One Week to Go!!!

I can not believe that there is just one week left until the publication of Othergirl. I was told that the gap between signing the deal and publication date would go by in a flash… but this is crazy! After dreaming about this my entire life, finally next week I will be a published author. WOAH.

So I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you a bit about the background of Othergirl, and why I wrote it.

The truth is, that I’m the other girl. Always was, and in some ways, always will be. Never the prettiest, never the most popular… I always felt like I had to struggle to get people to like me, and had to work that little bit harder to get what I thought came naturally to a lot of people. I was the wingman when my friend wanted to hook up with the boy she’d been flirting with for ages. I went shopping with friends to find cool clothes, knowing that I was too fat or too tall to fit into anything they were trying. Ditto with shoes – I have size 10 feet. So whilst my friends would sit around in shops trying heels on, I would just have to stand there, or I’d wander to the mens section and wonder what ugly flats could possibly pass for unisex. Boys were never interested in me, the cool kids thought I was weird, and the weird kids intimidated me. My teenage years weren’t easy.

But it was only after I’d grown up a bit that I realised I wasn’t alone. Turns out, that everybody feels this way at some point or another. There’s always someone nearby who’s better than us, or bolder than us, or achieving the dreams that we’ve strived for. None of us are alone.

When I decided that I wanted to write a book that explored the idea of being the other girl, making one of the characters a superhero seemed like a natural and playful choice. I wanted this book to be lively and fun, and what better way to explore this scenario: what if your best friend was not only prettier and more popular than you? What if she could also fly?!

This was the premise that the entire book was then set on. Then I realised that I wanted to write a book about female friendships, and finding your personal strength, and coming of age in a world that’s a little bit out of your control. I also wanted to make sure that the book wasn’t too serious. Comic books are obviously a major influence, and I really wanted to invoke the feel of a comic book: fast paced, brightly coloured, exciting and fun, with something in there for younger readers as well as older ones.

And now here we are: one week to go, and Othergirl will be let loose in bookstores and libraries across the country! For those waiting to read it, I hope you like it. This book is written specifically for every guy and girl who has felt like the other one. I know that there are loads of you out there! For those going through it right now, there’s one thing I can definitely promise you: one day you will find your people, and they will see you for being as awesome as you really are. It takes time to learn how to be happy with yourself, so be patient, and enjoy discovering what makes you you. I firmly believe that everybody has a secret superpower, and if you haven’t discovered yours yet, then don’t panic! You’ll find it soon, I promise!


Let’s Talk About Sleep Hygiene…

I know what you’re thinking – what the hell is sleep hygiene??? It sounds kind of disgusting…

Well actually, sleep hygiene is the term given for your nightly habits and the way you fall asleep. There’s good sleep hygiene: reading before bed, closing the blinds, wearing an eye mask etc. And there’s bad sleep hygiene: falling asleep with the telly on, checking your phone or iPad in bed etc etc etc

I will admit here and now that my sleep hygiene is poor. Which may come as a surprise to many of you seeing as I have this crazy tendency to need a bananas amount of sleep. You’d think I’d have my sleep routine sussed, right? But I’ve realised over the past week or two, since getting my POTs diagnosis, that some of my bad habits are connected to my health. Falling asleep with the TV on is my way of distracting myself from the palpitations I get at night. Well, now I know what’s behind those palpitations, and I can stop being scared of them!

Hypersomnia is probably the most debilitating aspect of having POTs for me, and now I know that it’s because of 2 things: 1) just doing ordinary day to day things tires me out more than it should and 2) I have a crazy pulse rate and blood pressure even when I’m asleep, meaning that my sleep quality is often poor. I may be sleeping for hours and hours and hours, but I’m never getting good, quality sleep, which means that I’m just going to be endlessly tired during the day. Add to this that sometimes just walking up a flight of stairs is nearly enough to knock me out, and you can see why hypersomnia is an issue. I’m constantly trying to catch up on myself, and will always, always be sleepy.

So, in an effort to make myself feel better, I’m trying to improve my sleep hygiene. It’s not a miracle cure for my POTs, but I’m hoping that alongside other changes, like diet and starting physiotherapy, it may make it more manageable. Here’s are my new sleep rules:

  • No telly in the bedroom before bed. Likewise, no iPad. If I want to read, it has to be a proper book (the light from iPad/computer screens is very ‘activating’ for the brain).
  • I’m getting black-out blinds installed so that the garden light can’t disturb me in the middle of the night.
  • I’m taking Valerian extract in pill form with a glass of milk before bed (along with my blood pressure pills). It’s a natural, herbal remedy to improve sleep quality.
  • No food before bed (I’m terrible at night time snacking, but I am putting a stop to it)
  • I’m using an aromatherapy mist spray on my pillow and pyjamas before I sleep. It smells of lavender and geranium and should help keep my pulse rate down.
  • If I struggle with palpitations, then instead of turning the telly on to distract me, I will meditate instead (or just read until I get tired and relax).
  • I’m also monitoring my sleep with an app called ‘Sleep Cycle’. I’m not convinced that iPhone sleep apps really get any good, medical quality data, but it’s still an interesting thing to do to see if my sleep does improve over time.
  • Setting my alarm for the same time every morning, no matter if its the weekend or not.

These new measures won’t make a difference overnight. I will be trying this new improved sleep routine for at least a month, and using the Sleep Cycle app to monitor how it goes.

I did my first night under the new rules last night, and was pleasantly surprised at how well I managed to wake up this morning. I actually work up just before my alarm, and felt surprisingly well rested! But then I had breakfast, and came over all tired again, and stayed in bed until midday. It’s ok, I know things aren’t going to improve straight away, and I have lots of other things I need to do to help counter the POTs, but I’m hoping that improving my sleep hygiene may soon be a solid link in the chain of managing my condition.

I’m open to advice if anyone has any, and I’ll keep you posted over how I’m doing!


My Twitter Break…

Hello everyone,

I am back in the land of the living after spending much of the last few weeks scrambling through my second novel, which is now sitting on the desk of my editor, awaiting the red pen of doom. The last week in particular, as life crept towards my deadline, was particularly anxiety inducing, so I decided to take the week off twitter. And guess what? I got everything done! And I found that I wasn’t nearly as anxious as I usually am!

Why is this? Why would twitter, a computer game cleverly disguised as a social media device (I will one day attain the prize of the blue tick dammit!) make me go so crazy?

The truth is this: one of my big problems is that I compare myself to other people. This is something we all do in some form or another, but when I’m feeling a little bit emotionally fragile, this comparison problem becomes heightened and problematic. I compare myself to other people and find myself wanting. I am never good enough… I am failing… and everyone else is better than me. This is a common symptom of depression and generalised anxiety disorder. The trick in coping with this is to not let it get on top of you. Standing back and rationally evaluating the situation – easier said than done, I know, but I also know that I can help myself out of the slump as well. By taking away twitter from my life, I took away most of those annoying, negative voices. And I felt much better about it. I wasn’t worrying about what book I wasn’t reading, or how many words I hadn’t written, and what fandom I was feeling left out from. I was free!

Saying all this though, I do love twitter. I love that its become a part of my ‘office’ experience, and despite the loneliness of the job I do, I can still be a social animal. I love that it leads me to exciting places and new ideas. I love that I can personally connect with people who live nowhere near me, and who I’ve never met.

And trust me, even though I was away from everyone, that didn’t stop me collating the things that I would have talked about had I been running free through the twitter timelines. So, just in case you were wondering (and I realise that many of you are not wondering. Indeed, I realise that many of you probably didn’t even notice that I took an online break), here are all the things I wanted to tweet with you about last week:

  • More ranting about how amazing Jupiter Ascending is
  • Deciding to pick A Game of Thrones back up (I finished Book 1!)
  • Seeing the trailer for new series of Game of Thrones on Sky and getting FEELINGS.
  • The Oscars
  • Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift KILLING IT at The Brits
  • Madonna nearly getting killed at The Brits
  • Wolf Hall
  • Tina Fey and the amazingness that is her book Bossypants
  • Improv Classes, and the fact that I want to start them
  • That UKIP programme on the BBC
  • Leonard Nimoy
  • The Dress (white and gold forever my peeps)
  • Llama Drama
  • My brother starting to read my book
  • Being obsessed with the Tegan and Sara radio station on Spotify
  • The Return of Runaways

So there we are, and now you know. Despite not talking about them publicly, these are all the things I was intensely thinking about last week (when I wasn’t thinking about/crying over my new novel).

And now that the new novel has been handed in, I have a chance to let myself properly worry about the next big milestone: LESS THAN A MONTH UNTIL OTHERGIRL IS PUBLISHED!!! AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!