Stay Strong

Words cannot express how long I have had to fight for every single smile in my life, and how difficult it has been to hold onto joy and light, thanks to crippling depression that has plagued me since childhood. Thank you to the never-ending continuation of burdens and grief. Really. Thanks. Thank you world, thank you life. I know I am dangerously close to sounding like a martyr, or maybe even a drama queen – ‘What the hell has she got to be depressed about?’ many might think – but unless you too have suffered with it, you cannot understand the agony it brings. Every day. Always. And I know there is so much I have to be thankful for, and indeed I spend every night reminding myself of this, but it is such a faint glimmer within the darkness. But a glimmer nonetheless.

And, to my dear mother, I want to apologise for all the added stress I brought you in my school days, in my teenage years, for I could not cope and I know it upset you to see me ruin myself, to fall into this unrecognisable being of burning anger. And I want to apologise for now, for still not being the daughter I wish I could be. You too have had many hardships, and right now we are both going through difficulty, and I wish I was a better, more stable person to help you somehow. Perhaps I am desperately selfish to spend my time crying and telling you how I cannot cope, burdening you, when you have had to be the strongest woman I know, raising three children alone – one of whom is disabled. You are so strong. How I look at you and think, ‘I wish I could be so wise and strong like you!’ Don’t be sad, Mum. Don’t cry. I will try to be a good daughter and friend to ease these times, though I do not know how. I wish I knew how. Maybe the knowledge of my love will do for now. And, perhaps, I should be saying all this to you in person, but we know how utterly hopeless I am at speaking my feelings aloud… Writing is my release and my solace. And so I write this, sharing with the world how wonderful I think you are. Someday, I will defeat depression once and for all, and be the girl I’m truly meant to be and the daughter I have always hoped to become.

I’ll hold your hand and we’ll scramble these rocks together, though I’m not sure how good I’ll be as support, for you have been the one to support me since forever. I’ll try, Mum. I’ll try…

Once upon a time I wrote a little rhyme… And I say this to you now, and to myself, and to anyone else out there who has silently been suffering with depression:

‘Silver moonlight in the night
shines down for all to see,
so where can the shadows hide
when even in darkness there is light?’

**

There is light, always. Stay strong ❤

Rise Above, Be Reborn

Here I am, running freely through Ilimoskus Valley. It is my hope to talk openly about much to do with Ilimoskus this year, for previously I had done so rather sparingly, as though I did not want to bother others with the mention of it. But, I realise now that the Ilimoskus story – the Ilimoskus world – is as much a part of me as my very breath, and to hold it in denies my heart of all its core values. So, here’s hoping for wonderful things to come out of this year!

*

And nor will I stay quiet about my mental health. I have a mental health problem. I am ill. And I have been for far too long, in honesty. Eight years too long. Modern society still sneers down on mental health as not being much of a problem (certainly in the UK, anyway), but truly I tell you to know that it is. It really is. Nobody asks to become ill. Do you think anyone asks for a mental illness? It is hideous, for you are trapped within your own mind, and every new step you take somehow leads you back into darkness, back into the eternal loop from which it seems impossible to escape. It is tough to get over an illness. I believe it is probably tougher to get over a mental one. The mind is a complex thing. Still! I am undergoing ‘treatment’, if you will, and I am sure I will be free eventually.

Fellow sufferers, to you I say: Please do not give up, please do not be overwhelmed. I know it is so, so hard, and there are some days you wake up and think, I cannot do this anymore, I cannot go on this way, and I know it can be tempting to do something about those feelings, but that is not the way. I know how lonely it feels. I know how forsaken life seems. But please do not give up. There is a way out of the darkness, and you find the light by seeking help, by forever seeking your inner strength. You will pull through. You can and you will.

Of course, finding your inner strength and clambering out of the darkness does not dig up roses, but rather it churns up thick mud and thorns spit in your face. But those thorns can only blind you if you let them, and the mud can only suck you under if you stand still. I don’t claim to have all the answers, of course I don’t – no one does – but I do know that finding the beauty and wonder in the world, in the tiny little things, allows the sun to shine upon you, and that is precious. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people, but I do know that the most beautiful people in the world are the ones who rise above their gloom and grab the sun for their own, shining its light – as well as theirs – upon the rest of us. A special grace and power comes to those who rise above the darkness. And their hearts, once so scarred and hopeless, turn into diamonds. Unbreakable and so, so beautiful.

But anyway… Enough of such sober matters. (Just don’t give up. Mental illness or no.)

*

I am here to talk about my precioussssssssss **gollum!-gollum!** That is, Ilimoskus. Lots to tell, lots to tell!

ONE) This is the most important, and so it comes first. I should have blurted this out ages ago, but, you know, I’ve been busy planting flowers in my mud. THIS POST <<- announced that my book, Ilimoskus: Times of Old, was no longer available for purchase, due a blumin’ publishing nightmare. BUT!! No more is this so! Back at the beginning of December (or maybe even the end of November, actually, I can’t remember) I was told that the book had been picked up by another company, and, thusly, it is back for the world to read. Hoorah, eh? So. If you would like to read the story, know now that you can. Jolly times.

TWO) I say ‘jolly times’, and indeed it is, but I was actually slightly miffed by this because I wanted to re-edit the manuscript before I put it back out to the world. Obviously that has not happened. Never mind. I’ll do it at some point. I am still re-editing Times of Old at the moment; I’ve cut some bits out, and I’ve made some alterations, such as the school uniform design for Anglarne Hill Independent School in the human world (which includes altering the colour of the house of Danebury, if anyone has read it and cares… It is now green, not red). I have also changed the little ‘dedication’ bit right at the beginning of the book… In my work-in-progress Book 2, the ‘dedication’ page is not a dedication at all, but rather a poem, and I have re-done Book 1’s to be of the same nature, and telling the same ‘story’, I guess. Because it might be a century before the new version is out, I shall share the new poem/dedication for Times of Old with you now:

‘A fire flares within a heart

as stone shields around;

in stormy skies it falls apart

into a sea where dreams so drown.

Can it see in the dark?

How does it stay so strong?

From where does its new life spark?

Do the depths help it belong?

The darkness beckons, olden one,

but you can see the dawn;

let these times go by – be done! –

for you will be reborn.’

THREE) The last thing to mention is a little something I have planned, which should be a treat for those who like the story. I had previously done this little sketch of the four ilyorz (or, in English, the four elements: fire, earth, air, water):

fourilyorz

But, long have I wanted to do more sketches of the Ilimoskus world and the characters in the story. And so, whenever I find the time, I have been trying to work on my drawing skills to do all my elemental friends justice (as within my artistic capabilities). My plan is to draw the most significant characters in the trilogy (which is a ridiculous number, I’ll have you know) and share them with the world on a new page on my website, in a gallery of some sort, with a sentence or two describing them. I thought it would be a nice thing to do! It will obviously take some time to draw them all, so I’ll upload the images as and when and subsequently announce it on my Facebook page and/or Twitter. Or maybe on here, actually. Who knows. But, given I haven’t even started creating the new page on my website yet, it’ll take a while until it’s sorted. I’ll keep you updated.

But, I also thought – assuming I find my sketches of the Ilimoskus at least tolerable – that I might create another page for them specifically, going into more depth about the four ilyorz (elements) and their clothing style. Because why not, I think you’ll find. It’s interesting, honestly 😉 You can see it slightly in the sketch above, but that isn’t really showing it very well. And, not only do they have different clothing styles depending on their ilyor, but they also have different clothing styles depending on their leoges (another strange word, yes: see here for clarification). There is great depth to the Ilimoskus world indeed!

And hey, maybe if I get really carried anyway, I’ll draw all the Ilimoskus creatures, too 😉 (which I’ve actually already done, just not very well since they are all in my rough notebooks).

So, yes! New things, new times, new hope. It is my aim this year to be kinder to the Ilimoskus story, and to be kinder to myself regarding it. I am telling you, I have been vicious to myself – and kind of vicious to my elementals as well (sorry, my friends) – over the past four years or whatever. Ilimoskus is a labour of love, not some hideous punishment I must endure, and so I have come to realise that this kind attitude is the one I must keep, despite external pressures or what have you. And, in being kinder, my love for it will ever soar, and I will travel to great heights with it, I am sure.

But I shall leave you now with two sketches I have already done of some characters within the Ilimoskus story. The main human characters!

Ana_Liz

This is Anastasia (right) and Elizabeth (left) Gott. They are sisters – Anastasia being the eldest. Here they are modelling the newly designed Anglarne Hill school uniform. Elizabeth (or ‘Lizzie’) is the main, main human protagonist within the story.

Dem_Leon

This is Demetri (left) and Leon (right) Carter. They are non-identical twins! They too are modelling the newly designed Anglarne Hill school uniform (don’t you just love the trousers?). These two are lovely characters, if I may say so 😉 – especially Demetri (or ‘Dem’, as he is often called)!

***

Fun, pointless fact for you all: Within this post, I have said that ilyorz means ‘elements’ in English. This is not actually true. That is just the easiest translation. The Ilimoskus word for the four elements of nature is rather ilimoss.


Thank you for reading, everyone. I know my posts can often be quite lengthy, and so I deeply appreciate anyone who takes the time out of their day to read my words.

Be well and true,

and rise above the beckoning darkness

to be reborn with your diamond heart

so to dwell amongst the stars

for evermore.

~~

Christmas Miracle

My dears, hello. There may be some fellows out there who have noticed my blog has been rather inactive as of late, for indeed, I have not been posting anything. Cutting all short: I lost the will, well and truly. The past several months have been incredibly difficult for me – I’ve been sprawling in sludge, really – and it came to be that I could not face anything at all. I have had nothing to blog about recently, anyway, and creative inspiration flew out the window. Besides, I have been frustratingly busy, especially in December. Curse that month and all its holiday obligations.

I have had a particularly severe case of Ebenezeritis (that is, Scrooge Syndrome) this past Christmastime. I am a yearly sufferer of this, but this Christmas was something else, quite frankly. I don’t think I have ever been more Scroogey in my life. Even looking at wrapping paper infuriated me, seeing merry Father Christmases and gaudy font, and snowmen and reindeer and sparkly stars and all the rest. Ugh. I always find it quite amazing how low I become on the brink of Christmas – so 22nd, 23rd, 24th. It is almost as if someone – or something – flicks a switch in my mind that turns off any hint of light in my eyes, and I see nothing but obscure shades like in the night-time. No wonder I turn into Scrooge. As a result of this internal darkness, I seek nothing but isolation and personal reflection around Christmastime, which I appreciate is the complete opposite of what is accustomed for the festive season. But, fear not, for my Christmas Days never turn into antisocial affairs, no matter how much I may want it to be as such. This year, I saw wider family on the day, which is not a typical Christmas for me, and it seemed like everyone in the household was plagued by a hideous cold that has been lingering around. And so, I spent the day recoiling from the endless splutters and spewing from those around me. Gotta love family, right? 😉

I hope everyone else had a more merry time of it, though. Not that I had a bad day. I didn’t. It was fine.

But, I have a question:

Do you believe in miracles?

What about Christmas miracles?

I said earlier that I have been having a tough time of it for the past few months. Truth be told, I’ve been having a tough past eight years, but the last few months really have been something else. Certainly something different, anyway. Cutting it short again, I fell back into depression quite badly (I never actually left the merciless grasp of depression to begin with, but I had slowly been climbing up that very slippery slope. I guess I lost my footing and took a plummet downwards). Not only that, but this time around I developed panic disorder, leading to ridiculous agoraphobia and I basically did not step out the back door for a month or so, and if I did, it was with my wonderful mother who basically held my hand the whole time like I was a young child again. She came to my rescue, most certainly. It had been a long time coming, in a way, and I had finally grown wise enough to realise that I cannot help myself without admitting I needed help. I had known I needed help for years, yet never acted upon it, for admitting it is through an entirely different door whose key is terribly challenging to acquire. But it is situations like these that call upon our inner valour, and it is up to us find that key, unlock the door, and reveal our strength to both ourselves and to the world. Upon my admission of needing help, I have ended up on anti-anxiety medication (which are also anti-depressants) and I am in the process of therapy – it is a nightmare, really, but it must be so. I am only several weeks into my therapy, and I have basically spent every single session staring at the clock on the wall, at which my therapist believes it is apt to make jokes. The other week when I was with him, I looked to the wall for the clock, but it wasn’t there…

“Oh, there’s no clock,” I said, secretly quite mortified by this. I had my watch on, though, so catastrophe averted.

“Yeah, I told them to take it down,” he casually replied.

“Did you?!” I could not contain my surprise.

*laughs* “No!”

I mean honestly.

Anyway, panic attacks have been a problem over the last few months, but thankfully things have improved for me dramatically and I haven’t had a panic attack in many weeks, and since my anxiety has lessened I am now able to walk out on the streets alone. As inconsequential as that may sound, it was/is actually a huge breakthrough for me considering how bad I was not too long ago. Any other panic suffers out there will understand. But on Christmas Day, I experienced something which I can only pin as being a miracle. It was. It really was.

I had a terrible accident with my horse over a year ago now, and part of my panic disorder was suffering from delayed shock from the situation. As a result, even seeing horses on television occasionally causes the beginnings of a panic attack for me – not a full-blown panic attack, you understand, just a mini one, as I like to call it: I feel my chest tightening with a sneaky pain creeping amongst it, my heart starts palpitating, and my stomach flips and knots and nausea floods me. So. Understandably, seeing a horse in the flesh amplifies these ‘mini’ panic attacks into full-blown ones.

I live in a small town (12,000 or so people), and it only takes a few minutes to walk to all three of the linked Anglican churches from my house. The church that was holding Christmas Communion happened to be the one in the town square, and as I was walking down the road which leads onto the high street (basically the only main road in my town which also happens to be ‘town’ itself), I saw something I really did not expect to see. This just sums up where I live completely, to be honest, rural and slow-paced as it is, but I saw two horses with their riders walking down the high street. I was taken aback, halting my movement, and watched for a moment as the horses clipped on by. And that was it. Then I continued walking, with not a care in the world. Not one ounce of panic filled me. Not one bit. I couldn’t believe it!! Truly, as baffled as I was to have not collapsed in a panic attack, I was also awestruck, and I decided not to dwell over the mystery of the situation; instead, I smiled to myself more than I did at any other point that day, frolicking with inner joy. Because I am not alone in this. Alone, perhaps I would reach the end of the road in time – who can say how long it would take, though? But with God, I can hold His hand all the way, and if I stumble, He is there to pick me up again.

But isn’t Christmas Day a miracle in itself? The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, hmm? That’s what it’s all about, and if it were not for that miracle Christmas would not be celebrated in the first place. I think we all need to remember that. There are people out there who believe miracles to be a far-fetched concept, but I believe there are miracles every second of every day. Watching the sunrise is a miracle. Seeing the ever-changing hues of the sky is a miracle. Laughter is a miracle, tears are a miracle. Love is a miracle. Music is a miracle. Birdsong is a miracle. The seasons are a miracle. Blossoming flowers are a miracle. Life is a miracle.

And so we should love every second of what time we are given here on Earth. Even if it brings you depression. Even if it brings you panic disorder. For there are still miracles to be found, to be seen, to be heard. In fact, when you suffer from depression or any other mental issue, miracles are even easier to find. It is as though God leans down to you amidst your suffering to say, “Hey, I know you’re struggling, I know this is hard, so I will bless you to see the beauty in the smallest of sights and to know the strength in the simplest of situations. You will get through this. I am here.” Only in our darkest hours do we clearly see the light within ourselves.

I am sure your Christmas was blessed with many miracles. Did you see them? If not, no worries, for they will all be there tomorrow, too, just waiting to be found.

***

I should probably mention something that I should have mentioned a good while ago, but, as I said at the beginning of this post, I haven’t been able to face anything recently. My next post will be about Ilimoskus (though I have no idea when that will be) and I shall mention this ‘something’ then. I doubt I’ll post before New Year, so I wish you all a peaceful transition into 2015, and may joy and glee greet you on the other side. Let us reflect on all the positive 2014 gave us, and learn and gain strength and wisdom from the negative. Shine in your light, and in the light of the world.

See you on the other side, my friends 😉

And may the light from your heart always guide you