My teacher once walked up to me and slammed a ruler on my desk - I never saw her coming though I was staring straight ahead, my eyes wide open. But I was lost in a daydream. I daydreamed my way through school, on the bus, at home. I was a docile, easy child most times because I would just sit down and disappear in my own mind. Daydreamer, the teachers called me. Scatterbrained, my parents said, when I couldn't clean my room or find my socks.
I am easily stressed by silly things like parking a car or getting the heater turned on. A few months ago, I started my first full time job after raising three children and working from home or in part-time jobs. I get up extra early so I have time to do what most people can do in half an hour - wash, get dressed, take care of the dog, eat breakfast - and I make sure not to turn on the TV or computer or else I will lose track of time.
I'm lucky in that my job requires a lot of different skills, so I'm not bored, and it's demanding, so I can't daydream at all or I'll miss something vital. I have adjusted, but I do feel on the very ege of being completely overwhelmed. I have had to put a lot of things on hold just to do my work. Luckily I have the most understanding husband in the world, who has taken over meal planning and laundry - otherwise I would never cope. But it's a feeling I have always gotten, so I know I'll get over it sooner or later. One day, I'll be able to think about other things than my work, and I'll let my creativity back into my world.
No one ever told me that I had AHD or was on the autism spectrum, and I usually find I can cope with my quirks which include high levels of anxiety, and a tendancy to over-analyze and dwell on details for far too long. There is a good chance that I do have a mild form of AHD, because I do tick a lot of the boxes. I tend to over-react to things, I am hypersensitive to criticsm, I deal badly with frustration, I lose my temper easily, and I get distracted by the slightest thing. I lose things the minute I put them down, I need lists for everything, and I my imaginary world and dreams are often more vivid than my 'real' life. It took me a long time to be able to 'read' people and empathize. I'm extremely dislexic as well, but somehow I've managed to muddle through life, raise children (by following a book nearly word for word), work, and deal with setbacks and disasters. But some days are hard - some days I's a struggle to get out of bed, I can hardly understand what people want from me, and I feel as if my head is full of fog. Other days everything is clear, I can concentrate on one task at a time, and I get a mountain of work done.
It took me years to be comfortable with myself (I truly think most people are like me)! When I started my last book, after I saw a blog post about a sabre tooth tiger, one of my early passions - I started writing with my own voice in my head instead of inventing a completely new character. Usually I love to write because it's like acting in a way - I can 'be' whoever I want to be - but this time the character's voice was my own, her view was similar to mind. She suffered from a disasociation with reality, a tendancy to see and feel things that didn't align with how others saw and felt things. A certain disregard for rules and regulations crept in. The character was flawed, but I was writing my own flaws into her.
She's not as emotionally detached, like my first character Ashley was, in the Time for Alexander series. Ashley and I have a lot in common as well, Ashley rarely lets her emotions cloud her judgement unless it's falling in love, which was always my Achilles heel as well. Isobel, my character in 'A Crown in Time' was prone to depression. When my twins were born prematurely, I struggled for months, and I suffered post-partum depression after my daughter, Julia, was born. It ended after a couple weeks, but I can remember how frightening it was, how suddenly it struck, and how everyting suddenly seemed 'wrong', from how things looked (everything seemed to be the wrong shape or size), to how things felt, like cotton or wood. So I wrote my depression into Isobel's story, and I wondered if anyone else had felt like that - as if all the light had gone out of the world.
Every character of mine is flawed, and they are, I'm afraid to say - many of my own flaws. What has made my life easier has always been my friends and family. Without their support and love, I don't know if I would be able to cope. Just as Ashley needed her two husbands, as Isobel needed her freindship with Charles, and as Robin needed her best friend Yasmine, I need my own support system to keep afloat. I am now working on a new book, and for once, Helen, my new character has no support system. It's one of the hardest books I've had to write, because it's too easy to imagine being completely alone with one's weaknesses, helpless to go on. She will have to ask for help, which is one of the bravest things anyone can do because for people like Helen, and me, showing any kid of weakness is the worst thing we can do.
If you or your loved ones need help, don't hesitate. Reach out. Talk to friends and family. Request an appointment with your doctor - he will be happy to help you get the tools you need to cope. Mental health is worth talking about, or in my case - writing about.
A Remedy in Time will be available January 11, 2021