me. So in the name of self-care – and, hopefully, of finishing another story before Christmas – I will be taking a break from blogging until the new year (barring any writing-related announcements). It’s been great to have you with me for website year one; I hope the end of the year is kind to you, and I’ll see you in January.

 

CW: suicidal thoughts

Yesterday I had a conversation that broke my heart.

I was asked to have a chat with an eighteen-year-old first-year university student whose doctor had prescribed antidepressants, but who was hesitant to take them. I’m not a doctor, nor a mental health practitioner, but I did my best as a user of antidepressants to answer questions about my own experience and based on that experience, to give advice that would help them understand the positives and negatives of the medication when making their decision.

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Girl with a lantern finding her way through a dark forest

Figuring it out as I go: on pantsing with anxiety

One of the questions that comes up in writerly circles is: are you a planner or a pantser?

Planners like to know exactly where their story is going before they begin. They’re the writers who create outlines, spreadsheets, scene planners, character maps, etc ad infinitum.J. K. Rowling? Definitely a planner. J.R.R. Tolkein, with his volumes of world history and mythology, his carefully crafted languages, was possibly the ultimate planner.

Pantsers prefer to just sit down and go, and let the story fall as it may – in other words, they write by the seat of their pants.

There’s a lot more appeal, to me, in being a planner. Planners have plans. They know what they’re doing. If they get stuck, they can just look at their plan and figure out where they need to go next – or, if that’s not enough, they can do some more planning. Right?

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Writing update and reflections on being in the writing zone

As of this morning, my latest story – tentatively titled ‘Two Turns of the Moon’ – is polished up and in the hands of some of my wonderful beta readers. That’s something I haven’t been able to say since – oh gods – July.

While I await their feedback, I’ll take another look at the story I was struggling with before writing this one. After a lengthy writing drought brought on by travel, job-hunting, and getting too caught up in expectations, I’ve been really pleased by my momentum over the last week, and I want to make every effort not to let that momentum drop.

Just a short post this week – some reflections on what it feels like to be back in the writing zone.
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