Saturday, 30 July 2011

Time to Change

Hi Everyone

I have a lot to write about this evening.  It has been a busy couple of days - after spending huge tracts of time at home in recent weeks, me and my feet (my feet and I!) have finally got out and about. 

Yesterday Paul took an afternoon off work and he and I attended a training session set up by the charity Time to Change.  This was because we had volunteered to help at one of their roadshows today - the charity has been set up to combat the stigma and discrimation around mental health issues, and the roadshows are to take this message to the people.  I heard about it through Rethink.

Anyway, the training session was well organised and interesting.  I was able to put my feet up throughout (in my attractive outsized velcro footwear) and Paul brought me several cups of tea during the afternoon.  We watched a film, did some role play (something I would once have found excruciatingly painful, but I did a short counselling course a few years ago which involved mostly role play and this kind of immunized me to it).  In fact, I felt relaxed for almost the whole of the afternoon - probably because I was so engaged with what was going on. 

I remember reading years ago, when I was at my most nervous and anxious, that nerves are a kind of narcissism - we are nervous in company because we are thinking about ourselves so much, and because we assume that everyone else must be thinking about us too.  The narcissism view made sense to me, but didn't help at all - just added the burden of guilt for being narcissistic to my already over-burdened mind!

Anyway, I have learned to be kinder to myself these days, also growing older has made me calmer and less anxious (aided by other coping techniques I have been investigating) and the training session was fine.  And so was this afternoon - I found I had very few qualms about approaching members of the public and raising the subject of mental wellbeing (especially since I was not required to divulge anything about myself).

In fact, I overdid things at one point - realised I had been on my feet for over an hour (my poor feet) and had got totally carried away with these conversations.  I heard myself telling one couple that I would rather have been diagnosed with a brain tumour than schizophrenia when I was nineteen years old, and from their expressions of alarm I then deduced that it might be time to sit down for a nice cup of tea.  Then I stayed sitting down chatting to various people for the next hour, and then it was almost time to stop and go home.

I talked to the most amazing old man.  He was lovely, but the conversation made me feel so sad.  He said he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 23.  He had spent most of his life in institutions - he said that for a long time he was made to go to bed at seven in the evening and not allowed to get up until eight o'clock the next morning.  Now he says he is happy enough - he is living in sheltered housing and the inhabitants have support in the daytime but are left alone at night, with emergency numbers in case they need help. 

This man wasn't resentful about any of his experiences, but did say that it had been impossible ever to work - nobody would take him.  And he said that one time he had told the psychiatrist that he had been on medication for forty years, and the psychiatrist had stayed silent for ten minutes.  The psychiatrist didn't know what to say, this old man told me.  This made me so cross on his behalf - psychiatrists are just so useless.  So unhelpful.  So rude, to just say nothing to this poor mild mannered man, who has taken medical advice for the whole of his life - and this medical advice has got him precisely nowhere.

He told me about thought field therapy which he had learned about in a book he had read called 'How to Stay Calm'.  He has found that this helps his anxiety.  He has also learned a calming technique from this book which involves counting backwards, from 16 to 3, say, visualising the numbers as he goes.  His only worry at the moment is that he feels so tired at night - he can't move off his bed once he has taken his medication.  (My guess is that the residents are all over-sedated because there are no staff in their accommodation at night, but this is just a wild guess). 

He was such a nice man - so normal.  And his whole life has been wasted.  Or maybe just changed.  What do I know?  But I do know that it is not fair to treat anybody as if they are not a real person or proper person for the whole of their life, just because they became ill once when they were young.

This lovely old man had so little confidence.  He was so sure that he was worthless.  When I got up (only because I needed to move around a bit) he thanked me so sincerely for talking to him.  He was so grateful. I got the impression he thought I was only being polite when I said I had really enjoyed talking to him.  But I really had.  He was so interesting and so nice.  He spoke beautifully.  He had contributed so much more, and so much better to our conversation than I did.  But he had no sense of that at all.  No self-belief.  Because he had never been allowed to gain any.

I don't know what the answer to mental health problems is, but it seems to me that counselling - therapy, just talking, would be a really good place to start.  In my view, anybody with mental health issues, past or present, should have open access to counselling services.  In the same way that you can go to the GP and get an appointment, you should be able to walk into a surgery and get counselling whenever you need it. 

I am going to join the local NHS trust ASAP and start putting my views forward.  I have so many views these days - I may be way off track with this one, but I think I have a point.  I know from my own experience when I have a crisis - you can never talk to someone professionally unless there is a psychiatric emergency.  A 'wobble' is not enough to qualify.  This just doesn't make sense - I am sure a lot of emergencies could be avoided by counselling, or just talking, at a much earlier stage.

And even if people needed ongoing counselling for years, it would cost a lot less than putting them in hospital even for a short time.  When will we learn from the Finnish Open Dialogue system?  It seems so straightforward and so humane.  In Finland, schizophrenia has almost been eradicated, because people are treated so effectively when they have their first psychotic epsiode that the problem never becomes acute.

Slight digression there.  Back to the events of this afternoon.  Meanwhile Paul had been on his feet for hours, and got stung by a wasp into the bargain.  He was very good at handing out leaflets and postcards - not sure how many meaningful conversations he managed, but I think a lot of the people we leafleted will have gone home and thought further about the subject, maybe even looked up the campaign on Facebook or other social media. 

Which reminds me - Facebook

Twitter @TimeToChange

YouTube TTCnow2008

So - a lot to write about.  Now I think I have earned an evening off.  And a shower - I managed a shower for the first time in three weeks yesterday and it was fab.  Even if I did have to sit on a stool, and several times nearly slipped over...  I am definitely on the mend.

Hope all of you are well and happy too.

Louise x

Friday, 29 July 2011

Fabulous song by Daniel Mackler

Hi everyone

Just in case anyone should get the impression that I am anti-Daniel Mackler - I am so not!  Here is a link to one of his amazing songs on You Tube:

And do investigate his website (link in the last post on here).

I just feel that perhaps Daniel sets the bar too high.  I think it may just be ok to do the best we can for ourselves and for our kids, and not expect ourselves or them to be perfect.  It is an imperfect world, but there is a lot of beauty and goodness out there - a lot to enjoy and savour in life.

And you can start by enjoying Daniel Mackler's wickedly good song!  (I found it this morning, and Toddler liked it too - he kept asking me to, 'Play the funny song again' but I decided once was enough - I am not sure what influence frequent repetition of these particular lyrics might have on his subconscious...)

Louise. x.

More about my opinions on Schizophrenia

Hi everyone

The more I read about schizophrenia, the more I feel that there is hope out there.  But healing from mental illness takes time, and this is perhaps why it is so difficult and can be so frustrating.  Hang in there, those of you who are suffering at the moment. 

I have said this before, but I would like to re-iterate it.  Please try to think of yourselves as suffering from emotional trouble, a nervous debility if you like, rather than accepting a dubious mental health diagnosis.  These diagnoses negate hope, and hope is the thing that we need in order to recover.  To keep recovering.

I see recovery as a process, as life itself is a process, and I don't suppose there will be any time in the future when I feel able to put myself forward with any confidence as an example of a perfectly mentally healthy person - the moment I do that could be the moment when it all starts to crumble.  We are all weak to some extent, I am sure - although in some people that weakness may be minimised to the point where it is hardly apparent.  Yet put anyone into the right (or the wrong) situation and they may not be able to cope.  This is normal. 

Or so it seems to me.  I was honoured this morning to recieve a reply to an email I sent to Daniel Mackler only last night - he of the acclaimed films.  I see him as a great healer, doing brilliant work in the mental health field, but I wrote to him because I was upset by one of his views - that nobody should have children unless and until they are healed from their own childhood trauma.  Otherwise he sees it as inevitable that one's children will be abused and traumatised in turn.  The reason this upset me was because I am convinced that I would never have got better without my children, they are perfect in every sense of the word, and I can say without doubt that I am a good mother to them.  This is one thing that I know about myself.

Here is a link to Daniel Mackler's site

Daniel sent a lovely email, but stands by his point of view in regard to having children.  We may speak further on that subject, but it may turn out that we will always differ on that point - because I think perhaps nobody in this world will ever be fully 'healed'  just as nobody will ever be perfect, even if they have never been damaged as a child. 

Part of the human inheiritance, it seems to me, is that we all have the capacity for good and evil within us - but we are also equipped with the ability to understand the difference between the two and to make the right choices (obviously this is where good and bad parenting comes in).  We can only do our best.

Anyway, obviously, everything I write on here is just my personal opinion - I have had no mental health training.  Which is why at times in this blog I ramble on about my sore feet, or what Toddler has been up to and so on - it is just an ordinary blog, which I began because I hoped it would help other people who have suffered or are suffering with mental illnes to feel more normal too.  Because it is all normal - the whole spectrum of human emotion.  Some of us just experience more extreme swings of the pendulum (I read that expression somewhere recently and am not intending to plagiarise but can't remember where I got it from). 

Take care, all of you.  Have a good day (or evening or whatever, depending where in the world you are).

Louise x

Louise x  

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Human Givens Approach

Hi Everyone

I am really excited, as I have just come across a mental health therapy that looks absolutely perfect.  As usual, when I come across something new in this field, I am a little miffed that I didn't know about it before...  However, I think that sometimes knowledge comes to us when we are ready for it. 

Anyway, the following link should take you to a page on the Human Givens Institute's website that has an article on schizophrenia, and from there you can research further for yourselves.

The article was written in 2006.  But I only heard about Human Givens today, from a friend who was visiting with her children.  She has a nursing background, and has done some counselling work.  She came across Human Givens through her work, and found it fascinating.

Anyway, hopefully this will be as interesting to others as it is to me.  It offers a great deal of hope. The idea as I understand it (and I have only read a very little about it so far) is that as long as certain human needs are met, mental illlness is not possible - and if breakdown does occur, then it can be fixed, by paying attention to those same human needs.  And - in case this needs pointing out - medication is NOT one of these human needs! 

So, for those of you who think this blog had deteriorated somewhat into a boring ramble about the state of my feet (and it had) I hope this redeems me as a useful member of the mental health blog network.  Not that I have done a great deal of networking yet, but you know what I mean.  I want to be useful - things are changing in the way people are viewing mental health, and in the treatment of mental illness, and I want to be part of those changes.  At a selfish level, I want to be sure that my children don't suffer as I have - on a wider level, I think the world will be a better place as treatment and understanding of mental health problems continue to improve.

Louise x

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


Hi Everyone

I overdid things yesterday - it was so lovely to be able to do simple things like the laundry and the cooking again that I did too much and my foot started bleeding in the evening.  Only very slightly, but it upset me a lot.  Today I have been busy again, but doing my very best to sit down and rest in between bouts of activity.  I am reading a Roald Dahl book - it is short stories, intended for teenagers, but really very good.  That man had such a vivid imagination.  He preferred to write fiction, said he felt uncomfortable writing about his own life, which is interesting.  I think he must have been a very private person, unlike me!

I have read two other novels so far since I have been laid up (as well as the books on the Alexander technique) and I would recommend both.  The first is Trespass by Valerie Martin and the second is Every Last One by Anna Quindlen.  That one made me cry.

I have also been reading the Times every day.  I am upset about Amy Winehouse and the events in Norway - very different tragedies, but linked by the factor of troubled personalities (as, I suppose, a lot of tragedies are).  Troubled minds.  I am upset that so much is being written about this man's 'Reasons' for what he did - far-right leanings and delusions about the Crusaders.  What he did makes no sense and no sense can be made of it.  By attempting to, journalists are publicising his so-called 'causes' and perhaps encouraging other cults or loners to take extreme action in the hope that they too will become 'famous'.  The man was deranged and dangerous.  End of.

What surprised me today (about myself) was my emotions when I was glancing through an article on the prison in which this man is likely to be kept - the highest security jail in Norway.  It is so humane - half the staff are female, prisoners and staff play sport together, everyone has their own TV and so on.  This made me angry, as I am sure it was intended to do.  But normally I take the humanitarian view - that prisons should be decent places, that their purpose should be for rehabilitation as much as punishment, and not at all for retribution.  Yet this man - perhaps because he claims to see no wrong in what he has done - does not seem deserving of decent treatment.  Though who am I to judge?

I try not to read too mcuh about gruesome things in the newspaper, because they play on my mind.  But sometimes I do read them, because I want to understand.  I have not read much about his so-called 'causes' because as I have said, the man was clearly deranged and has done something unforgivable, for which there is no imaginable justification, and I do not even want to know what he considers his to be.  But I would like to know something about the man - what was there in his upbringing that made him go so bad?  Something must have happened to him, surely?  What is it that makes a human, inhuman?

And poor Amy Winehouse.  Her poor family.  There was an article in the paper about drugs - about how her death should be used as an example to teenagers to once again, 'Just say No'. 

I think the family unit is our best hope of keeping our children well and safe.  I have been lecturing my own children on the dangers of drink and drugs (and even cigarettes) since they were tiny tots.  I also encourage them to tell me everything and talk to me about whatever is on their mind.  And as they grow older I am going to keep myself as involved as possible in every aspect of their lives - so that they know I am here to support them no matter what.  And I will - when they leave home I will visit them frequently, make sure they have everything they need and so on.  Meet their friends.  Keep an eye.  If they want to live at home until they are thirty and beyond then that is fine by me too.  I will look after them for ever if they let me (and even if they don't!).

We all do our best, I know.  And we can't always stop bad things happening to our children.  Sometimes the world just looks like a mad and dangerous place, and that, for me, is when I have to stop looking outwards for a while, and just turn my attention instead to those around me, to my beloved family, and just do my utmost to love them and keep them close.  And then hope for the best.

Louise x 

Monday, 25 July 2011

Much Happier this Morning

Hi Everybody

I do feel better today.  Maybe because it is sunny and set to be so for much of the week - just as it should be when the children break up from school.  Fab.

Mostly, though, it is because I went to the hospital early this morning and they confirmed that the infection in my foot (if there was one) has cleared up.  Which I knew, because the pain has pretty much gone.  I am glad I got the antibiotics on Friday.  Obviously all drugs can affect your system in an adverse way, but in the case of antibiotics I think it is worth it - the benefit outweighs any negative effect. 

The doctor also confirmed that I should just try to walk normally now - confusingly he and the nurse maintained that I should not have been walking on my heels all this time, although that is what everybody else told me to do until now.  Never mind.  One of my feet seems to not want to go down straight on the ground, but there is no reason for that to happen (except subconscious fear of it hurting) so I am trying to walk normally and I am sure it will sort itself out.

It has helped to follow my eldest daughter as she walks around the house.  She is so sweet - she helpfully walks with her feet flat (as I must in my special shoes) and watching her feet go down so easily helps me to walk more naturally too.  I was tending to keep my knees locked as I did when I walked on my heels.  We would look a bit crazy to anyone else - she walking very slowly around the house, me following right behind her.  We didn't do it for long - I soon got dizzy and tired and had to lie down.  It really helped though, and I am going to do it again a little later.

We are the only two here today.  Toddler has been spirited off by his grandparents again.  Younger daughter and elder son have been taken out by a friend.  It was my son's friend's Mum who offered to take him out - my little daughter asked if she could join them.  She is terrified of being stuck inside for the whole holidays although I have assured her that won't happen!

It is surprising how much moods can change from day to day (is this just me?).  I got a bit miserable over the last week, when I was in some pain and worried about my bad foot.  I started to eat a lot of junk food (particuarly crisps) which made me feel worse after a couple of days.  Yesterday I determined to get a grip.  Started thinking more about the Alexander technique and how I was moving.  The technique helps with all sorts of stuff, including self control in all areas - I haven't had much experience of practicing it yet but have read a couple of books on the subject while I have been laid up. 

I finished off the cakes with my lunch (my friend had sent them over with some clotted cream and they were too good to miss) had the last bag of crisps too, then determined to start eating more healthily.  Paul made an excellent dinner - his cooking skills have improved a lot over the last couple of weeks and the kids are cleaning up their plates again.  So that was a good start.  Also I have to have four lots of antibiotics each day on an empty stomach, so I can't just eat all the time, which helped me to get a grip.

Amd this morning I feel so much better.  Just have to keep trying, keep learning, keep pushing on.  I have read a lot recently about how your thoughts influence your life and it is so true - if we think we are happy we are, for example.  It is so important to think of things in a positive light - particualrly for those with mental health problems, as I have said before, the starting point should always be, 'I can get better.  I will get better'. 

And now there is an ever-increasing body of evidence to show that this indeed the case - there is no reason why people with mental health difficulties should not recover and live life to their full potential.  Good-o.  More anon.  Louise. x.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

An Evening Out

Hi all

Paul and I went out last night.  I met some old school friends in a bar, he met some other friends in a pub across the road, and we all joined up later.  It certainly lifted my spirits - three hours thinking about something other than my feet was a very therapeutic experience.

I say old school friends - I met three women, two of whom I didn't remember at all (luckily they didn't remember me either) and a third who I did remember and who has recently read my book.  I had not seen her since we left school, twenty-six years ago.  She has an amazing memory - seemed to remember almost  everyone we had been to school with and also recalled things I had said and done (thirty years ago!) that I had completely forgotten. 

For example, she remembered a piece of writing I had done about a paper round (I don't remember ever having a paper round but she was convinced it was based on reality).  She also remembered me breaking down in tears at school, and eventually saying that it was about my dogs being put down.  She said she had felt at the time that my story was rather unbelievable - which was exactly why I rarely spoke about my home life in those days, because I knew it was so far removed from the common experience.

But she also pointed out that although it seemed to me that the other girls at that grammar school had a charmed life, of course they hadn't , or at least not all of them.  And the meeting also brought something else home to me - that however bad things were in the past, is is how they are now that matters, and I am more than happy with how things turned out for me.  I don't think I would change any of it now - I am sure I appreciate certain things in my life now because they are new to me - like being at the centre of a loving family. 

Anyway, it was a nice evening.  I always wanted to have more friends at school, but I always found it so difficult to communicate.  Now, touch wood, my nerves seem to be lessening all the time - an evening in company would have been a very difficult thing for me, not all that long ago, whereas now it is a pleasure.  Which, obviously, it should have always been.

I have sent my loving family out for a swim.  I wish I could go with them...but it is wonderfully peaceful here now.

Have a good day, everyone!

Louise xx

Friday, 22 July 2011

Antibiotics - a medicine I actually like!

Hi all

I just went to the Gp, asked for and got some antibiotics, and I am really pleased.  The thought of sitting looking at my foot for the next three days, in pain and worrying about it all, just seemed silly.  Why not get the antibiotics now, I thought, rather than wait until Monday to see if I need them?  I have had so many antibiotics in my time - mostly for chest infections, sometimes even for acne when I was a kid.  And my children have had lots too - they are all susceptible to chest trouble, and although the GPs are notiously loathe to prescribe antibiotics these days, somehow my kids seem to get given them.  Although not nearly so so much these days - thank goodness as they grow older they get less of these complaints. 

I see antibiotics as a wonder drug - a guarantee that I or the children will get better.  On the rare occasions that the first course doesn't work, the second always does.  Which is probably partly why they do work for me - because I so strongly believe they will (odd, how knowing about the placebo effect doesn't seem to negate it).

I know antibiotics are not supposed to be so great these days - because of their role in the growth of so-called Superbugs - but they work for me, and therefore I like them.  But I just had an errant thought - I wonder whether if I had had such a positive attitude to psychaitric drugs, they would have solved all my mental health troubles?  I would probably have got hooked, though, and also suffered all the other long term side effects that these medications can and do have.  I am glad I resisted them. 

Haven't actually started the antibiotics yet.  Paul went off with Toddler an hour or two ago to get them, and they haven't come back.  I suspect they got sidetracked and went to visit the grandparents.  I hope Paul brings Toddler home and doesn't leave him there - he cheers me up no end.  Sweet little bunny...

Last day of the school term today.  By the time the next one starts I should be back on my feet and in my car - fingers tightly crossed.  I am doing some voluntary work for one of the mental health charities soon - I will blog about it when I know more.  I was feeling really strong about the recent changes in my life, but the lack of human contact for the last couple of weeks has brought me down a bit.  I will have to make a concerted effort to pull myself together.  I am not eating as healthily, either - Paul has bought hundreds of bags of crisps and I can't resist them when I know they are in the house.  And I have not been sleeping brilliantly either - I think this is probably due mostly to my lack of activity, but there's not much I can do about that.

Still, onwards and upwards, starting with the antibiotics and hopefully ending with two healed feet and a mended psyche.

Louise x

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Bad foot

Hi all

I am a bit upset - but trying not to be.  I went to the hospital this morning to have my bandages off and my stitches out (I thought).  But the nurse looked in my notes and said the stitches were dissolvable ones - even better then.  She took the bandages and dressing off my right foot and I was amazed.  My foot looked so beautiful!  Hardly swollen, not even bruised that much.  And straight.  Like somebody else's foot.  I loved it on first sight.

Then she began to take the bandages off my other foot, and the pain was so bad I could hardly stand it.  That is the foot that has been hurting - and when I have been hobbling around it is the one that I can't seem to put straight down.  I am supposed to walk on my heels anyway, but that foot has been arching away a bit oddly and the big toe curling upwards, however hard I try to stop it from doing so.

Anyway, the nurse (who was lovely by the way) eventually managed to get the bandages off.  And whoops.  The foot is more swollen that the other, certainly by the toes.  There is still a bit of a bunion, and the toe still slants inwards a bit, more than the other side. But the worst thing is that the wound hasn't healed properly - and in the area where the skin has broken down there is also a patch where the skin is white and, to my eyes (though I didn't want to make a fuss) there is defintely less flesh than on the other foot.  I couldn't help thinking of necrotising facietis (sure that isn't spelt right.  I mean that awful flesh-eating disease). 

The nurse said it was perfectly normal to get a breakdown of the wound and that she would treat it with some silver solution and it would be fine in about a week.  But when the doctor saw it he said I may need antibiotics and that I must come back first thing on Monday morning to get it checked.  So now I am trying not to panic.

It doesn't hurt except when I try to walk on it.  But I do wish now that I had gone to the doctor a couple of days ago when I intended to - it was hurting and I wanted to get it checked, but then I decided to wait until today.  Now I am annoyed with myself about that - I should have gone, and got it treated sooner.

Anyway, I am ok.  I am tired, actually - it was a bit traumatic at the hospital.  Also I didn't sleep well again last night.  But I am sure it will all be fine - roll on Monday morning for the next development, and I just hope it doesn't hurt as much this time when they take off the bandages...

I was going to pop and see my friend when I was at the hospital - she has just had a baby.  I'm not sure I would have been allowed into the Maternity ward anyway, it wasn't visiting hours.  But anyway I sent a text to say I wasn't feeling great and would visit her and the baby another time - she was due home today in any case.  But now she has sent me a text to say they want her to stay in for another day or two - nothing serious but they want to keep an eye on the baby.  Now I wish I had made the effort to go and see her.  She must be worried, and with more cause than me.

Hope all is well with the rest of you.

Louise x  

Wednesday, 20 July 2011


Hi Everyone

Toddler had to have some jabs today.  He was very brave.  He shouted a bit, but that was mostly because he insisted on watching the needle or 'The pokey thing' as he referred to it, going in.  He understood that he had to have the jabs to stop him from catching some diseases, and he didn't make a fuss once it was all done.  He ate his crisps and did some 'Stamping' to make his legs feel better.  Then he asked if I would watch a video with him - which I did, for an hour and a half.  It was a very old fashioned one called 'Dog and Duck' - twelve episodes of Dog and Duck and Piano and an elephant (probably called Elephant), discovering stuff like shadows and fish and singing about it all. 

Probably one of the best hour and a halves I have spent in my life.

Toddler was in a reflexive mood afterwards.  He said pensively, 'I wish Granny could have some children'.  'Granny does have children' I told him.  'She is my Mummy, and Aunty Jane's, and Uncle Stephen's..'  'Mmm' he said.  I'm not sure he was convinced.

He has gone off to his other grandparents now.  They asked to have him for the afternoon.  And when Paul took him there they asked if they could keep him until after dinner.  I'm not surprised - if I was them I would be camping out on my doorstep to see their grandkids...Am I biased?

Anyway, I was just cooking the dinner and thinking.  I was actually thinking what a pleasure it is to cook dinner - Paul has done most of that for the last week or two.  But this afternoon he has taken Granny and our eldest daughter to the shops so Granny can help her choose a dress for a party she is going to.  Granny is just the woman for the job - she is very fashion aware.  Last week she went to help eldest daughter get her uniform for the new school, and she did a fab job of that.  She has been nicer than ever since my book came out - maybe it has done her good to know that despite everything we all love and value her.  Which she should have known, but maybe seeing it in print makes a difference.

Anyway, I have cooked paella with chorizo and chicken.  I usually pop in some peas and red pepper, but we don't have any - Paul has been in charge of the shopping too.  We have a lot of food in the cupboards, but somehow there is a dearth of things to prepare the dinner with...  Still, he has been a star - two weeks' holiday taken up with housework and stuff, and not a word of complaint (except when I have asked him to walk the dog, so I have largely delegated that task to friends who have enjoyed doing it).

I saved some of this evening's chicken for the dog, but have only put a tiny bit in with her biscuits.  I will string it out for a few days - it is quite rich, with some turmeric as well as chicken stock cubes, and I don't want to upset her tummy.  She is such a sweet little thing - but obsessed with food.  I have started putting her outside when Toddler is having a snack - she hovers far too close to him, hoping to snatch his food when he is distracted.  Sometimes she licks it when he isn't looking - uurgh - although so far he has exhibited no adverse effects.  In fact I think the whole family is healthier since we have had the dog, which I put down to her stress-reducing aura - she is furry therapy...

All just came in from shopping.  Must dash.  Louise x

Monday, 18 July 2011

The Importance of being Honest

Hi Everyone

I must admit, I was casting around a bit for a title to this post... I am quite pleased with it.  Because it is important to be honest in life - not to the point of telling someone they are fat or spotty, that is just rude - but on matters of principle.  The need (or desire) to dissemble is answerable for a lot of problems in life.. Hence, I suppose, my mother's words of wisdom, 'Be True unto Yourself'.  It is easier than you think to pull the wool over your own eyes.  We all do it, to some extent.

Anyway, that is a bit abstract.  I haven't been out a lot recently...

I know I promised to blog on the subject of my recent stay in hospital, and have not really come up with the goods yet, or only in brief.  Maybe the moment has passed now.  I did have a certain amount of paranoia, you see - I came around from the anaesthetic feeling nauseous and when I told the staff this I was given an anti-nausea drug that made me feel somewhat worse.  I felt what I can best describe as hysterical - I could very easily have begun to shout or to cry.  I was close to the edge.  I did stay calm and in control externally, but when I tried to speak my speech was muddled and unclear and I felt that I had very little command of it.

I kept quiet at the time, but I was scared.  Later when I got back to the ward, I told the nurse how I had felt and she said that the drug I was given can have that effect.  It did help to know that the drug was to blame - obviously I had suspected as much.  But then after a night of very little sleep I was shaky the next day.  I realised that I was not at my best and I asked to have no visitors that evening - and then there was the morphine incident in the night...

However, I got through all that and went home the next day (exhasuted but just about sane) and I have felt better with each night's sleep that I have had since.  And the recovery thing has been much smoother than I expected, since I got home.  I have been lucky.

The point I was wishing to make was that by being as patient and trusting (and honest) as possible, I pre-empted any difficulties with the nursing staff, and thus stopped them being concerned as to my state of mind.  I was a little concerned myself at times, but kept reassuring myself - such-and-such was just the effect of the medication and so on, it would soon wear off, and telling myself to be brave and strong. 

It is really important to believe in oneself - but hard to do so when one has experienced psychosis in the past.  Because the feeling of being out of control is so total - when I was very ill, a long time ago now, even when I knew I was not acting rationally it felt as though it was impossible to behave in a rational way.

What I have learned since then is how to take preventative measures - to sleep and eat well, and if I ever feel I am going downhill, to talk about any doubts I have as to my mental state.  This last is not easy - the mental health services really only seem equipped to deal with emergencies.  Over the last ten years or so I have sometimes had minor crises - usually problems with anxiety - and found it very hard to access counselling or even to get a psychiatric nurse to come and chat.  I am not seen as a priority, which is great in a way, but I can't help feeling that if the mental health services used some of their resources to prevent people relapsing it would be better than just waiting for them to get unwell enough to warrant their help.  Sometimes I feel as though they are just waiting for me to lose the plot - which I know is not the case, of course, they have enough to do already.

I have finally managed to get some counselling sorted - I think I will have to wait another ten weeks or so, but it is set up, which is great.  I feel well at the moment, but am aware that with the book out, and because I have volunteered to take on media work with Rethink (and am also intending to volunteer for the Time to Change programme) it could potentially be a stressful time ahead.

Enough about me.  I hope all of you readers are well and happy. 

Louise x  

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Party Time

Morning everyone

I went out yesterday morning for an event at my eldest daughter's school, and found it all much easier than I thought.  I have become quite nimble on my crutches now, and I have very little pain.  And although I felt a bit embarrassed to arrive and depart in a wheelchair I am sure the other parents understood - we are all very keen to attend the important events in our childrens' lives, even at the risk of looking a little idiotic.

I took it a bit too far in the evening though.  I had arranged a while ago to go out with a group of Mums - something that I have always found quite hard, socialising in a group, but one of those things that I make myself do because a) it is good for me and b) it sets a good example for the children.

I had paid for the evening well in advance.  It included a meal and a singer and was quite pricey, so I was a bit annoyed when the appointment for the op came through and I realised I would have to cancel.  Two other Mums also cancelled, at the last minute, for health reasons.  Then yesterday Paul suggested that we go together - this would mean that my ticket wasn't wasted and that we could give the others the money for one ticket to share between them, so they wouldn't lose out completely.

Paul loves an evening out - any excuse.  And he has worked really hard this week, looking after the kids and I.  So I agreed, although I had misgivings.  And the misgivings got stronger later on, because I had a nap to prepare for the evening ahead and woke up grumpy and tired and really didn't want to go.  But I didn't want to let him or anyone else down, so we did it.  I felt a bit of an idiot, in my posh dress with my big bandaged feet and hospital-issue velcro-fastening  slippers.  Oh, if only there had been a prize for most inappropriate and outlandish footwear!  And of course the crutches added to the total picture in a not entirely helpful way.

But then, as is always the case in such situations, nobody was really looking at me anyway.  Or not for long.  And of course it is always nice to be catered for and it was a new experience, so the evening was not at all bad.

The best thing about it was that I managed to relax throughout.  For so long my nerves have ruled me, and now I seem to be much more calm.  I attribute this to my recent lessons in the Alexander technique - I have had three so far, and am booked in for another on Monday.  The teacher told me it would be good if I could get to her after the operation and I totally ruled out the possibility - but now that I am feeling so much better than I expected I have arranged for Paul to drive me over there.  I can really see her point about learning to move to the best of my ability, although or perhaps especially while that ability is so limited.

I have read a book called 'Body Learning' by Michael Gelb over the last few days - he explains the reasoning behind the Alexander technique very clearly.  And I am just starting another - an Illustrated Guide by Glynn Macdonald.  So hopefully some of the ideas will be sinking in over the holidays, before I start my lessons properly again.

Anyway, this new sense of calm and balance is wonderful.  It may not just be the Alexander lessons - it may also be due to the relief of having 'Come clean' about the diagnosis and finding that not much has changed in my world after all.  Whatever it is - long may it last!

I would like to end this post by re-iterating something I have said many times before: I hope that those of you who have found this blog while searching for help for yourselves and your loved ones will take a positive message from it.   Mental illness is not a life sentence - it is just a manifestation of troubled times and it too will pass, along with those troubles.  So, please, never give in to it!

Louise x.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

I could get used to this Resting lark

Hi everyone

I have been at home taking it easy - the day has passed remarkably fast.  It is differentiated for me from yesterday only by the fact that I got dressed today, and have spent more time out of bed than in it.  My feet are not hurting much at all, but that is probably because I am keeping well topped up with the paracetamol and ibuprofen.  And I am enjoying relaxing more than I thought I would - indeed, by the time I am back to full health I will probably have become so lazy that I fail to motivate myself to do anything at all, ever again...I hope not.

So I thought I'd better get on and write a blog post.  I didn't even feel like writing today, which is a really bad sign, and must be overcome at once.  Trouble is, I am too tired to think very coherently, so apologies in advance.

I am going to write a little here about my recent experience in hospital having an operation on both my feet.  I am not going to try to put down all the thoughts which were running round my head when I was in there, intending to blog about them as soon as I got home (luckily I noted them down) but just to make a start.

The biggest fear I had about the operation (apart from the one about not waking up from the anaesthetic, which I had more or less come to terms with) was that I would go doo-lally, from the anaesthetic or the painkilling drugs afterwards, or just the general stress.

So what I did, was, I shared this fear with the medical staff.  When I had gone for my pre-op assessment and so on, I had not made an issue of my mental health, because I wanted to be treated like any other patient.  But in the meantime (while waiting to have the op) I had published the book, gone public with the blog, and so on, so all that was at the forefront of my mind.

I found myself, therefore, over-sharing my fears with the doctors before the op.  And of course, they were understanding.  They were really nice, in fact, really inspired my trust.  Unfortunately when I woke up from the operation, I was indeed a bit out of it - but I didn't allow myself to get carried away.  I felt a bit hysterical, a bit close to the edge as though I could start crying and screaming.  But I stayed strong, and I told the nurses how I was feeling, attributed it to the effect of the drugs and just kind of waited it out. 

In fact, I am very impressed with myself about this, because I do tend to panic just from being in hospital, even when I am just there to give birth.  But this time I totally relaxed, was good and patient, and very passive (I really had no choice, my legs were numb for two days so I had to be good.  I wasn't going anywhere in a hurry).

And it all went pretty well.  I was a bit too insistent on being independent perhaps - I sorted myself out with the bedpan and commode by sheer force of will, which was probably a bit daft, looking back  (too much information?  I will not go into further detail then).

My low point came on my second night in, having had very little sleep the first night.  My feet began to hurt quite badly, so I rang the bell and asked the nurse for pain relief.  I was brought morphine, which I didn't want to take - I have a fear of strong drugs - but I didn't want to seem rude or 'non-compliant' so I swallowed the stuff.  It tasted foul - but I knew it would because my mother had a lot of it after her cancer op, and she always complained about the taste.

But then the nurse left, and I started to feel tightness around my neck and shoulders, and a pain in my chest.  I waited a bit, my palms got clammy, the discomfort wasn't wearing off, and I started to worry.  I rang the bell again, and told the nurse how I felt.  She was great, did all the 'obs' (observations) - temperature, blood pressure and so on.  It was all normal, so we decided I had just had a panic attack because I was frightened of taking the morphine.  Then I cried, mostly because she had been so kind (anybody else want to cry when people are nice to them?) and she brought me tissues, and I drifted off to sleep for a few hours. 

I felt a lot better the next day, although when I spoke to my sister on the phone later she recalled that she had also had an adverse reaction to morphine she took at home once: it caused her such bad breathing difficulties that she had to call an ambulance.  So, who knows, maybe it wasn't just a panic attack?

But the great thing was that through all this I didn't get paranoid.  Or if I did, I reasoned it out.  I controlled any tendency to overthink.  I relaxed.  I told the nurse how I was feeling, and why.  And it passed, and I didn't go mad!  Hurrah! 

I went home later that day, and have been gradually catching up on sleep ever since.  And eating really well - lots of fruit and veg, not too much of anything else.  I am not that hungry, but I am consuming the best food I can to improve my health.  I am reading a book on the Alexander technique, and trying to keep up my practice of it, as much as I can with two bad feet (I am hobbling around on my heels with the aid of a Zimmer frame, but the Alexander information on best use of the body is still helpful.)

Now, funnily enough, this bit - the sitting at home taking it easy, which I thought I would struggle with, is actually a bit of a doddle so far.  I am in danger of getting used to it.

I am really tired now though.  Amazing how doing nothing whatsoever can take it out of you...

More soon. Louise. x.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Morning, all

I am a new woman today - at least, I am on the way there.  I had surgery on my feet a couple of days ago, to correct bunions.  They break the bones and re-set them.  I have always had bunions, but they have only recently begun to hurt me.  Long and boring story - but basically, I had a painful corn that wouldn't shift and the chiropodist told me I really must get the bunions sorted.  SO I have.  And now it occurs to me that apart from the fact that I will be able to move more comfortably and so on, there will be an added bonus - I will have pretty feet.  Or at least, prettier than they were.  Although, of course, appearances don't matter at all...

Anyway, I have got a lot to write on the subject of my stay in hospital.  I was there for three days (two nights) and it was an interesting experience.  At least, I think so.  But I am going to leave that blog post for later today, or perhaps even tomorrow.  I have the luxury of time now (six weeks at home with my feet up as much as possible) but I need to figure out a way to keep my feet higher than my heart while still being able to use my laptop.  My feet are stinging now, and I am slightly dizzy, so it is just not the moment for getting absorbed in a long piece of writing, then finishing and finding that I am really not feeling very well. 

Cue another poem.  This is another one from my short collection, which is available on Amazon.  It is called Mudeford Quay and other selected poems, by Louise Gillett and it doesn't cost much (but you don't need to buy it, you will be able to read them all on here eventually.  I'm nice like that).

Anyway, funnily enough this one is called


Appearance is important
Said the snail unto the tree
It's true, I must admit
That you are prettier than me

A tree it is romantic
And a pleasure to purview
But all in all considered
I am luckier than you

Folks may come and picnic
In your soft and pleasant shade
You may shelter all these people
As you stand in your fine glade

But your trunk it is deep rooted
In the dark and dusty earth
And when I see dogs cock their legs
I can't contain my mirth.

Thursday, 7 July 2011


Just a short note for any newcomers to this blog.  You will get a clearer idea if you start at the beginning - my first post was in 2009 and I called it 'Starting out'.  Then if you read the first few you will get a bit of a picture - then you can skip or read whatever you like.  But if you come to the blog at this end first, especially without having previously read my book (links above) you will have not a clue what I am on about, and will leave it none the wiser.  Which would be a shame, now that you have made your way here.  Louise. X.

An attempt at an explanation

Hi everybody

I had half an hour to spare yesterday evening (between dropping off one child somewhere and picking up another from somewhere else) and I popped in to see a friend for a quick cup of tea.  Now this friend is a nurse (a general nurse not a psychiatric one) and she has read my book and we have been emailing quite a lot about the subject matter of it this week.  Which is good - and it is partly why I am continuing with this blog - because if anybody has any questions I am really pleased to be able to deal with them. 

The book is not perfect and it is not absolute - in that there is simply no space to write down every single thing that has happened to me, even if I wanted to, and it is important when writing a memoir or autobiography to be selective about what you want to say.  I am still reviewing this - I am waiting for some more feedback before the book goes to paperback, so I can be sure it is the best I can make it at what I want to say.

Anyway.  My friend asked me last night about the nurse who sexually assualted me in hospital, during my third breakdown.  She asked if that was true.  Well, yes, and to me that is obvious, because I stated that at the beginning of the book - everything that you read in it is true.  My friend was indignant on my behalf that such a thing had happened, and she was also surprised that there had been no enquiry - she said recently one of her female patients had accused a male nurse of touching her inappropriately, and although she thought it was very unlikely in those particular circumstances that there had been any impropriety, she had to log the complaint, instigate an enquiry and so on.

Well, maybe that is a difference between general nursing and psychiatric nursing.  I don't know and I would hope not - I hope that my particular case was a one-off.  But also, there is a little more to my particular story.  I haven't included it in the book because my children will one day read that book and I really can't explain it properly or nicely or even clearly (though I am usually ok at writing clearly, it is my efforts with the spoken word that sometimes let me down).

I did hint at another episode earlier in this blog, but couldn't bring myself to put it in black and white.  When I was nineteen I accidentally accused another male nurse of sexual assualt.  This is really, really hard to explain and I don't want to use the excuse that I was mad.  But what happened was - this very kind male nurse called me into a side room for a chat.  Instead of sitting in a chair, I climbed up onto a table and knelt there on all fours.  Fully dressed.  (I am only pointing this out because of what happened next).  I have no idea why I did this.  The only thing I can think of, after all these years, was that I was trying to tell him I was barking mad.  He stared at me in astonishment, I began to cry.  Because I was really confused, and honestly didn't know what I was doing up there.  I climbed up on to that table and and then suddenly thought - oh my God, I am crouching on this table like a dog, what am I doing, I am madder than anyone has ever been...

Anyway, I cried, I climbed down, he kept asking me what was wrong and I honestly had no idea what to say.  I mean, I never did know what to say, but I was really embarrassed.  And at that point my sister Mandy appeared for a visit, saw me with this nurse in tears, and started grilling me to tell her what had happened.  And nothing had, but because she kept on at me to talk I eventually said, 'He made me get in the doggy position'.  And of course he hadn't made me do anything so that was a lie - I don't know why I said that - but what I meant by doggy position was that I was on all fours like a dog.  But she thought I was talking about sex.  At which point she jumped to a million conclusions and things went even madder than they had been before. 

I suppose it is quite funny in a way.  But not to me, even after all this time.

When I realised what had been thought and said about this nurse, and what trouble he was in, I immediately told everyone that he had done me no harm whatsoever - I mean, immediately.   He was a lovely nurse and I felt awful that I had accused him, however unwittingly.  And of course there were no repercussions for him.  The whole thing was supposedly forgotten.  But that is the missing background.  That must be why nobody believed me when that male nurse, Peter - his real name, and I would write his surname too if I could remember it - actually did sexually assault me all those years later.  There must have been some note in my medical record that I had made an unfounded allegation of sexual assualt in the past, way back when I was nineteen.

And that must be why my sister Mandy didn't believe me either - unfairly in my view, because it was her jumping to the wrong conclusion about what I had said on the first occasion that led to all the confusion.  But of course it was not her fault - it was mine, for always being unable to express myself properly.  For not correcting her straightaway.

So that is that.  It is just so mad.  I am sorry.  But it may help to make more sense of the later incident - because that nurse who assaulted me all those years later, in such a weird way and in such a public place, he was wrong and this sort of thing should not be allowed to happen.  It was horrible not being believed, and very frightening - I felt so vulnerable afterwards.  And as I wrote ages ago in my earlier post on this subject, I just hope he never did it previously or since, to anybody else.  I am not cross about me - worse things have happened to better people, and I am very happy about the way that life has turned out for me.

Louise x

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The half-baked Beauty Parlour theory, and another poem


It's late.  I have been busy today, too busy to sit down and write.  I had my hair done actually, as well as lots of other stuff.  I have mentioned before about how having one's hair done always makes one feel better - this is mainly a woman thing, obviously.  Men don't seem to really notice how they look (sweeping generalisation, I know).   But, wouldn't it be a good idea to have beauty treatments in mental hospitals?

Maybe when people are past the stage of being floridly ill...

I had my nails done once when I was in hospital and it made me feel a lot happier.  Given that a lot of people who become mentally ill have money worries (just go in a mental hospital and look around if you don't believe me) and that a lot of money is spent just caring for them, I think some sort of beauty treatment would be a valid use of resources.  What price a haircut, compared to the confidence of feeling that you look really good?  (Sorry, I don't think that sentence makes sense).

I know there are benefits to sort out this sort of stuff, and that people have families...but still.  Maybe it could be a function of the rehabilitation centres, to have a little beauty parlour, or ...something. 

I think I am actually too tired to be writing.  Don't worry, everyone, I am not cracking up.  I have just lost the ability to express myself coherently.  Temporarily, I hope.  To fill the gap I am going to post another poem.

This one is called:

Nature v. Nurture

I scare myself when I consider Teenaged Me
The cigarettes, the boys, the risks I took, the spliffs

Remember when, one evening with a friend
I smashed a bottle's neck against a sink

Because we didn't have a corkscrew did we, see?
And we intended to get pissed

Now mother, careful nurturer and nag
I want to build my own Olympic team

Don't want these angels seeing what I saw
Don't want them knowing where I've been

And so I lecture them, and lather them with love
And hope that Teenaged Me remains unseen.   

Louise x
(PS, obviously Teenaged Me is now properly busted, now that the book is out there.  Whoops!)

Tuesday, 5 July 2011


Hi anyone and everyone

I have twenty minutes to write this - wish I had longer. 

I hate smoking.  I smoked from the age of thirteen, intermittently, until the age of twenty-seven or so.  I gave up several times, often for years at a time, and always went back on the fags when I was unwell.  In fact for me, smoking is a clear sign that things have gone awry, and I have told my husband that if I ever start again he is to call the mental health team asap.

Obviously, not all smokers are mad.  On the other hand they are all wilfully ignoring the damage that cigarettes are doing to their health and their bank balance, and the environment, and the possibility that the next generation will continue to look up to adult smokers as 'Cool' and so emulate their behaviour.  Another whole batch of young people damaged - nice.

If I had never smoked cigarettes I would have been far less likely to smoke cannabis.  I would not have been mixing with the same sort of people (i.e. troubled, as I was) from such a young age.  I am sure the same goes for lots of others.

What else?  Oh yes.  I am outraged by the fact that prisoners and the mentally ill are the only groups of people who are exempt from the indoors smoking ban  (I am speaking of the situation in the UK, I have no idea what happens in the USA).  I think the reasoning is that these people need 'Pacification and occupation'.  I am quoting from Robert Crampton's article in the Saturday Times, but there is no point in putting a link to that here because you have to subscribe to that newspaper.  I am a subscriber and thus I was able to post a comment under his article to the effect that the alternative reasoning behind exempting these people from the ban is that no-one gives a stuff whether they live or die. 

The poorest people end up in mental hospitals and prisons.  Their poverty is apparent - it is a cause, not an effect of their situation.  (I know it is more complicated than this but as I said I am in a hurry).  SO why not encourage them to give up smoking?  Make them wait for breaks to go outside at least, as others do in their places of work?  Why not go further, and put anti-smoking programmes into place in these institutions?  Maybe then these people would have a chance to gain some pride in an achievement - it is not an easy thing to do, to give up smoking.  They would also gain some dignity - nobody wants to be hooked on anything.  They would feel better physically. 

I could go on, and I wish I had more time.  I might write these thoughts down properly sometime, but anyway, I hope you have got my drift for now.

Now I'm going to get my Toddler, and take him somewhere fun.

Louise. x.

Monday, 4 July 2011

A Bright Sunshiney Day


Well, it is a bright sunshiney day...and it's not always easy thinking up titles for these posts, you know.  Been to a clarinet concert at my daughter's school - the lucky pupils have been taught to play a wonderful musical instrument for the whole year.  As we were leaving at the end of the concert we overheard a boy in the front row speaking for all of them, 'Now we can get rid of the thing'.  I don't think they quite appreciated the opportunity they had been given.

The house is reasonably tidy because I blitzed it yesterday morning, and hubby mowed the lawn last night.  Lovely.  So the next job is to walk the dog.  But first I thought I would just sit down at the computer and see if I had any thoughts on mental health...Nope.

Rossa Forbes has done a brilliant blog post, 'Whatever happened to the Nervous Breakdown?' over on her blog 'Holistic Recovery from Schizophrenia.  Well worth a look.  Do it now!  (I will learn to do proper links soon Rossa, I promise!).

I may well get back on here at some point later in the day and air my own views, if and when my brain starts working again.  But for now, here's my poem about smoking.  It's also one I wrote a while ago.  (I hope I don't need to explain that I am a rabid anti-smoker.  I think it is particularly bad for the mentally ill or mentally vulnerable.  Actually I feel a blog post coming on - smoking may be my next one.) Anyway,

It's called:

An Ode to Cigarettes

An ode of praise to cigarettes
For years they've kept me thin
Some say I look and smell like ash
But one can't always win

Each smoke I raise to willing lips
Fair takes my breath away
I never met a man who could
Quite satisfy this way

The cash I spend on cigarettes
Matters not to me
I don't need fancy food or drink
Just nicotine, you see

My family warn me I'll die young
And wouldn't that be sad
More likely I'll be sick and poor
Which isn't such a drag

'Cause when I'm homeless, on the streets
Possessions in a bag
I can break the ice with strangers
By asking for a fag.

Have a good day.  Louise. x.

Saturday, 2 July 2011


Hi Everybody

Because it's the weekend and I have decided not to think too deeply, and to generally lighten things up after yesterday's heavy subject - I thought I would post a poem today.  This one is for the ladies.  I wrote it ten or so years ago. 

It's called


I am a lady of a certain weight
Who once wished that she weighed a little less
I was so fascinated with the change
Between my morning and my evening weight
Before or after food
Dressed, or undressed

I have a girlfriend of a certain weight
Who used to claim that she weighed less than me
I must admit, I viewed her claim
Rather suspiciously

I quizzed her long and hard for one whole month
And finally uncovered her deceit
She says she weighs herself and then discounts her head
Deducting one whole stone because, she says
It is all made of bone, and has no meat

Though shocked at first, it was quite soon I saw
That this was clearly an ingenious scheme
So I decided to adopt
And then embellish on
Her theme

And now I weigh a fraction of before
Without suffering, dieting or pain
I weigh myself each day most carefully
And then deduct my hands, my feet, my skin, my bones, my head, my hair
And, of course, my brain.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Please read this one - I got up at half past six this morning to write it!

Hi All

I am going to blog on a difficult subject today, and part of me thinks that I should not even go here. But I was upset yesterday by something I read on the BBC news website. I had been Twittering away on the subject of how the word schizophrenia should be made obsolete. Blogspot was down so I couldn't make a post. Twitter is not really me – I use too many words, haven't got the hang of the soundbite. Worry that I haven't expressed myself properly, so try to clarify. Anywhow, so I made three, four, five, Twitters, then was interrupted by one from the BBC (quoted by a mental health charity, because your Twitter feed is dictated by who you follow). A schizophrenic killer had received inadequate care in the community, said the headline.

My first reaction was horror. Schizophrenic killer – well then, I am fighting a lost cause. I have a disease that makes me potentially dangerous. Why do I even try to be normal, no-one will ever believe I am not a risk... oh no, take a step back. Think. Read the article.

So I clicked on the link, got to the BBC site, and read. And what had happened was that the twenty-three year old murderer had been allowed out of hospital in 2008 by a pyschiatrist who said that he had no symptoms of schizophrenia (despite the fact that he was obviously unwell and had been assessed to be a risk to others). He had been dumped with his possessions in a bin liner in the foyer of a homeless hostel. He had asked to go back to hospital, but was refused. Then a care worker accompanied him to a shop to buy a bottle of vodka....Then he killed. Those are the facts. I almost wrote 'He heard voices telling him to kill, and he killed' because that was how it was reported. But then I thought, hang on, that was inside his head. That was how he said it happened – probably true, but not an objective fact. Fact is, he killed.

It is a catalogue of woes. Tragedy all round – the murderer, the victim. The murderer's family, the victim's family. Lost lives, ruined lives...When I studied law, criminal law used to really upset me. Some of these things just can't be rationalised. I read the paper – a proper paper, The Times - every day, and I still avoid a lot of the hard stuff. There is too much hard stuff in the world.

But in this case I had to try. The BBC headline had interrupted my set of Twitters on the subject of schizophrenia. It was right there in front of me. I couldn't ignore it. There was a quote from Sane, the mental health charity. It made the point that there had been a huge tragedy, a preventable one, and that also a disservice had been done to the thousands of people who suffer from schizophrenia but who are never violent.

That is true. But I would like to take it a step further. Alcohol was a factor in this case. Well, my mother was an alcoholic, and was never even slightly violent even when she was paralytic. I am, they tell me, 'schizophrenic' and have never been, or ever will be violent. In my opinion, people with violent tendencies do violent things. Of course, if they are in the grip of a mental illness, allowance should be made – and it is, there is a plea of 'diminished responsibility' to murder on the grounds of insanity.

But – and this is important – in my opinion the term 'schizophrenic killer' should not be used in reporting the violence. Apart from the fact that schizophrenia is not a valid term. Because, and again this is obvious to me, anyone who murders another person must be mad. In the same way, anybody who abuses a child must be crazy – deep-down horribly disturbed. And so must a perpetrator of genocide, or terrorism, or so on.

The headline is no more accurate than one which used the term 'Drunk killer'. More people are killed by those in the grip of alcohol than those in the grip of mental illness, but alcohol is not often cited in the news as the cause of the killing. Because it is the person who kills, not the illness (and I consider alcoholism to be an illness too).

It is not the fault of the journalists. As I read in the comments on Rossa's blog yesterday, it is very confusing of the psychiatrists to invent the word schizophrenic and then declare that it doesn't mean split personality (and doesn't imply violence). It is not the fault of the psychaitrists either. Obviously it is their worst possible nightmare – most of the time they veer too far in the opposite direction, trying to control people who are not violent at all.

It is not even the fault of the mental illness. It is the fault of the care worker who led that man to buy vodka (because alcohol exaggerates people's usual personality traits, and diminshes their inhibitions) and it is ultimately the fault of the man himself. I do feel extremely sorry for his family. They must still be reeling from the shock (three years later, the case has been to court and is now under some kind of independent review of the process) and they must still be struggling to make sense of it all and they must be so so angry with the system (and I would be too, the system is wrong at its best and they have experienced it at its worst. What kind of care worker 'helps' their charge to buy alcohol? What kind of hospital turns away somebody desperate for help?)

But, at the end of the day, sad as I am for everybody in this case, I can't help trying to make my thoughts on this subject clear. That man wielded the knife. He lifted the knife and plunged it into his victim's body. Whatever his reasons for doing so, and whatever his state of mind at the time, the crime should not be laid at the door of a nebulous and scarily named set of mental health symptoms.

Here's the link to this sad story: