Catching Up . . .

Has 2020 been all about Covid? In a way, yes. In many ways, no.

For a lot of people it’s been about re-evaluating. It’s been a wake-up call.

Do I need to commute so far every day? Do I love this person I’m living with? What’s the point of continuing in this job I hate? Why am I putting up with so much outside of my control? I could go on… the list is endless. Everyone has been forced to stop and THINK.

2020 has been a shit year for many. There we are. In the words of Mad-Eye Moody, “End of story. Goodbye. The End…”

But it hasn’t all been about Covid.

For instance, among my family and extended family three people are living with cancer at the moment. The worst moments of some people’s lives have taken place, all while Covid exists as an annoying accomplice in the background. Cancer hasn’t gone away. Nor have any of the other ailments killing people every day.

My husband’s work has changed completely. He’s adapted and is a podcaster now and wants to do a Masters for himself, because as he put it, “You just sometimes realise if you want to do something for yourself, you’ve got to do it now. There’s no time.”

We had a major financial scare at the beginning of this year. Suffice to say, there are some dodgy, dodgy companies out there… and they will still be doing what they do post-Covid, because some things never change.

I’ve heard numerous times from my daughter, the words, “I hate coronavirus!” All she sees is that she cannot meet her friends in the same way. She can’t stay over at Grandma’s. She couldn’t go to school. She hates seeing her parents in the scary masks and doesn’t understand why so many people are angry and impatient everywhere. And all the adults ever seem to talk about is fucking coronavirus. LOL.

I started writing a series of books last winter, almost a year ago now. I put fingers to keys to create the Bad Series well before any of this kicked off.

I wrote this series during some of the worst times of my life, but I worked SO HARD throughout to stick to the brief I set out a year ago – to write it as it was meant to be written from concept to completion. I oftentimes write my books real-time and that’s why more often than not, I write in first-person present tense because I want it to have the feel of “happening right now” – that you’re living the story alongside the characters. The epilogue of the Bad Series brings the characters right up to about now (2020 – the year which in future shall not be named). However, I am no way going to ever mention the C-word in any of my books. WHY? Because it doesn’t have a place. Not right now. Maybe not ever. The issues I chose to write about and have been detailing for ten years are, to me, much more prevalent, evergreen and pressing. Issues such as family, relationships, friendships, mental health, overcoming trauma, acceptance of one another and love.

If you want to discover what my post-natal brain conjured eight or nine years ago about the future (2023) then read my predictions in the Unity Series. If you’d like a window into what my highly sensitive nerve endings picked up on as being our future, Unity comes very close in a lot of (interpretational) ways. If there was a message in the Unity Series, it was to think for yourself. To not allow ourselves to be pushed apart. Broken, we can be divided; together, we’re unbreakable.

Fiction, as it turns out, is more important than ever. To me. To you. To the world. A safe space in which to translate and work through everything going on around us.

I know how lucky I am every day to be able to venture into my own private domain. To have the skill to be able to knit my concerns about the world within good stories. To have my safe space.

I recognise, now more than ever, there is pain out there which goes far beyond the virus and it is being squashed away because of this C-word thing going on and interrupting our lives.

Domestic abuse is up. Cancer patients are waiting. Many elderly are suffering because they simply cannot get out. They are missing that VITAL chance to be around the younger generation and feel connected to the world. People are telling themselves their suffering is small and therefore they aren’t going to the doctor with that ache or pain or lump they’d normally get checked out. And MONEY still isn’t being placed where it is needed most. And the WRONG sectors are benefiting from this crisis while the pre-existing and various struggles of millions are ongoing and far outweigh some people’s reluctance to don a mask.

And the very fine balance of people’s mental health is being tested like never before. Those of us who have never had a mental health issue – are wondering if it’s coming for us next. Because sometimes, some days, you just wake up and think, “What the fuck next…?”

For someone who processes events slowly, and then all at once, the next writings from me might be very interesting indeed.

Is 2020 a write-off?

I don’t know.

Personally, this year has taught me that I am there for a heck of a lot of people. And I will always be. But stepping back sometimes is something I have to do. Trying to save people is something I can’t accomplish. Even when I can see what they’re doing is causing damage only to themselves, I can’t step in. But maybe somebody reading one of my books might read it… and be moved to see things clearer than if someone in their lives had sat them down and told them.

For some, lockdown was their saviour. It was finally their chance to take stock. To catch up on sleep. No more boarding a flight every week. No more sardine-in-a-can train journeys. Time spent catching up with their partner and/or kids. Time to spruce up the house or driveway or back garden, or front – maybe all the above. Time to grow out your hair and/or nails. Time to breathe. Time to actually speak to your neighbour. A chance to buy local. A chance to sell local. A chance to be local.

If I’m anything to go by, let me tell you, one thing is for certain.

Post-2020, creativity is going to be UP!

Things are going to change, and it is going to hurt, but through the enormous amount of creativity that is coming – because nothing can come from nothing and who we are, the experiences we’ve had and the hearts we own are everything – we can be together.

Watch this space…

It’s Okay To Say “No”

Saying “No” Is a Sign of Intelligence

I read something a long while ago about an experiment involving people handed cakes and chocolate non-stop and the test was to see whether they kept saying yes, or eventually said no. After all, we don’t need all the cake and all the chocolate in one day. Moderation is the key, right?

The experiment showed that the more intelligent people either said no from the outset or eventually said no once they were full. For some reason, this example popped into my head this week and it got me also thinking about some of the Oxford University techniques implemented during the application process. Half the time the examiners are testing whether you’ll do something without question. If you do something without thinking it through or without a moment’s hesitation (just because someone said to do it), it could be a sign of low intelligence. What do you think?

I hear and see so much discontent around me some days and I think to myself, “Why don’t you just say no?”

There are many situations where it’s difficult to say no:-

  • You’re full from dinner but the waiter is giving you the eye as if to say that you having more drinks and puddings makes him look better with the boss. He looks so hopeless, you can’t say no.
  • Your mother-in-law keeps putting out plates of biscuits with the tea and coffee and somehow, you feel impolite not partaking.
  • Your boyfriend wants you to go with him to a game, but it’s really not your thing. If you say no though, he might go crazy with his friends, go out on the lash and forget you even exist. You’ll receive a text three days later to say he’s finally got sober and he needs you to pick him up from some gutter somewhere.
  • Someone asks for a favour and this person has done you a favour in the past. You know it’ll be difficult to carry out because you’ve already got a lot on your plate and what they want you to do is something you’d charge other people for, but somehow you selflessly work through the night to carry out the favour and it turns out, your friend didn’t need your help after all. Shout at them, or mooch on and hang your head for half a day? What do you do when they ask again, even though you feel bad about saying no?
  • This one is my favourite: You have a horrible relative and you’re asked to spend time in the same room as them. Ignore your better judgement (and that of many people who agree that the person in question is hard work) and be in the same room while biting your tongue, or say NO and avoid that period of time spent in their company which is a waste of your time and existence. I say I’d rather spend time being happy, than making other people happy. WE HAVE A CHOICE.

Life is short. Lately, with everything going on in the world and so much negativity in the media, it seems that life is getting shorter and shorter. None of us truly know how much time we have on this planet or in this life.

Sometimes I feel an urge to write, an itch I cannot ignore, and this is one of those times when I cannot ignore writing out something which seems very simple to me, but to others – difficult or challenging. Maybe it’s because I was once there, and the process of me finally saying no to something which made me unhappy changed me forever, and now I don’t hesitate in saying, “no”.

To explain, one of the main reasons I am a writer is that growing up, I chewed through books like you can’t imagine and the reason was – I was searching for answers. I wanted education. I wanted to hear about what life had on offer and I wanted to make my own informed decisions about life. In the end, I learnt that the only way to learn (really and truly) is to live life. However, reading helps. It gives you perspective. It gives you a broader sense of the world and other people’s lives. Reading can also give you escapism from a current predicament. I had it brought to my attention recently that some women read romantic fiction to have their faith restored in men, after going through bad relationships. Maybe while they’re single and healing, fiction can be that salve during a process of reflection and help someone figure out where they want to go and how they can take themselves forward.

I would never describe myself as a “romantic” author because I write the truth in all my books. I always question whether my characters would act like this or that in real life and sometimes, I spend days considering whether they would. Sometimes I have readers mailing me to say the characters are pissing them off, and I smile secretly, because people in real life do things to piss you off. I don’t write fiction to create perfect characters who do everything they should. I write them to spark something in a reader, hopefully a thought that might help them see things from a different perspective and change their life.

In my opinion, there is nothing more romantic than someone failing and getting back up, admitting they were wrong and doing it better next time. There is nothing more romantic than a true love conquering all, and remaining intact despite all the hurt and the pain. This is real, this is life. Life is painful but also beautiful and one thing you never see in the mass media are stories of ordinary, backwater people leading quiet, purposeful lives, bringing cheer to all those around them, bringing life and love to everybody they know. Sometimes you walk into a person’s home and everything about them seems ordinary until they start to recount an extraordinary story of achievement they rarely brag about. It just happened, and they humbly explain that it happened. There are silent heroes out there everywhere and it’s why this world hasn’t yet exploded into World War Three. There are people doing good deeds all over the place – and some of them never ask for any reward but a tiny bit of recognition.

I learnt to say no a long time ago. I won’t be bullied by anybody to think or do what they want me to do. I’ll break the rules. I’ll say no or I’ll gently say, “Maybe next time.” In this modern world of ours, we’ve got too wrapped up in thinking that opportunity is at our feet and it’s something we have to dive into without any thought for ourselves or what we – ourselves – really want. Know your own limits, it’s the best advice I could ever give you, and be content with your own limits and accept the things which make you happy, and ignore the things that really give you no comfort or peace whatsoever.

Maybe if you’re in an unhappy place in life, write a list of all the things you wish you could say no to, and a list of all the things you wish you could say yes to. I bet if you start saying no more, you will be able to say yes more frequently to the things you really want to do. There is no trap in life except your own mind, and sometimes, our parameters don’t shift with time and they need to constantly do that. Everyone is in charge of their own fate.

I do think it is important to mention, however… that some of us do experience real anxiety over saying no. Some of us imagine the worst possible scenario of what saying no could conclude in. Such as the breakdown of a relationship, or getting into debt, losing your job or… the list of situations some people have on their ‘absolute avoidance’ pile is endless. But think of why you’re saying no in the first place… and aren’t you saying no because to say yes would make you unhappy? And the whole point of life is to be happy, so why do you keep saying yes to unhappiness? We’ve all been there and life transformations can be very painful.

Someone myself and my husband follow is Jack Canfield and his success principles. I think this sums up everything I’m trying to say here:-

“Most of us avoid telling the truth because it’s uncomfortable. We’re afraid of the consequences—making others feel uncomfortable, hurting their feelings, or risking their anger. And yet, when we don’t tell the truth, and others don’t tell us the truth, we can’t deal with matters from a basis in reality. We’ve all heard the phrase that “the truth will set you free.” And it will. The truth allows us to be free to deal with the way things are, not the way we imagine them to be or hope them to be or might manipulate them to be with our lies. The truth also frees up our energy. It takes energy to withhold the truth, keep a secret, or keep up an act.”
Jack Canfield, The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

Time is precious and there is no harm in occasionally saying “no”, or “maybe next time.” It’s a sign of intelligence, of you weighing up all your options, and choosing a different one. It’s knowing who you are… and going in the direction that will make you the best person you can possibly be. Rather than dedicate all your energies to avoiding the truth, and covering it up with numberous band aids, plough all your energies into getting what you want. If you’re in a bad job, make your new job finding that new job. If you’re in a relationship where you know you’d be better off alone… seriously… there’s not even a yes or no answer to that.

Life is so short. Forget the bullshit… and just be happy. Toss off your self-made prison and the truth will set you free. It really will.

Forget what everyone is saying on social media, and think for yourself. It’s a clever thing to do and when you love yourself, people will love you too.


They Loved, a short story

What follows is a short story of less than 1,000 words which I wrote for a charity anthology last year, called FRAMED. Here it is for your reading pleasure and/or pain. Thanks to Lisa Fulham for asking me to write this.


She waited on a padded, velvet bench.

When she emailed him that morning asking him to see her at the gallery where they had first met, he called back immediately. She told him nothing, only to meet her at six pm, knowing he would have left work by then.

Now, she waited.


Shoes shuffled along the slick, waxed, wooden floors, sounding louder than they really were. Whispers. Breaths. Beats of the heart, even—they all sounded louder now.

A different sound broke her mindless inner chatter. His weight creaked the seat.

“Hi Anne.”

“Hey, Glenn. How’re you doing?”

“Not bad. Can’t complain.”

They both looked ahead, not wanting to look at one another. She couldn’t help but glance at his wedding finger. No replacement, not yet, she thought.

“You must be wondering if I’ve lost my marbles?” she began.

The last time they saw one another, they were hovering over the grave of their only child.

Ten years ago, Glenn turned his head for a moment at their favourite fishing lake and six year old Max slipped into the water. It was never explained how he fell in. It happened in the blink of an eye. The investigators had ruled his death accidental and the reeds had trapped Max underwater, long enough to swell his lungs with water, and take his life.

The couple hadn’t spoken since. He just packed his bags and went, too ashamed of what he’d done to her.

“Thought had crossed my mind,” Glenn said, wiping his index finger under his nose. Outside it was a rain-soaked November day.

“I need to tell you something,” she explained, her voice changing so he knew it was serious.

Glenn turned his head and feeling his gaze on her, she turned to look at him. He still had brilliant green eyes. The colour of magic, almost.

She reached for her nerve and swallowed. “I’m dying.”

He sat for a moment, numb, unresponsive. As it began to sink in, he replied, “You’re sick?”

“Yep. I have been for three years. I had treatment after treatment. Nothing’s worked.”

She caught him trying to catch a look at her ring finger, too, but she was wearing leather gloves. All her beauty had gone, slipped away. She was wearing a wig and her bones were empty, her soul drained, her sight not what it once was.

“How long?” he asked, his voice shallow. For a man not yet fifty, he looked ancient in that moment.

“Few weeks. They tried to put me in respite but I refused. I want to die at home, with my things, and my dignity intact. I’ll do what needs to be done before they make me a sad case.”

He gazed at the photograph on the wall in front of them. A girl in a blue dress could be seen stepping into a forest through one mirror, and stepping out of a beach scene through another. He wondered why she had chosen to seat herself in front of this picture. Out of all the images in the place, she chose this one.

Quickly he realised she hadn’t changed much—the woman feeling everything, still denying all who tried to show they cared.

“I’m sorry, of course. I don’t know what I can do, however? We’ve been apart for so long now.”

She took a deep breath and her weak, empty lungs strained against the gallery’s air-con.

“My book royalties…” She twisted at her coat material with her gloves and tried to find the courage to say the rest. “…there’s nobody else I want to give them to. My mum and dad are dead, my child died, my friends all hate me and abandoned me long ago. I wanted to tell you that they will come to you. It’s been arranged already. It’s done. I just wanted you to know, in person. I wanted to ask you to accept them with my absolute and utter blessing. There is nobody else I can think of who deserves them.”

His eyes squeezed tight shut and he couldn’t take it. His lungs collapsed, like hers were, from drawing on that cigarette she loved just a little more than her body could take. She gave up smoking for him, and for their child, but when they were gone the white stick was her only friend, only companion. Now, it had killed her.

He bent forward, head in his hands. He never anticipated this. Never. She’d not forgotten him, either. He started shaking and didn’t know when it would stop. Years of hidden, buried pain flooded his eyes and dripped, snaking down the sides of his face to the floor.

Glenn got himself together and his natural reaction was to reach for her, take her in his arms and pull her tight into his embrace. The rush of emotions was exquisite, the sting of regret a full-body ache, swamping him from head to toe. He’d loved her so much.

His lips began tracing the beauty of her face, along her jaw line, across her emaciated cheekbones and finally, to her lips. His tongue touched hers, one final time.


Nothing ever forgotten.

“It’s the same girl, the same one. Wherever you put her, she’s still the same person,” she explained, gesturing at the photo, and he nodded, “but that’s bullshit.”

“I always loved that about you.” Her ability to be real, to see the grit in a fairytale, even.

They had their overdue goodbye, their full stop. Underscore.

They gave her six months to live. She’d hung on for three years.

“Glenn, I’m sorry.”

There, in his arms, she took her last, lingering, most life-affirming breath.


It may interest you to know that in the writing of this story, I was influenced by real life tragedies which have happened to people in my life. Please donate what you can to Cancer Charities whenever you get chance. xx

“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #23 – Francesca Marlow

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They say I’m doing well, but I guess it depends on how you define the word well. I’m healthy; I have a job, a roof over my head, two beautiful little girls, a very supportive partner, a big loving family and a small group of awesome friends. In my eyes, that makes me richer than many people.

To the outside world, my life may be viewed as a happy one and for the most part, it is. However, the life I portray on social media are the parts I want people to see, therefore, yes; I’m socially well.

What most don’t realise, and the part I rarely share is the hours it cost me in MIND time to get to this point in my life. The struggles, the low points, the lonely, late night cries, the endless loss of sleep, the battles with my own thoughts at two, three and four in a morning.

In August 2014, I split from my husband after eight years of marriage, ending a relationship of thirteen years. At thirty-three years old, I never thought I would find myself in that position. I was starting my life over and I have never been as scared of anything in my life. Not even childbirth. I was suddenly solely responsible for, not only looking after myself but my two little girls – the two most precious things in my life. It turns out; they probably ended up looking after me the most with their innocent little minds, big hearts and simple outlooks on life. Hell, I envied them.  I’m still shocked at how isolating it feels when I see their empty beds staring back at me when they are staying at their dad’s. That’s when the sun goes down and the nightmares creep in.

Just because a person chooses to remain private, doesn’t spout all their problems publicly, or struggles to openly discuss them, doesn’t mean they don’t suffer. To the contrary, the quiet ones suffer, too. Being trapped in your own thoughts, not being able to make sense of them enough to talk about them, to even your closest friends, is a scary place to be. Add to that the fear of sounding stupid, the fear of admitting your failings, the fear of how society will judge you and you may find that you understand more why so many people suffer in silence. Sometimes, it’s the safest way to be.

Paranoia and insecurity are a bitch…

Who is going to want me with two kids?

Who is going to want me looking like this?

Who else is going to love my baby born, stretch marks?

Are they looking at me?

Are they whispering about me?

Why didn’t they invite me?

Why didn’t they invite my children?

What damage have I done to my girls?

God, I feel so guilty. How will I provide them with all the love and support they’re missing out on not being in a two parent family?

Did my daughter get into trouble at school because I left her dad? Is she lashing out because of me?

Why don’t my friends like my photos?

Are they judging me now, too?

Why aren’t family supporting my decisions?

Surely they understand?

These are just a few of the questions that my wonderful mind spends hours agonising over.


Insert identity crisis – I’d spent years being Fran the wife, Fran the daughter-in-law,

Fran the mum, but who the hell was Fran? I felt like I had to rediscover myself all over again.

Insert judgement days – I realised no matter what you do, what new things you try, whatever selfie you post, there’s always someone sat there waiting to pounce, to pull you to pieces and criticise you. They have no clue why you’re doing what you’re doing. They have no idea how many hours you spent deliberating over your every step.

Insert the mistakes – I am only human, I will make mistakes, everyone does. I made a ton of them. It’s just a shame others couldn’t admit their mistakes, too. It’s funny how many perfect people there were in my life and it’s even funnier how many friends you truly have (insert sarcasm). I learnt the hard way whom are the good eggs, but the good eggs I have, are keepers for life.


When the sun begins to rise in the morning, there’s a certain calm that ripples through the mind like an ocean gently washing over the shore, taking with it all the silly, unnecessary worry. And as you drag your weary, tired body from the sheets, you begin to wonder what it is about the night that causes such irrationality. You start to be able to rationalise the thoughts in your head that little bit easier, clearer.

You realise it’s not all doom and gloom because despite the disappointment of those you thought you could trust, you know there’s that one friend. That one friend you can rely on at all hours of the day to be on the other end of the phone, regardless of her plans. She picks you up and slaps you down as and when required. That one friend who understands without even having to explain, but that one friend you know you can’t rely on forever.  Also, whether realised or not, that one random text asking how you are means the world. Just the thought that someone took a minute out of their day to think about you, means more than they will probably ever know.

On the outside I probably seemed like I was taking it all in my stride, on the inside, I was dying a slow death. My thoughts were killing me day by day, pinning me down and keep me a prisoner in my own mind. It’s cliché but it’s true – when you’re down on your arse, the only way is up. When you’re staring back at the person in the mirror and you don’t even recognise yourself anymore and what you’ve become, then it’s time to have a serious word with the bastards in your head. It’s time to fight. It’s time to take a leaf out of your kid’s book and focus on the positives. It’s time to trust in a few people and let them in. Slowly, but surely, I started to realise…

I’m healthy.

I have a job.

I have a home.

I have two beautiful little girls.

I have a small group of awesome friends.

I have a big loving family.

With pain comes anger and for a while back there, that’s exactly how I felt; angry and disappointed. It was my decision to leave my marriage. No one said it would be easy, a few said it would be tough but never did I once imagine just how hard it would be. Nothing prepared me for the times I faced.

You find a way to let go of the anger.

You find a way to let go of the hurt.

You find a way to let go of the pain.

You let it go.

You start to live again.

The whole process has taught my MIND many things but one of the most specific is I’ve had to learn is to live without the materialistic things in life. That’s not to say I couldn’t before divorce, it’s just I now have an appreciation for the smaller, understated things – walks in the park, snuggles on the sofa, watching a film with my kids, baking on a Sunday, relaxing in a hot bath, just sitting alone in a quiet room listening to the sound of my calm breath.

I now have a new partner, who accepts my baby stretch marks, who encourages me to be me and not to concern myself with the opinions of others, but most of all, loves my girls just as much as he loves me. There truly are great people out there; you just need to trust and believe in yourself and hope that good things will follow.

2016 – I am grateful to all those who stood by me. I appreciate the things I do have in my life. I have more of an understanding to those who suffer pain, but most importantly, I feel stronger in mind, I am doing well.


Francesca Marlow © 2016

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Francesca Marlow discovered her love for writing a few years ago when having some role play fun on Twitter with her best mate. They were inspired to create a world of their own which really helped her to channel every day thoughts and emotions, to deal with the daily grind of ‘life’. Never once did she think it would lead to releasing her first novel which she confesses to being one of the proudest moments.

Aside from releasing a novel, two of Francesca’s biggest accomplishment to date is her two little ladies which mean the world to her. She’s a Yorkshire lass and romantic at heart, with an eclectic taste in music and a great love for films; all of which continue to be a source of creativity as well as well deserved relaxation moments. A new found love for the gym has lead to a healthier, happier Fran, so when she’s not being a mum, working, reading or writing, she can be found lifting weights or just generally exhausted in a heap in her snuggle chair.



Thank you so much for taking part Fran!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]


“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #5 – Andie M Long

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I’m more than happy to tell you about my own anxiety and depression. If this story helps even one person then that’s great.

When I was twenty-one I moved into my first house (just me) and one week later I went abroad with my boyfriend. While there I had a couple of episodes of what we attributed to ‘too much sun.’ I was shaking and felt sick and had to go back to the apartment on two occasions. It would be three years before these were diagnosed as panic attacks.

At twenty-four I felt faint while on the bus. I got off in Sheffield City Centre and banged on the doors of Yorkshire Bank. I knew they had closed to customers but I also knew my sister was behind that door. We caught a taxi back to my house, thinking I had a virus. That virus lasted three years. During these three years I would be diagnosed with ME and struggle to keep my job. I lived on my own and yet relied on my boyfriend, sister and parents to get me to the places I needed to be. During that time I became obsessed with gardening, the only means of escape I had from my four walls. Unfortunately I had bad neighbours at either side. At one side a man who would get drunk and smack his wife every Friday night, the other, a Schizophrenic. Three doors down another man with mental health problems. I came home one day and the kids of wife-beater had gone into my garden and ripped all the heads off my flowers. They couldn’t see the problem.

I worked at the local psychiatric unit in Admin. I therefore knew when my next door neighbour was admitted and what he’d been admitted for. The previous night I’d told Den I could smell burning. He told me I was being stupid. I snuck a read of his case notes . He had tried to set his bedroom on fire. That bedroom adjoined mine. He’d abscond from the ward and return home. I’d hear tunnelling noises near the cellar and he’d shout through the walls that he was going to kill my cats. He tried to set some of my plants on fire. When he eventually was rehomed, the water services said he had indeed been digging towards my cellar and had just missed vital pipework.

One night the man a few doors down started his usual behaviour; playing the same song on repeat, extremely loudly, for hours and hours. This is the point I would say that I had a complete nervous breakdown. I rang my parents in tears saying I couldn’t cope any more. They took me to their house and I spent the night in a quiet bedroom, no doubt worrying them to death, but saying I couldn’t cope any more.

I was lucky. My mum got me an appointment at my G.P. surgery. It was a new G.P. One who listened and said I needed to try anti-depressants. I’d had one attempt before and the side effects had been too weird and severe. I’d only taken one. This G.P. took time to reassure me and told me that I could feel really sick for two weeks, but to think of it like flu and that in a couple of weeks I’d feel better.

The tablets made me vomit profusely for three days. They altered my pupils and made me look like I had a mad stare for two days. I made light of it but I know my family was worried. I started to feel less sick and more, well, normal. Just over a fortnight later I sat up in bed on a nice morning and asked Den if he’d take me to a garden centre. You have no idea how much of a shock this was. I’d barely left my house in three years.

I was re-diagnosed. I’d not had ME, I’d had limiting panic attacks and depression. That G.P. spent months with me on and off, showing me some behavioural therapy, such as spinning me in a chair to reassure me that although I’d get dizzy it would wear off. Without her I don’t know how I would have ended up to be honest. My body when it gets low truly makes me feel I can’t get to the end of the road. That I’m sick and exhausted. I know this because under the direction of new G.P.s I reduced and came off my medicine twice more.

The second time I became depressed and agoraphobic. I could only walk around my street. It would wear me out. Then I could only get to the post box. Then the top of the drive. When my father broke down in tears in front of me I knew I needed medication again. My father, the stocky, hard as nails, Police Sergeant. This couldn’t go on.

The third time my depression hit after I’d had a period of severe anaemia and flu. It was the worst bout I’d ever had. I’d sit in the car and wonder what would happen if I put my foot down and pranged the car in front. I didn’t want to kill myself. I just wanted to feel something. My medicines had to be increased this time, as the bout was so bad. I’d only taken a low dose on my second episode, as it was primarily anxiety and 10mg did the job. This time I needed the standard dose of 20mg. I was warned it could make me feel worse. I kept a diary of the side effects so I knew how bad they made me feel throughout this time. That diary is heartbreaking to read. Knowing how low I got and felt during that time. The increase in tablets gave me twenty-four hours where I had to tell Den I felt unsafe and to keep an eye on me. There was broken glass on the ground and I wondered how it would feel if I cut my arm. I thought about sitting on my window sill upstairs. Stupid things. Again, they were never full suicidal thoughts, just ridiculous ones that came into my mind all connected with the fact I was just so damn numb.

It passed and I improved. That was four years ago. I remain on the medication and I don’t intend to ever come off it. Maybe in time there will be improved medicines to change to. I say often, diabetics aren’t expected to stop insulin, why are depressed people taken off their tablets? If it’s situational depression and the stressor is eliminated yes, but for long term sufferers of anxiety and depression, no. I expected a fight on review with my current G.P., a no-nonsense character. He surprised me, ‘sounds sensible.’

I have low days, but I don’t attribute these to my depression. We all have low, crap days. I still have the occasional panic attack but I breathe steady and try to let it pass. I don’t hide my anxiety and depression and because of this I can tell my friends if I’m having a wobble.

If you haven’t tried medicine and I know many people are reluctant, I hope this gives you the confidence you need to ask for it. Yes you may feel at first as if you’re losing your mind even more. Afterwards you might just find you have your life back. I’m glad that my anxiety and depression are not restricting me so much these days and I can be the fab mother, partner, family member and friend I desire to be. If your health practitioners are unsympathetic, find another who is. The only thing I’ve really been left with out of all this, is I hate to feel out of control, because it reminds me too much of my illness. That’s why I rarely drink and why sometimes I escape back to my hotel room while others dance for hours. In Peterborough in March at my first book signing after party, although I still only had one drink, I did dance all night. It was the first time in years I felt I had properly let go and been myself.

I hope my story has given hope or reassurance to others. You wouldn’t know I had all this going on to look at me. In fact the thing people say to me most when I tell them I’m on anti-depressants, ‘But you’re always smiling.’ That’s right, because my anxiety and depression are currently well controlled and for that reason I’ll smile every single minute.


Recently I suffered from labyrinthitis/benign positional vertigo for a number of weeks. The feeling of permanent dizziness started to lead to increased staying at home. I was aware of going downhill, with mood and feelings of agoraphobia and panic when I tried to go out. I set myself the challenge of going a little further each day and managed to get back on my feet. My family were ecstatic as they’d seen I was wavering.

They say I’m doing well. What no-one sees is the inner struggle I go through every day to appear that way.

Andie M Long © 2016

author bio

Author of The Alpha Series: The Alphabet Game, The Calendar Game and The Alphabet Wedding, plus Underneath and Quickies. She writes books in different genres so be sure to check them out!

Andie is a mum of one from Sheffield, UK, who desperately tries to juggle the day job, motherhood, writing, gardening and her other obsessions. She has a long suffering partner.


Thank you so much for taking part Andie!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]


511Ifw74-3L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgAndie is giving away an ecopy of her yet-to-be released romantic/comedy novella Balls! All you have to do is comment on this post with your ball(sy) reason as to why Andie should pick you as her winner!

Good luck!!


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