This will be one of the harder blog posts I've ever written, but it's long overdue so I'm going to try. It doesn't really fit with the work I usually put out on here, but it has directly affected my work and so I feel the need to try and explain a little...
First off I want to issue an apology to anyone who reads this and all the developers and publishers I've had the pleasure of working with. I want to apologise for how lacking in content both my blog and my Twitch channel have been recently. My last post was a whole month ago, but since then I've still been being sent games so my backlog is pretty damn huge. I AM going to write them all up in due course, but first I want to explain a little about myself.
I suffer from crippling anxiety - from the moment I wake up to the minute I finally manage to stop worrying enough to eventually fall asleep. It used to be when I was younger that people just though I was a little more prone to stressing and my anxiety is actually still a source of much amusement to my family. But they only see the side of me that leaves half an hour too early for everything because I'm so scared of being late and seeming disrespectful. The side that won't (can't) go to the doctors for fear of being told that something more serious is afoot. The Danielle that stresses about every upcoming birthday, no matter how far away it happens to be (the next family birthday is actually in October now and I'm already having sleepless nights trying to plan it).
The first few months of the year are always tough on me. They include the majority of my families birthdays (February being the birth month of my dad, brother and son!) which means I spend an inordinate amount of time fretting that I've done enough, that they'll like the gifts I give. Hell I worry so much about the gifts I give to people I end up telling them what I got for them weeks before their birthday just to check that they will like it. I always buy presents the month before, so then there is plenty of time left over to stress about whether I should return it and go back to the drawing board. April sees me turn another year older and ten days later it is my daughters birthday. I wouldn't stress so much about April if it weren't for the fact that my birthday was so close to my daughters. I find myself every year telling my family and friends to ignore mine in favour of making more a fuss out of her. They ignore me every year and then I spend my birthday worrying that they've done too much for me, that it's going to overshadow my daughters day.
Writing all of this down now I feel ridiculous, but try as I might (and I really have tried) I can't shift this swirling feeling in my stomach. And all of that is just the half of it. I'm a stay-at-home mum at the minute, my daughter attends nursery in the morning and my son is full time at school. So I have a couple of hours child free every morning. My family tells me to make the most of it, have fun. So sometimes I spend this time playing the games I have to review. I go for the odd coffee morning with some friends. But every single time I'm doing something 'for me' I am listing ten thousand things in my head that I could have been doing instead. Housework, exercise etc. etc. My house is always clean and tidy. My kids are always well fed, happy and cared for yet I spend the majority of my life inventing more things I need to do. Endless lists occupy my phone and my handbag of things I must do by a self-imposed date and time. My heart races and I feel sick. My stomach swirls with the guilt of having given my children cereal for breakfast rather than a homemade, organic super fruit filled smoothie or something. I feel myself start to unravel, much like I'm doing here, rambling on and on about all of the ways I fail my children and my family. I keep it all internalised and it festers and grows to the point where I truly believe I am the worst mother that has ever existed. And all of this stems from attempting to have a little bit of time just for me.
So this last month I haven't written anything, mistakenly believing (or maybe hoping) that it was the stress of having to write down and share my thoughts on games that lead my mind to start wandering in that way. I played games that I wanted to play for me, rather than games I had to play to review. Of course it isn't the stress of writing that leads to the guilt I feel when I sit down and take five minutes for myself. It's made no difference. I still found my mind wandering during cutscenes in Quantum Break. Still felt that familiar swirling pit opening in my stomach, even once the kids were fast asleep. Because of course when they're asleep I should be ironing, wiping down kitchen units or any number of other household tasks.
This hasn't come out nearly as clearly as I had hoped it would, but I guess I shouldn't have expected it to when it comes from such an unclear and uncertain part of myself. I am the Queen of Second Guessing, I constantly question myself and the others around me. I find myself, months after the fact, replaying conversations I've had with my friends, or my kids teachers and cringing about what I'd said. When I did share this with friends it was always an unfounded worry, something they had completely forgotten about. Since I was a child I've had panic attacks over my fear of dying and recently I've found myself stressing about the fact that one day my children will die, a thought which made me wish I hadn't had them in the first place, which I know is absurd but in these anxiety fuelled moments that are coming thicker and faster as the years go on these are the dark corners my mind wanders to. That particular episode was during family film night, with both of them snuggled into me sharing popcorn and watching Star Wars The Force Awakens, a time where I should have just been happy and content was mired by my anxiety, again.
This month I have realised that my anxiety is ruling the majority of my life. Where it used to only come into play with things like doctors visits and appointment keeping it has now snuck into my downtime and is attempting to ruin that too. I won't let it. It has been the voice in my head telling me not to write this post, to just write one of the reviews I have been sitting on for weeks and ignore the gaping hole in the calendar where there were none. I can't. I have to acknowledge this side of me so as to attempt to control it. I needed to let the amazing developers and publishers that are kind enough to share their work with me that the reviews are coming. I needed to let anyone reading this little blog know that I never forget about you, I spend a massive amount of each day worrying that I haven't written anything in awhile, stressing to the point where I find I literally can't do it. I paralyse myself through my fear. I spend every waking moment fearing judgement; by other parents at the school gate, readers of this blog, hell even strangers on the street. I'm trying to adopt a calmer attitude, the 'I don't care what other people think of me' attitude that most of the people around me manage with ease. So please, bear with me.
The next few weeks I AM going to catch up with every outstanding review I have on the deck here. This mean you might see a review for a game that was released months ago. Please stick with me, I will be getting up-to-date again as soon as I possibly can. Thank you for being so patient thus far. And to any of my Twitter followers that have found their way here thank you so much for being the best set of followers I could ask for. I've had so few negative experiences on Twitter, and it is all you guys.
Nothing but love,