Sunday, 18 November 2012

How do you know if you're depressed?

I've been thinking about writing this post since I confessed I'm not okay but I'm not sure I will be able to express myself properly. I tend to store my blog posts in my head lately so how well this will translate into "the real world" is anyone's guess!

With the benefit of hindsight, I can see I was depressed when I went to see my doctor back in January if not before, but then I started my Grr Argh challenge and I felt better for a while. I really thought I had beaten whatever it was that had been making me feel so low but reading my blog posts back, I can see it was still there and it was only ever going to be a matter of time before it made a reappearance.
It started innocuously enough, probably around the same time I finished my maternity leave and went back to  part-time work at the start of August 2012. I felt exhausted every day, which wasn't exactly unexpected and on my days at home, I struggled to get going and to properly engage with the boys.
I could rationalise all of that away though. Learning to juggle work and home was challenging, Randall had only just started to sleep through the night and I hadn't had an unbroken night's sleep since before I fell pregnant in 2009. Given time and enough sleep, I figured I'd be fine.
But then, there was one day when I just stopped doing everything that I normally did for me. No blogging, no twitter, no exercise, no more working on my latchhook rug, and sometimes no conversation. There was no part of me that had any interest in engaging with my normal hobbies; I just wanted to sit and not have to do anything.
A part of me knew that wasn't right but I told myself I was obviously recuperating from two close together pregnancies and 2 young children under 2, and I'd get back into doing "stuff" eventually.
I want to say I realised I needed some help when the thoughts started up again. But for a while, they were so convincing that I didn't realise how distorted my thinking was, or how anxious and paranoid.
To me, there was no question that I was boring, useless, unattractive, not good enough and a rubbish mum, and it was only a matter of time before my husband left me.
It was obvious that everyone would be happier without me around and I could tell there were people who wanted to take my children and thought they could do a better job of raising them.
Every illness was never just a cough or a virus; it was Cancer and I was going to die and my children would be too young to remember me.
I cried pretty much every day, or was close to tears. But I figured my hormones were all over the shop with my periods having restarted.
I can remember the times of clarity when I knew my brain wasn't working right and when I would spend the evening googling post-natal depression and depression and desperately hoping I would find something that would tell me in black and white whether I was or not. Was I depressed? Was I sleep-deprived? Were my hormones still settling down? or was it something else? I was so confused.
In the end, it took 2 things to make me take action. The first was a day when I thought "I'm not cut out for this. I should go back to work full-time" and the second was when I made my husband cry. I knew then that if I didn't go and see the doctor, I was going to destroy my family.
Seeing my doctor and starting anti-depressants has transformed my life. It's only now I can truly see how warped my thinking was and I never, ever want to feel like that again. It was really hard to talk about how I was feeling but I am so glad I did. I wish I'd realised earlier that I didn't have to have all the answers and didn't need to try and fix things myself (how I thought I'd do that is anyone's guess!).
Sometimes we all need a little help. This time it was my turn. Next time it could be yours. But it's okay. We're not weak or a failure or a freak or crazy; it's just one of those things and if we all talked a bit more about it, we'd realise how normal it is and how many other people feel exactly the same way we do.
Honestly, they really do.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Review: Blood Bath & Beyond by Michelle Rowen

BLOOD BATH & BEYOND (An Immortality Bites Mystery)
by Michelle Rowen

PUBLISHER: Obsidian Mystery

RELEASE DATE: 04 October 2012

GENRE: Paranormal Mystery / Crime

Sarah Dearly is adjusting to life as a fledgling vampire but when her fiance, Thierry, takes a job with the Ring - the secret council in charge of keeping vampires in line - she gets more than a taste of danger.

In Las Vegas for Thierry's first assignment, they encounter a child beauty pageant from hell, as well as a vampire serial killer who threatens to expose the existence of vampires to the whole world.

And when Thierry's truly ancient history comes back to haunt him, it's up to Sarah to clear his name before their immortal lives come to an end.

It was love at first sight when I saw the cover art on this book. The colours are eye-catching and the style is classy and very graphic novel-ish. I immediately wanted to start reading it, which is no bad thing!

The opening sentence caught my attention: "The fangs don't get nearly as much attention as you'd think". And before I knew it, I was caught up in the lives of Sarah Dearly, a recently turned vampire, and her fiance, Thierry de Bennicoeur, a six hundred year old master vampire.

Sarah is a strong character who always sees the best in people. However, she absolutely has the worst luck! She is forever ending up in unexpected and sometimes life-threatening situations and it's amazing she manages to survive her trip to Las Vegas in one piece!

She is completely devoted to Thierry but she's not blinkered. She knows he has a LOT of past and that she's inevitably not going to like some of it but she's willing to deal with that because his past isn't who he is now.

There was never any question that when Thierry was blackmailed into working for the Ring, she wouldn't go with him. And since the Ring primarily exists to police vampiric behaviour, you know that trouble lies ahead.

We meet a whole range of characters in Las Vegas. There's Bernard, another master vampire, and Laura, a newly turned vampire, whose personalities and relationships lead Sarah to reflect on herself and her own relationship. Then there's Victoria Corday; 6 year old girl on the outside, 96 year old vampire on the inside...and beauty queen extraordinare! And Markus, the Ring's enforcer, who arrives in Las Vegas to take care of the vampire serial killer that's on the loose...and Thierry.

There's also some interesting twists on the usual vampire lore, with the biggest being that whatever age you're turned at, you're always inherently that age. So even though Victoria is 96, she's not a worldly vampire in the body of a little girl, she's still a little girl, with just a bit more life experience, particularly when it comes to winning beauty pageants.

The plot is fast-moving and you can see the start of an arc, which the author could explore in any number of ways in future books in the series. I think the series can potentially only get stronger as we learn more and more about the characters and the world they inhabit.

Blood Bath & Beyond was a light, entertaining read, with less emphasis on romance and more on mystery. If you've ever read the Undead series by Mary Janice Davidson or the Dark Ones novels by Katie MacAlister then you'll definitely enjoy this!

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