Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tuesday Talk-Time - Getting Up Again

Today, Ali Williams is looking at those things that help you get back up, and thanking her lucky stars that her journey brought her to the Pink Heart Society.

Usually I spend my posts gurgling along about romance and intersectionality and all the happy delightful things that make up my life - which are many.  I'm a pretty chirpy person.

This is not - exactly - one of those posts.

Two years ago, over Christmas, I had what I'm pretty certain was my worst panic attack.  I can't even remember what triggered it, but I do remember crying and shaking in a heap on the floor of the kitchen.

I was in the midst of a nervous breakdown.  It had started with the odd panic-y moment here or there and culminated in between 4 and 5 panic attacks a day, every day.  

I comfort ate.  I binge-watched entire television series in a weekend (which I still do, but now because I <3 them as opposed to because it's an escape).  I stopped doing anything even remotely creative in my life.  

I stopped reading.

And even after that panic attack, two years ago, it took nearly two months before I could bring myself to do something about it.

So I quit my job, moved back home and for about two months spent every waking moment searching for a job - any job - that wouldn't send me back into that spiral of depression.

But why am I talking about this now?

Everyone has crappy times.  Many people have had far worse experiences that I will ever go have.  But sometimes I think it's important to stop and appreciate the things that helped us get back up.  So this is me, appreciating my go-to get-back-up things:

Family and Friends

This is pretty standard, no matter who you ask.  It's those around you that lend you the strength to get up and carry on.  And I''ve got the best damn support group.

Whether that's friends humouring me in my determination to take as many pictures of men reading Mills & Boon books as possible, or a family that's half-Italian and half-Irish and delights in attempting to feed me half to death, they're vital.  


This is pretty personal to me.  Fed up of not having done anything creative in nearly a year, I started blogging and reviewing romance novels.  It was taking a step into the unknown for me, worlds apart from writing poetry in tattered notebooks, and the first time that other people got to see my writing style.

I'm so damn pleased that I did this, it's opened so many doors and especially as it led me here, to the Pink Heart Society and to a community that's so funny, intelligent and caring. 

The Ellen Show's YouTube Channel

Whether it's a giveaway for a good cause, or celebrating the talents of all and sundry, these videos help me appreciate just how nice people can be.  Plus, adorable kids!!

Mock Karaoke

Namely me, a hairbrush and my iPod, dancing around my living room like a wild thing to a playlist of Guns 'n' Roses, Bruno Mars and McFly.  Particularly if said playlist includes the best medley I've ever seen live (and yes, I was actually at this performance):

Being a Superfan

And I started reading again.  I turned back to romance novels and discovered heroes and heroines who are strong and sassy and who overcome the things that hold them back.   

That's why I read romance.

So yeah.

I got back up and I'm staying up.

What or who do you turn to when you need help getting back up? 

Ali Williams grew up in Croydon and spent her teenage years in a convent girls' school. She then fled to university where she discovered champagne cocktails, a capella singing and erotica.

These days she blogs about perceptions of romance, chick lit and women in society and spends an extraordinary amount of time coercingmale friends to pose with her favourite Mills & Boon books to the bemusement of the Twittersphere.

Genre reporter for chick lit and erotica at For Books' Sake and guest blogger for Mills & Boon, she defies you to slam romance novels within her hearing!


  1. Thanks for sharing something so personal with us, Ali. It takes guts to talk so openly to others about mental health. I also once had a breakdown and to this day I still have to take anti depressants, because if I don't, then I soon spiral back down into that deep dark well, with a black dog for company.
    But hey, we're up now! Like you, I relied on (medicine!) family and friends, especially my husband, books and reading, writing always helped, sewing and quilting, being creative in general and let's not forget heaps of chocolate!

    1. Thanks for the lovely comment Louisa! I was actually so nervous about posting this; I've never gone into quite so much detail publicly about it!! I don't take anti-depressants anymore, but I can sense when I'm getting close to needing them and then I exercise like a maniac!!

      Since I got back up, I met my (now) fiance and he's wonderful at calming me down and de-stressing me. He's the only person I've ever met who can pull me out of a panic attack when I'm in the midst of one.

      And creativity is so important! I think the fact that work took over my life and I had no creative outlet meant that I lost myself a little. So these days I'm pretty darn happy! :D

  2. I have a very dear friend going through something similar to what you went through - and for her, rock music is helping. That, and talking to all her friends and getting it out there. I hope that by being there to listen and just loving her as I always have, I'll do my bit to help.

    1. Without a doubt, just your being there for her will help. Friends like you are what gave me strength. <3

  3. Yay you, on getting back up and staying there!!! It's a daily battle but you can DO IT.

    Family and friends and finding outlets which bring you joy are so important when we're down. And talking about it is incredibly important, too. Not just so you can 'bookmark' where you are so you can look back and see how far you've come but because there are so many people out there suffering the same difficulties. Knowing we're not alone makes such a difference!

    Am so VERY GLAD to have you here and in my life, sweetness. Here's to a fantabulous new year!!! xxx

    1. You're are utterly lovely Trish. Thank you!! <3 PHS has made so much difference over the last couple of months and I can't thank you enough for bringing me in. :D xxxxx

  4. So very glad that fate led you here. And thank you for such a thought provoking post.

    1. I'm so pleased to be here too; you've all been utterly lovely. And thanks for having a community that makes me comfortable enough to do share like this! :)

  5. Ali - I had absolutely no idea about this when I met you at the RNA party (to me, you came across as a really lovely potential new friend to talk about books/music/chocolate with). So glad you have wonderfully supportive family and friends. Yay for you for getting back up and staying up. You rock xxx

    1. That RNA party was the first time I'd been out to a big party on my tod since getting back up, and you, Liz Fielding and Caroline Anderson were so utterly lovely to me that I was given the biggest boost. So thank you. <3

      And wahey for books/music/chocolate. There is nothing better. :) xxx

  6. ((HUGS)) Ali and thanks so much for sharing! Been there, done that, and though it's hard to talk about and admit, it's such a help to those going through it to know others understand what it's like! Your fiance sounds awesome and I'm glad you found him!

    1. #hugsback Thanks Robyn! I didn't realise til I'd written it that I'd never really elaborated about the experience before. Just kind of said "I had panic attacks/a nervous breakdown". It was really strange thinking about who I was back then properly.

      And like you say, it's so important to let people know that others understand. My man is wonderful (although male and therefore innately flawed) and really supportive, as well as supporting A-Grade stubble. :P

  7. Thank you for this post Ali! You're reminding me of the second Christmas I spent crying at my mother's sink while washing dishes, because I was utterly miserable and not doing what I loved - writing. And then I quit my job. I'm go glad you 'got back up and are staying there' x

    1. Heya Jen, thanks for your comment - it's the worst feeling in the world, especially when everyone around you seems so happy. Darn Christmas. Lols.

      And quitting your job was brave and awesome. We should start a club: The We-Quit-Our-Jobs-For-The-Sake-Of-Writing-And-Our-Sanity Club!!