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Emma Newman @EmApocalyptic
, 28 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
Okay, so I need to talk to you about something. Something I committed to being more open about a few years back. Living with anxiety. This is the ‘launching a book whilst having an anxiety disorder’ thread.
So the last couple of weeks I have barely been on Twitter, just popping in occasionally to RT a nice mention or two, or reply to people. This isn’t the way I like to use Twitter. I wasn’t being very social.
As today approached, I was aware of an increasing pressure building: I should be online more. I should be more social. I have a book coming out soon! No-one will know about it! Work harder! Promote! And of course the subtext here was: You are failing.
But I just… couldn’t. I hid away. Over the past 7 days or so, I’ve been a total mess. My anxiety spiked severely. Sleepless nights. Or sleep + nightmares. Palpitations. Inability to concentrate. Almost bursting into tears at any moment. The odd panic attack.
I had a panic attack one morning when I sat down to answer some email interviews for promoting Before Mars. I had to go and find my husband, have cuddle and cry and then he sat with me and helped me with each question until they were done. (he is awesome)
And I kept thinking: I should be doing more! I should be working harder on promotion! But I was incapable. The anxiety was so severe, not even a weekend of D&D with dear friends was enough to distract me. And that might sound flippant, but….
.. I take my RP really fucking seriously and it is my favourite thing ever. I am the girl who tabletopped the night she was coming down with meningitis (ended up in hospital the next morning) because I was NOT GOING TO MISS THE GAME DAMN IT.
So anyway. I had my first of two launch events last night, in Bristol. I was a mess beforehand. Just wanted to shut myself away in my office and sew. Couldn’t write for the past week, couldn’t hold a complex thought it my head, it was so bad.
When I can’t write, I know it is really, really bad. But there we go. Some days you get the bear. Some days the bear gets you, as Riker would say. Anyway, back to last night in Bristol. I shared the event with my buddy Adrian Tchaikovsky.
Not gonna tag the lovely chap here, cos this thread is a big one already. We both did a reading and then a joint Q &A. Obvs don’t need to tell you he was awesome, because our Adrian is amazing and I love him.
When it came to my turn to read, there was a full blown adrenalin catastrophe happening in my body. My voice was not at its best. A little strained. Too breathy. As a narrator it was painfully obvious to me, but I did the best I could. And I had this epiphany
I thought the anxiety was all about whether Before Mars will do well enough for me to get a chance to write more Planetfall books. And while that is a totally legit concern, it is not the root of this anxiety hell I’ve been in.
It’s because of the part of myself that I put into this book. With Planetfall, I drew on my anxiety disorder, and boy, that was tough. With After Atlas, I tapped into my rage at capitalism and corporate fuckery.
With Before Mars, I drew upon one of the worst times of my life: suffering from post-natal depression. And no word of a lie, it was the hardest book to write by a long, long way. I fought myself throughout. I felt miserable at so many points.
And my husband was like, love, this is because of this dark shit you are tapping into. And I was like, nah. It’s just [insert whatever spurious reason that popped into my head at the time].
But last night, when I was reading the first part of the first chapter, I realised he was right. In this book, I am baring a sliver of myself that I am still so deeply, deeply upset by. There is shame. There is terrible grief. And I was scared of that.
I have been so afraid that this book is terrible, when in fact, I was actually super afraid that people will see me. Hang on. BRB, need a cup of tea and a tissue because I am having a bit of a cry.
Right, I have a cup of tea now. Where was I? So yeah, the whole ‘people seeing me’ thing is a known stressor. I talk about it in my anxiety and writing workshop that I do at conventions, actually. But, the thing about anxiety is...
… it’s an insidious, clever little bastard that hides really well from conscious thought. That fear of showing a sliver of myself that hurts so much was hiding behind all sorts of terrible, catastrophic thinking and physical symptoms.
And what is so fucking hilarious (so not) is that I KNEW I WAS HAVING AN ANXIETY FLARE UP and that I was not thinking rationally and totally withdrawing into myself and hiding away and blah blah blah and STILL COULD NOT STOP IT.
That’s the thing about mental illness. You cannot rationalise that shit away when you are in a massive flare up and the beast has you in its jaws. And whilst the worst of it passed thanks to that epiphany and the event being super great...
.. I am still very anxious about the book coming out. About reviews. About sales. About whether I still have a career. And that’s on top of all the other things we have to worry about in today’s political climate. Urgh. Tiring.
I have the launch in London on Thursday night and I am trying SO DAMN HARD to hold onto this little bit of clarity I have gained today. I look back on the last week or so and think “blimey. I really have been insane.” I am not saying that lightly.
Today I am actually able to have a proper conversation with my husband. We agreed that it’s like I have been away for over a week, when my body has been in the house the whole time. The poor man has had it tough with me being that way.
So I am exhausted. Anxious. Happy that I have another book out, terrified of how it will be received. Guilty for not being happy and grateful without baggage. And, like, ten other emotions all at once!
But I felt I had to talk about this because I made that commitment to talk about living with this. I wasn’t able to talk about it before now. Thanks to last night, I can. Tomorrow? I may just be hiding in my office again, talking about LARP with friends.
Or, I dunno, shooting giant insects with my husband (Playing EDF 4.1 Shadow New Despair with him at the moment and it is an awesome escape too). Getting through the day one minute at a time. Like we have to sometimes.
So there you go. Hi. I’m Emma. I have an anxiety disorder and a new book coming out today called Before Mars and that combination has destroyed me for the past week or so. And if any of this has resonated: [GIANT HUG OFFERED]
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