Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Progress of the Hall

Since writing yesterday's post I have been worrying, in case anybody thought after reading it that I must be losing the plot, or that I had lost all sense of gravitas, nattering on about the decorating.  Although long-term readers of this blog will know that it does drift around to various subjects, it has mainly been purely on mental health issues recently. 

The truth is, that writing and thinking about mental health too much wears me down.  So I don't do it all of the time.  Although I don't seem to be able to get off the subject for long.  But then sometimes I feel that although mental health is not particularly on my mind but I should write a blog post - that the blog would benefit from being updated - and that is when I seem to go off on a tangent, blogging about how I have just walked the dog, or am going to clean and reorganise the house (again) or decorate the hallway...

I am starting to think that I might need a new blog, as a creative outlet for my frivolous days. I might just do that.

Anyway, the hall is not quite finished yet.  Tonight the noticeboard has gone back up, and very nice it looks too, IMO.  Hopefully, the pegs will also go up this evening, so I will have somewhere to hang the coats, which are currently the bane of my life, floating about between the porch and the conservatory, unsure where is home.  The laundry basket has been moved out of the front room, which can only be an improvement.  And...oh, there I go again, sinking into urbane domesticity.  STOP!

I went to Psychology today (the second class this week; we have ground to cover before the looming exam).  And I am proud to say that I have already completed my homework - after getting about three weeks behind and starting to feel pretty panicky until I caught up the other day, I have decided to stay in front from now on.  I do feel pleased with myself, especially since I have also been working on my ghost-writing today and now that is all done too.  Smug, I think is the word to express how I feel.

I may even find some time in the next few days to finish the short story I started at the weekend.  It was inspired by a recent encounter in a supermarket (such are the parameters of my life) and it has given me lots of ideas for other stories.  I can't help feeling that short stories are a cop-out and that I should really be in it for the long haul - but they are fun, and that is what matters.

Meanwhile, some time ago I offered to help Rethink Mental Illness, as a volunteer on their physical health forum.  I have waited a while for a response to this, and the volunteering opportunity has now changed - apparently there are four volunteers and the intention is that a contact at Rethink will feed us snippets of information which we will then disseminate via social media.  Their physical health campaign is centred around the tragic fact that people with a serious mental illness die on average many years younger than the general population.  So this is what we will be seeking to address.

Hopefully, this voluntary work will tie in with my paid work for Newcastle Uni, and one will inform the other.  I am not sure how it will all happen yet, but I have faith that happen it will.  Watch this space! 


  1. Hi, I'm so glad I came across your blog, and am going to look up your book on Amazon too! Recently I have been trying to get a referral from my GP so I can get a diagnosis - from reading here and other sites, I'm beginning to think it might not be the answer to everything I was expecting it to.
    My GP says I have anxiety and depression (have been on and off anti-depressants for 10 years under different GPs) after refusing to take any more tablets I have been labelled as refusing treatment and difficult, I'm pretty sure this has been put on my notes as I saw a different Dr recently and he was fine with me till he started reading his screen! Then he told me I was wasting government money getting signed off work so he refused me another sick note and told me to get out of his office. He said there was nothing wrong with me, yet in the same breath told me to take my anti-depressants! I'm so sick of Dr's, and now I'm forced to go back to work when I'm having up to 10 panic attacks a day, because I can't afford to go without an income. The NHS is a mess. I only went to the Dr to try and get counselling - the best they could offer me was a 6 session 'managing stress' course which is based on PowerPoint presentations, no counselling or talking therapy involved. Anyway sorry to babble on, just wanted to say I think what you're doing is wonderful, and you're an inspiration for more people to stand up and tell their stories, instead of constantly being silenced by the medical profession.

  2. I quite enjoy your snipets about every day life: they lighten up the atmosphere. Schizophrenia is rather a "dark" subject so a bit of a break now and then is good. I just happened to read what Timothy Salmon has to say about the schizophrenia commission in April and June 2012 on his blog. I was a bit shocked at first. He obviously sees Schizophrenia from a totally different angle. His vue of the problem therefore is completely different. It might be due to the fact that schizophrenia is not just one "illness": it has multiple causes or may be psychiatrists are much too rash to label one with the diagnosis of "mental illness". May be some people actually suffer from a genetic biological disturbance while the majority do not but still get labelled. May be that is why the outcome is so varied: some recover but others cannot. Their needs would be totally different.

  3. Hi, to you both. Timothy Salmon - I'll have a look in a minute. Just Googled him and think I found the right blog - he has a son with schizophrenia? I have been wondering the same thing as you, funnily enough - whether there are different causes of mental illness and that is why I have recovered while so many others do not. I know some people are offended by the notion that I have 'recovered' from 'schizophrenia' when they are quite convinced that such a thing is impossible. A recent review of my book called it a pack of lies on that ground, which I found quite hurtful.

    After consideration, I think that even if the causes of mental ill health are different there is still potential for recovery in seemingly intractable cases - given the right conditions. Personally, I don't think there is a genetic issue particularly - I saw a recent study somewhere which showed that people with 'Schizophrenia' or 'Bi-polar disorder' are far less likely to reproduce (a conclusion I could have come up with without the need for a study, because apart from anything else the drugs prevent conception!)

    This would mean that if mental illness was a genetic problem then it would have naturally died out by now. Also, the Nazis exterminated all the mentally ill they could find (along with Jews, coloured people, Jehovah's witnesses and so on) and this certainly did not eradicate schizophrenia in post-war Germany - an unspeakably evil 'experiment' but telling.

    Personally, I think that the cause of mental illness is stress - the causes of stress can be manifold, but basically boil down to anxiety. And that anyone could have a 'nervous breakdown' given enough adverse life experiences, but some are more susceptible than others, probably because they have sensitive dispositions, are prone to over-thinking, etc.

    But I am always interested to learn more on the subject, especially from different perspectives, so thank you for the Timothy Salmon pointer. The book I am reading, 'Selfhood' blames mental illness on loss of the self, and seems to say that this can occur even in families where the parents do their utmost to nurture the child and bring him or her up correctly - which must be reassuring for some families. It has always puzzled me how breakdown occurs when there are no obvious reasons for mental distress - I think some humans are perhaps more fragile than others mentally, just as some people have physical weaknesses. The good news is that these issues can be successfully addressed.

    Sorry if I have been a little repetitive there! And to the other 'Anon' - thanks for your comment. I am glad you have found something here and in other blogs to help you - I wish I'd had access to the Net twenty-five years ago.

    Did you know that you should be able to self-refer to counselling? It is certainly possible around here, but not everybody knows about it - so self-referral may be a possibility in your local area. Try Googling your local health trust, then look for mental health services, and see what you can find.

    I am shocked at the attitude of your GP! Please don't give up - see another GP in the practice, keep visiting the GPs until someone puts you on a list. I found a site called Glasgow STEPS very useful - although I looked at this in conjunction with CBT, not as an alternative. There are lots of books which may help you - and lots of sites - but finding a person to listen properly and help you work through the issues is invaluable. Good luck! Please don't get yourself a diagnosis though - get some proper help!

    1. I so agree with you: I think that stress is one of the main causes of psychosis but thinking about my own experience as well as about what happened to my son,sleep deprivation definitely played also an important role. Most people I have read about have been smoking pot. I didn't but I abused caffeine (and so did my son) to keep myself artificially awake to study for my exams and I know it played a role in my breakdown. For two years after my recovery, I couldn't drink coffee without getting panic attacks. The loss of selfhood and a low self-esteem, I agree, play a big role in mental illness. My son tells me now that he was terrified of his father and felt that he was never allowed to be himself. He masked it so well, that I wasn't aware of it during his childhood. Anon 2