Friday, 30 December 2011

Schizophrenia and Sleep

Hi Everybody

I am an advocate of sleep.  I send my kids early to bed every night, or as early as I can now that they are getting older.  It is actually quite late these days, especially in the holidays, before the girls settle down, which bothers me.  The boys are easier. 

My husband is much more relaxed in his attitudes.  But I feel that our children will grow better, learn better, heal better, etc if they get plenty of shut-eye and all that I read in the health section of the newspaper and in magazines bears me out on this one.  So I push the point.

I practise what I preach, too.  I have gone to bed early for as long as I remember - ten o'clock, or ten thirty, like the boring old lady that I am.  Except in recent weeks, since I have become gluten-free.  I have found that now I have loads more energy; I go to bed each night a couple of hours later than usual, sleep soundly and feel fine for it (I have woken up later too though, to be honest, with no school run to do and a wonderfully accommodating husband). 

But last night an odd thing happened.  I failed to sleep at all.  I went to bed, did not feel tired, and found that the bed was uncomfortable (it is not usually) and I tossed and turned the whole night.  Toddler woke up a few times too, but he didn't disturb me because I was already awake.  Perhaps I woke him up, thinking about it.  To be fair, I must have slept a little at some point, because I had some dreams, but my feeling when I awoke was that I had not slept a wink (and Paul readily agreed - I must have disturbed him too). 

I was expecting a miserable day today.  But actually, it has failed to materialise.   I have had plenty of energy, despite a tiring time taking my eldest daughter to see the orthodontist at the hospital and then going to the shops to return something I had bought her in the sales that she didn't like.  I also went to visit my niece, cooked the dinner and then took my little daughter swimming.  Then came home and hoovered the house.  And I still don't feel tired - not sleepy tired.  And this is a little alarming.

I am otherwise compos mentis.  Not silly, not high, not low.  Just normal.  SO I think I am ok mentally.  If I didn't have the schizophrenia diagnosis (which I have discarded but still wrestle with occasionally) I wouldn't be thinking mental health at all.  But the advantage (disadvantage?) of having been through the system is that I am now well aware of any warning signs - one of which is failure to sleep.  I am fine though.  Happy.  Sane.  But such is my obsession with sleep that I can't help but feel a little disturbed that I am not tired. 

Oh well. Hey ho.  Life is a strange thing sometimes.  I am sure I will sleep fine tonight and all will be well.  I will let you know.

I am not sure why I did not sleep last night.  I didn't particularly have anything on my mind, although of course since I was awake I did find myself pondering various matters.  I suspect I may have an intolerance to oats as well as wheat gluten, because I had had an evening bowl of porridge and felt unsettled, kind of edgy afterwards, and also I had a really bad stomach ache.  An intolerance to oats would be a shame, because my in-laws have just bought me a huge new bag of porridge oats, and they are absolutely delicious.

I guess I will leave it a day or two and then experiment again.   Anyway, I don't know if all that is interesting to anybody.  But I might as well say here that in my view one of the most important factors in mental health is sleep.  It does a person so much good to sleep well, to process the day's events by dreaming, to rest and recuperate.  I am stating the obvious here, I know.

What else happened today?  I didn't walk my little dog - I was too busy, and it was too wet.  It won't do her any harm - I will take her out for an extra long time tomorrow to make up for my neglect.  I did enjoy seeing my niece and her children, and spending time with Little Daughter, who is so sweet and smart.  We were getting changed after swimming, and couldn't help listening to the lifeguard, who was laughing and joking with a girl who had been in the pool.  They got quite rowdy at one point, and I whispered to Little Daughter, 'What are they doing?' 

'They're flirting' she replied matter of factly, and she shocked me with this insight.  I hadn't realised she knew the word, never mind what flirting was, and she was so spot on, and so insouciant with it.  Sweet, funny, clever and now quite grown up - and the child is not yet ten!  What have I bred? 

I love my life!  There was a time when I would never have thought to say that - but I went into all that in yesterday's post, so will stop there before I bore you all solid.

Louise x

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Favours from Friends

Greetings again

I love the holidays.  The sleepover went successfully last night, and the kids slept well as far as I know.  They said they did, anyway, although I have noticed a good deal of yawning in the ranks today.

We went to a friend's for lunch - it was lovely  (hi, Sarah!).  I have been badgering my friends recently - now that I have decided to be a full-time writer (what took me so long?) I have a vested interest in getting my work read.  So I have been reminding people of the existence of my book, asking them to recommend it to their friends, begging for feedback, etc.  I hate asking for stuff - but on the bright side, if you ask a friend for a favour, they benefit too - they get the warm and fuzzy feeling which comes with having done a good turn.  And I don't ask people for things often.  I will have to watch that though - I suppose I will know I have overdone the nagging when people stop answering my calls...

Later this afternoon we popped in to see another couple of friends, two elderly ladies who have offered to help with my Rethink group.  I went for a chat about that, took my lovely little daughter with me (and the dog, because we were on our way to walk her).  We had a lovely time there too - our dog got on well with their dog, and little daughter was in a good, patient and communicative mood (and was rewarded when she was presented with a gift as we left).  It was all beautifully wrapped, but with no name on the label - they must keep a few handy for visiting children over Christmas.  How nice is that? 

Then we walked the dog across the muddy fields of our most local nature reserve, in the late afternoon sunlight.  It was so mild, especially considering it is midwinter.  Now, back home, I am cooking sprouts and carrots and rice and a pie and some sausages (such bounty) with the kitchen door closed so that Muddy Dog cannot escape into the house.  Paul is decorating the front room (he started about a month ago, but has done nothing for at least three weeks and was mildly surprised, if not affronted when I said that I was going to take the children to lunch with their friends so that he could get on with it.  I think he had forgotten all about it, and thought he was on holiday!  JOKE.  But he did get on with it, and now he has got going he is motivated again.)  The girls are doing something quietly somewhere (probably watching something on DVD in elder daughter's bedroom) and the boys are playing noisily but happily in their room.  Bliss!

Sorry if this blog sounds all complacent and happy families recently.  And not particularly relevant to anybody's mental health troubles.  Especially sorry to those who have just come over from the Rethink site, and who are looking for help.  There will be more universally applicable content on here soon, it is just that now is the holidays, and things happen to be going well in my life, and so I think, why not write about it? 

Anyhow, the overall message is the same as it has been for a long time - I was ill, I am now better, and I am not unique in this.  Anybody who has been suffering with mental illness, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, or any other condition - remember, you are normal. 

It is a normal reaction to extreme stress and distress, sometimes to cave in under it.  It is normal to panic, normal to turn your misery inwards if you can see no way through it.  It happens to animals too - just look at those creatures who are badly treated, underfed or poorly housed or otherwise abused and you can see clear signs of mental distress in their disturbed behaviour. 

But put the environment right for those animals, treat them with love and patience, and they will recover their mental health - so too can human beings.  Forget about the fact that you have been told you are a schizophrenenic.  It is nonsense.  Take medication if you can't manage without it, but remember that one day you will be able to, work towards that day and look forward to it.  Even if it is in five or ten or twenty years time, you will have good times along the way too, gradually you will find that you are becoming stronger, and one day you will find that you are healed. 

Never give in to shame - it is not shameful to be ill, mentally or otherwise.  I did some mad, mad things, some of which luckily I have edited out of my brain over time, some of which I committed to paper or to memory and which will be there forever.  Some of the memories come back to me sometimes.  It doesn't matter.  They make me smile. 

I remember when I was in hospital during my third and final breakdown, following the birth of my eldest child, my husband came to visit and we went for a walk along the beach, pushing the baby in her pram.  There was a young man knee deep in the water, and there was a bed by him.  He had pushed this bed into the water, presumably.  He had a camera set up on a tripod.  Clearly, he was an art student engaged in a project.  And what did I do?  I went out there, and lay on the bed, and suggested that he take my photo.  My husband (although we were not yet married) was aghast.  Acutely embarrassed.  I don't blame him.  How mad was that?  But it was funny too, and if I was walking along the beach today and saw somebody else behaving in that manner, I would just smile and walk on. 

So what?  In fact, if I had told him I was a patient in the local mental hospital, it would probably have enhanced the young man's project.

I didn't take my clothes off, by the way.  It only occurs to me now that I might have done, and how much worse would that have been?!

To conclude, today I had a lovely day, my life is full to bursting, and when I came out of hospital as a scared and shaken nineteen year old, after being there for three months and held under a section of the Mental Health Act, I would never ever have foreseen such joy and completion in my life.  That is what I want this blog and my book to do - to talk to those confused, ashamed nineteen year olds, and show them that they have a future.  To assure them that nervous breakdowns are a part of life, that they are normal, they will recover.  To tell those young people that nothing has really changed, only their perceptions of themselves have altered, and that they will be solid and whole again, one day.  I hope that day comes soon for rmany people, and that I can be part of making it sooner.

Louise x x   

Tuesday, 27 December 2011


Hi all

We had some friends around this evening, for festive food - they have gone home now, but left their son behind for a sleepover.  He is no trouble - like a cousin or a brother to our lot - and they are delighted to have him to stay, not just because of the added opportunity for play, but also because I am much more lenient when we have a child from another family in the house.  I always get them to sleep reasonably early though - I hate those sort of sleepovers where the parents let the children stay up half the night, or even the whole night.  I just think it is so bad for them, to lose all that sleep.

Anyway, we have had a nice day, quite low key.  We had a good walk along the beach; the whole family, plus the dog, plus our friends.  And lots to eat.  But we still have numerous boxes of chocolates and biscuits in the house, and hundreds of mince pies, two Christmas puddings...  We are going to have a New Years Day party and I am hoping that most of the sweet and sticky stuff will be consumed then.  We have never had a New Years Day party before, and I am quite looking forward to it.   Have not issued many invitations yet though, due to being slightly disorientated in time and space because of the holidays. 

Thinking about it, today must be Tuesday, which means our party is on Sunday, which is not all that far away really, so I must get on with some planning.  Not tonight though - I have decided to watch the new TV, which Paul and I bought as a Christmas gift to each other and ourselves (and the children of course).  I have not actually watched anything on it yet.  I love the new TV - it is a flat screen, it looks great and the picture is fantastic.  The snag is that it has no remote control (we ordered that separately; long story) and I am not quite sure how to operate it via the buttons yet.  Also, the screen keeps going blank, which has to be fixed with a judicious tap, which is quite annoying.  The online shop we bought it from has been closed throughout the holidays and only re-opens tomorrow, so hopefully it will be sorted out then.  So yeah, to sum up, the new TV is great, except that it doesn't work properly.

I have become obsessed recently with looking up my book on Amazon, to see if it has sold any copies and whether anybody has written any more reviews.  I am going to limit myself to two checks a day from now on...  which means I have already exceeded my quota for today. 

I am off to be a couch potato for what is left of the evening.

All the best to all of you.  Hope you are well and happy.

Louise x

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Happy Christmas

Hi Everyone
I didn't enjoy Christmas very much, before I had a family of my own.  I was always so lonely.  For several years I went swimming every day, on my own at the gym, ploughing up and down the pool wearing my swimming hat.  I was an oddity. 

I was a member of that gym for five years.  I remember I used to be upset when it closed on Christmas Day and I couldn't have my usual swim.  The day seemed to stretch before me endlessly without my normal routine. 

Yet, how things change.  I met Paul at that same gym, when I was thirty, and within a year I had a child.  Within seven years, four children.  Christmas today started at six o'clock this morning in a flurry of excitement and just kept on getting better throughout the day.   It didn't enter my head to go swimming.

Although I do still need my exercise.  I took my eldest with me today to walk the dog, because the beach is so crowded at the moment and I didn't want to be out walking on my own on Christmas Day.  I had to persuade her to leave the television and the warm house and the rest of the family, but I was glad we went together - I would have been the only lone walker.  And also my daughter and I had a lovely talk as we went along, and a bit of a sing-song, and a giggle, and although the day was darkening and the wind was whipping us along and my cheekbones felt frozen and my ears were sore, I was conscious that this was a precious hour, and that being in my daughter's company was worth more than sunshine and clement weather.  We both said afterwards that we will remember that walk.

I am still gluten-free, and feel very well for it - no stomach aches for several weeks now.  Amazing.  And the sense of calm has continued too - doubly amazing.  Paul bought me some gluten-free mince pies and a gluten-free Christmas pudding, which was very thoughtful of him.  I am already piling on the pounds though, which is rather unexpected - I thought I would be ultra slim by now, considering all the biscuits and cakes I have been turning down recently.  Still, I always said I would rather be overweight than nervous - I have always eaten huge amounts of food but I think it is because of my raw nerves that I have stayed reasonably slim over the years.  And I stand by that - I don't really mind being slightly overweight, and anyway I am sure it is only temporary - everyone expects to get a bit lumpy over the holidays and it is not that hard to kickstart your body back into shape in the New Year.

I am looking forward to the New Year newspapers and magazines - I love New Year resolutions and all those motivational type articles.  I relish the idea of a new start every year, even though I know by looking back at previous year's diaries that the impetus for change does not continue for long.  I like the challenge.

This coming year I intend to build myself a real writing career.  I have decided that I am going to come off disability benefits in the New Year, which will give me the incentive and motivation to work harder at my writing, and I think this will make me feel a lot better about myself.  After all, I can't keep on about not being sick and keep collecting benefits.  It doesn't make sense.  I do feel some trepidation about how I will manage financially, but I feel that it is time now to move forward, and actually I am looking forward to it.   Looking forward to the challenge.  

Here's to the year ahead!  But first, here's to the last week of 2011! 

All the best


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Another Daniel Mackler film

Hi again

I just watched a You Tube film by Daniel Mackler called Schizophrenia- Full Recovery through Therapy.  I haven't mentioned Daniel's work for a while, so I thought I would link to this film here:

And here is the link to his website:

I don't agree entirely with all that Daniel thinks on the subject of mental health; I particularly oppose his views that all childhood trauma is caused by bad parenting and that nobody should become a parent until they are entirely healed, or 'enlightened'. 

In my opinion truama comes from many sources and for various reasons - maybe it is just part of our inheiritance, our path through life to encounter difficulties and learn to overcome them.  (I know I am not a perfect parent, but I am sure that my kids are going to turn out to be well-adjusted and happy - all the signs are good). 

Anyway, Daniel and I have agreed to differ on these things, which are after all only opinions.  He is an all-round good person as far as I can tell from his work (we have not met).  He is someone who has faith in the human ability to recover from serious mental illness and his work shows that.  So when I stumbled across this film (see link above) I just had to share it and tell you all again how inspirational I think this man is.  I shall cite his work in the evidence I intend to give to the Schizophrenia Commission (they have just asked for evidence and opinions about recovery, so anybody else who wants to contribute, please look them up online.  If you don't find time, don't worry, I will post a link soon).  It amazes me that so many medical professionals still seem to be unaware of all the information out there on the net about healing from schizophrenia (or are they turning a blind eye?)

Let's make it our mission to inform them!

Louise x  


Schizophrenia and Mince Pies

Hi everyone

The title of this post is a blatant attempt at attention grabbing; I have long since noticed that posts with the word Schizophrenia in the title attract readers.  I feel a bit of a cheat when I use the word - I actually do not consider that I have schizophrenia any more, based on the fact that I don't have any symptoms, which seems clear enough evidence to me.  However, the medics are lagging behind me here - in their view I have an invisible illness (disease?) or am in denial, or remission...only time will tell who is right on this one, them or me.  But I am going with my own opinion of my own mental health.  I monitor it closely enough to be pretty aware of it by now, and those doctors don't live inside my head, so I reckon I know more about me than they do.

I re-read the book this morning.  And one part that upset me, remembering, was when my first son was born.  I had not been on any medication during the pregnancy or for many years beforehand.  The psychiatrist I saw when I was pregnant said that I was in charge of my own mental health - that I should have medication with me when I went to hospital to give birth, but only take it if I felt I needed it.  I preferred not to, because I was keen to breastfeed my baby, but I felt that it was a sensible precuation to have the medication with me just in case - I did not want to risk another breakdown.

But in the hospital after my baby was born, the doctors decided that I was unwell and must take the medication and stop breastfeeding my baby even though I was fine, and I told them I was.  I was not delusional, hysterical, hearing voices or anything else.  The more I protested that I was well, the more they insisted that I was unwell.  I was so upset by all this that I nearly did lose the plot - luckily a kind nurse noticed my distress and let me go home (I was supposed to stay in hospital to have a blood sugar test a couple of days later). 

Once I got home, with Paul's support, I stopped taking the drugs, started breastfeeding my baby (after a time lapse to get the drugs out of my system) and spoke to the psychiatrist on Monday, who approved of what I had done.  But it could have turned out very differently. 

Oh, the injustice of it all.  But I know things are a lot worse for a lot of people.  In fact I was telling my eldest daughter today that everything that has happened in my life has been lucky.  I think she thought I had lost the plot, 'I don't think it was all lucky, Mummy' she said (she knows about my times in hospital, it has been a hot topic in our household the last few days because the free book promotion has boosted sales figures so Paul and I are buzzing with the possibilities).  But I said it was, because if things had not happened in my life exactly as they did, I would never have met her Daddy and had her and her siblings.  And I might never have been a writer - I have always felt that the ability and desire to write was innate in me, but I think circumstances have made it a necessity. 

What is more, now I have the opportunity to write.  If I had graduated from Law School without the crippling nerves that made my life so difficult I would probably be working as a lawyer now.  I would probably not have found the time to have four children, and I would be earning so much money that I would be reliant on to pay my huge mortgage that I would not have any free time to devote to writing, the thing that gives me the most pleasure and sense of achievement in my life (apart from my wonderful family).  So it has all been for the best.

Did I ever have schizophrenia?  I don't know what schizophrenia is.  I don't think anybody really does.  All anybody knows is that some people can cope with the vicissitudes of life, and some cannot.  And I also think that some experiences are so extreme that nobody could cope with them and remain mentally intact.  This was probably not the case for me - lots of worse things have happened to better people than me, as I have said here before. 

I was completely barking mad on three separate occasions, that's for sure.  I was also a victim of circumstance - lots of circumstances in fact - and of the weakness of my own nature.  I was crippled by anxiety for many years.  I also made some bad choices.  But nobody is privy to the workings of my mind except me - and since I was very uncommunicative when I was in hospital, any diagnosis must have been based partly on guesswork, as well as observation of my bizarre behaviour.  I was mad and I am now better.  I am not 'a schizophrenic' and I am not honestly sure that anybody is. 

Anyway.  I am still gluten free, although not entirely stress free and calm.  Streets ahead on this time last year though - or any year really.  Went to another social event tonight - a very small one, but exactly the kind of thing that would have paralysed me with nerves until recently.  I would have tried very hard to speak articulately and failed abysmally, and gone home very disheartened and feeling even more inadequate than usual.  As it was, tonight I did try a bit too hard to communicate clearly, was still not super-articulate (I guess I need a bit more practice) but the big difference was that by the end of the evening I didn't actually care too much about my failure as a sparkling social being.  I am an adequate human being, and that is enough.  And I got to come home and bath my beautiful boys and put them to bed and listen to one daughter sing and give the other a hug goodnight and sit down to write my blog.  There is more to life than mince pies!

I did have one nervous moment - I was taken aback when a rather elderly and genteel chap (this was a family gathering, but he is an in-law on the other side who I don't know very well) suddenly told me (sotto voce) that he had downloaded my book from Kindle and read it! 

Aagh!  My mind raced through the book (I had been re-reading it this morning, as I said, because it suddenly occurred to me that I should acquaint myself with it again since we have sold a lot of copies recently ('sold' is an overstatement; most of them were free copies on the one day promotion).  I wanted to remember what it was people were reading about me.  And suddenly I was unexpectedly confronted with a real life reader.  I suppose I have realised that some people who know me are reading the book without me knowing they are, but I don't think about this on an individual basis.  I will now.

I didn't know quite how to respond.  I did go a bit red.  He said that writing the book was a brave thing to do and that it would help a lot of people, which was lovely of him.  What I wanted was his opinion of the writing, but I didn't ask that.  And actually I am going to relax about that, because one thing I got from re-reading the book this morning is that the writing is fine.  Lots of people have told me that, but perhaps I needed the distance from writing the book to see it myself.  It really is fine.  Clear enough, readable enough, good enough.  On to the next book.

Goodnight.  Sweet dreams. 

Louise x

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Gluten-free is Good (2)

Hello again

I had a nagging feeling that the last post was incomplete, that it might read as a little odd even.  I am not in the throes of mania, honestly!  Obviously I can't be sure that this new sense of calm is due to the gluten-free diet, or that it will last.  It just feels so good to be anxiety-free, or very nearly so, after being in thrall to really excruciating anxiety for so long, that I wanted to share the news.

The best thing (and the strangest because it is so unexpected) is the energy I have had in the evenings.  Not last night, but the night before, I found myself oddly alert and wakeful at ten pm - the time when I usually stagger to bed exhausted.  It was such an alien feeling that I ignored it and went to bed anyway, feeling a little unsettled.  I slept well, although not immediately. 

Last night, when I felt wide awake again at my usual bedtime I took the hint, and stayed up for an extra couple of hours.  It was the perfect opportunity to get started on the Christmas wrapping.  Paul was surprised to say the least - he has resigned himself by now to saying goodnight to an exhausted me each night not long after the children go to bed.  In fact, the only time I usually stay awake later than ten or half past is when I am agitated for some reason and can't switch off - but this was not like that at all. 

I don't know how tonight will be - in fact I am quite tired already, but that is probably due to the fact that I got upset with the noisy houseful of children earlier, and because we have not yet eaten dinner.  I really hope that these new evening energy levels will turn out not to be a fluke, but a result of the new diet - imagine how much more I could get done, with those extra hours!  I had resigned myself to the fact that I was more tired than average because of my busy lifestyle and because that is just how I am - but am really excited by the possibilty that this change could be permanent.  I really do feel a lot less nervous too, and whether that is due to the gluten-free diet or the counselling, or a combination, or even a placebo effect, I am happy with it.

As far as gluten goes, by the way, it is the wheat based foods that I have cut out.  I seem to be fine with Ryvita.  I have not tried oats, because the porridge we have in the cupboard is horrid, and I keep forgetting to buy more. 

Must run, dinner is burning!

Louise x

Gluten-free is Good!

Hi everyone

I have been following a gluten-free diet for about two weeks now.  The only time I deviated was for a home made sausage roll, and I wouldn't even have eaten that had it not been the only thing available.  Paul and I were with the children at a party and I hate them to see me not eating, or not eating enough - I think it sets such a bad example. 

For about a month previously I had been trying to go gluten-free, but I found it hard.  On social occasions when I am offered a biscuit or a cake, for example, I hate to be rude and say no, so I would make an exception for these occasions - which seem to happen very often in my life.  So I had not really got it into my head that these things, as well as bread, contain gluten and thus should not be eaten at all.  I have finally arrived there - I automatically discount eating cakes, biscuits, and bread as well as any wheat based cereal and so on, and it is quite easy to do now. 

I didn't really get on with gluten-free bread, partly because of the ridiculous cost of the stuff and partly because it is so insubstantial.  So I tried rye bread, and that was a lot better - tasty and filling, but without the bloating and stomach pains that I get from wheat based products.

The reason I decided to go gluten-free is because I have read so much about it on the net recently.  In particular, people with nervous problems are said to be allergic to gluten - problems with the gut and symptoms such as anxiety have strong links.  I also have a friend who is a nutritionist who suggested to me twice recently that I should try a gluten-free diet - this woman is wise and I decided that I should respect her advice.

I am astonished at the results!  Really, amazed.  I am just so much calmer that I would not have believed it - and this is taking into account the fact that I had already come a long way in conquering my nerves over the last year or so.  I love it - it is just a revelation not feeling the twang of nerves all the time.  In the last week or so I have been in several social situations that would have floored me a year ago - and I have sailed through them without thinking twice. 

I was diagnosed with IBS some years ago, and have tried various strategies to combat it.  I had worked out that if I ate small meals, and avoided trigggers like chocolate, things were better.  I have also been taking probiotics on and off for several years.  But nothing has improved my life like cutting out gluten.  I knew all about the links between mind and body; I have been saying for a long time that we should look at the whole person.  But I had no idea that by removing one type of foodstuff from my diet, such a huge difference would be made, not just to my body, but to my mind too.

To be fair, I have also been seeing a counsellor for CBT, and I am sure that is part of the picture.  I am also re-reading my book on the Alexander technique.  Maybe I am just finally in the place to see some proper improvements in my life.  And of course, everything is not always perfect - sometimes I still feel slightly stressed.  Like this afternoon, for example, when the children had friends over and for some reason the only game they wanted to play was fighting.  But I seem to have finally found a more solid foundation - the sense of self that I have been lacking.  Long may it last!

Louise x 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Free Book Today!

Hi all

Did I mention that we had signed up to the Amazon lending library, so my book is available on there?  Actually, all my books are, I think. 

Today is a freeee day!  Some sort of promotion - beats me, but Paul thinks it is a good idea.  So you can download my memoir for free.  I think you get a month then to read it.  And you do not have to own a Kindle to take advantage of this offer - the book can be downloaded to any PC or other computer type device, iPhone or whatever. 

Just go to Amazon Kindle and download the app - it is all quick and easy to do, as I know because I have done it my very own self and I am not that computer savvy.  Click on the link at the top of this page, or go to Amazon and Google 'Surviving Schizophrenia: A Tale of Sound and Fury'. 

And enjoy.  If you want to, of course - no obligation.

Have a good day.  I will write more soon.

Louise x

Monday, 12 December 2011

Rethink Meeting

Hi Everyone

Met the lady from Rethink today.  I was confused, because I had been emailing this lady, who I had only met once at the Rethink AGM, and hoping I would recognise her again when we finally met.  I had a picture in my mind of who she was.  But she turned out to be someone completely different - although I did remember her from the AGM, she was not the person I thought I had been emailing and was going to meet!  The one I thought it was had been sitting at the same lunch table as Paul and I, this one was sitting at the next table.

So that was an embarrassing start.  Luckily the two ladies who I had brought with me to the meeting were much more socially ept than I, and while I was burbling on about how I thought she was someone else they smoothed things over, bought her a cup of tea, etc...  I have not felt more like someone with a mental health problem for a long time.

We talked through setting up the group, and came to some conclusions, although I must say I am a little befuddled by it all.  The whole business seems to be a little political.  Which I suppose it would be if a large organisation is to be involved.  They have to have rules and regulations and so on.  I suppose the best I can do is give it a try.  I want to get things up and running in the New Year, although nobody else seems to be in much of a hurry. 

Anyway, it went ok, I suppose.  I do let my mouth run away with me sometimes in conversation; I wish I could express myself more lucidly.  I am still so much clearer on the page than in person.  Maybe I always will be.

The wind is raging outside.  The kids had trouble settling down to sleep, because of the racket.  Paul has gone to the supermarket - he likes to shop in the evenings.  Hope he gets home soon. 

That's all for now, folks!

Louise x

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Not Long Now!

Hi All

Not long until what, I hear you wonder...  A big lunch.  Lots of presents (for the children).   A nice long walk with the dog.  A visit to the relatives.  At this time of year it seems as though everything is building up to that one day.  Sometimes I think it would be nice if we celebrated in lots of little bursts, instead of one big one.  It would take the pressure off.  But then I suppose we do that too, with birthdays and Easter and such, so I am just burbling on really...

I am hoping to blitz all the present buying tomorrow morning.  I have done some bits and pieces already of course, but time is running out now - I have only a couple of free days before the end of term, and one thing I know is that it is not going to be possible to shop with the children in tow.

I tried it on Friday - took my Mum to the shops, with Toddler.  He was very good considering, but did encourage me to overspend in the DVD department.  He kept badgering me to buy more DVDs, and I must have been feeling weak, because I complied.  They weren't just for him, but for all the family, they were inexpensive, and I do think DVDs make good gifts. 

But then I had to tell Toddler he had to forget I had bought them, because they had to go to a central sorting office for Santa to see who they should be given to, and if he was really good we might get the DVDs he had chosen back (?!).  'I have forgotten already' he said, but when we got back to the car he kept asking to be allowed to hold the bag.  'No, you have to forget we bought them' I told him again, and he replied again, 'I have forgotten already'.  He hasn't mentioned it since, but I am sure he is just biding his time. 

Toddler was funny at dinner time.  All the children were being silly, as they so often are at mealtimes, but as his big sister was holding forth he said to her, 'Don't you start!' in an extremely high and mighty tone.  At the end of the meal his big brother sang 'Silent Night' which he has been learning at school, and he listened most patiently.  He must be growing up.  I will have to find a new way of referring to him soon - he is no longer the Toddler he was when I began this blog (two whole years ago!).

After the shopping tomorrow I have a meeting scheduled with the lady from Rethink Mental Illness who is going to help me set up a new group in this area, hopefully starting early next year.  I do hope it works out, I feel very positive about doing something...positive, and useful.  I want the emphasis of the group to be on Recovery, and I will start by handing everyone out a document referring them to all the useful sites and blogs I have found on the Web.  Although I suppose not everyone may have access to the Internet.  Anyway, I will keep you all posted, and if anyone has any useful ideas for the group, any  suggestions about how it should run or what might help people, please post your comments  below - any help would be much appreciated.

All the best

Louise x

Friday, 9 December 2011

YouTube film about Recovery from Schizophrenia

Hi Guys

Spent a good evening, looking at other mental health blogs, and following various links.  This is a film I came across on YouTube, by following a link from a comment on Ron Unger's great blog.

This guy is very young (24) but had 'schizophrenia' from the age of ten.  He is better now, largely because he finally found the courage to tell his GP about the paranoia.  The film is well worth watching. 

On a different note, my dear husband, who helps me sometimes with techy things, has this evening, while I have been browsing the net, made my memoir available to lend to (Amazon Premier Account Holders?) in the USA.  Amazon have just set up a lending library, and we thought that my book might as well be a part of it.  Just thought I would mention that.  I think that one way to beat this mental illness thing is to stand up and be counted, and if this young man (on You Tube) is willing to put himself out to fight the stigma, I am going to redouble my efforts to do the same.

Louise x

Thursday, 8 December 2011


Hello everyone

Ventured to Lidl today.  Had both boys off school - the big one is really poorly, with a hacking cough and a cold that has been lingering for weeks.  The little one was sneezing and coughing this morning, so I thought he might as well keep his brother company, since play school is optional.  They have had a whale of a time.

This morning I cut their hair!  I was fully prepared to rush them off to the hairdresser if it all went pear shaped, as I was sure it would.  But to my amazement they look great.  Aided by the fact that they always look great, but they really are good haircuts.  They have had worse haircuts, in proper hairdressing shops - and better, of course.

We went to Lidl at lunchtime - seemed to be really short of supplies, and since Paul and I are out tonight I had no choice but to take the boys shopping with me.  They were lovely but annoying; hanging on to the trolley so that I could hardly manoeuvre it, they were genuinely convinced that they were helping me and I didn't like to insist otherwise.  I ended up buying them a book each. Toddler's was an animal atlas, which was not as good as its cover suggested.  (Why didn't I guess why it was shrink wrapped?)  His big brother's book was great though - a flip page quiz book, which is just up his street.  He will read factual books for hours - in fact he will read anything for hours these days, he has become such a bookworm.  My boy!

Drove to collect my eldest from school - I don't usually do that but it was pouring today and she is singing in a carol concert tonight, so I thought she deserved a couple of hours at home to chill out first.

I am feeling a bit stressed again.  Mainly because of my Mum and her recent health scare, although she seems to be back on track now - she has been thoroughly checked at the hospital, and is back home with her dog now.  She can't drive for a while, so tomorrow I am going to head up there with Toddler (hopefully his brother will be back at school) and take her to the shops.  She will enjoy that.

I think I am also stressed because I haven't written much recently - keep failing to get into a routine.  I will get organised soon.   Only one more week until the school holidays, hurrah!

All the best to all of you

Louise x

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

TIA - would you know the signs?

Hi Guys

This is where watching very little TV, and almost never the commercial channels, has done me a disservice - apparently there is a TV advert which gives the FAST signs - Face, Arms, Speech - of an impending stroke.  Not knowing this, I sat and watched my Mum have a TIA - a mini-stroke - in my front room on Friday night.  We were having a conversation about recent tests she had been having at her GP surgery, because she had signs of high cholesterol, when she was suddenly struck dumb.  I could see that she wanted to speak but was having trouble finding her words, and when she did work out what to say, it came out all wrong.  A few minutes later it was all over, and she was sitting and speaking normally.

I phoned my friend, who is a nurse, and she said it was probably a TIA and that the GP would want to see Mum immediately and would probably send her to A and E.  I phoned the GP, but he did not want to see her.   She had had a recent blood pressure check and a blood test, of which he had the results as he spoke to me.  He told me to get her some aspirin and start her taking them, and that he would write her a prescription for some medication to lower her cholesterol levels, which we should pick up on Monday, and that was pretty much it.  Now it is pretty much business as usual - she has been staying with my sister since Friday but is due to go home today.  Hopefully she will soon get a referral to the TIA clinic at the hospital, where they will hopefully confirm that all is now ok.

The worst thing, in a way, is that she has been told not to drive for six weeks, which is a huge blow to her independence.  So she is going to need a good deal of looking after.  Poor old Mum.

Of course, nobody wants to be reminded of the mortality of their parents, but it must be worse for the parents themselves.  Even a minor incident like this is a huge blow to the confidence.  My children were devastated, of course, once they realised what had happened in front of their eyes; although at the time they didn't even notice.  Afterwards, they were terribly upset at what could have become of Granny, and I felt so much for them.  Death is the bogey man for all of us, but he seems most threatening when you are young, before you have weathered a few storms and realise that nothing is the end of the world, except of course the end of the world. 

I feel that I have coped surprisingly well through all this.  I have spent a lot of my life in a state of arrested development (until I had my own children, in fact) and the biggest fear I could name was always that of losing my mother.  But at times when that loss has seemed most likely - on several occasions over the last few years - I have not found myself descending into panic, but reacting instead to the situations as they have evolved.  I think it is because I have more balance at the core now - my family, my home.  I have to manage when times are hard, I have to teach my children how to manage. 

I would hate to lose my Mum, at any time.  I will never be ready to part with the person who gave me life.  But maybe these happenings are a way of toughening us all up, preparing us.  We know that we are not immortal, but we have to keep ignoring it - until one day the fact pops up and bops us in the face.  Then the only challenge will be not to fall flat over.

Louise x

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Notes on a Book

Hi again

Well, I did some work on the book last night, kind of.  I was really tired, but I made rough notes of the chapter headings and a few lines on each, up to about Chapter 8, just so I felt I had done what I set out to do.  I suppose I can build on that...

I went to the Ladies Group at the local church tonight.  I feel a bit odd about admitting to that - I have this childish inclination to scoff at organised religion, although I find myself becoming more spiritual as life goes on.  In actual fact I have an unshakeable conviction that there is definitely a God in the world, because I am so happy these days - which as my atheist friend pointed out, is most egocentric of me.  But when I am in church, I feel this rebelliousness, as if I am still a cynical, unhappy and disillusioned thirteen year old sitting in school assembly feeling that everyone around me, quietly praying and conforming, is deluding themselves and trying to decieve others by holding out false hopes, mirages.

(The next bit is in the book, you can switch off if you have read it).  I was a very religious child - I loved reading, and the Bible was my default setting when I had nothing else to read.  Jesus was definitely the man for me, and I was very disappointed at the age of eleven or so to be told he didn't exist and that I was Jewish from now on.  I came to embrace Judaism, but unfortunately it didn't feel the same way about me - as a reform Jew I never felt that I was properly accepted as one of the clan.  But a person can't keep changing their moral bedrock, and although there are a lot of churches around where I live, all staffed and populated by lovely and welcoming people, I have got out of the 'Jesus habit'.  Apart from anything else, I feel it would be betraying the Jewish race to become a Christian - I have read so much about their (our?) struggles and the Holocaust and so on.  I have been to Yad Vashem, for goodness sake. 

As people sometimes put on their Facebook status, 'It's complicated'.  So I have come to the conclusion that my belief in God is best kept private and that organised religion is not for me - but I love the ladies group!  One of the ladies there is a proper maverick - she told everyone present this evening that you won't find God in church (I know her quite well and although she is a very active member of the church she seems quite disillusioned with the politics of it all).  She is very sensible, lovely, and makes me feel that not only is it possible to believe in God on your own terms, it is actually the best way.

Lights are always dim in the Ladies group, to lower the reserve, I believe.  Tonight's meeting was aimed at opening up, talking about ourselves, and attendees had been encouraged to bring something to show, which said something about who they were.  One lady brought a journal, another showed the contents of her handbag, another had a cobbler's last.  It was extremely interesting.  I love the stories of peoples' lives, and almost everybody shared something (I didn't, but I have spoken before to this group, so most of them present already knew my stuff, about the book and this blog and so on.  In fact, the reception I received from them originally, when I read out excerpts from my poetry book, really helped me to open up generally).

I haven't been to the group for quite a few months, but am going to start attending regularly again.  Apart from anything else, there is always a welcoming cup of tea, fresh flowers on the tables as well as chocolates and sweets, and tonight there was cheesecake and chocolate eclairs and champagne truffles!  Enough to cheer up anyone and make you feel valued, even without the sense of fellowship and fun...  Just a little prayer at the end, but a sensible one and one that did not mention the word Jesus, so nothing I couldn't say a genuine 'Amen' to.

To go back to the rest of the day now... I visisted my niece after dropping Toddler at play school.  Her baby was sick all over me almost as soon as I arrived, so I had to go home and change.  I was soaked, literally, to the skin.  I walked the dog.  I saw my counsellor (I could write reams about this counselling, but shouldn't and so won't.  I asked for counselling six months ago, anticipating a period of stress around the release of my book, and the sessions have finally started.  Fortunately, in the meantime I had weathered the period of stress, but decided to go ahead with the counselling, since there is always room to improve.  Well, there certainly is in my case.)

Then I tidied.  A lot.  Last night Paul went into the loft to get the advent calendars and Christmas cards that were left over from last year.  We are not feeding the children year-old chocolates by the way, these are refillable advent calendars, with little fabric pouches  that Paul spent the evening stocking with Roses chocolates and then tying up the tiny red ribbons on.  Top Daddy.  Meanwhile, I was busy trying to start my new book. 

Anyway, Paul had also chucked down a load of bin liners from the loft filled with clothes that I had put away at various points over the years and needed to sort out again.  Also old cuddly toys, ancient duvets and so on.  So this morning I got up and made my bleary way to the kithcen through a hall filled with all these bags of stuff,  and felt quite overwhelmed by them - although I had asked him to get it all down for me. 

I didn't feel that I was going to be able to tackle the mess.  But I had to - because the alternative prospect, of steering around the clutter for days, was worse.  So that was my day - sorting out loads and loads of old tat (some of it not tat at all actually).  I did the same on Tuesday - a massive tidy of my younger daughter's bedroom, which took almost the whole day.  I know what I am doing - finding excuses not to knuckle down properly to the writing.  Displacement activity, they call it.  But the side effect is a tidy house, or something heading, almost certainly temporarily, in that direction.  So, every cloud has a silver lining. 

Louise x