Tell it to the judge!

Happy Thursday friends! My goodness have I had a week. Have you had a busy week? Are things going well? Or are you having a difficult week? Maybe there’s too much going on.

Allow me to distract you for 5 minutes with my news. This is self indulgent, I know. But if I can’t put this on my blog, where can I put it?

My health this week (an aperitif before the good news😜!)

Lets start with the crap (so it’s out of the way). I’m still very unwell (cheers Covid-19🤘💪). My appetite is still lack-lustre but improving. The stiffness, aches, and pains remain and at present, nothing seems to be helping so I’m hobbling around the house with the help of crutches. To be honest, I’m pretty much sat where I am right now all day every day (on the bed🛏). It’s a weird existence, and when I tell people about it, they obviously don’t understand. But somehow, as a family, we make it work. My partner is in charge of everything that needs to be done away from home and I try and send emails, organise letters and arrange appointments from the bed.

We are basically playing to our strengths.💪

Then there’s the tiredness. Wowzers, My sleep😴 has been terrible for a while. A few hours each night (if I’m lucky) followed by a long day of stress. Somehow that whole routine has been reversed and I now find myself struggling to keep my eyes open all day and all night. I’m exhausted now, and it’s 6pm!

Again, we’re usually playing to our strengths. I did nights, he did days. But the reality is, right now, I can’t really help out at all. It makes me feel useless. Like a spare part and a burden. But to be honest I just need to sleep. I could sleep right now. 💤💤

Finally the Tourettes, paranoia, panic, and anxiety – all of which are working together to run the show. I am worried, upset, and frustrated at my own brain and limited physical capability all the time. Yes, I have cried today, several times. Yes, I wish I was able to handle stress gently. Yes, I’ve tried to speak to people…sometimes it feels like no one gets you, and you’re on your own. Yes, it’s caused me to have unsettling and dangerous thoughts through the devil on my shoulder. Again, it’s a weird existence.

This is possibly why I’m so tired. Living with all of these challenges is exhausting and painful. Getting the balance right so I’m as unbothered as possible is just as stressful as the problem itself.

So yeah, I’m not great.

If you’re still here then THANK YOU 🙌 for getting this far. That’s my review of the crap over. My physical and mental health are suffering and I’m basically trying my best to hold it together. I’m finding it hard, but my family is helping me and I’m incredibly grateful.

What’s the bloody news, Steph?

Despite struggling, as you all know, I’m trying desperately to prove that I can still be a little bit productive, a little bit creative, and a little bit interesting even if I can only manage an hour a day. It’s something. But I’m aware this would be difficult to achieve even when things are going well, so I wasn’t holding out much hope. In fact, I’d lost any hope of being productive or interesting again.


You’ll all be familiar with The Secret Attic – they have awarded me with selections and wins for my flash fiction and short story writing multiple times over the last year. I’m a huge fan of their work. They make it possible for writers to submit multiple stories, with various styles, prompts, and rules, every week, at little to no cost. They are a great bunch who care for their writers and readers and do it for love of the craft.

I got chatting with the head honcho at SA a while ago. Actually, we’ve spoken many times about many things and she is bloody lovely. One of the few writing competition organisers who is never frustrated when you ask a question. She’s always friendly. All the team are. Anyway, I digress…

We got chatting. I explained that I was looking for little ways to be more involved in the writing community as a whole and asked if she knew anyone that might like a volunteer to write short stories or articles every now and then. I can’t commit lots of time or specific times because it’s hard to know how well I’ll be. I was hoping for a little article to research and write with no real-time limitations – a story for a website or something. Anything to push my ability as a writer and that gives a purpose or goal for something I’ve written.

But no no no. Secret Attic had an alternative plan for me and she asked if I’d be interested in doing the monthly judging for the Picture This competition! 😁😍😁😍

It’s a little bit of volunteering for a few hours a month. It doesn’t require lots of time, it’s flexible, I can do it at 3am and stay sat in my safe zone on the bed, it allows me to review and consider the ideas of other writers, and, most importantly, it’s something that I’d LOVE to do! ❤

The benefits alone are worthwhile for me. But it was really the gratitude from SA that threw me. They seemed happy to have me as a little part of the gang. They know me, they know my writing and they know my limitations, but they still want me. I feel genuinely tearful as I write this. With my health being so poor I resided to the idea that my valuable, creative days were numbered and my opinion had no real value.

I’m therefore so proud to be the judge of the Picture This competition with Secret Attic.

But I will say this – I can’t help but feel a twang of upset and sadness that it’s likely my first place on the Secret Attic leaderboard will be lost now. I was hoping for a win this year, but I’ll have to just make my other writing superb.

But it doesn’t really matter because the idea of being involved in the judging process is far more appealing. Something I’d never even considered as an option.

So here I am. Steph the Judge. 👩‍⚖️👩‍⚖️🔨🔨

I’ll come up with a suitable moniker at some point. ‘Judgey’ is the only one that comes to mind so far and I’m aware it’s crap.

I’ll think about it.

So for now, good luck to everyone in the current Picture This competition – January is the last month I will be able to enter because from February 1st I will be judging the stories instead.

A huge thank you to the Secret Attic team for trusting me with this little monthly project. They’ve been lovely and welcoming. I can’t wait to get to know everyone better and get started next month.


There is other exciting news in the pipeline, but some of it is top secret so although I want to shout things from the rooftops, I have to remain clandestine…for now.

Watch this space. 👀👀

Finally, the picture

The picture – where to start?? My little volunteering gig was decided in a whirlwind, so I had to come up with a suitable picture quickly. I spent last night (awake, in pain) coming up with ideas and drawing, deleting, drawing, erasing. Anyway, eventually, I decided that going back to Hello Kitty was the only possible solution.

As a result, here is my invented Hello Kitty, no template or copying used, dressed as a judge, presiding over the writing world with an iron first, gavel and butterflies. I’m a sucker for kawaii, as you all know, so it was a pleasure to create something with Hello Kitty again. This picture was finished at around 4am, but I’m hopeful you can’t tell 😇.

I hope you like her, but more than anything, I hope I live up to everyone’s expectations as a mini judge for a writing competition.

This is a huge deal for me and gives me hope that I can keep writing in the future once my mind and body will allow me to get more involved. For now it’s time to take some pain relief and go back to sleep.

I’m starting to hear nice reviews and compliments.

I’m starting to see my work being passed around.

I’m starting to believe.

It’s a start! 🤣🤣

Published by stephc2021

Hi! I'm Steph, an amateur writer and illustrator specialising in Mental Health and being a self-confessed Spoonie. My website is home to any successful fiction I create, with stories that have won so far covering difficult subjects such as baby loss and mental health in grief as well as some funny and heart-warming tales when I get the inspiration. Every drawing and picture on my website was created by me. I spend a lot of time coming up with illustrations to accompany all of my posts and pages. I try to create original content across all of my channels, whether I'm writing about my own fiction or just generally musing on mental health or my own issues. I want to be part of the change because I believe the understanding of MH in the UK is getting better, but has a very long way to go. By being honest about my own struggles and symptoms I think others will relate and hopefully it will encourage them to talk to someone and get the help and support they need. Long term my goal is to help children too, help them understand their own mental health and how to help with the mental health of those around them. I live in the UK with my partner, daughter and dog, I swear frequently and I adore a well made, traditional, gooey, chocolatey, delicious brownie.

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