Acronyms are wonderful things. They can make the clumsy and obvious sound efficient and businesslike; and they can make everyday suffering sound neat and manageable. I am taking an MHD (a Mental Health Day). It feels less shameful than explaining that I’ve burned out, had a meltdown, stopped functioning, or any of the other dramatic, messy-sounding metaphors for why I can not be a productive member of society today.

This has been looming for a while and I’ve just been ignoring it, because fuck being ill. It started with sleepless nights, waking up at random hours of the morning with cold dread tying my insides in a knot. I started scrolling through social media compulsively, absorbing all the negative emotions expressed in it until it felt like I was consuming poison with my eyeballs. After a self-imposed sanity break from that, my mind kept running on overdrive trying to solve the awful problem of my life. Every once in a while I would offer it a crochet pattern as a distraction, which gave me a little bit of respite. But by then the physical symptoms had already taken hold: slow speech and difficulty talking, with sentences that seem to take forever to lead nowhere; nausea and lack of appetite (Christmas fun!); prickly skin, oversensitivity to noise and light; and that weird feeling that I’m being carried along by a flock of evil butterflies living somewhere underneath my sternum…

I crashed to a halt on Christmas Eve and spent most of the day sitting on the floor crying (something I often joke I ought to add to my CV: ‘in my free time…’) and, well, it got worse. After a bit of a break over Christmas, I managed to drag myself to work yesterday, but my concentration was shot. I haunted the office like a nauseous ghost, trying to remember all the things I had to do, and how to do them, and failing, mostly.

I needed a day to sleep, and to register with a GP so that I could finally talk to someone about this, and to renew my travelcard which I would have done yesterday if I had any kind of grip on reality, and just to figure out how I really am and how best I can manage. The fact I feel wracked with guilt about taking a day out for this probably shows I really need it, but doesn’t make it any easier. I might indulge in a bit of sitting on the floor and crying, for tradition’s sake.

At the moment, there’s a lurking cloud of bad feelings waiting to attach themselves to any thoughts that might feed them. Every once in a while, my brain helpfully offers up a memory for the guilt to feed on, or a little bit of logic which demonstrates how the world would be a better place if I weren’t in it (luckily Black Dog is on hand with a counter-argument, because who would he be snuggling if I were gone?).

My random apology of the day is to Midge Ure, for drunkenly heckling him in Aberdeen. He introduced Vienna and I said ‘YESSSSSSSS!’ and then explained – a bit too loudly – ‘IT’S THE ONLY ONE I KNOW’. I know it was a bit too loud because he sighed and said ‘yeah, thanks for that’ before beginning. Sorry, Midge. I really like Fade To Grey as well.

Be excellent to each other, everybody.




a year of writing honestly

I hate writing.

There, I said it. For something I have done compulsively almost all my life, nothing causes me quite so much anguish. It’s only in the last few months I’ve started asking: why? Why do I do it? And why does it bother me so much?

Writing is another way of thinking. For me, it can often be the clearest way of thinking, a way of working towards ideas or insights I could never reach without it. The pile of scrappy notebooks filled with scribbled thoughts gets bigger every year, and I find it hard to shake off the idea that I should DO something with it all – be more organised, write more neatly, have better ideas… “This time,” I tell myself, stroking the uncreased cover of my new moleskine, “I’ll write something worthy of this lovely object.” And then I sit feeling miserable and paralysed, unable to think of anything worthy, depriving myself of the obvious route to feeling better.

Writing here is doubly difficult, because anyone can read it. I started this blog as a way of keeping track of ideas, inspirations and projects from different parts of my life, as my unruly interests kept spilling over the boundaries of more defined blogs ( and  But it’s hard not to be conscious of potential readers. I spend so much time hiding different aspects of myself. I’m a pagan druid, a folklore enthusiast, an archivist, a bit of a muso, a depressive, a budding stitcher, a Welsh speaker, an amateurish linguist, a rambler… Without knowing who might be out there reading, how should I know which bits of me to hide?

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. I’m thinking it too.

For 2017, I’ve set myself the challenge to be honest. The plan for this blog is to write about things which genuinely interest me, for their own sake, without worrying what people think (ha!). This is likely to include crochet, folklore, our new hometown, politics, songs, my newfound interest in SF and speculative fiction, poetry, random observations, Eurovision, the industrial revolution, and anything else for which I develop a sudden enthusiasm in the next 12 months. If you’re reading this, hello! And thank you. If you’re not reading this, good, it’s a strictly non-compulsory activity. But writing it is turning out to be a very useful thing.