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.

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