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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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
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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

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,

 

Freedom!background-681964_640

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…

TTC_TTTDay1

 

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

 

Election insanity!

Hi

The great news is that I am putting the finishing touches to my new e-book about Marie Antoinette of France which will be out on 4th May 2015.

As I finish one project my mind is pondering what or who the next one will be about or if I’ll change to fiction this time. Decisions, decisions!

PenguinMeanwhile, with less than three weeks to go until the General Election in the UK the politicians are promising the earth, the moon, the stars, the improbable and outright miracles to get votes.

Some are making themselves even more unpopular by the day, others seem to think that they can make or break a nation almost singlehandedly. BUT there is one aspiring political lady (who I won’t name) who really overstepped the line this week.

She suggested – and her political party worked quickly to detach her comments from their visions -that people with mental health issues should wear wristbands to indicate that they were suffering from an mental illness – apparently different colours for different mental conditions – this would help the authorities to know what they were dealing with.

WHHHHHHHHAAAAATTTTTT was/is she thinking? Isn’t there enough stigma in the world already????

I wrote this to show my feelings on the subject:

 

Blooming hopping mad

Just read something truly bad

In the news a political type

I won’t say her name, I’ll simply gripe

Says mental health sufferers

Should wristbands gladly wear

So that everyone can know

That we’re not healthy, oh no

So, if I have to wear one

In her crazy world of stigmatised fun

What colours shall we choose

For coughs, colds and the flu? 

Oh dear, she didn’t suggest that too.

I’m still a human being – Surprise!

Her “good” idea is discrimination in disguise.

 

I’m so glad that not everyone thinks in the way that she does, with the anxiety disorders OCD and PTSD I’d presumably have to wear two “look at me” wristbands for all to see, hey, what a fashion statement.

Oh, and fair warning, the politician who suggests that mental health patients should

a. be poked with sticks and/or

b. made a spectacle of

will be cruising for a metaphorical bruising as this isn’t the dark ages they can join the 21st century rather than drag humanity backwards.

Have a great weekend.

Joanne.

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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

 

 

 

 

Bit excited!

Hi

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As the title says I’m a bit excited!

I pitched an idea to a local publication and they are mulling that over for their website.

I was pleasantly surprised and grateful when the editor suggested that I write an article about myself and life with O.C.D./P.T.S.D. for inclusion in their print magazine in a couple of months time.

I realised as I was writing the short piece that:

1. It means a lot to be living my writing dream.

2. The mental disorders didn’t hijack my life or my goals forever and I’ve come a long way in the last year or so.

3. It’s an opportunity to write about my life as I do on my blog, reach and inform even more people which can only help to banish the misconceptions about mental issues.

I’d call it a fabulously welcome early Christmas present!

I  feel amazed when my work is accepted or gets published somewhere and I don’t ever want to lose that astonishment, it’s good for my soul!

A flash fiction piece made the grade the other day too!

I wrote this poem recently for my anthology It’s Christmas!  I hope that you enjoy it.

 

Tommy Turkey: Legend

Scared Thanksgiving Turkey

Farmer Jones had once had a kindly look

About his cheery self when they’d first met

But frankly, he’d blotted his copybook

When he’d mentioned their weights to the vet

 

This morning he’d told Tommy and his friends

That they were wonderfully plump, fat enough to go

As they had no pocket money for a day out to spend

They reasoned it was to Old Grisly Gobble & Co.

 

Tommy thought no chance! They’d taken a vote

Agreed to a mass exodus, they wouldn’t be Christmas dinners

Tommy had written Farmer Jones a firm farewell note

He was sure that hats would be doffed to the great turkey winners

 

In his turkey crown and cape Tommy had left the farm

He’d seen The Great Escape he well knew what to do

That night he started an “Eat Sprouts and do turkey’s no harm!”

Campaign with pigs in blankets on the evening news

Poor old newsreaders looked utterly bemused.

 

 P.S.

The note read:

Dear Farmer Jones,

Ho ho ho and off we go! With the ‘snips and sprouts we’ll not pout

With free flowing gravy fresh from the spout

Love (Yeah right) Tommy and  his turkey heroes! 

 

 

Happy “it’s nearly Christmas!”

Have a fab rest of the week.

 

Joanne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poll – Opinions wanted please:-)

Hi,

Further to my last blog post…

A poll this time. Thanks for helping again! (Last question for now.) Joanne

 

 

Would you perceive someone who has a mental health issue as being weak in some way? PLEASE BE HONEST!!!

 

It’s the little things…

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Hi

I could have written a long wordy blog but the logo and banner say it all.

Take some time to have a read on the www.time-to-change.org.uk website and to think of a pledge to help make life better!

Thank you. TTC_TTTDay1