Saturday, 30 June 2012

Saturday shopping

Had a blissful journey to the shops today - I hardly ever go any more so when I do it feels like a treat. I cycled up with my daughters, and the journey was a pleasure in itself.  Then I set the girls free for half an hour while I went to the bank and a few other places.  They love being set free - and are very careful to obey all the rules, such as to stick together like glue and to keep in mobile phone contact at all times.  So sweet - they are learning independence but I can still keep them close enough that I feel happy.  Precious times.

After the bank I did a bit of shopping - the best thing I bought was a pair of Geox trainers for Toddler, reduced from £44 to £5.  Then when the girls and I met up we went to buy some nice food for lunch, as we had a friend and her daughter coming over.  I crammed everything I could in my backpack and balanced the rest in carriers on my handlebars, and then had a very hazardous ride home, due to the high winds and the fact that my backpack kept opening and ejecting sundry items onto the road behind me.  Eventually we got back - the raspberries were crushed, the cream was spilled onto the pavement, but we at least got home in one piece.

I had a lovely afternoon chatting to my friend (and Paul) about various things, mostly to do with mental health.  She then insisted on buying twelve of my paperbacks to distribute to her book group, friends, and work colleagues.  How amazing is that?  In fact, although it was lovely it was also a little embarrassing (I felt as though I was taking advantage of our friendship in some way) but she insisted.

There is a huge difference between people's attitudes when it comes to buying things, and it is interesting to be able to observe this from a different angle now that I have a product to sell.  There seems to be no correlation between people's relative wealth and their willingness to spend money.  And the closeness of their relationship to me seems to be irrelevant too.  Quite good friends ask to borrow the book rather than buying a copy - and I feel awkward selling them anyway, so I don't mind lending.  I have also given quite a few copies away - I prefer to do this rather than try to sell them. 

And yet other friends (well, one so far) buy twelve copies!  I think it is to do with people's attitude to money rather than to me - some people are just very careful about what they spend money on.  It is interesting...makes me want to err on the side of generosity, it is just a so much more attractive personality trait.  I like spending money anyway - I suppose that it what it comes down to - some people just don't like spending it.  Or not on books.

It must be nice just to write without having to market or sell your work.  I suppose that will come in time, when I have written more... I hope.

It has been a nice day today, as I said, but exhausting.  I had another friend arrive this evening as the first one left, and it wore me a bit thin - I desperately needed peace and quiet by the time everyone had gone.  I had already walked the dog early this morning, but I took her again this evening - it was very nearly dark, but I was out for almost an hour, because my brain needed the opportunity to unwind, which the exercise endorpins provided.

Now I am home, and realised that I have various writing tasks to accomplish.  Little daughter is desperate to go clothes shopping and spent several hours last weekend sorting out her wardrobe in preparation, so that tomorrow's leisure time accounted for.  So tonight I must write.  Time to get to it.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Ghost writing

I am getting busy these days.  I have started ghost writing a book for a friend of a friend.  I charge just a small hourly fee, because any profits from the book will go to charity.  And although I have said I will work for just four hours each week on this book, in fact that amounts to a whole day of my time, because I have to fit any writing that I do around the housework, walking the dog, doing the school runs and so on.  Still, I feel much appreciated for the work I am doing.  So it's fine.

I was surprised to receive another request recently for help with somebody's writing, with an offer to pay.  I am not going to accept payment on this occasion though - I don't mind helping.  In fact, my eldest, when I told her about the request, insisted that I help this person and not take any money, 'Imagine if it was you, Mummy, fifteen years ago, and somebody had helped you, and how much that would have meant to you...'  Hurrah!  I have raised a child who is not only bright and beautiful but who has a social conscience to match.

I am still working as a peer specialist, still very part time.  Sometimes I wish things would get moving there - I feel like I have a job in theory but not in practice.  But actually I think this state of affairs suits me just now.  I don't want to be cramming too much in - I need to leave enough time to look after the home and the children (and the husband).  And maybe some time to just chill a bit.  And some time to write would be great...

I wrote part of a poem the other day.  I had been to a poetry workshop led by Robyn Bolam, who is a very good poet and a lovely lady - so calm.  If only I can be that calm one day - maybe it comes from devoting one's life to a career that is unlikely to culminate in fame and riches but just gives a sense of satisfaction and peace.  There's a thought.

The weather is disappointing, but then again, if it was really hot and sunny I would feel that I should be out making the most of the weather and then I would get even less achieved indoors.  Every cloud has a silver lining as they say...

Enough for today - no great insights I am afraid, but sometimes any blog post must be better than none at all.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Raymond Briggs

I wrote a letter to Raymond Briggs today.  I felt a bit mad doing so - like, why would I think he would be interested in hearing from me - but then I figured, if I don't try, how would I know?  He might be delighted to hear from me...

I met the great man a long time ago - about fifteen years.  I had read an article in the paper about his autobiographical picture book, Ethel and Ernest, which mentioned the fact that his late wife had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.  I read the book and was blown away - by the quality of his writing as much as, if not more than, the wonderful illustrations.  Such poignancy, and so simply phrased.  Clearly here was a master at work.

So, a relatively short time later, I was in Brighton.  It was around Christmas time.  I was staying at the De Vere Grand Hotel (a posh one) because at that time I was working as a chambermaid at the De Vere Hotel in Bournemouth and as a perk we got cheap accommodation at sister establishments.  I had gone to look at my old school, Roedean, and it was a wonderful visit.  They let me in to have a good look around and I even saw the wooden board on which the greatest achievement of my life so far was recorded - the time between 1980 and 1981 when I was appointed head of Austen (one of the four houses of JH, or Junior House).

Anyway, I thought that such a wonderful experience could definitely not be capped in one weekend.  I was feeling quite hopeful for my future at that point.  I was newly married.  I had stopped taking medication under the supervision of an endrocrinologist and was hoping to fall pregnant as a result.  I had started writing, and had several articles published already. 

I was walking along a main street in Brighton, and noticed a sign in a bookshop.  The great Raymond Briggs was within, signing books.  I was with my husband, actually (the first one) who went off to have a coffee while I went into the bookshop.  He was like that, he would never choose to do something together if we could do different things separately.  Or perhaps we just never had anything in common.

Anyway.  The book signing had already been going on for hours.  I managed to join the end of the queue, and only had a short wait.  I was so excited I could hardly breathe.  But somehow as the author was signing my books (I made him sign them all to me, even the children's ones which I should really have given to my nieces or nephews) I managed to start a conversation.  I said that I had read an article in a woman's magazine in which he had spoken about his wife and her struggles with mental health.  He looked at me almost dismissively and said, 'Oh that must have been the piece in...' (here he named a woman's magazine, a quite elitist one.  I think he had me pigeonholed as a Home Counties type). 

'I can't remember which magazine it was in,' I replied truthfully.  'I read it in the library'.  He looked at me with more interest then.  Clearly I had confounded his expectations.  Then I blurted out that I had a diagnosis of schizophrenia like his late wife, and he seemed quite surprised.

'You don't look it,' he said.  Then he told me a bit about his wife, how the drugs she was put on had killed her, and how he supported the National Schizophrenia Fellowship as far as he could.  (They are now known as Rethink Mental Illness).  He was lovely.  I told him I wanted to be a writer too and showed him the magazines I had written articles in (I have no idea why I was lugging those around Brighton).  He asked if they were for him to keep and I said they were my only copies, and he looked a bit confused (which I can understand, I really don't know why I wanted him to see them, other than to show him I was serious about being a writer.  I should have left them with him though, and often wished afterwards that I had). 

I told him too that what I wanted more than anything else was to be a mother.  I don't know why I told him that either, but he was interested and asked whether I took medication.  He was just nice and he made me feel normal (and this was not long after the end of my years festering in the day hospital; I had not felt normal for a long time). 

And that was about it.  I left the shop clutching my books, walking on cloud nine.  Then I realised that in my excitement I had not paid for the books; I rushed back to the shop and paid, crimson with embarrassment.  And that was it.

But I have thought about Raymond Briggs occasionally over the years, and wanted him to know that I did succeed in my dream of becoming a mother, and of becoming a writer too.  I have wanted to write to him for a long time - I should have done so ages ago, but was held back by a feeling of foolishness - would he even remember me, would he even care?

Tonight for some reason I just got on and wrote the letter.  It doesn't matter if he doesn't get it, or does and can't remember me - I did it for me, because I wanted to.  I don't suppose he will remember his words of kindness and encouragement to me, but I do, and it matters to me, and I just wanted to let him know that.  I should have written long ago.

So - a big day, today.  I did a lot of driving earlier on, to my place of work to get further instructions (does that make me sound like a spy?)  I don't want to be too specific about my place of work because I still like the idea of anonymity a bit - I get a few crazy comments on here, which I don't publish and try to ignore, but I don't like them and it makes me feel slightly edgy at times.  I am still not working much, but there is the promise of more in the offing, so I am holding on for that. 

Anyway, it is quite a long drive to headquarters and I have only done it a few times.  I got out the Sat Nav this morning.  Toddler looked at me askance.  'Why do you need the Sat Nav?' he asked.  'Don't you know the way to my play school?'

'I do' I said, 'But after I have taken you to play school I have to go to work'. 

'Don't you know the way to your work?' he asked with incredulity.

'I do,' I said, 'But I have only driven there twice before and it is quite a long way away, and I want to make sure I don't get lost'.

In the end I didn't take the Sat Nav out of my handbag.  Toddler was right, I should know the way by now, and I found that I did.  I also found that I really enjoyed the drive.  It is a bit more interesting than driving around town, and I enjoyed the challenge.  I didn't push myself or my vehicle, just kept up with the traffic and felt proud that I am now confident to drive distances, after years of being too crippled by nerves to ever drive my car on a fast road.

There is a point to this story.  I was pottering along the dual carriageway at a modest sixty miles an hour when I noticed a car in my rear view mirror, on the horizon.  It was clearly going fast, and had its lights on, which was sensible, because if anything had been in its way there might not have been much time to brake.  It was in the outside lane. 

A few seconds later the car overtook me, and I couldn't help smiling, because it was just so beautiful.  It was a Porsche but - get this - a huge people-carrier sized  Porsche!  I didn't know such a thing existed.  It was just so lovely, and so slick, and so perfect.  I immediately wanted one - and then told myself I should not want such a thing - and then overrode that and just admitted to myself that I wanted one.  I am honestly not avaricious.  And I know I don't need one - it just cheered me up knowing that there was such a thing in the world.  I was grinning my head off for the next ten miles.

And the third big event of the day.  As regular readers will know, some time ago I saw my old psychiatrist and asked him to record in my notes that I have recovered from schizophrenia.  He suggested that it was perhaps not the correct diagnosis in the first place.  I recently realised that it had been some time since our meeting (although he had told me that it would take him a while to make his decision) so when I got back from the office today I called the office of the local CMHT. 

I spoke to the secretary, and told her I had seen the doctor ('Dr Jameson' from my book) back in April and he had promised to contact me when he had looked at my old medical records and come to a decision about my diagnosis.  She was very apologetic and said that he only works there on Mondays now, but that she would get a message to him and hopefully I would hear from him soon.

Two hours later he rang me.  He said he had looked at the notes, and I could come in to talk about what he had decided.  I said it would be quicker to speak on the phone.  Then he told me ......

I am not trying to build up the suspense.  I am just honestly not sure what he said.  Without wishing to be disrespectful, there was an element of doublespeak involved.  I think what he was saying was something along the lines of that the diagnosis was correct when it was made, but that I would not be given that diagnosis if I presented with those same symptoms today.  So I asked him whether that meant I am not now suffering from schizophrenia and he said, 'I think that is what I mean.  Does that sound like what I am saying?'

He talked about the fact that I don't have the cognitive impairment associated with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and I said that in my opinion that is because I don't take medication and the medication can cause cognitive impairment.   He did not answer that directly, certainly did not deny it. 

He said that the medication can be beneficial and I suggested that might be because of the placebo effect, which he also did not answer directly.  We then agreed that mental health is a huge subject, and he promised to put what he had told me about my diagnosis in writing, which I am hoping will make things clearer, although I am not entirely sure of that. 

I think what he was saying was that I have had psychotic episodes, which can with hindsight be related to life events and to my use of 'substances' (for the record, I only ever used one substance, which was cannabis - it was quite enough) so therefore I am not schizophrenic.  But he can't expressly say that, in case future events prove him wrong. 

He said I am still vulnerable to psychosis, but then said that everybody is, which is not exactly the point, as of course he knows.  I think, in fact, that I am not especially vulnerable to psychotic breakdown now, because I know the danger signs and because - most importantly - I have conquered my anxiety, which was what led me to break down on each occasion. 

The only time I have come close in recent years was when I had my operation last year and spent several days in hospital, on heavy drugs, without sleep.  That was before the CBT, which has made such a massive improvement in my life, by ridding my mind of anxiety.  And even in those circumstances I did not break down - and if I was ever in hospital again (I really hope I never am) I think I would now cope even better.

So it is all a bit of an anti-climax really, which is no more than I had expected.  The conclusion, as I had already realised, is that I know more about my mental health than anybody else does.  But it will still be nice to have the letter.  I might even frame it.  Or put it up on here.

I do not mean to mock or to belittle the good doctor.  He is a decent person, I like him, and I credit him with a lot - he certainly introduced the possibilty of recovery into my mind.  He is also the only psychiatrist who ever listened to or spoke to me properly, as a person, and that gave me a lot of confidence.  He even seemed to think I might not be a schizophrenic, during those series of meetings ten years ago!  Which led me to the eventual conclusion that I am not one.

I am also pretty sure, from our conversation today, that he has looked at the sites I referred him to on our last meeting, and perhaps he has even looked at this blog.  So he is hopefully becoming enlightened about all the alternative information out here on the Net - he is learning the language of hope, and of recovery.

It is just that I have now come a good way further than the whole issue of whether or not I have schizophrenia - to an understanding that psychiatry is not a very effective branch of medicine, given its over reliance on medication, and its tendency to box people in with negative labels and thus negate any hope of recovery.

I gained a lot more from speaking to that psychiatrist, and by having him listen, over the ten or less times than we met in the last ten years (most of those occasions around the birth of my second daughter ten years ago) than by all the drugs I have ever been given.   I will always remember his words, when we were talking one day, and he referred to my 'third and final breakdown' after my eldest daughter was born. 

That was the defining moment for me.  My final breakdown was behind me, I could now move on with the rest of my life.  It was an important realisation, and the start of my journey forward.  I have him to thank for that.

I hope the doctor continues to listen and to talk to his patients.  He is definitely a good man, and one day perhaps he could be a great one, if he will only look anew at his profession and how to properly apply the knowledge he has gained about the human psyche.  

Handy hint - the human spirit is a fragile and precious thing.  If broken, it can't be healed by drugs, only by love.  (Hey man, I sound quite hippy-ish!  But it's true).

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

A very quick one...

I feel bad that I haven't blogged much recently... I blame Mslexia magazine; last month's issue had an article about how blogging takes up time that could be spent writing one's magnus opus...  I think that sunk in, and consequently I have eased off the blog - the shame of it is that I have not progressed with the other thing.  In fact, I decided to shelve my recovery book for now, and write something different, a children's novel in fact.  I sat down to write, not sure what I was going to write, but intending it to be fiction - and a children's novel is what started to emerge.  It will be a light and fun project - just what I need in my life (don't we all?) 

As if in confirmation that I am on the right track, the new issue of Mslexia arrived today, and it announces an upcoming competition to write a children's novel.  The entry fee is £25, but the prize money is considerable - so now I have a deadline to work to.  Which I like, oddly enough - I was one of the odd few who used to get my essays in on time at University, which obviously did not make me popular.  I could never understand why everyone else flapped around and made themselves late - they knew the deadline was coming up, what was their problem?  But obviously I was in the minority, so I must have been misguided.

By the way, Mslexia is a very enjoyable and instructive  women's writing magazine.  I highly recommend it to anyone who is at all interested in writing.

I have just been watching the Grayson Perry programme on taste.  It was excellent.  But made me realise (again) that I am an oddity - I do not surround myself with objects that I have specially chosen in order to fit in and become a member of a tribe, as the rest of society apparently does.  I know I am a member of a tribe - the human race - and I don't see the point of sub-dividing into sects.  But I digress...

What was I on about?  Oh yes, apologies for lack of blog posts.  I am excited today - I had an email from Rethink asking me to do something for them (watch this space, it won't be long).  I also booked for a Time to Change public speaking training day - which is just what I need, for other reasons that I won't divulge just yet (because me and my big mouth keep going talking about things before they have properly manifested and I am getting superstitious about it). 

I did some mental health work today - although it didn't feel much like work.  I went to eat lunch and mingle with some psychiatric staff.  I spoke a bit about my experiences, in the hope that some of my views about medication and restraint will filter through to the professionals, although those things were not strictly speaking the subject of the meeting.  I did also do the job I was sent for, which was basically to establish links between my organisation and the people I went to meet.

I asked for gluten free food, because last time I went to an event which involved lunch (the Rethink day in London a few weeks ago) I hadn't mentioned my gluten intolerance and so spent some time picking the fillings out of the sandwiches and leaving the bread (which I feel made me look a few bricks short of a load).  Wishing to avoid making a spectacle of myself again, I therefore raised the subject in advance, and a sandwich was especially prepared for me with gluten free bread.  But.  Gluten free bread is notoriously crumbly.  I therefore soon realised that the floor around me was coated in white pieces of bread and crust which were dropping off my sandwich as fast as I tried to stuff in my gob - delightful.  A nice helpful psychiatrist suggested that I move my sandwich onto a larger plate - but I demurred, and just went on my merry and messy way.  It is the sort of thing that Miranda would have a field day with - in fact, I can't wait to tell my daughters about it in the morning, they love Miranda and would find the comparison hysterical. 

The episode where Miranda and her mother are sent to see the psychiatrist is my all time favourite.  Brilliant.

Anyway, as I have said before, this mingling and lunching and speaking type stuff hardly feels like work - I am used to proper physical slog in the workplace and at home - but actually it is quite draining in a way.  Especially after one of these events, when I can't help magnifying everything that happened and convincing myself that I made a complete fool of myself.  Why did I not just put the sandwich on a bigger plate?

I don't really care though.  I am just pleased that I am doing something different and getting paid for it, and I am sure I will get more used to it as time goes on.  And, also as I have said before, I am ecstatic that I am able to do it.  Mingling and talking would have been my worst nightmare a very short time ago.  I feel as though I have been liberated from the anxiety that stopped me enjoying my life and I am still revelling in finding out what I can now cope with.  It may be just normal stuff, but it pleases me immensely to be able to do every bit of it. 

Anyway, that's it for today folks.  More anon.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Half-term Holiday

It's been an odd sort of half-term week, and I am really sorry that it is nearly over.  Mostly because it didn't fulfil its potential.  I like to pack plenty of activities into the school holidays.  I remember the awkwardness of being asked to talk or write about what I did in the holidays when I was at school, and how I always answered, 'Nothing' and was told off because it was assumed that I had forgotten or was being deliberately uncommunicative.  Neither was true - we just never did anything.

I don't think we should wallow in the past - but we can learn from it.  So I make sure my kids do plenty in the holidays, so they have plenty to report back to school to save them from any difficult moments.  When the girls were small I even used to help them to make up little books or picture stories about how they had spent their holidays to take in to show the teacher - I suppose I created little teacher's pets, although not intentionally.  (They still get on well with their teachers now and I like that - it is good to know that your children are appreciated in the wider world).  It has been a long time since I did anything like that - I seem to spend far less time with the kids nowadays - but I still make sure the holidays are action packed.

Not this one though.  We did have friends for lunch on Sunday and went for a nice walk afterwards, but the rest of the half-term has been a non-event.  Our elder son developed a nasty cough and the weather has been foul, so we have really had no choice but to stay at home.  The girls have managed to get out a bit to see their friends, and we have had a few friends over to play with them all, but still... Too quiet for my liking.

However, every cloud has a silver lining and this one was that I have been busy sorting out the house.  I have been doing this in stages for the whole year - having major clearouts of areas one at a time.  It has been a slow process though.  Such is the accumulated chaos that one cupboard can take me an entire morning, and by the time I have recovered from sorting it (usually a few days later) the mess is out of control in other parts of the house.  In fact, I had despaired of ever getting the place properly organised. 

A couple of weeks ago I moved it up a notch.  I had set my writing group a task - to write about what we would do if we only had a limited time left to live.  I wonder if it was a peculiarity of our group, or a strange trait of the whole human race or the females in it - but we unanimously agreed that we would like to organise our drawers before we departed this life.  (We would also take holidays, spend time with loved ones, and other activites that are usually associated with a terminal diagnosis.  But we would all tidy our drawers).

Well, why wait, I must have subconsciously thought.  Because I suddenly made progress - I achieved an immaculate linen cupboard (by dint of being completely ruthless with the notion of how many towels, sheets etc we actually need as a household, although I admit that I do miss one or two things I disposed of). 

I still have a whole cupboard stuffed full of winter coats, but no longer any that are too small or too shabby to keep. The bathroom cabinets still have a multitude of cleaning products within them, very few of which I ever use, but at least I now know what they are.  I even cleaned and sorted out the corner cupboard under the kitchen sink and now I only have to open the door of it to cheer myself up.  That cupboard had not been cleared out for eleven years.  I can hardly believe that as I am typing it.

In the last few days I have been like a vortex.  I have tidied the boys' bedroom to the point where I could lay my hands on any one of their toys or items of clothing at a moment's notice, and if you knew how much stuff was in their room you would know that this is some achievement. I have cleaned and tidied the conservatory and now as soon as I enter the room I have a kind of Zen moment (although not for long because I have set up the Yamaha keyboard in there and it is never long before someone follows me in and treats me to a 'tune'.)

I have sorted out my paperwork, and have files and folders for all sorts of different activities.  It is wonderful...

Or it should be.  I think the problem must lie in the humdrum nature of all the tidying, or the sense that it will all soon get messed up again, or the solitary aspect of the work;the fact that although I have been with the children for the last few days I have been disconnected from them, too busy sorting and cleaning.  But despite the satisfaction I felt from a job well done, I found myself feeling alarmingly low this afternoon - I had to force myself out to walk the dog, which helped, especially because Little Daughter came with me, and she never fails to lift my mood.

My trouble is that I get too immersed in a project - I can't sort out part of a room, I have to blitz the whole place and I'm not happy until I've finished.  And in a family home, with four young children, I will never be finished - and shouldn't be, because a house needs to be a home, and children need to play and to make a mess.  For years I used to clean and tidy regularly each day, now I do it more in spates, because it sucks up too much time, and is not actually that important.  But I don't think the place will ever be pristine - every year I have good intentions of sorting the garden, for example, and most years I don't even get started.  And the years I do get started it doesn't really look much diiferent.

Anyway, what a dull blog post, you may be thinking, and you would be right to think so.  Because cleaning and tidying and sorting is dull work, and a waste of life when we could be playing with our kids, or writing, or doing other things that make us happy.

So that's enough of that - tomorrow I am not going to lift a finger.  I am going to take the kids out come rain or shine (elder son's cough is much improved thank goodness).  And half-term isn't over yet after all - we have three more days and I am going to make sure that the children have the best time possible during every minute of each of those days.  Life is too short to waste....

Friday, 1 June 2012


I am not sure about this work thing.  I like going out of the house, doing something different, and coming back, but it doesn't actually feel like work just yet.  Partly because I am not yet sure where I fit into the organisation - this is not like any other sort of work I have ever done, it is piecemeal and project based and quite hard to get a grip on.  Hopefully I will figure it out soon. 

I drove for an hour or so the other day to a quaint little town where I helped to give a presentation about recovery to a community mental health team.  Well, in fact I watched my co-workers give the presentation and I told my recovery story. 

It did not go brilliantly - I think I talked for too long, and was so keen to get across every single opinion I hold about the mental health system that I was rather incoherent.  Next time, I will remember that sometimes less is more.

I wanted to communicate my feeling that the diagnosis of schizophrenia is unfair and not based on proper science - but the mental health professionals I spoke to seemed to be of the opinion that people actually like their labels as it gives them something to work with.  Well, I have met a fair few so called schizophrenics in my time, and I have never known one who appreciated the term.  Never. 

So how can it be that mental health workers sincerely believe otherwise?  They seemed to be genuine people, trying to do a good job.  But they hold the opposite view on what is to me a crucial matter - the usefulness or otherwise of a label that tainted my life so negatively and still does to some extent, and which is set to ruin the lives of many other young people if something is not done about it.  I am disappointed with myself because I don't believe that I helped to make things clearer for the community mental health team - indeed I suspect that I may have confused them further. 

What I wanted them to see was that I was very ill with all the symptoms of so-called schizophrenia and that I am now recovered, which illustrates the wrongness of using the diagnosis - and what annoys me about my talk is that I am not sure that they saw that.  Which I can't help feeling was my fault for not being more concise and clear.  I communicate so much better in writing than I do in person - and I am so keen to overcome that.  I really hope that one day I will.

I can see that what I am writing here is rather stupid.  I actually have no idea what they thought about me - I only know that they were listening intently, and asked various questions at the end, and that I wish I had made more of the opportunity that was presented to me.  Realistically I suppose I could not have hoped to change anybody's view of what schizophrenia is, and about the long-term use of medication (my other main hobbyhorse) just by means of a ten minute talk. 

On the bright side, I was not anxious at all before the talk (although my knees were literally wobbling once I started.  That was to be expected though - my first formal talk to a room of people).  The lack of nerves continues to be a delight - I participated in a workshop later in the afternoon and rather enjoyed it - although again, I think I could have done better on the communication front.   But when I think of how paralysed with nerves I used to be at University in seminars, and in any group situation really, it is liberating just to be able to join in a discussion calmly. 

I have a slight case of the doldrums - I confess that part of me wonders if I should be on this crusade at all - if anything I do or say will help, and if maybe it would be better for me personally to stay at home quietly writing and bringing up my children.  I guess I must sound like a bit of a misery - I had a feeling this post might turn out that way! 

Don't worry, I am going to stick with the work though - I don't give up on things easily!

Anyway, the children are off school now for half term, so I am resolved to switch off completely from work of any kind and concentrate on them.  I am sure that will make me feel happier very quickly.  Have a great Bank Holiday weekend, everyone in the UK, and a great weekend, everyone else!