Blog Archives

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:-)

 

 

So long stinking thinking!

Hi

Let’s talk brain trickery…it is so easy when you have mental illness (or in a rut) to get stuck with stinking thinking. Thank God I suffer from it less than I used to…helped by a brilliant counsellor and CBT but I still fall prey to the occasional (read daily) thought error.

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Like “I should have done this by now.”

“I’m taking too long loading the dishwasher, I have other stuff to do.”

“I must e-mail someone right now. They’ll be waiting.”

Really, the answer should be “why?” or “who said?” “what difference does it make?” “Is it a life of death importance?” BUT somehow the brain blip kicks in and two things happen in response to the stinking thinking:

You start to feel bad, like you’ve done something wrong and you tell yourself to do better, therefore demanding more of yourself which only adds pressure which exacerbates a stress related illness.

Anyone else seeing a vicious circle here?

Apparently it’s called the Demanding Thinking Error… It’s demanding and it’s a thought not a divine or true statement and it’s an error…so think of it as a number in place of a letter or a vegetable instead of a fruit. You don’t have to have it and use it just because it presents itself so if, like me, you have the demanding thinking error, don’t listen to that pesky inner voice, ignore it and remind yourself that life is to be enjoyed, it’s not a speed trial and you are a fabulous person doing just fine!

Happy rest of the day, smile, you’ve earned it. Have a slice of cream cake too, go on, you know you want to!

Joanne

2016 is here already – Don’t worry

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I hope you have had a fabulous holiday time and I wish you a happy, peaceful, healthy, joyful new year!! (To those who overindulged, I hope your hangover has gone by now!)

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Our Christmas decorations are coming down today:-( and the holidays seem to have passed by in the blink of an enjoyable eye – but here we are already on day 2 of 2016 with the rest of the year like a huge blank page ready to be written on.

My aims for this year, apart from – spreading joy, love, positivity and hopefully a bit of helpful wisdom while appreciating my blessings – are to build on the progress that I made last year, both in my writing career – thanks to anyone who’s bought/read any of my books – I officially LOVE YOU! and also with my OCD/PTSD/anxiety which has improved miraculously over the last couple of years. In fact, talk about Christmas miracles and I can tell you that an OCD habit (or ritual as it’s known) that I wasn’t able to shake off on several attempts just magically disappeared on Christmas morning, I simply wasn’t doing it. See, miracles do happen. THANK GOD!!!!:-)

As I couldn’t stop myself from writing completely over the Christmas holidays I have got about 9000 words of a book about the Hanoverians written. Call me crazy but if I don’t write for a couple of days (which is rare) I get what I call itchy fingers – in other words I need to write, my hands are ready to spill what’s jumping up and down creatively in my brain on to my laptop and they can’t wait!

I have also indulged in a bit of poetry – I hope you like this one, it’s a reminder to me but will work for all!

 

Don’t Worry

This today will soon be yesterday

Let’s make it the best we’ve ever written

For each tomorrow is a chapter away

We often forsake our now for it, bitten or smitten

 

Try to live in the moment, savour each one

That’s a hard lesson to learn and maintain

But your mind wants to be in the present, having fun

Smell the roses, see sunsets, feel gentle rain

 

It’s not easy to be in the here and now

There are many invitations to fret, false clues

Tomorrow is a mystery, a tremor or still, for now

It will explain itself soon but it isn’t motivated by the blues

 

Tomorrow’s blank page betrays invisible ink what if’s and when’s

Willed for answers won’t always be found in our today

Questions unanswered, we take up our mental pens

Where we normally write a far too dramatic play

 

For when the dreaded tomorrow morphs in to today

Our fears quite often are found to never have in truth lain

Yet for hours, our eyes off course, they’ll have led us astray

A new merry dance for us to review on memory lane

 

Plus, being human, we flick back to see our faults

Liberally douse our life tomes in inner critic stress

Instead try to live in the moment without thunderbolts

Read each word you write and enjoy the ink blots, they’re heaven blessed.

 

Have a wonderful 2016 and remember to treat yourself well and kindly – everyone should feel special!

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Joanne

 

 

 

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

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.

 

Freedom

Hi,

 

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Nelson Mandela: “Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement.”

I know I’ve taken the quote out of context for this poem but he was right!

 

Freedom is not always a matter of physical locks

Imprisonment is a question of the mind too

When my brain housed invisible locks and rocked

I was told a fact my belief system once refused

I laughed gently, scared, not truly meaning to mock

“The psychological response to emotional abuse

Is roughly the same as a prisoner of war’s.” That left me shocked

But I conceded defeat and accepted this news

I was, am, the untrained, expertise was not mine to knock

I had believed that I had no right to my fear and blues

I now believe that Post Traumatic is indeed a shock

But I’m happy to say I’ve been paying my dues

And memory by memory, my mind’s key is nearing the lock

Freedom is on its way and freedom is the path I choose.

 

I hope that everyone, all 6.5 billion plus of us on Planet Earth finds, loves and enjoys freedom mentally, spiritually and physically. Fingers crossed, toes crossed, eyes crossed…

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Whilst reading and editing my next book and pootling about in desktop files (as you do) I’ve found this poem that I wrote about PTSD and freedom and I decided to share it.

Oh yeah, and please make it a mission to make someone smile, go on, you know you want to!

Joanne

 

Chicken soup for the soul A.K.A Hooray!

Hi,

I think that I, with a lot of support, have come a looooooonng way…

My therapist is away in Asia until May but I sent her an e-mail update on my recovery process yesterday.

Although it would be tempting to sit back and have a therapy break and not to keep pushing the pesky rituals away (over a metaphorical cliff!) I know that no progress is made by inactivity so I’m happy to say that I’ve kept on marching and killing off or diminishing habits and I’ve been reading self help books to top up the positive and encouaging messages that normally come from her during our sessions.

To heal you have to face your fears. It’s the only way.

I realised as I wrote the e-mail to her that things that had seemed 100% impossible to overcome two years ago, one year ago, even six weeks ago, have been overcome. I have the power over them once more. Thank God.

Some of the restrictions that I thought were mine forever are no more, some of the chains still need some work before they can be broken.

In OCD terms I had a hand washing ritual.

A year ago I could use one bar of soap in a twenty four hour period. I had to to feel “safe” BUT the ritual reinforces the message to the brain that the washes actually needed to occur for me to be safe.

Today, one bar of soap can last for ten days, that’s with me using it like someone almost without OCD would do. I still soap three times each wash…work in progress…but I no longer feel that my life is being washed away.

So, despite the protests of that little voice of doubt in my darkest hours there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel and the freedom that ritual busting has given me means that I can invest more of my brain time and energy in my writing and creativity, not all consuming fear.

This week I’ll be editing. BTW I have pre-orders for my book out 31st March on Amazon. THAT’S AMAZING to me. Of all the books in all the world people not only choose to buy or borrow mine but to pre-order too.

Sorry to gush but I am so grateful for the happy surprises that happen. Remember, a year ago where I am now seemed impossible – instead of “I’d love to write for a living.” “I DO write for a living.”

Have a great week

Joanne

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Chillaxing

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Don’t you just love relaxing Sunday’s?

I stayed in bed until 9, had a slow brunch, wrote a poem and this blog, read other fave blogs on here and now I plan to be absorbed in the Lucinda Riley novel I bought yesterday. Bliss. 

Hmm, I might have to squeeze chocolate in to my day too…oh, the hardship.

Tomorrow I shall be a diligent and hopefully inspired writer, refreshed and ready to write like a ninja about the aristocracy.

Now all I have to do is persuade my O.C.D. brain to chillax with me:-)

 

I hope you like this acrostic poem.

History

History of self is meticulously written each day

Indelible marks etched on a heart in myriad ways

Sometimes mercy dealt or received, whatever the cost

Tortured soul, a once consuming love discarded or lost

Ordinary to astounding, questioning reality and dream

Reminders of you, good or bad, what might have been 

You are the keeper of your past by others unseen.

 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Joanne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still busy and I love it!

Hiya

I have been working hard and enjoying all the royal news.

The Invictus Games look great, well done to the competitors. I admire their spirit and determination.

The children’s story I was working on is now published…yay!

I have been putting together some short books and planning longer writing projects.

It’s wonderful, and a recent novelty, that sometimes I forget that my brain can be a bit of a nuisance, when it’s being fully co-operative and productive…Double yay!

There is nothing like being absorbed in work that you love to do to make you feel alive.

If anyone told me that I’d have completed so much work this year I’d have probably laughed and said impossible but I guess that sometimes the impossible is possible.

Hope you’re having a great day, if it’s not so great, keep marching towards the sunrise…it will be worth it.

Joanne

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NES901U