Friday, 25 February 2011

Schizophrenia and hospitals


I have just cancelled my pending foot surgery and feel a whole heap better. I have decided to re-book when Toddler is at full-time school. Then at least Hubby would only have to help out in the mornings and evenings. Otherwise, he would have to take weeks off work. Which would mean weeks of me bossing him about and him being moody...a sure recipe for disaster.

I couldn't bear not to be able to move for six weeks, with both feet in plaster. I think it would drive me round the bend. Also, now I can plan stuff - like some days out with the kids or maybe a weekend away for us all. I felt like my life was on hold, waiting for a date for surgery and then with the prospect of being out of action for six weeks after. I'm sure my feet won't drop off in the next couple of years. And once I have to stop wearing my furry Ugg-type boots I will find some other comfy shoes - somehow, somewhere.

Call me paranoid if you want, but I hate hospitals. I was dreading the overnight stay, and had become convinced that I wouldn't wake up after the General Anaesthetic. And the waiting, as I said, was killing me - if the appointment had come through already I would just have got it over and done with, but I think it is better this way. I hope I have made the right decision anyway.

It's nearly the end of half term. We have been really busy - had friends over on the rainy days, gone out and about on the one sunny day. And I have developed OCD - been compulsively tidying the kids' rooms and sorting toys. I honestly don't know where I have found the time. I am about half way through.

I think all the tidying has been displacement activity. I have had a bit of a crisis - come to a complete hiatus with the memoir. It just all began to seem so dismal, I got bogged down with it all. When I look back now, I think, my life couldn't have been that bad, could it? I certainly didn't realise it at the time - just blundered on in the time honoured teenage fashion, through obsession and madness...I am feeling a bit down with the misery inherent in the story of my life (or, my life until about twelve years ago). Need to inject some humour somehow.

And I do feel lighter-hearted now that I have cancelled the op - so maybe next week I can make a fresh start with the writing. Because I hate not writing - but the memoir became so depressing that I really couldn't continue for a while.

So, I will look at it afresh, try to make it more upbeat (although it is not an upbeat story per se) and finish it off as soon as I can. Then, on to pastures new. x.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Schizophrenia and Mood


Just a quick post - have to go and collect Toddler from play school in a mo. He has really been enjoying it there, he comes out very happy and chatty at the end of the morning. Perfect.

Hubby has been away for work this week, so I have been struggling a bit. The kids have several evening activities, and at this time of year it is quite hard to take them to and fro. I have been crashing out at ten every night.

Worse than the tiredness, though, is the moodiness. I seem to be swinging a bit - most of the time I do ok in my quest to be the Perfect Mother at least while Daddy is away, but then suddenly I get snappy and feel awful about it afterwards.

I would be better trying not to be Perfect Mother, and just be Good Enough Mother (which is all any of us can really hope for anyway). I know the theory, and want to put it into practice - so I am constantly trying to assess my mood and level it out.

I have seen a good tool to help with this on the Net - a mood-mapping chart designed for people with bi-polar, which really helps to stabilise mood by charting how much lack of sleep or unhealthy food or so on is part of the picture. I must look it up again and give it another go. I think this afternoon would be a good time, while Toddler is in his post-play-school TV watching phase.

Trouble is, I don't know how much of my moodiness is normal, or how much a symptom of bad mental health. I so often wish I had never been diagnosed with schizophrenia (or never been informed of the diagnosis) - it does just seem to complicate issues at times - instead of just dealing with things, I worry about them too.

Got to go now. X.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Schizophrenia and Self-Help

Hi all

I was re-organizing my 'favourites' list on my laptop yesterday and found something called 'Living Life to the Full' - a free CBT online programme, supported by the NHS. I must have added it long ago and forgotten, but it looks like a really useful resource, and I am going to give it a try very soon. I will let you know how I get on - meanwhile, take a look yourselves!

I am a firm believer in self-help (partly because I am suspicious of the motives of other people - NB this is not so good). There are loads of books out there, and now even more stuff online, that can be helpful in the quest to self-improvement of all sorts. Key to it all, I think, is learning to like oneself. It may be useful for the guilt ridden among you to bear in mind that nobody is pure of thought and deed; we all have bad thoughts and impulses but as long as you don't act on any of them, and always try to be the best person that you can, that is usually fine.

I was watching my daughter at a concert last night, and started to feel a panic attack coming on. It was awful. But I reasoned my way through it and it passed. Which was great. I did it mainly by trying to look outside myself (important, this, because is is often the feeling that you are the centre of attention that brings these things on, and it is entirely illusory) and by trying to concentrate on the music itself, which was wonderful and deserved all the attention I could give it. And my wonderful, beautiful daughter too - she is a star.

It has been raining a lot today. The other half has been out, helping somebody to fix something, and the kids have been restless. I really should have taken them out somewhere - but then again maybe it is good for them to be bored sometimes. After all, life is not a constant series of entertainment... They have made a tent, watched some TV, I have read Toddler a series of books. A normal quiet Sunday.

But I always feel that I could be doing more. My sister-in-law, who always speaks her mind, told me quite firmly the other day that I should stop thinking like this, 'Because you are the best mother there could be. And what does that say for the rest of us if you think you don't do enough?' I was touched by this, because she is not the sort to give unnecessary compliments. But then, there is a lot she doesn't know about me - she met and married my brother after all my breakdowns, he never told her I had been ill and asked me not to (there is a lot more to the story than this, but here is not the place). So she doesn't have any prejudice - but I still think if she knew my diagnosis her perception of me would shift dramatically, a light would go on, 'Ah, that's why...' and suddenly I would be pidgeonholed as a nutcase.

Anyway, I am still working on the self-help, as you can tell. Maybe it's an ongoing process, or maybe I need an external point of focus in my life. But for now, I am a bit inward, because the memoir is raking up a lot of memories and I am looking at them afresh almost every day - not easy. It's up to 52,000 words now, so by the summer the bones should be done, then I can work through for a month or two, then hopefully lay the thing to rest. Somebody told me it would take a year, and it looks as though she is spot on - but that somebody has written numerous books herself and so obviously understands the process.

Enough for now. More anon.


Saturday, 5 February 2011

Schizophrenia and Friendship

Hi again

When I found the Elyn Saks memoir details on the Web the other evening, I read a couple of the interviews she gave at the time of publication (about three years ago). I do intend to read the book itself too, at some point. One thing that she said when being interviewed struck a chord with me, 'Choose your friends carefully'.

I realised that made sense. I am particularly vulnerable to the way I feel in different people's company, probably because I try too hard to people-please. As I read, I made a mental note of friends who are good for me and friends who are not. Of course I have no intention of ditching the difficult ones (just as I hope none of mine would suddenly ditch me for being difficult) but it is good to be aware of positive and negative influences in life.

Anyway, today I met up with an old friend - our friendship now dates back more than twenty years - and I had such a nice time with her. She was so sweet to the children, so interested in me and so open and chatty. Talking with her made me feel really happy. I was taken aback by this. Then I realised that of course it makes sense - I have known her a long time and we became friends because we had a lot in common. Whereas a lot of the people that I socialise with now are worlds away from me in outlook and attitude - the only thing we have in common a lot of the time is that we have kids the same age. It is not surprising that sometimes when I talk they look at me as though I am an alien...

So I have decided that rather than try so hard to be friends with everyone I meet, I am going to relax. I have made some good friends in the past, and a lot of those friendships endure, even though we may not meet very often. But from that I can take reassurance that I need (why do I always need reassurance?) that I am an interesting and worthwhile person. And I have so little time at present, what time I do have should be directed towards my family, my home and my writing, not trying to make passing acquaintances enjoy my company and worrying if it doesn't seem to go well.

Anyway. Enough for now. I hope, readers, that you are enjoying your weekend and making the most of the important places, events and people in your lives. You deserve it.


Thursday, 3 February 2011

And another correction...

Hello again

Just noticed that on the first of yesterday's posts I mentioned finishing the 'novel' when I am forced to put my feet up for six weeks. I meant memoir of course. The reason for the confusion is that I am still thinking of disguising it as a novel, to protect my identity. I have even attempted to do so several times - but when I try this, the essential element of truth (essential that is, for a true story) is thrust out and the thing seems to become empty and unreadable. Still, I'll finish it first and then decide what to do about it. Aiming to get to 50,000 words by the end of this week - but we have visitors for the weekend and today I have Toddler at home...and seem to have ended up looking after his cousin as well...and now the school have phoned and asked me to collect my younger daughter who is unwell...

I will have to write in the evenings. Too hard to concentrate now - Toddler is watching re-runs of Charley Bear on BBC iPlayer, which is fine except that each episode only lasts seven minutes, then I have to go in and put the next one on. Also, have to walk the dog soon (lovely sunny day for it) with poorly daughter and Toddler in tow. And later this afternoon have an appointment to take poorly girl to the GP. Granny is coming to mind the others while we are out.

And I am going to make the most of the time. Take some puzzles to do with my daughter, and a book for me (unfortunately the one we are reading this month for book group is a bit dire but I feel duty bound to plough through it).

Bye for now.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


Oops. It was Benjamin Franklin, not Abe Lincoln, who spoke the words of wisdom I mentioned in the last post about Helen Swan's site. The relevant part comes under heading 11 of the quote, entitled 'Tranquility'. Which says it all really. I want some Tranquility!

Working on it. x

Schizophrenia and Feet

Excuse me all, I am about to embark on a boring tale about my afternoon in hospital. I feel entitled, since the only thing that got me through it was thinking, 'Well, at least I can blog about all this later'.

Now, as anyone who has ploughed through my rant in a previous post about my two hour waits at the GP surgery will know (or any of my stories of life as a mental hospital inpatient) I have a bit of a persecution complex when it comes to medical professionals. I distrust them, which I know is not sensible. It is also counter-productive.

Because the thing to do when you have been waiting in the X Ray dept for forty minutes and watched everybody who was there when you came in, go through, and then you start watching the new people who arrived after you go in too, is - nothing. Smile sweetly. Not go and query it, as I did, because it gets you nowhere. It gets you in the same place as you already were, for longer.

Then when you eventually get back to Orthopaedics, you should not complain about the injustice of your treatment in X Ray. But I did. It didn't help. I could continue about my horrible experiences this afternoon, but there is really no point. Except to say, did you know that as part of a pre-op assessment you now have to be swabbed for MRSA - in your nose and your groin? Just thought I would warn you - I for one didn't see that coming.

Anyhow, suffice it to say that after three and a half hours I finally left the hospital. Although I have to go back soon to have both feet operated on. And I am resolved to be a model patient, for entirely selfish purposes, such as wanting to retain the use of my legs. Although I don't actually think they are that bad, these medics... Are they?

I can see why they behave the way they do. I have a friend who is a senior nurse at the same hospital and who recently volunteered for a couple of weeks in Haiti. When she came back to work she said she was sickened by the attitude of some of the patients, complaining about small things when she had just witnessed horrors they could not have imagined.

But I dislike hospitals. They make me feel weak, and helpless, and I become indignant when I am treated badly, or unjustly, when I know I should just switch off and read my book, or the paper, and take no notice of what is happening around me. Because I can't change anything. I do hope I never have to be sectioned again though. Because I fear I would not be calm and accepting any more than I ever was when I was ill. And I wish that was not the case, because I should have learned better by now. If anyone looked at the Helen Swan site I mentioned the other day (Natural Health Answers) you might have seen, in the Stress and Depression section, a long quote from Abraham Lincoln on how to live life, and it contains very wise advice, which I ignored today at my peril, along the lines of don't sweat the small stuff.

Never mind. Onwards and upwards. I came home to a houseful of sweet and concerned little poeple. I bathed my boys, talked with my girls, and had a very hot shower, a cup of tea and a large bag of Chicken and Thyme crisps (purely for medicinal purposes) and now I feel fully funtional again, and as close to rational as I ever am.

Good to get it off my chest. Thank you for reading. Dreading the Op and the six weeks' recovery at home with my feet up (bound to get the novel finished though!)

And the moral for today is: Stay calm in the face of frustration. This will work wonders.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Schizophrenia Memoir


It's funny, I was just saying to my husband yesterday that it is likely someone will come up with a memoir on the same lines as mine before mine gets finished. Things often seem to work that way creatively - people having the same, or a smiliar, idea at the same time.

So just now I Googled Schizophrenia and Memoir - and yes, I have indeed been gazumped. Three years ago, though. A lady called Elyn Saks, a respected American academic, published a memoir about her recovery from the illness - you can Google for details. The book sounds really good, and the couple of interviews I read with her sounded really positive. The interesting thing is that she is not actually completely recovered - she still takes medication and still has psychotic thoughts on a daily basis, but copes with it and holds down an important job too.

I got all this info just from a quick look, so there may be more to the story that I didn't uncover, but I just thought I would blog quickly to mention it. Defintely worth a look-see.

I phoned up the local Community Mental Health Team today - not something I do very often. But every so often I decide it would be nice to see a counsellor, to kind of help to get rid of anxieties and so forth. And the same thing happened today that usually does - they told me to contact the GP (who will almost certainly tell me to contact the CMHT) which is why I never get around to getting the counselling. The only way forward would be to pay privately, but I don't think I can stretch to that, and also I am not sure if I would get a good enough counsellor...I know how messed up counsellors can be, I have done some of the training.

I might just get back on a course myself... Physician, heal thyself. Or quack, have a try. Or I could just get a book from the library about anxiety or something, that usually helps short-term. Or not bother at all, since I bumble along fine most of the time, no-one would guess at most of my worries.

The other thing about calling the CMHT is I forget how uncaring the caring services can be. The nurse I spoke to was nice. Didn't seem to think I really needed help though, said we all function differently at different times and that my life is clearly successful. Implied that I shouldn't have too many expectations of myself and how well I could become.

But the receptionist I spoke to first didn't understand me saying my name (I have a complicated surname). I repeated it twice, then when I spelled it out she said I was 'babbling' and she couldn't understand what I was saying. That would have destroyed my confidence if I had been ill. I would have thought I was worse than I was... Luckily I knew that I was not babbling, but still... Maybe the woman was not uncaring, just inept.

Anyway, if Elyn Saks can come clean about her history, maybe I can pluck up the courage to publish my own memoir. Although I bet she didn't have kids. My ten year old is embarrassed when I collect her from school - for no apparent reason my presence makes her cringe. I look quite normal, by the way. Reasonable weight, a little make-up, I colour my hair to cover the grey. Nothing obviously embarrassing about me. But how would she cope with real cause for embarrassment, if she knew my diagnosis, or her friends did? I don't think it would be fair to lay my children open to all that.

And anyway, the book's not finished yet. Up to 46,000 words though - I exceeded my limit today, although that means I have a lot of tidying up to do tomorrow. And a lot of passages need re-working, they are more summary than story. The first twenty or so thousand words sing though - if I say so myself. Tempted to publish and be damned, because I am rather proud of those early passages - although the rest of the book will have to match in quality before I take that leap - and from where I am now it looks like a major task.

Sorry about the abbreviated sentences tonight, by the way. Hopefully this is still readable.

So. Anyway. The message is positive again, people - recovery from schizophrenia (or mental illness of any sort) is possible and it can mean whatever you want it to - a social life, a family, a job, medication or not. Aim for the top. X.

And by the way, it's not schizophrenia. It's a nervous debility. Or a sensitive outlook. Or whatever helps to make you feel de-stigmatized.