Monday, 31 January 2011

Schizophrenia is all in the mind

Hi Guys

Had a good day today, because I was so busy I forgot to worry. Went for a dog walk with three friends and their dogs today, which felt good because I usually walk on my own and sometimes feel a bit like a sad loner. However, when I got home I was exhausted and a bit stressed, and I realised that actually I think I prefer my own company when I am walking the dog. It is much more peaceful. And maybe this was one of the causes of my illness - it is certainly the cause of a lot of my stress nowadays - I am always trying to be something other than the person I am.

I am always trying to make friends, to make people laugh, to make them like me. People-pleasing, it is called. Always trying to be more gregarious, like my sisters and like other people I admire. But actually the people who know me best and who love me best - my little family basically, they see the real me and they're not bored. In fact, I'm probably better company when I'm not trying too hard to impress.

So, I must take it all down a notch. Stop caring what people think. I know I've said it before, but really.

That's my insight today. I've ended the day exhausted but positive. I had to do a lot of running around after school, and even though I felt I'd failed as a parent by taking the kids for a MacDonalds tonight (we have about two a year and NEVER on a school night) I did it because it was the only way to get them fed without killing myself and it didn't make me feel guilty. This is progress!

I intend to do away with the diagnosis of schizophrenia. I don't know how, but I'm going to make it happen. For everyone. If anyone is ill - as I was - then psychosis is an awful enough term, but at least it is a temporary condition. How dare anybody stigmatize another human being with the awful label I (and some of you readers) have been given? If you accept it, then your life is over, because you just give up any hope of being normal ever again.

I'm still going to use the term in posts - to make people listen (I've noticed on my blog stats that if I include that word then more people read those posts - maybe the blog then comes up more on searches). But if you have come to this blog from Rethink, start re-thinking. Use the diagnosis to further your understanding of your illness. Take the medication, until you're sure you no longer need it (take the advice of the medics on this one, but also, be brave). It need not be a life sentence.

Don't let the diagnosis use you - don't label yourself as an anything. You are a person, who has been ill and who is now ready to get better and move on. And recovery from this illness is possible - if you end up with anxiety and neuroses, which I may possibly have (!), that doesn't make you schizophrenic. Schizophrenia is a life without hope, and nobody's life is that. If I had not struggled against the mental health professionals, I would never have had kids. (You can read more about that in the early posts here, but basically the medication I was put on and told I would have to be on forever, stopped me conceiving). If I had never had kids, I probably would have never got better - they are my raison d'etre.

And one more thing - be true unto yourself. It was the only piece of advice my mother ever gave me, and I didn't have a clue what she was on about. She never explained. But I do know now, and appreciate what she was saying - there is no need to put on a show for anyone. You have a right to be here, as much as anyone else, you are worthwhile, just as you are, so be yourself. Bye for now. X.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

January is Great

The title of this post was going to be 'January is Grim', but that sounded so depressing, and I didn't want to give the post a depressive slant before I had even started writing it. Then I thought - January is great, actually, because even if it is the most depressing month that means that February will be less depressing. In other words, while mired in January you can be sure that there is something to look forward to, which helps one escape from the feeling of being mired in it.

I have been thinking about getting counselling. It would be nice not to be so up and down - and down more than up unfortunately, these days. Usually when one of my babies gets to the age Toddler is now I embark on a new pregnancy, or already have a new baby to distract me. SO my hormones are kicking back now, perhaps - my body is craving that feel-good pregnancy boost. Also, for the first time in ten years or more, I am now experiencing some degree of freedom, and the trouble is that when I am not very busy I think too much, and often about the wrong things, so I get a bit miserable. And I put myself under pressure to keep up with the house and washing and walk the dog and write too, every morning, and to look after the kids to the best of my ability when they are around. I need to relax.

Writing my memoir is not really helping my state of mind, because it churns up all the old memories. Also, parts of it feel irrelevant - I keep questioning whether certain things should be included, whether they will interest the reader at all. (If indeed I decide to publish - I may not). And in the early part of the book I have left out a large section on a subject which I knew would be damaging to a particular member of my family - which means I have veered away from the truth, by editing it out.

Anyway, I have reached 42,000 words - about a third of the way through - and I will press on with it because otherwise it will always feel like unfinished business. Bit of a struggle at the moment though - I would prefer to be writing something frothy and fun. Hey ho. All in good time.

I really should get up, because apart from anything else writing in bed is not particularly comfortable. But it is the most peaceful place in the house just now - one of my nieces had a sleepover last night and the kids are having a lovely time playing this morning. I have had two cups of tea and one and a half bacon sandwiches brought to me by hubby. Very nice.

But I have earned it - every single weekday this month I have been the first up (one of my New Year resolutions, aided by the alarm on my new iThing.) And yesterday I got up at half six and left hubby in bed until eight, because he had been to the pub with his friends the night before. I know he has been the first up for the last ten years almost every single day, but still. I am making a HUGE effort.

Mornings are just not easy for me. Having said that, I think my body clock is adjusting - I have had to go to bed really early to be able to get up early, and this morning I was awake at about six tossing and turning and I really should have got up when Little Boy came into the room saying, 'There is some wee in my pyjamas'. But I didn't. I rolled over and said, 'Your turn, Daddy! ' with relish.

Maybe this is another reason why life seems hard at the moment. It is a shock to my body and my psyche, forcing myself out of bed against years of habitually snuggling down and turning over to snooze while waiting for that cup of tea. Welcome to the real world...

I am short of me-time. I used to insist on my share of me-time, just a few hours on odd weekends while hubby took the kids to his parents'. But now I have every morning free (or almost, I have dropped one of Toddler's play school days) it has become just as pressurised as any other time. SO in a minute I am going to get up and dressed, put on some make-up (didn't do that at all yesterday and I am sure that is why I was extra miserable). Look over my notes and diary entries, get organised for the day and week ahead. And then take the dog for a long walk, hopefully with eldest daughter for company. Nice.

By the way, anybody looking for practical health help might like to check out the Natural Health Answers website run by Helen Swan. I have just been browsing this - there is lots of helpful advice. Although of course, if you have been very poorly, check with your medical people before turning to homeopathy. I had some great results with homeopathic medicine while struggling to breastfeed Toddler (when he was a baby!) but not everyone agrees with the principles of it.

I try to end these posts with a positive message, especially for those of you who have been directed here from the Rethink site. So here's today's;

If you are or have been unwell, if you are worried or upset or even just struggling a bit BE EASY ON YOURSELVES. Do what feels right for you along the path to recovery. In the fullness of time it will all be ok. I promise.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Under the Weather

It is not I this time, but the little-uns who are slightly under par. Nothing major is wrong, nothing much at all really, just that nobody is a hundred percent well and Toddler has a slight cough. I do tend to worry and to catastrophise, so that a well child becomes one who is just waiting to become poorly. I know it is a stupid attitude, and I am fighting it.

Last time I wrote my blog entry I spent an hour or two afterwards reading other entries, and came across a couple of really sad cases - where there had been really serious illness or death within a family - and realised anew how lucky I am. To be honest, it is never far from my mind, this sense of appreciation for what I have.

When I was psychotic (on three occasions over a period of eleven years) I was very ill. While I was recovering between episiodes, sometimes for years, I was very scared, very worried. I suffered a lot. Most of those years were lost or wasted in one way or another. But now I have a home, a family, even a dog of my own. I have the support and love of my wonderful husband.

I have the luxury of being able to spend my time more or less as I like - and I do like my life, even the cooking and cleaning and washing parts of it. And any anguish that I go through is more or less in my mind, and I am in charge of that, so it is irrelevant really.

Now, what have I been doing recently? The usual rounds of school and out of school stuff. Taking the kids swimming. Dealing with a recalcitrant Toddler. (He drove his Dad mad this evening, refusing to have his teeth brushed. He said he was 'busy' turning round in circles. He said he was trying to get so dizzy that he fell over. He said they do it at play school then they laugh and laugh. Ten minutes later he was still turning round in circles, Daddy was starting to grind his teeth and shout a lot. So I said calmly, 'Come here, darling, Mummy brush your teeth', and he came over like a little lamb. I have no explanation for it, but it felt good).

Enough for now. But if you came here from the Rethink website, and are reading this looking for hope for your own future, I hope you leave with the knowledge that there is indeed hope, and a lot of it. If I can recover from mental illness and lead a happy life, anybody can. I know this for sure - I was down there as low as anyone could have been, and I never would have looked ahead and seen a future this positive for myself. Be strong. Never give up.

Friday, 14 January 2011

And Again

I think it actually helps me to blog here more than it does any readers. Which I felt bad about for a while. I was thinking that I was offering a public service - helping people with schizophrenia to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. And I started to feel that I was letting those people down by keeping my identity under wraps- because the fact is that I remain ashamed of my diagnosis and so I am not the best role model.

But still. Blogging helps me because it gives me a sense of continuity - I can look back on my posts and see the times when I felt rough and yet pulled through. I recommend it.

Toddler has just announced that he wants to be a rock star, and has got hold of his brother's guitar to have a practice. He's actually not bad. For a three year old. The trouble will start when big brother gets home from school and wants the guitar back...

Gotta go, the rock star needs an audience. x

Thursday, 13 January 2011

OK again

Hi folks

Yeah, ok again, I think. Have slept anyway, which is a good sign. Had a bad afternoon today though, nothing could reach me, I was just tired and moody and horrid.

I overdid it this morning - really must learn to pace myself. I decided that Toddler was going to play school too often and that he should have one day off a week to do fun stuff with Mummy. So I hoovered and walked the dog even before Hubby went to work this morning, so I could take Toddler for his fun morning with a clean conscience.

And we did have a fun morning - but a really busy one. Went to one of those indoor play places and climbed and larked about, with my brother and his wife and their kid. Got home at about a quarter to two and only had an hour before the school run began. So by half three I was in a blue funk (if that is the right term for a really bad mood). I did the dinner and everything, but when Hubby got home I had to go for a lie down, and he put the little ones to bed.

And this evening I am still quite stressed, which for me manifests as a physical feeling of kind of pins and needles in my head. Which is alarming and makes me worry that I am going mad.

Luckily, I haven't gone mad all week, so am not likely to now, and Hubby has been an absolute bastion of support. A couple of days ago I actually asked him if I should go on medication, bearing in mind my moods and stress, and he said that was the most ridiculous thing I have ever come up with. He insists that I am normal, sometimes despite all the evidence.

But then maybe he is right. Maybe everyone has their ups and downs. Maybe I should cut myself more slack.

My confidence has plummeted again, which is something I need to see to. I am tempted to get counselling, but if I am honest I know I could find help in books and online that would probably be as helpful. I just need to apply myself.

Also, I have not been writing enough, which makes me feel guilty and low. And there is only one way to put that right. I suppose I should crack on with that memoir, which I put aside just before Christmas and have not gone back to.

I just started to feel snowed under and sorry for myself - how could I manage the kids and all the housework, and write as well? And even though I had actually been managing and so I knew that I could, somehow feeling myself incapable made me incapable - the old self-fulfilling prophecy.

Anyway. This blog is supposed to uplift and encourage readers to feel more positive and hopeful about their lives. So let me end on a positive note - I have come a long long way from the craven pile of abject creeping nerves that I used to be, to a fully functional housewife and multiple mother (I know that's not the correct English, I just like the sound of it). I am almost sure that no-one who met me casually or socially would guess at my diagnosis.

Now I am hoping to take it one step further - to have the career that I always felt had eluded me because of my illness. So what if I have a crisis of confidence now and again? Life is definitely worth living, and if I could have seen into the future ten, fifteen or twenty years ago I would have been so grateful to see the self I am now, and so relieved. Bye for now.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Up and Down

Oh dear. After my last, particularly buoyant, post I collapsed again. Had a stinker of a cold which has only just gone, had to cancel all the New Year's arrangements.

And at the mo, am a bundle of anxieties and insecurites about all manner of irrelevancies.

Not a good look.

Never mind though. Where there is a down, there is sure to be a corresponding up. It is just how I am. I will get a decent nights sleep tonight and be back on track by the morning. x.