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!


  1. Louise - I heard your radio interview. You are far from inarticulate! Keep doing what you are doing. Not everybody likes to read about how to do something, but just about all of us like to go and hear someone tell it from the heart.

  2. What you are writing is not stupid at all. It is interesting and reflects in so many ways my own life-experience. Like you, I have tried to explain to mental health staff how I see mental breakdown and how one can recover from it and how damaging labels are. They have looked blankly at me and slightly pityingly as if I were misguided and really not at their level. They haven't argued with me or explained their position or told me why they believe what they believe.
    Being a writer is a perfectly respectable job. My daughter is a writer and proud of it. That she works from home is neither here no there. Lastly, I agree that bringing up children with love and care is the best and most satifying job in the world even if it is unpaid. It is not boring like some people would like us to believe.

  3. Thank you both. I think I was a bit dowm in the dumps yesterday. I have had a wonderful day today with the family, and am restored to an optimistic outlook. Onwards and upwards! Louise x