Severe anxiety and depression. You are not alone.

Hello everyone. In today’s post I aim to be completely honest and transparent about my mental health. There are some thoughts on severe anxiety and self-criticism that I would like to share online. In other words, I hope my experience will aid those who are suffering today from the effects of mental distress.

The effects of uncontrolled/severe anxiety

Last week I had an incredible nervous breakdown, to the point where I could not visualise an end to my demise. As dramatic as that sounds, I wholeheartedly believed there was something truly wrong with me. I could not sleep, barely ate anything, and suffered from constant intrusive thinking of suicide/harming others. It was frightening, to say the least. There was absolutely no conception of a close end or light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. I was totally, hopelessly lost in fear.

There is hope for us anxiety sufferers

I am telling you this because the person I was last week is quite different from the woman I am today. The thoughts are still there, let’s be clear about that point, only quieter and less inducing. The symptoms of panic come and go, although they do not dictate my day-to-day activities; or if they happen to interfere with my schedule, at least it is not self-limiting. Life continues its course, with ups and downs, as it does for everyone else. After all, I have learnt to accept it is okay not to feel fine all the time, and that seeking help is not a sign of weakness.

Why we need help from others

Two weeks ago, I started counselling with a marvellous lady who follows a person-centred approach. It has only been two sessions, yet I can already identify a familiar thought pattern. This default thinking has been embedded within me for as long as I can remember. It is, of course, the never-ending cycle of self-criticism and low self-esteem.

Let us think for a moment that I had decided to keep my issues private. For example, imagine drowning at sea without a life vest nearby. You can probably swim a short distance, still your strength will eventually die out and all hope for survival would be lost. It doesn’t sound appealing at all, does it?

If you have agreed on the previous part, what follows should be easily understood. Just as the stray swimmer, I needed a “rescue boat” with the correct set of tools to guide me back to shore. Simple as that. Truth be told, there is no shame is feeling vulnerable and reaching out for help. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Life is a journey of constant change

To conclude this entry, I wish to place more emphasis on a point of view I found beneficial during my acute episode of anxiety: it doesn’t matter how bad things seem today, tomorrow will be better. Repeat this to yourself until you believe it without a trace of doubt. Problems come and go, as the changing tide of the sea; just the same, once you memorise the way back to land, you will never be lost again.

Helplines:

5 Things no one told you about self-publishing

Almost 2 weeks after my first book’s submission to Kindle Direct Publishing, I have become aware of a few factors I wish I had known in advance to submerging myself into the crude world of fiction writing. Some of these were pleasant surprises; the vast majority, a bitter disappointment and obstacle to my creative drive.

Without further ado, here are the 5 blatant actualities about self-publishing that no author wants to tell you:

1. The sales are going to plummet, or never rise at all. The amount of competition is unbearable, with millions of writers out there who are most likely ahead of you in terms of experience, marketing, followers, etc. It is a shameful but tangible fact that selling a book without being a famous influencer is almost impossible, unless you are willing to invest in ads or other forms of paid promotion; either that, or you are a skilful social bug with a broad circle of friends at your disposal.

2. The self-doubt and regret that follows. Nothing is going to decrease your self-esteem more than seeing your book sit on the shelf, collecting dust and untouched for eternity, or how the sales graphs remain flat for days on end, as a lifeless carcass of broken dreams. You start to reconsider if your writing passion is truly achievable, or you have made a terrible mistake in even attempting to compose a believable story. No one told you it would be a trial for the weak of mind, and a test for your battered patience.

3. How a good book cover looks like. It is public knowledge that the front cover is in tandem with the contents of the book itself. With so many alternatives to choose from, I opted for Canva, an online graphic-design tool. Creating the cover was relatively easy; however, I had to re-design it in order to be legible in smaller devices, experimenting with different colours, fonts and backgrounds. If you thought it would be a piece of cake, think again.

4. Keywords, but which ones are better? When I first published my book, I was gullible enough to pick the first 7 keywords that came to my head and made sense in the context of my story. I found, nevertheless, an article which explained “How to choose your book keywords wisely” and, to my dismay, there is so much more to consider. Not only it is essential to choose the appropriate words, but you should also weigh the balance between popular (more competitive) terms and unpopular combinations (less competitive); how the books are selling within the Amazon ranks, how influential the authors are in your genre, etc. A horrible nightmare.

5. Is Kindle Unlimited really worth it? There is some controversy on this topic, with many supporters and detractors of the Kindle platform itself. While it is undeniably the most popular publisher you can approach without an agent (those who start from absolute zero), it comes at a price—poor royalties. In fact, they verge on the edge of exploitation when the prices are below £1.99, with only a 35% profit per sale. This is particularly harsh on new authors like myself, because you cannot expect the readers to spend such “fortune” (today’s standards) on a nobody’s literary work. And that, my dear friend, is as truthful as the Earth goes around the Sun.

Those are the 5 facts I wish I had known before self-publishing. Let me know on the comment section below if there are any other points you would like to share with other fellow writers. Take care and keep on writing!

8 Tips to Overcome Writer’s Block

All of us have experienced it at some point in our lives. There is something that needs to be written, whether professional or for sheer pleasure, and the words don’t seem to flow as we would like them to.

As a writer, I can tell you how frustrating it is to sit down by the computer/laptop/notebook, full of enthusiasm and good intentions, only to find that the blank page opposite has declared war against you.

Based on my practical knowledge, I have compiled a series of basic techniques in order to cope with this mental barrier, which will surely make your writing a more pleasing activity in the future:

1. Listen to music while writing. I used to believe that writing should be done in complete silence, and it most cases, a quiet environment can indeed boost our concentration levels. However, if you are blocked on a certain part of your project, it is a good idea to search for music that is closely related to that same topic you are dealing with. I would especially recommend film soundtracks or anything without voice lyrics, but feel free to experiment what works best for you.

2. Take a break. Having a rest and engaging on a different activity can have a very positive impact on your performance. Switching off is all we need to find inspiration and return with a fresher and more positive outlook.

3. Don’t stop to edit every sentence. If you interrupt the course of ideas, it is more likely that you will get stuck at some point. Editing is great, but don’t overdo it, especially if you have just started. It is best to write what pops in your head, let it flow naturally, and edit afterwards. This piece of advice works very well for perfectionists, and you will know if you’re one of them.

4. Go outside. Writing is a very solitary task, which involves a great deal of time indoors. Because of this reason, it might be useful to stop when you feel drained and go outdoors for a short walk. It doesn’t need to be anywhere special or even for a long period of time, just somewhere to disconnect from the monotony of your writing desk. You will most likely find more inspiration from the people and buildings outside than the walls of your bedroom.

5. Not two days are the same. Accepting that some days will be harder than others is vital. Today you may feel discouraged by the lack of productivity, but rest assured that inspiration does come to us all eventually. Be patient and treasure your writing gift.

6. Read a lot. What best way to find inspiration than reading from other authors you admire? Pay close attention to their style, character/setting description, grammar and punctuation. If you aim to make writing your career, learn from those who have succeeded in achieving their dreams.

7. Note your ideas on a notebook. Have you ever watched a film, read a book or experienced something that made you think, “Oh, this definitely could make a good story!” Well, make sure to note it down, otherwise you will most likely forget it. You never know when these great ideas make come in handy.

8. Write every day. If you want to excel in writing, you will have to practice every day. This includes weekends, bank holidays and other events. To make things even more difficult, you may already have a very tight schedule (day job), children or other family commitments. I really need to emphasise how important it is to find time to sit down and write about what inspires you. Practice does make perfection. On the positive side, those previously terrifying writer’s blocks will become part of your daily experiences and won’t be so overwhelming. Definitely worth it!

Do you know of any other writing tips to beat the so-called writer’s block? If that is the case, feel free to share your expert knowledge on the comment section below, and don’t forget to share this post with your friends on social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.

Big shout-out to all amateur writers as myself who are trying to make their dreams come true in a very competitive industry. Keep up the good work!

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