11 October 2009 - 6:34 pm


The last two weeks have been hell for me. I can’t remember the last time I was this stressed, strung out, hurt, and inclined to cry.

As I’ve mentioned before, the team leader I’m replacing at work has been having complications with her pregnancy. The week before last was a huge deadline for us – the delivery of a three-year-long project. In the middle of it, the TL announced that she had preeclampsia and had to go into hospital straight away.

The good news is that she’s doing okay – she was due to be sent home this weekend, still pregnant (she’s at about 31 weeks now). I went to see her the other day and things are going okay there. Everyone is relieved about that.

Still, I was left holding the can to deliver this project’s work, with barely a clue about what was required as the TL was training me as we went. So the week involved a lot of scrabbling around for me, desperately trying to make sure that a) I knew what needed to be done and b) someone was actually doing it.

We made it. I can hardly believe it, but we did. I have an awesome team there. Big huge relief, big fat tick for all of us.

But I couldn’t relax. The TL had been training me on the delivery process, but we only do that once every few years – all the stuff that comes in between was going to be handed over after the deadline. Which meant that last week I had to figure out what the hell to do next, because nothing had been handed over to me. There are lots of tiny pieces scattered around that I have to make sense of.

The TL was good enough to email me from hospital, sending me stuff that I needed to know. But still, it was stress city. I’m still not sure exactly how many balls I’m supposed to have in the air there, apart from ‘a lot’. I feel like I’ve had no breathing space.

On top of all the work stuff, the communal writing project I’ve been putting together went sideways. Badly.

The day before the TL went into hospital, one of the project’s writers attacked me in a meeting. I won’t go into detail, but suffice to say that a couple of members of the group believe that they should be able to do whatever they want and to hell with the rest of the group, and they didn’t like it when I said that wouldn’t fly. Rather than trying to tackle the problem and work out a solution, spending two hours trying to shout me down was the option they chose.

I was shaking by the time they left. I don’t give under that kind of pressure and I don’t put up with bullying, but I wasn’t in any shape to handle an attack like that emotionally.

If it had just been one of them, I think I could have dealt with it. But it wasn’t. I spent the rest of the week in isolation – two of the group decided to stop talking to me in favour of the ringleader. It wasn’t a good week for me for so many reasons.

Then it got worse. I tried to speak to the ringleader to straighten things out and he refused to talk to me. I had the other two ambush me after work, so that they could tell me about how selfish and unfair I’m being, and how unhappy they are. They weren’t interested in my side of things. It had turned into a whole drama of the sort I thought I’d left behind at secondary school.

It was all way more than I was prepared to put up with. I spent half of last week worrying about what would fall on me next, where the next attack would come from. My CFS was so bad that I was having chest pains most days – stress makes it worse and this was a pressure on me all of the time. I felt like I hadn’t smiled in forever. Worse, it was showing – I don’t tend to show that kind of stuff in public, but people noticed. I was just too tired to pretend any more.

I put a lot of work into that project. I set up the world, the concept, the wiki, the forum, and the website, organised meetings, and helped others plan characters and plot stuff. I did it because I love writing and I had a group of friends I wanted to share it with.

It had got to the stage when I dreaded someone bringing it up in conversation. I didn’t know what was coming at me next, what other thing would go wrong. This thing that I love wasn’t fun any more – it was so terribly far from fun. I couldn’t see a way to salvage it, and I really didn’t want to try. I don’t give up on things easily – I work hard to make things go, but this wasn’t worth it. It just really wasn’t worth it.

I waited until after my Creative Writing Group meeting on Friday night to end it. Most of the group was there and I was determined to do it right. I wanted to do it in person, not by email, which can be read in so many ways. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I was trembling before I even started. I got through it, even though the ringleader walked out halfway through with great protestations. I said my piece, I explained my reasons, I named no names (in an attempt not to make it worse), and I almost broke down.

I had intended to come straight home afterwards – I knew I’d be a mess – but the half of the group not directly involved in the drama insisted that I stay. They made sure I was okay, and it took a while for that to happen. It felt like an hour before I stopped shaking and teetering on the edge of crying at any moment. But they were so good.

They didn’t know a lot of what had happened – the last thing I was going to do was drag more of them into it and make it a huge fight between all of us. I don’t play those kinds of games. That’s why I stopped it when I did – to preserve what little was left between us all. They had seen enough in the meetings to know what had caused it for themselves. By the time I came home, I felt a lot less alone in all of this. I am so grateful for them.

Now all that’s left to deal with is the fallout. Those involved in all the bitching that went on behind my back say that they don’t want this to ruin any friendships. Again, that’s why I ended the whole thing, but it’s going to take some work from everyone to mend what’s been damaged.

I’m bruised, all the way through. Every time I think it’s finished and I can start to move on, something happens to poke the bruise again. The stress has made me so sick that I’ve spent most of the weekend on the couch, attempting to recover – and even in that there has been poking. I’ve lost a project I cared about, and friends have turned against me. I just want a break from the pressure now. I want it over.

I know that this crap has been affecting my writing, and that makes me feel even worse. The Apocalypse Blog has been strained of late – I almost missed a few days, but it has been my one escape through all of this shit. And I was determined that they weren’t going to fuck up my perfect record for me.

It’s been really hard to get into the mood to write – even today, I’m writing this because my brain doesn’t want to click into Faith mode. Sometimes it has been the one time when I didn’t think about the project and all the crap that was being slung my way. Other times, it was hard to see past the pile of crap to the blank page. Most of the time, I struggled to get something down.

I’m hoping that this week will be better. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to sleep properly tonight, and that AB will come back on track and pick up pace again. I have so much planned for it. I’m hoping that this whole unpleasant business can be finally put into the ground and we can all move on.

Hope with me – I could use the help right now.

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  1. Elle says:

    I hope with you. 🙂

    Things will get better, promise.

    October 11th, 2009 at 9:11 pm

  2. Mel says:

    Thanks, hon. 🙂

    October 11th, 2009 at 11:02 pm

  3. Naomi says:


    Sounds like a crap couple of weeks indeed 🙁

    I hope things improve hugely – you’ve put in a really impressive effort 🙂

    October 12th, 2009 at 7:29 am

  4. Mel says:

    Thanks, Naomi. All hugs are appreciated!

    It’s been rough. I’m daring to hope that the end is in sight now. 🙂

    October 12th, 2009 at 8:19 am

  5. Rissa Watkins says:

    Oh no. I am so sorry to hear that you have been having such a hard time.

    You know, the blog has been great- you managed to keep it going- without a hiccup or a bad half assed post.

    I hope things will get better for you soon.

    October 12th, 2009 at 3:20 pm

  6. Mel says:

    Thanks, Rissa!

    I’m glad it hasn’t affected AB too much – it’s not always easy to tell when this kind of thing bleeds through. The posts feel rushed to me! As long as it’s just me, that’s fine.

    Luckily, Faith has been fairly down lately too, so it hasn’t been a struggle to get into her head. Perhaps we can pick ourselves up together, huh?

    October 12th, 2009 at 3:29 pm

  7. Nyssa says:

    Hi Melanie,

    I don’t know you beyond your blog, I’ve never met you but I have mutual friends.

    I am however at the point of confessing my staler-eque love for you. I adore AB, I sit at my computer ever night hitting refresh waiting just WAITING for you to post the next piece.

    I’m so sorry to hear you’ve had a rough time, I’m sending you beautiful positive energy, and I really hope to meet you sometime at a future Brisbane Sci Fi & Fantasy event where I can gush more about your writing prowess.

    October 12th, 2009 at 11:14 pm

  8. Svenja says:

    Oh, wow, that really sucks. I’m sorry to hear that your project blew up in your face like that, that must be really tough. And on top of the other stuff, at that!

    Can I just say that I totally admire you for what you’re doing here? I can’t believe you’ve gone through all of that and are still turning out AB-writing of the highest standard. That’s amazing. I loved today’s installment, it put a big smile on my face, especially the very last part. I love the mix of emotions that you can put Faith through without ever seeming random or arbitrary.

    I’m really sorry that life has been so tough for you. But you got through the main events, so to speak, so I have total faith that you’ll make it through the aftermath as well. And I hope that it gets better very very soon – sending lots of positive thoughts your way!

    October 12th, 2009 at 11:32 pm

  9. Mel says:

    Hi Nyssa,

    I think we’ve been at the same event once or twice, but never actually met and said hi. 🙂

    Thanks for the comment, and the support! I’m glad you like AB. Hopefully we can meet up soon and chat.

    October 13th, 2009 at 8:19 am

  10. Mel says:

    Thanks, Svenja. It’s a relief to hear that all this stuff didn’t damage the writing – I’m so close to it all that it’s hard for me to tell.

    Yesterday’s post was tricky to write (it wanted to slide into cheesiness a couple of times), and I had to rearrange it twice before I got it the way I wanted. But I’m pleased with how it came out. Onward and upward, for me and Faith, I think!

    Thanks for the support and positive thoughts. Hopefully the fallout of all this crap will be sorted soon and I can work on forgetting all about the damn thing. I have better things to be doing!

    October 13th, 2009 at 8:26 am

  11. Thylonicus says:

    I wish I knew what to say. Part of me feels like a heel for asking for your help without knowing all this was going on. At the end of it, though, I think you did the right thing. Heck, you probably did it better than I could have.

    At least you know you have good friends, and well-meaning friendly acquaintances, who are thinking of you, praying for you, sending good thoughts, and such.

    Add me to the list of people you can lean on, call up, write insanely and barely-coherent strings of vitriolic or tear-stained rambles to. I owe you that much, and much more.

    I’m gad you’re working through it, Minnesota Mel. 😀

    October 14th, 2009 at 10:06 am

  12. Mel says:

    Hon, you can always ask me for help, anytime. Don’t ever think you can’t. It’s what friends are for! I’m glad that there’s something I can do for you, even though we’re so far apart. And right now, this personal bullshit is nothing compared to what you’re dealing with over there.

    I have wonderful friends and I am grateful for all of them. I have your number, and I’ll bother you when I need to. Never fear. 🙂

    October 14th, 2009 at 10:25 am

  13. Thylonicus says:

    Actually, I disagree, on your B.S. being “nothing” compared to what I’m dealing with. I’m not discounting my own current tribulations, to be sure, but I don’t think yours (or anyone’s, really) should be discounted, either. That’s the interesting thing about humanity–sometimes we can be struck a near-deadly blow, without anyone lifting a finger. The lack of physicality to the damage does not negate the damage itself. 😉

    …I don’t have a shrine to the Greek philosophers, oh no. O:-)

    October 14th, 2009 at 10:28 am