I really didn't expect this to be the next blog post I'd write; the plan was to bring together a whole bunch of images for my travels, to share the places I've visited and the people I've seen. But the need to explain a few things, to be human, won't leave my head.
The last few weeks, the tour of yarn shops and visiting friends, has been fantastic. I've loved helping people with their Hats and helping knitters with their techniques in workshops. I've loved meeting makers of my patterns and talking to them about their favourites. And I've loved seeing sorely missed friends, and spending time in the company of other woolly folk.
But all of this can also be very exhausting, too. It's hard to be on the road, living out of a suitcase and moving every few days. It's hard to always be on the go, to maintain the energy to not let anyone down. Down time is hard to come by, and naturally being away from loved ones for any period of time adds to the stress. These are all things that those of us who travel for work accept.
Except this year was different, and this year I couldn't come home when the tour had finished.
During this tour I saw my consultant, and they requested another scan almost immediately. The scan has revealed an endometrioma, which will likely need surgery to remove. I extended my stay by a few days for the scan, as it was cheaper and more convenient to be seen quickly, and to only pay one way extra in travel, rather than try and re-book the appointment and pay for a whole fresh journey.
During this tour my Nan lost her battle with breast cancer. As much as we knew the end was near, it still packs a punch. It hurts even more when you're not with your Dad, and know that it's going to be at least another week before you can give him a hug and tell him how sorry you are that his Mum had died. My trip was extended by a further few days so that I could attend the funeral and say my goodbyes.
During this tour we received the awful and rather bewildering news that we'd lost our appeal. We're continuing in talks and negotiations and things are looking positive for us, but that doesn't take away the shock of learning that all the energy and time and money that's been invested has been in vain; that the threat of losing your home is very real once again.
And all of these things are even harder to deal with when you're 2,000km from your nearest and dearest.
Don't get me wrong, the friends I was with when the things occurred were amazing. Each let me fall apart a little, and were there to hold my hand or let me cry as needed. And that has made each of those friendships a little closer, too. But I still had to put myself back together again because the show must go on.
Coming back to Tom and Aran hasn't bought the rest that was desperately needed. Being away from home for 3 weeks and 4 days has meant there was a lot of work to catch up on, a lot of admin work in particular. Emails have needed replies and pattern queries have needed a thoughtful response; none of these could be asked to wait any longer. I've had to chase unpaid invoices and deal with issues with my bank and Paypal. I've needed to be bought up to speed on our legal situation, and all that that involves. I've also needed to be a Mum and partner again, but that hasn't taken priority, and it all feels out of sync; as a family we still haven't had a whole uninterrupted day together since my return.
Not having any down time, not having the chance to switch off, is a very unhealthy thing indeed. I've lost the ability again to sleep restfully. I don't know how to get through a day without alcohol. I've lost the ability to deal with each and every detail or situation rationally. I'm struggling to deal with the darkest thoughts that run through my head. The perspective needed to keep things in balance has gone. And I've run out of the energy needed to hide all of these things.
Today I've a photoshoot booked, then I'm taking the rest of the weekend off. All of my devices will be switched off, so that I can lose touch with the outside world for a day or so. I think you all know how much I love what I do, and that I probably work too hard, but you all also know that I'm only a one-man-show and that I like to keep things real. I am broken. Given a bit of time to patch things up, I can get us through the next few weeks of the busy season. And then I'm going to have a longer time off, over the holiday season.