Writing with Demons
As part of our ongoing commitment to Mental Health Awareness, Amanda Ward talks to us about the demons she has to deal with when writing...
My name is Amanda Ward and I’m the author of romance featuring the over forty heroine classed as ‘Seasoned Romance’ and I’d like to introduce my companions who have been with me constantly over the past twenty-seven years… Anxiety and Depression.
That’s me in a nutshell. Not only do I write for a niche market which doesn’t have a high profile, I also have a mental illness. With February being Mental Health Awareness month I thought I’d give an insight how the illness affects me and my ability to write.
There are so many self-help books out there at the moment and guides to do with mindfulness, self-care and colouring books to relieve stress. It’s a bit like parenting books, they can cover the general majority but as we all know, everyone is different. Sometimes wading through them can be a bit like life and for me it’s like walking on custard.
I have been exceptionally fortunate in that both my publishers, Books To Go Now and Hot Ink Press, are patient and considerate regarding my illness. I am so grateful to them for giving me the time I need to recover.
I won’t lie. My illness sucks and there are days when even doing the simple things like washing, tidying the house, cooking can seem like major hurdles and take oh so much effort. I have a family who depend on me to keep the home running so putting their needs before my own are tantamount. Caring for others and making sure they are happy is so much easier than looking after myself.
Writing is another matter. The trick is to keep going despite the voices in your head. Your writing is dreadful, so twee that no one will read it, let alone buy it. That your ideas are better off being used by someone else more talented than you are. Give up before you make a total idiot of yourself.
I live with these voices every day. Some days it’s easier to ignore them but then something pops up on social media and it just hits a nerve, sending me back under the blanket on the couch. Which is when I know to take a break from social media to try and gain some much needed perspective.
So, is there a magic trick like the books say? Sorry but no. I take each day or each hour as it happens. I try to focus on the here and now and live in the moment. I try and write each day and I aim for a thousand words no matter how awful I assume they are. There are weeks when I really cannot write at all. Any ideas I have I make sure they are written down in a notebook ready for when I return.
Just remember above all. GET HELP. Speak to your doctor and refer yourself to a well-being service. Taking that first step to ask and admit you need help is the biggest step of all. I had nine months of CBT and systemic family therapy last year and my medication is on-going. The doctors are trying to find a medication that actually works.
To anyone reading this: Don’t give up. Keep going despite those demons and one day hopefully they’ll have realized that they won’t win and eventually disappear.
If you are dealing with a mental health issue or just need someone to talk to, know that you do not have to go through tough time alone. Reach out to someone who can help-- a friend, a relative, or a professional. Mind has a list of helplines on there website here.