Category Archives: Writing

Moving to a new country with a mental illness

I posted recently about moving to Tokyo. And since the move I have been having a lot of good times, but also a lot of down ones.

Moving to a new country is tough even without a mental illness. But when you have a history of depression, anxiety and eating disorders (not to mention some self-harm scars still visible on your arm), the whole process can be even more traumatic.

I moved to Tokyo whilst still on antidepressants which, despite what anyone says about this type of medication, did help. An SSRI can sometimes feel like an anti-shyness pill, and this was certainly helpful for me, as one of the main things I was worried about was making friends.

I brought a six month supply of Fluoxetine from the UK and it is important to remember the following points;

  • bringing drugs of any kind abroad, especially to Asia, can be problematic. It is legal to take a three month supply of Fluoxetine abroad with only a pharmaceutical letter as proof.
  • bringing a larger supply of any medication, such as I did, means you have to check with the embassy and possibly get a certificate. I did have to get a certificate for entering Japan, but overall there were no issues.
  • Think about possible contingencies for getting medication if you run out/lose it. This is important as some countries might not have favourable health insurance schemes.

 

But medication wasn’t the only thing that made moving to another country slightly easier. Here are the main points I advise:

  • plan in advance and know what to expect; I was ready for the cultural shift to Japan because I had done a lot of research and I knew roughly what would be appropriate and inappropriate.
  • This includes food – other countries and cultures can have very different types of food, though western alternatives are also available nowadays. The variety of food is a big part of what makes moving to a new country exciting, but remember to research into dishes that are healthy and you will like so, unlike me, you don’t end up eating junk food for the first couple of weeks because you are unsure what everything is. (I would like to point out here that my reservedness was mainly due to being a vegetarian, and had I been sure that some things did not contain meat, I would have gone for it).
  • Likewise, eat well and healthily as this well always contribute to both your physical and mental wellbeing.
  • plan where you want to live; this is a very important part of moving anywhere. Make sure you pick an area you will like that has your amenities, and consider if a flat share, single apartment or share house is the right way of living for you. Personally, I chose a sharehouse, where I also share a room. Despite my concerns about sleeping in a room with two other girls, I haven’t had any major issues and it means I can live in an area near my work for much cheaper. A sharehouse also gave me the opportunity to make friends, something which I would have found very difficult otherwise. I’m not sure if I will spend my whole time here, but as a transition it is alright.
  • Make sure you have a routine and exercise. When moving to a new country it is easy to feel as if you are on a permanent holiday. But settling into a routine and getting the necessary exercise you need for the endorphins rush is very important for keeping your mental health balanced.
  • Try new clubs and social situations to make friends. Believe me, I am shy, and this was one of the biggest things I was worried about. But you will find that a lot of people are friendly to you and it is important to accept or suggest hanging out. Also consider “MeetUp”. I was skeptical of this beforehand, but the site is actually good for meeting other people in a similar situation as you. And in Japan, most events are free for foreigners.
  • But most importantly, keep in contact with home. I am not prone to feeling homesick, but keeping the relationships with family and friends alive is important for keeping yourself stable and realizing that there is still support in the world if you need it, no matter how far away!

New Short Story!

Please keep a look out for my new short story Spilling Royal Blood, which will be coming onto Amazon over the next few days.

The book is a psychological thriller about two anti-monarchists appalled by the announcement of another royal wedding.

Click here to buy

Modern Feminism

In case you didn’t realise, tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of women (only those over 30 mind!) being given the right to vote in England.

There are many events running across the country to commemorate this, including a special exhibition at the Pankhurst Centre in Manchester, and the Museum of London.

But with a hundred years passed since this first milestone law, how is feminism fairing in modern society?

It is a question which has dogged me for a while – a staunch feminist as a teenager, I never wore make up and insisted on studying physics at university, in retrospect mainly to prove that I could do so. It used to annoy me when I heard other people, both men and women, referring to modern-day feminists as “greedy”, “lesbians”, “bra burning” “man hating” etc. etc. It can all be very negative.

Yes, it is true that nowadays women in the western world endure many privileges also granted to men. And it is true that historical sexism could be regarded as not as abhorrent as racism and other forms of discrimination. But the fundamental idea of the feminist movement is one that resonates throughout the entire human race – a necessity for people to be treated as the individual and unique person they are, rather than with regards to their heritage, gender or any other difference.

So why should feminists be viewed in such a negative light, even by other women? It is distracting people from a problem that still resonates in society, even over a hundred years since the suffrage movement. Women are still not equally regarded in society as men, though it has improved far more. But branding people fighting for their cause in their own chosen manner does not help anything.

Not a teenager, wearing make up and having thoroughly turned my back on my physics career, I still regard myself as a feminist. It is something I am proud to be, and something that all men and women should be proud to be, void of any negative connotations. It is necessary for the tarnished feminist image to be revitalised to continue its forces towards equality, not just for men and women, but for all people.

Self-publishing on Amazon

So I was always very wary of publishing on Amazon. A lot of judgement seems to go around that authors that have to resort to self-publishing don’t have particularly good works in the first place. And given my naturally self-deprecating stance, I was inclined to agree that if my work hadn’t been noticed by agencies, then they probably not be noticed by anyone.

But that’s looking at the publishing of books from a very narrow view. Yes, agencies are very good at finding talent and predicting works that sell. But that is their main priority; to sell. The literary world has far more depth than that, and many authors that have incredible stories and experimental styles which don’t fit in with the commercial market.

Looking at it from this perspective, it’s suddenly clear that any tool which allows an author to connect with the world on their own terms and not through the filtered and saturated world of mainstream publishing is invaluable. So I decided to give Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Amazon’s own self-publishing tool a go last year.

Much like WordPress.com is made to be user-friendly and inclusive, KDP is also very easy to use. It’s simple to create your own book campaign with an Amazon login, and you can have your very own ebook up on Amazon within the hour. Your guided through appropriately, and also offered to start ad-campaigns to get your work noticed.

I used this to first publish a novel I wrote when I was about 19 called Of the Lies I Keep Inside, about a king with a curse which makes him have to choose between killing his queen or peasant children from his kingdom. Sound a bit like ethical fantasy bullshit? It was. But just like all my other tried and failed pieces, this piece shows a particular stage in my writing development, and though the plot and writing aren’t exactly award-winning, some parts are still readable. It got a small response having been published – I think I’ve sold less than twenty real copies. But, coming from a place where I had no way to connect and share my work with the world, all of those “sales” felt incredible – someone was reading my book! Whether they liked it or not, they had downloaded it and tried to read it!

I tried this again with a novella about falling in love with a dream. Nope, still not much notice. But I enjoyed having a copy of my own ebook on my kindle.

My self-publishing endeavours could be considered a failure in financial terms – I think I’ve only made £5.63 from book sales… But I still consider it a success as it publishing my books independently gave me a sense of power and motivation.

There’s the all too famous example of the 50 Shades of Grey series originating from the self-publishing world. Indeed, it is possible to have incredible success using this method, but this is very rare. For the majority of us, our works are only likely to be noticed by a few adept and random searchers. But that is still a success in my eyes – self-publishing meant I could share my work with the world, no matter how small. For me, that is what writing is all about.

If you feel like checking out my self-published attempts (this is not a marketing post, I swear!) please check out the links below.