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***Trigger warnings: anxiety, depression, chronic illness***

I awkwardly lollop onto the floor and pull myself up onto my hands and knees. I feel the dizziness overwhelm me instantly, so I sit up and try shuffling along the floor on my bottom. All I want is a drink. I feel like I'm running a marathon. I've already tried to do this trip twice today and fainted each time. My head hitting the cold, solid floor. I think my head's just accustomed to the whack now. Tears sting my eyes and I succumb to laying on the floor. I stare at the ceiling, as the tears leak from my eyes, straight onto my hair.

The trip from the living room to the kitchen is about 6 feet. Today, I can't even manage that. Why am I like this? I reach for the phone, but I know no one will come. My mum lives 200 miles away. My godmum's at a funeral. My husband's at work. My sister has little ones that I don't want seeing me like this. So what do I do? I sit up and continue the bum shuffle. 

I have PoTS. When it flares up, I have been known to pass out up to 5 times a day. It's draining. I think family and friends think that because it happens so often, I should be used to it by now. I'm not, and I never will be. I get upset every few months and they reassure me I'm not a nuisance, or an inconvenience. If they mean that, why am I sitting on my own today then? I think back to the times I was able to work, nothing would have stopped me getting to someone I loved if they needed me. I need someone.

My husband says that I'm doing amazing and my life is brilliant - but the truth is, he didn't know me before. I've almost forgotten the me before PoTS. I'm not even sure she still exists. I read a book a few days ago about anxiety, but it reminded me so greatly of what PoTS has done to me.

"I don't have any friends left. I lost touch with a few people when I quit being around alcohol, and another wave when I couldn't eat in restaurants anymore. When I cut out trains and buses and my world shrunk to the size of my immediate neighbourhood, pretty much everyone stopped bothering. Those who did reach out were met with a stubborn radio silence. I thought it would be easier on everyone if I just faded into the background, then I could slip away and hardly anyone would notice".

- On Anxiety (an anthology) https://www.3ofcups.co.uk/shop/on-anxiety

I always thought feeling helpless was the worst feeling in the world. It turns out that feeling like an inconvenience is. 

Writing is the biggest release for me and writing posts like this makes me feel like I can breathe again, on days like this. Writing is the best therapy any bookworm can ask for. My thoughts sometimes spiral and make me feel like I'm not capable; whenever I write, it reminds me that I am.

All Charlotte, Somewhere Wants For Christmas Is...

5 People I'd Want to Spend Christmas With
I'm going to start with the sentimental ones: my granddad and my great-nana. I would give just about anything for one more Christmas with my granddad, and I would love another Christmas with my great-nana who died when I was 16 and never got to see me grown up. Next up: Santa. The big man himself. Because he can bring the presents and also explain some of the weird stocking fillers I got as a kid. I'd also want Nigella because her Christmas dinner is the best. Finally, I'd invite Mia Corvere from Nevernight because I'm going to need an assassin to help me set the world on fire. 

4 Books I Want Under my Tree this Christmas
I want to give you Christmassy books, but I'm not really a Christmas book person. I'm sorry 🙈 I'm going to make them wintry though. Forgive me? 

1. Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust. A dark retelling of the Snow White story. I am a big lover of a twisted winter tale. 
2.  Winter by Ali Smith. I adore wintery books and this one sounds delightful. 
3. Christmas Poems by Wendy Cope. I love this woman's poetry. 
4. A Jigsaw of Fire and Stars by Yaba Badoe. There needed to be some fire somewhere. 

3 Christmas Foods
I assume since it only says foods that I will still get to drink gin? Because gin is a Christmas staple. For foods I have to choose turkey cranberry sauce and bread sauce. They are the holy trinity of the Christmas sandwich. Yes, I put bread sauce on my sandwich. Shut up. It's the season of Eat All The Foods.

2 Christmas Films I Couldn't Live Without
The Nightmare Before Christmas. I watched this with my Auntie as a kid and I love it. No Christmas is complete without at least one viewing. 

The Snowman and the Snowdog. We've loved watching this with the little one and it's good to have a cuddle up under the blanket with a nice kids film. 

1 Christmas Song
It'll Be Lonely This Christmas. Not because I am a misery. I am, but there is a story behind this. My Granddad had a huge collection of singing Christmas decorations. One year, my Nana got rid of them all. So I bought him a new one. It was a basset hound, wearing a Santa hat that sang It'll Be Lonely This Christmas. Not only did he keep it out all Christmas, but it's never been put away since. When he was still alive he played it every day, and every time I hear this song it reminds me of this.

BIO: I am Charlotte, Somewhere: wife, mother Cocker Spaniel owner and someday Queen of the Universe. I can almost always be found with my face in a book and a coffee in hand. I also like writing, knitting, crafty things, baking, eating, walking, taking photos and nurturing a close relationship with my sofa and blankets.

Find me on Twitter @charlotteswhere and Instagram @charlottesomewhereblog

All Philippa Francis aka Lockwoodwriter Wants for Christmas Is...

5 People to invite to a Christmas Banquet:
  • George Bailey after Clarence the angel has taught him a lesson (in It's A Wonderful Life). He really understands how to celebrate life.
  • Mrs Oldknowe in The Children of Green Knowe by L. M. Boston.. Such a magical character in a classic children's tale.
  • Cole Hawlings from The Box of Delights by John Masefield. He's seen so many Christmases, he'd have such tales to tell.
  • Frances Hardinge - writer of The Lie Tree, & A Skinful of Shadows (among others), volcano-lover and hat-wearer.
  • Chris Riddell - artist and all-round nice chap. He could do cartoons of us all.

4 Books under your tree this Christmas:
  • Winter Magic, a collection curated by Abi Elphinstone - short stories are perfect for such a busy time of year.
  • The Winter's Child by Cassandra Parkin - reviewers tell me it's dark and dream-like, the writer has a painterly eye for detail - and she's from Yorkshire like me!
  • Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones - A Goblin King, a stolen child, music and sacrifice - right up my street.
  • I'll be Home for Christmas anthology for Crisis . A bit of a cheat as I have the kindle edition - but I'd love the actual book. Writers include Melvin Burgess,  Juno Dawson, Non Pratt, Marcus Sedgwick, and Benjamin Zephaniah. 

3 Christmas foods:
  • Panettone: it's like eating scented clouds and it ought to be made by little Italian cherubs.
  • Clementines: such fun to squeeze the skins and make the candles fizz with their oil.
  • Pigs-in-blankets: fabulous name and so savoury.

2 Christmas films I couldn't live without:
  • Nightmare before Christmas - I love a bit of spookiness at Christmas.
  • Muppets Christmas Carol - pure Dickensian genius - with Kermit!

1 Christmas song:
'2000 Miles'  by The Unthanks - two sisters singing a haunting version of the classic Pretenders' song.

K. M. Lockwood writes and edits in The Garret.
Once downstairs, she runs a tiny writer-friendly B&B or wanders off  looking for sea-glass on the Sussex coast.
 Twitter: @lockwoodwriter

 Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/philippafrancis/

All Finian Black Wants For Christmas Is...

5 people to spend Christmas with:

My wife, my two children - because they are the most special people in my life.
Bruce Springsteen - my favourite songwriter. There's a song for every mood and occasion.
King Arthur - the version that I invented for my book The Final Raven. I think we'd be good friends!

4 books I want under the tree:

La Belle Sauvage (Philip Pullman) - the His Dark Materials trilogy is one of the most remarkable things I've ever read.
The Girl Who Saved Christmas (Matt Haig) - Matt's Christmas books will become 'must reads' for many years to come.
A Christmas Carol (Dickens) - the original and best Christmas ghost story.
Mythos (Stephen Fry) - I'm so excited by this retelling of the Greek myths and legends. Can Stephen compare with Roger Lancelyn Green?

3 Christmas foods:

Sprouts (!!) - I absolutely love them. They're great on pizzas!
Mince pies - a bit obvious, but they are just so wonderful.
Baileys  - am I allowed a liquid food?

2 Christmas films I couldn't live without: 

Muppet Christmas Carol - an annual event in our house. Put up the tree, close the curtains, turn on the tree lights and settle back! 
Raiders of the Lost Ark - it reminds me of my childhood. Family get togethers, Christmas Day movies, eating too much!

1 Christmas song: 

Fairytale of New York (Pogues) - the best Christmas song of all time!

Finian Black writes middle grade books that are full of action, mystery and magic. THE FINAL RAVEN is available now in paperback and download. 'Plague is spreading across modern day Britain. Birds are dying. People are dying. Will friendship, love and belief be enough to stop what seems unstoppable?'

Visit my website here: http://www.finianblack.com/ and subscribe for exclusive access to draft chapters from the sequel THE DEVIL'S BLOOD, out Spring 2018.