Thursday, 30 December 2010

Survived another Christmas!

Hey readers

Hope you are all doing well. As the title of this entry shows, I have survived another Christmas - almost all the children in my extended family had the flu and so I was really tempted to avoid them all. But that was a hard decision to make - my kids would have enjoyed the festivities a lot less if they hadn't been allowed to see their cousins. SO I did the brave thing and let them all run around together - and touch wood, so far we are ok.

The kids were really good about not having anything really special for Christmas. Usually I push the boat out, but this year it hasn't been possible, and I was dreading their disappointment. But they have enjoyed themselves and not complained at all - result! They are still priveleged compared to so many, and it is nice to feel that they appreciate that fact.

I am disappointed with myself for not playing with them more - one thing that I had resolved to do during these holidays. I actually did, for a day or two. But then life took over - I had a cold, then Hubby had a cold, both of us were washed out after. Now things have deteriorated to the point where Toddler is watching hours of Shaun the Sheep every single day. SO I told the kids at dinner tonight that tomorrow the TV is going to be 'broken' and we are going to spend some proper time together. Let's see how long I last!

We have visitors tomorrow, I am doing a buffet lunch for an extra three adults and one child, so that should be a distraction. Then on New Years Day, the family will be coming over - anywhere between ten and fifteen of them. I am only doing tea and mince pies, but it will still be a houseful.

Sometimes I think it is amazing how far I have come, sometimes I give myself a hard time for not achieving more. Like part of me wants to get a qualification so I could become a teacher or a counsellor (I already have a first degree) but part of me kind of knows, or has convinced herself, that I couldn't hold down a job. Because unfortunately I am still racked by nerves at times - particularly social occasions, when I would really like to be more relaxed. But hey, that is improving too, slowly! Onwards and upwards!

Happy New Year, one and all. May you all demolish your demons and achieve your dreams!

More in 2011... x x

Monday, 6 December 2010

Still here, still happy


I just remembered this blog - apologies, I know the last time I posted I said I'd keep it updated more often. Guess I just got out of the habit.

Oh good, something concrete that I can make a New Year's Resolution about. I love those. I usually end up with a list of about twenty. At the end of the year I review them and see that the previous year I had just the same intentions - Write every day, eat sensibly, exercise, and so on. I don't care. I still enjoy the process. The ongoing process.

I can't believe I have wasted a whole morning. Could have done a lot of writing, if I'd concentrated. Instead, I maybe did 500 words - but also made a lot of phone calls and googled a lot of stuff. I don't really have any idea where the time has gone. The worst thing is, I didn't walk the puppy. So I will have to do that later. Maybe after school with the kids. Don't tend to do that, especially because it's so cold, but it wouldn't do them any harm, a nice brisk walk...

Am trying to be a bit easier on myself - as long as I write a bit I try not to feel bad about not doing more. After all, as time goes on I will have more free time to write. This morning I was bad though - I haven't even done the food shopping, which really is essential. And I thought I might get some Christmas preparations done too - like wrap the gifts I have bought already in case the kids find them meantime (if they haven't already).

So I will make a New Day's resolution - tomorrow I will walk the dog first, so I can't put it off. Or maybe a New Evening's Resolution - I will write tonight.

After a muddled morning my thinking seems a bit blighted -this entry is unoriginal leading into dull. At least it can't be attributed to me. 'Cause I am Anon!

By the by, my memoir is up to 35, 000 words - which may not sound like much progress but denotes a lot of woman hours, because I am just as likely to obliterate whole sections as I am to write new ones. At the moment I am in flux - I think I am telling more than showing again, and I need to find a way round that.

But still - how long is a book? About 80,000 words. So I must be half way there...

That is a joke by the way. Though I am tempted sometimes to just write the words and finish the book, mid-story or wherever. I had the dreadful thought this morning that I have enough material for a trilogy. Perish the thought. That would really be a life sentence. I want to compose uplifting stuff now, not trail through the same old anguish ever after. Onwards and upwards. X.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Checking In. Moving on.

Hi Guys

Apologies to anyone who has been trying to follow this blog - 'cause there ain't been a lot to follow recently. I stopped blogging because I started to feel a bit of a fraud, trying to write an honest blog about living with a diagnosis of schizophrenia but keeping my identity under wraps.

However, for what it is worth, here is how I have coped recently - pretty well, if I say so myself. I do still get stressed, but have pinned a lot of my problems down as having their origins in low self-esteem, so have been working on that (through a self-help book). It is hard going at times, I am constantly having to remind myself that I am as good as anyone else, which should be easy and basic but actually involves a lot of effort because I have been putting myself down for a long time.

I am benefitting from five free mornings a week - Toddler is now at play school, and loving it. He is so sweet - I let him sit next to me in the car on the way home and he always asks 'Had a good day at work?'. I say yes, and he says, 'I had a good day at school too'.

It makes me feel good that he considers my writing to be work. I make sure that I do write when he is at school, and I am about thirty thousand words into my memoir now. I am writing other stuff too, but I want to complete the memoir - I need to lay it to rest before I can move on properly.

The other children are doing well too - I always find this time of year hard because of all the bugs around. I hate it when they are ill. But, touch wood, as they get older they get stronger.

The puppy is growing nicely. She is seven months now and still rather destructive - she chews and guzzles anything she can find around the house. She destroyed a copy of a Wendy Cope poetry book recently, that I had bought for the kids and which the author had signed. That was really annoying. But on the plus side, she is so soft and furry to cuddle and so completely non-judgemental - therapy in puppy form. And the walks are just great - I need to tramp for over an hour to feel the full benefit of a walk and she is more than happy to keep me company.

As for the mental health side of things, the exercise helps to keep me positive and relaxed. Most of the time I am fine. Occasionally I become stressed and if this stops me sleeping and if the lack of sleep continues for a few days, then I can get close to the edge. But I tend not to worry so much about tipping over it. I have survived a lot of trauma in the last ten years and not succumbed - maybe it is time to put the spectre of the Hospital firmly behind me now, while ackowledging that I am not immune to the effects of worry and insecurity and that I need to concentrate on methods to help me cope with that.

I tend to talk too much, and not listen properly - mostly this is a manifestation of nerves, and it is something I really need to address in my dealings with other people. It shows how it is possible to change though - in the last twenty years I have gone from someone who could not say boo to a goose to someone with verbal diarrhoea. I just have to keep changing, and try to make sure that the changes are for the better. In another twenty years I may be someone special!

Anyway, enough for now. I will try to start blogging regularly again. I have missed it, this sense that I am shouting into a well, but hoping that someone out there will hear some of the noise I am making, and somehow benefit. x x

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Back to school - a new term


It has been a while since I blogged - I keep checking in but when I think about writing an entry I don't really know where to start. It seems as though this blog has become a bit of an online diary. I have written my diary for years and it was getting really boring (not the act of writing it but the content) and I was constantly on edge in case anyone ever found and read it. I would have been mortified.

Then blogging started to seem like a better idea - I would edit out the really dull stuff (I thought) because it was public, but anonymous. I might come up with some insights as to what makes me tick, and these might help others.

For a while I seemed to be going in the right direction. But now I have lost confidence a bit - keep wanting to go back over my old posts and edit them. Keep wondering if any of this will be of any use to anyone else (and I realise my need for reassurance on this may be wearying, so many thanks to those of you who have written positive comments). Plus, because I want my illness to remain under wraps, I can't talk about a lot of stuff that goes on in my life, and this feels restrictive, and a bit rude to any readers.

But anyhow, I suppose it is doing no harm. Nobody is forced to read this.

I am cracking on with the memoir now that I have free mornings during the week. I have written about seven thousand words in the last two weeks, and most of this is totally new. Now I am getting a bit slower, so I am planning to go back over the old autobiography, pick out and write down all the stuff that I can use without divulging my identity, then see what I have got and then fill the gaps with any new stuff I think might be useful (what I mean is stuff that happened that I didn't write down before). Plus I am trying to work out how to make it all more interesting, more readable. More universal.

You see? This blog has just become like my old diary entries used to be - I ramble on and on! Who needs to know all this baloney? I just like writing it down!

Anyhow. Kids are back at school, and as I said Toddler has started play school, so I have some free time. The trouble with this is that I feel I should only be writing during this time, but somehow I have to fit in the washing, shopping and cleaning - things I could do when I was looking after Toddler at the same time, but which I can't do when I am writing. So the house is a tip, and I have a constant sense of guilt. I am not much more relaxed despite the fact that it is nice not having to pander to Toddler every second.

He is still the cutest little thing imaginable - but is getting increasingly demanding. He is only at school from nine to twelve, and in the afternoons I concentrate on him 100 per cent - we have more quality time than we used to. We have lovely afternoons together. And although he usually still cries when I leave him at play school, he stops really soon after I have gone, and some days he doesn't cry at all. He is having fun there, and it was definitely the right decision to send him.

At the weekends though, or when the others get home from school after three pm, he insists on receipt of maximum attention. He can't stand it if Hubby or I are looking after one of the others instead, like when I was reading with his big brother this morning. He gets really annoying, and will engage in all sorts of bad behaviour just to try to get the attention back. I know he will grow out of it, but I wish he didn't have to put us all through this.

C'est la vie. As far as my mental health goes, things are ticking over. I try not to get too tired, because that is when I get moody. I usually do get tired though, however hard I try not to.

I haven't been out much socially, but that's fine - I have decided that there is no harm in avoiding things I find difficult, as long as I can do them when I have to. And at the school gate, things are quiet. I don't make a huge effort to talk to the other Mums and I don't feel bad that I am not in the centre of things - I am not trying to put myself there.

I try to stick to the company of people I find easy to be with, and it helps that I now have a higher purpose, a need to get home and write rather than just spend the day trying to be the best mother that I could manage to be (a nebulous aim, at it's best. Ultimately pointless, maybe - perhaps the kids will just turn out fine as long as they are loved, perhaps they will turn bad in some way and I will be powerless to change that. I can't bear to think that will be the case though).

I try not to worry so much about stuff, because I know the kids will pick up on it and this will make them anxious. Although they are lucky that there are four of them - they have the protection and support of their siblings. This morning when Toddler was annoying me I told him off (I hardly ever tell him off) and immediately his big sister was on the case, comforting him, sitting him on her lap to watch TV, then taking him off to play with his toys. So he got the attention he craved and I was free to read with my elder son for a few minutes - although he wasn't bothered, and just couldn't wait to get away and play Super Mario or Sonic Heroes or some such.

Enough for now. X X

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Freedom at last!

Hello readers

I wonder, have my recent posts been too long? I.e. does anyone actually have the time or energy to read them? Any feedback on this would be appreciated, although I have a feeling I know the answer...

Kids are back at school, and Toddler has started play school. So, for the first time in many many years I have some leisure hours. It feels amazing, as though there might actually be a me in here somewhere, instead of just a Mummy. I mean, Mummy is great, the best ever title as far as I am concerned, but the chance of some respite from it all is a relief, to say the least.

I am using the time to write - I have to, otherwise I could not cope with the ordeal of having a wailing and weeping Toddler prised away from me each morning. At least by coming home to work I can tell myself that it is for the Greater Good, and so ward off the gnawing guilt. Of course, he is fine once I have gone - in fact this afternoon he had a paddy because he said he wanted to go to play school, and I told him it was closed.

I just hope my stress levels continue to go down. Things got a bit hairy for a while during the hols. x x

Friday, 27 August 2010

A Visit to the Doctor

Oh, Gawd. I have had a grim few days - not sleeping much, mainly because I have been squabbling with hubby. Who of course is a paragon of all the virtues, but also a man, with all the opposing characteristics (to women) that being a man entails. In other words, he can be annoying, and this week because I was shattered because we had been stuck in the house a lot because of all the rain, and this meant I did a lot more cleaning and washing and sorting out cupboards and stuff than usual, and also on Sunday I cancelled my newspaper subscription of two years, which meant that my hour a day of reading the paper (sometimes in five minute slots) finished, so the housework became more constant, I argued with him. This was bad. Mainly because it upset the kids, particularly our eldest, who has read too many Jacqueline Wilson books and therefore thinks that every family is a broken family, or one waiting to become so.

So the perfect holidays became the awfullest holidays. Then this morning I suddenly realised it is pointless arguing with hubby, because I love him and because without him I would be nothing and nowhere. So I called him at work and told him this, and luckily he understood.

Now the sun is shining, literally and metaphorically and things are looking up.

Except for the visit to the doctor.

My elder son went out with two schoolfriends and one of their Mums today. She texted me to say he was not very bright, then texted again to say she was bringing him home - he hadn't eaten his lunch, didn't want to play with the others and was really tired. When he got back he didn't have a temperature, but he had been weeing a lot this morning and she said he was weeing a lot during the day, and this worried me - I thought he might have an infection.

So I got an emergency appointment with the GP. Now, I am pretty sensitive in the GP's waiting room. A couple of years ago I went through several years where I was constantly at the GP with one or other of the children, usually with chest infections. And I also had a lot of chest infections myself, as well as pneumonia one time and rheumatic fever another. So I needed a lot of antibiotics.

I always disliked going to the surgery. I felt like a malingerer, although I clearly wasn't, because each time I came out I had a presciption, often for very strong medicines. But the whole thing wore me down. And the waiting times in the surgery got longer and longer. At first they operated a system where poorly children got precedence, but then this stopped. And I used to have all the kids with me when I went, because they are always with me, and it was really hard looking after them in the surgery. Then sometimes other people would be coughing and I would be sure we were going to catch something even worse than we already had - and we usually did. So I built up a bit of a phobia about the waiting room, but I still had to spend a lot of time in there. I would try to do without antibiotics, but the kids, or myself, just got more poorly. So I would end up in there again, often for an hour or more.

Anyway, one morning I was waiting for more than two hours. I went to the desk at roughly half hourly intervals, to ask how the queue was going. I was assured that I would be seen in turn, but I noticed many people going in who had arrived at the surgery after me. In the end after two hours I was told that I hadn't been booked in. I was feeling really ill, hacking and coughing, I was tired and hungry and aggravated, and I burst into tears. I left the surgery, got into my car and drove home. One of the receptionists followed me into the car park and told me to come back, that she would get the doctor to see me next, but I was too far gone.

So I went home. Remember, my experience of the medical profession over the years has not been a good one. Of course, once I was home, the surgery called and apologised. I calmed down, went back and they booked me in properly and I was seen imediately and got the medicine I needed.

But the memory still haunts me. I never go there expecting good service from the receptionists. I will never forget constantly going up to query why I was waiting so long, and being fobbed off time after time. For two hours. I was convinced they were laughing at me.

Luckily, these days I don't have to go to the doctor much. I take probiotics and I don't get chest infections like I used to, and the kids are growing and getting stronger. When I do need to go I ask to see the nurse, who is lovely and who sees patients promtly, and who can now prescribe.

And also sometimes the system works better now - the GP I blogged about the other day (when I went with a painful toe!) didn't keep me waiting long at all and I ended up feeling sorry for him and the pressure he was under.

Anyway, I still haven't said what happened today. I was waiting for the 'open surgery' (which works on a first come, first served basis). I got there on time, and there were only two other patients before me. I was relieved. But then I saw other people arriving, the two originals having been and gone by now, and some of the new arrivals going in to see the doctor. I had still only been waiting about twenty minutes, and a friend of mine arrived and came over and we were chatting, so I wasn't too bothered. My son had perked up and started playing with his brother. I assumed some of the other patients were seeing other doctors. I waited.

But then my friend got called in, saying in a puzzled way that it couldn't be right, because she had been waiting for the same doctor, and she had only just arrived - but she still went in. My blood started to boil. I was calm though - I went to the desk and asked what was happening. They said the person who had gone in first must have arrived before me. I said she hadn't she was my friend and we had been talking. The receptionist was shouting at me, which made me feel awful - I had been complaining quietly and politely, but she made it look as though I was hassling her.

Then the other receptionist started shouting at me, saying that everyone was seen in order, according to when they phoned up. I queried this, saying surely it was in the order in which they came into the surgery. So she said I should take it up with the doctor. So I said how could I take it up with the doctor, if they were going to leave me sitting there all afternoon while everybody else went in first. I said I might as well just go home. Then they said I would be the next to be seen.

I did take it up with the doctor, when I went in, and he said they had told him about it. I didn't like that, because I didn't know what they had said about me, and I was sure they were making out I had been rude or unruly. He apologised anyway, said it was his fault, he had put me down last when I should have been on his list earlier. And I felt sorry for him - I said I wouldn't have complained if I knew it was his error, but I didn't like the attitude of the receptionists. He is a lovely man - he has had cancer recently and recovered. I remember how kind he was when my youngest was born. He did the eight week check and kept going on about what a great baby this was. He was really effusive about him - made me feel so proud. And - sorry to boast - but he was right, my youngest, Toddler as he is known here, really has turned out to be an Ace child. Practically perfect in every way, as Mary Poppins would have said.

The doctor thorougly checked my older son, everything was ok except that he had a really high temperature (which made me feel bad as I hadn't realised, his temp had been fine when I had checked), and I was home within the hour. So it wasn't my worst ever visit to the GP, or longest time spent in the waiting room, not by a long chalk.

But I did find the experience scary. The way the receptionists escalated things, making out that I was a troublemaker, brought back memories of being in hospital. Sometimes I felt as though I was being manipulated, and I saw this happen with other patients too. You would be calm, or not far off, then get agitated about something, and then instead of trying to help you regain your composure, the medical staff would escalate things, and before you knew where you were you were being forcibly injected with tranquilisers by a team of six nurses. I saw this happen to one girl, she was young and in no way a threat to anyone, and she was just tearful about something, and then suddenly she was being dragged away screaming. It was just horrible.

I have never been violent or had any inclinations that way, and most of the people in there were the same. But the treatment was often unecessarily brutal, and many of the nurses were far from compassionate.

When I was in the mother and baby unit, after my eldest was born, I had an awful time. I tried hard to be as compliant as I could. I lived in constant fear that my baby would be taken and that I would never get her back. Then one day I had an argument with a nurse - she was a nasty one, she would follow you up the corridor brandishing her plastic gloves, asking if you wanted an internal, because that was her idea of a joke.

I say I had an argument. Actually I was just very rude to her. And it was my fault, although it was totally out of character for me. I can't remember why I did it, I called her a fat cow as I walked past her up the ward. It seemed fair comment to me, but she was furious. 'That's it!' she shouted up the corridor after me. 'You're out of here!'

Well, I know what I did was wrong. I promise, I have never been rude to anyone beofre or since, not like that. In mitigiation, I was mad at the time, and I am sure that a nurse in a mental hospital should make some allowance for that condition.

But I am sure she was responsible for what happened that night, although she was nowhere to be seen. It was the middle of the night, I had got up to feed the baby, and was trying to settle her down. Suddenly a strange nurse appeared, who I had never seen, asking me to hand over the baby. I asked why. She just kept saying, 'Give her to me'. Then I was suddenly surrounded by a group of 'professionals', we were in a situation, and I was baffled as to how it had arisen.

The next day, baby was given into the care of her father, and I was sent to a different ward alone. Thank God, after a few weeks we were re-united in the baby unit. But, God, I could have lost my baby.

Now, some people may be reading this wondering if mine is the true version of events. I would probably wonder that too, if I was you. But it is the truth. I have always been truthful. And yet - how could I prove, how could I explain? It is hard enough in writing, and I have always been much more eloquent in writing than in person. Yet I am aware that to a cynic, or a mental health professional, I might be seen as having a persecution complex, or as a liar, or an abusive difficult patient, or a thousand other variations on the reality. I know that what was written in medical notes was sometimes far from the truth.

So when you are ill in hospital, under section, you are powerless, in every way. But even when you are sane - like today in the doctors - anyone who has ever had mental health issues is vulnerable, to other people's expectations and opinions, and to their own. I could have been labelled as an aggressive patient today.

Anyway, enough for today. Hubby is trying to get the kids to bed, and he needs some help. x x

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Holidays are Great

I looked at my blog today, as I often do, to see if anyone had commented on anything (sad, I know and not the sort of thing you are supposed to admit to, but I'm sure everyone does it) and I realised it had been a week since I last blogged. I mean, usually I would think, gosh it has been ages, but this time it feels like ages and it has only been a week.

Odd, how our perceptions of time shift according to what we are engaged in. I usually find that if I am busy, time flies. In fact, it seems to fly by most of the time these days. But sometimes something catches me by surprise, and my perception of the time since I last blogged was way way out. Oh well. Probably I was half asleep when I wrote the last entry, then forgot I had done it.

Anyway, the school hols are now more than half done, which is sad, because I love them. Toddler so appreciates having his brother and sisters around all the time. Although he is still hard work, I can fob him off on them occasionally, and when it works, and they all play nicely together, it is lovely. He has been pairing up with his brother recently. At three years younger he is been beneath his brother's notice for a long time, but now Toddler's getting older they are beginning to realise they like doing stuff together. Annoyingly, it is really loud and silly stuff, but it's so good to see them both having so much fun that I don't mind. It drives their sisters crazy though - today, for example, when the boys were wrapping themselves up in my exercise mat together and jumping off the sofa the girls were so worried that they would get hurt that they kept yelling and yelling at them to stop. Which made it even more exciting and fun for the boys. Obviously.

This morning I felt really peaceful and relaxed, which was weird, because I was in the middle of one of those children's adventure places which I usually find really stressful. I felt so placid, as though I was just sailing through life. It was wonderful. It lasted all through the afternoon, until it was time to cook the dinner and make phone calls and loads of other jobs that suddenly needed doing all at once. Then it gradually dissipated. But it was such a great feeling of well-being - I so wish I could be like that all the time. So I am chasing that sense of calm now, trying to work out where it came from and how to maintain it.

I have pinned it down to the completion of a poetry book, or pamphlet really, the accumulation of ten years of writing poetry. I have probably written about a hundred poems in that time, but decided only to print sixteen of them, because the others are nowhere near good enough for publication. I am not even sure if the sixteen I have chosen are good enough, but I am hoping for the best. I am going to self-publish. The pamphlet has been formatted. Last night I sent off an enquiry (well, hubby did on my behalf) to some printers about specificatons, prices and so on. I have the application forms for the ISBN numbers.

So I am nearly there. And it feels like quite a significant step, because even though the poems were written over years and years, and there aren't many of them to show for all those years of work, it is still something. And more importantly, it leaves the way clear to continue - I have accomplished that, so on to the next piece of writing, whether it is another volume of poetry or a book of short stories, or essays or whatever.

I guess that is why I felt on top of the world this morning. So, the next step is the memoir. Again, most of the work is done already - I just have to change the background of the book, to make myself unidentifiable, because I have worked out that the only way I can do this is anonymously. I will have the ISBNs and the printer set up for the poetry book within the next couple of weeks, so I should be ready to publish the memoir quite soon after that.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Humming Holidays

It's beginning to be a struggle to think up titles for these blogs. Can anyone tell?

Anway, the school holidays have been good so far. It hasn't been as difficult as usual to find a balance between not doing enough and doing too much - thanks to Miss Puppy Dog. I don't like to leave her for more than three hours, so the days have naturally become more measured. So, for example, this morning we went for a long walk, then this afternoon I felt quite justified in taking the kids swimming and leaving her at home alone.

I still leave her in her crate when we go out - she has plenty of space in there, and is safe and happy. She is probably more comfortable than any of us - I bought her a special mattress which was supposed to be for dogs recovering from operations - made from foam that adjusts to the pressure of the dog or something - it was just so soft that I couldn't resist it. I was telling my friend, who has a dog, about the mattress and she said I should just get a cheap one next time. 'Why would I need another?' I wondered. She found this hugely amusing - apparently dogs constantly need new mattresses, furry bed things and so on. Well, who would have guessed?

Took the puppy to training class tonight for the first time, and I was very proud of her. She did most of what was expected - she is much better behaved when she is out than she is at home. I mostly wanted to learn how to stop her pulling on the lead, and I made some headway, so I am pleased with that. The key was to give her lots of treats - she is very food orientated and would do anything for a titbit. So I will remember that at home, and practice lots.

I have been feeling a lot better in myself - more relaxed. I knew I would, without the pressure of the school run and trying to keep up with all the other mothers. But also I am feeling more confident. I had a kind of epiphany the other day (I have no idea if that is the correct term as I have no dictionary to hand). I have always carried around such a burden of worry, and kind of guilt and shame, all rooted in my awful childhood. And although I have known for a long time that it was irrational I could never shift it, or not for long.

But having had a family of my own for more than ten years now, I have been healing gradually. It feels so good to love and to be loved. I am still insecure - but I have so many reasons not to be now. For example, I asked my eldest the other day whether she loved me - I know it is not a 'Proper' parenting sort of question and I can't remember what was in my head at the time, but her answer was so perfect I will never need to ask her or anybody else again. 'Of course, Mummy,' she said. 'Who couldn't?'

Anyway, about a week ago I felt my 'burden' lifting - this was the epiphany I just wrote about. There was not exactly a moment when it happened, just a realisation that I have no need for guilt or shame - these are just a hangover from childhood and can therefore be dismissed now. I think this it is linked to my new family too - as the mother of a ten year old I can see that anything she does or feels or thinks is innocent, and that she could never do anything that I could not forgive. If something went wrong in her life I would never blame her, I would just try to make it better.

So, my ten year old self is just the same, or was - I was a child too. It is difficult to explain myself here - I am not talking about any specific event that happened when I was ten - but what I think I mean is that my own 'inner child' which was never nurtured, grew up damaged. Which affected my whole life beyond belief. And now it is finally healing, through my own children and the love I feel for them, which I have extrapolated to apply to me as I was when I was young. I mean, if I had been loved, I would have been whole, and it is not too late for that to happen now.

Recently I have begun to forgive myself for having been mentally ill too. Yes, I made mistakes, I smoked cannabis, I was flighty and couldn't settle - but I could have done a lot of worse things. Really, I did amazingly well just to survive all that happened to me. The illness was just my mind's way of reacting to some really bad circumstances - things I couldn't cope with, that nobody could have coped with, that my mind therefore just took flight from.

As an adult I have often felt inferior because I have been mentally ill in the past, but now I feel differently. Again, I wouldn't judge anybody else because they had been in a mental hospital. I might be interested in their experience, but I wouldn't condemn them for it. So I am not going to condemn myself - what happened has gone, I am now in a good place, and it is time to feel proud of myself for surviving and to move on.

By the by - I went to visit the GP the other day for a very unglamourous condition - corns, if you must know. I went into his office and the poor man looked really weary. It was about half five, so I suppose he had nearly finished for the day, and he seemed as though he had really had enough and was absolutely worn out. I felt sorry for him. And I thought - actually, has he got a better life than me?

I have always envied GPs - to be together enough to do a job like that has always seemed to me to be an amazing feat. I mostly envy their confidence and the respect that their position commands. But actually, I have a lot more freedom, day to day (thanks to my lovely husband). That GP looked as though he had been pulled through the mill. The poor man has another twenty years or so to work (maybe less, I have no idea how old he actually is). My heart really went out to him and I had a revelation - I realised that I don't envy all that responsibility any more, even if it does come with a lot of respect from others. It is certainly not the career for me, and although I have often jokingly (but with a more than a germ of truth) said that I would like all my children to be doctors when they grow up, suddenly I am not so sure.

I am going to respect myself for what I do from now on, and hope that what I do (write) continues to improve and grow. I was going to write 'exponentially' after 'grow' then, but I would have to find a dictionary to look that one up, and it is really too late now. Anyway, even if it were to prove to be the correct term it sounds a bit pretentious.

Ciao for now. I hope you are all thriving and enjoying life as I am just now. X.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Happier now

Hi. I have been meaning to blog all week, but time got the better of me - hubby has been off work, which has been a good start to the school holidays. We have been busy - I wanted to make the most of him being around, so I was determined not to spend too much time at home.

We spent a night camping - that was an eye-opener. I have always been very anti-camping, but we went to visit some friends who had been staying at a site for a couple of weeks, and who were loving it. The location was stunning and the kids and husband were so keen to give it a go that I caved in.

It wasn't as bad as I expected. It was undoubtedly good for the children - all the fresh air and traipsing up and down the hill to the toilet. But after a night of very little sleep - what rest there was punctuated by the very unpleasant man in a nearby tent who haranged his teenage daugter, going on and on at her relentlessly, swearing very imaginatively until eventually he reduced her to tears and then he stopped the bullying - I had gone off the idyll somewhat. My children did not know how to swear before - they do now. Thank you, Mr Nasty.

The eight year old came into our tent (another drawback, we only had two small tents so the girls stayed in one and the rest of us in another) and asked if I could stop the man from shouting. I was fuming, but I was too afraid of the potential consequences to ask him to shut up. Hubby is too laid back to want to get involved. One positive thing though, was that younger daughter then decided to stay in our tent, so hubby went into the other tent with our elder daughter, and I felt much safer then - I didn't like the idea of the girls sleeping separately.

We have since had an offer of a loan of a family sized tent, but I am not in a hurry to repeat the experience - maybe next year. It was murder getting Toddler to sleep - he doesn't stop talking, which is great most of the time, but when you are shattered and he is counting incessantly to twenty, saying 'Look, Teddy can climb the tent pole!' and other variations on the toddler theme, it becomes wearisome. I had to laugh eventually though - I was lying down next to him, trying to get him to settle, and he picked up chunks of my hair in his baby fists. 'I like your hair' he said. Then he covered my eyes with it. 'Now you hiding. One, two, three...coming, ready or not...Found you!'

Anyway, we have had a great week. Been to Legoland today. Our Merlin passes have now expired, and I shall not mourn them. I think Legoland et al are much better kept as a special day out, maybe once every year. I should know; we have been there about ten times in the last year, and to Chessingtons, Thorpe Park, and various Sea Life centres. I might consider it again in a few years time, but it has been exhausting. We only managed a few rides today, as the queues were so long. And toddler can't do the same rides as the others, so we had to split up most of the time we were there. We left early, and overcompensated by buying the kids expensive toys in the gift shop - at least now they will remember the last day of their Merlin passes.

I asked my nephew to look after the puppy for the day, which he did happily, and it was fantastic not having to return to the house after a couple of hours out. She is quite a tie, which of course we knew before we got her, but it is one thing to know something and another to experience it.

I was finding it hard going earlier in the week - the biting has not eased off and she has ruined a lot of our furniture. We took her with us on several days out during the week, and when we were camping, and at times she was starting to feel like a burden, although I felt awful thinking that.

But I have taken positive action - re-reading my puppy book, stocking up on chews for her, training her to fetch and to play constructively, and it is feeling like fun again. I know she will be fine in a few months anyway, it is just those sharp puppy teeth which make her need to chew, and once those fall out she will be fine - meanwhile, I will redouble my efforts to train her. She is really very sweet.

The best thing that has happened this week is an unexpected improvement in family relations - the wider family, I mean. The sister that I once felt closest to, but who I have grown very distant from in recent years, suddenly started being nice - I mean, really nice, like listening to me talk and looking interested. This is quite a departure, and I am mystified by it - but very pleased. I think I used to see her as a sort of mother figure - not consciously, but because she is several years older than me and she used to look out for me when I was young I think that must be why I became so attached to her.

So when I realised that she actually did not have much time for me any more - and I was very obtuse about this, it was so blatant but it took me an incredibly long time to take it on board - I found it really hard to deal with. And over the years, however hard I have tried to rationalise it, I still couldn't cope with the loss of love. Like an abandoned child, although I am actually quite old now! Anyway, she was very pleasant to me yesterday, for the first time in ages, and although I suppose I should have more self-respect and not care, I do and it would be pointless to pretend otherwise.

Who knows what will happen from here? Probably nothing. But maybe one day we will be friends again, maybe even have a family Christmas. Hopefully while my Mum is still around to benefit from it.

It is really important to me that my sons and daughters should be friends with one another, now and in the future, doubtless because of my own fragmented family. I am very strict with them on that - if they fall out I usually lecture them on the subject. Today was perfect in that respect - the girls were really good buddies, in fits of giggles for most of the day, which was lovely. Long may it last.

Hubby and I have been getting on famously too, which is lovely. So life is good at the mo - except for the in-laws, who I am annoyed with. It is a long and unnecessary tale, but basically I find it hard to cope with my Dad-in-law, who is a head case. But then, who am I to talk?

Thursday, 22 July 2010

School's (nearly) out

Only one more day to the end of term - hurrah! I am so much better in the holidays, because a major source of my anxiety evaporates - in term time the other Mums and their perceptions of me weigh on me heavily. I assume that they don't know about my mental health problems, but I still worry that I am visibly odd or different from the majority of the other mothers. Other people seem to find it easier to bond than I do, especially in groups. Groups of people intimidate me intensely - I have lots of friends but I prefer to see them separately.

I guess this must go back to my childhood - lots of stuff does. I know that the night before my eldest child started school, when I was sewing nametapes into her uniform, I felt the strangest nervous fluttering in my stomach, a feeling that we used to call 'butterflies'. It took me a few minutes to realise that I was having a physical flashback sensation, to the way I used to feel as a child before going back to school for the new term.

The disappointing thing about becoming an adult is that internally you never really grow up - although maybe this only applies to those with trauma in their childhoods, like me. So standing in the playground waiting for my child to come out at the end of her first day, I felt the same things that I did twenty-five years before - Who should I speak to? Will anybody like me?

As the term went on I realised that there was a definite element of competitiveness in the playground - who spoke to who, who wore what, all sorts of undercurrents were apparent. Admittedly, I am one for reading things into situations - it irritates the hell out of my husband, who can never understand what I am winding myself up about, but this was not my imagination.

Before long I ended up seeing a counsellor at the surgery - I felt so ridiculous having issues about school when my four year old was sailing through the experience, and she was the one in the classroom. What the counsellor said surprised me - she claimed to have hordes of female clients with the same issues as me about the playground situation.

I believe her, although I still find it hard to switch off from it all. It is like a tribal cliquey thing - women can be quite hard towards each other, sometimes quite inexplicably. I suppose it is a sort of competitiveness, a Darwin thing. It is a shame though that we can't be more supportive, especially if so many of us do have the same sorts of worries and troubles.

I have a lot of children home to play - I live close to the school and my kids are very sociable, which I encourage. I am grateful that none of them is growing up shy or standoffish. But this means that I have to make an effort to socialise with the other Mums and I do find it hard - I am always trying to fit in, and sometimes I know I try too hard.

This afternoon was a case in point - I was trying to join in a conversation between two other Mums, just to be friendly, but I was slightly off the subject, and I turned suddenly to see the two of them smiling to each other as I was speaking, and I am sure that they were laughing at me. I do have an almost uncanny sixth sense about stuff like this - I am not paranoid, honest - but I could really do without it. I am unduly sensitive - too eager to want others to like me, so I yabber away unecessarily and end up alienating them, then I realise what I have done and feel awful about myself.

It is a repeating pattern. I am regularly invited to the Mums' evenings out in my eldest daughter's year group because one of my close friends is the one who always organises these evenings. I want to go, because I want to be friends with these people, and also to show a good example to my children, because it is a positive thing to socialise. But I dread the occasions, and usually my nerves mean that I end up talking and behaving like a bit of an idiot. And I also get the strong impression that there are a few Mums who would prefer me not to go - I do unnerve people a bit, partly because I talk too much when I am nervous, partly because I tend to scrutinise people. This sounds weird I know, but it is not exactly intentional - I am just so interested in people and in what makes them tick that I do stare a bit, and some people are very conscious of this. Then I get conscious that I am staring and it all becomes even weirder.

Anyway, most of my life is normal and I have hopes that most people I meet think I am just like everybody else. And I know a lot of other people do have anxieties similar to mine. But this blog exists because I am not like everybody else at the end of the day - I do have various unsettling symptoms. But what I battle with mostly is my diagnosis - which I tool on board years ago, and which means that despite my lovely husband telling me that I am just like everybody else, but better (he really does love me) I still have skewed perceptions of myself which make me overly analytic of a lot of average everyday stuff.

Partly I don't have enough of substance happening in my life. When I am writing regularly I am sure I will be happier - all this over-thinking can go down on the page and be healthily expunged. I have been thinking about putting Toddler into nursery in September instead of waiting until January, so that I can move forward with that. Anyway, for now I can blog, which can be done in short bursts, and will hopefully keep me sane in the short term. x .

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Free Time at Last

Yes, I have a morning off. I dropped Toddler off with his grandparents. We now seem to have a loose arrangement that they will look after him for one morning a week during term time. I still have to call them to arrange it each time, but I have got an acknowledgement out of them that they do like to have him, so that makes it easier for me to ask.

Today I dropped him off straight after I took the others to school, to make the most of my free time. But I spent half an hour of it stuck in traffic, another half an hour having a cup of tea and something to eat (because although I have been up since six thirty I still hadn't eaten by ten o'clock), then the last fifteen minutes getting my laptop up and running. It's four years old now and really slow, and also is starting to mess up a bit.

But I don't feel justified in buying a new one - my other half is pretty grumpy already about me wanting a new camera, as he wants to patch up my old one instead. I just prefer sometimes to buy something new, especially when it is even cheaper than usual in the sales, because technology moves on so fast. In the old days it would have been better to buy quality and keep it going but now older stuff is just not quality. New things are literally better - sad but true. But a laptop is a big purchase, and now is not the time. I don't need one that badly.

Anyway, now I have an hour to get on with something. But I have unexpected visitors for tea this afternoon, so I have to hit the shops soon, with an organised list of what I need. I seem to be on catering duty at the moment - we had guests last weekend, and will have for the next three afternoons and both days this weekend. Still, by the end of that I should have developed into the perfect hostess.

I find if you throw money at the entertaining problem, it is easily solved. Not huge amounts of money, obviously, but if have an idea of what you are going to cook and then go to the shop and buy fresh stuff it is a lot better than trying to conjure up something out of what you have in the fridge and cupboards. So I will go to Co-op with my list in a mo.

I am so glad that I no longer smoke (gave up about fifteen years ago) and that I don't drink much either (I have a glass of something about every six months so I am not quite a teetotaller). We couldn't afford to look after the family properly if we had any vices - but with our sober (some would say boring) lifestyle we can stretch my husband's salary so that everyone has everything they require and most of what they desire.

Puppy is calming down now, although she is still a bit nippy and excitable in the mornings. The children are getting fonder of her, especially Toddler. He likes to be the one to let her out of her crate when we get back from the school run - problem yesterday was that he let her out while I had the front door open and was putting the pushchair into the side entrance, so she ran out into the road. Luckily disaster was averted as I made a successful grab for her while she was running into the road. He has been telling everyone we see solemnly all about it, 'Dod nearny killed. Car come bash her!' There was no car in sight, but I take it as a sign of a vivid imagination.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Where do all the days go?

Time is flying by at the moment. We are getting towards the end of the school term, thank goodness, but before we get there we have to jump through the hoops - Summer Fayres, Sports Days, special assembly-type occasions, commemorative barbeques... Ballet exams, shows, workshops...and so on and so forth. It feels like an endurance test.

The holidays are easier in a way, because the children have each other for company. During the week at the moment I am alone with the toddler, but still far too busy. I am sure I need to learn how to manage my time better and to relax more. But the only way to do this would be to drop some of the stuff that I do - which means the laundry would remain unwashed, and the house would be filthy, or the toddler would be parked in front of the TV more often than is good for him.

Anyway, in just six months time (but that is still half a year away), he will be at nursery and I will have some free time at last. Which is when I hope my writing career will take off. So much of my self-esteem is tied up in my ability to write, I really feel as though I need to prove myself there. I know this blog is a step in the right direction, but I have a whole load more that I want to achieve. I hope the memoir really will get published one day soon, but since I last wrote about that on here I have taken no further steps towards it.

When I read back this blog and notice typos and bits of clumsiness in the text I get desperate to go back and correct it. A bit obsessive, I know, but it is important to be happy with what you publish - so once my memoir is out there I want it to be in the right form, and as good as it can get. I am still dithering at the moment about how much of my real persona I want to expose - and still coming firmly down on the side of not much at all.

I have been a bit more relaxed recently. I think this may be to do with getting older - it brings a certain amount of self-assurance and ease. My sister visited yesterday, but was off again in less than an hour, declaring herself bored. When I was younger I would have found this hurtful - one of the worst insults in my book was to be called boring, and to avoid this label I indulged in all sorts of damaging behaviour. But yesterday I was unmoved - I do not exist for anyone's entertainment, I thought to myself and in my opinion my kids are the most interesting and captivating little people ever - so if she is bored it must be that there is a problem with her attention span.

I have been observing my family recently, and it seems to me that we all have a need for an audience, and that we are only really contented if we are being avidly listened to while we talk about ourselves at length. Maybe this applies to everyone, not just my family. But it is amazing how many people are really quite unaware of how self centred they are.

I read something today in the paper about shyness - how it is just an excuse for being self-centred, and I agree with the argument. Although of course when you are in the grips of extreme shyness it is terrifying and the last thing you are thinking is, 'It's all about me'. It is much more unconscious than that. Shyness is a very common and natural human trait, so I suppose self-obsession comes with the territory too. But recently I have been thinking - actually we have a duty to try to be entertaining - doesn't everybody like to spend time with those who interest and engage them, and shouldn't we all try our best to be that sort of person? So I am going to try to put myself in the spotlight from now on; because in the words of Nelson Mandela 'We are all meant to shine, as children do'.

Does this read as lucid, or as totally contradictory? I know what I mean anyway - I want to be free from anxiety, nerves and shyness, while not being completely full of myself. Free to converse. I think this is what is important about having a career - a longing I was trying to express to a group of friends the other day, all of whom were envious of the fact that I don't work and can concentrate on the kids. I feel that I am missing something which they gain from being out of the home at least some of the time - a sense of persective maybe, and a sense of self.

Because if you have a role in the workplace you have a need to communicate and a need to do this in the best way possible. Whereas I have no real need to speak to anyone except my children, so when I do talk to people it is a kind of indulgence and I am often thrashing about trying to find stuff to say. Then I question as to whether it needed to be said at all. I find it especially hard to make conversation in the mornings at school - all the 'Have you had a nice weekend?' and so on feels kind of superfluous. I get stuck for subject matter and fall back on what time the kids woke me up and guff like that.

Life. What's it all about, Alfie? I dunno, but trying to work it out never fails to make me feel better. Bye for now. x.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

What next?

I have found myself dithering over this blog again. I tried to write an entry the other day, but it sounded so banal that I stopped. Puppy news is all very well, but it's not going to help anyone in the throes of mental illness, or in the process of recuperation. I want this blog to mean something, and when I don't get any feedback I get disheartened.

Of course, I could easily widen my audience, by going public and sending all my friends and acquaintances links to this blog by email, but I am not prepared to go that far. My privacy, or the illusion of it, remains important to me.

I am thinking of digging up my memior though, and re-writing it. Getting it out there in all its awful detail, but changing any bits that might too obviously identify me. Although I accept that it wouldn't be too terrible if people did know who I am - I have no exalted position to fall from.

There is one particular member of my family who feels very strongly on the matter, but I think his issue is more with me spilling the beans on my father's business background than any gory details I might divulge on the subject of my personal history.

Anyway, this is about me - my story. My health. Because I am fast coming to the conclusion that to be really well I must stop hiding from my past. Unless I accept myself now as the product of my background and all that I have been through, instead of trying to pretend that I am now a completely new person, I will never be properly whole.

If anyone reads my book, I think I will feel freed in some way. If it helps anybody else in their quest, then I will feel it was worthwhile. I am not under the delusion that I have had the most terrible life ever recorded - other people have been sectioned, and a lot of them have never recovered to lead the kind of happy and fulfilled life that I now enjoy. But I do feel that some of my experiences will be useful to others - that the same reasons that led me to write this blog, in which a lot has been left unsaid, justify the publication of my memoir.

I intend to self-publish, probably on the net, and this may take some time as I do want to re-write and edit the story first. When it is done I will publish the link to the book here. And meanwhile, I intend to keep blogging, so please watch this space!

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Domesticity rules

The toddler is with his grandparents - I pinned them down to a morning of childcare. I find it hard to know whether they want to look after him or not - at times I get the impression that they love having him, but at other times I feel that they are making excuses why they can't. I don't ask them more than once a week, or once every couple of weeks. But it would help to know whether they really want to, because if they don't I will stop asking. I don't need them to look after him, although it is nice to have a break occasionally. I think that they do like to have him but don't want to feel obliged, and also that they quite like the power thing of saying no. But why does it have to be so complicated, and confusing? I suppose part of it is that I am over-sensitive - I must teach myself not to care so much, just accept the 'yes' or 'no' at face value.

Anyway, he will get his pre-school grant soon, then I will get some regular me-time. I have found a lovely nursery - the only problem being that the sessions are long - he would get funding for two days, instead of five mornings as he would at a pre-school. But that might be good - I could get a lot of writing done on those days, and then enjoy my time with him on the other days.

I was just playing with the puppy in the garden, and I trod on her foot, which made me feel awful. Not that she held it against me - animals are so wonderfully uncomplicated.

The pup is shaping up nicely, though I will be relieved when she gets older and easier. She chewed a piece of the decking in the garden yesterday. I thought my husband would be cross about that when he got home from work, but he was very philosophical. Today I found one of the kids' books in the garden, chewed - she pulls them off the bookshelves, which we have at child height. She also pinched a cuddly toy and was chewing that - but she was very taken aback when she set off the musical device inside it. Suddenly her 'victim' started singing to her 'Yes, my name is Iggle Piggle...' - she yelped and quickly took several steps backwards!

I have just had a Sainsbury's delivery - the delivery man was charm personified, as was the last one (this is only my second Sainsbury's order online). The Tesco's people are not nearly so pleasant - one of them was nearly apopolectic when I arrived slightly late home once and he was waiting for me. I apologised profusely, but he was having none of it - 'You just can't do that!' he kept blustering at me, 'You just can't do it!' I refrained from pointing out that I already had.

I hate confrontation, being a classic people pleaser, always trying to ingratiate myself. Yet another of my character flaws - I am well aware of them, and you would think that would help, but no, despite this self-awareness I am still in thrall to almost all of my bad habits.

Anyway, enough for now. x

Monday, 28 June 2010

Sun and so on

Hi all

Well, the toddler now has a rash - so that may have been the cause of his disgruntlement, although I still think it is more to do with the heat, and the new canine addition to the family. I have started putting him down for a daytime sleep again, which helps a lot. Today, though, he woke up after ten minutes, screaming in terror that there was a gruffalo in his room. So I let him stay up - it would have felt too mean to send him back to bed, because he was wide awake by then.

I have not been too well myself - I have been dizzy, and had odd aches in my left arm, as well as my usual IBS stomach pains. I am an experienced hypochondriac by now, and I know that the arm aches are just stress related, and best ignored, although I still sometimes vaguely wonder whether I am going to have a heart attack and drop dead. The dizzyness is getting worse though, and I think I probably have an ear infection, so I will head to the doctor soon, tomorrow if possible. I also have sore feet - long boring story, that one. Basically, I need to learn to sit still, instead of rushing around in the heat sorting out washing, cleaning and cooking all day. In view of the fact that my husband is at work I could really spend a lot of my day relaxing, if only I could let myself. I could condense all the housework into evening bursts. The way I operate though, is to do all my jobs in the daytime, then collapse exhausted in the evening and go to bed early. Silly.

The getting up early for the puppy dog has not lasted. Now I am back to my old ways of staying in bed until my husband brings me a cup of tea. This is because the pup now sleeps later than the children, and the children are in the habit of not bothering Mummy in the morning - they go straight to Daddy's side of the bed, he gets up, and often I don't even know anyone is awake until I get my cup of tea at seven o clock. Pity. I quite enjoyed being an early riser, for a week.

I had to take the puppy for her second jab today, and get her microchipped. Poor little thing didn't enjoy that one bit - but just one more week and we can start walking her - fab!

I see in today's Times that there are going to be more stringent rules applied to incapacity benefit. I have mixed feelings about that - on the one hand I am certain that I couldn't cope with a workplace, on the other hand I feel kind of cheated that the protection my benefit affords means I won't ever find out whether I could cope. Does that sound schizophrenic?

BTW, I hate when people use the schizophrenia word out of context - as I just did. In fact, I am starting to hate the word itself more and more. I may start campigning for use of the 'nervous debility' term instead. So much more ladylike. So much kinder and more forgiving.

Back to benefits - I really hope not to be on them for ever. I would like to earn my living as a writer, and gain some self-esteem along the way. I hide the fact that I collect benefit as I hide the fact that I have a diagnosis - with a sense of shame and inadequacy. But I am sure that the money has helped to keep me sane over the years - letting me relax about one element of life, the need to pay my own way, which I have found to be a great source of stress. Who doesn't? you might think. But as someone who has spent three months of her life in a mental hospital, on three separate occasions (i.e. nine months in total) I think I am living proof that I don't cope well with stress.

Anyway, I hope it all works out okay for any of you out there who find yourself in the same boat. Maybe you will be recast as working members of society, maybe you will carry on with the benefits. Whichever way it goes, remember you are still worthwhile, just finding your own path through life and perhaps taking a longer and more roundabout way than others to do so.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Taming the Toddler

My lovely little boy is becoming upset by all the fuss about the dog. I knew he would be bothered by the decrease in attention now that there is somebody other than him who needs me in the daytime, but at first the change was minor. He was a little unsettled, so I did my best to reassure him, and I thought things were going well.

Suddenly, though, things have taken a turn for the worse. For the last couple of days he has been incredibly bossy and blustering - shouting and crying and demanding things. I am finding it quite hard to manage, especially because he is usually so easy and so good.

Funnily, the puppy is calming down just as the baby is becoming difficult. But I know that things will soon sort themselves out. A lot of it is tiredness - the toddler is two and a half now, and he hates me putting him down for a daytime sleep, so I have been letting him stay up. Today, though, I put him to bed, and I know that he and I will both feel better for the rest. Then I just have to be calm, firm and consistent with him if he tries to test the boundaries again, and soon he will be back to his usual charming self. I hope.

On the other hand, he could be feeling a bit under the weather, or coming down with a bug perhaps. I know with my other children that sometimes when their behaviour was challenging it was because they weren't feeling well - and often it is only a couple of days later, when the chicken pox spots or whatever appear, that it makes sense. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, things have been busy. I like to take the toddler out while the others are at school, but now our outings are more hurried because I have to make sure we don't leave the puppy for more than a couple of hours. Which is fine, it is doing me good to be at home more, in that the house is more organised which makes me feel less stressed generally. And the puppy is such a pleasure - she is lying with her little furry head on my foot as I type now, and it feels so nice. I couldn't have trained her to do this, she just seems to want to do it naturally and it is a lovely aid to the writing process - I don't want to move from here now!

The older children have a lot going on - school trips, sports days, fund-raising events, ballet shows and exams, piano lessons. The list goes on. It is all stuff that benefits them, which makes me feel good about doing it, but I will be pleased when it is the end of term and we can all relax a bit.

Wonder what will happen with the footie this afternoon? It's not really my thing, and I won't be watching the game, or not much of it, but you can't help getting pulled along with the wild tide of public interest about some things. I do sort of want England to win - despite my disinterest in football usually - just because it would make such a lot of people I know so excited and pleased. I don't even know who we are playing this afternoon, but I expect the kids will watch it and I will maybe just keep half an eye on the TV. x

Saturday, 19 June 2010

More Doggy Business

We have had our puppy for almost a week now, and she really has revolutionised our lives. The biggest change is that I have been getting up early in the mornings to let her out. I can't bear the sound of her whimpering in her crate when she needs to go outside, or the thought of her soiling her crate and being upset. So I heave myself out of my bed and stagger, eyes almost shut, and let her outside. Now the thing about puppies is that you have to go out with them when you are housetraining them, otherwise they think they are being punished and they just want to come inside again, and then they do their business in the house instead. So then I find myself shivering outside in my pyjamas, summoning the enthusiasm to congratulate the dog when she wees, and by the time she obliges I am wide awake.

For the last six days, therefore, I have been up at a quarter to five (once), five thirty (once), six fifteen (once) and six thirty (three times). It hurts. I have never been an early riser. I find the process of waking up very difficult, and my husband has accommodated this over the years, looking after the kids when they get up early and bringing me a cup of tea every morning at about seven thirty, so that I can slowly acclimatise. Of course, this is not fair on him, but he does seem to need a lot less sleep than me - he still goes to bed quite late, whereas I am usually exhausted quite early in the evening. The arrangement does cause some contention - because although he gets up first he doesn't do the stuff like getting the kids dressed or breakfasted and making the sandwiches for school, so when I do drag myself out of bed I have a very stressful hour trying to do all that needs to be done.

Waking up early is a massive improvement then, in a lot of ways. It is hard to adjust to having a couple of hours less sleep every night - one night I went to bed at nine, but generally there is too much to do in the evenings to go to bed very early. But I have been intending to adapt my waking habits for years, and getting nowhere with it - suddenly I am forced to, and this is no bad thing.

I have been firmer with the dog today - she had started terrorising the children, biting their ankles and chasing them, and although I know she just wanted to play I realised that this wasn't fair on her or them. The toddler has been spending a lot of time on the sofa where she can't reach him. The dog needs to know her place, so I have been following the advice in my puppy book, not always giving her attention when she asks, putting her in her crate to calm down for a few minutes when she gets too excited and so on, and it is working well.

We found the time to go for a family swim last night, and had such a good time that we will go again tomorrow. Of course it is Father's Day, and I am determined to make a huge fuss of hubby. I have bought him a very nice watch, and the kids have got him some Maltesers. We have hired a Star Trek film for him to watch. The children are planning to make him a 'special breakfast' too. When they take it upon themselves to make a special breakfast it is usually fruit salad, and so I have told them as usual not to add cucumber and tomatoes, though as usual they probably will anyway. They don't seem able to distinguish between fruit and vegetables, and it makes for a strange assortment of flavours. Bless their cotton socks.


Friday, 18 June 2010

Condensed Words of Advice


I had a lovely response to my last post, which raised the question of what I do to stay well. I tried to reply as fully as possible - a lot of the information is available elsewhere in the blog, but I realise that it has become too long to read in full. So if anyone else wants a bit of capsule advice on how to ward off mental illness - nothing innovative or earth-shattering, but just what works for me, please read the comments attached to the last blog 'Doggy Days'.

Speaking of dogs, my puppy gets better every day. She is sleeping now, her tiny head on my feet as I write. I have only had her for five days, but already I don't know how I managed without her. She has really lifted my spirits.

However, getting a dog as therapy is obviously not a good idea. Taking someone else's for a walk might be a really good plan though - you not only get exercise, but people stop and talk so much more than usual. I will have to watch that my toddler's feelings don't get too badly injured - he is not used to playing secind fiddle.

Speaking of toddler, he has just awoken and is in need of a cuddle. More later.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Doggy Days

OOH, three followers! Though I prefer to think of you as readers - otherwise it makes me sound like the initiator of some horrible cult, or a meglamaniac. I haven't looked up the spellings of either of those words, which is a terrible thing to a perfectionist such as myself, but I am so tired I don't care - or not enough to do anything about it.

I am in a bit of a dilemma with this blog. Aagh, another possible spelling error. Where is Word when I need it? Anyway, I love the anonymity of blogging, but it makes it rather difficult to actually write anything - because anything I write could lead to a clue regarding WHO I MIGHT BE.

Belle de Jour must have felt like this. Although, strangely, she turned out to be completely gorgeous, sparklingly bright with a fantastic career, and quite blase about it all in the end. But then, she didn't have kids - and mine are getting to the age where they have the potential to become embarrassed of me for such heinous crimes as - talking to people in the supermarket! How would they deal with being known as the children of a schizophrenic? How would anybody?

Sathnam Sanghera (yes, sorry back to him again) obviously coped really well with the truth once he discovered that his father was a schizophrenic - but then his father was pretty ill when he was young, so he always knew that there was something wrong. Whereas I am, to all intents and purposes, normal - albeit with some quirks, but who doesn't have those? So the news of my mental illness - or history of mental illness - will come as a shock to my little darlings. I do intend to tell them though, one day, because I think they need to know that they themselves could be at risk through their genetic inheiritance.

Anyway, blah de blah de blagh. I do like blogging, because it does have the effect of at least making me try to be more interesting. But I am aware that I am sometimes repetitive. Most of my writing these days is in diary form - I spill my guts out onto my computer, and it is really dreary stuff. I don't even know why I do it, except that it does feel therapeutic - if anything is worrying me, it seems to help to write it down. But I am terrified that one day my boring angsty ramblings may be read by somebody - so I occasionally resolve to wipe my computer clean - then I don't because I don't have time and I don't know how (though I am sure my husband, or even my kids, could teach me how to delete files).

I will get around to it one day. Because even if I never get famous (and there is still a tiny deluded part of me that thinks I will one day be famous for my writing) then I don't even want my kids or my grandkids or my husband to read my self-obsessed, worried and tangled thoughts.

This blog is slightly different. I have a hope that it may help someone somewhere who is ill, or who has been ill, to realise that we are all basically the same. And I don't mean just the mentally ill, I mean everyone. We all have doubts, we all have fears. We can all let our minds get carried away. We are all susceptible to paranoia. We could all, given the right (wrong) circumstances, break down under the pressure.

And we all have the capability to heal. If our circumstances come good, if we stop feeling lonely and isloated, if we are easier on ourselves, if we can banish guilt and worry, we can all be well again. That is something I truly believe.

I have seen some evidence to the contrary. I have met people who I was in hospital with twenty years ago who are still suffering, who are still visibly and floridly ill. I know that some have passed away, in awful circumstances. But anyone who is still here can be well again. I know that for a fact, because nobody could have been lower than I once felt, nobody could have been more out of control. Yet now I lead a happy and fulfilled life, and I firmly believe that things will go on getting better.

Anyway. I don't know where all this rhetoric comes from. I am going to write a self-help book one day - I reckon it would almost write itself. I like reading them a lot - I guess it shows.

Where was I? Oh yes, the matter of what to divulge in this blog. I know that I don't write in it very often, but I am really interested in blogging, and think that online writing is something that I want to pursue. And these days, when I write my diary, it feels like wasted writing - I feel as though time is getting shorter and I should write for a reason, and get my stuff out there to be read.

What I have been wanting to say is - we got a puppy this week! Not earth-shattering stuff, but it feels kind of personal. I was silly enough to mention to my sister-in-law the other week that I was writing a blog. I do this sort of thing from time to time, boastng, trying to make it sound as though I have some kind of writing career because I want people to take me seriously, or want to make myself feel more important. It is a low self-esteem thing. So of course her interest was whetted, and she wanted to know where the blog was, and I said it was anonymous. Then she sort of went into bloodhound mode - what was it about?, was she in it? and so on. And she took it as a sort of challenge when I said she would never find it (because let's face it, there are thousands of blogs out there - millions - and how would anyone ever find mine?)

She seemed quite sure that she would though. And she does seem to have a kind of private detective mindset - she said she looked me up on Google once, and saw something I had written on the Times website. I was quite embarrassed about that, and I saw it as a pretty odd thing to do, looking up people you know on Google. And the worst thing about that is that I have started doing it now (occasionally, not habitually), and I can kind of see the attraction of being super nosey. Yikes!

I have a feeling she may uncover me - may even be one of my anonymous followers. Or is this paranoia?! Not that she would discover anything she didn't already know - she is well aware of my diagnosis, as my last breakdown, ten years ago, was after my first daughter was born, and it was all very public and very terrible.

Now, readers, you may wonder in that case how come I think I am keeping anything secret from anybody. And the chances are that I am not really. There are certainly a number of people locally who know all about how ill I have been in the past. But lots of my friends and contacts have only known me since my children were born, or since they started school, so I kind of feel that most of my private life is still private. I could be totally wrong though - I live in quite a small community.

My sister in law came round to visit the puppy today, with her son. SO now, if she is reading this, she knows who is writing it, and if she keeps reading it, she will know all my innermost thoughts. But then, it probably doesn't matter. The fact that I am writing it at all means that I am accepting the risk of more people finding out that I have a diagnosis of schizophrenia - and maybe they would not all think badly of me if they did know.

The reason I wanted to write about the puppy is that I became quite ill during the process of getting it. Firstly, the children and I had persuaded my husband - who has been insisting for the last ten years that he has a pet allergy and will not, ever, never have a pet - to get a puppy. That wasn't easy, and was a worry to me - I don't want to make him unhappy. Having managed to nag him into it, I then had to find a suitable dog. I settled for a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, because they are good family dogs, easy to train and undemanding by nature. I chose one puppy, then worried so much that I had made the wrong choice that I went all through the process again, and chose a different puppy (from another litter). Then I worried that I had let the children down by changing my mind. Then I worried that the puppy I had chosen was far too big to be a genuine example of the breed, that there must be something wrong with it. Then I switched my worries to - how on earth would I cope with a dog? and why did I ever think it was a good idea?

By the time we went to collect the dog I was almost beside myself. I felt there was no going back though, because the kids knew we were having a puppy, and so regardless of how I felt I had to go through the process.

Now the puppy is home, and she is absolutely delightful. She is eight weeks old, sleeps through the night, does her business in the garden. My husband, who decreed that she was not allowed on the bed, was found, to the children's great amusement, cuddling her in bed this morning. I found him again this evening sitting on the floor gazing at her as she slept on the sofa. When I came into the room he said, 'Isn't she beautiful?' and continued to gaze at her, besotted.

So now I can breathe a huge sigh of relief and calm down. I know it is not normal to have reacted the way I did about the whole thing - to decide to get a dog and then to worry myself to the point of illness about it.

But now everything is OK. So I can assume I was not mentally ill, I was just stressed. Admittedly, rather too stressed for the circumstances. I can relax about my mental health though, rationlise that lots of people worry excessively, and put the episode behind me.

I clearly remember all three of my breakdowns. After the first one I asked my psychiatrist how I would know when I was better. He said that I would be properly better when I had forgotten everything that had happened during my illness. But I haven't forgotten, and as I have got older I have learned that actually psychiatrists don't always know all the answers, not for everyone. We are all living our own lives, through our own experiences. Mine has been more difficult that most at times - my twenties were a nightmare. But I feel that I have more than my share of joy these days. I am truly happy, and I feel truly blessed in some sort of spititual way that is hard to express, but is to do with my family and my home, from the sense that I have survived adversity and am therefore ready now to really appreciate my luck.

Ta da. Enough drum beating for one evening. I have been up since five thirty this morning, and after a long day with the enchanting but exhausting puppy and the slightly jealous toddler ('Put her in her crate' is his constant refrain) I need an early night. X.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

And Nothing But the Truth


I noticed this evening that I now have two followers on this blog, so I thought I had better give them (you) something to read. I decided that it is time I was honest - not that I have been dishonest so far. But most of my postings have put my illness into the past tense - for good reason, because I would really like to put my history of mental illness firmly behind me.

But. However. Well... Sometimes I am just not sure about my current state of mind. I am rational, I function well on a daily basis. I look after a large family, and our home, and am lucky to have a number of friends. But I do feel at times that this is all a house of cards. I get stressed about a lot of stuff. I worry all the time. And this is not a particularly comfortable way to feel.

Part of the problem is that I have no way of telling how other people are coping with life, inside their heads, but because I was once so ill I assume that my way of thinking must be wrong. Another factor is that I have a bit of a guilt complex - so if anything goes wrong, for instance if I get cross with the kids, or with my husband, I give myself a really hard time about it later. Which is silly, because what is done is done.

And what is done is not that serious - I have a rule that I never, ever, smack the children, which I have never broken, and which I actually think would be a good rule for every parent to adhere to. Because the only time I want to smack them is when I am angry - and this just can't be right. Even telling them off makes me feel that I have failed them - which I know is wrong because kids need boundaries, and mine are growing into wonderful, smart, happy and well-balanced little individuals - so I must be doing something right.

Anyway. I worry. Life doesn't feel easy, although I am lucky to have many more joyful moments than morose ones. My youngest in particular is a constant source of delight - I have never known a more ellubient little person. But the last few weeks I have been very introverted, thinking and worrying far too much about a lot of (largely inconseqential) stuff, and not feeling very healthy because of it. And as this is a blog about schizophrenia, I thought I should share my reality with anybody who is reading.

I don't intend to give in to these feelings. I know that soon I will swing upwards again (in fact I have wondered over the years if I might have been more accurately diagnosed as a manic depressive, particularly since that illness was attractively re-packaged as bi-polar disorder). I have started exercising more regularly, eating more healthily, and going to bed earlier to try to stablilize my moods.

I have also scaled down my social activities, and been spending more time with the children, which makes me feel more relaxed. I am sure it will be fine.

I hope this wasn't too vague to be of help to anybody. In a nutshell, what I am trying to say is - I am sane, but I am not whole. However, I am full of hope that one day I will be the person I want to be - calm, contained, and confident. I wish the same for you all.

More soon. X.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

No Time to Rethink

Ah, I see that I have already been linked to Rethink - no time to tidy up after all. Oh well, maybe it is best to tidy up after the party - I mean after all the Internet traffic has been and gone - or maybe there is no need, and I shall leave the blog as it is. Just be aware, newcomers, that you might have to go back to the start of this blog to get an idea of what I am about.
Thank you for reading.

Ticking along (like a clock, not a bomb)

I have been flicking about a few blogs recently, all very interesting in their own ways. Mostly on writing websites. It strikes me that nobody will have anytime to read anybody else's work if we all carry on writing at this pace. It certainly eats up more of my time than I have to spare.

Anyway, in my last entry here I wrote about Sathnam Sanghera's memoir, 'The Boy with the Topknot' and how great I thought it was. I have been motivated to blog again today because I just read a review on Amazon which said several rather negative things about it, although there were a lot more positive reviews to counteract that.
I am sure that Sanghera, as a journalist, is immune to the slings and arrows, but I did feel it is rather unfair to get at him for writing about his family. After all, he is writing about his life, and of course it will be tied up with the lives of others. A great deal of what makes our lives interesting is our interactions with others and our responses to their ideas and behaviour.

I wrote a memoir many years ago, then decided not to publish because a certain member of my family got very upset about it (that person had nothing to fear and would have found that out if they had just asked to read the manuscript instead of going off at the deep end about the fact that I had written a book). But I am aware that I am spoken about by my family, and my friends, every day in various contexts, and I would not expect to be able to silence them, even though I can't control what they are saying. Although I hope that they are mostly good things. And Sathnam is clearly devoted to his family, and doesn't seem to be 'using' them in any negative way. I think his book will definitely further the understanding of schizophrenia - which, I guess, is why it got the 'Mind' prize. Which will benefit his father and sister in the long term much more than a tactful or embarrassed silence on the subject would have done.

So. Ticking along (like a clock, not a bomb). I rather like that line. Might use it in a poem.

I have a whole day to write, becauase my other half agreed to take the children out so that I could get on with it. I had a slow start, for which I blame the world wide web. But I started to relax into it, and have tidied up sheaves of poetry, neatly filed lots of ideas for stories and novels, had lunch and even written a bit.

A while ago, Rethink expressed an interest in this blog, so my next move will be to chase that up. As it stands at the moment, you would have to read all the back blogs to make sense of who I am (for example I haven't yet mentioned in this blog that I have schizophrenia, because it is not on my mind at all today. Well, it wasn't until I wrote that). Anyway, I am going to look into whatever it is that makes blogs more readable, which I guess is to provide lots of links to other things and maybe some pictuers. And then make the whole thing shorter, because nobody has time to read anybody else's stuff properly on the Net. Which takes me tidily back to where I began. Adieu for now.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Still Suffering.

Well, readers (readers? READERS? READERS??!!!) I am back for another go. The title of this entry is rather misleading - I am not actually suffering. Well, not any more than usual. I have had trouble sleeping, on and off, which worries me even though it always resolves itself. It is supposed to be one of the 'Early warning signs' which I should watch out for as a possible manifestation of the reappearance of my illness (which paradoxically I am told has not, nor will ever, disappear). Reappearance of the symptoms of my illness then. But how can I be ill without any symptoms? I have not taken any medication for almost nine years now, except for a few weeks after the birth of my second daughter when I accepted doctors' advice to take some as a precautionary measure. I have not had a breakdown for ten years. What I do know is that worrying about the possibility of the illness reappearing is enough to send me round the twist. But anyway.

It is true that I do tend to feel that I am travelling up the wall at a rate of knots if I have had two or three nights of disturbed sleep. This usually happens because either one or more of the children has been poorly, or because I have been worrying about some other aspect of life (usually unnecessarily; I am a pathological worrier, with a marked tendency towards catastrophisation).

However, luckily for me I have a card that not many other mothers of young children can play - I tell my loving husband that I will go mad if I don't get enough sleep, then he deals with the night disturbances for a while, or he makes sure that I regain my peace of mind, if that is what has been missing. I do worry about his role in all of this.

Luckily again though, my behaviour is not that erratic. A lot of people I know have more trouble with their lives than I do - in fact, my insomnia only manifests very occasionally, and my mood swings are no different than those of many other women at various times of the month (oh, the ugliness of coy euphemisms, yet I fear that I more often express myself too freely).

I have just finished reading a book by Sathnam Sanghera, called The Boy with the Topknot. I intend to make the rest of my bookgroup read it, as I feel it would really benefit from an airing. He has an excellent understanding of himself and his situation, and the book reads beautifully. He also expresses a degree of tolerance and understanding of sufferers of mental illness that I think must be quite rare, even in relatives of those with schizophrenia, as he is. There were so many parts of the book that struck a chord with me, and I particularly appreciated the bit where he wonders why his sister isn't more bothered about the possibilty that she has a brain tumour, then realises that the reality is that she has lived with schizophrenia, and therefore she has already faced the worst that can ever happen to her. Personally, there were times when I would have been relieved if I was discovered to have had a brain tumour - there is no stigma attached to such a condition.

But the book still did my head in, as reading about schizophrenia always does. I am constantly trying to see myself in descriptions and conclusions that other peeople draw about the subject, and I find that this confuses me. I have written a memoir myself about my experience of the condition - or maybe I should say about mental illness, as I am really not sure anymore that I have a particular condition. I have certainly suffered the extremes of mental illness and there are still large parts of my thoughts and behaviour that I wish operated differently, but I really feel that to move on from this illness I have to stop living my life under a catch-all umbrella term.

Sanghera says, rightly, that this is the most severe mental illness out there, but he also says things like there is no such thing as a happy schizophrenic (or very few of them. I am wary of misquoting him because his book seems to be so immaculately researched. This is a problem with my own writing - it is interspersed with lots of chunks written in capitals along with a note LOOK UP LATER. Then I don't). I am happy. Does this mean, then, that I am not a schizophrenic?

Anyway, his book is excellent, managing to both move me to tears at times and also to be laugh-out-loud funny in places (not least in his matter-of-fact reporting of the many and various mis-spellings of his and his family's names over the years). I do wonder if he has bitten off a little more than he can chew - he states clearly in the book that he has no intention of being a campaigner for schizophrenia, but in the afternotes it is mentioned that he is a Patron of Rethink. I suppose patronage may not mean as much as, say, that he is a Trustee but I suspect that he will find himself involved more than he intended, as the mentally ill do so badly need high profile people to represent them (us!), in fact, to come alongside us and make the point that we are not that different. If only Stephen Fry had been diagnosed with schizophrenia instead of bipolar disorder. But if he had, would even he have the courage to tell the world?

Raymond Briggs' wife, who died long ago, was schizophrenic. He mentions this quite openly in his amazing story 'Ethel and Ernest', but it does not seem to have been reported widely. Maybe because out of respect for him nobody wants to bring up such an awful subject. I spoke to him once, at a book signing in Brighton, and he was lovely. I told him about my schizophrenia and he seemed quite surprised - I guess like all of us he has a stereotypical sort of image of the mentally ill, which I didn't fit into.

He seemed quite concerned too. I have occasionally thought of writing to him, telling him that I am happy now, and about my wonderful husband and children ( I remember saying at the time that what I wanted out of life, apart from a writing career, was to get married and have kids). But of course if I wrote to him he would just think I am crazy. There was an article in the Times yesterday by Caitlin Moran about all the crazy people that have written to her over the years that made me roar with laughter. I gave it to my other half to read and even he was giggling.

She did acknowledge that she has had some lovely letters too, and she can usually tell the difference between her two types of fan mail by the handwriting and stationery used. But by and large, if you can even be bothered to log on and comment on something you have read online you are probably a bit too overcome with emotion on the subject to be thinking quite straight. If you get a pen and paper out, and still send off your missive having had a chance to wonder whether it will have enough of the desired effect on your reader to be worthy of the price of a stamp, you are likley to be slightly wonklier.

I like that word, if it is one. Should it have been more wonkly? Actually, I have just realised it should have been wonkier, but I like my way better. Which is, yikes, a sign of schizophrenia - making up words! I feel like I have fallen into a trap of my own devising. Anyway, the wonky wonkly word reminds me of what I am supposed to be doing now. I have an hour to write because my husband has a day off work and is minding the boys for a bit before we take them to music group. The older one should be at school but he has a chest infection. He is not terribly ill, and we have decided that rather than let the little one miss the group, we will take the bigger one along. I find all these decisions stressful - should they stay off school? If so, should they stay home all day? I used to think it was just me who got hopelesly embedded in unimportant domestic detail, but a friend confided in me yesterday that she didn't sleep for months before her eldest took the eleven plus exam. It is good to have friends. I often wonder how anybody copes in life without a few decent friendships. People do though. My mother does. But I wonder how.

ANYWAY. So I had resolved to use my hour to have a bash at some children's poetry or a short story, but got sidetracked by this.

I logged on to this blog for the first time in months today (which is not to say I haven't looked at it without logging on, just to see if anyone else has read it and commented since I stopped writing regularly. They haven't). I only logged on to edit it, because all those times (yes, I know, drat, let it slip) I have looked I have noticed increasing numbers of inconsistencies, grammatical errors and even spelling mistakes, and this irks me. Part of the beauty of writing a blog is in the immediacy of publication, yet even the best writers (and I don't think I am one of those) must make mistakes when writing at speed or under pressure.

But I couldn't see how to edit, so I started a new entry instead. And then as usual the writing took over and began tipping rapidly out of me, creating, I am sure, more inconsistencies, grammatical errors and so on. I wil find out soon how to edit though, whether or not I continue with this blog. I hate the thought that my writing may read wrong - because usually when writing I can express myself with articualacy, something that all too often evades me in real life. If only I could erase all those times that people stare at me with total incomprehension after I have said something, as if I had spoken in a different language.

So here we are. Another entry done, for whatever reason. The main reason probably being that during and since reading The Boy with the Topknot I have started to wonder again about what to do with my book, which won't go away because its subject matter still preoccupies me. The answer is I suppose that I will attempt to revise it again. These attempts don't usually get me far, because it is already complete, just not in a form that I am ready to publish or even to let the kids read in the future. But I do want to let them read it in the future, so I need to change its form. I have tried to turn it into a novel, I have tried to change names and settings but none of this has worked so far. But I must try again, tie it up in some way so that I can move on.

Not today though. I need to have something concrete to show for my hour of freedom to write (though it has been punctuated with lots of noise from the little one, 'Dooce! Dooce! No water! Dada! Dinner!') I do wonder at times whether I have bred Hitler - apparently doting on and indulging boys is quite likely to produce a dictator. But the baby is so adorable - so sweet despite his constant demands - that I will wait until he is older before teaching him how to behave more properly.

Whoops. I have gone over this, revised some parts and inserted some others, and now my time is up. Now I am in writing mood though, and will attempt more later. I have promised daughter number two that I will write a book in the style of her favourite author. She has read all three of a particular series and there doesn't seem to be another forthcoming, so Mummy promised to plug the gap. After about six months of waiting, she said quite crossly one day, 'You haven't written even one single sentence - not even one single word - of my book'. The next day I wrote several pages and read them out to her, her sister, and a young friend who happened to be over, and all three were very flatteringly in stitches. She came up to me that evening with real awe in her face and told me, 'You are going to have to write autographs for people'.

I felt so proud that I had made her proud, and so touched that she believed in me. With very little effort on my part too - I find it easy to copy the style of another writer. I thought I could probably finish the book in a week - children's novels are not long and I write fast. But then it started niggling at me - if I could do this well, I thought, maybe I should try to make it a commercial enterprise. So I decided to change the book from an obvious copy to a less obvious derivative. In doing so I completely lost the tone, ending up with a mish-mash of styles and a book that started off being aimed for one age group then suddenly switched to a readership that was at least a couple of years older. After a few chapters I gave up, then conveniently forgot about the project.

Now I am thinking I should just get on and do what I promised her, before she is too much older. I would hate her to have grown out of that sort of book before I get around to writing it. So that will be my project for this evening - another unpublishable exercise. But then I have just begun to realise how lucky I am not to be under any pressure to publish - to be able to write for no other reason than that I enjoy it.