*taps mic* this thing still on?

I feel we are long overdue an update, aren’t we?

Firstly, we’re both fine, thank you so much for asking. You didn’t ask? I see.

We actually managed to sneak away on holiday in January – returning (finally) to Florida for a few weeks of rollercoasters, waterslides and as much culture as one might find on a bleached petri dish. Listen, nobody goes to Disney to stroke their chins and exclaim ‘but what can one feel from such a representation’* or other such bollocks. You go to make sure your vestibular system knows who’s really in charge and to spend money so fast you get scorch marks on the tips of your fingers.

* I mention this because we did actually meet someone like this in the queue for Tower of Terror – a walking haircut who held up the queue to inform everyone around her, very loudly, of how wrong the ‘period’ theming of the hotel was. Ma’am, you’re in a theme park, no-one is impressed. Save it for Twitter. To add insult to injury, she stepped on Paul’s foot and blankly refused to apologise – luckily she was wearing some god-awful shoes knitted from llama-hair or suchlike, so it barely registered.

I’ll say only this, with an eye to some future blog posts that’ll cover it in more detail: we had the most amazing, incredible time. I’d go so far to say it was the best holiday we’ve ever had and listen, if that doesn’t impress you, know that we once did a three day coach holiday to Birmingham.

Urgh, get a room, right.

Because of this, the holiday blues that I usually feel after some time away were absolutely off-the-charts. Now I know there’s nothing more self-indulgent than feeling sorry for yourself when you’ve been lucky enough to get away from the relentless misery that is the UK, and for that I apologise only a shade. You must realise that I am an emotional being at the best of times, I just hide it behind a well-groomed façade of indifference. As a result, the last couple of weeks have been emotionally hard-going.

This has been compounded yet further by my own health anxiety conspiring against me in its most vicious form. In my last entry on here I wrote of some ongoing eye pain (like someone pressing a thumb in the back of my left eye) and how I was being stoic and using all my previous coping mechanisms to get through it. I felt as though I was doing well. But see, that was back in December and I was banking on the eye nonsense sorting itself out and buggering off by now. Alas, no. So although the last few weeks have been tremendous, they’ve been tempered with the utter exhaustion of having to manage my own health anxiety and what feels like an almost permanent headache. On holiday you can distract yourself with amazing things, but this isn’t the same at home, and as a result I’ve been pondering more than I should.

Without doubt, this has been the hardest period of prolonged mental health difficulties I have faced in many years and whilst I know it will clear, I am really bloody tired of it. I only write this now because I have been very frank about my anxiety through the nine years of this blog and have written at length about how I successfully manage my anxiety – it is important then to show the other side of the coin and write about the bad times too. I’ll be fine, though.

The inevitable result of this ongoing malaise is my demotivation to do all the usual things with twochubbycubs. A good example: would you want to sit in front of a computer typing out a blog post or editing videos if the screen made your eyes hurt? Of course not. But I love doing this, and so when I find myself wanting to write but unable to motivate myself to do so, it magnifies the shitty feelings still further. The less I do, the more I miss.

This leaks out still further into other aspects of my life: I feel disinclined to do other things – gym, running, going out, cooking, eating healthily, making an effort because I am tired and stressed as a result of the eye issue and the subsequent health anxiety tussle. But those things are what bring comfort and happiness and without them, the vicious circle continues and grows. I think of my health anxiety like putting a glass of diesel into a petrol car – I’m still going to motor along, but it’s going to be strained and the journey bumpier as a result. Listen, I don’t know if that analogy quite works because my mechanical knowledge extends only to what colour boxers our local Kwik Fit bloke wears, but you get the drift.

But: enough is enough. As cathartic as typing all of the above was, I’m painfully aware of how self-pitying it comes across. This blog entry is more me trying to put a full stop on the last few weeks of moping and listening to my theatrical and dramatic brain and instead, choosing to be more proactive about fixing the various things I’ve let slide.

So. I’ve been back to the doctors (for only the second time since all of this kicked off, a vast improvement on previous episodes where I saw the doctor so often his wife grew jealous) and explained the eye-pain was still there. He asked that I stop masturbating – not because it was affecting my vision, he just couldn’t get the blood pressure cuff on my jostling arm. Ayoo. I spoke very honestly about how I am sure it is nothing but how the ongoing pain was causing me more mental distress than anything else, and he was ever so lovely.

That’s a point worth mentioning, especially to those who suffer with health anxiety. Mention it to your doctor when you see them: don’t go in demanding every test you can think of, but do explain that you’re prone to catastrophising and ask the questions that are bothering you. For example, my main worry about all of this is that I have some dark tumour billowing in my brain that may reach a critical mass at any point and remove my inability to sing along to any Pet Shop Boys song. He took the time to explain why it is very, very unlikely to be anything of that nature – I’d have more symptoms, they’d be far more permanent, I’ve got a head so big he’s surprised the USA haven’t shot it down and so I could comfortably grow a tumour in there with room to spare, that sort of thing. He was – always is – very patient and kind, and I imagine most doctors will be the same if you have concerns.

With my worries somewhat abated, we agreed that I would go for a CT scan (purely precautionary) next month to have a look in my head. It’ll be like the space-docking scene in Interstellar but with a fraction more Geordie. They’re also taking bloods to make sure I’m still o-HAAAAY positive. So we shall see where that goes. I am hopeful that they’ll find nothing more than stalactites and snot up in there, and I can stop worrying, and in turn, my health anxiety will fuck off. It’s certainly how I managed to beat all my other previous life-ending conditions that I diagnosed myself with.

On a more personal note, I’ve created a little bucket list of self-improvement, and I’ll be working towards that over the year. It’s like I’m revising for my GCSEs, only I’m not sacking it off to play Max Payne instead. This bucket list isn’t because I think I’m dying, I should say, but rather I work so much better when I have things to aim for than I do when I allow myself to procrastinate. Again, we’ll see how that pans out.

Which brings me neatly to you lot and twochubbycubs. I know I’m a terror for false promises about content, but I am going to make a concerted effort from March 1 to update more often, create new recipes and write more. I bloody love writing and you best believe that five weeks in Florida has provided me with stories and views I want to share. There’s also the small matter of refreshing the older recipes. Hell, I might even get around to adding a functioning search button and a website refresh, but let us not get giddy. I do promise to try harder, though.

Finally then – a thank you. This may sound a little over-the-top but when my mood is low, seeing people cooking our recipes or reading the reviews for our books or just being decent in our facebook group is a genuine tonic. As are the Instagram messages from folks saying they’re cooking for the first time or a blog post has made them laugh or they’ve seen us in ASDA or just wanting a chat. We’re terrible at replying because we get so many, but we do read them and enjoy them. Keep doing that, please. For those that have subscribed to the blog, thank you, you’re why I keep writing these.

Onwards, then.