Tuesday, 13 March 2012

A Quiet Day

I was at the GP surgery a couple of weeks ago, having a routine asthma check for one of the children, boasting to the nurse practitioner that all of them had had a really good winter - no bugs to speak of - and I had a sneaking feeling that I was letting myself in for it.  Tempting fate.  Today I have three of them at home - one on antibiotics for a chest infection, another with a cold and a painful cough and a third who was due to be off school anyway today but who now can't enjoy it because she is poorly...  At least I got Toddler to play school, although only because I decreed that the television would not be on at all today and so he decided school would be more fun.  So now the bedrooms have been tidied, somebody is practising the piano, and there is a game of snakes and ladders happening. 

I hate sending the kids to school when they are ill.  I think it is pointless - they are likely to feel worse for not resting, and to spread their germs around.  On the other hand, I can't help feeling that I am being taken advantage of when I let them stay off and then they appear to be perfectly well, happily watching TV and being waited on hand and foot.  So this is the middle way - at home, resting but not slopping about.  Am I a good or a bad mother?  Sometimes I have no idea of what is the right way.  But somebody has to be in charge...

When I start work, even though I will be very part-time, days like this will be even more problematic.  I suppose I will have to do as most parents do and send them to school whether or not they feel unwell, unless they are literally unable to get there.  Luckily, they are getting older now and the bugs are relatively infrequent.  Or am I tempting fate again by saying that?

I got a bit stressed last night.  The house is chaotic at present, and seemed worse than usual yesterday because the spring sunshine was showing up all the dust and the hundreds of little finger smears on the glass doors throughout the house and in the conservatory doors.  I spent several hours hoovering and sorting out washing, whilst being aware that I was just dealing with the tip of the iceberg.  We have so much clutter - some of it accumulated throughout the winter, some seems to have become a permanent part of the household.  I need a week at least to make any headway, but never seem to have any time free at all.  So I have enrolled Paul's help - under duress - and we are going to have a weekend of clearing out clutter - something to look forward to...Not.

But I am sure we will both feel better when it is done.


  1. Not sure if you'll remember me but I left a couple of comments on your blog a while ago. I finally discovered a Kindle app on my phone and was able to download your book onto it! It took me about 2 sittings to read it - I can only usually read a few pages at a time before my concentration goes, but your book was so readable that I couldn't put it down! And it really struck me how different our lives were pre-diagnosis, how different our symptoms are, yet we are both under the umbrella diagnosis of schizophrenia. You didn't once in your book say that you heard voices, yet that was my main symptom. And the symptoms you described having, I've never had. So it makes me think, if we have completely different symptoms, how come we have the same diagnosis? If someone was having headaches and another person was had sprained their ankle, would they be given the same diagnosis as each other? No. But that's because a psychiatric disorder cannot be diagnosed with X-rays or other scans.

    Personally, although I believe schizophrenia does exist in some people, I believe that in other people, it has been mis-diagnosed and should rather be diagnosed as Psychiatric Disorder Not Otherwise Specified - after all there is a diagnosis of Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, so why not the same for Psychiatry?

    I read from this post that you are hoping to start work soon. I sincerely hope that it goes well for you. But whatever you do, don't rush into work. I did and I've had to quit due to stress. I lasted one day a week for 3 months before I had to quit but I'm still down about it.

    Oh and I've been reading your blog posts for a while. I've never met you so I can't say this with authority, but from what I've read, you're a good mother. You genuinely care about your children and I've heard nothing but praise and love for your children from your blog posts. You give me hope that one day I may be able to have children. I wouldn't be able to have any at the moment - they'd be taken away in a heart beat - but I hope that one day... I could have children.

    So when the house is completely chaotic and you feel that everything is going wrong, just remember your wonderful children. Put down your duster and give them all a hug, then go back to the dusting. You will clean your house a thousand times but your children will only grow up once (as Nesquik say!) So enjoy them, love them, laugh with them and cry with them. But don't give up hope. Because if you do... I will too!

  2. Hello, Kitkat, I do remember you, though not exactly what we wrote about or on what post. What a lovely comment, thank you. And yes, sometimes I think I shouldn't venture out into the world of work - I do like being at home and am in my comfort zone here. I will only be doing a few hours a week and I won't push myself to continue if it doesn't suit me. I went to Ikea today with some friends and ended up feeling quite un-streetwise - I found the system in that huge store quite baffling, and couldn't help comparing myself unfavourably to the very capable friends I had gone with who found their way around quite easily. When we came home they then proceeded to put together the kitchen table I had bought - my younger daughter declared that she felt quite excited when she got home that, 'Yeah, woman can build!'.

    You shouldn't feel bad that you didn't flourish at work - at least you gave work a try, and you can try again when and if you are ready. You could probably stay home and write like me - you have a way with words, and I am not just saying that.

    My kids are my salvation, and I feel so lucky to have them. They are actually quite fantastic kids (although obviously I am biased) and sometimes I would like to write more about them and even put up their pictures, but I feel a need to protect their privacy. They really are special, and they are definitely the reason why I finally found the courage to start to believe in myself; since I am their mother I realised that I must have a certain instrinsic value!

    I feel sad that so many people with mental health problems rule themselves out of the possibility of having children - the family environment is so healing (not always easy, but so rewarding). So go for it, when the situation is right for you, and don't be frightened to ask for help if you need it - there are some great parenting courses available, for example.

    The schizophrenia thing is confusing, isn't it? Fascinating though. So many conflicting ideas. I was just on the phone to my friend the consultant psychiatrist who has read my book, and she says that things are very different and much better in the mental health system these days - I hope so, although I have heard otherwise from various sources.

    I did hear a voice, on two separate occasions, when I was just out of hospital after my second breakdown, and still on a lot of medication. I read recently that the voice thing is just your own thoughts which somehow get wrongly transmitted, but it certainly is an unsettling phenomenon. I am glad that I had such a limited experience of it, but also in a way quite glad that I did experience it. It is an interesting thing, and something that you can't quite comprehend unless you have had it happen - it does so seem that the voice is coming from an external source, doesn't it? Strange.

    But yes, I think the diagnosis is due for a complete overhaul (hopefully an abolition) and I shall be putting my case for that forward to the Schizophrenia Commission soon (exciting!).

    Finally, thank you very much for reading my book and I am so glad that you enjoyed it. There should be a paper copy available within the next couple of days - I have lost count of how many times I have said that, but all I need to do now is finish editing the proof copy (a friend has been meticulous in checking for typos over the last week or two) and I am done!

    Do stay in touch - I look forward to hearing more of your story.

    Louise x

  3. Hi,

    I feel reluctant saying this but I've started writing a blog recently with my story of schizophrenia. I'm not asking you to read it or follow it by any means, just informing you of its presence! I don't like it on YouTube when people insist on you rating and commenting on their videos which is why I was hesitant on telling you about my blog! But as I say, I'm just informing you of its presence not demanding you to read it!!

    Sorry I get a bit carried away when explaining myself and tend to waffle on a bit! But hearing voices is a bizarre yet very common occurrence. Many people hear voices yet they are usually very friendly. My dominant voice (I heard 3 different ones) started off being sort of nice. I was very depressed at the time and was thinking about killing myself when the voice agreed with me and told me in a very nice way that I should. Shortly though he turned nasty and started telling me to do things - known as command hallucinations. I acted on some but not all of them. My arms still bare the scars of the times I acted on them.

    My first time in hospital was in 2008 and it was a horrendous experience. In some ways I'm glad I don't have many memories of my 2 months there but at the same time, I wonder how bad it must have been if the memories I haven't lost are so bad. The second time I was in was a million times better (different hospital) and I was there over a year. But although I have horrible memories there, they're not as bad as hospital number 1. The second hospital, although I had numerous more injections there was much better, because they treated me with respect. Being injected in the first hospital was bad because they used humiliation tactics to get you to comply and would shout at you for any uncompliance. Hospital 2 they would apologise for what they were doing and then try and make you see that they were trying to help.

    I have no idea what the mental health system was like before 2006 but on the whole it seems better than what you described in your book. The only problem nowadays are the long waiting lists. Plus even at my most aggressive, I've never been put in a strait jacket or tied to a bed. I've been restrained and sedated several times though.

    I really have so much respect for your book and for yourself. I haven't even told anyone outside my family and closest friends of my diagnosis, never mind write a book using my real name! I'd love to write a book like yours though, only my literary abilities, concentration and patience aren't really good enough to write about my life! Even though I'm only 23!

    I would love to hear more about your children but I totally understand your need for yours and their privacy. I love children and would love my own so fingers crossed... one day hopefully!

    As my friends and now yourself know I have a nasty tenancy to write for ages and then apologise for the length! But I will keep following your blog posts when you write them as they give me hope of one day leading a 'normal' life!

    Thank you!
    Katy x

  4. At the age of 18 I heard two voices arguing in my head: a loud one putting me down and a frightened one trying to deffend me.I was under stress at the time, misbehaving at school, at loggerheads with my parents and my teachers; fealing misunderstood and trying to work out what the world is all about. My final exams were coming up, so I started working all of a sudden with frenzy, not wanting to fail them. I slept very little, drunk much too much strong coffee and then out of the blue these two voices started arguing in my head in the middle of a lesson.It was a very strange experience. It was as if my thoughts had acquired a voice all of a sudden. It was interesting and annoying too because they were stopping me from concentrating. I managed to pass my exams and then I collapsed physically: my heart started playing up, I couldn't breathe, I could not eat, I could not sleep. My parents got a fright. Thankfully they didn't consult any doctors but they became very good and caring to me and allowed me to rest and the voices stopped immediately. I took a year out before going to universtity.

  5. Hi Katy

    I do hope you don't mind me publishing your comment here. It seemed quite personal - and although I don't think you should be ashamed of your past emotional distress I certainly would not have been open about my history when I was twenty-three. So tell me if you want me to remove your latest comment and this reply.

    Age brings a lot of benefits, and time honestly is a great healer. I am convinced that you will be absolutely fine in time, and make a really good partner and Mum. Meanwhile, your youth is very much on your side - you do write well and I am looking forward to reading your blog. If you wrote just 500 words a day you would have a full length book in about six or eight months - given time for editing you could be an author by the time you are twenty-four. Just a thought... You wouldn't have to give any secrets away - you could fictionalise your experience - sometimes I wish I had done this, but in my case the story just needed to be told in its original form.

    Have you looked at the BBC Writersroom site and their Get Writing website? If I was young again and had the opportunity I would just write and write... I know it is not a universal panacea, but I just wanted to mention it again as a really positive outlet. Tony Jordan, one of the BBC's top writers, is quoted on the Writersroom site, 'I write because I have secrets that nobody else knows'. I think creativity sometimes needs to out!

    I am so glad to hear that the mental health system has improved in recent years. If they can only take a new look at the medication situation, maybe things will get fully right sooner than I imagined.

    Right, I am off to look at your blog, and sign up as a follower... In which case you may get other followers who link over from here, so again, do tell me if you'd rather I didn't publicly follow. You are entitled to your privacy - although I have benefitted from being open about my history, I was already in a position of security and knew I would not lose the things that matter to me (husband, kids, home). You should keep your anonymity for as long as you feel you need it, or forever if you wish.

    All the best
    Louise x

  6. Hi Anonymous

    Yes, sleep deprivation, coffee (a strong stimulant), exam-related stress, and so on; from any angle a breakdown looks like a very understandable experience for a teenager under pressure. You were very lucky in a way - you will now be more aware of your mental health and thus better able to guard it than many of your peers at University, and you will be more empathetic and understanding of others in distress. Plus, you will have no mental health history on your medical records, so you can move into the future with confidence. Good luck in your studies (or in your career if you have finished Uni already).

    Louise x

  7. Hi Louise,

    I feel really flattered that you've taken the time to read my blog and even followed it! You've really made my day (and maybe even month!) that you read it and commented on it so thank you very much. I will continue to write my blog as humorously as I can (!) but I'll also give writing a 'book' a go. I say 'book' because I may not have the courage to get it published or anything but I will start writing and see how it goes. Now that I've packed my volunteer work in, it'll give me something to concentrate on and hopefully improve my concentration! I do enjoy writing but I worry that I'm not good enough. But I'll give it a go and if things go well, who knows, maybe I'll be an author after all!

    And don't worry about publishing my comments, if I wasn't happy about something being published I either wouldn't say it or ask you not to publish it. The things I write can't identify me except to those who already know about my diagnosis and what I went through. And I may choose to keep my anonymity for life, or reveal who I am to the world tomorrow. I haven't decided yet! :)

    But thank you again for following. It really means a lot to me that you have a lot on your plate yet you've taken the time to read my blog. Have a smile on my face now!

    Katy x

  8. Well done you! The more you write the better you will become - just like anything, practice makes perfect. And you already have a knack for it - I foresee a great future for you.