books, Poetry, Uncategorized

Audiobooks!

Hi everyone, I know it’s been a long time between posts — I’ve had lots of stuff going on both personal and book-wise lately, and it’s taken a lot of energy to keep up with just my usual daily routines. I’ll post a full update sometime next month, but for now, I thought I’d chime in with the audiobook release of two of my books:

Wings In A Wounded Sky is a middle grade fantasy featuring a cast of lively characters inspired by various mythical creatures, and the wonderful narrator, Sarah Brown, put a lot of heart into bringing each one to life. You can find the audiobook here (UK) and here (US).

Here’s the blurb:

While the orphaned Ogg, Rae, dreams of being able to socialize with humans, she doesn’t expect to be welcomed into the home of two complete strangers. When she learns they’re from another land and have no idea that humans are supposed to fear and hate Oggs, she begins to settle down and count them as family. 

But when the mysterious phenomena that brought them there—great gashes in the sky that cause dramatic shifts within Culmina’s landscape—suddenly get more frequent, the situation soon threatens Rae’s newfound way of life. Discovering that the cause is the war between the Fae and the Dragon-people, who live on floating cities high above the clouds, she vows to put an end to it to save those she loves. 

To do so, she must team up with the sassy ninth princess of the dragon-people, the downtrodden third prince of the Fae, and Max, a fellow orphan and hot-air balloon enthusiast. But when prejudice runs high and time is running out, can she get them to work together?

If We Could Hold Up The Sky is a poetry collection that covers the friendship of two neurodivergent people, based off personal experience. The audiobook’s narrator, Jessica Sinacori, did an excellent job of performing each poem, and from our discussions, I feel she very much understood the heart of the collection. You can find the audiobook here (UK) and here (US).

Here’s the official blurb:

Love is malleable and comes in many forms. It can be shaped into bridges and carved into doorways. It can become a hand to hold up the sky when everything threatens to crash down around us.

Inspired by personal experience,  If We Could Hold Up the Sky is a poetry collection revolving around the tale of two neurodivergent individuals who meet as colleagues, fall rapidly into an iron friendship, and gradually become romantic partners.

The collection also explores mental health, childhood, societal expectations, work-related stress, and how a solid foundation of support can make all the difference to overall well-being.

To celebrate the release of both audiobooks, I’m giving away ten copies of each (via promo codes that can be redeemed on Audible’s website). All you have to do to win one is email me at kathrynoftreeshallow@gmail.com and state which audiobook you’d like and whether you’re in the UK or US (to any readers elsewhere, apologies — the codes I have only work for Audible’s UK and US sites). I’m operating the giveaway on a first come, first serve basis, and will update this post when all copies have been claimed to prevent leaving anyone disappointed.

That’s all for now — happy reading and happy listening!

Uncategorized

My ADHD diagnosis

In my last update I mentioned I was waiting for my adhd assessment. Well, as the title of this post suggests, I got the diagnosis – and I’m so relieved that I did.

However, the assessment wasn’t easy, there were many tough and deeply personal questions asked, and though I was prepared to answer things about my childhood and school life, the ones that hit hard were actually nothing to do with those topics. I mean, I did cry when talking about my primary school teacher bullying me; for some reason, whenever I explain that to a doctor, the tears always appear. But I expected that, so after the influx of emotion passed, it was fine.

What got me was attempting to explain how, if I had ADHD and thus my concentration was so bad, did I manage to write books. Not only this, but the doctor (a psychiatrist specialising in neurological conditions) went on to ask how successful a writer I was, including how many books I’d sold. And considering I’ve had high imposter syndrome recently and have been questioning whether writing to be published is something I should even be pursuing still, it cut me deep.

Other questions that hurt were why I still had my birds when their sounds were distracting, why I don’t want kids, and how I knew I had something close to an eating disorder when I was younger (I didn’t have any diagnosis or records of one, but gosh did I have the mindset and sadly could slip back into it easily if I’m not careful). So, ouch, on all fronts, to the point where I completely broke down after the assessment was over.

But – as I’d also provided lots and lots of notes beforehand explaining my brain – I got my diagnosis then and there at the end of the session. Quickly, abruptly (as to my mind, things really hadn’t been going well. I’d been rambling and getting flustered, so it felt like my responses weren’t particularly coherent), and without much extra explanation. I was asked if I had any questions, but my brain was fried at that point, so any I had promptly left.

Fortunately, after emailing the head ADHD nurse, who I’d been in contact with during preliminary screening, I had a good conversation the next day with full permission to explain my feelings and rant as much as I needed to to get everything out. After that, she went through reasons why certain questions were asked, and went on to detail all next steps and options open to me.

Though I’ve been hesitant to try medication before, on the grounds that if I’m to have it, I want to make sure it’s the correct type for my neurodivergent brain and won’t simply cover up the symptoms of an underlying condition (untreated ADHD can often cause anxiety and depression, both of which I have), I chose to be put forward for ADHD medication. After a few tests at my GP surgery, which included blood pressure, pulse, height, weight, and an ECG, I received my first prescription of methylphenidate, which is a slow-release stimulant.

Now, medication isn’t for everyone, and there are lots of treatment options for the parts of ADHD that interfere with daily life. But, for me, I’m really pleased I made the choice I did. Within an hour of taking the first dose, a subtle, yet tangible change occurred to my thoughts. Usually, my brain runs off at top speed on anything and everything, flitting from topic to topic. But, though I still had the thoughts – meaning, I was still very much myself – I could choose to follow only the ones that were relevant to what I was doing at the time, and go back to the others later. When I explained this to my partner (who we also suspect is ADHD), he came up with a great metaphor: instead of everything being dumped in a box that I have to sift through to find something, I’d been given shelves where I could see everything individually and just select what I needed.

As of writing, I’m on day six of being medicated, which admittedly, isn’t very long, but it does appear that my ability to maintain focus on writing has definitely increased (the very fact that I’m writing this, after not posting an update for so long due to lack of energy and motivation, is good evidence of this). And the thing that’s most surprising is the realisation that the fatigue I felt from doing any kind of task was caused mostly by my chaotic thoughts, and now they have (slightly) more order, that fatigue is nowhere near as bad. I can feel it, but I’m not completely crashing anymore.

Sadly, my laptop battery is now fading, so I’ll have to wrap this up. Getting confirmation of my full neurodiversity (I’m autistic too, and yes, you can very much have both conditions), has allowed me to understand and accept how different, yet cool, my brain is. Even though I struggle with things on a daily basis because of it, I can see my creativity and ability to notice things few others do all stem from it and make my world brighter.

This process has taken, well, a lot of processing, but I’m getting there. And taking medication, despite all the controversy surrounding it, is no different to when I wear my ear defenders or sunglasses to help lesson sensory overload when I’m outside. It’s an aid to help me, and it’s not a bad thing. (I will point out, though, that I’m taking my medication exactly as prescribed by my doctor and I’ll be having strict, regular reviews with them to make sure it’s still doing what it should and nothing else.)

Lastly, for those interested or considering pursuing diagnosis, some key details. I’m in the UK and went through the NHS, so the process may differ considerably in other countries, but here’s the route I took:

In mid 2019, I spoke to a general GP at my local doctor’s surgery, explaining that I wanted to be referred to the ADHD service for diagnosis. I had a few notes with me on traits I resonated with so they could easily see my reasoning.

After that, I had a very long wait (possibly made worse by the pandemic), but eventually got sent some screening questionnaires to complete and send back. After that was done, a phone call was arranged with the ADHD nurse for an hour long further screening conversation, in which I had to answer a lot of personal questions about school, family, work, social life etc.

Determining that I was eligible for a diagnostic assessment, I was then given a virtual appointment and completed the assessment I’ve spoken in detail about above, and as mentioned, after diagnosis, I was offered options for treatment, which included various therapies and medication. I received very detailed leaflets on the option I chose, so I could thoroughly research before finalising my decision.

So, there we go. I hope this essay of a post has been interesting and/or helpful. Thank you for reading!

Poetry, Short Stories

I thought my executive function was on holiday, turns out it’s missing in action

I need to do the housework today, but now I’ve had a knife shaped letter prodding me in the ribs, there’s no room in my brain for anything else. What am I doing? Cleaning the birds? Emptying the bins? I seem halfway through both, but how did I get here? Oh, look, the laundry, I’ll do that today. Time to hoover. Mind is racing, letter thoughts stabbing, stabbing, what way am I facing? Oh, yes, the hoover. Move all the things. It’s raining outside. Why am I in the kitchen again? The hoover is in the lounge. Oh look, the laundry, I must do that today. What about the washing up? Ah, those plastic pots in the sink are recyclable, I’ll just put them in the…oh, I forgot to get the bin bags from the other room. I’ll just go and get them–no, hoovering first. Done! Now I can do the washing up and put those pots in the bin…once I get the bags. Finally, I’ve finished. Phew…

Oh look, the laundry.

Poetry

Unnecessary measurements

If we were to measure each other out as ingredients on silver scales,

the balance would be so perfectly held

it would look like the scales had rusted solid.

Then we’d spend all afternoon discussing why scales

with such precise measurements

are unnecessary for the conversion rates of our brains,

shooting off into zesty tangents

until we finally agree that the setting sun is a sign

we should stroll off and get some sleep.

Poetry

Nest

The wasps are under my skin again,

their buzzing taking over

and vibrating my brain into ice,

breath cool but scorched words.

Heat in my face, on my tongue, on my lips

and only a dark cloud in my belly to blame.

I know the wasps will dissolve into sweet figs

tomorrow, or maybe the next day,

but I wish the ointment I brew from them

could be given now, with a kiss of apology

even though you always say you don’t need it.