Anxiety and other demons

It might tell you something about me state of mind in recent months if I reveal I’ve been trying to write about this since the beginning of June.  I was going to talk about why I’ve not been writing and blaming it on the job and yes that has been part of it. However, there is always more to any given situation.

I think everything I have been dealing with can be linked with my anxiety and THE FEAR. It needs the emboldened capital letters it is that much of a thing.

I suppose I have always had a little bit of anxiety, it all rather came to a head last year when I had some physical health issues coupled with a job where I was taken for granted somewhat and that toxic cocktail culminated in me getting signed off with anxiety.  I hadn’t realised that the nagging voice that was in my head or the procrastination or the other multitude of things that I distract myself from being present were related but they are and basically it is THE FEAR that generates them.

So in the last eighteen months I’ve become more aware, I’m aware that the anxiety weasels are agents of THE FEAR and they are there to stop me doing what I need to do.  That doesn’t mean I’ve got them beaten, in fact the last four months or so I’ve managed to tie myself up in knots again so much so that I’ve been unable to do much creative at all.  I’ve been hyper-focussed on work because a lot of things fell to me this year and my success rate if I’m honest while mostly positive have been mixed.  But aside from that, I haven’t blogged, I’ve managed to crochet but I’ve not been able to write and I have been frustrated by my own inaction.

So what’s changed?  This is my third blog post this week have I licked it this time?

Well no, but I’m changing my approach.

Last week I needed to get my hair cut.  I didn’t want to travel anymore to my old hair dresser in my home town, I needed to find a new one.  I polled friends and finally decided on which hairdressers to try to make an appointment with.  I hate talking on the phone to people I don’t know so I decided to call in.  It took me hours of distraction to get me out of the house, it took me longer to get to the salon and make an appointment.  I am thirty-five years old.  I wasted hours trying to do what it takes a non anxious person three minutes to so and I was angry at myself.  I mean I did it eventually but it was genuinely hard.

And I guess writing has been the same for me. I want to write some fiction and I have what I think could be good ideas but I can’t sit down and do it. Why? THE FEAR. It is distracting me with shiny things and tempting me away from just getting the words out of me.  I’ve felt utterly utterly blocked.  I haven’t been able to see a way out of this at all. Meanwhile I have been getting angrier with myself because the rational part of me knows I am being ridiculous and yet I’ve not been able to circumnavigate these blocks.

I had a conversation with a friend.  She knows anxiety of old and she knows of THE FEAR and she has given me a couple of strategies that I am trying and I’ll report back later when I’m sure I’ve made progress.

First off I am negotiating with THE FEAR, I’m letting it know I know it’s there.  I’m acknowledging it and politely asking it to step aside while I get things done.

Secondly I’m trying to be kinder to myself.  I am attempting to stop beating myself up for being rubbish, that is THE FEAR and the anxiety talking.  I have to work on getting myself to accept my own boundaries and doing things because I want to do them. Not because its FEAR making me.

I have a way to go, I need to regain some confidence but small steps and this blog is one of them.  Getting to the gym is another and I’m working on it and I’ll be continuing to work on it.

Ten things you should do to survive at a convention

Having just got back from Nine Worlds I’ve been reflecting on Conventions of this type and how just attending can really impact on your body.  Folks tend to push themselves beyond their normal capacity for doing things because there are so many shiny things to do happening from dawn til dawn if we’re honest so here are some tips that have helped me.

  1. Pace yourself.  It sounds lame but it really helps survive the cons that run over several days.  Don’t get stupidly drunk, try to grab some sleep you will handle everything better.
  2. Plan your panels and have back up choices.  Try to get to panels early and if something is full or not going to work for you go to something else.  At nine worlds I had to plan carefully and I kept having to miss things because rooms were full or I had been distracted by something shiny.
  3. Be polite.  Let people come out of a room before trying to enter it. Be aware of what you are carrying and try not to take people out with it.
  4. EAT. No I mean it you will need to.  My strategy is load up on breakfast and then try to grab a decent evening meal.  In between times I have a bag with various snacks that are designed to keep me going.  Also be prepared to wander away from the hotel in order to find cheaper food.
  5. DRINK. Nine Worlds were brilliant for making sure that there was tonnes of water freely available some tracks had tea available (yay feminism) but I didn’t know this in advance and I carried bottled water everywhere just in case.
  6. Don’t try to do everything as a huge group.  You will block thoroughfares, you will annoy other con-goers and half your group will be resentful of going to things they don’t want to. Instead meet up at prearranged times in pre arranged spots to squee and stuff.
  7. Try some panels on your own. Scary I know but I ended up sitting next to or by some very interesting people who were lovely to talk to and I’m now stalking them on the twitters. A great way to make friends.
  8. Compliment people. Not in a creepy way, when someone was wearing awesome cosplay or were wearing something cool. Or had done something cool at a panel I tried to say hello and that I liked what they were doing.  It was a way of giving them a little bit of kudos and it started up a couple of cool conversations.
  9. Enjoy yourself. That’s what cons are about at the end of the day, you get out of them what you put in.
  10. Thank volunteers and organisers.  They have worked very hard to make things happen.  Show them your appreciation.

Add your own tips in the comments.