Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Hair and Mental Health

Hi Doesn't having your hair done make you feel one hundred per cent better? On an ordinary day, I mean, not if you are ill or anything. My mobile hairdresser has just left - she is lovely, although I always end up talking too much when she is here - she is such a good listener. And she does my hair really nicely. Top lady. By the way, I am wondering whether people aren't finding what they need on this blog these days. It is more about my day to day life now, and not so much about schizophrenia - although I am hoping that people will take comfort in the fact that I have recovered to the extent that mental illness is not so much an issue for me now. You can always look at the older posts, for more information about my illness and recovery. Although there are so many of them that it would probably mean quite a trawl through. So I am thinking about setting up a blog on NHS Choices - they have a section for blogs on mental illness. I think a new blog might help me to focus better on the task at hand - of helping all of you who have been referred to this site from Rethink, to gain from my understanding of the illness (an understanding I have gained in the almost twenty-five years since I was diagnosed, and which centres around the fact that the label of schizophrenia itself is unhelpful and misleading, or certainly has been for me). Anyway, I am waiting to hear back from the NHS site, and when I do I will get the new blog set up and link to it here. I will try and make the posts briefer, and more focused on the subject of mental health, rather than the subject of me. In the meantime, please keep reading! x.

Monday, 28 March 2011

The Con-Artist

Hi again Do weird things just happen to me? I was on my way to collect Toddler on Friday last week, and an old lady waved me over. She was walking, I assumed she wanted directions. I stopped the car. She seemed very shaky. 'Will you take me to my house?' she asked. 'Please, dear. I live just down that way'. I explained politely that I was late to collect Toddler, she was very nice about it. I drove off. But I couldn't help watching her in my rear-view mirror. She was wobbly, tired-looking, very old. I felt guilty. So I stopped again, and we set off to her 'home'. 'Where do you live, exactly?' I questioned her on our way, anxious not to be late for Toddler. 'Is it near the park? By the fish and chip shop?' 'Where I live, dear' she kept replying, 'Just down here'. I began to think she had escaped from a nursing home. Then she said, 'Just pull in here, where that car is coming out'. So I did - and blow me down, she 'lives' in the Working Mens Club. She had the bare-faced cheek to walk up the ramp into the building (thanking me effusively before she left). The old lady was a con artist, who had basically wanted a lift to the pub! I had to chuckle as I drove off. It reminded me of a similar trick that my Dad had pulled when we were young. He conned a guy into giving us a lift to a restaurant - we three kids in the back of the car, my Dad in the front. We were mortally embarrassed, but also overcome by the giggles... The whole story is in the memoir, of course. And if anybody is wondering what happened to that, I am fine-tuning it now. I think it is more or less done, but I want to make sure before I send it anywhere. Haven't heard back from the agent - but then they undertake to reply within six weeks and it has only been two so far... Wonder if it is too early for a phone call to chase things up? Probably should resist until the manuscript is 100% completed. Hope all of you are well and happy, and enjoying the wonderful weather. x

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Schizophrenia and the Internet

Hi Guys

Have not been putting the 'Schizophrenia' word into the titles of these posts the last few days, because I hate sensation seeking, and I hate the 'S' word. Whoever decided to 'Label' people must have been a - well, I won't go there. Anyway, the 'S' word is now back - because the traffic to the site has almost stopped since I stopped using it. I guess, as I said before, it must make the blog easier to find on a search.

I couldn't blog yesterday because my connection was down - and it really bugged me. I have been sulking about it, had real withdrawal symptoms from wanting to access my email and this blog. Not a healthy attitude, I know. I hadn't realised how dependent I was becoming on the Net.

I had another road rage incident yesterday - almost the same circumstances as the last one I blogged about. Unreal. And in the supermarket car park last night I saw another case - loads of really nasty swearing - luckily not directed at me this time. I was wondering if it is to do with the time of year. Maybe people get hormone surges in the Spring which could account for some of this? Or maybe it is just co-incidence that I have seen so much of it recently.

If I had blogged about this yesterday I would have gone on at length about it; luckily you readers are spared because I have calmed down overnight. I was so cross though - a young girl was swearing at me, shouting really agressively, using the F word. I had done nothing wrong - and my very young boys were in the back of the car.

I really think that people who are so close to anger when driving should have their licences taken away, on the grounds that if they can't control themselves they are a danger.

Enough for now. X

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


You can tell the state of my brain by the titles of these posts - Tuesday, indeed. Staggeringly unimaginative.

Amazingly, I think I may be nearing the end of this memoir, once and for all. Just a few more days work, possibly. Wow. Though, I suppose if the agent does get in touch I may have to think again, if she advises amendments or even a re-draft. If she doesn't get in touch though, it is pretty much finished as far as I am concerned.

If that happens, then I will send the file to one or two people who I can trust to give me impartial advice (yikes, where will I find those people?). Then either contact Mind or Rethink re publication, or send it to more agents. Or contact the one who was interested all those years ago. Or self-publish.

Whichever way, I need to get it out there now. Because then I can't waste another six months revising it, either now or in ten years time. I really need to move on.

Anyway. Had an unpleasant experience in the car this morning. I had popped into town to do a few chores, and was heading home. I turned a corner. Saw a car coming the opposite direction. The road was too narrow for us both. SO I kept going - because there was nowhere to pull in, cars parked all down my side of the road. Half way up there was space to pull in.

But. The car coming the other way didn't slow, or stop. So I couldn't reach the pulling in space before him. No point reversing, nowhere to pull into. Obviously. He was an old man, really nasty, really angry, yelling at me, 'Couldn't you see me coming?' Well, yes. But couldn't he see I had nowhere to stop and let him by? I didn't try to argue, he was angry out of proportion to the situation and so he was probably a bit dangerous, and certainly not worth trying to reason with.

I couldn't help but be upset though. He obviously had to back up a bit so I could pull over, and he was gone. No harm done. But meeting unpleasant indiuviduals leaves a nasty taste. It left me reflecting that the maddest people in society are often the ones who have never set foot in a mental hospital.

Although maybe he had. Who knows?

All the best to you all, anyway. I'm fine now. Just fine. x

Monday, 21 March 2011

Monday morning

Hi Guys

Well, I have not started on the memoir yet this morning - having the day off yesterday gave me the opportunity to calm down about it, which is definitely a good thing. I did have a quick peek last night - only fiddled with it for half an hour or so though.

So far this morning, apart from getting all the kids dressed, breakfasted and so on and sorting their packed lunches, I have been quite relaxed. I walked the dog down by the sea, as usual. The beach was lovely - there was a mist on the horizon which made it hard to tell where the sea ended and the sky began. The sun was sparkling off the water. Several Labs were having a swim, but not my soppy animal. She was too busy trying to dig up dead fish or crabs legs or whatever it is she scavenges down there.

The dog is quite well behaved these days. She has an annoying habit of jumping at me, because she wants to get at the treats I am carrying. She still hasn't worked out that it's counter-productive - that she will not get a treat if she jumps. What is worse is that she sometimes jumps at passers-by - the majority are dog lovers which is fine, but some people get snotty (I don't blame them, I wouldn't like to be jumped at by a wet, sandy and hairy little monster if I was all dressed up). And sometimes she jumps at kids, which is really awful.

But she is getting better - always comes if I call her, so generally now I can call her to me before she jumps on someone. And it is her one bad habit.

Anyway, this may not be relevant to anyone except me so it is probably best if I shut up now.

All the best. x.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Sunday ponderings

Hi Guys

Wasn't going to post today, but was just checking my email and I thought - hey, it wouldn't hurt to do just a little blog... And maybe in a minute I'll just have a really quick look at the memoir.

I haven't turned on my computer all day until now and it was actually quite hard not to - which is awful. But it was good to spend some time with the family - cooked a proper dinner, with vegetables, both days this weekend. It was getting to the point where I was worried that the children might forget what veggies are.

Bought some grass seed today and scattered it over the front mud patch. I don't hold out all that much hope of it working, but I can't help being a tiny bit excited at the thought of maybe having a front lawn. Fingers crossed.

Apart from that, I am not sure where the day has gone. Walked the dog at the beach this morning with elder son - he is the one that gets the least attention in this house, because he demands the least. He really appreciated the time this morning, so I must make a point of doing it more often.

Finished reading a book last night - called 'Forget you Had a Daughter' by Sandra Gregory. I am really picky these days about the quality of writing when I read anything and I found loads of holes in this one - surprising, because she had help in writing it from a journalist. Anyway, the story was interesting - a true tale of a British girl caught drug smuggling and her experiences in prison in Thailand and England. She carried drugs for money, because she was desperate to get home and didn't want to ask for help from her family.

She certainly suffered, and reading the book made me realise something - although I didn't do anything wrong to get ill, nor was I an angel. I mean, I took some wrong turns, and things could have been a lot worse than they ended up.

I mean, mental hospital is awful, but the shame and stigma of being in prison must be even more awful. Not that I ever did anything against the law exactly (except smoking dope, and I'm not sure that is an imprisonable offence. But I should have known better than to do it - it always made me so darn paranoid, and yet I persisted against all common sense).

I tend to feel sorry for myself far more than I should, when it comes to the illness and the aftermath. Because there are also loads of people in the world who suffer tragedy for no reason whatsoever - and for whom things never improve. I am actually very lucky, in lots of ways.

Anyway. If only I could go back and do it all again, with the benefit of hindsight... It would have been great then, to have someone appear to me as a nineteen year old in hospital and tell me that in twenty years time I would be married with four kids and happily settled in life.

Which is what I am saying to those of you reading this who are in the throes of mental illness now, or with family who are. That there is a way through, and out. I promise. There is no reason why anybody who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia should not get better. Don't let anyone tell you different.

Enough for now. x.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

The Plot

I haven't lost the plot by the way. The daily plot, that is. But the memoir - that's another story, down to 70,000 words now. I think a day off would help to get some perspective. Also, Hubby, who has been an angel during the last week while I have been obsessively writing, is looking a bit the worse for wear. I think the kids are doing for him.

So, no blog tomorrow and no memoir. Sunday with the family, and hopefully that should help to restore the status quo around here... x



Having a play with the design of this blog at the mo. Not quite sure why or what I am doing... May leave it here for now, and get an early night. x.

Saturday morning


It is half past ten. So far this morning, I have had three cups of tea and two pieces of toast. Tidied the kitchen. Read through all the back posts on here. Because it suddenly occurred to me that if I am going to go ahead and publish my memoir, and bearing in mind that I have recently told a couple of friends about this blog, it may not be anonymous for much longer. There will be no need.

So I thought, hmmm, better go back and edit then, because I don't want to upset anyone in my family who reads it. And what has surprised me (although I have only read through very quickly) is that actually I have not said anything contentious at all. I mean, there was a bit about how it annoys me that my family don't consider me to be quite normal. Based on the fact that I walked in on a conversation they were having after a family wedding and overheard what they were saying.

But apart from that, I don't think anything I have posted on this blog over the last year and a half has been too bad. Apart from the fact that I have divulged the diagnosis which was foist upon me when I was nineteen and which has shaped the course of my life since then. The thing I find most shocking is that I have been writing this for so long now. It has been linked to Rethink for a year already... Where on earth does the time go these days?


Friday, 18 March 2011

I'm Whacked...


Getting a bit worried now. On 72,500 words. Still editing large passages, still have ever larger passages to edit. I suppose the problem, is the book I have written would take maybe ten solid hours for someone to read (this is a wild guess). SO when I am working on it, it is hard to keep an overview in my mind of where I am in the story.

And this is the story of my own life! How on earth does anyone manage to keep on top of things if they are writing a novel? Well, I suppose the fact that there are so many brilliant novels out there show that it can be done, so I will keep ploughing on...

I wrote for three hours again today, when Toddler was at play school. He went in as a pirate, for Comic Relief, though I had to bribe him with sweets before he let me put the costume on. He's not silly, that one.

The annoying thing about this morning is that I forgot to go to a really important appointment. Don't know how I managed that. I don't feel fully awake - I am struggling with the aftermaths of my cold, still full of phlegm and starting to cough. Guess I should give the writing a rest for the weekend - but I know I won't.

I turned on the computer this afternoon when I knew I shouldn't, and soon got sucked in. It was pretty weird, because after a couple of hours Granny (my Mum) popped in to see the kids. I had just been writing about how it was growing up with an alcoholic mother, then I am faced with her current incarnation - sweet-faced Granny, showing up as usual with bags of crisps for the kids.

Oh well. If I can't resist tapping away this weekend, at least I will be able to concentrate properly while Hubby watches the kids - if he doesn't mind doing that again. Maybe just for a few hours on each day. Gotta be finished sooner or later, the number of hours I have been putting in.

Anyway, I'm really aware that a lot of people reading this will have come over from Rethink and will be wondering why on earth they have bothered. At the moment this seems more like a journal than anything else. SO I will be watching that...

Bye for now. x

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Healing Power of Sleep

I love sleep. I love that I can go to bed, worn out and aching or mentally exhausted, and wake up in the morning feeling back to normal again. I love sleep so much that I find it difficult to get out of bed every day. This, not so good.

But I do get up, often earlier than I wish. Toddler has developed a bad habit in recent weeks. He wakes up and climbs into our bed, with his blanket, every morning between 6 and half past. We tell him to settle down and sleep a bit, it's not morning yet. But he just wriggles around being cute, giggling and kicking us until I give in, kiss and tickle him a bit and get up to make his breakfast. I am glad the clocks are going forward an hour soon. That should foil him...

I feel rested today, which is great. I am not really worried that all the manic writing will send me up the wall - on the three occasions when I have gone mad (psychotic) I have been totally unaware of it happening. Thinking it might happen seems to be a sign that it won't.

I have not been able to write much today anyway. I had an appointment at the hospital. Gynacology. Let's not go there. I settled myself in for a long wait, since the last time I went, to the Orthapaedic Department, it was a long, long haul. This time, though I was in an out in an hour. And I am fine. Enough said.

Phew. But then had to collect my new specs - an hour at Tesco sorting that out and getting a bit of shopping. And on the way back from there I decided to stop at a cafe. It is a special sort of cafe - one that has been set up as therapeutic work, to help people with mental health problems. I thought it might be good to have a cup of tea there and work on my laptop for a bit (I had it with me because I had taken it to the hospital, to fill the time).

I popped in there once before, a year or two ago, looking for voluntary work when I was doing my counselling course, but nobody was very helpful. Today I was vaguely thinking there might be somebody there who could help on the section where I am in hospital, being given a cocktail of psychiatric drugs. Chlorpromazine, haloperidol...others that I can't remember. I will have to look it up on the net, though, because I didn't really get the chance, or want to, broach the subject.

I think that therapeutic work settings are an excellent idea - bit perhaps they are not as therapeutic as they should be. Because if you have any problems of that sort, then ideally you shouldn't be around other people who are suffering in the same way. You need to be with people who are a hundred per cent normal, so that you know what sort of outlook you are aiming for.  

The problem with this cafe, I felt, was that there were not enough customers.  Should have been, because the food and drinks were good, and cheaply priced.  But I was the only person there.  And why was that, I wonder? 

I know I have been really lucky to get to where I am today. It is my family that has grounded me - having children has meant that I have been mixing for almost eleven years now with other Mums and their kids, and doing normal family stuff all the time, which has really helped to give me stability.

I don't know how what I'm trying to say here helps people who have been ill but who have no family, or not yet. I suppose once the florid symptoms of mental illness have gone, then work is the best option - voluntary work, maybe, so that there is no pressure.

Also, projects like the cafe I was at this morning should really encourage the public to come in. It is difficult, for so many reasons. But I don't know if I will go back - although I know I shouldn't be put off by one visit. Actually, I may go back to re-edit the hospital section of the book. Because it is all coming back to me now...

Being in the cafe also made me think of the reasons why people become mentally ill.  Often they are poor.  Often they are lonely.  Or they take the wrong sort of drugs, or they overworry and overthink.... Mental health problems are, I suppose, caused by stress of all sorts. But my point is, this stress is all very normal - lack of money, lack of life options, lack of a partner. And when people are healing or trying to heal, they should be treated a lot more normally too.

If I had not met Hubby I might still be floundering - if I had never got pregnant, I don't know how I would have ended up. I don't think I would ever have been properly well. I do know that I was never properly happy before I had my kids. I know kids aren't the answer for everyone, but they were for me. For other people, it may just be a significant other that keeps them on the straight and narrow. Or their friends.

Anyway, hopefully, perceptions of mental health are changing.  And I think the Internet is a big help here. 

Anyway, I do go on, don't I?

All the best. x.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Incredible Shrinking Book


Feel as though I am writing The Incredible Shrinking Book. I am down to 75,000 words now. What happened was, I finished the memoir years ago, but have been re-writing over the last six months. I was maybe half way through, but floundering - it looked like I was going to have enough material for three volumes...

So, faced with the prospect of suddenly having to knock the book into shape for the agent I unexpectedly solicited at the end of last week, I cut and pasted the old book - still on a floppy disc! - onto my new work. 107,000 words. Too much for a memoir, too many names, too complicated in style, too past tense...

Since then I have been editing like mad - literally. Anyway, I have made a lot of headway in the last three hours - while Hubby put the kids to bed. I have tidied up large chunks in the middle of the book, although I am hoping that I have not thrown the baby away with the bathwater.

Still got a long way to go. Still have no real idea of the timescale. But it can't go on like this for much longer, surely?

Now I am definitely going to finish for the evening. I have neglected poor Little Daughter, who has caught the cold that her sister and I have been suffering with. I am going to give her a cuddle and a kiss goodnight now, and get re-acquainted with my poor patient Hubby.


Still at it

Hi Guys

This is cutting edge stuff to me - but I am well aware that it may sound tedious to anyone else. Yeah, she's writing a lot, good for her...and what else?

Sorry, but it's my blog, and it is really exciting for me. I was up until 1 am in the end, fiddling with the ms. Well, I say fiddling, but it was rather more drastic than that - I started with 107,000 words and ended up with 85,000. If I hadn't finally gone to bed, Hubby would have got up this morning to find me in the kitchen manically staring at a blank screen, my book edited into the ether.

Today is Toddler's day off play school, but he obligingly announced that he really really wanted to go to school. Honestly, no pressure from me. Hubby was sighing deeply when I gave in to Toddler's whim, but I was pleased. I like our days off normally, but not having slept much, I wanted to rest a bit, and also go to Sainsburys. We are pretty much out of groceries.

So I got home from dropping off Toddler, sat down for a cup of tea, turned on the computer to check my email...and three hours later, having worked on a few more chapters, had to dash out to play school to collect him.

I did play with him when he got home, and gave him a bath and we watched TV together. Out of guilt. But once the others were home from school I started tapping again....somehow found time to shove fish fingers and chips in the oven, so the kids have been fed. Now Hubby is home and I have retired to the bedroom to write again. He is being very patient with all this.

It is like the Forth Bridge - I edit huge chunks, chapters on end, then scroll down to find ever more huge unedited chunks. I thought about printing it up to get an overview, which might help with the process - but it would use up all the ink and all the paper in the house.

Anyway, I will definitely get more sleep tonight, to avoid the onset of madness. Because I do need my eight hours.

I just can't believe how long this is all taking. It feels like forever. I must have done a week's worth of work in the last five or six days, and I am not even half way there.

Anyway. I hope this memoir business is not too tedious. If it is, skip it. I will soon be back to normality and posting in my usual hazy and haphazard, but hopefully helpful, way.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Wrting here, writing there

Hi Guys

Oh my goodness. I am in the throes of writing now. It is fab - the ideas keep coming. I am working on the memoir constantly. Changing a lot of it into the present tense so it is more immediate. Taking out a lot of twaddle. Picking out a lot of new stuff to write about that wasn't in the original book.

It is enjoyable. I feel a real sense of achievement, although in a way I am just fiddling. There is a vast section in the middle that I badly need to tackle - part re-written, part not, all tangled. It is my teenage years, which are probably not worth trying to make sense of as a whole anyway, but I would like it to be lucid enough to be readable.

So I keep ploughing on. I must have written for ten hours yesterday - I also cooked dinner and hoovered somehow, and put away the vast mountain of washing that has accumulated over the last week or so. I seem to be better at washing and drying the stuff than getting around to putting it back in the cupboards.

I have done almost three hours writing this morning since I took the kids to school. I stopped just now, wolfed down a tuna sandwich and half a box of Pringles without really tasting them, and now my tea is getting cold while I type this.

I have ignored my cold, which is nearly gone now. It was a bad one, but I have been so busy I have not allowed myself to notice it. Probably being in the Zone so much of the time has helped it to dissipate faster than usual.

What I really must do now is go for a lovely calming walk with the dog. It is a beautiful day out there. I have one more hour before I have to collect Toddler from play school. What I want to do is keep writing.

If I keep this up (and I really can't stop myself at the moment) I will have a finished book very soon (so even if the agent I sent it to isn't interested, I can send it elsewhere).

But I must not let myself get burned out. Other people can afford to stay up all night when the muse gets them, churning out page after page of poetry or prose. I have stay sane enough to devote myself to my wonderful family during the day. Last night I was dreadful - had a shower at about eleven then sat down to write again afterwards, because I was still buzzing and didn't want to lose any of the thoughts that had come to me in the shower. Still went to bed before twelve though.

Music group for Toddler today after play school. Then when the others finish school, Toddler's Big Brother has to be dropped off for a play date, and then the girls taken to their piano lessons. So I will put away the computer now until this evening.

Maybe just a quick tweak of the ms first...


Sunday, 13 March 2011

Getting on with things at last


When I say getting on with things, I mean writing - I am scribbling like a maniac now, trying to finish the book. But of course, this means neglecting other things - like the housework, which is reaching dire proportions. And the children - hubby is here to look after them, but they want me, because that is what they are used to. My eldest has just stormed off in a paddy, because I am on the computer and can't help her with her homework (she has no idea of the existence of this blog, so I have secreted myself in the kitchen while cooking dinner to write a quick post).

I spent hours this afternoon outdoors in my writing shed, and that was pretty peaceful (although I got a bit absorbed and hubby was annoyed because I didn't make it to Sainsbury to do the shopping. He had to go, with Toddler.)

But that is the problem. How do you have a family, and a career? I mean, writing is the one thing that looks like it can be done around the family, and even that throws up conflicts. I suppose I should only write in the evenings, or when they are at school. But I just really need to get this memoir hammered into shape...

Anyway, that is the worst of my problems at the moment, which is clearly not so bad. I hope all (any?) of you readers are getting on with things too, in as simple and straightforward a manner as possible. Remember, life is to be enjoyed. Take all you can from it.

By the way. Anybody who is wondering how I can write about me me me, still, with all that is happening in Japan; I don't know. I feel that I should just stop, and watch, and think about how to help all those people who have been swallowed up, literally and metaphorically, by the tsunami. I used to have nightmares about tidal waves - other people live the reality. I am sorry. Truly.


Friday, 11 March 2011

The Memoir

And - I did it! Spent the last four or so hours (sorry, Toddler, but he had the TV and later his sisters as babysitters) formulating a submission which I then emailed to an agent. Didn't feel like such a biggie once I was actually in the process of doing it. I didn't tell the prospective agent about this blog, because then she might find out that the book isn't actually finished yet (!). Well, I did finish it years ago, but it isn't in a fit state now to send out in its entirety - half re-drafted, half not yet.

So that has given me a giant kick up the backside to get on with things. The agent I sent it to promises to get in touch within six weeks, so I am going to work on it every single minute I can get now, and hammer the thing into shape. Just in case she asks to see the rest of it.

Not so terrified at the moment about the world knowing my 'schizophrenia' secret. I told a group of people at a writing course last October and it felt strangely liberating. Trying to put the lid back on the box since then and slot back into my daily life has only made me aware of how hard it is to fight something - prejudice and stigmatism - when you are trying to pretend not to have a mental health problem at all.

Also, am beginning to realise that a lot of my acquaintances, people who I don't want knowing my history, are only on the margins of my life. My eldest is about to move up to secondary school and that means about twenty of the people I have seen regularly for the last seven years - parents of her friends - are about to disappear from my life. Those that matter will stay, of course, but those are my friends, people who shouldn't be put off me by the whiff of a mental health problem in my past. And if they are, who cares?

My other concern is that if this book does get published, and read, then I will be classed as a schizophrenic writer, and I want to be so much more than the sum of my experiences. I want to write more poetry, kids stories and rhymes, maybe a novel one day. But first things first... let's see if I can get what I have written into print to start with.

Wish me luck!

Schizophrenia and Exercise

Hi again

A short homily on exercise. As we all know, it is good for us. Essential in fact. A Paul McKenna book I am reading at the moment, 'I Can Make You Happy' (the flattering front cover photo of the author gazing seductively out makes this promise seem a bit personal) says that twenty minutes a day is enough to significantly raise happiness levels.

However, I have mentioned here before that I find exercise is best when taken in a solitary manner, or at least with people that you know so well that you don't need to make an effort to communicate with them. Today, instead of tramping along the beach with my dog in my usual unfriendly-seeming way I made an effort to engage with others - maybe because the sun was out and I felt oddly jolly. But, although all those people I encountered were extremely pleasant, by the end of my walk I felt drained instead of energised.

It is time I accepted that I am not as other people - that although it looks very nice to be chatting away to everybody you meet, it doesn't do for me. Which doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with me. I just don't find it relaxing. Next week I will go back to smiling and nodding, maybe a 'hello' or two, and that's it. Also, next week I am hoping to get back into a writing routine, which may mean walking the dog for less time, or later in the day.

The memoir stalled just before half term and has stayed stalled. I have been blogging a bit of course, and emailing and journaling - all the things I enjoy doing but which don't qualify as 'proper' writing, at least not in my head.

The time off writing, or 'head space' as I think of it, has done me good - the house got nice and tidy for a few days (although it has deteriorated quite quickly and now looks worse than ever) and the ideas have started to flow again. I feel that I can go back to my memoir now with a fresh outlook, which it badly needed. I am also trying to get my head around the idea of looking for an agent. I am writing a book which I believe in, and I am starting to think that I should be proud of my experiences instead of always trying to cover up who I am and where I have come from. To this end, three people apart from hubby now know of the existence of this blog, and slowly slowly I may start to tell more. And if I do get an agent, who in turn gets a publisher on board, then I may well decide to publish and be damned...

Enough for now. x.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Schizophrenia and Hope

Hi Guys

Feeling loads more positive today. A friend referred me to an article by Emma Harding - a clinical psychologist with the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, and it was a complete revelation. This woman suffered a psychosis and was diagnosed with schizophrenia and she writes about her experience and her recovery openly and honestly. What an inspiration! Look it up for yourselves on psychminded.co.uk

Also, had an evening out with some of the Mums from school last night and still felt like a normal person at the end of the night (this is good, I often feel like I have three heads after one of these occasions). The difference this time is down to two things - a) that I was feeling positive at the start of the evening having just read the above-mentioned article, and b) that this particular group of Mums are more on my wavelength than those I know from my elder kids' year groups. As illustrated by the fact that nobody went clubbing after the meal. And other things that I won't mention for fear of sounding cruel or snobbish, which I really hope I am not.

Today I had a leisurely day out with friends - bliss. Came home to a tableful of hungry kids and a meal cooked by hubby - lucky me. Toddler was simultaneously hyped-up and tired out - which resulted in strange behaviour such as dipping all his food into his juice, 'To get it wet' before he ate it - something he has never done before and that I really hope he is not going to make a habit of. I thought it best to just ignore it today, but will have to formulate a strategy if he tries it again. 'No' will not work - with Toddler that word is like a red rag to a bull.

I will leave it at that for today. Au revoir for now. x.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

So Tired

I guess a lot of people reading this, since most of my traffic comes through Rethink, are in the same boat as me. That is, living a sort of half life. I mean, I'm not, exactly underachieving - I have a wonderful brood of kids, a husband and a home. Lots of people probably envy my lifestyle, based at home with the kids. Other Mums have to work, to pay for childcare or the mortgage or whatever.

And I love that I have the privilege of bringing up my own children. I couldn't rest easy leaving my babies in other hands - I'm too selfish, for one, and too suspicious for another. But it does irk me sometimes that this is not my choice. I have got a degree, for God's sake - a Law degree. When I took the eleven plus test I got the highest mark for English that anybody in the country had ever had before. There was a time when the only thing I knew about myself for sure was that I was clever. Too clever, perhaps. Or maybe not as clever as I thought.

Anyway, now, in my forties, the only jobs I have ever held are cleaning jobs, or waitressing, or once, at the apex of my career, a year or so in a call centre. This bugs me. I want to achieve something. And although my friends say I have, with the kids, and I know that is true, it is not what I mean.

My nervous problems, my so-called schizophrenia, things, whatever, have cheated me of my future. Yet it is not that simple. I never had a future career. I just thought I did. And if I had I would have missed out on all the time with the kids or maybe not even have made the time to have all four of them - and either of those options would have been a lot worse than the burden of a diagnosis.

Anyway, I suppose that I, and any of the rest of you on benefits, have to square the bonuses with the bad side of it all. The discrepancy between what we thought life might hold in store for us and how it has turned out. I can't deny that I am different from the majority of other people. I am no longer sure though that I want to be the same as everyone else. Like everything else in life, it turns out to be a matter of balance - doing enough to be busy and feel useful, stopping for long enough to smell the flowers.

Sorry, guys, if this reads as a strange rant. I am sleep deprived. X.