Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Staying Sane at Christmas...

...isn't easy.

I'm bipolar. It's something that I don't hide. Quite the contrary, in fact. I'm loud and proud about this unusual brain of mine, a condition which may, or may not, be the product of an overdose.

This year was my first medication free Christmas. For over a decade, I took anti-psychotic medication to balance my brain in the wake of the overdose (I had come off my medication by Christmas 2015. But those drugs had been replaced by ones to combat sinusitis so this time last year I didn't know what planet I was on. It was actually quite nice!).

To say that this December has been stressful has been an understatement. I felt overwhelmed, tired, and sick. I could barely function but had to in order to get everything done. Three days before Christmas, I was on my hands and knees, sobbing with exhaustion and stress. I wasn't sleeping. I wasn't eating. I was vomiting from the tiredness. I was hallucinating. It was horrendous.

My apartment isn't decorated for Christmas. Not because I don't like Christmas but because the addition of lights and decorations overwhelm my already tired brain. Sure, I have a few ornaments that I put up. The cards that people give me decorate the lounge door so that I can see them every day. And I decorated the microphone stand that I use for interviews (That might have to become permanent because it looks really cool!). But there's no tree, no music, and no glittering garlands.

Instead, I appreciate the decorations at other peoples houses, at work, and in the windows of shops. I love looking at photos of London's Christmas windows. But the abundance of bright lights, glittery decorations, and repeated Christmas music tires me out. The same goes for large gatherings. Anything over an hour spent in the company of a crowd of people makes my brain ache and my body weary (It's not you, honestly, it's not! Please don't take offence if I turn down an invitation. I really appreciate your love and company and would never not want to spend time with you.) And I realise that I need to have a space where I can escape from it all and get some rest.

Christmas can be a hard time for many people. There may be the feeling that they have to take part in everything that's happening. Saying no to an event or a party may be tough. They may feel that friends and family will frown on them if they decide that they need time out from the festivities.

On the flip side, they may despise Christmas and want nothing to do with it. Or have no one to celebrate it with (Thankfully, this year, there seemed to be many places that were hosting events for people who would be alone on Christmas Day. If you're alone next year, be sure to check local social media groups to see if there's anything happening).

Christmas shouldn't be a stressful time yet we seem to turn ourselves in to nervous wrecks for four weeks of the year. For some people, like myself, we pick up on the stress of those around us. When others are wound up, we get involved in those feelings, too, which only adds to what we're already feeling.

Christmas doesn't have to be perfect. It shouldn't be all about whether everyone is included. Or how many gifts are under the tree. Or how many decorations we've put up. For many people, the chance to get together with others on one day of the year and celebrate together is enough.

Wishing all of you a safe, prosperous, and healthy 2017!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Merry Christmas 2016!

Leadenhall Market Christmas tree, London by RMSones

Christmas 2016 is nearly upon us and, for many of us, this year has been one of great highs and crushing lows. There have been moments when we wish that the world around us would end. But, in contrast, there have been many times when we couldn't have wished for a better time to be alive. There is so much happening around us, both good and bad, and it's what we make of those circumstances that counts. Do we let them crush us? Or do we allow them to turn us into a better version of the person we currently know?

At the end of every year, we tend to pause and look back over the previous months. We reflect on what's been lost and what's been gained. We say goodbye to people who are no longer in our lives and thank those who are.

For me, this has been a year like no other. It's been a year of change and discovery. In January, I believed that I was set for a certain path. Yet, as the year draws to a close, I see that the paths have changed and I'm now walking a different, and hopefully better, route. I'm excited to see what 2017 brings.

This is the time of year when I also say thank you to everyone who is a part of my life. Thank you for being there through the ups and downs. Thank you for all that you do and, most of all, thank you for being you.

Relax over the Christmas period and, if there's change in your life, embrace it in 2017. Whatever direction life is nudging you in, welcome it with open arms and run with it. Let it take you on its journey. The journey may be rocky at first but, over time, it will smooth out and you'll be glad that you made the decision to follow that little voice in your heart.

Whatever you're doing this Christmas season, I wish you a peaceful and happy one. May 2017 be an amazing year for you!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Following the Foo Family

The first time I heard the words “Foo Family”, I was standing in Sound City Studios in Los Angeles. We were talking to the owners when they happened to mention a global network of Foo Fighters fans who referred to themselves as Family.

Those two words were thrust to the back of my mind until November 2014 when I started blogging about a Kickstarter that had recently launched. The crowdfunder in question was aimed at taking action against the secondary ticket market with the end goal of having the Foo Fighters play a small show in Birmingham, England. Unbeknownst to me, that Kickstater was being run by the UK Foo Family and suddenly I found myself as a part of the network that I'd heard about so many months before.

For the world's biggest “I'm not a Foo Fighters fan, really I'm not”, it was like landing on an alien planet. I barely knew the music and only spoke a few words of their language. Yet music truly is an international language and they took me in, welcoming me as one of their own. Due to my own stubbornness, I left and rejoined the group several times, my insecurities flaring because of the unfamiliar territory. Yet they always coaxed me back until, earlier this year, I settled down to write this book.

Getting a writer (or anyone for that matter) to do something that they feel uncomfortable with can be like trying to herd cats. We can be stubborn and awkward. There are times when we don't want to face what our life is calling us to do. And that was especially true with the fan book. I was constantly finding myself redrawn back to the Family and I couldn't explain why. That was until I was speaking to a friend earlier this year and I mentioned an idea I'd had back around the time of the Kickstarter.

The passion that surrounded the Kickstarter made me want to write a book about the fans. I wanted to tell their stories. I wanted to give them a place in history, something to help dull the harshness of the numerous negative entries that litter the record books. Wars, famine, and genocide still happen and will be forever documented. But what about everyone else? Don't they deserve to be able to have a moment to talk about what's important to them?

Music is a way to escape the horrors of the world around us. 2016, while it has had many glorious moments, has also crushed the souls and spirits of so many people. It would be great to think that, in a hundred years from now, someone, somewhere, could pick up this book and read the stories of friendship, happiness, and survival from a group of dedicated and loving music fans.

And so it began. My friend (who shall remain nameless until they give me permission to name them) put the wheels in motion by feeling out the lay of the land. How would others feel about speaking to a complete stranger? Did they want to talk about their love of the band?

The overwhelming answer was Yes. For me, that was a breakthrough and, over the past months, I've told the story of another project that I put to one side. I spent two years hunting for funding for it and, while there was a lot of positive feedback, there was little in the way of any other help. Compared to that, the fan book has been a breeze and, in the past five months, many of the pieces needed for it have fallen seamlessly in to place.

This book wouldn't be possible without the help and support of the global Foo Family and, for that, I am eternally grateful. To know that there are so many kind and loving souls out there makes me feel so much better about the current world we live in. Over the past year, I've been lucky enough to make many new friends and rekindle old friendships. While, in many ways, 2016 has been a harsh and unforgiving year, finding so many beautiful friends has made it easier to bear. If I've spoken to you over the past months, thank you so much. Thank you for answering mine, a complete stranger's, email or phone call. Thank you for your love, kindness, and time. Thank you for the emails, Facebook posts, and Tweets. Thank you for including me in a world that, at times, really does feel alien to me. Your acceptance and inclusion means far more than you can imagine and it's something that this world needs so much more of.

While I'm hoping to have the book in some kind of finished state in the next few weeks, there's still time to get involved. If you'd like to be interviewed, please send me a message over at the Facebook page or email me at:


Take care and have a very Happy Christmas!