May Update: Worldbuilding, a Ghost Story and Tinnitus

Worldbuilding The Ruon Chronicles

I’m really enjoying returning to the beginning of the world of Airtha-Eyrassa to make sure that everything for The Ruon Chronicles slots into each other perfectly. It’s also forcing me to make sure that the magic systems, etc. are working the way I want them to.

For instance, in the next few weeks I’ll be working on the embroidered charms and how the knitting, tapestries, etc. fit into the magic system. See, so far it all works in my head, but writing things down usually shows where the holes are. Some of the worldbuilding will be posted here, with some of it only available on Patreon.

I hope, also, that I will have time to actually embroider some of the charms to see if they work like I want them to when translated into thread during the few days that I’m on vacation in June. Keep an eye out on Instagram for them as I’ll post them there first!

A ghost story

Ah, the radio drama. So… I have the ending. Apparently lying awake while feeling like crap helped with that. Now I just need to fill in the other blanks and actually write the whole thing in the correct format before end of July. It is still going to be a ghost story, though.

I also still have some interviews (okay that sounds a lot more formal than I mean for it too) before finalising the story. Some ghost stories that I’ve been told or at least paranormal encounters I’ve been told about. While I don’t want to use them as is, I still want to write them down or record them as part of my research for the story. All I can say for the moment is that they are (mostly) hospital stories.

A ringing irritating as heck

In other news, while I’ve been productive, I have not been as productive as I could have as my ears are having a field day driving me mad. I was diagnosed with Menière’s Disease in about 2007, but the tinnitus hasn’t been this bad in a long time. I mean, it’s always there, but right now it’s loud, it’s irritating, and, along with my other symptoms like vertigo and nausea, makes me feel really crappy. I have now discovered that a fan and quite loud music together drowns out the damned sound — yay! I do feel a bit guilty for having a fan on in winter, though, as I’m just wasting electricity, really, but I am at the end of my tether.

So, hopefully, during June, I’ll be more productive again — huzzah!

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New article published on The Mighty!

Some of you may already know that I’m a contributor to the website The Mighty, a site dedicated to rare, chronic and mental illness. Well, the good news is that they’ve accepted and published another of my articles!

Yeah … no, actually not

The article is titled: “When Taxi Drivers Think I Should Be Walking” and is a look at how (some) drivers’ prejudiced opinions can sometimes play a part in making you feel about a millimeter tall.

My thoughts on this really started after a few times I’ve actually been asked or told that I’m lazy for taking a taxi/ride share* for a short distance. Spoiler: When you’re in a lot of pain, not walking is awesome.

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My writer’s page

Here’s a link to my writer’s page and the other articles I’ve written for The Mighty thus far.

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* I don’t know about other places, but here we refer to Uber, Taxify, etc. as taxis as well and not “ride share services”. I actually don’t know if anyone but the companies themselves use the term…

Weird, wonderful, you: choosing change, choosing not to change

While I’m busy with more introspective posts and articles, I might as well delve into this as well…

In the newest issue of Breathe magazine (Issue 14), there is an article about being true to yourself and not changing yourself for others (“Drop the Façade” by Francesca Baker).

Among other things, it’s noted that one of the top five regrets of dying is “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected of me”.

Of course, this is much easier said than done, especially if you feel like an outsider (or, even worse, get treated like one) by your own family, neighbourhood, culture, whatever, you get the picture. And there can be so many reasons for being treated like this. From having a different political or religious view to just not wearing the “right” clothes. But I’m not going to go into the nitty-gritty of everything here as I feel I want to talk about my own path, and not give a “5 steps to be you” kind of post.

We all have our quirks (which does not immediately make you “so OCD” – don’t get me started), but there does seem to be some “quirks” or even characteristics and personality traits which seem to be looked upon as weird or even unwanted. A few of these (which I possess):

Being an introvert

I’m quiet for the most part – something that is frowned upon in school and in a world in which everyone shouts for attention. If you are an introvert, I suggest getting a hold of Quiet by Susan Cain and follow The Gentle Rebel podcast by Andy Mort.

Being a nerd

It’s just one of those things I naturally gravitated towards. I absolutely sucked at sports and athletics. (Dancing went much better.) I enjoy reading fantasy and science fiction (mostly) and crafting and writing and “nerdy” pastimes. I can gush about things like the language history of English and Afrikaans because I actually find it fascinating. I’m just… well, a nerd.

Not being healthy

Okay, not a character trait, but something that sure takes up a lot of space when I think of “me”. Not being healthy is seen by some to be a curse from God (*eye roll so large I fall off my chair*), are seen as weakness by some or are seen as an excuse for just being lazy by others. (*falls off chair again from rolling eyes*).

Basically, the stuff I suffer from isn’t going to just go away. They can get better; that is to say, I can have fewer symptoms, but I never quite know when the symptoms will start up again even though I take my meds religiously, go to a psychologist for CBT, etc. Sometimes I know when a flare is on its way, sometimes not. It can be a real rollercoaster (and not one of the nice ones).

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself and not the life others expected of me”.

Now when it comes to having the courage to live a life true to oneself, it can start out in very simple ways. Maybe you don’t feel like you fit in with the “in-crowd” because you’re not supposed to be part of them in the first place. Don’t get caught in the trap of peer pressure to come to your senses years later and realise that you never actually did the things you wanted to do because you were too worried about what others would think.

Find the things that make your heart sing for joy. Be kind always. Have empathy. Think before you speak or type – even though others may not do the same.

We need so much more of this in the world. Fewer people harking on in hate, more people standing up for love.

Sorry to bring the Bible into this, but if you’re not religious or not Christian, bear with me…

So the Bible basically says ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ – now everyone is everyone else’s neighbour. Whether you like it or not – that’s not up to you to decide. And we’re all trying to do the best we can. It’s about time we start to try and see the goodness in other people instead of seeing prejudiced stereotypes.

That doesn’t mean that there is no right or wrong, but it does mean that everyone should come together to give each other a chance for their time in the sun. Everyone should have the chance to use the talents they have received for good. Everyone should stand up – in whatever way possible – and say ‘this is how I choose to live my life, this is how I will one day pass away without any regrets’.*

Find those people who will build you up, not tear you down for who you are. In those people, we will find those that will make this broken world a better world to be living in.

Choose to change today. Choose to be truly you.

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* I know this is the simplistic way to look at it, but it is a place to start from.  Also, if I go into it in too much detail I’d be writing a book, not a post!

Writing Update: Article Published, Guest Posting

Article published

Great news! Another of my articles has have been published by The Mighty! What especially thrilled me was that it also appeared as one of the articles on their Chronic Illness Facebook Page. Whoohoo!

I find it not only great to be able to share some stories, but also to see that there are others who feel the same way and now also don’t feel so alone after reading the article.

Anywhoo, titled “When self-care means saying ‘no’ to housework”, it is a true story. Except for the L— ‘s name. I’d rather not use a real name without having gotten permission to do so.

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Guest posting

In other great news, I’m writing a guest post for one of my favourite blogs! It’s about creating a language for your fantasy or sci-fi world and I’m really looking forward to finishing it. It should appear during July, so keep an eye out here for the link!

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Other writing

In other writing news, I’m very busy finishing the outline for Porselein (which I simply must finish this weekend) and will start on the new stories for Jozi Flash 2018 on Monday. And then my weekends will basically be spent on writing and finishing my paper for August.* It’s turning out to be a very busy June, but I’m also trying not to put so much pressure on myself that I end up burning out… So please bear with me for finishing the other stories, like Forgotten, that I’m busy with.

Thank you photo by Rawpixel

* That’s the one for the Medieval conference in August.

Confession time, coping time

But first… one of my articles has been published by The Mighty! Click here to read “6 Coping Mechanisms That Help My Mental and Physical Illnesses”.

The Mighty

The Mighty is a site with information and personal stories about various mental, physical, and chronic illnesses. It’s not a “woe is me” site, but rather a site that tries to share awareness about these illnesses and conditions (many of which are “invisible”) and does a good job of making fellow sufferers feel less alone.

I won’t lie, it took quite a long time for me to decide to actually sit down and write for them even though I’ve been wanting to for some time.

Confession Time

“Carin Marais is a South African fantasy author and copywriter. Her hobbies include knitting and crochet. She has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, OCD, and Meniere’s Disease. She is also currently waiting for clarity on where she has EDS or Fibromyalgia – but as everyone knows, this can take a while.”

That’s my bio on The Mighty and it’s surprising how long it took and how difficult it was to write those few words, mostly because of the stigma still attached to illnesses. Especially if they are invisible. While I have mentioned chronic illness and “flares” on the blog before, I’ve never really said everything that is wrong with me in so many words. Well, now you know. And you know why I sometimes disappear for a bit and talk about having “flares”.

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Folklore, Volcanic Eruptions, Prehistoric Animals, Discworld Art, and Creativity and Mental Illness

Hope you enjoy these Weekly Finds like I did! And guess what? It’s weekend!

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Podcasts of the Week:

Both highly recommended…

The Folklore Podcast

What makes The Folklore Podcast so special is that many of the episodes feature eminent folklorists from around the world: researchers, authors and professors in their fields. 

Creativity and Mental Illness by All In the Mind

Science is now showing an interesting connection between highly creative people and mental illness.

Videos of the Week:

10 Strange-Looking Prehistoric Animals by SciShow (yes, I watch it a lot)

Some Good News: 16 Ways 2016 Is Not a Total Dumpster Fire by Vlogbrothers (yes, I also watch all their videos)

Articles of the Week:

A Volcanic Eruption That Reverberates 200 Years Later

In April 1815, the most powerful volcanic blast in recorded history shook the planet in a catastrophe so vast that 200 years later, investigators are still struggling to grasp its repercussions. It played a role, they now understand, in icy weather, agricultural collapse and global pandemics — and even gave rise to celebrated monsters.

Under an 1815 Volcano Eruption, Remains of a ‘Lost Kingdom’

One of history’s most violent volcanic eruptions blasted the island of Sumbawa in the East Indies in 1815. The sulfurous gases and fiery ashes from Mount Tambora cast a pall over the entire world, causing the global cooling of 1816, known as the “year without a summer.”

Terry Pratchett’s ‘artist of choice’ on illustrating Discworld

The cover for Terry Pratchett’s final Discworld novel The Shepherd’s Crown shows his teenage witch Tiffany Aching facing forwards, arms outstretched, a hopeful expression on her face. But Paul Kidby, the illustrator who has worked on Pratchett’s Discworld novels for more than 20 years, says this wasn’t always the case.

 

Tips for Coping with Chronic Illness

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to be medical advice, if you are in need of medical assistance or advice, please, please, please contact your closest doctor/clinic/hospital/helpline.

Living with a chronic or mental illness (or illnesses) takes its toll every day; there are no two ways about it. But there are some steps you can put in place and which may get you to a place where you can cope easier and perhaps also lessen some of your symptoms. Unfortunately not every person is the same and not everyone has the same illness to the same degree, so it is basically impossible to set hard and fast rules. And I won’t act like following these tips will suddenly cure an incurable disease or will make the symptoms disappear forever. Rather, these tips are something to hold onto when the going gets tough and you need to get right back to the basics to make it through the day. They are tips which I find helps me.

Focus on what you can do

One of the worst parts of chronic illness of any type (under which I am also counting the joy that is mental illness), is that what you are capable of can vary from day to day and sometimes even from hour to hour. Some days this variation can be very slight, while other days the illness may be debilitating. And on those days you need to give yourself credit for doing things like brushing your teeth, making a cup of tea for yourself, or just eating something.

Far from being melodramatic, these are the types of things you should be proud of. If you suffer from bipolar,depression, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, or various other illnesses, getting out of bed and getting dressed can feel as if you’ve just conquered Kilimanjaro (or Everest…) – and you should give yourself credit for it. Not to mention the countless other illnesses which can strike without warning. Focus on what you can do on that specific day and, if you need to move some things (like meetings/appointments) around, do it as early in the day as possible instead of waiting to see if you’re suddenly going to start feeling better. Keep in mind that you only have a specific amount of spoons every day. (If you don’t know what I mean by spoons, read this.)

Keep a routine as far as possible

That said, try and keep to a routine. This includes going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, eating your meals at about the same time every day and taking your medication as prescribed at the same time every day (see the next tip below).

Going to work (if you are able to) can and should also be part of the routine. Try to remind yourself that you need to get out of your home and that going to work can count as your “getting out of the house” for the day. Just going out to drink a cup of coffee or tea by yourself over the weekend can also help you to get out of the house. You can make sure that you go when things aren’t as busy to ensure that you get a proper table (I know that I prefer to sit at “my table” when I go to the coffee shop to write), and aren’t stuck in a busy place where a panic attack may be inevitable. This coffee date can also become part of your routine and can be something to look forward to during the week.

Take your medication

It is extremely important that you take your medication as prescribed by your doctor, whether this is pain killers, mood stabilisers, anti-depressants, or whatever your personal pill cocktail is made up of. Make sure you know when and how much of a certain medication you need to drink and always contact your doctor before changing anything ; even the time of day you drink the medication.

If you are afraid of forgetting to take your medication, put a reminder with an alarm on your phone and include which medication and how much you need to take. That way you won’t leave the house or go to bed without taking your medication.

If you are travelling, remember to pack your medication in such a way that it is easy to reach. Also add a few days’ medication just in case you are delayed somewhere. It’s also a good idea to carry your doctor’s card and a list of your medication with you in case you need to get a hold of him/her and can’t use your cell. Actually, having a list of medication with you is always a good idea in case, God forbid, something happens and you need to go to the hospital. This in itself is stressful enough without worrying that you’ll forget how much you take of a specific medication.

Watch your diet (and fluid intake)

Need I say more? Eat as healthy as you can, drink enough water…

Fight against stigma and misinformation whenever and wherever you can

We may like to brag that we are living in an ultra modern time, but living in the twenty-first century unfortunately does not mean that we have moved past stigma when it comes to chronic illness, invisible illness, and mental illness. And it’s about time that that stigma becomes a thing of the past. Like decorated codpieces. (Why was that ever a thing?)

Fighting against stigma means educating people on what certain illnesses really means. It means speaking up when people make insensitive/wrong/downright disgusting remarks about chronic, invisible, and mental illness. In doing so you might just find allies in your struggle for wellness and health.

While there are those who do not want to learn more about these illnesses – or would ever apologise for insensitive/downright disgusting remarks – I have found that most people will listen and apologise when they learn more about these illnesses and realise that they’ve hurt you. There are also many who will, instead of showing simply pity, will show support even if it is in small ways like not telling you to “smile a bit”. After all, when you are in pain, in the depths of depression or suffering from various other symptoms, the last thing you want to hear is that you should force a smile on your face when what you actually want to do is go to the bathroom and cry for a while.

Here are some of my other articles:
Chronically and Mentally Ill Does Not Mean Unable
Chronic Illness Sufferers: Do Not Call Us Liars (Here’s the Afrikaans version)

Do you have any tips you would like to share? Perhaps for a specific illness?

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Writing Update – Excitement!

The past week has been quite a productive week (yay!) and I have exciting news! So please excuse the use of exclamation marks! I promise I won’t use more than one at a time!

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Flash Fiction Anthologies!

As of today, my final edits for the Jozi Flash flash fiction anthology are finished. And the best part? It will be free! It will be available on the blog as soon as it is released over the next few weeks! You will also be able to read some of Nthato Morakabi’s great fiction in the anthology! (Check out Nthato’s blog if you haven’t done so already.)

I also started my Wattpad page last week (with thanks to Ronel Janse van Vuuren for the good advice). “Taken by the Wind” is available to read there as well as a collection of other flash fiction stories (which I am still adding to) called Yesterday’s Colours and Other Stories.
Click here to go to my Wattpad page! Check out the cover below!

Yesterday's Colours Cover

 

Other Flash Fiction

I ended up not writing for #FlashMobWrites last week, but only for Cracked Flash Fiction. I’ll post the story, “Dust to Dust to Life”, during the week.

Other writing

If you’ve perhaps missed it, I posted the article “Chonically or Mentally Ill Does Not Mean Unable” on Friday on the blog. It is on a subject which is really close to my heart.

I am also still busy with the short stories and flash fiction for the Afrikaans anthology and the anthology I am calling Dim Mirrors. I did not get too much time to work on these during the week, but this week is looking promising. The work on the NaNo novel is also ongoing.

Until next time…

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Chronically or Mentally Ill Does Not Mean Unable

We still have very far to go regarding the eradication of the stigma surrounding mental illness and chronic illness, especially when they are “invisible illnesses”. Perhaps it is, at least in part, because of all the negative stereotyping that still exists in the media. If it is a mentally ill person who committed a crime then, it seems, it is all the more newsworthy, because we act like the violent actions can be explained by saying well “he/she is crazy”. We place the person firmly in the category of other and thereby act like “we” are not like that, will never be like that, and will never do such a thing. And, suddenly, the “others” are turned into one homogeneous (violent and unpredictable) being. Just a being, mind you, not a human being.

Yet the millions walking around with these illnesses aren’t all the same. Each is still an individual. Each is still a person in his or her own right. And they are still contributing to the world every day.

Mentally ill and chronically ill does not mean that you are unable to do your job, go to school, or get a degree. Being mentally ill or chronically ill does mean having a much harder time doing it. But as for not being able to do it? Not at all? At least give us the benefit of the doubt you would give any healthy person.

For some of us it is more of a challenge than it is for others. There are those who are unable to work (or work full-time) due to their illnesses, but that does not mean that they cannot and do not contribute to the world. Many people just seem blind to the fact that the sufferers of these illnesses do contribute to the world and the lives of their families and friends. chrysanthemum flower small colour

Yes, we may need to see doctors on a strict schedule and take medication every day, but that does not automatically make us unable to do things like work or go to school. It does not make us weak, unreliable, untrustworthy or someone to be scared of.

It does mean having to fight against stigma and against our own bodies. It does mean ignoring the world when it says that we can’t. It means working many times as hard to make a life for ourselves and standing on our own two feet.

We do not want to be put in a corner because of myths and stigmas. We do not want pity from those not affected by invisible illnesses, but we do want understanding and support. We simply want the world to believe us when we say that we are ill/must go to the doctor or pharmacy/need to take a day’s vacation to recharge our batteries.

We simply want to be given the same chances as those not affected. We want to be seen as someone, as an individual, as a person who can and do make a positive difference to the world in our own way. We just want to be people.

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