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Review reviews

Hiya

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I hope that everyone had a great summer/winter depending on where you are in the world. If your brain is misbehaving I sympathise and just keep going even when you really don’t want to/see the point. Keep walking towards sunrise. It’s beautiful when you reach it, promise.

First a brilliant quote I read from Joanne Harris, writer of Chocolat:

Depression is no more curable by saying it’s “all in the head” than cancer is by saying it’s “all in the cells.”

That lady talks sense…and writes great books!

I, unsurprisingly spent a lot of my time writing. I know, anyone would think I was a writer…oh yeah, I am! Lots of freelance work and regular work…happy, happy, on anti-depressants-happy! And grateful.

Also writing the next book:-)

Occasionally I look at reviews for my books on Amazon and Goodreads , not too often though because it can be a teeny weeny bit scary seeing what people think of your writing.

Guess what? There is no definitive rule about taste and reviews. For the same book I have had a 1* and 3* and a 5* so for any writers out there who get disheartened by reviews just remember that a review is someone’s opinion. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be respected but you can agree to disagree with someone’s opinion.

It’s very easy to read a review of your book that showers with praise and very tempting to kick the furniture when you see a less friendly one. A 1 star makes you want to shout “I put blood, sweat and tears in to this and you gave it a 1????” A 5 star lets you puff out your chest proudly in the knowledge that “someone appreciates talent/dedication/late nights and rewrites.”

 

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My 5* counsellor led me to devise a system where when I read reviews, good, bad or indifferent, that I spend no more than 30 seconds reviewing the review. I assess whether there are useful points which would enhance the book or if I should agree to disagree. Then I move on. This means my emotional state doesn’t fluctuate with the reviews. I can be objective. Just think if mood was dependent on reviews, it’d be like being attached to an internal unpredictable bungee rope!

Happily, my brain is still healing and the progress is promising. I just have to remember not to make myself too busy, too under pressure and too focused on work. Relaxation and rest are important too! Who knew?

I have also enjoyed more reading time lately, currently reading Sabine Durrant’s new book Lie With Me and it’s very good so if you fancy a psychological thriller you shouldn’t be disappointed with this one.

Of course, being the history buff that I am I have been looking at a book by Anita Leslie on her great aunt Jennie Churchill, Winston’s mum.  Interesting, inside view of the family.

Happy rest of September and as the seasons change try to find the poetry in the moment.

Jo

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PS: If you’re giving a review please remember that there is normally a hard working person behind the book/piece so please be constructive, think helpful!

 

 

 

Reading and writing

Hi

I’ve been kept very busy recently with freelance work so thanks everyone, I think I’m becoming not quite expert in an expanding number of areas, but I love information and trivia so my brain is happy.

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Excellent news is that I’m still kicking OCD’s butt, THANK GOD! Had an appt. with my therapist last week for the first time in a while and (not to tempt fate) my brain is mending and it’s definitley more recovered than recovering.

Funny isn’t it, how when you’ve been ill for a long time that when you are reminded that you’re ill it is almost odd? As I’ve been focusing on other things the realisation that my brain is still a little bit poorly actually felt strange…I’m more normal these days and less beseiged by OCD rituals and safety behaviours!

Excellent book – and no, I don’t know him, owe him or get paid to say this! but Matt Haig’s book is brilliant. Titled, Reasons to Stay Alive, it is worth reading whether you’ve been through depression, are going through it or want to understand what someone goes through. It’s got a ton of celeb endorsements too if you like reading those!

My Mary Queen of Scots book is still a work in progress but it will be out before the next millenium, honest!

Have a fab week and please remember to be kind to yourself.

Joanne

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Celebrate!

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I was reminded this morning of how I used to be, people who know you “from before” a brain blip tend to send your mind right back, to “another” you.

I recalled how reluctant I was to say that I was ill, how I backpeddled from treatment, how I refused medication for my OCD/PTSD for around six months and how when it all looks gloomy the thought of defining the sadness with big medical terms is enough to depress you – when you’re already depressed!

Here’s a news flash for anyone who feels like this at the moment:

I only started to heal when I got treatment, accepted the diagnosis, cried my eyes out (I put them back in) and then took meds – only 60mg in my case – but my long suffering therapist thought she’d have trouble even getting me to take 5mg of anything!

Therapy does make you better, I know it’s a long road and sometimes it seems neverending, but enjoy the moments in which you claim YOU back and can review the past with a knowledgable smile and gratitude that thanks to experts and rebalancing a chemical imbalance your life is yours.

Sure, it will be different, you will be stronger – no one goes through a mental health crisis without learning who they truly are – but that, in its own way is empowering. Cool, huh?!

Don’t let the bad guys steal your life, get help and the future opens up like a rose bud.

If anyone is down today I recommend this: Thanks Jo:-)

 

 

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!

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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.

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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

To be a Victim or, Victorious

This is such an inspirational and wise write. Victory is hard earned but so much more rewarding than victim status. Keep walking :0)X
Thanks to David Snape for reblogging this post.

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Over the past few days I had many conversations with incredibly loving friends and family who are sothR35961T8 concerned about the news that Phillip’s company is being shut down by its parent company.  In a matter of days or weeks, Phillip will be without a job because someone, who doesn’t even know us, crunched numbers and determined he, his company and his fellow coworkers, aren’t valuable any more.  I’ve found these conversations very comforting.  This is tough though, and without the support of friends and family, getting through it would be so much harder.

I’ve been aware through these conversations though, that I have a choice to either be a victim of our circumstances or victorious over them.  I’ve fought this battle a few times before.

Many years ago, I attended a party with coworkers that I trusted.  A friend offered me a drink and within minutes the room was spinning.  I vaguely…

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Busy bee, that’s me

Hiya

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Just so you know I’m a really really really really wonderfully fantabuously busy bee writing at the mo…thank you brilliant clients!! Yippee and double yippee!

I just have to remember that brain overload/stress/spontaneous combustion is sooooo last season. Thankfully, I have helpful (indispensible) anxiety disorder busting techniques in place so if you see a firework going off soon it won’t be a U.K based writer exploding into a gazillion sparkly pieces!!

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Here’s a tanka poem that I hope you enjoy…

 

Nature’s Hand

Sprinkled rain diamonds

On a web’s silvery base 

Adorn nature’s hand

So in glory she displays

Majesty of which she’s fond.

 

Happy rest of the weekend and remember there’s always time for a smile and to count your blessings.

Joanne :-)X

 

Happy Friday

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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.

 

An Open Letter To A Person With Mental Illness

If every single person on the planet read this there would be a huge leap towards understanding, it is brilliant. Please read to the very end, it is rewarding.

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Dear Person With Mental Illness,

You are not a monster. You are a valuable, unique, wonderful human being who deserves everything grand that this life has to offer. Come out of the shadows and stand proudly in who you are.

You are not damaged. You are WHOLE, regardless of having a mental illness. I like you the way you are. I wouldn’t change you. I see you differently than you see yourself. I am not afraid of you or your illness… I am amazed by you. I am amazed by your courage, willpower, gifts and talents. I accept you, and your worlds of light and darkness.

Some people just have a “neighborhood” in their mind and they never get lost. You have endless terrain to explore, but sometimes you take a wrong turn and can’t find your way home. I love your vast landscape and remember… we can make you…

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