Monday, 7 January 2013


I've decided I want my story to be a happy one. Not any story I'm writing - my life story. My recent lack of blogging has been due to soul-searching and thinking about the life I want. After an autumn feeling depressed, lethargic and hopeless, I perked up during December and this sparked a change of attitude. That's the nature of mental illness: try to be as proactive as you can, but sometimes you have to wait for yourself to reach the right frame of mind before things start to fall into place.

The past few years have been frustrating because I've been functional in many ways. It was incredibly difficult, but I managed to complete my BA and MA and got good results. However, most of the time I've been too anxious to go into shops on my own or make my own doctor/hairdresser/whatever appointments. That's the flip-side of being well enough to function in some ways but not in others: I got very frustrated with myself. As you can guess, this made my anxiety worse!

But lately, I've been looking to the future more and taking more action in the present. I've started to focus on what I can do, as opposed to what I'm not (yet!) able to do. I've made New Year's resolutions/goals which adhere to this attitude.

I'm not going to list all my goals - some are a little weird, some are very ambitious and most avery boring - but a few are worth mentioning:

1. This is the year I will finish Ulysses! I've been stuck at page 140 for 3 years and it's been a New Year's Resolution for those years. The ridiculous thing is, I want to read it. I'm not one for reading books just because they're classics or people have told me I should. And when I make the effort and start reading, I enjoy doing so. This resolution is about not making excuses. If I read 2 pages a day, which takes all of a few minutes (ok, 5 or 6 during the densest parts!), I will finish by the end of 2013. I hope to do it sooner, but either way means there's no excuse.

2. I will get fit enough to run (yup, run) 10 miles. I completed my goal of being able to walk 4 miles on my treadmill by the end of 2012. In fact, I finished a couple of weeks early. Now I will focus more on speed, as well as distance, and improving my overall fitness.

Apart from the physical and hormonal benefits, this goal is about making a commitment to myself. If I don't think I'm worth committing to, who else will? I don't mean that in terms of romantic relationships (though it would be nice if I met someone...) but in general and especially in regard to writing. Living my ideal life would involve an agent and publishers committing time and money to my work and me as a person - and I'll never convince anyone unless I demonstrate I'm worth the commitment.

3. I will approach writing professionally. There are many facets of this, but the main ones are confidence and dedication. This means putting in the hours and producing reams of paper covered in words. No procrastinating because I'm convinced I'm crap and my work will never be accepted even if it was finished. No shying away from submitting stories and entering competitions. There are many ways of making a living through writing (which is my ultimate goal), but they all involve putting words on pages and letting others read those words.

So there you have it: one of a billion New Year's Resolution blog posts, Hayley-style!


  1. Well done for setting goals, Hayley. I'm trying to encourage my daughter to do the same thing. She has suffered from depression and still finds it hard to feel motivated on the days when everything looks bleak.
    I'm hoping she will be encouraged to try things that are challenging, so that the satisfaction that comes from a sense of achievement will lift her spirits.
    I wish you lots of luck with Ulysses and the fitness programme. I admire you very much for embarking on those. Most of all, I hope you continue to write and have the confidence to let the world read your words.
    I like the advice of Karl Vonnegut - that we should write to please one person only. My 'person' varies, depending on what kind of story I'm writing at the time, but it feels easier to 'let go' when I'm not imagining a shapeless mass of people frowning at what I've written!

    Wishing you a really good and healthy New Year, Hayley, with all that you wish for coming true.

    1. Thanks, Joanna. I think I'm getting better at recognising that feeling sad or useless or hopeless or whatever is just a symptom, not a reflection on me as a person. Also getting used to the idea that the times I feel really bad are phases and will pass. Sounds obvious, but it's taken a lot of pills and therapy to get to this point and realising this kind of stuff makes a huge difference!