Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Away for a Short Time

A few days ago I disabled the comments on my blog and I was going to say no more but now I think I owe it to Blogpower to explain.

I'm putting my blog into hibernation for a while - I don't know how long. In the short time I've been blogging I've done this a couple of times. There are several reasons for this break:

- even blogging to my current level is taking up more time than I can afford. I need to spend my blogging time with my family.

- my current level is way, way below where I was in April and May and it pains me to see posts now which would never have seen the light of day then. Only occasionally do I post quality. A few weeks ago I deleted about 5 posts which were trashy.

- lastly but most importantly by far, I realised that some of my recent posts were actually driven by a desire to get sympathy for my position rather than concern for Mrs Carr. I couldn't possibly continue once I knew that I was doing this. This dawned on me when I kept looking at my stats only to find few readers and few comments. I felt let down but I could only be let down if I expected something. That something, I realised, was stroking my selfishness. I had to stop.

When we have made progress with Mrs Carr diagnosis and treatment - and I pray that it is not long - I may feel able to return.

The blog is still accessible but I have disabled comments because I feel that, were I to leave comments open, I might be doing so to elicit sympathy and requests not to stop. I've been there and I don't want to visit there again.

Given that, since I joined Blogpower, I have already had two short periods away it is likely that this period too will be short. I assume that this is how my blogging will go until our family life is stabilised. Therefore, I ask that I be kept on the active list for the moment and that the position be reviewed at the end of December.

I have emailed Ian Appleby separately on this issue.

Bye for now but speak to you again soon.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Mental Health: Mrs Carr - Shite!!

As I type this post I am "shiting" myself - no apologies for the language: these are the most appropriate words. The last week had Mrs Carr taken to hospital by friends after a brief disappearance which still required police involvement. I don't need to go into the details other than to say that she was in a far from normal state and that, since the hospital visit, she hasn't been her normal self (or what passes for normality at the moment).

But tonight she was as angry as I have ever seen her, over an email from a relative. She has gone out for a drive somewhere. I don't imagine she knows where she'll go or perhaps not even remember where she's been. I know that many of us jump in the car and drive when we are angry or need time to think but we aren't ill; we aren't carrying the burden she has borne so bravely for a year now.

When will she come back? I don't know.

The only saving grace is that we have a safety plan which involves my phoning every hour with Mrs Carr returning the call but with neither of us answering. As long as my calls are returned I know she is OK even if I don't now where she is. If a call is not returned almost immediately I start panicking until the call is returned - possibly a few minutes later. If the call is not returned then I know she has a problem and that I may need to phone the police.

What kind of life is it that needs a plan like this? The life of one desperately in need of professional help.

So far I called at 22.00 and the return call came two minutes later. Phew! In a few minutes I will call at 23.00.

Ona brighter note we think we know what is the problem and the root cause of all the symptoms I have described elsewhere. Unfortunately, there are only a few centres in the UK skilled in the diagnosis and treatment and all are far outside our Health Board. I have spoken to several of them and each has said that Mrs Carr is the type of sufferer they would expect to treat. Therefore, I know I am not being unreasonable in pushing for a full assessment. Unfortunately, the symptoms are often misdiagnosed - by non-experts - which can lead to the wrong or no treatment.

I have made my 23.00 call.

The next couple of weeks gives us two opportunities to get the local NHS to make the referral.

I have just now had my 23.00 call returned immediately. Relax a bit.

I hope the local NHS is more forthcoming than they have been to date. I am hopeful because all the evidence is on our side but yet I dare not hope.

Mrs Carr needs help now! I fear there is only so much one can handle. Why does she have to suffer so?

Please God, someone help her!


Update: 23.50 Back home - Huge phew!!!

Wednesday, 24 October 2007


Recently I wrote that I would support England in the Rugby World Cup Final.

For many Scots this would be a surprising decision. For me it was a surprising decision.

I had enjoyed hugely England’s embarrassment of the earlier rounds but started to fear their progress as Australia fell. I didn’t know on the afternoon of the Final that I was going to support England but I was aware of the question, “Who shall I support?”. The presence of the question indicated a change of position. That there was any doubt about my support for South Africa indicated a change of position.

What happened? Why did I turn? Why did 50 years of supporting England's opponents disappear?

I think I now but yet I'm not sure. Supporting England seemed correct. Certainly the decision had nothing to do with a belief that England would win.

I think I realised that the only basis I had for actively supporting England's opponents was flawed - totally. English victories are rammed down Scottish throats by the national media - or rather the English media. Anything to do with England is rammed down Scottish throats. The BBC becomes the EBC. ITV, and Sky latterly, fulfil similar roles. This bias can't be countered directly and so any English failure, a ramming opportunity lost, is greeted with delight. Victory in 1966 was the killer blow. We suffered so much with every mention or clip from that English victory. For many years this view controlled my thinking - sad really. I had been using the English media to support my desire for English loss.

Certainly, anti-Englishness had nothing to do with my views. Despite my delight at English failure I have always supported England at cricket regardless of who were their opponents.

I think my views were weakening for several years before I allowed them fresh air. The flaw is so obvious that I find it hard to understand why I took so long to find it.

The Scottish media behave in the same way as the national, British, media. Scottish sports coverage is dominated by Rangers and Celtic in the same way a British sports coverage is dominated by English sports. This is an inevitable consequence of broadcasting / writing for the largest constituency: in Britain this is the English and in Scotland it is the Old Firm of Rangers and Celtic. I get Rangers and Celtic rammed down my throat; I support both teams in Europe but I am happy to see them lose domestically. There is no difference between England and Rangers and Celtic.

What had annoyed me for so many years was not a trait solely of the English media but of the media everywhere. We Scots were rather good at remembering our stroll in the park against England in 1967 when Scotland became the first team to defeat England since their World Cup victory. Again there was no difference between us.

Having uncovered these views, now I had nothing but habit to allow me to support England's opponents. I discarded this habit last Saturday.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

PC Problems Over

I've been off-line for a few days: my monitor died after a year-long illness. She deteriorated gradually until she passed away quietly on Saturday. Now I have borrowed a screen and am delighted to be on-line again; to see vibrant, rather than faded, colours; good contrast which allows me to read without magnifying the text. It's hard to believe just how ill was the old monitor, poor soul.

Friday, 19 October 2007

England or South Africa: A Dilemma

Tomorrow I will support ................................. England.

Many Scots, I know, will pray for an England defeat but I cannot join them.

If it were the football World Cup Final I think I would be unable to support England but fortunately that is unlikely to occur soon.

Sometime I'll post my reasons and reasoning.

Once more I say, "I hope England win the Rugby World Cup Final".

There it's done and I haven't been struck by a bolt of lightning!!!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Keep Starving and We'll Treat You: An Anorexic's Story

Today I post part of an article from The Scotsman: an anorexic's story. Her words bring home, in a way which is beyond me, the horror of living (if it be 'living') with anorexia and the appalling way in which anorexics are treated in Scotland.

"They were telling me if I kept starving myself, they'd treat me

IT ALL began when I went on a diet in my second year of university at St Andrews. I just thought one day that I really ought to go on a diet and, as everyone is on a diet at some stage in their lives, it didn't seem like a big thing. The anorexia took hold of me quite suddenly. I went from being a normal, happy and healthy girl to just being pretty miserable and very depressed and not eating much at all.

A year in, and I was not allowing myself to eat most food groups. In fact, it got so bad that eventually I was afraid of having anything that was a carbohydrate or anything with fat in it. I only felt really safe with eating grapes. I was living this horrible life where I could not eat, but I was starving and all I could think of was food. I could not get out of bed, I could not go to university, I could not even hold down a conversation. I just wanted to die.

What people need to understand is that, while anorexia is about weight loss, it is really an emotional illness. Weight loss is just an outcome, but the NHS only look at weight.

I have got an amazing body; it just hangs on, regardless of what I do to it. At one point, I was eating fewer than 400 calories a day and I did not lose a single pound.

When I spoke to my doctors, I kept telling them I felt so terrible that I wanted to kill myself, but because I wasn't losing weight, they didn't think I needed treatment. But even when weight is not coming off, anorexia is still doing your body incredible damage. When I was down to 300 calories a day, I used to get a lot of chest pains and I would faint, and that was when I knew it was time to eat.

People imagine anorexics do not want to eat - they do. But they also think they have to be thin to be loved and to be successful and to be cared about. Thin is so much more than a tiny, four-letter word to anorexics. It means love, caring, success, popularity, intelligence - it means all these things. It is like holding on to a truth, but when you start starving yourself, you start to become confused and you give yourself your own rules because these are the only things you can hold on to.

I would get up every day but not until I had lain in bed for as long as possible, so that more of the day was gone when I would not be near the kitchen. Once I had got out of bed, I would have to go to the bathroom where I would weigh myself. I would then try and hold on as long as possible before eating something. I would probably have a bath - having a shower was out of the question as standing in the heat for any length of time made me feel light-headed - then I'd do my make-up and my hair and go to the shop and get the local paper.

You see, if I ate before 3pm I would feel bad. The only proper meal I would allow myself was the same small salad every day. I would eat from the same bowl, using the same knife and fork, and it would always look exactly the same. If I couldn't do that, [wait until 3pm] I found it incredibly distressing. The eating disorder had become my life and, if I deviated from it, I felt hopeless and upset.

What people, especially the NHS, don't seem to understand is that the eating disorder is about your life - not about weight.
When I went to the NHS for help, they used to weigh me. They essentially told me I had a body mass index higher than 13.5, so I was OK. I could hardly believe it - they were telling me if I kept dieting, kept starving myself, and got down to a BMI of 13.5, they would treat me. What kind of thing is that to say to someone with anorexia? Inside, I was screaming for help, but because I wasn't losing weight, the NHS wouldn't help me.

If the doctors could have looked inside me, they would have seen this tiny, emaciated person just desperate for help.
It was the Westwind centre in Canada that saved my life. I was never weighed the entire time I was there. There were people there who were emaciated, but they weren't weighed either. Westwind helped me to start connecting with what was going on in my life and all I was throwing away by having an eating disorder that controlled my life. I realised I didn't want my life achievements to be summed up on my headstone as: "She looked good in skinny jeans".

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Mental Health: Strange World Gets Stranger

A brief update to my post of 29 September Mental Health: Shock and Dread.

If you haven't read this earlier post can I ask that you do so now? It is my most important post ever and is the backdrop to today's post.

"Shock and Dread" explained how we are fighting desperately for appropriate treatment but were consistently denied all save anti-depressants and a yet-to-be-received self-help book.

A few weeks ago I visited our GP about me; my stress; how I was struggling to keep going but had to keep going. Now I have an appointment with a Community Mental Health Nurse to assess my need for a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN). If successful I will accept help from a CPN. I will accept anything which wil help me and my family.

Why is the strange world getting stranger?

Whatever my needs I am not seriously ill but help from a CPN is being considered but a CPN for Mrs C was rejected by a psychiatrist, not on the basis of need but, because a CPN would probably fail to meet our high expectations of long-term therapy.

This is mind-blowing! What a way to allocate resources! There has been no assessment of need or benefit just a straightforward rejection because we think we need much more help. The NHS is saying to us, 'We'll not give you a little help because you think you need a lot of help and you'll be disappointed with a little help.'

What kind of world do these people inhabit? Is there no humanity?

Now I find that, as a carer, I am being assessed for a CPN but Mrs C can't get one. As I mentioned earlier, a CPN allocated to me will help all of us and so I would accept this help but I am left mystified by the workings of the NHS. Why am I, as a carer, deemed more worthy of help than our much more seriously ill family member? We need to find out. We will find out.

Truly this strange world is getting stranger.

Again, may I ask, if you have not already done so, that you read my key post:
Mental Health: Shock and Dread.

Finally, let me thank all who have read this post and "Shock and Dread", have left comments and offered their support. You cannot imagine, and I cannot describe, how much this helps me.

Monday, 8 October 2007