Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Schizophrenia and Gluten

I have been for a long walk this morning with the dog and some friends.  I was loath to go because of the freezing weather conditions; started rehearsing my excuses last night, but knew that I would go really, for the conversation as much as the exercise.  It was lovely at the beach of course - the puddles on the promenade were crusted with ice and the sand was rock hard underfoot, which was surreal.  Variety is the spice of life, so they say, and it is great to walk the dog in all weathers and all seasons - the landscape is stable and yet not.  The paradox of nature.

Gosh, I am deep for this time of day.  The walk has either stimulated my brain cells or frozen them.  Hard to tell.

I recommend exercise for keeping a stable outlook on life - of course, this is nothing new, the benefits of exercise are thoroughly documented.  There is nothing like a dog in particular though, for getting a person up and out.  I think if the Government persevere with getting those on benefits to earn their money, it might be an idea to get people to volunteer at a rescue centre.  The benefits of looking after animals are also well known, and to walk a dog is healthy in so many ways - not least the interaction that it brings with others.  All sorts of people stop and pass the time of day during a walk with my dog - it is a very sociable exercise (it helps that she is adorable, and no dog lover can prevent themselves from pausing to making a fuss of her). 

Pets put no pressure on - I always feel calm in the presence of my little dog.  Definitely beneficial for anyone with mental health issues, or any issues really.  So, yes, a dog-walking community service type thing - might even result in homes for the poor abandoned animals.  Government, you can have that one on me.  And if you are ever looking for a Mental Health Tzar...or should that be Tzarina?  Louise the Tzarina - it has a ring to it.  Yes yes, I know, delusions of grandeur....

Anyway, the other thing I wanted to mention before, which I have also written about already, is the benefits of a gluten free diet.  I feel so much healthier in the six weeks or so since I started it - I go to bed two hours later every evening now, and still have more energy than I used to.  And I am sure that the improvement in my nerves is also partly due to having become gluten free.  It sounds odd, but apparently a reduction in anxiety is quite often a side-effect of giving up gluten - I can't remember the science behind it offhand, but it is certainly has been true for me.  I suppose nerves and the gut are closely allied, and so if the health of the gut improves it has a knock on effect on the nervous system. 

Fab.  The only downside is that I have put on weight - only a few pounds, but it hardly feels fair when I have foregone all biscuits, cakes and sundry other fattening items.  I know why though - apart from the fact that I no longer have 'stomach problems' (translate the euphemism; I know you can) I am over-indulging in crisps.  Crisps have always been my weakness - but the spare tyre that is forming around my middle tells me that I have to conquer this fallibility.  I am going to do it by thinking of the health of my heart - the fat in crisps is of the bad sort, and when you are an 'apple' shape as I am (susceptible to storing fat around your middle) your heart is particularly at risk.

Heart trouble is something that is on my mind anyway at the moment - my poor Mum is having a few problems, although hopefully nothing that can't be sorted out.  So I am going to put 'heart' up there as a picture-word of warning in my mind, next to 'crisps' and hopefully this will have the desired effect of putting me off them.

I'll let you know how I get on.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Too Busy for Words

It is going to be really hard to break myself of the habit of starting each blog post with a greeting.  Nobody else does it...so I am going to STOP.  This is a blog, not a missive.

Consider yourselves welcomed.

Anyway, I have backed myself into a bit of a corner the last few weeks.  I have not had much time to write at all, I have been too busy with trying to get people to read my memoir.  Plug (I mean link):

The book I was writing about recovery has stalled, and I am starting to wonder if there is a need for it, because after all this blog is about recovery... I have been thinking about writing something for children instead, something that would be light and fun and playful to write and to read...something I could read to my own kids. 

But I think I am making excuses.  Before I embark on anything new I need to get my head down and finish the project I have started.  Because no matter how much positive feedback I get about my book (I have had a bit recently and I have been so gleeful you would be forgiven for thinking I am getting a bit above myself at times)  that is now the old book.  If I am to consider myself a writer - which I do at last - I must justify that title, and finish the next book. 

My memoir covered my life so far (well, up until a few years ago) and shows how I was once very ill, and now am better.  So it fulfils a function of giving a message of hope to others who have suffered nervous breakdowns.  However, what it doesn't do is give a reasoned explanation of how I recovered. 

Partly because I have only recently dared to believe that I am actually recovered; in fact, to realise that I am better than recovered, because I have finally found myself able to deal with the anxiety that I have lived with since I was a child.  It sounds naive to say that I never realised anxiety was a mental health problem - now I can see that it has been the biggest one I faced, the factor that meant however well I seemed externally I was always internally vulnerable.

Anyhow, a book on recovery would hopefully be of practical application to sufferers and those who care about them.  I am trying to write it in a style that can be easily read, but I also intend to include a thorough bibliography and maybe some footnotes.  I want it to be useful, but not too textbook-y.

As I am starting to gain perspective on what went wrong in my life, the way is becoming clear to see how I want to progress from here.  And what I want is everything: to be the best, strongest role model possible for my kids, and the greatest support I can be for my husband.  I want to fulfil my potential.  I don't want to live my life at half mast ever again.

So here goes.  I am going to make a big push forward in my writing over the next few weeks.  Even if the new book isn't brilliant and ground-breaking it still deserves a chance at being written.  And who knows, maybe I will surpass my own expectations.  And after that is done, then is the time to write something just for fun.

All the best to all of you
Louise x

(Maybe I should stop signing off too?  It is probably a bit redundant, this saying goodbye every time.  I will stop that too.  The next post will be like a post from any other blog - I shall say what I want to say, then stop saying it).

Friday, 27 January 2012

Schizophrenia and Reading


I think I am going to stop saying hello at the top of every post, after this one.  It is a given, isn't it?

Talking of Givens, I remember I was reading the Human Givens Approach book a while ago - in fact, I bought two of them.  I stalled on the first book though, and haven't gone back it since.  The Human Givens thing was recommended to me by a friend, who at the time was working as an occupational health nurse with the police force, and that was how she had learned about it.  At first, I loved the book - the certainty with which the authors stated that anybody could recover from mental distress attracted me immensely.  I like people who agree with me...

But it was when I reached a chapter about autism that I turned away from the book.  It was incredibly unscientific and, I felt, insulting.  One of the authors had an autistic sibling and, based on his observations - nothing more - wrote a whole chapter on the physical movements of an autistic person and how, in his view, this meant that autistic people were more related to fish (in evolutionary terms) than the rest of us.  It was hyopthetical nonsense, and it bothered me that I had wasted my time on the book this far and believed it to have some substance.

However, I intend to have another look at Human Givens.  It did have some things of value - a tolerant attitude towards mental health problems and a positive message that they can be fixed.

I have just been looking at the reviews of Mark Vonnegut's latest book 'Just like somebody without mental health problems, only more so'.  I apologise if I have got this title wrong, and also for not looking up the names of the Human Givens authors.  Toddler is watching TV as I write, and I know that is wrong, so I am trying to rush the post so that I can go and play with him properly.  Anyway, Vonnegut wrote an earlier book, the Eden Express, about his struggles with schizophrenia, and his recovery.  That was written in the Seventies, and this new book updates his experiences.  It sounds fascinating.

I treated myself to a Kindle yesterday!  I ordered it online, and therefore have to wait a few days for it to arrive, but I already have a list of books that I want to download onto it.  I can see some good reading stretching out in the weeks ahead.

I have been really pleased to find the Amazon author forums and the Kindle User one full of people who love to read and to share their opinions of the books they have read.  I am looking forward to getting more involved in that too, although I am aware that I need to watch the amount of time that the Internet sucks up.  I have not written much at all recently - although I have calmed down and stopped rushing around (quite embarrassed about the road rage thing in retrospect) I am spending too much time trying to 'market' my book.  I have come to the conclusion that this is pretty much useless - that the free promotion days are the best way to boost sales, and whether or not people pay for the book is not as important as whether they enjoy it and whether it helps other people sufferering with mental health problems. 

Also if my memoir is well enough written - which I sometimes now dare to hope that it might be - then word should get out eventually.   And if it is not well enough written then it is even more important that I allocate more time to writing the next one.

Will sign off now, and go and play with my beautiful little boy.  He just came and stuck loads of stickers all over me, 'For being the bestest Mummy in the whole world!'  Better go and make some effort to live up to that.

Louise x

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Schizophrenia and Transport

Hello again

I have no car today.  Paul's is in pieces on the drive, so he has borrowed mine.  Which makes me feel like a bird with clipped wings, but also makes me realise how lucky I am to have the use of a car usually.  I have been lucky for a long time really.  A lot of people with my diagnosis lose their whole lives to it - I lost some years, but eventually managed to pull through.

People keep telling me that the mental health system has improved these days (which makes me feel like a fossil.  I'm forty-three, in case you are wondering.  It's now twelve years since the last time I was sectioned).  I hope it has improved, but I feel that there is still a long way to go; for example with what I think of as the enforced sterilisation of women with mental health problems.  Anti-psychotic medications can have all sorts of side effects, one of which is to prevent conception, which would be fine if female patients were made aware of it.  They should be able to make an informed choice regarding the pros and cons of their treatment as patients can in the realm of their physical health - instead of which, mental health patients are not consulted about their treatment, or their views are discounted on the basis that they are 'mad'. 

And I will never stop railing against the diagnosis itself - as I have reiterated many times, I am not denying that I was raving mad (after all, my book goes into this in detail) but the Schizophrenia label made matters so much worse.  I would never have got better if I had not learned to challenge it - I am not disputing the fact that I was (or am, who knows?) mad, but on the basis that schizophrenia is a spurious label based on no scientific evidence.  I feel really strongly that it should not be inflicted on anybody else. 

Anyway, about the car - lots of people with a mental health diagnosis can't or don't drive - I am very fortunate that I have been able to for almost the whole of my life.  (Would it be in bad taste here to point out that I passed my driving test when I was eighteen, on my first attempt?  Obviously.  Oh well, never mind).  I have been able to pass off the image of an ordinary mother for many years now, even when I privately felt like an absolute outsider, and that has certainly aided my recovery.  Those people that perceived me as normal spoke to me and behaved towards me normally, which helped me to learn to speak and behave in the same way.  Which helped me to feel normal.  

Now I am realising something I feel that I should have known a long time ago - I am normal.  Furthermore, I am anybody's equal (although obviously nobody's superior).  We all make our own way in the world.  And knowing that makes the potential pitfalls seem less scary - if anything goes wrong we can pick ourselves up and dust ourselves down.  No need to judge ourselves or anybody else on our failings or theirs.  As somebody said on the Amazon Authors forum this morning, we should all be more understanding of mental health, because breakdowns can happen to anybody.

Louise x

Monday, 23 January 2012

Schizophrenia and Nerves

Hi All

They called them nervous breakdowns for a reason, you know.  I only recently realised how much anxiety has been a part of my psyche for all these years, and how it has crippled me.  And it is a revelation that I can learn techniques to combat it, and that they work. 

The CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) that I have been having has helped a lot.  I believe that my therapist is on my side, which makes all the difference.  I have never been very trusting of mental health professionals in the past.  We did not get off to a brilliant start - the therapist asked me to write down the names and dates of birth of all my children, and I refused.  I knew she was asking for a valid reason - they have to share information between services now, for the protection of children.  But I object to this on principle - I think it is open to abuse.  Also, I had not come to talk about the children - my family is the area of my life that I am secure in.  It was everything else I wanted to talk about.  The kids were not part of the problem. 

I explained how I felt, and said I was not trying to hide anything - my children all go to school and are registered at a GP's surgery; they are not outside the system.  She said it was fine, but that she would have to 'report it' - to who? I wondered - and then we carried on as normal.  But I felt something in the air - she was aware that I had issues with trust, I suppose.

Anyway, I am through that, and we are on to the practical stuff - sometimes I rabbit on about my personal concerns, and sometimes I listen to her telling me how to combat them.  And it is working - as I have said on here frequently, recently my anxiety has lessened greatly. 

I do worry though, that I might be a little manic.  I have been really busy recently and I find it hard to settle sometimes.  I still haven't found time to read the Sunday paper and housework seems too boring for words.  I am constantly on the go.  And because in the past the only times I managed to combat my nerves seemingly successfully was when I was in the throes of mania - the first stages of psychosis - I am being very careful.  I am sure I am fine though - when I did go mad I had no awareness at all of it happening.  And now I am on my guard against it.  But when you have been mentally ill it can be hard to believe that you are now well. 

I am generally, though, starting to actually dare to believe that I am at last growing stronger and whole.  However, on occasions the reduction of anxiety in my life is not a purely beneficial thing.  I was driving along today, on my way to pick up my eldest daughter from school.  I had my eye on a car in my rearview mirror.  The (male, middle aged) driver was behaving aggressively, cutting in and out of the traffic to get ahead, although there was nowhere to go - there was traffic ahead too.  He was basically queue jumping, and driving dangerously.  So I determined not to let him through - he needed to calm down, and realise that he was not on a race track.

This riled him, and eventually he found a way to get ahead, by overtaking me on the inside, cutting up a bus at the same time, and very nearly causing an accident.  I was directly behind him in the queue of traffic then, and I beeped my horn at him all the way as we drove along the road.  'Mummy, you're beeping your horn!' said Toddler.  'I know' I said.  'Because that man was driving badly'.

I caught up with him at the traffic lights.  Our cars were adjacent.  Case proven - he had got himself no further ahead by putting other drivers and their passengers at risk.  He wound down his window, I wound mine down.  I was quite calm.  I told him he was a bad driver.  He accused me of being a typical woman driver.

At that point the lights changed - he hadn't noticed - so I pulled away first and as I did so I delivered my parting shot.  I put the fear of God into him.  I said - wait for it! - I said, 'You're a bad boy!' and with that I drove off.

Toddler was puzzled.  'Why did you call that man a bad boy, Mummy?'  'Because he was a bad boy!'  I said.  And he was - he was behaving like a child.  I very rarely swear, and obviously I wouldn't have done so in front of Toddler.  I was cross, but in a controlled way, and those were the words that came out of my mouth.  But why couldn't I have thought of something a little more acerbic, some cutting comment that would really have given the guy pause for thought?  Bad Boy!  He must have wondered if he had heard me right.  (Incidentally, I never tell my children they are bad.  I think that is inherently wrong.  They may do bad things, and I point that out, but I never want them to think that they are intrinsically bad, so I say, 'I know you are good, so why did you do (whatever it was that was not good)?'). 

I could have said 'Bad man' though, couldn't I?  Or 'You are a bully' which would have been accurate - he was basically a bully in a car.  And a misogynist, come to that.  But 'Bad Boy!'  Where did that come from?  I might as well have called him a 'Blue Meanie'.  Still, I have had some mileage out of it.  Paul and the kids were in fits when I relayed the story over dinner.  I went to Poetry night tonight and a poem by Ann Alexander in which an elderly mother calls her white-haired daughter a 'Good Girl' prompted me to tell my story again, and it went down a treat.  And now it has reappeared as an anecdote here. 

This blog needs something to lighten the tone from time to time.  Which is why I write about family life sometimes, because my life is not all about mental health, and I don't want it to become so.

I am so pleased about my recent progress.  A lot of things in my life have changed over the last year or so, not least my attitude.  Don't get me wrong, things were fine before, but they are better now.  Ever since I learned to drive, for example, I have been nervous.  I would have been terrified once of the situation that I found myself in today.  But instead, today the road rage guy was just irritating, not frightening.  Without anxiety magnifying every issue in my mind, everything now becomes easier and more enjoyable.  I love being calm!  Long may it last.

All the best to you all.  Goodnight.

Louise x 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Schizophrenia Shared

Greetings all

A problem shared is a problem halved, as they say.  And although I should not be blogging on a Sunday morning, because I have a family to look after, I am writing to the background hums and rumbles (very loud and distracting rumbles and hums) of the dishwasher and washing maching, both of which I have just loaded.  The girls are out, the boys are playing nicely in the conservatory (Daddy is building them a train track).  The dogs are in the garden.  Yes, I said dogs, plural - we have borrowed a male friend for our female, hoping that puppies would be the result of the friendship.  However, it looks as though the desired result is unlikely, without going into doggy details.

Anyway, I have been surfing the net for about half an hour now, and feel that I have earned that time.  The trouble I have at the moment though is that there are so many things I want to be doing that I have no decent period of time to devote to any of them.  So I am speed reading stuff that really I would like to be able to slow down and absorb properly.

I just came across the most fanstastic blog, 'Spiritual Recoveries'.  Here's the link:


I am not sure how I missed this one before.  I have read another blog written by the same person - the Jungian approach to psychosis one.  Now I have found this one I am delighted, but linked to it are two more blogs written by the same person, which are now required reading for me.  But where will I find the time?

I am going to have to start a more methodical approach, recording everything I have read and the things I want to research further.  It is all so fascinating, and I do want to be part of the movement to get all this information out there.  I am dismayed that so many people still don't realise the potential for cure of serious mental illness.

I have also recently come across (in the virtual world) Dr Daniel Fisher, of the National Empowerment Center.  I was stunned to read his story of how, once he had recovered from 'schizophrenia' and qualified as a psychiatrist himself, his credibility was challenged by others in the profession.  First he was assumed to have been misdiagnosed, then he was termed a 'damaged physician'.  His experience encapsulates all that I feel - how hard it is to be publicly well.  Part of me is very happy to think that perhaps I never had schizophrenia - something that a psychiatrist and a psychologist (friends who have read my book) both suggested to me this week.   But I know that I was as unwell as anybody else who has ever been forcibly incarcerated in a mental hospital has been.  I was completely mad, and I fulfilled all the diagnostic criteria to be labelled schizophrenic.

Which does not mean that it was the right label.  It is a wrong label, for everyone who is burdened with it.  Here is another link, to an article by somebody who can explain herself far more clearly than me on this one:


Part of me thinks now - my work is done.  All these other people have had the same experiences, they are fighting for the rest of us.  Nobody needs my memoir, or my blog that is half stuffed with my journey of discovery into the alternative mental health world, half with my meanderings about family life and my battle with my bunions.  But actually, I know I still need to do my bit, because there have been people out there for decades saying the same thing - psychiatry has got its wires crossed, people are not recovering when they can and should.  And the message is not getting through, because the people who do recover are either discounted or they never reveal themselves because they know the difficulty they will have in getting their message across.

No, I am not schizophrenic.  No, I never was.  But nor is that girl somewhere in a hospital near here who is going to be given the same diagnosis tomorrow, or that young man who was given it last week.  Mental distress is frightening, and it is hard to understand, but it is not the end of the world.  Time will heal, and patience, and hope.  And it is our duty as humans - and my duty as a survivor of the system - to keep on passing this message on.

So in the last week or two I have been busy handing out the business cards that Paul printed for me and gave me as a birthday present three months ago.  The ones that I initially felt embarrassed about because they have the dreaded word 'schizophrenia' on them, plastered across my photo with my name underneath.  I am going to keep giving out these cards.  I feel pride now instead of shame when I hand them over, because I hope that they will lead somebody in the right direction - to this blog and from here to others on the same subject-  away from the misery of a psychiatric diagnosis and towards their life as it should be lived: in peace and with joy.

Louise x

Friday, 20 January 2012

Schizophrenia and Blogging

Hello Everyone

It feels a bit odd to be blogging at the moment, because quite a few people who know me now read this blog.  Obviously because I tell them about it, but then sometimes I forget who I have told.  So everything that I write here, which used to be private, is now public.  And half of my friends must be struggling not to fall asleep whenever I speak because they have read all about my days' doings, plus my thoughts on those doings, already (and perhaps they were not so interesting the first time; they certainly won't be the second). 

What I need to do is to develop my listening skills, and not talk so much - because this blog now speaks for me.

Anyway, I have been so busy and distracted this week that I have had to keep reminding myself to eat.  I am glad it is the weekend.  Today I almost forgot to walk the dog, which is always the highlight of my day, and of course hers.  She got a short run down to the school in the end, so at least that was something.  But I realise that, much fun as the week has been, now I need to calm down.  So that is what I am going to do.  Ommm....

Things are going swimmingly though.  There is a possibility of some proper, paid work in the pipeline, for a local mental health organisation which I respect and would love to be involved with.  My writing group is very nearly up and running.  My book is selling - modestly, but I keep hoping that it will take off properly at some point.  Perhaps it might become a bestseller?  Stranger things have happened after all, some of them to me. 

And I am more relaxed than I have ever been - which I realise sounds odd after I have just announced that I need to calm down.  What I mean is that my anxiety is in retreat - after all these years I finally seem to be combating my awfully raw nerves, and winning.  I think this is a process that began when I went on my writing course in Devon last October, but recent improvement has been quite marked.  I think this is partly due to the course of CBT I have been having, and partly because of the improvements in my circumstances - the possibility of a career at last, and not just a career but a writing career; my dream come true.

I apologise if I am getting on anybody's nerves with all this.  I am not smug and boastful, however much it may sound that way.  I am actually quite disbelieving.  I am still prepared for all this to be an illusion - to find out that I am at the high end of a manic episode and may be dragged screaming out of the door tomorrow morning. 

Every morning that I wake up after a good night's sleep is a pleasant relief.  I am still here, I am still sane.  By the end of the day, exhausted, doubt sets it.  I don't know how long my good fortune will have to continue before I start to properly believe in it.  But I am going to enjoy it for as long as it lasts. 

Best of wishes for the best of health

Louise x

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Schizophrenia and Meetings

Hi Everyone

I went to a Meeting today! Traditionally I don't do meetings - this dates back to my University days when I used to get panic attacks during seminars.  My anxiety is at its worst with groups of people in enclosed spaces.

That said, it went very well.  I had a couple of moments, but I weathered them.  It helped that the subject of the meeting interested me - it was about service provision in the local area.  It was open to the public, so I went along to moot my writing group, and I learned some interesting things and met some interesting people along the way.

What struck me about it was, as I said to Paul when I got home, that it was just like being in the working world.  In fact, most of the people at the meeting were working - only two of us were not being paid for being there.  And I know it was only one meeting, but the fact that I participated in it shows, in a way, that I am capable of being part of the working world. 

It may sound obvious that I could be part of the working world, but my perception of myself has been so narrowed for so long, that I honestly believed I was not capable of much at all.  So the meeting was liberating - and it opens out all sorts of other possibilities.

Life is very exciting just now - but I do need to be selective about what choices I make from here.  I am tempted to rush straight into work - but that isn't practical; the kids need me, and I need the family home as a base to keep me solid.  So I am going to be self-employed for now, unless some amazing part-time opportunity presents itself.  I will also do some voluntary work, as I had planned.

I want to leave enough time to pursue my writing as a main activity - because that is what matters to me, and where I believe I can make the most difference.  Stop press news - a paper copy of my book is due to be issued in the next week (as regular readers know, so far it has only been available to read online).  It will be a bit pricey - ten or twelve poounds - but will fulfil a purpose for those people who only like to read in print.  It will also fulfil a purpose for me - how exciting it will be, to have an actual book to wave around! 

Must go now - it is late, considering that I am tapping away and that I have been on the go since early afternoon.  I have to take care not to get overwrought with all these recent changes.  So I am going to watch some nice relaxing TV, and then drift off to sleep. 

All the best to all of you

Louise x

Monday, 16 January 2012

Schizophrenia and Marketing

Hello Everyone

Well, the free book day is coming to an end, and as usual on these days I am slightly overcome by all the marketing.  I feel compelled to 'sell' as many copies of the book as possible on a free day.  I am not sure why.  I suppose because the main aim of the book is to help people, and making a profit from it might be seen as helping myself.  So I guess I have a guilt complex.  On the other hand, there is no point writing for no reward at all, because all that will mean is that I have to stop writing eventually.  And I need to write.  And hopefully the book will indeed help people, and already is.  In which case, it justifies itself.

Anyway, today I have been on Twitter, Facebook, etc, flogging my wares.  Which would be ok if I wasn't so obsessive about it.  If I do something, I want to do it properly - so not one tweet, but twenty.  In between, checking Kindle Direct Publishing to see how the 'sales' are leaping.  It is actually quite exciting - the high point of my day today was when the Chief Exec of Rethink re-tweeted one of my tweets.  But now I am tired, and it is nobody's fault but my own.  I can't seem to do things by halves.  I get obsessed.  Consumed.

Talking of obsessions, I have been reading a book called 'The Woman who Thought Too Much' - a memoir by Joanne Limburg.  The book is about her struggles with OCD.  It is well-written (it should be; the writer is a poet) but it worries me, because in places it seems a little self-indulgent.  As she points out herself, all memoirs must be, by their nature.  And I hate that - it is the only reason why I still occasionally wonder whether I should have fictionalised mine - because I would hate to be exuding an odour of 'poor me'.  Oh well, if I am I refuse to smell it.

I had a stroke of good luck today.  It came disguised as bad luck - I had almost finalised arrangements to set up a writing group based at my local church, but the lady I was liaising with told me on the phone this morning that they had miscalculated and could not offer me the room on a regular basis after all.  She was very contrite, but I reassured her that it was fine.  I had a few other options, and was just about to chase them when a friend phoned and enquired whether the group was set to go ahead next Monday as planned.  'Not since five minutes ago' I said, and explained.  She suggested an alternative venue, I went to look.  And it was incredible. 

I now have a beautiful room, at a low rent, furnished with an enormous table and plenty of comfortable chairs, with the most amazing view you could imagine out of the large picture window! And the group can go ahead next Monday as planned!  Howzat?!

Now, I am going to set myself a target - put the schizophrenia book to the back of my mind for the rest of this week, and concentrate on getting the writing group off to a good start instead.  And also do a little other writing for myself - I wrote a short story for Toddler for Christmas and he asked me to read it to him again today, and as I did I could see an awful lot of room for improvement.  So I will make that my specific task.  Chickenhouse Publishers have an annual competition, usually featured in the Times around October, so I might try to polish up Toddler's story to the point where it is printable and enter the comp.  That would be cool. 

Enough for now.  Hope you out there are flourishing.  If not, hang on; things will pick up.  They always do.

Louise x

Free Book again today

Hi everybody

Please pass the word to anyone you know who might want a copy of my e-book 'Surviving Schizophrenia: A Memoir' :  it is free on Amazon today. 

Here's the link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Surviving-Schizophrenia-Tale-Sound-ebook/dp/B0057P6M46

Bit rushed now, will try to write a blog post later today.

Louise x

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Surviving Schizophrenia: A Memoir by Louise Gillettt

Hi Everybody

Have re-named my memoir - I think the new title is clearer.  It was easy and quick to change on Amazon Kindle, although for some reason the new cover has not uploaded, so the original title is still on the cover picture.  I don't suppose it matters.

I have been editing the book this weekend, because a few typos remained.  Also, I have added an index because I was told this will make the book easier to read on Kindle. 

I want to get a paper copy out soon - have wanted to for ages - but I will have to make sure there are definitely no more lurking typos when I do.  It seems that the easiest way would be to publish on demand through Amazon.  Unfortunately the cost of the book would have to be set quite high - ten pounds at least .  But at least that will give people the option of buying a paper copy.  Will keep you all posted on that. 

I intend to get on with writing some new stuff now.  I like the freedom of publishing through Kindle - I am in charge of what goes out and how, but I have found the necessity to publicise the writing quite wearying.  Hopefully, the more I write the easier the marketing will become, as long as I am methodical about it all.

It is very exciting to be in charge of my own destiny at last!

Hope you are all well and happy out there.

Louise x

Link to the book: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Surviving-Schizophrenia-Tale-Sound-ebook/dp/B0057P6M46

Friday, 13 January 2012

Link to the Schizophrenia Commission

Hi again

Here is the link I promised yesterday to the Schizophrenia Commission webpage:


If you follow the link you can complete the online survery with your views on treatment, diagnosis, service provision and so on.  It would be a useful way to spend a few minutes.



Hello all

The title of this post was inspired by a friend who came over this morning for a coffee.  We talked about all sorts, including my mental health diagnosis, and of course my friend was lovely, as I knew she would be.  I have confided in lots of people recently, partly because I want to get my Rethink group up and running in the near future, and I will need support to do that (and members).  The more people I tell, the easier it becomes.

The day may well come when somebody runs out of the front door screaming 'Help! Schizophrenic!' after I have confided in them, but it has not happened yet.  They may be screaming inside, but I think it is unlikely after they have sat down at my kitchen table, coffee in front of us, with Toddler in the next room watching Scooby Doo.  I am obviously not a threat, or unstable (well, not unduly so).

Anyway, friends are good, and I believe that the more we talk the more we learn, about ourselves, each other and the world.  Women are lucky in that way; we find a lot of reassurance in our friendships, a lot of strength in solidarity.  And, of course. friendship brings fun.

After my friend left, Toddler and I went for a long walk to the beach and back.  On the way home, I stopped by the house of another friend, one who I haven't seen much of recently, and arranged to walk the dog with her on Monday.  So that is potentially another long chat - although it might not turn out to be that way.  I feel quite wiped out just now by the intensity of the last talk, and I certainly could not embark on another right now.  I'll see what happens on Monday.

I don't want all my friendships and relationships to be overshadowed by the spectre of mental illness.  I have built most of them on the understanding that I am just like everybody else, although internally I felt different and therefore inadequate.  Although I realise now that in fact I am just like everybody else, I have to recognise that some people might not see me that way if they knew my diagnosis. 

I am sure that if I had declared my problems at the outset - i.e. after my first daughter was born when I first started to make new friendships, most people would have been wary, I would have felt nervous and worried about their perceptions, and the friendships would have been stopped in their tracks.  And I don't want people I know to start seeing me as broken now - although if anybody does, and shies away from me as a result, I know I could cope.  Because I am not broken any more.

I suppose it is still early days for me with all this.  Hopefully I won't feel this exhausted every time I talk to someone about the dreaded diagnosis.  But on the bright side I now feel that one more person in the world understands a little more about the stigma and the unfairness of it all.  Maybe that is the way to change things - one step at a time.

I have to be somewhere else in fifteen minutes, so I had better sign off now. 

Louise x

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Schizophrenia at the Hospital

Hi all

Hasten the day when I don't have to use the cursed 'S' word to draw attention to my posts!  If the Schizophrenia Commission do abolish the diagnosis, that would be brilliant and amazing.  Unfortunately I am not sure if it is even within their remit - but if they wanted to take one huge step forward for all those who have and who are suffering mental illness, that is the best and easiest way.  I know, I keep reiterating the same point, but who knows, today might be the day when somebody from the Commission, doing some internet research, chances across this blog.

Anybody who hasn't yet completed the survey on the Schizophrenia Commission's website, please do so.  The more people participate, the better chance we have of being heard.  I will post a proper link later, but am short of time now.  I had hoped to do a final edit of my memoir today - there are still some typos, despite the fact that I have edited twice since it went onto Amazon.  It will take me several hours to do it properly, so I had earmarked today, because Toddler is at play school.  However, I have to take my Mum to the hospital - don't have to, I offered - to have a 24 hour heart monitor fitted.  Which will take up most of my day, but it feels necessary.  It will make it easier for her if I drive her, so she doesn't have to worry about parking and so on.

For those of you who read about her TIA just over a month ago (or who know me) Mum is now doing fine.  She has the monitor fitted today, then goes back to the hospital tomorrow for the results of that and also to find out the results of all the other tests she had after the incident.

I am taking our dog to the vet tomorrow, to get her checked to ensure that she is healthy enough to carry a litter.  I have found her a prospective partner.  The children are all immensely excited at the possibility of puppies.  Watch this space!   

Better go now, I will try to write more later.  This blog post sounds more like a round robin today than anything with any kind of insight into mental health - apologies for that, and also for the fact my English is not 100% because I am so rushed.

Louise x

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Time is of the Essence

Time is of the essence.  Or is the essence of life, time?  Or is does everything just depend on how you use your time, in other words the quality of life?

Anyway, hello everybody:

A bit of homespun philosophy for you there - don't worry, I am not going bananas (I always feel that I need to point that out if I deviate from the norm in any respect). 

The reason for the esoteric title to this post is that I am feeling time pressured.  I went for a long dog walk with some friends this morning, and it was lovely to chat and be sociable.  I feel that I should grasp such opportunities, because a writer's life is a lonely one.  Or so they say.  Actually, I never feel lonely - the time I have to write seems very short, sandwiched as it is between the school runs and only then on two or three days a week.

I have just shortened one of Toddler's play school days, so that he finishes at lunch time on a Monday.  Now he has two and a half days at play school and two and a half with me.  Which is good, except that it shortens the free time I have available to write, which makes me feel as though I have to make the most of the time there is left, which puts the pressure on. 

I didn't hesitate when given the option of a companiable walk with my good friends.  And of course I knew I could come home and get on with some work.  But now I have had lunch, I have only an hour and a half free before the school run.  And the dishwasher needs attending to, as does the washing machine.  I am still glad I went though - and we are going to make it a regular monthly event, which will be just right, enough to look forward to but not to feel tied down by. 

I started hatching a plan on the dog walk.  It was sparked off by the fact that my dog was the centre of attention for all the other dogs we met.  She has just started her season, and is not fertile just now, but must smell very enticing - she was being sniffed left right and centre, and she hates that, poor little thing. 

I am toying with the idea of letting my little dog have a litter.  I know this is a controversial subject - dog breeders in particular are very critical of amateurs encroaching on their territory.  But I have always felt that is a little unfair - personally I would rather buy a dog that was born and brought up in a family home rather than purchase one from someone who was making their living at it, who might not care as much for the animals personally. 

Anyway, little daughter has been desperate for the dog to have puppies ever since we bought her.  I ran the idea by our vet a year or so ago, thinking he would immediately dismiss it as irresponsible.  On the contrary he was quite in favour; he said that it would be fine as long as I didn't 'go into it half-cocked'.  In other words, if I did the necessary research and went about matters in a responsible fashion.

I wavered after that though.  I thought about all the work it would entail, and how hard it would be for all of us to part with the pups afterwards.  Heartbreaking.  I also thought about all the unwanted dogs there are in dog homes and wondered if it would be fair to bring more puppies into the world.  (Then again, ours is a pedigree and this sort of dog is very rarely abandoned and always quickly rehomed if they are given up.  Our particular breed is also a very good family dog, small in size, easy to train and so on - all the usual reasons for giving up a dog do not really apply).

It would be a great experience for the children, I know.  But I had just about decided not to go for it.  Mainly because I was worried about what other people might think, especially that they might assume I was trying to make a financial profit from our pet.  Then at little daughter's school in the last week or so, one of the other Mums has started turning up to collect her child with her new puppy in tow.  And the puppy is just so cute that I admit I have got a bit dog broody.  Then suddenly a day or two ago, my dog came into season and I thought - hang on, if we are going to let her have a litter this would actually be a really good time...

So this morning as we walked and talked I became increasingly one-track-minded and started boring on about the pros and cons of having puppies.  Then we came across a couple walking a puppy of the same breed and colour as ours, and it was the cutest thing ever.  I thought that could be interpreted as a sort of 'dog omen'.  We so rarely even see adult dogs of the same type as ours.

So I have more or less decided to go for it.  I can't wait to tell little daughter when she gets home from school!  I have spent so much of my life worrying what other people think, and this was one of the main things putting me off letting the dog have a litter.  But it is time to be me, and do what I think is right for our family and our situation.  I can't spend my life being limited by what other people think. 

It's a bit like the schizophrenia thing, I suppose, in a way.  You get to the point where you just have to be you, no matter what other people think you should be.  And the me that is going to emerge for the next few months (hopefully) is the amateur dog breeder.  Way to go! 

Hang on a minute - I'd better phone and hubby and check that he is in agreement with my plan.  Lucky I have such an understanding husband....Also, of course, I am the one based at home so I will be doing the majority of the work.  Or would be.  He hasn't said yes yet!

Hope all of you out there are well.  Sorry for the lack of mental health insight in this post - I will get on the case and try to post something more generally useful soon.  Meanwhile, you can't do better than turn to one or all of the 'Proper' mental health blogs:  Sky Blue Cure Blog, Holistic Recovery from Schizophenia, Beyond Meds, Discover and Recover, and Ron Unger's site.  These will lead you to lots more brilliant insight on mental health issues from blogs which I can't recall off the top of my head.  You'll have to Google them - sorry, no time for links today, down to an hour of writing time left!

Louise x

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Link to 'The Book'


Here, for anyone who has missed it (!) is a link to my memoir 'Surviving Schizophrenia: A Tale of Sound and Fury'.


Louise x

Diabetes and Schizophrenia

Hi everyone

Diabetes and Schizophrenia.  Two conditions I do not have, but which I know something about. 

First up, diabetes.  My father was an insulin-dependent diabetic.  He was diagnosed with this illness in middle age.  I was born when he was about fifty.  I remember that when I was young he used to fly into terrifying rages, and afterwards when he was feeling contrite he would say that he had been in a diabetic state.  My siblings and I knew he meant this as an apology, although he never said so expressly.

My mother used to administer my Dad's insulin, when he was first diagnosed.  She was a State Registered Nurse, and in those days a professional was needed for the job - those were proper jabs.  Dad hated the jabs, and after a while he refused them and was given enormous orange (or black? or both?) pills instead.  He took them sporadically, especially as he grew older, and did not seem to pay a lot of attention to his diet.  He grew thinner and thinner - towards the end of his life he was a walking bag of bones.

I developed gestational diabetes during my third pregnancy.  It was the summer holidays, and my daughters used to beg me not to fall asleep on the sofa every day after lunch.  I tried hard to stay awake, but to no avail.  Eventually a routine blood test showed what was wrong, and from that point I was issued with all the kit to test my blood sugar and inject myself daily with insulin. 

The moment my son was born, the diabetes vanished.  That is how gestational diabetes works.  Once the baby comes, the diabetes goes, and there is no longer a need for insulin.  No diabetes was detected during my fourth and final pregnancy although Toddler was a ten pound baby, more than two pounds heavier than any of the others, so I have my suspicions...Anyway, Toddler is fine, I am fine, no diabetes then or since.  The medical professionals obviously know this, and have no issue with it.  I don't take insulin, my blood sugar levels are normal, therefore I am not diabetic.

Anybody see where I am going with this? 

Next up, schizophrenia.  At the age of nineteen as a student I had a nervous breakdown, was sectioned and spent three months in a mental hospital.  After a suitable period of convalescence, thinking I had recovered, I returned to University and finished my Law degree.  I graduated with Upper Second Class Honours. 

I had a second breakdown at the age of twenty-five.  I was sectioned, spent three months in the same mental hospital.  Afterwards, I voluntarily attended a day hospital because I was bored and lonely.  At this point I was diagnosed with schizophrenia.  I was devastated.  My mother (a nurse) tried to comfort me, saying that in her opinion I was not a schizophrenic, but unfortunately I chose to believe the mental health professionals.  I gave my life up to their care - i.e. believed their prophecy that I would never get better, would need to be on medication for the rest of my life, and would get worse as I got older.  I adjusted my expectations accordingly. 

I spoke to a mental health nurse in that hospital about the fact that my mother did not think the diagnosis was right.  She informed me that parents are often 'in denial' about schizophrenia.  I had an illness just like diabetes, she said, and my mother should believe that as she would believe it if I had a physical illness.  I have found out since that psychiatric staff often compare diabetes with schizophrenia; both are diseases, patients are told, and both require lifelong medication.

As regular readers of this blog are aware, I found a way out of my mental health predicament, and now live happily and healthily with my husband and children.  I take no drugs at all.  I have no symptoms of severe mental illness - no voices, no delusions, no hallucinations.  I am not psychotic, or catatonic.  I don't think my mental functioning is impaired - I can still read and write and hold a lucid conversation.  Recently I have been combating my anxiety with a combination of CBT and a gluten-free diet, and I feel calmer than ever before.  I could go on, but I am sure my message is clear.

I can't help wondering, why do I apparently still have schizophrenia?

I don't mind admitting that I was completely and utterly mad on three separate occasions.  I couldn't deny it if I wanted to - I was sectioned three times. I was loony.  I am sure though that I am not loony now.

But that label - SCHIZOPHRENIC.  It is wrong, unfair.  It might as well shout LUNATIC.  To me, and countless others, it does.

I have been on Gianna Kali's Beyond Meds site tonight and watched Robert Whitaker talk about his book, 'Anatomy of an Epidemic'.  It strikes me that perhaps, as he says at the outset of his talk, psychiatry is changing.  I hope so, because I would hate to think of any young person now being tarred with the schizophrenia brush.  To be honest, I don't mind it so much for me now because I have finally thought my way through it.  I know it is a wrong and inappropriate diagnosis, and so I simply refuse to apply it to myself.  Please, Schizophrenia Commission, do the honest and right thing and stop the label from blighting any more young lives.

The thing that shocked me most about Whitaker's talk was when he said a psychiatrist confided to him that they used to treat the rich patients; i.e. talk to them, and medicate the poor ones.  How sick is that?  In my case, I was fairly treated, when I was out of hospital.  When I expressed my wish to stop the drugs, I was allowed to do so.  Not in the mental hospital when I was an in-patient, because then I was seen as a dangerous person, someone who had to be contained.  Not in the day hospital that I attended for several years, that sucker-up of lives.  But when I spoke to normal, reasonable psychiatrists as an outpatient they saw me as a person and let me stop the drugs, and thank goodness as I look back over my life I have not wasted too many years on psychiatric medication.  Five, at a guess.

I live healthily now.  I don't drink or smoke.  I take my dog for long walks daily.  I eat the best food I can and I stay a healthy weight.  I make sure I sleep well and for the right length of time. 

I am guarding my mental and physical health.  I trust myself to be the guardian of my self now, and I think I am doing a fairly good job of keeping well. 

I certainly don't have diabetes.

Anyway, must go.  Hope you are all well and happy.

Louise x

Saturday, 7 January 2012

A Bumper Week!

Hello out there

I admit it, I have found the last few days stressful.  Enjoyable, but stressful.  Part of the problem is the relentless publicity campaign that I have foisted upon myself.  I was encouraged by re-reading the book and realising that at a distance it is better than I remembered (this not not spin, I promise) and also because I realised that if I want to be a professional writer it seems that I will have to engage in marketing.  And I do want to be a professional writer.  Although I still can't help wishing that I could hand the marketing side over to somebody else, thus freeing myself to write.  It is all still early days though - I am sure things will settle down into a routine soon.

Anyway, it has also been a good week - things seem to be turning out well.  Fingers tightly crossed.

And, as I have to keep reminding myself, it is not just all about me.   There have been some wonderful things happening in the family too in the last few days.  I have been boasting about them too much, and am going to stop, after this one big final boast:  Our eldest daughter has been elected Form Captain.  And the younger one just received her Blue Peter Badge!  (There have been some other little accolades too, but I am going to keep quiet about those - I don't want to bring my children into the picture too much, although they are so essential a part of my recovery and my happiness (which is, I think, the same thing) that I can't help mentioning them occasionally.)

The whole family was yelling with excitement this morning as the Blue Peter envelope was torn open.  We were all shouting, 'It's a Blue Peter badge!  Wow!  Hurrah!' and so on.  And our elder son (who doesn't say a lot but is often right on target when he does) announced,   'I think I am going to faint'. 

Little daughter and I and her friend and the dog then went for a walk on the beach.  She refused to do her coat up, because she wanted the badge to show, and as it happened it was so warm on the beach, sheltered from the wind, that she didn't need to.  We had a lovely stroll, the girls beachcombed and found lots of shells and some gross but interesting crab legs, complete with pincers (perfect design on those things).

So that's the day so far.  A Top Saturday.

All the best to you out there
Louise x

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Work and Schizophrenia

Hi Everyone

I saw somebody today from the 'Workwise' Team, a group of people in our area, employed by a local mental health charity, who specialise in helping people back to work, as and when they are ready.  The thought of taking part in the working world has been a huge step for me - mentally - but one that I have increasingly felt is necessary for my recovery.  I was going to wait until my youngest was at school, but recently sales of my book have picked up (probably due to my shameless self-publicity) and so I have decided to concentrate on becoming a bona fide professional writer as soon as possible.

The lady who came to my house today was wonderful.  She had a real understanding of mental health, particularly how it relates to the workplace and was also very compassionate and intelligent.  And by the end of our conversation (which was non-stop for two hours and left me worried that I had perhaps talked a bit too much) she seemed to think that I was sane enough to go to work, and even said that a career in mental health would suit me.  Which felt great, as an affirmation of me.  Although I was a bit dazed afterwards, from all the talking and because of the fact that I had been so distracted by the conversation that I had forgotten to eat lunch.  I am not sure that I have ever held a conversation so intense with anyone for so long in my life.  Certainly not since I have had children.

A very nice man from the benefits office also called today, and said that he would phone back after I had spoken to the Workwise lady and see how I felt about things.  I suppose everyone (including me) needs to be sure that I am stable before I take this step.  And I am grateful for that - I can see, and have seen for some time, that the diagnosis of schizophrenia works for me in a way.  It has enabled me to stay home for a long time now and bring up my children to the best of my ability.  And now it opens doors to being helped gently back into the workplace, rather than being thrust back rudely into it.  But it also labels me as a lunatic, which I really do not appreciate, or see that I have ever benefitted from.  So it has its drawbacks...

If everyone who wants to stop incapacity benefit gets the sort of understanding that I have experienced today, then that is brilliant.  I suppose the problem that a lot of people have is the converse - they don't want to stop being on benefits, they are worried that they won't cope.  I felt like this once - in my mid-twenties, fresh out of St Anns, when my GP wanted me to go to work, and I knew I wasn't capable.  I was so panicky.  I changed GPs and my new one was more understanding, and wrote me sick notes for years.

Eventually, I voluntarily enrolled on a DSS back to work programme, for people with disabilities.  The people who ran the course were lovely, and I really hoped I would end up with a proper job.  But I still wasn't ready.  They found me work experience in a solicitor's office for a few months, I did ok there, and by the end of the programme the solicitors would have kept me on (in quite a menial capacity).  But I was a bag of nerves, and I knew I couldn't cope with the job, or rather I couldn't cope with the other people who worked in the office - I was so bad at social contact, and so aware of that fact.  I was permanently embarrassed just to be me.

So I can well understand the terror that must grip people who are being called up for medical assessments.  Nobody really wants to be on benefits, they would all rather be capable of earning a decent wage for doing a job that is within their capabilities.  But their capabilities are limited, for whatever reason.  Nobody is really a dole scrounger - as I see it these days.  Because if they were offered a job as Prime Minister - and they felt capable of being Prime Minister - they would leap at it.

Or to be more reasonable in my argument, if someone on benefits (sickness or any other sort) was offered a job as a clerk in an office and they felt they could manage it and they knew they would gain from the social standing it would give them and that they would enjoy the friendships they would make there, and that they would earn enough money to enable them to continue their lifestyle, or improve it; of course they would take the job.  But for people who are down on their luck, horizons are narrowed.  Circumstances make it hard for them to move on.  Sometimes they are physically or emotionally incapable, at that time in their lives.  So I, for one, would never judge them for that - although I think it is a noble and worthwhile purpose to help people to find work when they do feel ready.  So thanks to those people who are helping me to do so.  I will keep you posted, readers.

And by the way, I was thinking of my promises to keep you all posted, and that I don't always keep them.  I forget.  So, for those of you who are interested:  My feet are finally on the mend.  I can walk comfortably (in the right shoes) I can swim, I have had no infections for ages and I feel sure that things will continue to improve in the foot department.  Phew.

Update two:  after my night of sleeplessness a week or so again (which unnerved me because I felt so alert the next day) I slept well again on the following nights - although now I have to get up for the schoolrun, which is a shame as I could do with an extra hour or so in bed.  ( I don't actually resent the schoolrun because after it, at least on a few days a week, I have the house to myself for several hours, which I greatly enjoy).  I need to sleep - it keeps me sane and also reassures me that I am sane.

Yours sanely

Link to the book:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0057P6M46

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Rethink Schizophrenia


I do hope that the Schizophrenia Commission does away with the diagnosis of schizophrenia.  I wonder what the chances are...  I think they are reporting in June or July, so it's not too long to wait.

I was speaking to somebody on the subject today (I don't every day, not in person, though I seem to be blogging and making statements on social networking sites pretty often recently).  It felt really odd to be saying out loud to my friend, just after I had divulged my diagnosis, that actually 'I don't think I have schizophrenia' and it also felt kind of self-defeating - if I don't think I have it and yet the medics maintain that I do then surely there must be something wrong with my thinking...

Quite honestly, it all makes me feel quite stressed at times. 

What I am quite sure about is that I am better now.  Not mentally ill any more.  Stress notwithstanding.  I am functional, balanced and non-delusional.  I think, speak and behave normally.   I am not on medication and have not been for many years.  I am even, finally, getting to grips with the anxiety which has crippled me for years and which lies at the root of all my problems.  So how can I be a schizophrenic?  Because I have a propensity to breakdowns (or had)?  If I believe that then I will be permanently waiting for the next one to happen, which is not a healthy state of mind to be in, and in fact is a way of thinking which would actually definitely be bad for my mental health.  

Am I wrong to want some external confirmation of my current mental health?  Should I be happy just to know that I am well?  What does anybody think?   I know that I am never likely to get a clean bill of health from a psychiatric professional, but I can't help feeling that this is unfair.  And I am not talking for myself only - I feel strongly for all those people who are in the same predicament as me, or an even worse one.

However, as I wrote in answer to a comment from 'Kitkat' a couple of blog posts ago, at the end of the day I don't really know.  I am not a psychiatrist.  I don't have a crystal ball (although neither do they).  I just think, looking at the supposed 'science' behind it, it is all quite spurious, and therefore wrong. 

As I have said before on here, there is no test for schizophrenia, no proof.  All the stuff about genetics and brain disease and chemical imbalance does not hold up to examination.  I have read a lot about this recently, and the evidence all seems rock solid to me: 'Schizophrenia' is a term for some bizarre displays of behaviour, but it is nebulous; it is not quantifiable and not scientific and therefore technically it is not right to label people with it.

Surely it would be better if things were simplified by removing the label, which in itself creates so many difficulties, such as the stigma which comes from the imagined links with violent behaviour, and from fear of mental illness in general, and that termed 'schizophrenia' in particular.  Why not just term mental breakdowns as breakdowns, and work towards helping people recover from them?

I hope I am not boring anyone. 

Anyhow,do read my book, if you haven't yet.  Here's the link http://www.amazon.co.uk/Surviving-Schizophrenia-Tale-Sound-ebook/dp/B0057P6M46/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325711648&sr=8-1 It is entertaining (in a worrying sort of way) but I promise it is not miserable.  In fact, it should leave you feeling uplifted, because despite (perhaps because of) everything, I am happy now and I intend to stay that way.

Louise  x

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Signing off Benefits

Hi Everyone

Well, I said I'd do it - and I have!  Phoned the DSS first thing this morning to sign off benefits...and the lines were all busy.  Anticlimax, or what?  Will try again later, as the disembodied voice on the phone advised.  I was busy searching the DirectGov site at the same time as holding on the phone, and found some useful info on there.  So it was not time wasted.

So.  Now I am a professional writer, as my friend assured me on the phone last night.  She phoned late, and was really excited for me - I had texted earlier in the day to tell her that my book was free to download on Kindle.  She assumed that I had just published, and that I would still be buzzing with the excitement, and I felt a bit embarrassed to admit that I had published six months ago.  I had not told her, although I had tried to, because she was poorly when I contacted her, and I didn't want to cause her any stress.  This is my friend who is in the book (under a pseudonym, Rose) the psychiatrist who has children the same age as mine, and who has suffered mental health problems herself.

She was just so nice on the phone, and so supportive.  She said she had spent the day texting as many of her friends as possible, most of who are doctors and psychiatrists, and they had all promised to download, read and review the book.  I was so touched by her kindness.  And I must admit, I felt a bit guilty for my recent anti-psychiatry stance - although I stand by my views.  I think the vast majority of doctors do want to help - why else would they have chosen that particular career?  But I also think that it is time for a total reassessment, by the whole profession, of what exactly mental illness is and how best to treat it.  It is a huge topic, as my friend said when I tried to open the subject on the phone last night.  Maybe this is a book that we could collaborate on - recovery and treatment.  I will put it to her when we finally manage to meet up - she moved to a different area and we have not been in touch all that often in recent years.

I really was so moved by her support and encouragement, and sheer excitement - and by the fact that she kept repeating that I am now a professional writer!

Anyway, I am going to do some writing now, on this, the first day that all the children are back at school after the holidays.  They all went off happily, which was lovely, but I will also be pleased to have them all back at the end of the day, sharing their news and views as usual. 

Have a good day, everyone.  Oh, and by the way we 'sold' over 350 free books yesterday, which is more than the last free book day, which is great. 

Louise x

Monday, 2 January 2012

All Tweeted Out

Hi everyone

I have been on Twitter today more than any other day, ever.  And all my tweets have been on the same subject - read my memoir, read my book of poems, they are FREE today...  On and on and on.  I feel like the most self-serving, base creature imaginable.  I even tweeted Stephen Fry directly! 

Self-publicity is not easy.  Although I suppose it could be done a lot more subtly.

The thing is, I do think my book is worth reading, and that it will help people.  It is not unique, of course; there must be an awful lot of people who were diagnosed schizophrenic and who have gone on to lead a normal life.  And I know a few of them have written about it.  But I still believe in my book, and want it out there.

I also want to get on with writing more.  I have done a bit of work recently on the new book, which is more specifically about recovery from mental illness, and am thinking about writing another 'How to' book.  My grammar school one needs some editing too.  It is nice to have a full agenda.

Saw my sister today, for the first time in six months.  We had great fun - the new me is more relaxed and can laugh at jokes, rather than recoiling from them, and this particular sister is a laugh a minute.

Paul has finished painting our front room - poor thing, if I am all Tweeted out today, he is all painted out.  I managed to take the dog and kids for a walk, but he has been hard at work all day with no respite. 

I am going to take my girls swimming now, bless 'em.  Back to school tomorrow - a good thing, and a bad thing, for all the obvious reasons.  Roll on the next half term, for the chance it offers to spend more time with the kids, and as the next break from the routine. 

All the best to you and yours

Louise x

Free Poetry Book Too

Hi again

My poetry book is available free too today.  And here's the link:


If you like it, tell your friends fast.  It's free for today only (but cheap anyhow).

Louise x

Free Book Today

Hi Guys

You can download my book free from Amazon today - spread the word! 

Click on the link above, or this one: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0057P6M46

Tell your friends and family.  And please ask anyone who does get around to reading it, to review it (at their leisure).  I am determined to get this message out there - healing from serious mental illness is a reality.  I am not the only person it has happened to, although I am one of the few stupid enough to own up to this crippling diagnosis. 

Louise x x

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Bad Things Happen and can make you Crazy


Here's the link http://www.amazon.co.uk/Models-Madness-Psychological-Schizophrenia-Schizophrenias/dp/1583919066/ref=zg_bs_922830_4#reader_1583919066 to a book which I have not yet read, but which has made me feel immeasurably better just by looking at the chapter headings in the sample on Amazon.  It is called 'Models of Madness:  Psychological, Social and Biological approcahes to schizophrenia'. There is also a large amount of text available to read as a sample before you buy, and it actually made me want to cry.  The book is by several authors; Richard Bentall, Loren Mosher and John Read.  Have a look.

What gets me, is why, when there are so many enlightened people in the world (about mental illness, the reasons for it, appropriate treatment and so on) and their arguments are so simple and so moving and so obviously right, are there still people who take the opposite view?  Are there really people so selfish that they refuse to accept that schizophrenia is not a biological disease, or an illness at all BECAUSE THEY DON'T WANT TO LOSE THEIR JOBS?  Can so many human beings really be watching people suffer deliberately, while knowing they could comfort them greatly, just by telling them, 'There is nothing permanently wrong with you, you are going through a tough time, but you will get better'.  Would anybody be so cruel? 

I don't think that can be the case, not so widely.  It must be that a lot of people still don't fully understand.  And that is why I am going to push my book in the year ahead - get it into print, publicise it, stand by it.  Because if the people who are cured find the courage to stand up and be counted, and add their voices to the great and good, like Rufus May and Richard Bentall and Ron Unger, Loren Mosher and John Read (and countless others that I can't think of off the top of my head) perhaps, things will finally change.


Happy New Year!

Hello out there

A bit predictable as a title for a post...But genuinely meant.

I am really looking forward to the year ahead.  I love New Year as a time when all is potential and possible.  I have particularly high hopes for this New Year, as the New Me (the one who is calm and unbeset by nerves). 

And hopefully I will be productive, and achieve lots, and my writing career will soar, and we will move to a new bigger house...

Nothing wrong with aiming high, eh?

Of course, what I really want is for the children to continue to grow up healthy and happy, and I am well aware that I have all the riches I need already. 

I will keep on at this blog in the coming year, try to remember that it is not just about me but for all out there who have suffered from mental illness and who have felt lonely and helpless and stigmatised in the face of it. 

Here's to progress and to a happy year ahead!

Louise x