Sunday, December 30, 2007

Back from retreat....

...Actually I've been back for three days now. I had an absolutely brilliant time on was an amazing combination of stimulating and calming. We meditated several times a day and there were silent periods too; there were talks on Buddhism, some of them quite personal and therefore fascinating, communication exercises, group meetings, ritual, work periods and yoga. There was so much on offer that I didn't want to miss out on that there wasn't much time for going for long walks in the beautiful surrounding countryside. The food was nearly all vegan and fantastic, even by my exacting standards. There were 96 people on the retreat so potentially different dinner companions every evening.

I had such a great time that it wasn't easy coming home. I'm still struggling a little with touching down in my own life again. I didn't want to blog or go on the internet, or do any of the usual things I do. I felt unsettled by the glimpse into another kind of life that the retreat gave me. Seeing more of Richard since I've been home hasn't been easy either. Plus I haven't done yoga or meditated since I've been back...and today I got the nearest to compulsive overeating that I have since joining OA and becoming abstinent!

I had some very valuable insights about myself while on the retreat, mainly concerning the way I do or don't relate to others. I couldn't help but be faced with my own inadequacies in this irritability, intolerance and tendency to quick judgments, even if all of them are only thought and not said. I also had a very vivid dream, in the midst of all the calm and meditative focus, of being repeatedly violently beaten up by a malevolent but gender-unspecific figure. When I thought about this, a little rattled by it naturally, I knew immediately that this was a part of 'Inner Bully'. Yes, I repeatedly do a violence to myself in my thoughts, no question! That's why I knew I needed to get more tuition on how to do the 'metta bhavana' practice, the meditation that aims to develop 'kindly awareness', 'metta'. I was able to get this on retreat.

However the main thing I got from retreat was, loud and clear, the message, Zoe, stop isolating! You need to be part of a spiritual community, you are a social being and if you don't use that capacity it will not develop. Even in a matter of a few days I saw myself develop into a far more social and sociable person. And I loved it! I did have to go through a sort of pain barrier first, mind.

So I did not just come back thinking 'good, I learned some more about meditation'. I came back knowing that my feet would be tracing a path to the Buddhist Centre on a much more regular basis, and that I would be booking another retreat as soon as I identify a suitable one! I probably won't be bothering much with holidays in the future either. I'll go on retreat instead!

Take care all...Zoe.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Stop press...

Gotta just tell you, Richard and I have made it up, which I am so happy about. He spent the rest of yesterday and today with me, and I am now packed and ready for the retreat. The boiler's playing up and my central heating is up the spout but I feel so warm inside I don't really care. The relief to mind, body and spirit is enormous. Happy holidays all...Love, Zoe.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Christmas dear readers...

Ooh, get me, the spirit of seasonal goodwill is alive and well! I haven't even had a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past! Had a great day. Went to work...actually starting to enjoy that, in a humdrum way, now that I am feeling more competent and confident in what I'm doing. I was scared stiff of answering the phone there at first, but I answered it loads of times today and it might be just what I need to get me over my little phone phobia. I had to make calls too, and really it's like anything else. Practice makes perfect.

After work went and bought Jasper the digital camera he asked for. Then I went for some dinner at the Hare Krishna veggie restaurant in Oxford Street, then to my Dual Recovery Anonymous meeting, which was fantastic. After the meeting a couple of my friends from there and I went for a drink in Selfridge's cafe on the top floor.

I'm meeting Richard tomorrow lunchtime in a cafe. I have a good feeling about it. On Saturday I will be off on my retreat, so it's the last chance I've got to see him. Admittedly my emotions have been so all over the shop of late that I hardly know if I can trust them. Somehow you know though, I trust my emotions more deeply than just about anything else I have.

Full of love and kindly Buddhist awareness for the whole universe, a slightly blissed-out Zoe.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Better again...

...and seem to be stabilising. Got a decent night's sleep and woke up somehow in a better space. It occurred to me to ask Richard to meet me for a drink so I texted and emailed him. Then I did my yoga and meditation, then after breakfast, went to the gym. Then my yoga class! Phew! That was usual. My yoga teacher is a real gem. There were only three of us there today...all the hard-core yogis.

Then I had to come back to be here for the gas man. My central heating system has been playing up, he reckons it needs a new pump. Hope he's right...have had no end of trouble with it. I made some spicy chickpeas with brown basmati rice.

Suddenly I don't quite know what to do with myself. For the first time in quite a while I'm at a loose end. Learn Direct is closing early today or I would go there. Maybe I'll try and do some of it at home, although my connection or my 'puter doesn't seem to be quite up to the job.

Take care all...Love, Zoe.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Oh, the pain...

...and no I'm not being melodramatic. I am terribly sad, terribly upset. There are any number of 'triggers'. Christmas for one...The disastrous contact with Jasper on Saturday. The implications of it...that I just can't handle my Mum, and Jasper. Then there's the Richard thing. He managed to finally write me an email. He managed to say almost nothing in is his wont. Talk about non-committal! And I've had a mood swing, after all this time when things have gone so well. I've had a real wobble.

I went to work today. Actually, even though I didn't enjoy it one tiny little bit, it was the best thing I could have done. Staying occupied and keeping myself distracted. And soon there will be the holidays and it'll be impossible to even do that.

I've been crying, I'm crying now. I feel truly desolate and so bereft. Surely I must be an awful person, because the three closest people in my life are going to be nowhere near me this Christmas. I have no words to describe how that feels. (I know what you're thinking, 'well, you're having a good go!')


Monday, December 17, 2007

Better today...

Was able to do my routine things. Am doing two IT classes in one day, like last week. Best of all was that Jasper phoned me in the morning. He was much more chipper, told me what he was going to be up to today, and explained what he would like for Christmas - he thinks - a digital camera.

My social worker came round in the afternoon to help me fill in my Disability Living Allowance form. It's a real headache! She was good, though, she's had plenty of practice with these things. We made some inroads into it, but had to make another time in the New Year to finish it.

It seems to be getting even colder than before. Rather wish I didn't have to go anywhere tonight, but at least the Spreadsheets are keeping me occupied. I'm very lucky to have a really nice IT teacher...she is one of those rare people in that field who is totally in the right job. She really cares about her students. And it must be pretty boring going over these basics time and time again, but she doesn't project boredom. She's an excellent teacher...she knows how to motivate a whole class of people. That's a gift you either have or you don't I think...

Anyway, need to eat now and then get to college. Take care all...Love, Zoe.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Yeah, it's been a rocky two weeks. This is the first major moodswing I've had for a long time... It's Sunday now and I'm picking myself up from quite a nasty crash-landing. Well, I was a bit apprehensive about my Mum coming. The truth is, I'm always apprehensive about her coming. And with the benefit of hindsight I just wasn't in the best shape to deal with her. My sleep has been patchy. On Friday I was still a little hyper. For sure, it was nothing compared to how I used to get.

Anyway on Saturday we went down to Jasper's home town, met him at the station as arranged and went to a stately home...which was also a train and taxi ride away. For the first hour or two it wasn't too bad, though J was pretty sullen and quiet at first. But I was also really tetchy, because my Mum was just being, my Mum. She goes into vague mode. I suppose it's her defence...a lifelong habit and not one she's going to give up now. I feel like everyone is pressuring me, I have to be the one to make everything OK. Anyway, I guess I failed at that, because J started to complain of boredom and generally get difficult after we'd been there for a while. And between the two of them I just couldn't hack it. I ended up walking away from them...twice. The second time, I called us a cab to the station, then I ended up walking while they got the cab. It was about half an hour's walk along a busy road. But I just had to get away from them both. I reached the end of my rope.

Anyway, I didn't even know if I would make it to the station, I had to guess the route. For all I knew I would miss them and have to go home alone. But thank God, they were still there when I arrived, the train was due in another ten minutes. After that we were all a bit subdued. I was stressing so much I was having catastrophising scenarios going through my head, of my Mum having Alzheimer's. It's not impossible...her Mum had it pretty bad. I tried to talk with Jasper privately to explain that I was worried about her...that was maybe ill-considered, but I really was. He more or less told me where to get off, and walked off. Then Jo, his foster mum, arrived to pick him up. I told her what had happened. We swopped presents and cards, I gave J some money which I had promised. We hugged and kissed. Said 'sorry' and 'I love you'.

So thank God it wasn't a total debacle. Nonetheless, it was traumatic, for me. I realised it would probably have to be the last contact I go to with Mum. And God willing that it won't be the last contact full stop. Mum and I realised talking it over today that there's something about the dynamic of her, me and him that has always set J off. He's much easier with just one of us. Before we always had Richard with us. That might have helped.

Today we kind of had to go to Comet to get a portable heater, because my heating is playing up again and it's freezing. Mum ended up buying me a new vacuum cleaner as well...which I have to admit, I did need. It was a real struggle getting through the rest of her stay. She had been going to stay till tomorrow, but we agreed it would be best if she went today.

It's been a real roller coaster this last two weeks. I work so hard at being well. But no one ever said that that is all it takes. Part of me feels like I've got to be perfect, got to come up with the goods. When I can't, I feel a failure. It's all pretty irrational...

Have been writing Christmas cards. Take care all, and thanks for reading...Love, Zoe.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Moody peeps rool!

I'm being silly...but it's because I'm happy. Two nice things happened. Richard emailed me to thank me for my letter, and my boy's foster mum called to fix contact arrangements tomorrow. We had a chat and apparently J has settled down a lot at the school...he's started to really enjoy it and make friends in the last few weeks! God, is that good news? I hardly dared think about it or hope, but I was trying to magnetise good stuff for him by means of the Law of Attraction (I know, I'm mental, but what do you expect?) and I've been putting him in my prayers as well. He broke up for the holidays today, and went out on the town with a big group of boys AND girls. Way to go, Jasper!

My Mum is due to arrive any moment now. She's staying the weekend and we're going to contact together tomorrow.

Apart from that I had another splendid there's a nice old-fashioned word! Did some Learn Direct, then had my induction at MIND with the very nice admin lady there. Then had to shop for food etc, then to the cafe to see my two friends. Again I got on well with them and enjoyed the meeting. I guess it is me who has changed...My friend has bought a tree and all, because she's hosting a family gathering on Boxing Day, so she's invited us round to hers next week to see it all.

Take care my dears! Love, peace and happiness...Zoe.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What a difference a day makes...

Yeah actually I had a great day! Higher Power came up trumps! Went to yoga class which I REALLY enjoyed, was just in the mood. A friend remarked on how I'd lost weight which was lovely. And my teacher is really pleased with me and my new fitness levels! We do this spinal twist where you have to catch hold of your own hand behind your back and I never could do it (too fat!) , now I can! Way to go, Zo. Bet you she will get me doing the head stand next! I can't chicken out of it forever!

Then I had to go up to Learn Direct for my test in 'Basic concepts of IT'. It was a lot easier than the last one and I got 89%! (Pass mark is 75%). The next section seems to be covering a lot of familiar ground...duh, how do you turn a computer on!...but actually, that's no bad thing, as I've had to take in a lot of new information lately. And my brain probably doesn't have terabytes of capacity...gigabytes, maybe.

Then I was so fired up and in the mood that I wanted to go straight down to the gym. Note that it is now six o'clock and I've had nothing since my bowl of millet porridge with seeds and berries in the morning. Yet to be honest I am OK, not over-hungry. Didn't feel like cooking (bit too hyper) so went to my fave veggie Indian and had brown rice with spinach and mushrooms. It was such a beautiful, frosty day.

Did I tell you that I'm going on a Buddhist retreat for Christmas? Just five days from 22nd Dec. Christmas ain't too much of my thing. But even old Scrooge here isn't totally immune to the blandishments of the Season of Goodwill. I just feel sorry for the turkeys...I don't intend buying any presents (stuff it!) except for my son, which is kind of obligatory and will only send cards to people I really really like!

I'm a happy bunny again...not too happy, that's what is best of all...Take care all, love Zoe.

Still very emotional.

I had a good night's sleep, some sweet dreams. Then I woke up! What can I say. My OA meeting yesterday did help. The worst thing I can do at times like this is withdraw. Yeah, I read 'Women who love too much', but it seems that (surprise, surprise) reading it isn't enough to banish all symptoms of 'love addiction'. They are all there, in force. Obsession, self-deception, masochism (well, what else can you call it?)

Still I managed to have a lovely hot bath with oils, do my yoga and attempt to meditate. My prayers were a lot more intense than usual. I've been calling on my Higher Power for 'strength to let go'. It's a beautiful, sunny day, very cold and frosty. I went out to water my plants and the frost on the lawn is so pretty in the sunlight.

I'm struggling with my emotions. I will refrain from cynical remarks about 'so what else is new', because actually, let's get this in proportion. This is the first moodswing worthy of the name I've had in ages...I mean with the high and the low, the works. Actually, as I said to an OA friend yesterday it's reassuring in a funny way to actually have one, because it means that whole 'bipolar' thing was real and not just a product of my fevered imaginings. And I have to fill in my Disability least I've had an 'episode' however minor.

The stuff I put out there! This blog is a weird combination of private and public. Let's hope the kind folks at the Department of Pensions aren't reading it...second thoughts, I think I can safely assume they're not! Take care all...Love, Zoe.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Oops...had a moodswing!

Oh dear. I feel really awful now. Though as 'episodes' go it isn't much! I have managed to get some decent sleep. But today I cried off work...felt guilty about it but I thought I should take it easy, get some me time. Went to an OA meeting, and have another one tonight. Obsessing badly about Richard. But I don't regret writing that letter. Even though I was a bit hyper when I wrote it, there wasn't anything in there that wasn't real and from the heart. I felt it was something I had to do. Even when I was writing it though, I knew I was putting myself in a vulnerable position. Today and yesterday that vulnerability started to kick in. Good thing I've got OA.

Yesterday I went to TWO three-hour IT classes...because I had fallen behind the others in Spreadsheets and needed to catch up. That was because of Women Like Us. Nearly six hours of Spreadsheets in one day! Bloody hell!

Jasper did call me in the end on Sunday but he wasn't in a good way as he had managed to lose £40 of his birthday money at the cinema! So I just said well leave it and we'll catch up next weekend when I see you. Told him not to worry too much about the money. He does need to learn to be responsible. Apart from that he had a good weekend...spent most of it with his friend Albie. He's already uploaded some tracks onto his new Ipod. We're going to go to Audley End for our's a stately home.

So yeah, I had a bad day, but better a bad day than getting sectioned in the bin! (Locked up in the asylum for non-Brits...) Bad days are normal, anyway. Take care all! Love, Zoe.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Strange weekend...

When I got back from an afternoon's training on 'V-Base' in Old Street I felt pretty spaced out. Then the fatigue kicked in. I was very hyper, listening to a lot of music (bad sign!), couldn't get to sleep for ages, then finally slept for a few hours. Next day felt totally done in and have spent most of the weekend in bed, trying to catch up on some rest. I feel a little bit menopausal...and very horny. Strange combination. Thank God there wasn't much I really had to MATCH post. Gave everything a gym, no OA, no yoga or meditation.

On Friday I was moved to write Richard a letter, for the first time, so I went with it. I couldn't be more surprised by what I wrote. I sent it off before I could change my mind!

On Wednesday I have my next test for the ECDL. On Friday I've got an induction at MIND. Jasper did call yesterday but I missed the call. Maybe he'll call this evening. It's been weirdly silent in the house. I'm making beetroot and coconut soup again. Thought I'd better check in anyway...Love, Zoe.

Friday, December 7, 2007

A happy bunny...

What's with me? Am I hypo, daft or just plain crazy? I cannot get that man outa my head! For three days now this has been going on and it isn't getting better, it's getting worse or should that be better? Is it just plain ol' frustration or is it just the old manic hypersexuality kicking in?

Will post more later...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Blog Entry Number Fifty...

Thought I should mark that occasion. It was so heartening to get some comments on my last entry, and realise that I had actually been linked to somewhere ( Psychiatric Survivor) without my knowledge. The 'silence' was starting to get me down. I guess the blogosphere is a mighty competitive place. To get readers takes a bit of effort...or some kind friends.

Well, as it is Blog Fifty, I will just say, yes, it is nice to have readers, and I would welcome more, as I do feel I have something useful to say about recovery. A lot of my entries can seem a bit mundane, but a few years ago I think I would have been intrigued and inspired to find that someone who has been as ill as I have, and as thoroughly 'psychiatrised', could go on to make a full recovery. Not only am I now psych drug-free, I am functioning at a higher level than most normies for God's sake!

That is what I want to we say in the Twelve-Step Fellowships, my 'experience, strength and hope'. Some handy tips maybe. So I won't give up on this blog, and I will go on tapping away in my 'nun's cell', holding on to the faith that someone, somewhere will benefit, even if not right now, at some stage. In any case, as you say Gianna, it's always good to write in any case. To be read is the icing on the cake! (Sugar-free, naturally!)

I had a reasonable day today. Have started to try and put into practice Lynn Grabhorn's notions of using the power of positive feelings to magnetise good stuff into your life. This means, conversely, not allowing oneself to get carried away by the negative stuff...fulminating, bitching, stewing, going into victim mode and so on. If you really believe that to do so effectively gives carte blanche to a load of shite to come into your life, it certainly does concentrate the mind! I'm not saying I'm totally convinced's too early to say, but I am certainly giving it a good go!

This evening on the way home I tried to go to the gym, got changed, locked up my stuff and went up only to find it had just closed! On weekends it closes at five, which I hadn't known. So I had a chance to work on my feelings of disappointment and frustration on the way home. I did get over them...I'm OK now. It helped having the nice surprise of having my blog linked to! And the company of a very sleek and purry pussy cat.

Take care all! And if you have been, thanks for reading! Love, Zoe.

Friday, November 30, 2007

So quiet here it's embarrassing...

Yes it's reminiscent of a nun's cell in this blog, just the sound of my tapping on the keyboard, echoing off the walls...

Well, no I'm not a nun, though I might as well have taken a vow of celibacy for all the action I'm getting in that department. But you know what? I'm too busy to care most of the time. In my driven little way I've been running around all week, multitasking like crazy.

Have to admit I'm frankly jealous of other bloggers who rejoice in possessing actual readers! I have got to check out some sites that give you advice on how to publicise your blog. Can't go on like this!

At the gym my Performance Index rose to 18 yesterday, after plateauing at 16 four days in a row. My energy levels have been fabulous, and I feel and look like the picture of health.

Have now been off all psych meds for about five weeks and I finally am starting to lose a bit of weight. Another effect of being med-free appears to be that I just don't need anywhere near the same amount of sleep to get by. It isn't insomnia or anything...I just go to sleep say about eleven and then wake about six or earlier. Often only have six hours sleep but I don't feel at all sleep-deprived. When I think of my years on the dreaded Seroquel...always groggy in the morning, 'needing' nine or ten hours!

Saw friends at the cafe this afternoon, and was glad I did...had been wondering how I could get out of it but I actually quite enjoyed it for the first time in a few months. This is a personality issue between me and these two friends. Because I am feeling so good (and working hard at feeling good!) I find it quite hard to be around them, as they are most often not. Today though, being with them did not influence my state of mind at all...which is how it should be I guess. A lot of my social fears are based around the fear of being overwhelmed by others. I've always thought it probably went back to being a child, and being affected by my parents' unhappiness. It's good not to leak your energy out or spring a leak or get drained by others. If I can work out how to stay that way it will be a great discovery.

Take care all! Don't be a stranger...Love, Zoe.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Such a good day!

In the morning I attended a workshop of an organisation called 'Women Like Us' which helps women returners get back to work. It was shit-hot! There was a big group of us and wow, I did actually feel (by the end of it) that these were indeed, women like me! At the beginning I was a little daunted because I worry that I will be asked questions about my child but nothing like that happened really talked about their kids. We were far too busy talking about ourselves and our desires to get back into the workplace. It was really confidence-building, for me. By the end of it I was, sort of ' I don't hope to get a job, I am going to get a job!' And it lasted all day.

I'm trying to put into practice the advice given by Lynn Grabhorn in her self-help book 'Excuse me, your life is waiting'. Think about your wants not with a sad sense of lack, but with joyful feelings...visualise yourself enjoying whatever it is. That way (she reckons) we magnetise our desires. Focusing on 'don't wants' has the same effect...dwell on your fears and they have a nasty way of coming true! Well I'm keeping an open's worth a try! Apparently it's the Law of Attraction at work.

After coming from the workshop I went straight to Learn Direct to my ECDL. Very motivated, you see! Lunch is for wimps! I've been skipping it lately and going straight to dinner...saves calories I guess. Then I shopped for cat food. One of my MATCH letters has not arrived to the membership secretary which is worrying me slightly...In future I am going to make a record of people's addresses. There are three membership forms in that letter!

Start new job tomorrow. Also have to buy son's birthday present from COMET.

Note to self...hardly anyone is reading this blog! I need to work on publicity. And getting people to link to me. Take care all, Zoe.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Yeah, cause I heard from my boy and he was chatty and full of it. He'd been to see his fave footie team play, yesterday at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal v Wigan. He gave me a blow-by blow account of the players he saw and what they did...turns out that his foster mum's brother in law is a physio or paramedic or some such...treats the fallen players on the field, so as a result of that they had privileged seats and J got a player's autograph and practically sat next to the subs bench...Wow! It was a real tonic to hear him so bubbly and chatty. He sounded so much more confident.

Also he did me a great favour by finally deciding what he wanted for his birthday. A Version 2 Ipod shuffle...apparently it is only 50 quid, and you can download 250 songs onto it. I have strict instructions to get the light blue one, from Comet. That's a's only two weeks till his birthday. He is going to call me on the day.

Been very busy with MATCH post, OA meetings, the my fruit and veg at the farmer's market today. Am anticipating an even busier week, as I start the new voluntary job on Tuesday, and have a Women Like Us workshop tomorrow morning.

Woke up very early this morning, quite a lot playing on my mind. When it came to my turn to share at OA though I was really lost for words. Just couldn't think what to say so in the end I just wound it up quickly. Sometimes I almost seem to forget how to talk...I do spend a lot of time alone, but I like it that way I guess. Still it would be nice to have a special person in my life. After the meeting got the bus with a friend from my regular meeting. I really like her.

Bought some beautiful yellow lilies for my shrine...nice to have some fresh flowers. How many weeks since I stopped all meds? About four? I know I've lost a BIT of weight because a pair of trousers is no longer uncomfortable, although I still could lose some more! My performance index at the gym has risen to 16 four times in a row, so obviously my fitness levels are building. That's got to be the key to losing these extra pounds, although of course muscle does weigh more than fat!

Went to favourite Japanese clothes shop Uniqlo yesterday and bought a beautiful silver padded coat and a purple merino wool cardi. I don't know how they do such amazing quality goods for such low prices, I really don't.

Take care all! Love, Zoe.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fine and dandy.

Last two days have been quite full and productive. Went for an interview at the local voluntary bureau yesterday actually work there (as a volunteer). I start next week! Which is good because I'm getting fed up with waiting for the other job to chase up references. I've agreed to work two days a week at this one, so that I will still have time for the other one when it finally materialises. Although a little worried at how I will fit my IT studies and exercise at the gym around four days a week of work! The nice thing about the volunteer bureau is they're not too will probably be all right if I go off early sometimes.

Also did my first assessment for the CLAIT qualification. It really was pretty easy...Now I've started on spreadsheets. YAWN! Am learning more at Learn Direct because I can go more at my own pace. Went there today and started the new module. Went to the gym first and worked out hard...beat my own record! My energy levels are really good these days, but sometimes I have to catch up on some extra rest, like yesterday when I went to bed at about eight and slept practically around the clock! Well, my muscles must be using a fair bit of energy, building themselves.

Did my MATCH work earlier. Got to go to OA now. Take care all! Love, Zoe.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A good weekend.

Yesterday I went to an OA meeting in central London and took the opportunity to pick up some shopping while I was there. Then I went to my current fave restaurant in all the world...Vita Organic in Wardour Street. It's taken over the place in my heart hitherto occupied by Country Life, the boringly named but wonderful Seventh Day Adventist vegan place which alas and alack, is no more. Although I have to say that I like a veggie restaurant that has real heart and soul, and maybe it helped that they all believed in something. Vita Organic is wonderfully conscious of nutrition, but there is no religion or particular spirituality in it that I can discern. Although they are very nice and all.

After that I went to my favourite esoteric bookshop, Watkins. Let's face it, probably the only esoteric bookshop that I know of. And still as brilliant as ever. I really enjoyed just browsing for an hour or two. I just bought a 2008 diary and a magazine, Kindred Spirit. Unusual that I escaped without being tempted by a book, but I've noticed that I'm not reading as much as before and need to clear a backlog of unread books before I buy any more.

Today was cold and weather a bit foul. Went to OA meeting, then to the Farmers' Market, then the gym. Then home and cooked carrot and coriander soup and ate some of it with salad and tofu. Now I am struggling with my recalciatrant computer again. It keeps disconnecting and accessing email is getting harder all the time. I really must phone the ISP. I'm getting really fed up.

Have MATCH post to sort out. Have felt stable and calm all weekend. Been using my new lightbox. Take care all! Love, Zoe.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Just a quick one.

Another beautiful (though short) late autumn day, very cold though. I was up with the lark, needing to get to my test at Learn Direct at nine. It was really hard! Quite a few questions that didn't cover familiar territory at all, or so it seemed to me. But miraculously, I passed with 81%...the pass mark is 75%. That was a relief...I didn't relish the idea of going back over that stuff again...or possibly having to pay to do a retake! The first one is free.

I've got an assessment at my other IT class on Monday too. That will probably be's word processing and file management, which I'm OK at.

After that I went to the gym. Then I had to meet a friend who had asked me to help her draft a couple of letters. Then I came home and heated up some leftovers for lunch. Have done a wash and made a few phone calls. It's just been all go! Now I am going to meet my friends in the cafe. After that I'm planning to go and see the new film 'Brick Lane', based on a novel I really liked, although apparently the actual inhabitants of Brick Lane are not that happy about it. Controversial, shall we say.

Send up a quick prayer for Jasper. His social worker (the new one, a chap) is going to see him and take him out today. They got on well before...I hope (pray) that J will be cooperative and not clam up. He really does need all the help he can get.

Take care all! Love, Zoe.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Still better.

Hi people. A perfectly decent day. Did a full session of yoga and meditation before breakfast, then later my yoga class. Then Learn Direct where I was finishing off assignments, talking to my tutor and preparing for a test on Friday. Then picked up some shopping at the supermarket...and home.

Been thinking a lot about having J back to live with me. In some ways I wish I could. If things don't work out with the placement I don't want him going anywhere else. What is the point? It obviously isn't the fault of the placement...the family are so nice and have done their best. Plus they have a lovely house and he has had the opportunity to go to a good school.

It would be better all round if he could just settle down at the new school and stop giving everyone such a bloody hard time. I can't help thinking he is better off with the foster family than with me but sometimes my heart runs away with my head and I just want him back at any cost. I would hardly be surprised now if I heard that Jo is giving up although perhaps I shouldn't even say that...

Oh J, you always were high maintenance and it seems like nothing much has changed except that you are bigger and even more difficult. Lots of anger, says the link worker. But the good news is I have begun to relinquish my illusions of control...and along with them, the killer guilt. Which gives me permission to go on living and even enjoying my life despite knowing that J is having problems.

As this is 'the withdrawal blog' maybe I should mention that I have now been off all psych meds (yippee!) for nearly three weeks. I am still on shedloads of nutritional supplements but am looking at discontinuing some of them eventually. I certainly am feeling my feelings, but that is a good thing...there has been a need to process quite a bit of grief lately and I am aware of many delicately nuanced emotions passing through my body. I am still on a low dose of HRT and have had no recurrence of any menopausal symptoms.

Aargh, my 'puter keeps disconnecting itself. I'm fed up with it! Another call to the ISP I suppose...Take care all. Love, Zoe.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A turn for the better...

Hi. Yes, around two this afternoon I had some rye toast with grilled tomatoes and from that point on I started feeling better. Probably nothing to do with the tomatoes on toast but who knows? The Lord moves in mysterious ways...I actually managed to get quite a lot from reading today, after quite a long period when I haven't really been connecting with books. I stayed in all day except for OA in the evening. Managed to do my MATCH work and write Jasper a letter, enclosing the Serenity Prayer on a card with Shiva and Parvati on it. God knows we need a little divine intervention!

At some point today, having read a bit of the fourth step inventory guide and 'Women who love too much' I started to feel halfway human again. I started to think maybe I didn't have to totally, like, go into one (why am I doing that? I'm not thirteen!) I can actually carry on sanely living my life and working the steps to the best of my ability and just not take complete responsibility for my son, for everything he does and is and for how he turns out. In other words, blame myself and marinade myself in guilt and shame for the rest of our lives. I need to turn Jasper over to the loving care of the same Higher Power that I trust with my own life.

Giving up the control, the deluded sense of power over the situation was what I was wrestling with earlier today and previous days...I didn't have any shafts of sudden enlightenment or owt like that, but the appalling pain just if someone, somewhere, had prayed or interceded for me. Some nun in some nunnery somewhere maybe! Maybe I even interceded for myself without realising it.

OA was really good...a really small meeting, but very intense. Three people cried as they shared and I was almost unbearably moved by two of the stories. It was humbling to hear what others had been through. Someone shared her sadness over her mother being bullied, her own feelings of helplessness over it and (probably) the triggering effect (as she had been bullied herself at school). I could relate, because of my own complicated feelings over Jasper being bullied. Horror that he is suffering - also anger and frustration with him for being vulnerable. And the triggering of my own vulnerability to bullying...I felt bullied as recently as this year, when I ended up having to leave my therapy group.

Have to keep's powerful stuff. Love, Zoe.


It hurts so much today that I have had to scale back my activities. I didn't do yoga or meditate. I just prayed and sat still for a long time. I am still desperately worried about Jasper. I spoke to the link worker for the foster family and she went there yesterday and says that Jasper is still 'very angry'.

I am also hurting terribly over Richard. I am in so much pain that I can't do much except sit still and bear it. I can't make sense of it right now, or even think about how to handle it. All I can do is try and endure it. It isn't depression. It isn't mental illness. It's just a lot of grief. I thought of writing some letters today but I can't get beyond 'Dear -'.

I cried before I got up, then cried some more. I didn't want to face another day of this. If Jasper can't hack it with this placement, or they can't cope with him, where in God's name is he going to go? Dealing with my anger and frustration with him is also difficult. What kind of a mother am I to get angry with her son for having problems, especially as some might say I'd partly caused them? I can't say what I feel like blurting out because I don't want anyone to read it and think I am a monster.

I have somehow got to be kind to myself through this. My first reaction is anything but. The inner conflict is so hard to bear. I really have nothing more to say right now. I'm at a loss.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Very sad.

Hi folks. Getting through today's routine activities was a Herculean I'm just relieved it's over. My IT class, then Learn Direct, then the gym, then home and cooked beetroot and coconut soup. For the first time in my life I enjoyed something made from beetroot! The lime juice and coconut milk and other seasonings rounded off the rather full-on flavour of the vegetable nicely.

It was a beautiful day but very cold. I couldn't do my full work-out in the gym, I was too full up with grief. I did manage to release some of it on the way home and when I got here...I just had a good cry. I feel better for it. Not to mention the soup!

I have my lightbox on as I type this. Lots of thoughts about Richard were going through my head. The pain of ending and the pain of the way it's ended. One of those on its own would have been enough, but I've got both and also the Jasper business. Maybe one grief fed into the other. And my old grief of losing Jasper to foster care has been triggered again too. I felt hopelessly lonely.

I hardly know what to say about the Richard thing. When people ask after him I say it's over, and then there's the explaining why. The trouble is I hardly know myself. On the face of it he seems to have wanted to end it rather than be challenged by me about anything. But the face of it means very little when you're dealing with such a complicated person as he is. Yet when people ask I make it sound as if it's me who made the decision. Richard has totally left me in the dark as to what he thinks, what he feels, and why we've split up. And that is really hard. I don't know what to say to people. It doesn't make sense at all.

Was I deluded to think we were ever in a committed relationship? I was thinking earlier of writing him a letter. I can't face sending any more emails. Previous efforts have failed miserably. I don't want to just prolong my own suffering. But the not knowing, the not understanding does make the grief worse. Yet knowing and having total insight is not going to relieve all the pain. But maybe some of it. Shit I feel so confused.

What kind of commitment can be so easily put away for no better reason than that you don't want to be challenged?

Folks, I am not about to get the answers. Thanks for reading...Lots of love, Zoe.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Still pretty low.

I have been really struggling since that meeting on Thursday. It seems to have really triggered me. I went to my Mum's on Friday and stayed over to see my cousin, her husband and kids who were up for the day. The socialising was quite an effort...really I couldn't wait to get back to my own space and as soon as I did, I did feel usual. However I am still having to keep busy to stave off the big D. Today I went to OA in the morning, then to the gym, then came home and did a load of hoovering and dusting, then cooked a meal.

The irony is, I had been looking forward to seeing Jasper, and I really had no idea the meeting was going to be so awful...usually they're not too bad.

Everything is really shite, yet I've managed to do a lot of good things for myself today, starting with a good session of yoga and meditation, plus prayer. I just want Jasper to do good things for HIM self. And stop moaning...put his head down and get on with it. Jesus how bad can it be? One thing I didn't expect was any bullying at this school. It didn't seem like that kind of school at all, but what, you might ask, is that kind of school? I was apprehensive, but more about his behaviour problems surfacing, or him not being able to cope with all the work, but apparently he is doing very well with all that, and has been well-organised and motivated, doing his homework, according to Jo.

I have to read my copy of 'For Today', which has profound thoughts or insights for every day of the year. There is one about letting go of worries about loved ones. I really have a lot of work to do on that score.

Plus I am still hurting over Richard and wish it hadn't ended so badly. It's bad enough it's ended, why the bitterness? That seems to be his way. He always was inclined to be like that...perhaps it's how he handles a perceived rejection. He seems blissfully unaware of the implications of his own, very rejecting behaviour. I am at a loss what to do about it so I will just carry on doing nothing and you can bet your life he will do precisely nothing too. Predictable to the very last.

Take care all...Love, Zoe.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


The review meeting today was purgatorial. Jasper is unhappy at his new school and is being bullied. All my worst nightmares seemed to unfold before felt like an exercise in masochism sitting there while other people detailed everything that is going wrong with him and for him. Can you honestly think of anything worse, for a mother? And he was in silent/sulky mode, refusing to speak or engage with the meeting.

Well we did go for our post-meeting drink...we found a pub that was quite cosy and let kids in. And he did loosen up at bit though it was hard to keep his attention in the busy pub. I gave him one of my pep talks. He gave me a big hug when I went off at the station. It was an incredibly stressful meeting and I thought, my God if ever I was going to go home and 'eat on something' as we say in OA, I would do that now. But I didn't...I just ate a normal, healthy meal.

I told him, in the pub, about the Serenity Prayer. I am going to write it down for him, on a card and send it, because it's something he'll need to really think about, but the thing I was really trying to get across was that he has to understand that there are quite a few things he CAN change as well as certain other things that he can't, and that at the moment I have good reason to believe that he is getting the two somewhat confused.

Jasper can be very frustrating sometimes. He has a tendency to abnegate responsibility for his behaviour. I've always known this and talked to him about it, and now, apparently, Jo is doing exactly the same. Can there be a more important lesson for anyone to learn than that we must take responsibility for ourselves? I only have to think of my Dad...of Jasper's Dad...and to some extent of Richard - to see how this trait can impact on a person's life and not in a good way. My Dad did me a favour in demonstrating to me the perils of blaming everyone else for your problems. Did I want to follow in his footsteps? Heck, no! He was a kind of 'anti role model'.

So you can imagine how I feel when I see Jasper making these mistakes. The difference is that he is young and still learning. What can I do but pray? And keep talking to him about it, and thank God, Jo does the same and as I said to him today, hopefully the two of us have a drip drip drip effect, like raindrops wearing away stone.

Well I'll need to be in touch with my HP quite a lot over the next weeks and months, asking for help and guidance, and just praying for my boy. There is so much he can do to help himself, and really, only a limited amount that others can do, however well-meaning. It is the hardest thing to take a step back. You don't want your beloved only son to suffer at all and yet he has to go through's a challenge, even a rite of passage that he has to face and survive and I know he can do could even be the making of him.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


'Delivery to a certain ex-partner's email address has been delayed'. How bleeding symbolic is that!!! That really sums up our relationship! It's like shouting at aliens from Planet Earth with a megaphone! It's like bloody Chinese whispers only with just two of you.

All day long I've had a running subtext, phenomenally monotonous in nature, mainly consisting of repeating over and over to myself the magic words 'it's over'. But it's amazing how productive I've managed to's barely distracted me at all from anything important.

Went to the Women Like Us introductory workshop in the's an organisation which helps women returners get back to work. They were nice and very professional, and they seem to have a lot to offer, though I felt a bit self-conscious in case anyone asked me about my precise family circumstances. They didn't though.

Then I went and had a look at the North London Buddhist Centre. Then I picked up some lunch, Chinese veg, then back to Learn Direct, then the gym, then OA (Overeaters Anonymous). It was a brilliant meeting, a lot more people than there's been for a few weeks, and an excellent chair. There wasn't time for everyone to share and I didn't but it didn't matter really because I had a chance to talk to some of the people I feel close to. And generally I felt I was coming out of myself...I have to go through a certain pain barrier sometimes, verging on social phobia, but if I'm determined enough and have good energy, like today, I make it through. I have to start by sounding quite awkward sometimes but just keep pushing through that until I re-learn the art of conversation.

Someone was there who I know from the mental health scene, and I could feel his depression, he was sitting next to me. I had tried to reach out a bit, but I felt a bit guilty when he said he didn't really feel supported in our meeting.

Then I came home and watched 'Flight of the Conchords' which is quite simply the ONLY thing worth watching on the whole of British TV at the moment. And, naturally, it's from New Zealand!

Take care all...Love, Zoe.

Monday, November 5, 2007

A good day but emotional.

Goodness my titles really tell it like it is don't they. No more and no less. Well regular bloggers will no doubt know that it isn't always easy to think up a title, and I invariably start with mine. It might be an idea to blog first and title after, I haven't tried that. But my titles are honest - if dull.

Well it was a productive and full day in that I went to class in the morning and Learn Direct in the afternoon, then to the gym for a full work-out (my ankle is OK now) then down to see my friend in the crisis house.

Along the way I noticed I was starting to fulminate about Richard. The anger is kicking in, and the hurt. (After the denial of Saturday!) I probably need to have a really good cry, that hasn't really happened yet. At the moment I am incandescent, and underneath it of course is a lot of pain. Feelings of betrayal, shock, disappointment, disillusionment. It's very painful. I just keep praying for the strength to endure and let it go. And my Higher Power who now has to also double for a Significant Other has totally come up trumps so far.

Best of all is that I am now allowed to feel my bloody feelings! No drugs to dumb me down or chill me out. And no they're not scary and yes they are normal and very real. Which is reassuring.

Take care all...Love, Zoe.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Alone and a bit lonely.

I've had a very solitary day and evening...not so much as a phone call. As always it's pretty much OK during the day but in the evening I start to feel the loneliness. Yet it was a strangely upbeat day. I felt fantastic when I woke up (and very horny). Just as well not many people read this blog! The last three weeks, since the problems started with Richard, I have been virtually dead from the waist down. Suddenly I woke from a highly erotic dream (involving guess who?) absolutely desperate to get my rocks off! You have to laugh!

Then I started to go into a spot of denial, or call it wilful and foolish optimism, about R. I just felt sure we were going to get back together. I toyed with the idea of playfully sending him a text, and luckily refrained.

I did some yoga and meditated (changing positions) and my ankle was certainly less painful and stiff than yesterday. I think that drinking aloe vera gel really helps as it's a natural anti-inflammatory. Rubbing on the cream seemed to help too. Then I had a lovely breakfast of quinoa porridge with apple, seeds, berries and soya yoghurt and rye/corn toast with coconut oil.

Then I went out for the paper. It was an absolutely beautiful morning and really warm! I was in a T-shirt! I just drank in the autumn colours. My favourite time of year, at least in terms of beauty. On my return, I mowed the lawn. That used to be R's job, so there was three week's worth of growth! But I enjoyed doing it. A bit later, I picked some spinach and made Leith's recipe for 'spinach bhaji', also one of their fab recipes for butternut squash and peanut butter soup (curried). Had some of both with some brown basmati rice for lunch. Listened to a pleasingly spooky play on Radio 7. I often listen to Radio 7 on Saturdays, because Radio 4 can be a bit crap.

I sat outside reading in the sun (and later, it did cloud over). Forgot to mention that this morning before I sat to meditate I created a Buddhist shrine with my new Buddha (pink marble). I knew it needed to have incense, flowers and candles. Later I picked some flowers from the garden.

Really the whole day was somewhat like a solitary retreat. Except that I did get an email from R (responding to mine of last night) and then had to respond with two fairly lengthy efforts of my own. I also went down the road to watch Ally Pally fireworks. It's the only night of the year when my road sees so much people traffic! Usually it's so quiet...and I love that about it. I am truly so blessed. In so many many ways.

I've been burning essential oils in a vapouriser...bergamot, geranium and chamomile. Soothing, balancing, uplifting.

Will probably make it to the East Finchley OA meeting tomorrow. Take care all! Love, Zoe.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Oh dear...again!

Last night I had an accident. I was walking back from Dual Recovery Anonymous, was only about ten yards from my front door, it was dark, I was tired and was foolishly not wearing my glasses or lenses. I went right over on my left ankle and ended up lying flat on my back on the pavement! Oh the agony! I knew it was a bad one, because I felt sick. Hobbled home...soon found that my ankle swelled up like a cricket ball. Put some aloe vera cream on it. Also had a grazed right knee.

Slept well, but in the morning the ankle still hurt a lot. Bandaged it, skipped yoga AND meditation, and walked, slowly, into Wood Green to the library to do my course. That was OK...I just have to slow down. Doing OK with the Learn Direct course. It's quite hard work though. A lot to take in. Amazing how much I don't know, and very timely that I'm learning it now. Not only will I need it for the workplace, but I also have to manage my computer stuff more independently now that Richard isn't around.

Just been deleting a load of old emails, sent and received. My deleted file had 700-odd emails in it so I just ruthlessly deleted them. I realise now that letting a load of stuff stack up can affect the efficiency of the workings of the 'puter. You can really tell I'm not a tecchie can't you!

Felt very very sad this evening when I was on my way home. It's Friday night and I know that I'm going to be alone for most of the weekend. No intimacy with anyone. But it was OK. It's natural, normal emotion, nothing to do with depression or mood disorders. I'm thankful to be so normal.

It's about a week since I discontinued the 250mg of Epilim. No noticeable withdrawal symptoms. Maybe just feeling my feelings a little more, maybe that's part of the sadness thing, but it's also the grieving process, which often doesn't kick in right away, it happens over time. Duh, that's why they call it a process!

I feel sorry that the break-up hasn't been mature or sensible. I would have liked to be grown up about it. I'm not into getting bitter and twisted about people that I've been close to. But maybe I have to accept a certain amount of froideur from Richard as the price I have to pay. A sort of double whammy really, because not only have I lost a close relationship but I have to handle the fall-out too.

But Gloria Gaynor and I, you know, we'll survive... Take care all, love Zoe.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Still good.

Did yoga this morning and an amazing session of mindfulness meditation. Made me realise that I need to start practising regularly again. I bought a meditation stool and was doing little but look at it. It makes sitting very painless and easy, much better than using cushions, it seems to take all the weight off your knees! I also bought a beautiful new pink marble buddha recently from a lovely oriental shop in Muswell Hill. The lady said that having a buddha in your home creates an atmosphere of peace. I'm picky about buddhas but this one really called to me. And now I'm starting to meditate again!

After that I went to my IT course. That was OK although I felt a bit tired. Then I had an interview/assessment with a lady at the day centre. I got on really well with her and it was nice to talk about my life and about the things that are working well for me. She was genuinely interested. Then I went to the gym. I half thought I wouldn't be able to hack it again, like last week, but this time I managed to do my usual workout, about an hour's worth of aerobic plus some resistance training. That made me feel really good. I so missed my visits to the gym while I was suffering with that blessed cold!

Then I came home and made baked tempeh with satay sauce with some steamed veg and sprouted salad. Super healthy or what! I had a parcel from Forever Living Products. Then I saw Gianna's blog with someone called SF Jane doing a YouTube about her spectacular recovery from bipolar disorder using meditation plus nutrition and 'true yogic lifestyle'! Spooky or what! She seems like an amazing person. Very inspiring stuff. And I totally, totally relate.

Life is good and recovery is great! Look after your dear selves...Zoe.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A good day.

Very productive and not at all lonely. In the morning, after a session of yoga (yay!) and breakfast I went to OA in East was really lovely, and someone did a great chair. I knew a couple of the people from my home meeting so it wasn't too strange. Although when I came to share I struggled to get my words out. Managed to say 'thank you for your chair it was thought-provoking' but I couldn't for the life of me think what specifically I liked about it, my mind was a blank. A bit embarrassing. But I was really glad I went and will definitely go again, in fact I might make it a regular thing, now that my Sundays will be more solitary.

Went to the supermarket to get cat food, then to the Farmer's Market to get my weekly veggies. Then home for a lovely lunch of sprouted mixed salads and my spicy spinach soup. Then I did some MATCH work and filled in an application form for something called the 'expert patients programme'. Went online and ordered a light box. Janey Lee Grace highly recommends them, and now the evenings are drawing in, well I like the idea of more light.

I had a string of phone calls, my Mum in the morning then two friends and Jasper...not used to being so popular. Jasper was a bit quiet. When I mentioned school he said 'can we not talk about school?' I was immediately a bit worried. But I guess it's normal...I probably would have felt just the same after a half-term holiday, at the thought of going back. He went to play footie in the park with an old friend from primary school yesterday. He went to France on Friday, a day trip with Jo and the girls. He said I love you...

I didn't really feel like talking either! Maybe because I had to pretend everything was going along as normal, when in fact, well my long-term relationship has broken up and that's going to take some adjusting to. I didn't want to worry him with that. One of my closest friends has been getting on my nerves. I feel that I need to work a bit harder on the Twelve Steps and see if I can't find a bit of extra compassion in my heart! I have random bitchy thoughts about other people too sometimes, even strangers, which give me pause for thought. I mean what's that about?

I do feel a bit confused, my mental clarity is not the greatest today.But I'm looking forward to getting back to the gym in the course of this week. Today is my third day with no psych meds whatsoever. I need to monitor how I do quite closely for the next few weeks. Lots of love, Zoe.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Another day.

And it wasn't a bad one. I went to the day of lectures in Bloomsbury and at first was not impressed. But it might have been partly my mood that made me react like that to Janey Lee Grace. Her second talk interested me more...she got onto natural alternatives to cleaning products and laundry stuff! The real star of the show however was Mark Atkinson who came on in the afternoon. They laid on a very acceptable healthy buffet lunch, after which I went walkabout in Bloomsbury to my favourite wholefood store there, Alara.

Doctor Mark was lovely. The topic of his talks was emotional health and I really appreciated his calm, compassionate approach. He was also much more spiritual than Patrick Holford, who comes across as more of a scientist. He talked about 'emotrance', and other ways of releasing difficult emotions. Also stuff about using visualisation to set and achieve goals. He said we all need goals, but it's best to keep them realistic, specific and positive. As I had been feeling quite low his ideas and advice were very apposite and uplifting. There was quite a big audience, the lecture theatre (in the School of Pharmacy) was full. Mostly always with these kinds of events. Downstairs the Higher Nature nutrition company had all their products laid out plus the books of Janey, Mark and Patrick Holford. I was after my initial misgivings, very glad I went...especially as I only paid half price for the ticket. More, Zoe.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Still a bit done in.

My cold is tailing off but it (and the nasty cold sore) have left me rather depleted. I tried to go to the gym today, in fact, got there but after ten minutes on the stationary bike I had had enough and conceded defeat.

However some good news...I got the voluntary job at Mind. They are checking references now. I also filled in a form applying for a voluntary placement in one of Islington's libraries.

Tomorrow I am going to a day of talks about emotional health and nutrition with Dr Mark Atkinson and other assorted personalities. It's good for me to keep busy, active and mentally occupied at the moment. I am glad I won't be sitting around tomorrow with too much time to think. There is also an OA meeting in nearby Finchley on Sunday morning which I might go to. Now that Richard won't be around I will need to make more effort, socially. Which is no bad thing.

Thought I might go and see Michael Moore's new film 'Sicko' at the Phoenix cinema this evening. First I am meeting two friends for tea.

Got my appetite back after it went walkabout when I went down with this cold. Made a lovely spicy spinach and coconut soup with the spinach from the garden. A taste sensation!

Took no sodium valproate this morning for the first time, after being on 250mg for the last two or three weeks. Now need to see how I go. Easy does it...Love, Zoe.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's all over...

...between me and Richard. We had the mother of all awful rows on Sunday afternoon. Things got so bad Richard seemed to think he needed to call the police...I had to wrestle the phone off him! I cried a great deal and shouted and yelled a lot too. My intention for us to talk things through yielded nothing, a big zilch. Richard had nothing to say to me. And everything that I had to say, I said. It was one big emotional splurge. Luckily in the evening I had arranged to see a friend for supper.

Next day I felt amazingly OK. I expected to be wrung out and very emotional but instead I felt energised and excited. It was as if I had expunged most of the sadness and grief the previous day...I went to my Fellowship group and shared, happily, about what I had done. Then I went to visit my Mum. We had a nice time together, visiting Canterbury and shopping for a few clothes for me. I found some absolute bargains, and we had lunch out in a wholefood cafe.

I returned to London to attend my Overeaters group, and ended up filling the 'chair' slot as we had been let down. That's where someone in recovery tells the group their their food issues developed for instance, and how OA impacted on them. With no preparation whatsoever and only six months in OA behind me I did OK. My story doesn't focus on food so much as the mood disorder that started to plague me from age 19 onward. However there were three others in the meeting who had experience of mental hospitals so there was a fair bit of identification. People thanked me for my honesty. I had a very warm feeling from all the positive feedback.

Things are going on satisfactorily. This afternoon I went to register at Learn Direct at the local library so that I can study for the ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence) there. I had to do a numeracy and a literacy test! They were surprisingly hard, I thought! I ended up with a Level Two in both and the irony was that I seemed to get more right answers in Numeracy than Literacy! I couldn't believe how many wrong answers I got in Literacy! But no matter because you only need Level One to be accepted on the course. I start tomorrow...yippee!

Richard sent me a couple of emails. He said he is very down about what has happened. But anything he says now is too little too late. As for me I have nothing left to say. I said it all...

I attended an interview at MIND last Friday. It seemed to go well though I haven't heard yet if I got the (voluntary) job. I have to take my Criminal Record check down there. There are also other irons in the fire...possibly working in the local volunteer bureau, and also getting a voluntary placement in one of the Islington libraries. (Haringey ones don't take volunteers as yet).

Health wise I still have the tail end of my cold, have a cold sore trying to come up on my lip (mmm, nice!) and feel a little tired. Made it to yoga today but not to the gym.

Take care, Zoe.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Oh dear.

I'm having a very bad time with Richard. In a five line email last night he managed to convey that he thinks I am dishonest. That I said something (about him) that 'if I am honest with myself' I know to be false. Deeply patronising as well as insulting. A propos of pretty much nothing. I was so upset I texted him several times and he has told me to 'stop as he is trying to work'. I've also sent him several emails. I'm so shocked and upset. It's thrown me and I am already starting to think it's effectively over between us. After eight and a half years. I just need to pray for the strength to do what I must. Whatever that is. Oh dear oh dear.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Feeling better.

Have been forced to take it easy the last few days but perhaps that was no really bad thing. And as I don't get a lot of colds these days hopefully this one will be out of the way and I can get on with work unimpeded when I start! This morning I had to go back to bed and sleep for a couple of hours, waking with a most peculiarly creative involved violent pornography and was so plausible and real-seeming that I thought it must have been on the radio but no, I dreamt it up all by myself! Well I suppose it's creativity of a sort but it was fairly disturbing!

Having that little nap seemed to help with the rest of the day. I've spent it mostly on the internet, doing a little MATCH post (my voluntary work) and OA Treasury, looking through all the bits and pieces that I brought back from the recruitment fairs last week and generally getting organised. It's been one of those days when I am really happy in my own company. Oh and some good news...I heard from MIND the mental health charity that I applied to for work. I've got an interview there for both the positions (admin and advocacy worker) on Friday.

Tomorrow I have to meet my new care coordinator. Her name is Alison. Wendy was my social worker for two years and she was the best ever, sadly missed now she has had to change teams. This new one won't be as nice I'm afraid...she didn't charm a friend of mine but I must try to be as open minded as poss.

I'm on 250mg Sodium Valproate (half a tablet) and will stay on that for a little while more before cutting it in half. No noticeable effects. All my hormonal problems are gone since I started HRT although I have to say I'm not 100% comfortable about being on it and will give it three months before maybe coming off it and seeing how I go without it and just the natural supplements like dong quai, black cohosh and natural progesterone cream.

Take care!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Oh dear.

I'm going through stuff. Things started to go a bit pear-shaped on Saturday after an interesting, even exciting, and productive week when I was exercising, job-hunting and attending recruitment fairs. I had agreed to go to the OA convention (Overeaters Anonymous), to the business meeting which was all day Saturday and it took a full two hours to get there (on the tube to Heathrow and a Hoppa bus) and the same back. Factor in that I was starting to go down with a nasty cold...and the air-con was either too hot or too cold. I didn't know anyone there and had to struggle to follow what motions and amendments were being discussed at a given time. The idea was that I was there to represent my group and support the Convention ...well that's one particular 'service' I probably won't volunteer for again in a hurry!

Then when I finally made it back I was struggling to get along with Richard. On Sunday things went further downhill and any efforts to sort them out or make them better seemed doomed to fail. Basically what it seemed to come down to is that my trust in Richard has taken a hammering, because I can't voice anything that smacks of criticism without him flying off the handle and threatening to leave.

And after he left on Sunday afternoon I just felt rotten. Ill, exhausted and depressed. Have spent much of the last few days in bed. Have contact with Jasper on Saturday and don't really know what to do...probably go rowing on the River Lea provided the weather holds out. I wish to God for once he would come up with something to do...I wouldn't mind going to his home town but he used to have this thing about not wanting to be seen with me and I don't know if he still does.

Got the first post for about two weeks this morning. I've really missed it! I'm worried about the state of my relationships generally. Where am I going wrong? Feel like an outcast and a social pariah...Take care all, Zoe.

Monday, October 8, 2007


I'm incredibly calm most of the time these days, compared to how I was. My mood is very stable...I don't have much in the way of highs and lows. I got a bit irritated with my Mum on the phone just now, but that's nothing to write home about...

I am still deep in job applications and trawling through vacancies etc. Part of me gets a little frustrated with it (I want it now!) but I also know that it's worth taking the time and the trouble to find the right placement, to fine-tune it a bit because I'm 45 now and no longer have all the time in the world. Whatever I take on next has to have a rhyme and a reason to it, it has to lead somewhere, has to be useful to my future career path.

Health wise I am very well. No complaints! Except that I wouldn't mind losing some more weight and am not finding it easy despite the optimum nutrition! A few days ago I decided to halve my sodium valproate, using a pill cutter to split my 500mgs into two. I haven't noticed much difference (except maybe the irritability!) Haven't had any physical symptoms, touch wood.

I am taking up a service position in my local Overeaters Anonymous...Treasurer. I'm still religiously working out in the gym three times a week and have also taken up Pilates classes which I quite like. Plus daily yoga sessions before breakfast. Talked to my boy on the phone today. He seems well...has started to make friends at the new school, he was invited round to a new friend's house today. A week on Saturday our next contact is due. As usual I will have to come up with an idea for what to do.

I am sleeping tons better since I started exercising regularly and my confidence is greater too. I am having to spend less time with certain friends who I find draining - too negative. I don't have endless patience and compassion for people who don't seem to be helping themselves.

Take care everyone...Love, Zoe.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Let's count 'em...

...the blessings that is. I certainly haven't gone short of blessings in my life, now or ever. And that phase I went through of what seemed like chronic fatigue, whatever caused it, has made me doubly appreciative of my now pretty normal energy levels.

I am going to carry on taking 500mg Sodium Valproate for a few weeks just to see that my health is stable on that and then look at beginning to reduce it.

This morning I've been filling in application forms for voluntary positions in a local mental health centre (MIND). One is general admin, another is volunteer advocate, helping clients get their views across to professionals. At the moment I'm more inclined toward the first because it seems less exposing and more behind the scenes. Also I know who the advocacy services manager is and am not wild keen on working with her. As I filled in the forms I realised that I have tons of relevant experience and skills for this type of work, although I have no grand ambitions to be a mental health worker as such and sometimes I guess I feel I might just like to move right away from the scene.

I've thought some more about taking some kind of qualification in Nutrition. There is one course in Nutrition for Complementary Therapists at a local starts in January, provided there is enough uptake. I actually am a qualified aromatherapist although I've never really practised as such.

I'd like to eventually work with mental health service users around nutrition...that would combine both my longstanding interests.

I consider myself recovered from 'severe and enduring' mental health problems. Yes I can still get depressed moods but they are usually related to circumstances and they don't last long. I feel my health, mental and physical, is within my own hands. I think I am most unlikely to have another episode of mania. That is my intuitive hunch. I simply need to stick to a broadly low GL diet, take my supplements, refrain from alcohol, drugs, nicotine, caffeine and sugar, get adequate rest and exercise regularly and minimise stress.

It's turned chilly on this island of Blighty...makes me feel a little like hibernating but instead I have to go out and meet the employment advisor, go to the college and enrol for my IT course and then go to the West End for DRA...Dual Recovery Anonymous. Take care, Zoe.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Hiya. Yesterday was a little bit crap, so was Friday. But today was better. We had some lovely late summer sunshine and Richard was here, he has a way of cheering me up bless him.

I've been feeling frustrated by the lack of structure in my life. I am looking for a voluntary job that will significantly add to my skills and which will take me in the right direction career-wise but last week I just didn't seem to make a lot of headway despite my efforts and ended up feeling lost, confused and my drive heading for my boots.

Sometimes I guess I'm frustrated with me, me, I am , 45 and still seemingly no nearer to knowing what I was put on this earth to do? Maybe that's the point, maybe I've got to stop thinking like that, it's too idealistic, too grandiose. Most people aren't doing that but most people are doing something and that's maybe enough.

At the same time I'd be lying if I said I'm happy to do anything. I'm manifestly not. And the financial incentive is not really there, at least not right now. But having practically cured myself of the most disabling type of manic depression I can't in all conscience carry on pretending to be incapable. In another six months or so I will have to sit down and fill in my disability form and I won't be telling lies. I never have told lies and I'm not going to start now.

I have a comfortable life, a lovely home and I have never been particularly materialistic or hankered after 'the good things in life'...I've been spectacularly lucky to have landed where I have considering the random nature of social housing and so on. I lean towards the minimalist and like simplicity, peace and quiet, even to the point of being slightly reclusive. So work for me is almost entirely about personal development, making a contribution, building my self-esteem and even perhaps making up for a lot of lost time. It is no less important for all that.

I decided not to pursue my higher education any further until I have been in the workplace for a while (even as a volunteer) and therefore have some idea of the purpose of further study. I loved my time at University but there was a point to that...I knew I was fulfilling the potential I had and proving something to myself and the world. Further studies right now would have felt like over-egging the pudding. Maybe later.

Just some thoughts. Love, Zoe.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Going great guns...

Hi y'all. I feel like I'm starting to reap the benefits of all the hard work I've put in over the summer. Things seem to be coming together for me, health wise. The last two weeks my energy levels have climbed steadily, while many of the symptoms have subsided or just disappeared. The only difficult may be working out which of my many supplements are the most and the least useful, but for now dear readers, I could care less, I'm just feeling great. At last I can get out and do all those things I've been wanting to do, at last I can seriously work out (and now have active membership at the gym) and I've also, as of last week, begun practising yoga first thing in the morning before breakfast.

Feeling chronically ill did give me some valuable insight though. I now appreciate my health and guard it jealously as never before. Health is MORE than wealth to paraphrase the old saying. I have become such a devotee of the healthy lifestyle that I feel that whatever I decide to work at in the future perhaps it should be in the health field - in particular I would love to help other psychiatric survivors towards health and wholeness by nutrition, exercise and healing practices such as yoga.

It's a thought. Take care and peace, Zoe.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A load of other health stuff!

Hi y'all. Well I went to see my doc yesterday and started on the HRT. It's quite a low dose. I've also got some wild yam cream (natural progesterone, I think?) and am taking soyagen in capsules, a phytoestrogen. That's the science bit.

Hot flushing and sweating has definitely eased off in the last week. Energy levels today were actually really good! Great to have a let-up, it's very morale-building. Have been applying for various voluntary positions. Also need to finish working on my updated CV.

As for the Sodium Valproate, I am down to 700mg now after my wobble (crisis of confidence) when I went back to 1000mg. To be honest I am now inclined to put most of my symptoms down to hormonal causes. I'm in menopause, ergo... But I still will be going slowly and carefully from now on as I reduce the dose.

I've started practising yoga first thing in the morning. I'm really getting into it! Next will be the meditation...I have bought a beautiful folding meditation stool which helps me sit comfortably. Life is getting its taste back...

That's all for now. Love, Zoe.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A turn for the better.

Yesterday and today have been much better. The depression lifted and with it, most of the fatigue. I've been able to get to the gym and to yoga, as well as some long walks. Still waking sporadically in the night which is annoying. But am enjoying socialising again. Today I treated myself to a meditation stool with a lovely purple cushion, and a chart of yoga asanas to get me in the mood and remind me of what I'm supposed to be doing. Also a book about treating fatigue with yoga. Have added to my ridiculous tally of supplements black cohosh and dong quai for the menopausal symptoms.

Saw my trick cyclist today and discussed tapering down the Sodium Valproate. She was not against the idea. She gave me a prescription for some lower-dose tablets to make it easier to taper. In the BMD or whatever it's called it apparently said therapeutic dose is between 1 and 2 grams. But she said that doesn't mean you have to take that much. Psychiatry eh? Talk about an inexact science!

The doc phoned and said she had written me a prescription for something called Femoston. I don't want the Mirena coil after all. Negotiating the world of HRT is a minefield. The hot flushes have been better the last two days.

Lots of love everyone...Zoe.

Monday, September 3, 2007

It's official.

At a quarter to nine this morning I got a call from the doc that I saw last week. She told me that the test results confirmed that I was in menopause. I asked her if I could see her rather than wait a whole week to see my own doc, to talk about what to do next. She agreed and gave me an apointment for three o'clock this afternoon. It's a relief to be able to cut out another week of waiting. She said I would need a bone density test because this is earlyish to be in menopause.

I feel a bit numb and still quite vulnerable but I did cheer up over the weekend and I'm feeling stronger than I did. In some ways after what I've been through recently it is a relief to finally get this news. My periods were so irregular and light for so long, it was damned inconvenient and unsettling, so the thought of no more periods ever is not completely unwelcome. And the hot flushes and sweating had accustomed me to the idea that I was indeed finally there after the years in perimenopause, so it's not as if it was a shock. However it is a loss and there is a grieving process involved, especially as I have lost my only child to foster care and now know I will never have another.

It seems that the symptoms which I at first took for withdrawal are at the very least partly down to these hormonal changes. Maybe the severity of it in the last few weeks particularly was because of the double whammy effect. Anyway for the time being I am back on 1000mg sodium valproate and I will discuss tapering the dose - GRADUALLY - at a later date with my psychiatrist when I see her on Wednesday. First I will get started on the HRT and see how that goes. I have ideas about what I want to ask for from reading a book about menopause. Rather than tablets I would prefer the Mirena coil and oestrogen gel. I hope she won't be dogmatic about what she thinks I should have. If she is I will just wait and see my own doc next week. There may be some trial and error involved anyway.

I am quite shattered and quite shocked. When I first realised I was probably heading for an early menopause I was profoundly upset but I've had a few years to get used to the idea. Still I am pretty punch drunk from last week which was one of the worst ever frankly. I've just got to take it easy, be good to myself, not be too demanding.

Take care all. Zoe.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Last week was too much!

And I couldn't handle it anymore. The fatigue and depression became so excruciating that I have decided to go back up to 1000mg Sodium Valproate from 500mg. Of course I don't know if it's even that that's caused this. But I don't want to take the chance. Perhaps things will become clearer when I get to see my doc next week and get started on some form of HRT. If things improve from there I will be able to conclude that the problem is mainly hormonal. In the meantime I just have to be patient.

I don't want another week like that though. Today I feel better. Richard is here and has worked his usual magic.

I'm now inclined to forget about doing the MA at least for this year. I'm seriously concerned that the ups and downs of my health will become problematic and I really need to get that sorted as a matter of urgency. After that, second priority is to get back out into the workplace, even if it's voluntary work. But one won't happen without the other.

We're off to the Farmer's Market in a minute to get my week's fruit and veg. Maybe pick some blackberries on the way back.

I never thought that Sodium Valproate and other mood stabilisers prevented me from getting depressed but I have to say that the severity of what I went through last week was worse than I remember. But the fatigue is something new and quite frightening. I hate being ill. I'm stuck at home, I can't get out and see anyone or get anything done. I dreamt I had another manic breakdown and something has to give, really, because otherwise it could happen.

Take care everyone. Love, Zoe.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Had the blood test...

...this morning, now just have to wait to see my doc. The one I saw last night reckoned I was menpausal, because my last cervical smear test, though normal, showed 'some atrophying of the cells'. I was already quite overwrought and this news kind of tipped me over the edge. I became very tearful when I got home and poor Richard got the brunt of it. I took it out on him, having nowhere else to put my feelings. We had a very silly row. I could barely think straight, let alone argue coherently, and he isn't good at arguments at the best of times. So I managed to make him feel rotten as well as myself.

This doc didn't think my relatively early menopause had anything to do with the gynaecological work I had in my late thirties. That isn't what the other one said. If I knew I had got it when I was naturally meant to get it I would feel better about it but I can't help feeling that some kind of damage was done.

This doc said that some kind of HRT might be a good idea for someone of my age. I am putting aside any qualms I might have had about 'medicalising' a natural rite of passage etc etc, because frankly I am ready to try anything that might set me straight again, I can't go on like this!!!

I guess none of it is helped by having reduced the psych meds quite drastically...perhaps the severity of the symptoms is a reflection of the two processes going on at the same time.

I feel less overwrought and tearful today...still very tired, went back to bed in the afternoon and slept. Read quite a bit - a book on menopause that I already had in my shelves, and bought a new book about depression called 'Sunbathing in the Rain'. Things that need doing I am just putting off, I can't face it. My appetite was better today, managed to eat a decent lunch.

Take care everyone...Zoe.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Grimness extraordinaire.

Having a really horrible time. Hot sweats and flushes, a cold, aching back, insomnia, fatigue...I'm one big mass of symptoms and am now pretty sure this has something to do with my hormones. I am off to the doc's in a minute to request a blood test and have made an appointment to see my own doctor when she gets back from her holiday, but that isn't for over a week and I don't know how I will bear this till then.

I also feel very low and depressed. When I managed to drag myself down the stairs this morning I cried from sheer desperation. I am so sick of this. One week will be good and I think I'm over it, then I'm back at square one.

Richard is coming over tonight and I just hope I can refrain from biting his head off with the sheer frustration of it all.

Miserably, Zoe.

Monday, August 27, 2007

As I thought... wasn't that bad. It wasn't brilliant, but it wasn't bad either. In the end we had four hours with J. It was a glorious hot day after a fairly miserable week. It has occurred to me that maybe J would be happier just to see me on my own. I will probably offer to do that next time.

Anyway it seems he has settled well with the foster family. Maybe there are some loyalty issues for him. Perhaps I should let this go for a while and stop beating my brains trying to understand what is going on. So much I don't see or know about, but I do trust the foster family...they are lovely people.

It's Bank Holiday Monday, never my favourite day. It's just another Sunday when you aren't working. My Mum left late yesterday afternoon and Richard went off this morning. I'm slightly at a loose end but feeling a little tired in any case so maybe I should take it easy today.

I have remained on 500mg Sodium Valproate and the withdrawal effects seem to be settling down. I'm not getting so many hot flashes and I'm not seriously fatigued, however I have been having problems with insomnia...waking at unearthly hours of the night and lying awake. Now I am unsure if I am in menopause. I'm only 45 but I had some gynaecological work done in my thirties which seems to have affected my hormones: my periods have been irregular and a bit sketchy for some years now. I feel a sense of loss over that...I don't feel mentally ready for 'The Change' but I guess I may have no choice.

This physical stuff is tied up with my mental illness as well and a part of the incalculable losses I have incurred as a result of it. I contracted Pelvic Inflammatory Disease probably as a result of having the IUD (coil) - I would not have had the IUD if it wasn't for the bipolar which made me sexually vulnerable at times (and I had to have three abortions). I ended up spending six weeks on a drip in hospital after an operation to remove cysts from my ovaries and fallopian tubes which led to complications. As a result I have been infertile since I was 37. And the problematic periods since my early 40's.

So yeah I am a little downbeat today. I heard last week that I had got into the University I applied to, to do an MA. I think on balance I will go ahead with it this year, but opt to do the course spread over three years.

Take care all. Love, Zoe.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Aaargh! Disaster!

Oh dear. Well the contact was all set to go ahead as normal and then I got a call from J's social worker. He apparently did not want to go to contact. He eventually agreed to go for at least a couple of hours after his foster mum talked him round.

The effect on me of this news was pretty devastating. I had already been pretty upset by the last phone call. He seemed angry with me but I couldn't work out what it was really about. It had preyed on my mind for the next week. And now this. Just when I was so looking forward to seeing him. Now I am dreading it, to be honest.

Reasons? Oh, he is big now, he doesn't want to be called babyish names - like sweetheart or whatever. And he doesn't want to be smothered with affection. The real reasons? Well I know my boy pretty well and even I am stumped but I think it's to do with difficult emotions that he doesn't want to face and a need for some control.

He seems to want to make a point...and has succeeded although we are not entirely sure what the point is. I guess it's that ' I'm growing up, treat me with respect and even a certain distance'. The thing is that's not a problem for me at all. I can do that. I just want to see him. I experience that as a need and I have to accept that maybe, for him, it isn't. At least not to the same degree. He has his emotional needs met elsewhere now.

Anyway my immediate problem is coping with this. My mum is already here and I found her reactions really unhelpful. She didn't really react properly to the news, she just went straight into 'analysis' mode. Obviously she is upset, but she didn't express that. And her analysis was all over the place. It would have been better if she could just have expressed sorrow. Then at least we would have had some solidarity with one another, instead we just kind of rowed, and that within five minutes of her arriving. Can you believe it!

However the point is not how well my mum copes or doesn't cope. The point is, how do I deal with all of this. I've now got to deal with a prickly relationship as well as possibly seeing J only for two hours, depending on his whim tomorrow. Richard also has to be factored in. He doesn't handle conflict well. I have to be really careful what I say to him.

So although it isn't looking that good from where I'm sitting now if I just take it as it comes and worry not about the morrow it will probably not be the irretrievable appalling disaster that my brain is pre-programmed to believe will occur.

And the cat has had her 'dental' - one tooth out and the rest scaled and polished. I have to pick her up from the Animal Hospital tonight at seven. Thanks for hearing me...I feel better for getting this out. Take care all, Zoe.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Much better this week.

Since Sunday my energy has been much improved. After the grimness of last week it has come as a huge relief to be able to get active again. I have decided to stay on 500mg of Sodium Valproate for the time being. I have an appointment to see my psychiatrist early in September so if I need to talk about reducing then I will. I want to see myself stable and free from withdrawal effects before I reduce again, and largely, I am.

I've been able to get to my Fellowship meetings (Overeaters Anonynous and Dual Recovery Anonymous), went to see a good movie (Sparkle), seen friends, been to yoga, and been to the gym twice. Going again today. I'm starting to quite enjoy it! Richard has been on holiday so I haven't seen him, but I've coped OK with that.

I heard from the University that I applied to for the MA: School of Oriental and African Studies (part of the University of London). I've been accepted to start in September. Now I just have to make up my mind if I'm ready to start this year. I am leaning toward doing it...I like the idea of doing it over three years instead of two though, because I really do want to press ahead with 'the workplace' even if that just means a substantial amount of voluntary work for the time being.

I am looking forward to seeing my boy on Saturday. How lucky that the day was changed! If it had been last week as was originally scheduled I would have been feeling ill plus the weather was rotten. It is forecast to be better this weekend. We are taking him to Stansted Mountfitchet, the Norman castle.

Tomorrow the cat goes to the vet to have her 'dental'. Well at least I know what to expect this time. I will go prepared with plenty of reading material.

Take care everyone. Lots of love, Zoe.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

About 'Optimum Nutrition for the Mind'.

Patrick Holford started out as an experimental psychologist before he became a nutritionist as a result of a chance encounter. So he obviously has an interest in mental health - hence this book. He basically argues that mind and body are not separate. The book is fairly scientific and he refers a lot to studies and reports. There is an extensive 'references and resources' section at the back. This is quite useful when you need to know where to go next, where you can obtain certain supplements, how to find a nutritional practitioner, or where you can go for various tests. These are mainly based in the UK however.

Throughout the book there are some case histories as well as short questionnaires to see whether you are deficient in this or that. There is a chapter on addiction, bipolar, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, and depression. Complex carbs are important, amino acids (eg 5-HTP or Serotone) and the essential fats, Omega 3's and 6's. He also refers to helpful herbs and 'smart drugs and hormones'. He has an interesting viewpoint on Lithium.

Naturally diet is key, but Holford is good at understanding that every individual is different and has different needs. This is what is ignored largely in psychiatry...if you are diagnosed bipolar you somehow get thrown in to one homogenous group and treated accordingly.

I don't think he is too dogmatic. He gives you ideas that you can try. If one doesn't work you can try something else. It's about learning to trust your body. I find his viewpoint liberating and refreshing...but then I guess I would, wouldn't I? Anyway I'm doing pretty well on the Low GL Diet (Low Glycaemic Load). In terms of sorting out my food obsession and getting rid of cravings it's worked better than anything else ever has. I had a feeling my blood sugar must be up the creek and my eating really was pathological at times.

It's quite a big thick book with a lot in it. Pretty good value for money. There is also his website 100% Health though I caution suggestible people like myself not to go too mad buying the latest 'must-have' supplement unless you can afford it! But there are lots of interesting articles on there, some of which you have be a member to read. I'll be back soon to write my latest news. Love, Zoe.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Better day.

My beloved cheered me up. We went for a long walk up to Highgate Wood...God I so needed that. I needed to feel half human again. Still not 100% but I have started to understand how it must be to have a chronic physical illness or disability so that you can't take things for granted such as being able to get out of your house every day.

I decided today to just go back to 500mg of Sodium Valproate (I had been down to 325mg) for the time being and just see how I go with that. What's the big rush! As it is I've moved very fast, faster than many of the experts would say is wise to go.

The muscle aches and headaches are gone though. Now I am dealing with tearfulness and depression, some anxiety, hot flashes and excessive sweating, mainly on my face, and the dread fatigue, definitely the worst symptom of the lot. But I read somewhere that sweating is the only way the body can get rid of some chemicals so maybe that is a good thing.

How I would have managed any of this without having access to the Internet is anyone's guess. By far the most valuable insights into withdrawal come from those who have experienced it and I don't know of anyone IRL who has gone this route. Most psychiatrists are worse than useless when it comes to this stuff. They haven't got a clue.

Last week I added a Vitamin C tablet, Selenium, and Evening Primrose Oil capsule to my already extensive list of supplements. I have got Patrick Holford's 'Optimum Nutrition for the Mind' and it makes a lot of recommendations but I just can't get everything.

According to him I may be a 'histadelic', meaning someone with genetically high levels of histamine in their blood. It sort of fits, although not the bit about 'rarely gains weight'. However since I've been on the GL diet (Low Glycaemic Load) cravings are out of the window, I can go for six hours happily without a meal and for the first time in a very long time I feel completely in control around food. I'm also an ex-coffeeholic and an ex-smoker...I gave up in May 2006. I used to crave sweet things. It's all history.

Actually my appetite is not huge right now. That is down to the withdrawal. Today Richard and I went to the Farmer's Market and I made sure to get cabbage, green beans and carrots...made a lovely soup later when we got back from our walk. Plums are gorgeous at the moment and English apples just coming into their own. I love to buy and eat seasonal and local, it makes an enormous difference. Also, organic wherever possible.

Well enough of my ramblings. Take care my dears. Love, Zoe.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A horrid week and a beastly day.

Oh dear. Chronic fatigue. Hot flashes. Very emotional and tearful and full of loss. So tired i can hardly write and confidence all shot to bits. Have been reading a lot of other blogs and feel overwhelmed by others' gifts and my own uselessness. It's bollocks I know, but I'm depressed. And very very tired.

The cat won't eat her food because it has antibiotic crumbled into it. I could have seen that coming...

I have little else to contribute to the sum of human knowledge or achievement right now. But I thought I had better check in. Take care all...Zoe.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Humdrum and so-so...

...but I did have slightly more energy today. My body is adjusting to a more normal level of sleep after about two years on Seroquel. Also, Seroquel zonks you out the whole night - now I wake in the night some, but feeling half alive in the morning is a good trade-off. Still a bit depressed but not as bad as yesterday. Getting the odd hot flash and no longer sure if it is withdrawal or the goddamn menopause!

I went up to Muswell Hill and made a beeline for the two health shops...bought a calcium/magnesium/zinc supplement, a vitamin C, some Evening Primrose Oil capsules, some hemp oil and Selenium with A, C and E. Also some tofu and oats. My breakfast these days is usually porridge with grated apple and berries, some soya yoghurt and a tablespoon of ground sunflower, pumpkin and flax seeds, as recommended by Patrick Holford.

Being ill, feeling ill is not a lot of fun. The worst of it is not knowing how long this is going to go on for. Sorry to be such a drag! Lots of love, Zoe.