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.


  1. Keep writing comments and erasing them...not very good at this. But just wanted to say Im really happy I found your blog. I am just coming to terms with the fact that I am schizophrenic, after my husband has spent 5 years trying to convince me. I too am a mother to a 3 year old boy, and spend everyday hiding my illness, my poor husband is the only one who knows. I enjoy reading about the normalities in your life, knowing that hopefully my wild, unpredictable life can be a bit more routine. Did you only get better with medical attention...or were there other things you did in your life to gain some control? Thank you very much.

  2. How nice to hear from you, I am so glad if reading this helps. I really mean that, and I shall make an effort to update this blog more often now.
    The times when I have been ill, I was hospitalised, so yes, I guess that medical attention helped. But I did not enjoy the hospital experience - I resented it every step of the way. So now a large part of my motivation for staying well is to keep out of that awful place!
    I think that being a mother is the thing that has helped me most - it has helped to give me a place, a purpose. I find that if I am busy, I have less time to worry and therefore I am much less stressed, and the kids and housework do keep me well occupied.
    The benefit of getting older is that I have become calmer - I like to think of this as maturity. It helps me feel more positive about the wrinkles.
    I make sure I eat enough, and sleep enough.
    I am aware of things in my character that make me vulnerable to stress - like having low self-esteem, and I try to work on these.
    I also read books and articles on health and well-being.
    I exercise, and I get out of the house whenever I can with my children - although the new puppy has curtailed our outings recently!
    Also, I write. I really recommend this as therapy, perhaps more than anything else. You can put your feelings down on paper, in poetry or prose or diary form, and I find that this takes the weight of your problems from your mind and lays them down outside it. (Does that make sense?) If you do find that you have written a poem, or a short story as a result, then you have a piece of art to show for it - an accomplishment. The more you do this, the better you become at expressing your feelings. You are clearly a literate person, so you might already be writing creatively - if not, give it a go! (Look the BBC Get Writing or Writersroom websites, or Mslexia on line, for writing workshops and ideas to get you started).
    I do most of these things because they are what I enjoy as well as being good for me. You should be easy on yourself - it is not your fault you are (or have been) ill, so put everything in place that you can to help yourself heal, then just relax and try to enjoy your child and your life with your husband.
    Also, it is not always helpful to think of yourself as a schizophrenic - think of the illness as a nervous disorder (which it is) and you won't think so badly of yourself. I don't like using the 'Schizophrenia' word myself - but if it helps to get this read then it is useful for now.

  3. Great advise. Thank you very much.
    It puts complete clarity as to why my husband has been insisting on these crazy rosters and routines (that i always go against)...I realize recently that they arent for manipulation of me, they're for manipulation on the illness. Its so wonderful to read this...I give him such a difficult time by going against his advise, and hearing the same advise from someone else helps immensly.
    Im not a writer, I used to be more of one. But I am an artist. Painter and Illustrator...Doing these things helps me so much...But its just a matter of sticking with it. Im sure you understand. Its like subconciously you're afraid of doing the things that are best, afraid of getting yourself better.
    I will take your advise also, of not putting such an intense label on this illness. Though, lately I think it has really helped accept it...because I have been so wild for so many years that putting the schizophrenic label on this gives me some reasoning to my thoughts, and to my halluciantions, and paranoid ideas. It has helped this far, but maybe its time to not dwell on it so much and think of it as a nervous disorder.
    Thanks. Hope all is well in your home.

  4. Hi Season
    Yes, I do know what you mean about being afraid of getting better. You become comfortable with yourself the way you are - even though it is not always an easy path, it is the one you are familiar with. Change is scary.
    Will try to blog again later today. x