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 


  1. Wonderful post. You sound pretty normal. Housework "is" a bore. After many years of doing housework, someone finally put me straight. "Look," she said, "don't feel you need to complete all the jobs in one go. Just flit around from one partially finished job to another, and you get the jobs done and it's not so boring." I'm amazed that I didn't know that.

  2. Rossa, you are a Good Girl. (I thought it would make a change from saying 'thanks' all the time). And yes, the solution to the interminable problem of housework is just to lower your standards. Whilst maintaining some semblance of order, and of course, basic levels of hygiene. Louise x