Suffering in Silence

Hello Lovelies,

I thought of many different things to write today’s post about. I thought about the creativity involved in Imaginary friends as an early form of writing and creativity, but decided that it could wait as there’s something that I feel I need to write about, something I need to attempt to shed a little light on -Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Image courtesy of Flickr CC user Leland Francisco
Image courtesy of Flickr CC user Leland Francisco

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is different from other types of fatigue and doesn’t get better by simply resting or “sleeping it off”, in fact many sufferers with CFS often have trouble sleeping or reaching that deep and restful level of the sleep cycle. It’s not something that you can “sleep off” and no matter how many hours sleep you get, you still suffer the debilitating effects of fatigue. “Pushing through” will only make the symptoms worse and sleep is not a cure. You see with Chronic Fatigue the body reacts differently to physical activity -any type of physical activity- not matter how small or seemingly insignificant. I am only beginning to understand the condition itself, however one of the biggest difficulties faced by those suffering CFS is getting the correct diagnosis. Many doctors are unable (due to lack of knowledge or experience with CFS) or unwilling to take the time to diagnose CFS and instead take the path of prescribing anti-depressants and referring the patient to a psychiatrist or counsellor, believing that the symptoms are mostly “in the patient’s head”. I’m not making this up either, most doctors either don’t understand CFS or simply can’t be bothered, therefore choose the path of prescribing drugs and palming the patient off to another “professional” so it’s no longer their problem. If enough doctors tell you that you’re basically crazy then you actually start to believe it, because they’re supposed to be the professionals right? This is the most difficult obstacle for someone suffering CFS to overcome -to actually get a diagnosis, of course if you constantly feel like crap all the time I Imagine that you’re going to feel pretty “down”, but the psychological aspects sometimes associated with CFS are merely a symptom and not the cause.

CFS is a silent illness, where the sufferer may not look sick and in fact seems perfectly healthy to those around them, making it difficult for others to understand why their friend or family member doesn’t go out much anymore or spends most of their time laying down or in bed. You see, something as simple as standing and walking to the kitchen can be exhausting for someone with CFS, leaving them on the verge of collapse. Things that we take for granted like walking to the letterbox, going to the shops or hanging out with friends are all things that are difficult for someone with CFS.

During our search for answers, we’ve come across the work of Toby Morrison, founder of CFS Health. As a sufferer of sever CFS himself, Toby understands exactly what it’s like to live with CFS and the day to day struggles of living with a silent illness. Toby is also living proof that CFS can be overcome , it does take time but it can be done.

I guess the reason I am writing this post today, is to not only draw attention to the seriousness of CFS, but to also come to terms with it myself and remind myself that it is a silent illness and that those who suffer from CFS most of all need the support of those around them, a positive influence in their lives and most of all we need to believe them. No matter how hard it is at times, those who suffer from CFS need the positive support of those around them and most of all understanding. The things we take for granted are often incredibly difficult for those with CFS, something as seemingly easy as hanging out with friends, can leave a CFS sufferer bed-bound for the next few days following. Everyone is different and this is the same for people who have CFS, no two people experience CFS the same and this is part of the reason why the illness is considered so difficult to diagnose.

So the reason I wrote this post today is to shed some light and draw attention to CFS, but also to remind myself to be positive and supportive, CFS is a silent illness but recovery is possible.

After coming across the work of Toby Morrison, I am beginning to understand the condition on a more personal level, allowing me to hopefully support, understand and provide a positive presence.

Below is a link for CFS Health and one of Toby’s many Youtube videos, as well as the link to buy the book that Toby has written (which I just ordered this morning).

So here’s my reminder to be a positive influence and to support those who suffer in silence.

-KK

Click here to visit the CFS Health website

Buy Toby’s book Chronic Fatigue Syndrome -A Guide to Recovery—–

QBD The Bookshop

Fishpond

ebook From CFS Health

* information about CFS adapted from CFS Health website copyright Toby Morrison and CFS Health Centre 2014

© Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within, (2013-2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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“Best Novel of the 20th Century”

Hello Lovelies,

This week saw the release of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman . Whilst it has received mixed reviews, I’ve decided that it will be one to add to my TBR list and I’ll make up my own mind.

With all the media attention over the release of Go Set a Watchman and reading To Kill a Mockingbird in high school, I naturally headed over to Wikipedia to find out a little more about its author, Harper Lee.

In high school, To Kill a Mockingbird was one of the novels we read for english class, as well as watching the 1962 film adaptation. As I’ve said before, I was the kind of student who loved when it was the time of term when we did novel studies, the novel we were meant to read over the term was usually read in just a few nights and To Kill a Mockingbird was no exception. I can’t even remember what grade I was in at the time, year 10 perhaps, but I knew nothing about what the novel was about or how it was once (and still is) considered to be rather controversial in the themes and topics it addresses until we began our novel study. Needless to say, I finished the book quite quickly, as always and enjoyed both the film and the novel, but that’s the last I really thought about it.

When I saw in my newsfeed that Harper Lee was releasing another novel that in fact was part of a series that To Kill a Mockingbird was intended to be, I found myself intrigued as to what type of person Harper Lee was. With the quick answers that the internet provides us with these days as opposed to when I was in high school (we had internet, but with the download limits, the internet was strictly for necessary school work), I googled Harper Lee without hesitation.

Coming across the Wikipedia page, I was a little surprised to find that Harper Lee was a woman, I have no idea why, but for some reason I always thought that the Mockingbird author was male. I was even more surprised to find that To Kill a Mockingbird was 89 year old Lee’s only published novel until the release of Go Set a Watchman. I guess I just assumed that with the success of To Kill a Mockingbird, in both novel and film, that it would just be one in a long list of works, but I was wrong. In fact, according to Wikipedia, in 1999 To Kill a Mockingbird was voted the “Best Novel of the 20th Century” in a poll by the Library Journal. Whilst Lee has written of pieces, Mockingbird was actually her only published novel until the release of Go Set a Watchman. 

I was also intrigued to read about the semi-autobiographical nature of To Kill a Mockingbird and the connection between Harper Lee and Truman Capote. It is also rumoured that this latest publication is actually part of a trilogy, which would be interesting to see. At the ripe age of 89 will Harper Lee release a third novel after stating that she would never publish another novel after Mockingbird?

On another note, I’ve written a few times about my introduction to the Outlander series recently, I’m now onto the second book in the series and I only have one word to describe Diana Gabaldon’s work….. AMAZING! Do yourselves a favour and add the series to your TBR list if you haven’t already. As for Go Set a Watchman, I’m waiting until later in the year to order both books in hardcover and reading them one after the other to get a proper feel of them and make up my own mind about Go Set a Watchman, until then I’ll try and ignore the spoilers and media sensation over the “racist” Atticus Finch.

Happy Reading!

Enjoy,

KK

* facts and information on Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman and To Kill a Mockingbird retrieved from Wikipedia.

© Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within, (2013-2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Dare to Dream

Hello Lovelies,

Yesterday I had the pleasure of going to Disney on Ice (thanks mum) and the theme of this year’s show was “Dare to Dream”. All of those Disney princess stories got me thinking, I know in the real world we won’t always have the perfect “happily ever after” but it’s still perfectly ok to have dreams and big ones at that! The moment we stop dreaming and stop trying to pursue those dreams, is the moment that we cease to exist. Without dreams and aspirations, we have nothing to strive for, nothing to work towards.

It’s important to have big dreams and aspirations and to pursue them, no matter how ridiculous those around you think they are.

“Every idea, both good and bad will definitely have an opposition. The fact that someone mocks your ideas and dreams does not mean they are bad. Take note!”
Israelmore Ayivor

Even if your dream doesn’t turn out in the end or you realise along the way that it was perhaps a bit silly, at least you dared to dream and don’t ever let anyone take away your ability to dream big. If a little girl told you that she dreams of being the world’s greatest prima ballerina, would you tell her that the chances of her dream coming true were so small it wasn’t even worth trying? No, you would encourage her dream, tell her what a beautiful ballerina she would make and so on, even. Why is it then, that when teenagers or adults dare to dream big, those around them offer a certain amount of opposition to that dream?

My big dream (besides the health and happiness of my family of course) is to perhaps one day be a published author. I don’t know if I will be self-published or what and I know it will probably be years in the making, if ever. However that doesn’t stop me from working my way towards my dream. I know that with each step I take with my writing, each small goal and tiny achievement brings me that little bit closer to achieving my big dream.

One of my dreams has also been to see snow fall. You see, it doesn’t snow where I live or where I grew up and while I have seen snow a few times before, it was always after the snow had fallen and had already formed a white blanket over the ground. Even when I visited Budapest in the middle of winter, it was the only Christmas in fifty-something years that it didn’t snow heavily (just my luck!) My children also have never seen snow in real life, snow is something they associate with “daddy’s country” but today we got a real treat. Apparently a “cold blast” from the Antarctic is making it’s way across Australia, so a couple of hours drive up the mountains near my house were predicted to have snow-fall. So out came the thickest winter jackets we own and up the mountains we went. It wasn’t enough to blanket the ground quite yet, but we actually saw snow falling from the sky!! I know that to many people this is not a big deal, but there’s something about seeing snow fall for the first time that turns people of any age to skipping, over-excited four-year-olds!

My two oldest kiddies catching snow flakes. Photo copyright Katherine A. Kovacs -The Writer Within 2015
My two oldest kiddies catching snow flakes. Photo copyright Katherine A. Kovacs -The Writer Within 2015

So with one dream achieved today, here’s to working towards the others!

Stay warm and enjoy,

KK

© Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within, (2013-2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Let’s Talk About…. er… Intimate Relations

Hello Lovelies,

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about some of the places in the world that I would like to see, that list included the Scottish Highlands (if you missed that post you can read it here). One of the reasons that the Scottish Highlands was included in my list is because one of my good friends introduced me to the TV series Outlander, knowing that the books that inspired the series have been on my to-be-read list for quite some time.

Over the last few days, I found myself with a little bit of time and decided to actually start reading Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, the first book of the Outlander series and it is everything I had hoped it would be! Diana Gabaldon is an absolutely amazing writer and I can’t wait to work my way through the series, which has eight books so far with a ninth book being written right now, not to mention Diana’s other works which build on the stories of some of the secondary characters in the Outlander series.

As I make my way through the first book in the series, not only have I noticed and admired the quality of Diana’s writing, but also the way in which she describes the more… intimate scenes in the book. It’s no secret that the Outlander series (both the book series and the TV series) contains… well… sex, but there’s something I noticed about the way in which Diana describes these more intimate scenes which I’ll discuss in a moment.

Image courtesy of Flickr CC George Duncan
Image courtesy of Flickr CC George Duncan

Unless you have been living under a rock, most of you will be familiar (or at least heard of) E.L James’ Fifty Shades series and the subsequent hype and apparent disappointment of the film. Whilst I think that E.L James’ writing style leaves a lot to be desired, the story of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey showed some small amount of promise. However, the relationship of the two main characters was built around their sex lives and the rest of the story built upon that. This is similar to many other contemporary romance novels, such as those by Sylvia Day, Meredith Wild and J. Kenner (although these writers are in a totally different class compared to E.L James). In these contemporary romances, the relationship between the characters revolves around their sex lives and the emotions that develop. Every element of “intimacy” is described in every sordid detail from the beginning to the “happy ending” and whilst sometimes that may be a good thing, other times it’s not really what the story needs in order to develop. I mean, that’s all well and good for the genre that these books are in and the stories the writers wish to tell, but it’s not right for every romance story and it’s especially not right for Thomas and Rose’s story.

You see, I’ve been battling with the idea of including some of the more intimate details of Thomas and Rose’s relationship as it develops not only throughout Lonely Hearts, but also throughout the rest of the series. I feel that by acknowledging these aspects, the readers will understand the develop of their relationship and it also adds another level of emotion for the characters. I’ve come to the conclusion that whilst it is essential to acknowledge the degree intimacy that develops between Rose and Thomas, as it shows the develop of their relationship, it is not something that needs to be described in explicit detail.

***Possible spoiler alert*****

This is similar to my experience so far of Jamie and Claire’s relationship in Outlander, even though their relationship takes a natural development leading to… intimate relations, it is not the defining aspect of their relationship. The particular scenes I’m referring to are (so far) dealt with quite tastefully without the need to describe every sordid and explicit detail. The scenes are there, there’s no mistaking that Jamie and Claire are intimate, but some of the finer details of the particular encounters are tastefully left out. I know I am only part-way through the first book and this may very well change and I’m fine with that, however it has given me something to consider in my own writing – that it is possible to write about intimate encounters between characters without it defining the characters’ relationship or the book itself. I don’t want Thomas and Rose’s story to be one of those books that people flick through to simply read the “naughty bits”. It happened with Fifty Shades and I’m sure Google would be able to find similar lists for other books as well, but this is not the type of story that is Thomas and Rose’s. Sure there might be romance, maybe even love, but it is not what their story is truly about. With the help of Jozsef, Rose gets through each day but she feels the darkness of her past constantly at her heels trying to pull her down, she sees things that others don’t, including the shadows surrounding Thomas. Thomas has his own darkness and in some ways it feels similar to Rose’s but also very different.

So, as I head off to add some more questions in my notebook about Thomas and Rose’s story, it seems that it is possible to write about “intimate relations” without it defining your characters or story.

Enjoy,

KK

© Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within, (2013-2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.