A long post about the car crash that was last year

Well, this is awkward. I want to get back in touch because I miss you but it’s been so long I feel embarrassed. You’ve become like the friend I keep meaning to call but weeks pass, then months and then it gets too hard to pick up the phone.

I’ve been waiting to have some good news to share but that hasn’t happened and so I guess I’ll just tell you what’s been going on in general… if you’re interested that is…

And if you’re not, I completely understand.

But for those still reading… what’s been happening with you? How are you doing?

Me? Oh… well… you know…  LIFE’S BEEN A SH*T SHOW!

Oh, yes! A proper, start to finish car crash!

The book? What’s happening with the book? Er… do you really want to know? Really? OK…

Some of you might remember that the last time I wrote about the book I’d just come back from Ireland and was feeling delighted with myself.

I had completed my self-help challenge! And written a book! I was on top of the world!

While I was waiting to get feedback on the book, I took on a work project that I thought I could do in six weeks. At this stage I was VERY confident about my ability to do anything! I was unstoppable! A Tony Robbins dream machine!

Those six weeks turned into a six months project from hell.

In the meantime my agent came back with suggestions of the tiny changes needed to be done to my book. By tiny changes I mean a complete re-write.

And so, six months behind schedule and mentally knackered, I got back to my book….

I sat by my computer from 7am till 7pm, trying to churn out words.

Weeks passed but I was getting nowhere. I was writing sentences, deleting sentences. Writing. Deleting.

I lost confidence that anything I wrote was of interest. I lost any kind of sense of humour too. My whole project seemed disgustingly self-indulgent and narcissistic. I felt disgustingly self-indulgent and narcissistic.

The self-loathing kicked in good and proper. I wanted to escape my head but I couldn’t – writing a book means living in your head. Digging deeper every day.

I moved back to my mum’s to get away from the distractions of London.

I stopped answering the phone. I also stopped washing my hair (not a strong point at the best of times) and lived in the same jumper and leggings I slept in.

I was looking at my computer so much my eyesight started to go. I got my first pair of glasses.

By the early summer of 2016  mum was worried. She said I was depressed. I told her I wasn’t. I just needed to get the book done! Why didn’t anyone understand that?

The thing with depression is that the slide is so gradual that you often don’t realise what’s happening until you’re at the bottom of the black hole. And if anyone points it out while you’re on the descent, you deny it completely. Or at least I do.

But by August 2016, it was quite clear I could not keep going. In fact I could barely get out of bed. I remember one more morning trying to instruct my limbs to move but they wouldn’t do it. I lost the power of speech too. It was like the signals in my head wouldn’t reach my mouth. Not that I cared. At that point I couldn’t understand the point of any kind of words.

I went to the doctor and was given antidepressants.

I stepped away from the computer and spent a few weeks with family in Ireland. I kept taking my pills.

A couple of months later I was beginning to feel like I was slowly coming alive again and then dad died!

Wonderful!

This time my head didn’t really get down but my body did. I got a virus I couldn’t shake. Then I lost my voice. It just went. For three months. It was the strangest thing. Anytime I tried to talk to people a squeak would come out of my mouth. I became convinced I had throat cancer. I had a tube shoved down there to check – and it wasn’t. Thank God. It was just my body’s funny reaction to grief. Or writing a book about self-help.

And so there you go – the messy story of last year.

While the world was experiencing a grand-scale disaster of Brexit, Trump and the refugee crisis, I was experiencing my own first world meltdown. (Is there anything more first world than having a mini breakdown while writing a memoir about self-help???)

But somehow between all of this, in January I finished the book.

I got to the top of the mountain. Did what I set out to do.

And this made me think of…  Grand Designs.

It might sound weird but throughout the book writing fiasco, I kept thinking about the Channel 4 show.

I felt like one of those couples who set themselves the task of creating a eco-friendly, modernist masterpiece in six months with a £100,000 budget.

They start off the whole thing looking clean and perky, full of energy and confidence, only for Kevin McCloud to find them, two years later, living in a caravan on the grounds, while the unfinished building sits there with a tarpaulin roof.

She’s gone on to have another baby and looks like she hasn’t slept in three months while the husband’s lost his job and gone completely grey. They have now spent half a million trying to get it finished and are paying crazy interest on bridging loans. They may or may not still be talking to each other.

That was me last year. I started off clean and confident that I’d bash out an award winning bestseller without too much bother. Twelve months later I was an unwashed, unhinged mess. Who was literally unable to talk. Lets not even talk about my finances.

But as any lovers of televisual property porn know, that’s not the end of the story. Kevin goes away and comes back. By now another few months have passed and now it is sunny. Kevin is walking up the drive to see how it all turned out.

By the final reveal, even if the house is only half done and they ran out of money for furniture, you generally see a couple at peace. They are changed, older, tireder – but there is a calmness about them. They accept that everything happened how it happened. They love their new house – their home – despite the fact that it nearly broke them. Perhaps because it nearly broke them. They have a respect for it.

That’s how I feel about the book. Yes there were tears, tantrums and somebody actually died – but I am at peace with last year and with the book. It happened how it happened. I learned a lot about a lot and after all the struggles, I now love the book that’s appeared on my laptop. Thank God.

What happens next is out of my control… For now it’s with my agent but I will keep you posted.

Until then I’m going to start blogging again.

I always thought the book was the important thing but I’ve now realised that the blog was the real magic. Me sharing, you sharing, being honest and encouraging each other. Blogging not only connects us to each other – it made me pay attention to the world rather than retreat from it. And that is where the good stuff is.

And so I want to get back to it. I hope you’d like to get back to it too.

That said, I’m thinking of writing a second book. It’s called HOW NOT TO WRITE A BOOK. I will basically list everything I did last year.

This a joke. I think.

Love to you all.

x

 

23 thoughts on “A long post about the car crash that was last year

  1. Tracey

    Great and brave article. Sorry you have had such a *rap time. What doesn’t break you makes you stronger! I think you are an inspiration. 2017 is the start of my new life!

    Reply
  2. Laila Datoo

    this made me cry actual tears. you are a superb, amazing, beautiful writer. even with unwashed hair and unwashed leggings you have a gift. I cant wait to buy the book and I didn’t realise how much I missed and loved your blog posts until this landed into my inbox.
    And I mostly like the Grand Designs analogy. I hope you have a wonderful state of the art staircase with glass steps and copper rails in your book and it makes you happy every time you look at it.
    X

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power Post author

      Oh Laila, your comment made me cry actual tears! Thank you!! Copper rails… like the sound of that!

      Reply
  3. Liz

    I’m sorry for all you went through. It’s always hard to lose someone you love.

    But when it comes to depression, I hope you will remember that the power always lies with you and what you say to yourself every day. Here’s a suggestion. Read Florence Scovel Shinn’s Game of life and how to play it and apply it for at least 3 months consistently.

    And in regard to your book and your agent… You can honestly tell your agent to get lost and either get another agent or start sending your book to the right people yourself.

    Do you have any idea how many times JK Rowling was refused? Please do some research on that. In the end you can also self publish.

    Please stop saying that you’re not writer material. This message comes from a fellow writer. I am also a Robbins fan and have attended UPW 3 times, once as staff. And I lost all my elders (dad, grandpa, mom, grandma, aunt – in a space of 8 years almost one after the other starting when I was 23 – I am now 33). I also had probs with my throat that started when my dad died and lasted for 8 years on and off.

    Feel free to reach out to me when you feel the need to talk to someone. You will be fine. You are fine. 💜

    Reply
  4. Carolyn

    Welcome back Marianne,
    You make me cry and laugh at the same time……my life’s ups and downs seem to mirror yours. I too am in the early stages of a book about an unusual life experience so I will look forward to the hell I have to face but you should be proud of yourself girl as you have gone and finished it. So glad you are back with your blogs….love and need them as they make me realise we are all human and all face this shit stuff. It how we deal with it that counts and you are back on it and that makes you a survivor!

    Reply
  5. John Clark

    Hi M

    Watched a programme about a couple who built an upside-down house in Pembrokeshire national park in 20 weeks earlier this week. Jealous as hell.

    Keep well

    JC

    Reply
  6. grainne

    Welcome back Marianne and whatever happens next or whatever you choose to do or not do for that matter, never EVER stop picking up your phone. Please. Love you x

    Reply
  7. una

    Just lovely that article maybe short stories are the way to go. Enjoyed reading. Life is well sh**t at times we we have no choice but get back up and fight until the next knock. You seem to have love around you from family so that is a great bonus. Keep going, looking forward to your blog again.

    Reply
  8. Rhian

    I’ve missed your updates Marianne, but can totally understand the absence. So glad you have come through the other side and things are looking up. Take care and keep blogging xx

    Reply
  9. Ali

    Oh Marianne, thank you for sharing again – I feel for you, I’ve missed reading about your life and I really really hope the book does well. I’ll definitely buy a copy. I hope you are on the up, up, up again. You deserve happiness you seem like such a lovely person. I have enjoyed reading the articles you have written in the newspaper etc and think you should carry on – maybe there’s a novel inside you?

    Thanks for keeping in touch, A x

    Reply
  10. Ailis

    enjoyed this post and well done for getting through it. love your grand designs analogy.
    soemtimes in the ‘failing’ that is when we learn the most i think. I am sorry for you having a tough year….been there. Do you think that the antidepressants helped ? or hindered after awhile ? Good luck iwht the book launch and thank you for such honesty – its rare these days i think, too rare, for people to admit when things are not ok. Society rewards those who seem ‘perfect’. But you know what – give me the real person with the flaws the mistakes along the way …they always have more to offer 🙂

    Reply
  11. Bel

    You are wonderful at sharing, being honest and inspiring. Despite all the immense difficulty your bravery shines through in the end- you are a Grand Design. Thank you and huge congratulations for making it this far in the way you have.

    Reply
  12. Diane Holland

    Ah how lovely to hear from you! I’ve missed your blogs and am glad you’re back! What a tough time you’ve had but you got through it and learnt from it – go girl! Damn you’ve reminded me that copy of Feel the Fear is still unopened and gathering dust on my bedside table! xxx

    Reply
  13. Sara Lieberman

    I’m so sorry for the terrible year you had, but SO DELIGHTED to read you’ve come out of the funk to find freedom and LIGHT! I love your project and your writing and I look forward to following along on your journey. xx

    Reply
  14. Arthur

    It’s always lovely to hear from you, and it sounds like you’ve had one hell of a year.

    I’ll take this opportunity to admit to my own embarrassment: I saw the news about your dad, but didn’t know what to say. I never do when a person dies. After failing to say anything, even the empty “my condolences” phrase, I was too embarrassed to come back. So I can’t say I know what it’s like to lose a parent, but I know it’s got to hurt a lot.

    I was in my own depression, didn’t see the slope on my way down and couldn’t see the top once I was in it. It’s taken tablets, talk, education and lots of time to climb out of that hole. Denial is quite normal. The process can be so gradual you don’t think anything has changed, and you can explain everything.

    Good for you that you got help. Self-help only takes us so far. Sometimes to the door of someone who knows what to do next.

    Reply
  15. Sarah

    Hi Marianne, thanks for this wonderful post, even though the content is obviously not so wonderful… I too wanted to express my condolences but time slipped by and I felt bad for not doing so sooner. I don’t know what it is about writing but I had a similar experience writing the phd, it seems to be an incredible exposing process even when the subject matter isn’t…and my mum died 2 years into that…my body eventually developed what I suppose were ‘help me’ signals to start taking care of myself, but it was all quite frightening at the time. Thanks for your bravery and wonderful prose. Sarah xx

    Reply
    1. Marianne Power Post author

      ha ha – you’ve got to see more of the bad bits… but we’ll get there. Looks like you’re having a ball down under. x

      Reply
  16. Mary

    Aw, Marianne – without even leaving this office, I bet I could find at least half a dozen people who know you and adore you! It’s true, you’re a brilliant writer – but you’re also a fabulous person. I’m so glad that things turned a corner (although perhaps I’m just indulging myself by projecting*my* preferred ‘happy ending’ on to *your* narrative) but please know that you deserve the best in life, the best life, in fact. So, you go and do whatever it is that makes you happy – whatever that is! (PS: I’m off alcohol for Lent but drinks in Dublin soon, mebbe??) Mxx

    Reply
  17. Susan Faldo

    Welcome back Marianne, so sorry to hear about your year from hell. Can totally empathise as we too have had the year
    ( well so far the 16 months) of hell but like you we are hopefully emerging from the other side. Sunshine is just around the corner. Maybe sometimes we have to experience the hell to appreciate the good that is still in our lives. I know one thing it can draw you and your loved ones more tightly together than you ever thought possible and that at least is one thing to be grateful for. I hope you too are beginning to see the sunshine. Sending love and thank you for sharing, you have been missed.
    X💕X

    Reply
  18. John

    Hi Marianne, it’s good to have you back and I’m sorry you’ve had a hellish year. I’d recommend that you read The Drunkard’s Walk by Leonard Mlodinow. It’s basically about the random nature of life and how much chance plays a huge role in it. Now it does go into a lot of history about the mathematical side of randomness. But it’s worthwhile persevering with because the author comes to the conclusion that the difference between being successful or not is a lot narrower than people think. Ok – it doesn’t give any suggestions for coping with unexpected events, but I reckon it helps by just giving an awareness of how randomness can push everyone around!
    Oh, and while I’m at it another book – Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. It’s about cognitive biases (don’t ask – you’ll have to read it!).

    Reply

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