Category Archives: people

Is the answer always out of reach?

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Hope everyone is looking forward to the weekend, it’s almost here!!

I found myself wondering about something earlier…

Bearing in mind my experiences (ongoing) with depression and anxiety I was told about a friend of a friend who is going through a tough time and I’m going to be honest while I was sympathetic I wasn’t ready to feel sorry for her 100% as I can with other sufferers.

In brief: She is a twenty something single parent (the dad has custody every other weekend) and she never seems to be able to make ends meet, she works part time in a supermarket but doesn’t feel love for the job. Her doctor told her about 4 months ago that she was depressed and prescribed some meds to help.

OK, so far, so good – this is the stuff of life, I believe it’s called situational depression and it must be horrible or it wouldn’t be called depression. However, sympathy from those around her has diminished over the months and I can see why even though I know that depression can rob you of the concept of possibility and opportunity…

She doesn’t like her job – as she likes to tell any and everyone BUT she arrives late regularly, tries to leave early and isn’t keen to work so she often has to be reprimanded by her boss. We all know that the job market isn’t great so jumpin in to another job might not be possible but she won’t try because the present boss does nothing more than reprimand her verbally – water off the proverbial duck’s back.

She also stopped taking the meds but took another two months off work without any pay which wasn’t a popular course of action.

She doesn’t have enough money – this is a problem shared the world over and I can understand that money goes out the door as fast as it comes in. Children can’t live on fresh air and they are constantly growing BUT as soon as she can get a babysitter or the father has custody of her child she turns in to a party animal, gets totally wasted and spends far too much money on “having fun.” Everyone needs fun but every week???

A solution like going out less and saving some money doesn’t seem to have any weight in her mind – she wants to go out, get drunk and be a twenty something like her friends.

The general opinion is that she’s got in to a rut in which she is “happy” to tell everyone how miserable life is and how much she has to put up with but at the same time any help, constructive advice or offers of treatment are being refused or ignored.

So what is she going to do?

Is the answer really out of reach for her?

Does she simply have to face the fact that she can’t live the life her friends have because she’s got responsibilites? 

Is it the depression or her nature that’s costing her the chance of taking control of her life? 

Would “tough love” (NOT STIGMATISING!) help where indulgence hasn’t? 

Is it time to employ the adage “God helps those who help themselves?” 

Questions, questions!!

Interesting, isn’t it? Everyone’s walk with mental health is different, there’s a 1 in 4 chance that you’ll be a sufferer and there’s a 3 in 4 chance that you’ll have to be around to support that person…however long it takes.

We can all learn from another person no matter how many answers we think we have.

Now, in case this is all too serious, here’s a funny picture. Thanks for reading!

Joannepenguin-161319_640
TTC_TTTDay_Hashtag

Reach out, make it a goal.

Hi

It’s Monday, fancy a superduper fabulously brilliant pep talk/great idea?

Excellent! Have a read of this…Pretty please with a cherry on top!

Think serious, think goal for the week/month/year/millenium.

thQRAYI1MJ

I’ve just been reading an article about women who have chosen not to have children, not because they are horrible people with no compassion but they just don’t feel maternal and so feel it would be worse for them to bring a child in to the world that they don’t really really want than to conform with the status quo and procreate. One of the women pointed out something that I instantly related back to mental health although the two matters are entirely different. Bear with me, it’ll make sense.

She commented that a girl could get pregnant legally at 16 but not having children was not the traditional expectation, NOT having a child was somehow unacceptable and deeply frowned upon.

In the world of health and illness I would say that there are things which are considered more acceptable and others less so. Imagine “I’ve got diabetes” versus “I’ve got depression.”

Chances are that diabetes will get a sympathetic smile, a question like, “do you take insulin?” or “how does it affect your diet?” and the chemical defect in the body will be “acceptable.”

Now, let’s look at “I’ve got depression.”

Possible comments are “Buck up/Perk up/Snap out of it.” “What’ve you got to be depressed about?” “Oh yeah, I was ****ed of last Tuesday.” or “Are you on happy pills?” All accompanied by a wary or dismissive look or gesture.

Loud and clear a message is sent back to the unfortunate sufferer: “Depression = Not acceptable.”

Hmm, that’s not fair.

It took me far too long to accept that depression is also a chemical imbalance, there is no real difference between the two illnesses if you take them back to the words chemical imbalance. Insulin is seen as necessary medication to live a normal and rewarding life, anti depressants are given a derisive name “happy pills.”

So a person with depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD etc. is classed as what? Weak? Lacking? hey, that’s YOUR BAD not the sufferer’s. They can quite easily feel weak, swamped, like they are deficient, alone and fighting themselves and the world’s stigma so they really don’t need any additional unhelpful comments.

BTW: Yes, sufferers know that you think you’ll say something wrong and we’ll burst in to tears so you subtly avoid them/the subject but please be brave, you don’t have to hold a psychology degree to help…how’s about these comments plus a smidgen of your precious time instead:

“Do you need to talk?”

“Can I help?”

“I’m here for you.”

“Remember, it’s an illness nothing to feel bad about.”

“You are 100% NOT WEAK. It’s a chemical thing.”

“Don’t be ashamed, the medication will make you feel more like you.” 

As a sufferer even knowing that you aren’t alone can feel like a miracle when your brain seems to be working against you.

So, if there is someone around you who is suffering from a mental illness they may just need to know that you’re on their team not chief judge, jury and executioner of any of their remaining self esteem. Reach out, a small gesture moves mountains. 

Alone is a lonely place, everyone knows that! Give someone a hug, give their brain a friendly smile and not an unfortunate comment.

We all know that stigma can be overcome, please be a someone who does that rather than a someone who helps to build the crappy stigma pile up to the sky.

THANK YOU!

Have a fab week.

Joanne

Humanity

Hi

 

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I wrote this poem a while ago, thought I’d post it…It was written as a response to stress I’d experienced thanks to another person who should have behaved better.  God bless therapy and therapists! Unsung heroes in the land of brain cells and emotions.

 

Respect

Love emboldens souls to be free

Or it creates dreams disappointing

Love is like blossom on the tree

It needs warmth to set forth flowering

 

Respect is to be earned not glibly spent

It’s not a silver spoon birthright

Respect is a given as a compliment

Not after a series of supremacy fights

 

Trust is peaceful but the preserve

Of those who’ve never been burned

The rest of us hold back, reserved

Until we’re sure our hearts to stone won’t turn

 

Forgiveness can prove difficult

But once accomplished it releases us to calm

We’re often too keen to assign fault

But that offers no one a healing balm

 

The heart and mind offer advice we eschew

However emotions will implode if your soul you defy

With experience we should learn that to ourselves be true

Isn’t blanket permission to injure, deride or despise.

 

On a graver note…

I hope that everyone is safe and well and that peace, love and empathy reign over the world.

The good guys must defeat the bad guys.

Only a joint effort can do it.th2KD3LEGV

Take care

Joanne

Happy Friday

Hi peepsflies-161350_640

It’s Friday which means that the first weekend of October is almost here! Fetch me a fab book, my snuggly blanky…and hot chocolate with cute little marshmallows….wanders off in to a delicious daydream…

I’m back!

This week I’ve been working on a children’s story which fingers, eyes and toes crossed the client will like (pretty please!) and next I’m off in to article writing land to write 10 pieces. Research required, it helps if I know exactly what I’m talking about, apparently. Who knew?

I’m also working on another royalty quiz book which should be out before Halloween, I know that ghosts love a good quiz, they do, really.

In the dear old U.K. October means we will probably hear fireworks any time now, even though Bonfire Night is still over a month away, show a Brit a firework in a store and they will purchase and let it off, even sometimes at two in the morning, hmm thanks for that;0)

 

 

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Final thought for the mo, please can we all tell the media to stop writing/speaking so negatively about mental health issues?

Very few people are about to become a danger to their communities, hey, some of us even know that as mental illness sufferers we are more susceptible to being the victims NOT the perpetrators of crime. It would be great if the people charged with the duty of informing viewers/readers (and the powers that be) could remember that before they fall in to stigmatisation yet again. Just saying, right that’s me off my soapbox and off to the land of cute article queen.

Have fun, stay safe and smile.(But never at a crocodile.)

Joanne

 

babsIn paperback and Kindle formats.

 

Wish I’d thought of it sooner:-)

Hiya

penguin-161319_640

 

I hope everyone is having a great Sunday a.k.a. Funday!

I’ve been editing like a ninja this week, less than 4500 words to go so take a guess what I’ll be doing Monday and Tuesday this week?! After this it’s back to childrens fiction. (Thanks to the lovely man that said yes to my pitch!)

babs

And now for something completely different…you know how on the news we keep seeing images, mainly tragic, of refugees fleeing from Syria and that area? Well, I, like most people I know, was whinging that the government needed to do more, that these people needed help. It was a couple of days before I realised that it’s fine to SAY that but 100% better to DO so I did something that I should have already done – I donated to a charity that is working on the ground with the refugees…so now I have helped in a tiny way instead of just decrying the powers that be from my nice warm and thankfully safe home.

While I know that my donation won’t make a miracle, if it gets added to another someone’s donation and then someone elses…and so on…just think what the human race could do for those that are suffering! Moreover, people find spare cash for a treat so why the heck shouldn’t they find cash to help repair a catastrophe?!

Life eh? It throws up some interesting questions.

Take care and remember to tickle your tum to make yourself laugh;-)

Joanne

 

Err…you can’t say that!

Hi

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It’s a bank holiday weekend here and surprise surprise it’s raining (again) so I am taking refuge on my comfy sofa later with a book about Catherine the Great so here’s hoping that as I’m editing my book about Charles II at the moment I won’t get confused and start rewriting history, you know, just for fun!

 

 

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Anyway, here’s what happened early last night, it made me smile…

OK, the British are legends on the subject of weather, we can’t go thirty seconds without discussing it and we probably dream about it too…so, I was a bit surprised when Mr. Weatherman pointed to his sexy graphics of rainfall over Blighty after the news last night and authoritatively uttered the immortal line “but don’t take too much notice of that.” 

You can’t give a Brit the weather forecast and then tell them that it might be totally rubbish and containing inaccurate pictures and warblings, the nation will go in to mass bemusement and seek therapy! There just aren’t enough therapists in the land to cope with the crisis – I know that the TV company are changing info providers soon but really, are the old lot just yanking our chains?! Heaven forbid that we actually look out of the window and decide what the weather is up to, the very thought is nonsense!!

Just to confirm that the country seems to be OK, people are going out unsuitably dressed for the weather and moaning about it being the end of summer before it’s started as usual so we’ll be fine. No, we will, if we all huddle under an umbrella in sandals and bobblehats and blame the weatherbod for the forecast being almost right.

Have a fab rest of the weekend and remember to relax and to dress weather appropriate, sixteen layers should do it!

Joanneimage

 

 

 

 

 

 

You couldn’t write it…

Hi

 

work

This week I turned my attention to researching the lives of George Eliot and Thomas Hardy as part of my 101 Interesting Fact series on writers.

Amidst the facts, figures, births, deaths and marriages the seven writers I’ve studied so far have something in common – Not one of them has had an uneventful life.

There’s political or social intrigue, many illegitimate offspring, unsuitable loves, mental health or spiritual  crises and great acclaim. Roll their lives into one and we’d have enough material for an overly melodramatic soap opera – just add bad acting!:0)

It’s made me wonder if creative people are somehow destined to lead the lives that feed them with the inspiration they’ll need to write, paint etc.

Imagine how dull books could be if the writer led a drab life.

We use our imaginations and insist that they work for us but they have to be fed or the rot sets in, but happily or challengingly for the writers it seems that scenarios seek us out as we trundle through life.

Not that I’m suggesting that I’ll be taking off on some grand historically romantic adventure or torment to help my next fiction piece along but it was an interesting train of thought.

Here’s a poem I hope you enjoy. It’s been bitterly cold here in the U.K. and A Sense of Winter popped in to my mind…

 

A Sense of Winter

 

Blue skies

No butterflies

Just ice winged wisps

Dancing in air crisp

 

Tingling noses

No scent of roses

Chilled leaves laden

Shivering like sweet maidens

 

Ears numbed

No birdsong sung

Eaves and rafters

Home ‘til springs laughter

 

Breath bitter cold

Vapour in mist unfolds

Winter has its own taste

Devoid of summers grace

 

Fingertips blue

Nature waits to grow anew

No gentle touch will wake 

Slumber for salvations sake

 

Have fun whereever you are and whatever you do.

 

Joanne

 

 

 

 

Chekov’ed My To Do List

booksHi

Sorry, seriously bad pun in the title 😉

While I was researching Robert Burns I found out that Anton Chekov’s birthday is 29th January.

Intrigued, I investigated this Russian literary legend, reread The Cherry Orchard and as I’ve written about Jane Austen and Robert Burns it seemed perfectly rational to follow the A, B, C and write 101 Interesting Facts About Anton Chekov.

I learn so much by researching facts for these books. While we may know the literary works and believe that the tales are within the writing as the saying goes, truth is stranger than fiction. 

These people who we respect and revere or choose not to appreciate have had lives – I know, it’s a revelation!!

All the good, bad and indifferent that causes light and shade in our lives affected these people too. Some of their experiences don’t make it into their writing but they’ll have been felt just as sharply as we feel loss, success, fear etc. now.

People are incredibly interesting, past, present or future and almost everyone has an extraordinary tale to tell.

If only I had time to write everyone’s life stories down!

Apart from Chekov I was really pleased that I made a shortlist again in a poetry competition and I am honoured that Children’s Stories Net (http://www.childrens-stories.net) have made my story Chuckles Nose their story of the week.

Believe me when I say that I’m not boasting but very grateful. It’s been a long journey from the OCD/PTSD grabbing my life and aspirations by the throat to here…that proverbial tunnel has light at the end of it.

Have fun and enjoy life.

Joanne

 

Full Time Again

HiPenguin

Can you believe it? Today is the 8th January already and Christmas seems like a distant memory.

This week I’ve gone back to being a full time writer instead of the part time one that I’ve been over the last few festive weeks.

I know that a lot of people groaned at the thought of returning to work on 5th January but I found that all the relaxation time and reading that I’d enjoyed had enabled my brain to refresh itself so that I could hit the ground running on Monday.

This week I’ve produced two short books on Robert Burns, the Scottish songwriter, poet and legend for anyone who is interested in the Burns Night celebrations on 25th January and about his life.

I love history and I love finding out about people so these books have been a joy to work on.

Whilst researching and writing I’ve felt energised, invigorated and you know what? Writing can be really hard work but it’s a labour of love and an undeniable blessing to be able to do this each day.

I’ve been finishing my work days tired but eager to start again the next morning.

Eating meals, in the shower, when I wake up, the fragments of what needs to be written pull together in a magical process and then the laptop and I get absorbed and lose track of time.

Although it was good to be a part-timer for a while I enjoy being a full time writer more. I missed the buzz and the frenzy of brain activity.

Moreover, a year ago the OCD and PTSD were taking up a lot of my time but as the treatment has progressed I have been accruing more me time and my creative thoughts dominate the fear thoughts of the illnesses these days…that’s a gift that simply can’t be bought. It is divine and liberating.

 

Have a fabulous and productive week.

 

Joanne

 

RB Covers BlogRobert Burns 101 Interesting Facts is available exclusively on Amazon for purchase and from the lending library/Kindle Unlimited.

Also available via Smashwords: Robert Burns – A Mini Biography.