Thursday, 30 June 2011

Free to be Me!

I like this Duane Sherry M S. Just found her website 'Discover and Recover ' (apparently it used to be a blog but has recently been changed).  I could spend hours reading it all - but although I have barely grazed the surface yet I am impressed and inspired.

I found Duane through Rossa Forbes' blog - she had posted a comment about how psychiatric patients, or former ones, can now consider themselves free.  This is something I kind of worked out already, by writing this blog over the last eighteen months or so - psychiatry is a load of tosh, so I and all other former patients are free from these labels already, if we let ourselves be.

I have an active and happy life.  I don't think most people these days see me as having any particular problems.  Maybe even a psychiatrist might say one day soon to me, 'Oh, you have been off medication for ten years and you have a family and you are well? And now you have written a book. OK, so it must have been a mistake.  You don't have schizophrenia'.

On the one hand, that would be great.  A psychiatrist actually told me after the birth of my second daughter that he was going to review my diagnosis - and for the two weeks until he came back and said that actually the diagnosis must stand (he had spoken to the rest of the 'Team', whoever they were, in the meantime and I suppose read through my notes) I felt really good.  Like a proper person.

But I have kind of moved on.  I'm not sure I would accept a re-diagnosis now as happily as I would have done a few years ago.  Because that then leaves all the other people, who haven't recovered, who 'do' still have it. And I don't feel that is fair - if you get better against all the odds, you didn't have the illness after all.  If you never get better - 'Well, ha ha, we were right'.

Oh, and the other thing. Even if somebody tells me I haven't got schizophrenia and I never had, I am still kind of sunk in the jobs market. When my eldest daughter started school word got around that I have a law degree (ok, I boast about it sometimes, it makes me feel better) and the Mums were a bit confused about why I had never done anything with it.

Well, because I couldn't. Because my perceptions of what I was capable of were skewed by the idea that I had a permanent illness and I believed I had no place in the workplace. My confidence in my abilities has sunk very low and stayed there for a long time.

And even if I hadn't felt like that I wouldn't have been given a job with my medical history.  A friend told me today that there is an advert on the TV at the moment about this - a guy goes for a job, he's written 'mental health problems' on the application form, and the interviewer starts to surreptitiously move all the sharp objects on the desk out of his reach. 


I have avoided lots of things over the years in case my diagnosis became public.  For example, many years ago I was invited to take up a position at my daughter's school, as Clerk to the Governors Meetings, but was put off by the fact that I had to fill out an application form first, with a medical questionnaire. I have wasted years of my life not taking up opportunities, or not looking for them because of worry about what people would think if they found out about my mental health history.  Particularly the diagnosis.   

And now it has been so many years since I worked that there is an unbridgeable gap on my CV. And also, if I am honest, I have a young family and I have enjoyed being able to stay at home to look after them. So the not being able to work kind of played in my favour too, although that made me feel guilty.

Now my attitude is changing.  I am aware that I suffer from stress, but who doesn't?  I am going to stop thinking of myself as inherently weak.  And certainly not going to consider myself as having a mental illness any more. 

I don't dislike psychiatrists per se, by the way. A friend of mine is one. I also have lots of friends who are nurses and my kids and I have been treated by lots of good doctors for various ailments, so I am not anti the medical profession at all. I just don't think they have all the answers.

But thanks Duane and Rossa. I am sorry I have only just found your blogs, because I think you and others out there like Ron Unger and Rufus May (he has a website that can be found by searching his name) are doing a great job already. I just want to add my voice to the chorus.

I read a comment on Rossa's blog yesterday about the use of the word schizophrenia - I can't remember who, but somebody said it makes them sick to even hear that word. And that person is right - the word needs to go, along with a lot of outdated attitudes. I am sorry that I use it so much, on this blog and in my book. But I do it for the right reasons - to draw attention to how wrong it is to label, to pidgeonhole people.

Enough for now.  And by the way, I am wondering why nobody has been commenting on here in the last few days.  Has anybody read the book yet?  Does anybody have an opinion or a question or a thought to share with me?  Is anybody out there?  Hello?  Hello?...
Louise x

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

To Friends!

Hi Everyone

This is not a post to my own friends, but a toast to friends in general.  For all they do, for all they mean... 

Anyway, I am a bit sleep deprived at the moment and I don't want to write a load of sentimental rubbish on here and then regret it in the cold light of day.  I am really pleased though, so far, with how my friends and family have reacted to the book and to this blog. 

Paul's parents have been fantastic.  Much better than I had hoped.  Ditto my sisters, those that I have heard from so far.  The School Mums (and Dads) don't all know - but the ones who do are fine.  They are mostly kind of avoiding the subject, which is understandable.  But I am sure if I started a dialogue with any of them they would be reasonable and kind.  Most people are.  The Mum I wrote about yesterday invited me in and we had a quick chat and everything was normal.

My Facebook page and my email inbox are bursting with messages of support and encouragement.  It has been lovely.

And of course, I do realise that although this is a huge issue for me, other people have other stuff going on.  I am not at the forefront of everybody's minds.  People will soon forget that I have a problem.  Which, again, suits me fine.

So as long as I don't go off the rails - and there is no reason why I should after all these years - things should carry on pretty much as before.  I don't intend to talk about my past history all day long to everyone I see - although I have signed up to be a Rethink Activist which means the Rethink people may call me to participate in media campaigns if and when they need me. 

My routine should settle down now.  I am going to work to get the book read, so if I get on anybody's nerves with seeming to plug it on here - sorry.  It is worth reading, I promise.  I am going to keep writing other stuff too.  And I am going to keep on with this blog - hopefully daily - with the aim of de-stigmatising mental illness and doing away with old-fashioned and outmoded psychiatric diagnoses. 

  That's all for today.  Louise. x.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

What is Schizophrenia?

Hi again
I slept, and feel fine again today. Went to an Alexander technique lesson (session?) this morning and that was helpful. It is only my second lesson, but so far I am pleased - it seems to be very good at rooting one in the present. Which is what I need.
I took the dog for a walk afterwards, and realised that the present is actually pretty good right now. Warm weather, freedom to roam in a green field, pleasant passers-by... Now I've come back to the computer to get bogged down in all this again. Also, uplifted by it - it does help to write and it is something that I would, and do, recommend to absolutely everybody. Just don't feel you have to do it in view of the world.
The last few days I have been panicking about the content of this blog - I can't go back and edit posts for some reason, and I have been a bit indiscreet on occasions. I was just driving along (on my way back from the lesson) thinking about it and worrying. Then it occurred to me that I haven't got time to read all the back posts anyway, even if I could edit them. So it is just another thing to move on from. And learn from.
Also, all this should help me to focus on the purpose of this blog - to help other sufferers of mental illness, or people who have recovered but still don't feel able to see themselves as the same as everybody else. People who have had mental health problems, and those who haven't (or not yet) should recognise that we all get tangled up in our own thoughts, our own minds at times. Some people just go through this more than others.
And things that have happened to us in the past should not define our futures. Which brings me to the original reason for this post.
A lot more people are reading this blog at the moment, some of them are friends or family. A simple search on the net now brings you straight here. And some of them will be wondering, 'What is Schizophrenia?'
In fact, I popped in to see a friend yesterday. I had sent her an email (along with most other people in my contact list) to tell her about the book and to ask not to judge or even think anything, if possible, until or unless they read it. I was particularly nervous about her reaction because she is a School Mum.
She didn't say anything about it when I saw her, until I asked 'Have you read my e-mail?'
Then she politely said, 'Oh yes. So, did you have schizophrenia then? Do you still have it?'
'Well, they said I'd never recover' I told her, and then when she didn't laugh, 'But I don't think I'm mad all the time' and then of course she did laugh.
It is just such a huge leap for people to make in their minds, and I am sorry that I have had to do this. I did think it through for a long time.
Now I need to explain my view on the diagnosis. You could find this out by reading all the back posts - particularly the early ones on here. But it would take a while to get the full picture. SO for those who know me, and those who don't, I will try to explain what I now think about schizophrenia.
I don't know whether I had schizophrenia. I don't know whether anyone has it. I don't know whether I still have it. I was seriously mentally ill on three occasions and I was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia. But - that diagnosis was based on observation of my behaviour, while I was in a mental hospital. No doubt about it, I was seriously deranged. I had psychosis (this means that I had very disturbed thoughts). My behaviour was bizarre.
But - again - I have never hurt anybody in my life. I am not a violent person. I have never deliberately even hurt anybody's feelings. And most people who have a diagnosis of schizophrenia are the same - they are much more frightened than frightening. Which is why so many of them commit suicide. Luckily for me, I have never been suicidal. Just very nutty.
Between my breakdowns I have had long periods of time when I have been well. I passed a Law degree, I had relationships, I lived alone or with other people. Sometimes I was happy. But I was always very very nervous, almost all of the time. I worried, I panicked. I found it very hard to relax.
This is all in the book, by the way.
What I am trying to get at ( and I am writing in short paragraphs because my blog keeps bunching up - when I publish it the spaces between the paragraphs disappear - really annoying) is that I don't think the term 'Schizophrenia' should exist. I think it gets between the person and the treatment, the person and the world. Once I was told I was SCHIZOPHRENIC my life changed. That diagnosis is not fair - it is adding an extra burden.
I use the word a lot in this blog, I use it in my book. That is because it gets people's attention, for all the wrong reasons.
If you look up schizophrenia on the Net, you will usually find an explanation of a chemical imbalance in the brain. A disease of the mind, that sort of thing. It is the given scientific explanation. But - and I am not making this up - if you dig a little deeper you will find that there is no scientific reasoning behind that at all. Look at Rossa Forbes' blog 'Holistic Recovery from Schizophrenia' and it will lead you to others.
Psychiatry is not a science. Psychiatrists treat people who are mentally ill with medication. I do not object to that medication per se - I don't know enough about it. (I do object to the forced administration of it, but that is something to read about in the book. I am running out of time to write this blog post and I want to try to express myself properly here).
I would never tell or advise or suggest to anyone to stop taking any sort of medication, for anything. Or take any action at all without consulting doctors, family, friends, everyone possible. But - nor would I advise anyone that they should take psychiatric drugs for ever, to prevent themselves becoming ill in the future. This is what mental health professionals said to me. I was also told that my 'prognosis' was very bad, that I would get worse as I got older. This was said in unequivocal terms. For several years after this my life was in limbo - I had no hope for the future.
Now, obviously, I have proved them wrong. I take no drugs at all now, I have a family and a future. But they nearly took that away - and I believed their prediction for so long that I wasted years of my life not even trying to get better.
It is only through writing down my thoughts in this blog that I came to the conclusion that - hey, if they were wrong about my future, perhaps they were wrong about the diagnosis too? They couldn't look into my brain and see what I was thinking. They couldn't forecast how I would cope over the coming years. They didn't know me at all really - they only knew how I was when I was floridly ill (which was obviously very alarming). But was it fair to write me off?
And I worry about other people in the system now, about their futures. I see people who I was in hospital with who are still obviously unwell and I feel terribly guilty that I haven't tried to help them more. They never found the confidence to believe in themselves again.
The process of recuperation - convalesence - after a serious mental illness is a long one. Psychosis is a serious shock to the system. But the starting point should always be - 'You will get better'. So that is my purpose with the book and with this blog - to do away with the diagnosis of schizophrenia.
I may have damaged some of my personal relationships in the process of doing all this. I hope not. But I realise how lucky I have been - to meet Paul, to have the kids, to have so many good friends and family around me, and to have started to see myself as a person again - a damaged person, but not a bad one. One who has been given the chance to be happy. And I want others to have the same chance.
Let me say it again - please don't anyone stop taking any medication because of me. Sometimes people need help to get them through difficult times. I leave that to the medics - traditional and alternative healers, whatever. It is not my field.
But - you can, and you will, get better. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes courage and determination and luck and all the help you can find, wherever you can find it. But there is hope for the future. Louise. x.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Monday, but not as I knew it

Actually, not a lot has changed, except in my head. I feel somewhat liberated from the past - but some trepidation about the future has crept in... Only to be expected, I suppose.
I thought I would write today on the subject of the book (what else?) Because things run through my mind sometimes on the subject (like, all the time). And what I have been doing for the last nine months in earnest is editing (I completed the book for the first time about eight years ago, and have been changing it ever since, but never as much as this time).
I even edited after I put it on Amazon - not the text, just a few typos. But then I bought a copy myself to check the corrections had gone through (they had), spotted a few more, and then started reading through it... And now I am at it again... I wish I'd explained that a bit better, maybe left that whole bit out.... I could go on like this forever. Because your perspective on life changes, doesn't it, as you age, and some things seem more or less important than they used to, and - and so on. I have left two cups of tea to grow cold since I sat down on the computer this morning. I need to cut down on words...
So anyway, the bit of the book about my sojourn in Israel in particular, and the comments about religion in general have been worrying me. I like my writing to be clear, and when I re-read the book last night it seemed that there was a conflict inherent in my attitude to religion.
Which there would be. I mean, I was Christian until I was ten or eleven, then Jewish, but then after a couple of years of the family going to synagogue, learning Hebrew in Sunday school and so on it sort of fizzled out and nobody practised any sort of religion any more.
I learned about the Holocaust, felt awful (who wouldn't?) and identified with my new race, especially after living in Israel and making some wonderful friends there.
But when religion was discussed, once I was old enough to have an opinion I declared myself to be an agnostic. When I had my breakdowns there was always a religious element involved (I will always cringe at the memory of thinking myself to be the 'Lamb of God'). SO when I got better I veered right away from religion again.
Then I started thinking about spirituality. I have always thought there must be more to the world than what we see. Another dimension, because - well, there just must be. Because otherwise what would be the point. I thought about that for years. And I find that nowadays I do believe in God - well, I call that entity God. Really, I have no idea still, but it seems a safe bet. There is a name for this idea - basically you might as well believe, because you can't lose. I am not that cynical about it though.
I believe there is a God because, in a nutshell, I have my kids and they are so great and I am so happy now. But I know this is not a watertight theory - my friend was quite shocked a couple of years ago when I told her I now believe - she said she had her kid too and that wasn't proof of God's existence for her (and obviously she doesn't love him any less). It just works for me.
But I can't say there is a right or wrong way to worship this God. I have links to the Church through my children who have learned about God at school. I will never say that I am not Jewish because I feel that would be a betrayal of the Jewish race (although a lot of Jews don't see me as Jewish at all because my mother converted, so it is only in my blood through my father's line). I have a little Buddha on my mantelpiece because Buddism is obviously good.  And I had a very good friend at University who was a devout Muslim and wrote a wonderful dissertion on the subject of Islamic law, which she was all in favour of. SO Muslims are good too. And Sikhs, obviously (have I left anyone out? Panicking).
It is all very confusing and therefore I try not to ponder it too much. I don't even know my own mind when it comes to religion. But I think what I think and I am happy for others to do the same. Why is there any conflict on the subject? Well, if I was to tackle that I would have to start spouting on about politics and I am sure I could not construct even one coherent sentence on that subject. I'll leave it there.
So, in the book, where I say something like 'Religion and politics are not my thing - I am too ready to see both sides of an argument', that is what I am getting at. These things are big subjects and I am mostly concerned with getting through the day to day stuff in my life. Which I do in my own peculiar way...
But obviously I have thought about it all over the years. Perhaps too much. But not to much effect.
Enough now. I didn't get enough sleep last night so I am going to get back to thinking about something normal now. Like the washing.
Louise x

Sunday, 26 June 2011


Hi Everybody
Well, I slept for many hours today, so I no longer feel in danger of going round the bend. Touch wood, cross my fingers and all that stuff.
I do feel a little vulnerable though. I woke up this morning with misgivings. In the last couple of hours I have been reading through the back posts to this blog, making sure that while I was under the blanket of anonymity I hadn't said anything that might be construed as hurtful to anyone else. Then found an entry that was pretty damaging. Tried to edit it. And the darned thing won't be changed!
I don't even know if this post will publish. Seems to be something up with this site.
I am panicking somewhat. So let me try to explain (without being too specific, because I'm still hoping to be able to go back and change it later).
At times this blog has helped me to vent my feelings, which obviously would not have been vented in public. At those times I moved away from the purpose of it, which was to help others who have been through similar experiences, and used it more as a journal, an expression of my private thoughts.
So now my private thoughts are public (not all of them, luckily!) But if anybody reads anything that offends them, please remember that is just what I was thinking at the time, not necessarily what I thought the next day, or this morning. I still hope that no-one who reads this blog will find anything upsetting in it! But if they do, I hope they understand.
Louise x

Saturday, 25 June 2011

The Book

Hi Everyone
I spoke to my Mum on the phone last night, for about an hour. She is being absolutely amazing about the whole thing. So that is another worry I can discard!
So relieved. But, and I am so sorry about this, the book won't be available for another 24 hours again. I spotted some typos in the text - I had put 'small talks' instead of 'small talk' at one point, repeated the word 'When', and there were a few spelling errors. I decided it's best to sort this out now. Also, at the end of chapter 17, I had written 'Sally' and it should have read 'Jane'. This is because I changed the name of my sister Jane to Sally when I was trying to change all the names a few weeks ago (the most recent occasion that I bottled out of full disclosure), and that one had slipped past me when I changed them back. Ditto later in the text it said 'Lisa' which should have been 'Debbie'.
It would have bugged me if I hadn't changed it. I hate sloppiness. This blog has been slightly sloppy in the last couple of days - I have spotted a couple of typos that I haven't changed yet, but it won't take long and I can do it anytime. Whereas if anybody bought the book in the next day or two those people might have been confused by those name errors.
I could have changed a few more things while I was at it - improved some bits in the book - but I don't want to start that, or I could be doing it forever (again). Anyway, my Mum is happy, the sister who has read it so far is happy...I am happy.
I slept very little last night though, so will definitely be getting an early night tonight. And will really definitely try very hard to not turn on the computer at all tomorrow. Would be quite ironic to have a breakdown while in the process of publishing a book about recovery...I'd really rather that didn't happen.
More anon. Sorry about the publishing blip. Hopefully I won't spot any more glaring errors - shouldn't have happened. Onwards and upwards.
'Gillett' is my maiden name by the way. My married surname is so unusual that I really couldn't use it - but the picture is me so I know that word will out (plus I put a link to the book on my Facebook page so a lot of my friends already know). I just thought, for the sake of my kids, it's maybe better like this for now.
Louise x

Friday, 24 June 2011

Need to leave this stuff alone!

Hi Everyone
It's late at night and I'm on the darned computer. A bit overwrought... Had some really lovely feedback from my Facebook friends today. Spoke to one sister on the phone to tell her about the book, texted another. There are still loads of people who don't know about all this, but I guess slowly that will change.
My Mum came around this afternoon, and I dropped the bombshell. Explained that I love her, etc etc. Then opened up the computer file and let her read. Two hours later, she was still sitting at the kitchen table reading, having not spoken a word to me. (Except to say 'No' when I asked if she wanted anything to eat or drink).
Meanwhile, I tidied up in the kitchen, cooked the kids' dinner, fed them and had a shower. At 6pm Paul came home and I had to leave with the girls (they have a committment on Friday evenings and sometimes I have to help out). I left Paul with Mum, still reading, and the boys. Phoned him a couple of hours later - she had finished reading and gone home.
He said she was ok. She said 'Well, there's nothing in there that isn't true' and then she went home. I haven't spoken to her since I got in, will do tomorrow though. I suppose it went as well as could be expected. I was so worried in case she was upset. But at least I told her myself and I explained it all...I've done my best.
I've been fiddling with the profile settings on here - picture should come up now. Also figured out how to follow other blogs (I must have worked this out at some point ages ago because I was already following two, one that hadn't been updated for years and one that I never read anymore).
I will add some more when I get the chance. But this weekend I want to leave the book thing alone as much as I can - be with the kids, do normal stuff, relax, stop thinking about me all the time. It's been exhausting - exhilarating, enervating....
Now it's Enough. Louise.

Surviving Schizophrenia

Hi again
Just found out that you can read the book on your PC - Amazon have a free Kindle app that you can download. Which makes it easier.
We will still get the paper version out when we can.

Link to the Book Surviving Schizophrenia: A Tale of Sound and Fury

Hi Everybody
I have been trying to post a link to the book. I am not having much luck. So the best I can say is, please Google it. If you go to (or in the USA) you will see a book entitled Surviving Schizophrenia: A Tale of Sound and Fury by Louise Gillett. That's me on the front cover! Sorry, it's only available as an e-book right now. If you have an ipod Touch or iphone or a Kindle reading device you can download the first seven and a half chapters free and see if you like it.
We (Paul and I) are going to get the paper version out as soon as we can manage. Amazon have a print on demand service, but I don't want to set the price too high and if you don't set it above a certain rate you actually lose money on each copy... So we may just print a couple of hundred copies or so as soon as we can afford to. Will keep you posted.
Hopefully, Paul will help me to improve the links to the book on this blog over the next few days and weeks. (I have set up a Twitter page, still in its infancy, and intend to do MySpace etc). I was greatly encouraged by the fact that a schoolfriend (who I haven't seen for at least twenty years) messaged to say that she read the book in two hours and loved it. My main concern in the last 24 hours has been whether the writing would stand up to scrutiny (because the rest of people's reactions are out of my hands). I want to be known as a writer, not as someone who suffered and wrote a book about recovery.
Which is also something I've been turning over in my head the last day or so - that the book is not enough about recovery. It is my story, up to and including the birth of the children, but the last few chapters do speed through the matter of how I got to the point where I am now. The point where you would be hard pushed to tell me apart from any other middle class Mum etc...
Well, maybe if enough people are interested, in another ten years or so I will elaborate on all that. Because partly I was lucky. Partly I was stubborn. I don't know - I don't have all the answers, and regular readers of this blog will know that I still have moments of self-doubt. Recovery is an on-going process perhaps. I am medication-free, I love my life, but I can never say that I will never be mentally ill again. But then nobody knows what life has in store for them...
I have been worrying about my Mum. I do hope that I get across in the book what a special person she is. I know she will be hurt that I have written about her alcoholism. She has always been such a private person. I don't blame her for anything that happened to me. She did her best, despite the drink.
Mum was the only person in or outside my family who never believed I had schizophrenia. A nurse told me Mum was in denial, that it was a problem parents often have with mental illness, that she should recognise what was wrong with me. But actually, I am proud of my Mum for believing in me, for trying to tell me that there was hope.
In one passage in the book I write about how Mum went to work (as night sister in a nursing home) drunk. I feel rotten about divulging that. But it is the truth and the truth is important for many reasons. And if anybody is tempted to judge my Mum, they need to know that she had no choice over her actions - she was in the grip of an illness.
If you hadn't all guessed - Mum hasn't read the book yet! She doesn't even know it is published yet! I am terrified!
I am hoping to see her later on today, because obviously I need to talk to her about this before anybody else does. I hope she will understand that I had to write about her because she is part of my story. But that I love her immensely and always have, and I am grateful to her for everything - for giving me life, for doing her best.
Anyway, on a different note, I went to my first lesson in the Alexander Technique today. Thanks again Rossa Forbes, for your blog 'Holistic Recovery from Schizophrenia' which I chanced across the other day and which has already led me in an interesting new direction.
Louise (feels weird writing my name here!) x.
PS for several days now these posts have not has spaces between the paragraphs again. This is because it won't publish a post unless I go to 'Eidt Posts' and publish from there, and then it changes the format. Aplologies if it makes the posts harder to read. I will try to get hubby to help me with that later too.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Morning After

Hi Everyone
Hubby (Paul!) and I were up late last night publishing the book to Kindle Amazon. I lay in bed thinking of improvements I could have made .... I suppose I will always feel that the story of my life is a work in progress - what to leave in, what to take out, how to express myself as clearly as possible...
I am going to add a photo here later - and one to the Twitter account I have just set up. Part of me is still wondering if I have been a bit foolish with all this - but I have been considering it for a long time and mostly I feel relieved that the hiding is over. It will make life a lot simpler in a lot of ways - for example I can stop trying to make everybody like me now, because some people are just never going to! There is a germ of truth in that comment, although it is not very well expressed. My excuse is the deficit in sleep.
So anyway, now it is going to be a matter of encouraging people to read the book. I believe it is well-written - if I didn't think that I couldn't have put it out there. I think it is a worthwhile read in itself, not just for the message it contains. So I am going to get on with the publicity side of things, really work to get the book read, and then see what happens.
Louise. x.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

I've Done It!

Hi Everybody
Well. I got the long awaited letter from the agent in today's post. It said that because they are busy with existing clients, and because they are not sure whether they could sell my book to a major publisher - Thanks, but no thanks.
Which is fine. In fact, I am quite pleased - I had grown frustrated with waiting for so long, and felt myself unable to get on with other projects in the meantime. If the agent had wanted to represent me, I would have had to wait even longer for him to sell the book to a publisher - and then if he did, wait even longer until I saw it on the shelves.
Having made up my mind at last to stop being anonymous, I just want to get on with it now.
Then hubby arrived home from work. He had seen an article on the BBC website about publishing online with Kindle Amazon. We went online and watched a video about how to do this. And already - this evening - we are publishing the book!
It should be available within 24 hours. Wow. And aargh! And wow.
So please watch this space, if you are interested, and in a very short period of time my memoir will be available in Kindle e-book form. If it sells, we will use the money to publish a paperback version as soon as possible after.
Sorry to write such an entirely self-centred post. But I really believe that this book will be useful to other sufferers and their families. I hope I am right.
All the best to everyone.
Oh, and the book is called 'Surviving Schizophrenia: A Tale of Sound and Fury'.
By Louise Gillett.
There. I've done it. x

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Moving Forward

Hi Guys
No letter from the agent in today's post. Aagh! Well, it must be due to arrive tomorrow - a letter from London can't take more than two days. Unless they sent it second class...
Oh well. I am pretty sure it is a 'No thanks' because they would have got in touch a long time ago if they were keen. But I need the letter before I can move on. I am almost sure now that I am going to break my cover and stop posting anonymously and self-publish my book. If the agent wants to represent me then I will have to do it his way and it will definitely take a lot longer.
So, after tomorrow - time to move forward! I am stressed at the thought, but it seems to be an inevitable step.
Anyway, I will need to stop tweaking the book soon if it is going to print, and so I should be using every last second to make it the best it can be before that happens. Instead, I have spent the last two hours surfing the net.
Came up with some great sites/blogs that I want to pass on.
Rossa Forbes 'Holistic Recovery from Schizophrenia'.
Rufus (this guy did a great TV film a while ago - you can view it, and other stuff on his site).
Ron Unger's blog (Google it). Erudite, interesting.
Anyway, must go now, all the best to you all. x.

Monday, 20 June 2011

More about my Feet

Doesn't the title of this post just draw you in and make you want to read more? What do you mean, no?
Anyway, been to the hospital today and been given insoles to wear in my shoes. Found them extremely uncomfortable, and have given up already. Because the only thing that is going to cure my bunions is an operation, and until I am ready to go through with that I don't think there is any point in short term measures that just cause more discomfort. Bit of a shame to have wasted the NHS time and resources though.
I will have the op though. One day.
I called the agent again today and the girl on the phone said a letter was going out to me in the post today. 'A good letter or a bad letter?' I asked. She said she didn't know, that she had just seen my name on the envelope. I think it is a bad letter. Anyway, I will have to wait until tomorrow to find out for sure... This all takes so darn long. And that is just trying to get an agent - if he took the book goodness knows how long the next stage would take.
Had a chat with an old friend today - told her my diagnosis and she didn't faint with shock. So that is a step in the right direction. She said she thought I should go public with the book - that the only way stigma will stop is if we are all more open about mental health issues.
So, I think I probably will. If the agent doesn't take the work, I will just publish myself. I will contact some mental health charities, see if they can help with publicity, hammer out the final version of the book, and go for it.
Probably. Almost certainly.
Anyway, gotta go. I spent an hour the other day writing a blog post that then wouldn't post and then I lost the draft version, which made me extrememly stressed, so I have resolved not to spend too much time on this one. Hope you are all well and happy. X.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Editing the last post

Trying to correct last post - can't. This site annoying ineptitude is annoying me. Wanted to put 'mutually appreciate one another' instead of 'have mutual appreciation of'. Hate bad grammar. Hate the fact that I can't edit the post I have just written and thus have to display my anal retentiveness by correcting it on a separate post.

On the bright side - love the fact that I am able to express myself properly here, even if the method of expression of self is rather clunky at times. I am SO much better in writing than in person! In person I just stare at people while my mind whirrs in slow motion, trying to formulate a proper answer to whatever it is they have just asked me. Not all the time, obviously (or I would get sectioned) but enough to make me feel socially inadequate. Still, working on all that. Onwards and upwards. More anon.

Sorry for the Gap

Hi Everybody

(and particularly Eliza. Thank you for your comment a couple of days ago, Eliza. I tried to answer it a couple of times, but something went wrong and I couldn't post the comment. Hopefully I will manange to publish this post ok).

Anyway, yes. Sorry for the absence. I was feeling a bit vulnerable and stopped posting for a while because I wondered if writing about mental health brought it more to the forefront of my mind and whether I would be more comfortable if I buried these issues.

I do feel better now, but I am not sure whether this is because I gave the blog a break , or if I just got snowed under with trying to do too much generally and that I have calmed down because I am less busy now. A little less busy...

This afternoon I called the agent who has had my memoir for the last two months, and was told that someone will be in touch by the end of next week, hopefully. This is a good thing in so far as it is not rejection - on the other hand I don't think it means that the agency are seriously considering taking me on, because they have only seen the first fifty pages of the book. Must just have been buried in the slush pile all that time.

If the agent decides no, then I will probably self-publish, probably online. It is the only way to stop myself tweaking the book forever - once it is out there, there will be no further room for amendment. However, I am still considering whether to try to hide my identity - I have spent so long pretending to be well that it will be a huge leap for people to see the potential for the opposite in me, and I am quite scared at the prospect. Because people won' t be able to help themselves re-assessing me in the light of the 'schizophrenia' label - it is human nature.

The obvious thing would be to change names of all people and places and write under a pseudonym - but then that would be the coward's way. Also, the book is less likely to get read without photos, or at least an author photo.

So. Still dithering. I am about to send the book (in pdf form) to a friend I can trust and then wait for her opinion. And canvas hubby's, of course. But he tends to think what I think, as all good husbands should.

Apart from all that, things are going well. I am reading a book called 'The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families' which has some interesting points to make. Also reading a book called 'When God Was a Rabbit'. Not sure what I make of that yet. Have finally decided to re-subscribe to The Times, because I miss the fact that I used to sit down and relax every day while I read it - I still buy the paper but not as regularly and I hate the thought that I might be missing out on useful information, although I would not always find information that I considered to be useful every day in the paper.

Been reading Gretchen Rubin's blog 'The Happiness Project' which is kind of like comfort food for the soul. Been writing my journal. And of course (deep breath) doing the school runs, preparing the meals, washing and cleaning, driving children to various destinations, and walking the dog.

I saw one of my sisters today, and she was very complimentary about my ability to remain calm and to get so much done. I told her that I am far from calm inside most of the time, but she persisted and kept asking how I manage to do so much for the children, how I physically keep going. And I said (while still denying that I am the paragon that she kept insisting I am) that basically my 'secret' is that I love it. I love them. I sit at the table with my four kids, three times a day (breakfast, after school snack and dinner) and just drink in their faces, and their words. I feel so grateful to have them (after feeling for so long that I never deserved kids of my own and being sure that I would never have any I now feel validated by their existence).

Sorry to sound all American. By which I mean soppy and apple pie (sorry Americans, for pigeonholing you. I know not of what I speak. I am a cliche too. A prejudiced English one). But this is the crux of it all - no matter how tired I am, and notwithstanding that sometimes I get snappy and unfair towards the kids, they know that I adore them all, that I always have and I always will. And hubby too of course - I just don't mention him in the same breath because obviously he and I have a different sort of relationship - appreciation without worship. I don't think worship would be good for his ego...

But I think that's what makes our family work (and even as I write I know I have not really discovered any magic formula and that all this may one day go pear-shaped) the fact that we have mutual appreciation of each other. I am a willing slave, although I try not to let on to the kids about that, because they take advantage enough already. In fact, I am constantly reminding them that I am not their servant - but ultimately I am, and so is their Dad, and we are both pleased to be needed.

Is any of this interesting or relevent to anyone out there? Do please let me know! Also, any advice on my ongoing dilemna - whether or not to reveal my identity when I publush my book - would be appreciated. If the agent takes it, I will let him decide - and I am guessing he will say it is imperative for marketing purposes that I don't try to hide. That's fine, I am prepared for that. But if not - do I still stay undercover? Let me know. x.