Saturday, 27 April 2013

Am I a Scorpio? Or a Schizophrenic?

A friend told me, many years ago, that it is a good idea to thoroughly clean and tidy your home before you go on holiday. Thus, on your return, even if you have post-holiday blues, you are cheered by the sight of your pristine home.

I have followed this advice ever since. It works. Although I must say, I don't ever feel down on returning from a holiday - however good it feels to be away, it always feels equally good to come home again. 

This time, the pre-holiday cleaning and tidying rather exhausted me. There was a lot to do - there always is, because when the kids are out of the house I am not usually cleaning, but rather writing or studying, and when they are home I am usually cooking or dealing with their concerns (homework and so on).

Luckily, I am a fast and thorough cleaner (those years spent working as a chambermaid were not wasted, after all. I learned humility, and I learned that the things that matter most in life are not prestige and money and I learned - how to clean!) So when I need to tidy up, I do it pretty effectively - but still, by the time I had finished I needed a holiday even more. 

It was a great break. We were only away for five days, and it was a very active break - at Center Parcs, if anyone is interested. I like it there, the quality of accommodation is always high, the staff are always friendly, and it caters for all ages of kids. We have been several times over the years and we are not done yet, although next time we might venture to one of the continental parks. 

Paul and I decided not to take our laptops on holiday, which I think definitely helped us to relax. There is a lesson there, I think to myself. As I tap away, first thing on a Saturday morning, on my daughter's iPad.

I borrowed the iPad to read the paper online. I have been dithering about stopping my subscription to The Times, but in the end I couldn't bear to. Reading the paper is the way that I relax, and anyway reading good writing helps to inform my own (each of us can talk ourselves into anything if we try hard enough, non?)

So instead I decided to go digital - read online. It will save the time it takes to physically get the paper, at least. And I have really enjoyed the experience this morning - razor sharp images, news stories that you can watch as well as read...

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, I remember, this is a mental health blog. 

Writing about reading is not totally unrelated, I suppose - good mental health depends to some extent on doing the things that make us happy, surely. And since, from the earliest age, my ambition was to be a reporter (my mother says that from the age of four this is what I said I wanted to do) then reading a daily paper makes even more sense.

The beauty of blogging is that you can write, and publish immediately. Who says that I am any less of a reporter than the columnists I read in The Times? They may get more readers, and they may be paid and they may have editors who help to finesse their work - but otherwise, surely we are on a par? Some kind of a par...

Actually, I could probably do with an editor today, because I am not used to writing on this sort of equipment. It slows my writing, and my thought processes. That's my excuse anyway. 

Also, I have not figured out how to link to stuff on this machine, so I will have to come back later and put something in here:
This is it - it's an interview with a leading geneticist, who started by looking for evidence if schizophrenia in the genes, and discovered that it is not as straightforward as he thought (surprise!).

I would go further, and say that these people are still on a wild goose chase - since there is no way that people without whatever genetic link they may end up finding which 'proves susceptibility' to 'schizophrenia, autism' and whatever else they are now looking for, will not still be susceptible, given exposure to high enough levels of stress. 

I suppose all this keeps scientists busy, and something useful may eventually be uncovered.  But personally, I think their time would be better spent on discovering how to make people resilient to stress, or how to recover if and when they do break down.  Rather than looking for the causes in our genes.  Ho hum...

I was answering a text from a friend yesterday. My phone had no connection at Center Parcs, so on our way home I had several messages. This friend wanted to let me know that she had recommended my book and blog to someone with a recent mental health diagnosis, who had found them useful. So I text her a few thoughts to pass on to her friend - for example that she should not get hung up on the diagnosis, whatever it is. And it occurred to me then that a parallel can be drawn between mental health diagnoses and star signs. 

If you read your horoscope regularly - as I used to, in my mother's weekly women's magazines when I was young, you end up thinking that your star sign has application to your life. I am a Scorpio. Therefore I am - I forget exactly - mysterious, passionate, and so on. I discount the things that don't apply to me - maybe because I am on the 'cusp' with another sign - and magnify the ones that do. Similarly, when I read that 'x' is likely to happen to me this week, I forget it if it doesn't happen, but if it does, I remember and see it as proof of the accuracy of my star sign.

I saw through all that long ago. The Times has a horoscope section, but I don't look at it. I have no idea what star signs any of my children are.

And thus with psychiatry. I don't need those people to tell me what I 'am'. I don't need their drugs, I don't need their advice to consider myself disabled, to take disability benefits from the government for the rest of my life and never raise my sights above the lowly horizon that they have assigned to me, in their view of my world. That is THEIR view. Of MY world.

I am not a 'Schizophrenic' any more than I am a 'Scorpio'.

I am a human being, doing all that I can to live and to love well and wisely. I follow my own instincts and make my own decisions regarding how to become the best person I can be. 

And yah boo to anyone who thinks I should be doing otherwise.

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