Tuesday, 18 December 2012

How To Avoid Family Arguments This Christmas

'Tis the season to bicker all the way to the in-laws, or is it? Here's some popular disputes and how to prevent them...  

"I'm not doing the driving"

When I was growing up, my family all lived down the same street, nowadays hardly any of us live in the same town we grew up in and Christmas get togethers often involve trains, planes and 'accidental' car trouble.

The journey there isn't the problem, it allows time to fill in the gaps to prevent awkward conversations like who's getting divorced and who didn't get the promotion etc, but if only a day trip then comes the return journey and somebody has to drive, which means, someone has to stay sober. As I'm sure we've all experienced it's not much fun being the only one sat there with a glass of fake fizz whilst everyone else is on the dance floor, the twister mat or trying to play charades, on a twister mat, on a dance floor. If not, then maybe it's your turn to drive.

Besides, whilst you're sober and everyone else's smashed, depending on your relationship with the in-laws it's a perfect opportunity to do a bit of present swapping or tipping the family silver into your handbag.

"We're not going to your mum's"

If in a relationship, the general rule is that if we went to his or her folks last year, we go to ours this year. However, what if their folks are divorced and remarried? That means we only get to spend Christmas with our folks every three years. Or what if its our first Christmas together and they want to spend this Christmas with their folks, ours next year, but we spent last years' with our ex partners folks and have promised ours this year? Can you see where I'm going with this? It would make sense to have the whole lot over for Christmas but then there are the sibling in laws, the nieces and nephews, and pending on how far you spiral down the family web it could be more like cooking for Crisis at Christmas than a festive family dinner.

Perhaps say "That's fine dear, so long as we can do mine Boxing day" and lets face it, Boxing day is much more fun - the local pubs are open, better films on the box, and less expectations of dinner if you're cooking - besides, if there's nothing in the diary for the 27th you can really celebrate and wash down a box of chocky liquors with a bottle of Baileys (so long as you got out of doing the driving).

"Put a jumper on and turn the heating off"

Coincidently, energy costs increase during cold weather warnings. The picturesque family image of us all sitting around a glowing fire toasting marshmallows to the festive sound of church bells should be replaced with that of us in woolly hats and gloves under a duvet watching <em>Eastenders</em> Christmas (disaster) special. 

Apparently the "We're not putting the heating on just yet" dispute starts in October, so by Christmas day we should all be used to the reaction we get when we flick the switch and should have a jumper ready.

Leaving the oven door open after you've roasted your turkey will keep the kitchen warm for all of ten minutes, and pressing used chewing gum into window sills (between the window and the sill) helps lock in warmth but only if you've been doing this all year. If you live in flats, befriend those on the top floor as these will be the warmest.


"Where's the remote control?"

Believe it or not, popular 999 calls have been from distraught partners of those hiding or refusing to hand over the remote control. Unfortunately, the post roast selection of Christmas television is what holds me back from my idyllic crisp country walk.. in Homerton. Is it sad that the only time I watch the soaps is on Christmas day? 

There have been many Christmas's where I've been a guest in someone's house and politely sat sweating and trembling for what seems like hours before I had the courage to ask for the tenth time "You did say it was OK to watch Eastenders at eight didn't you?"

I actually paid my dad £3 once to let me watch 'Stenders' in peace one Christmas day. £2 if I could turn over and another £1 for keeping quiet and not tell me everything that was about to happen whilst it was on.

However, in recent years, something amazing has happened. The plus box. These give us the opportunity to record and playback anything on the other side. However, it's just not the same when watching sports, especially when your neighbour and avid Spurs fan whoops and cheers every time a goal is scored. Which brings me to my next dispute..

"We're not watching sport on Christmas day"

An informant has assured me that there are no fixtures on Christmas day, however, sports news channels operate as normal and this can lead to arguments during peak festive soap viewing, such as all day. 

For your footy mad dad, £3 may not be enough to rent out the remote, you may have set the fire alarm off, change channel during evacuation, then hide the controller VERY well, but not well enough to forget where you put it, perhaps in the washing machine (let's face it, who's more likely to use it). Alternatively, get them a very interesting manly present to play with, such as a selection box of toiletries or a Top Gear calendar.


"You should've cooked it like this... "

Why is it that people (who aren't cooking) always wait until you're about to dish up and then start loitering in the kitchen? Is it the aroma of the juicy bird roasted in fresh herbs? Or if you're anything like my Dad you may wish to just stand there and say how you would've done it differently.

To avoid health and safety issues such as scalds and chinese burns, stay out of the kitchen during cooking and serving (if doing so in the kitchen). If you're the chef then threaten whoever keeps coming in with the washing up, that'll keep them out.

If using someone elses cooker for the first time, get acquainted with it first. A couple of years ago I grilled a turkey. It didn't look very happy and neither did my guests.

"Who put the empty butter back in the fridge?"

It's a divorceable offence. Those who put empty milk cartons, jam jars and margarine tubs back in the fridge should hand themselves in and their presents back. I learnt at an early age that this is as good as illegal, however, I've sinced been back to my parents house, tried to raid the fridge for "fun food" such as sandwich fillers, creamy cakes and booze, and my mum's voice appears from nowhere "Don't eat that it's out of date"! Isn't that just as sinful? And who has booze in their fridge for that long it goes out of date? Surely the same people that put crisps in the fridge.

Throwing things away can be fun! You can play games such as bin buckaroo. 

Whatever you do this Christmas, wherever you may be with whomever you choose (or get lumbered with), wrap up, drive safe, and be nice to each other.

To see this piece in full and read more on Christmas antics, go to http://www.n16mag.com/latest-issue.html

Also on HuffPost UK Lifestyle

Alternative Medicines For Mental Health

Many of us are choosing a greener lifestyle, and that goes for medication too. Holistic therapist Sorrell Robbins explains "The idea of alternative medicine - namely herbs - is to help moderate and balance the individual alongside medical and/or psychiatric care and not to cure conditions that mainstream doctors were unable to". 

Holistic therapists are often a plan b to conventional practitioners - like GPs - however the role of the GP is not stripped of authority and is often required to approve certain treatments offered by the holistic therapist.

A holistic therapist should always check what medication you are already taking. Although natural herbs are just that - natural - they still hold potency and should be monitored when used with other medication.

Sorrell takes me through some of the common mental health symptoms she has worked with and what herbs and other alternative medicines she recommends.

Herbs such as valerian and hops help calm the mind. Hops also helps calmly release stored anger. Chamomile as we know also naturally calms the mind, but what we don't know is that we need at least two tea bags for it to have an effect. 

Roman chamomile is good for anxiety in kids, and frankincense with a drop of heart shakia if they are prone to panic attacks. Lavender is also useful is the child is too over-stimulated as it's great for all round relaxation, and that goes for adults too.

Hypnosis - although many people are both excited and nervous about apparent mind control, it is actually a myth. No-one can give you suggestions or commands that your mind won't allow because you are in control at all times. Clinical hypnosis - in oppose to what we see Derren Brown do on TV - is really deep relaxation and meditation. I put Sorrells' hypnotherapy to the test, and was pleasantly surprised at the level of relaxation she took me to through guided visualisation whilst balancing my mind and body. I am one of these un centered people that can usually only wind down whilst I'm asleep.

Many of us have already heard of St Johns wart and it's one of the best selling over the counter and alternative medicines for the blues. It's non toxic and has proven effective results but it should not be taken alongside prescribed antidepressant or antipsychotic drugs as it can have the reverse effect.

Withania herbs help to restore motivation and passion, often lost during depressive episodes. It's good for libido too which is often lost during these episodes. Withania is also a tender energizer.

Rosemary naturally stimulates the circulation system and gives the adrenalin glands a gentle kick. Orange flower is good for children with depression as well as anger problems.

A massage helps boost circulation too, the cupping and hacking (don't be put off by the names given to the techniques) are great for energisers. A good oil to use bergamot as it helps with many types of depressive states, and rose water (rose otto) which has an uplifting effect whilst restoring balance.

Skullcap is known to calm down negative thinking which in turn can ease feelings of paranoia. Also try the valerian, hops and chamomile for their properties.

Orange flower mixed in water, like the hops, can help control feelings of anger and can be used for kids too.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - (OCD)

As well as the Skullcap, wild lettuce for it's mild sedative effect is a good natural medicine for OCD. As episodes of OCD are often triggered by stress and anxiety, also try the valerian, hops and chamomile. Valerian blended with otto rose is suitable for children with OCD.

The hops and valerian, often prepared together, are a common and effective natural sleep aid. They come in both tablet and tea form and it's best to make a pot and drink throughout the evening, not just before you go to bed. As with the tablets, try taking them a good hour or so before you go to bed. Lavender drops on the pillow also help us to relax. Be care with burning oils or incense at night time, the drops are much safer.

Mood Stabiliser
Lemon balm aids in the leveling out of moods, and it's properties are known to promote balance and harmony.

The skullcap can also help with cravings, and is often used in detox blends that eliminate excess drugs from the body. Milk thistle helps cleanse the liver, although it must be used with caution if the liver has been subject to a disorder such as psoriasis. The wild lettuce is sometimes used as an opiate detox because of it's similar sedative effect.

Massage also helps people trying to detox, and lymphatic drainage strokes aid circulation and the elimination of toxins.

Aromatherapy (the use of oils) is also a great alternative remedy. It's soothing, relaxing, great for the skin and muscle tissue and has an immediate effect.  However, it only works on a superficial level. Herbs work on a deeper level on your organs and work much better long term.

To find out more about herbs or the work Sorrel does, click here. http://www.chamomileclinic.co.uk/

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

“Mummy, why is that lady talking to herself?”

Here are some of the common misconceptions of mental health I’ve heard over the years (and calmly kept schtum).

“Depression isn't a mental illness, everyone gets depressed”

Being depressed because you've just been dumped whilst listening to back to back Smiths albums and facebook updates suggest all your friends are out having fun without you, is not necessarily clinical depression, however if you can't eat or get out of bed for days or weeks trapped underneath an invisible heavy glue and suicide is all you have to look forward to then your depression is indeed in the serious risk scale.

“We're dangerous criminals and serial killers”

Worldwide serial killers like Ted Bundy and The Camden Ripper amongst many others were diagnosed mentally ill. But what about all the rest? Prisons are much bigger than asylums. In our previous generation, we kids were kept away from mad aunts and nutty neighbours, in case we were kidnapped, fed people pie or drawn on, but a whopping one in four of us will suffer from mental health at some point, which means, if we are dangerous murderers, then someone in your office, on your bus, or even in your house is capable of killing you so do be careful what you say.

“We talk to ourselves or imaginary people”

It's more that likely we're talking on our hands free. Someone who went in a coma ten years ago and just woke up, would think we'll all, especially city boys, gone mad. But reality is we with mental health make hands free phone calls too. In fact we can even change batteries too. Look at some of the Brightest Sparks – Einstein, John Nash, Doc from Back To The Future (although it's still unsure as to whether it's a fictional story or not) - are/were all clinically mad.

“We're benefit scroungers”

Many people with mental health conditions rely on benefits because it is often near impossible to either get or maintain full time employment.
If you have a physical disability, companies build ramps, if you have a mental disability, what can they build us for our brain?
So we're in a sticky one. If we “tick the box if you have a mental disability” we're up against someone who hasn't who are more likely to get the job, or we don't tick the box, get unwell, we get instantly dismissed for lying on our form.
However, for those that think people on mental health benefits are swanning around in designer gear drinking champagne in the Ivy, or even drinking White Lightening whilst watching Loose Women, do keep up the fantasies because they're much better than the reality.

“We wander the streets”

It's more that likely that we're going to the shops. We eat, read the paper, and empty our bins too. I know channel Four documentaries portray this image of us hoarding rubbish to the point we have to eat and sleep in our bathrooms but occasionally we need to wander to the shops for tea bags and cat food like everyone else... who has cats obviously. Besides, it could just be that the BMW we bought with our benefits is in the garage.

“Schizophrenia means split personality”

So then every female suffering PMT is a Schizophrenic – one minute throwing the boyfriends Xbox games out of the window because he cannot ****ing tidy up after himself, to crying into tinned macaroni because he's not paying her attention – he's busy tidying up – Schizophrenia is a severe condition involving acute paranoia, delusions and hallucinations requiring medication to help maintain a “normal” life whilst split personality is the slang definition of conflicting personalities in the same person, like Jekyll and Hyde, or just getting drunk.

“Bipolar means ups and downs”

Many people have asked me if I think they're bipolar because they have a really good day followed by a really bad one. On asking for a bit of history, many of them were suffering hangovers from fun packed weekends, every weekend. The upside of bipolar doesn't mean really happy or over excited it means manic, out of control, delusive and dangerous. I've known patients on the ward run a business from their bum, set up tents for children they don't have and park their trains in Tesco's car park (or so they think) And the low side, almost one on four people with bipolar take their own lives, most of them have tried.
So, ups and downs is about being human, changes in pace, sobering up, having fluctuating days and we don't need lithium for that, we need a good diet, a sensible work/play routine, a decent nights sleep, and light objects to throw at people we love every now and then..
You can read more at..

www.n16mag.com/latest-issue.html (p45)

Saturday, 27 October 2012

The Seven Of Diamonds

I've recently discovered that playing Snap with yourself just doesn't work. 

This year the majority of my friends have left London for good to play grown ups - move to the country, raise kids etc - and I'm finally starting to feel that blanket of isolation. When my mobile used to ring I'd ignore it - my handbag being at least a foot away - now I have it taped to my ear and wait for it to ring. I refuse to skype, I will not put my make up on just to have a conversation.

One of my new years resolutions will be to spend more time with other people, even if they irritate me, be in a philanthropic or misanthropic day.

Other new years resolutions include..

Lots of CBT, big fan of.
Laugh more, even if I have to hold a gun to my own head
Don't pretend to forget to take lithium
Drink less
Read more
Delete all online shopping accounts
Listen to more music, does not include playing the same song on repeat for hours on end
No more guinea pigs, people already need a ticket to come round the flat

There's already loads of what I call "CBT typos" in that list which are gun, don't, delete, no.
Right, back to the card deck. Unfortunately the only pack available in the rather dodgy tobacconist in the Canary Islands where I purchased them was a pornographic deck. Every time I flip the seven of diamonds I get a bit excited.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Mummy, why is that lady talking to herself?

I also recently joined the writing team at  the glossy magazine "N16". Here I write about the common misconceptions of mental health.

To read it on the mags website click..
http://www.n16mag.com/latest-issue.html (p45)

Lack of Routine, Too Much Creativity, a Mental Health Condition... You're in Butlins

Today I drank coffee from a mug that say's "Tea" on it and I didn't even freak out!

I'd say that is pretty sweet progress considering I've been sleep deprived and over stimulated lately. 

I've been busy advocating on behalf of Mental Health as usual, and this week I was part of a live panel interview on Resonance FM. 

Artist Gary Molloy, Musician Mark Roberts and some writer called Kerry Hudson (that'll be me then) discussed the therapeutic benefits of creativity. Gary hasn't been in hospital, where he was in and out of for years, since he picked up a paint brush nearly fifteen years ago, and he in on minimum medication. I've spoken with countless artists (as in the art form, these are mainly musicians) whilst writing about the subject who say that medication slows them down - their creative drive, their idea formatting process, their motor skills.. - which in turn makes them more frustrated, more depressed, and further from recovery. 

I guess I'm one of the lucky ones who has a supportive shrink - he knows that if I can't go from idea to production I'll get cranky. Really cranky, I'd NEVER be able to drink coffee out of a tea mug, life would be a list of lists, timetables and IF THEY WEREN'T NEAT ENOUGH... I currently take five lots of little white ones daily, from lithium to diazapam and I rarely keep up with all my publications and I torment myself by thinking if I came off them all, I'll have multiple books written, multiple screen plays even, multiple everything. But I'd probably be writing them all from Butlins Ward (a psych ward) having bought every pet from every pet shop in London and talked so much so fast I put Energy companies out of business.

Speaking of psych wards, the show's presenter  Yodet Gherez asked our experiences about institutions and if they changed and the first time I was in one (aged sixteen) it really did feel like a holiday camp, there were numerous activities, daily. There were also extra curricular activities I got in trouble for too, like setting up a secret aerobics class for the eating disorder patients, and running a walking club in the basement, and this was Addenbrooks in Cambridge, one of Europe's largest hospitals and basement corridors went on for miles, and you could get, and we did get lost. It had a fully kitted out music room, complete with piano and drum kit for music therapy. My last trip to a ward, a couple of years ago, music therapy consisted of a tatty boom box and a pile of RnB CD singles, and we take turns playing them. No offense to RnB but I'd rather play Rene and Renate on repeat for the whole of my stay.

Back to the creative process. I sometimes wish that I didn't have a brain that has a hundred thoughts, suggestions, ideas,and at times beliefs per second or so it seems, my flat is often covered in notes, papers, lists, post-it's, drafts, fabric cuts, storyboards, pins, "to do's", latex.. and I sometimes have my laptop and sewing machine whirring simultaneously because I'm running with a new textile art idea as well as an article. 

I used to work for an architect and his PA would make me very jealous when she talked about her life, she knew exactly what she was doing from one day, one hour to the next. Monday evenings she and her husband would go to her mums, his mums on a Sunday. Tuesday gym, Wednesday ironing, Thursday late night shopping at Lakeside, Friday dinner with their friends and Saturday they laid in till 10am then did DIY. And when she left work every day, she didn't take anything home, she switched off. You can't switch off when you're creative, or you can but I haven't worked it out yet. Wine helps but it's also loopy juice on top of most psyche meds. 

Routine can be difficult for people with mental health, no day is the same, it's ruled by our moods, thoughts, beliefs, behaviour, energy etc.. I may have "10am appointment" in my diary but even if I'm up by 7am on a rare occasion I've slept, it's likely that by 3pm I still haven't made it in the shower and have no idea what I've been doing. I once started writing it down, every hour, on the hour, and I came up with "writing down what I'm doing" which completely fed my OCD!!

I haven't met many people with mental health problems who aren't in some way or other creative, we naturally question everything, perhaps to obsessiveness sometimes, and spiral off in different directions looking for alternative conclusions, very much like the artists' mind. It would be good if we could switch off occasionally, lithium does so much but I'd love to switch off at 5.30pm and go late night shopping with the rest of Essex!

Should you want to hear the interview you can access it here..

I'm sorry in advance if I offend any Loose Women fans.

You can read more about creativity and mental health in my article on the subject here..

Should you want to read this blog in the Huffington Post you can click here...

Monday, 15 October 2012

Healthy Hobbies

I recently became a regular writer for Mental Healthy (formerly Uncovered) magazine. 

At the same time I'm having a combination of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and CAT (cognitive analytical therapy) where we're focusing on the need for but also the destructiveness of "quick fixes". For some people this is erratic spending, for others opiate using, for me it's pretty much all of them. Sometimes I think people like me with mania were built with an extra impulse button that just doesn't switch off. Many manic depressives confuse this with addiction, thinking that if we cut out booze and other substances we'll be OK. Although to some extent that helps, unfortunately the mood disorder remains. I actually got diagnosed nearly a year into giving up booze and I was still kind of drunk, and high and a f*cking kite. If you slow that compulsive drive right down, you get the ability to make a better decision, or a healthier choice. 

With that in mind I wrote an article about healthy hobbies, funnily enough, it's called Healthy Hobbies and it's here.


Friday, 12 October 2012

Excuse me?

Sometimes it's the little things. Unfortunately I don't have a two week Caribbean cruise to look forward to at the end of the month. (I am a liability around water especially with a glass of anything in my hand) but I do have Homelands to look forward to on the box every Sunday night. I'm usually the one that misses out on what everyone's watching, I missed a whole series of Downtown Abbey which meant I couldn't join in a conversation in an office or pub for eight weeks and Footballers Wives I was discovered so late I had to cram in five series' into a long weekend, by the end of it I found myself wandering round Lidl in my funeral/pulling dress, six inch heels and cramp.

So, Homelands, I'm in the loop. US drama about terrorism, yes it's miles apart from my usual Confessions Of A Pet Hoarder or Embarrassing Bodies but now I'm socially accepted. The main character is also called Carrie, and like myself suffers from Bipolar, and is also on lithium. She plays the part well. This IS going somewhere.

In the meantime, a friend of mine comes over on a Monday morning to help me plan my week. She's not my PA, or CPN (community practice nurse) but somewhere in between, and she has dull taste in biscuits so she's cost effective.
She helps me fill my diary otherwise I'm stuck with things like Wednesday, re-write the bible as a musical, Wednesday PM cure hepatitis. It's the change of season and I've noticed some of my bipolar colleagues have been getting manic, myself included, and left unsupervised my diary starts to look like listed coding.

I taped Sundays' Homelands so my diary friend and I could watch it together on Monday over tea and crap biscuits. As we watch it, my poor friend not only has me, receptively asking her questions (I didn't see the first series) but on the screen another Carrie with bipolar is receptively asking questions (she works for the CIA).

From stuff I've read by other bipolar bears, Carrie Fisher included (another Carrie), we do tend to ask a lot of questions, often at inappropriate times. I once woke a boyfriend up at 4am to ask if he liked ghost trains. Another time at 5.30am with brushes and paint because I wanted to learn to paint NOW. A dear friend of mine's husband left her and my sympathy was much needed but all I was coming out with was the need to know the dimensions of the place he had moved into and the distance to and from his job.

Excitement, rush, impulse, anxiety, mania, inquisitive, instability... no idea why we do it. We just do.

I'm starting to think it would be easier for everyone else if I just booked that bloody Caribbean cruise after all...

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

"Sorry it's late notice but..."

...I'm not coming"

Both instability and inconsistency of mood makes it very hard to make and stick to plans. I can just about cope with making plans for the same day, because I know where I am, but future plans be it in a months time, a weeks time or even the next day... oh no. 

Friends and family have come to the end of their tether over the years, with me canceling at the last minute, in fact the other day my friend said I cancel exactly an hour before hand, on the dot. I've cancelled on countless occasions, big occasions, last year I didn't even make one of my best friend's wedding, and I was her bridesmaid!

I can only imagine what people think. Especially when it's I, who enthusiastically plans something, invites everyone, and doesn't show. They probably think I'm flakey, or that I got a better offer, or that I can't be bothered.. reality is I'm often sat at home in the same pile of dirt as the day before, under a heavy black cloud, pulling out sweaty chunks of hair, calling myself every name under the sun (including flakey) and telling myself "Why don't you just go?" and ever time I try and move from my dead weight I'm reminded of the paralysis.

Or, I'm pacing up and down the hallway, slap and hat on, and every time I try and turn my key in the door my hands are shaking so much I hear Jingle Bells. This is where I'm being beaten up by paranoia. I've already decided that people are going to humiliate me as I walk in, and that the sound of everyone laughing is like thunder and as lightening strikes the inside of my head will light up and everyone will see what I'm having to cope with.

In my earlier years, as in, non-diagnosed so not medicated, I once didn't go out because I thought I was famous and that I'd get hounded like hungry dogs to a bare bone. This was BEFORE I discovered non-prescription drugs by the way, I'm aware of the similarity in grandiosity.

So, few friends have caught on that I can't make plans. Don't get me wrong, in a stable place, it's doable, sometimes, but the majority of my social life is based either in my house, or on the spur of the moment. So, if you're getting married, forget sending me an invitation, just text me in the morning "getting married at midday" and I'll more than likely be there!

Ironically I was going to write a piece about how much fun I had at Mecca Bingo the other night (after I cancelled, twice) but this slipped out. I must remember not to send this link to the Mecca facebook page as promised. 

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Recovering From Addiction

I interviewed Tom Huber for one of my magazines, he's a recovering addict, addicted to pretty much everything, and now he's a counsellor specializing in addiction.

So why did I choose Tom? I mean, I'm surrounded by addicts, why him?

Because of his magnetic positive attitude and witty sense of humour. He is the perfect advocate for people who think that giving up alcohol or drugs means giving up your personality too. 

I met him during a visit to Focus12, recovery home to Russell Brand, Davina McColl and Boy George, and also one of my best friends/ex partner (yes, we're one of those weird ones) Nail. He told me "Being a part of someone getting clean is better than heroin" How many people can say that about their job?

Here's the article..


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

My Sick Bowls' Well Better Than Yours

Teens on busses. I try my hardest to avoid East London busses between three and four in the afternoon because this seems to be when screaming teens seem to be at their most hormonal. They pile on busses in clusters of about eight and give everyone on the bus tinnitus. But when boys get on a few stops down the line they get even louder. I try and imagine the soft voice of David Attenborough explaining to me it's all part of the natural mating process but it's flooded by a high tempo argument about who's phones better than who's.

It makes me wonder what we used to argue about when we were that age, a time where there was no such thing as an “aye” phone. Someone defaced my Guess Who game. And someone else accused me of stealing her tights. Then someone fell out with me because a boy she fancied asked me out and even though I said no she still picked on me for the rest of my life.

I was always an easy target because I was rubbish at arguing back. The words would get jumbled up as I tried to say them which gave them even more to play with. As a cry for help I soldered scissors together in woodwork class but no one noticed, read extracts from my stories about drugs, prostitution and suicide in English class but no one even listened, and then I bunked off for nearly six weeks and still no one noticed, except the dinner lady because I still owed her for a doughnut.

Around aged ten when we all started smoking, which we did wearing hideously eighties make up, I was still in nappies at night-time (nervous child) which was very weird.. fags check, make up check, nappy... sounds like something from a beauty pageant contest... it wasn't. I wore a brace that went all the way around my head, pressing against my chubby cheeks, a tight perm, and big Sue Pollard glasses covering my whole face.

Back to the teens on the busses, talking about how “mash up” they're gonna get later. Oh the glamour of getting so intoxicated they'll be spending the following day over a bowl, trying to remember who said what to who and who's no longer speaking to who. Crawling to the pound shop for a pregnancy test to do in the bogs of Macky Dee's. “I'm gonna get way more mashed that you” surely they may as well be saying “My sick bowl's well better than yours”

Will there ever be a time, when we'll hear kids on busses say things in reverse like “I'm gonna get proper balanced this weekend.. I'm gonna eat a well balanced diet and get a well early night”  

Knitting Cakes In Crack Dens

I can't stop knitting cakes. I spend many evenings and weekends alone constructing doughnuts out of wool, sprinkling glitter dust on French fancies and tying ribbon around Swiss rolls.

I've used up all the recording space on Sky + because I'm banned from watching my murder programs on my own I have to record them. I've even had to wipe all my episodes of Embarrassing Bodies and Animal Hoarders to make room for something I'm not allowed to watch.

My guinea pigs are happy I have something else to obsess about, the more time I spend knitting the less time my face is pressed up against their cage staring weirdly at them breathing cherryade (which is the new cava) onto them.

Knitting keeps me out of trouble. I initially taught myself to knit when I gave up smoking, and then accidently started a craft business. It gives me a distracting focus even though I can zone in and out of thoughts at the same time. I think it's marvelous for sufferers of both OCD and anxiety, as well as those recovering from addiction. I can't imagine myself back in a crack den chasing the dragon whilst darning pom poms onto tea cozies somehow.

Recent projects and exhibitions involve knitted toilet roll dolls (with action men), cakes (even a full size wedding cake), and 80's memorabilia (rubix cube).

In East London it's considered cool to knit but I haven't joined any clubs like Stitch n' Bitch because I'm terrified of new people and talk too much as a result which in turn irritates them.

If ten years ago somebody told me that one day I'd give up, late nights, drugs, “frequent encounters with the opposite sex” swinging round the pole on the back of a London bus, and throwing up in bins. for knitting, I would've told them it's rude to spread lies.

Maybe it's age, maybe it's lithium, maybe it's both or neither, but I think everyone should try it. Ironically many pharmacies sell wool..

“I need something for tinnitus - the Hokey Cokey's been in my head on full volume for nearly a week now”

“Take this eight ply yarn, a set of four millimeter needles, follow the instructions in your head and you'll have a nice long scarf within two weeks”

Coat on
Buttoned up
I'm off

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Now The Olympic Is Over We Can All Ignore Each Again

Now the main games are over, the general public of London commuters seem to be back to their old selves - if a stranger speaks to them on the Tube they pretend they don't hear for being engrossed in their book. 

During this time people seemed genuinely nicer to each other, whether they were on their way to see the games or on their way to work. Shop staff were friendlier, transport staff were more helpful and the general public had a sense of pride about themselves, not in the smug sense but in unity. This seemed more evident in clusters, like on busy tubes or trains, platforms and queues, and even in long queues people, even me, moaned less. Volunteers were singing silly made up songs into their megaphones, there was a refreshing amusing attitude that would raise eyebrows and spit tuts any other time but now.

As with the World Cup, strangers world-wide can make conversation because we all have one thing in common, even though they may come across as worlds apart. 

I don't usually use the "C" word but I couldn't help myself lap up the community spirit and that bonding sense of belonging -  I personally belong to a minority group, I'm one of those people who talk to strangers on tubes and get ignored in exchange for <em>The Da Vinci Code</em> - and my friend and I have even been pumping the tyres of a tandem, decorated the basket with red white and blue flowers, flags and bunting, ready to parade along the canals of East London to mark the completion of a once in our lifetime event. If you see us, stop, we have treats!

Admittedly I'm no sport enthusiast, in fact I couldn't be less enthusiastic, but living so close to the Olympic Park- in fact my car park and balcony were in use by friends and family eager to get to the site in twenty minutes door to door or photograph the fabulous fireworks displays - I was surrounded by Olympic Mania the minute I left my home to the minute I arrived back. It was like living in a giant Camper-van at a music festival.

Stratfords Westfield Centre is my local shopping centre, and during very hectic shopping trips I found myself getting excited and borderline emotional every time I saw someone in a shell suit, until the realization hit me that I was after all in Stratford and that wasn't uncommon at all.

I was fortunate enough to get tickets into the stadium on the last day of the main games, 
The very firs thing that came into my head when I walked into the Olympic Park was that it seemed like a very clean Glastonbury Festival. It had the crowds, diversity and friendliness but not the litter, perfume de portaloo or the mud.

I was surprised to see such casual attire, I had no idea what people were wearing to the Olympics as the only people I'd observed in full attire on TV were athletes and Kate Middleton, so formal dress of my nations' colours, red heels and royal blue fascinator hat it was... and of course everyone else is in comfy lights and trainers. 

I even saw the very last game from the front row, and witnessed a world record, things I'll never experience again in my lifetime. However I can't tell you what either of these were, I was buzzing from the experience as a whole, scanning the crowds, listening to a medley of languages and playing less attention to the games. Besides, there were three games running at any one time and I didn't know where to direct my focus - a bit like Sunday lunch arriving whilst you're starving and you don't know what to dig into first - not saying the Olympics is an exciting as Sunday lunch of course, merely just a rubbish metaphor. 
From someone with no interest in sport I was certainly easily excited and only stopped cheering to breath. I even clapped and whistled at volunteers as they entered the track with buckets.

And of course I got to see the winners and runners up be presented with their Jim'll Fix It badges, as we stood and pretended to know the words to their national anthem. 

And finally, speaking of singing, describing what I'd seen to friends was a bit like singing The 12 Days Of Christmas there were eight poles vaulting, seven ladies running, six hammer throwing, five gold rings..

Oh well, I guess we'll have to wait another three years, eleven months and two weeks before we start being nice to people we don't know again.

For the Huffington Post version of this, click here.. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/kerry-hudson/now-we-can-start-ignoring-each-other-again-post-olympics_b_1817759.html

Sunday, 19 August 2012

‎"People with bipolar disorders are dangerous serial killers" Anyone fancy a picnic in the woods?

Just thoughts I'd share this little lady's post on the popular misconceptions of bipolar ..


Recovery from Domestic And Psychological Abuse

Apparently one in four will suffer from domestic abuse in a lifetime so I spoke with some survivors and wrote an article which lives here.


Sunday, 29 July 2012

Misery Is Comedy

This here article rings true.. we as a nation are warming to misery and finding it comical and stand ups are digging out their darkest material. 


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Fast Forwarding Tapes

I'm absolutely devastated to say that many people with bipolar unfortunately can't drink sensibly, or, they can drink sensibly but it becomes a game of Russian Roulette, we never know when the bullets in the drink. It's not that we're alcoholics but major impulsives. 

A dear friend of mine recently graduated from rehab, I asked him “What happens if you get an urge to drink?” and he simply replied “I fast forward the tape to the end of the night” and I know exactly what he meant.

Friday, 20 July 2012

The Dating Game

I joined the writing team of N16 magazine this month, and also became part of the writing team for Mental Healthy (formerly Uncovered magazine) who I've written for before, two amazing, insightful and colorful mags, and what with the recent Jubilee, my current exhibition and the Olympics coming up I've been making a LOT of bunting, so, I haven't been blogging much. The article above (and thats me) is about my very own dating (disasters). Here's an extract..

"I wonder how much time it would save us in the long run if we were just as honest as we possibly can be on our dating profiles. Here's mine for example.. “Female, early thirties, living in vibrant area of London, textiles artist, loves documentaries, live music, is fun, intelligent, kind seeking similar man.” What I really mean is “Female (true), mid thirties, living in ex housing estate in close to the Hackney riots, does knitting, watches Women Who Kill and Embarrassing Bodies every night, been to see Chas N' Dave (twice), is lively and prone to mood swings if forgets medication, can complete half a crossword in Take A Break magazine, says please and thank you once in a while and seeking whoever because her clock's ticking.  According to many sources the world is supposed to end in five months and we're simply running out of time."


Monday, 2 July 2012

Post Man, Psychiatrist or Gloria Estefan?

It recently came to my attention that the best person to assess a client with Mental Health needs is in fact, the Postman. Firstly, yes I have been taking my lithium. Now, think about it, the Postman, if a regular to the same address, ticks the box that good Psychiatry practices, but very often fails.


I once advocated on behalf of a client who saw a different Psychiatrist every quarterly session for four years, each time having the same introductory conversation over again and each doctor had different views about medication so that changed more often than Gloria Estefan's outfit in a pop video.

My Postie has seen me every morning for the last six years and must have witnessed the cycle that is Manic Depression over and over. He's experienced the gibbering insomniac who won't let him leave “Just one game of Kerplunk” to refusing to open the door for paranoid days on end. He can tell I'm overspending by daily multiple packages and red letters. He sees my fluctuating weight, he sees me glammed up to the max one morning and can tell when I've not got dressed all week.

Sometimes the poor man has reverted back to knock door bunk leaving Amazon parcels outside my front door for the world to help themselves to. (It's good to know that other adults are playing knock door bunk as I was a late developer in the world of student nights and partying, I played knock door bunk, alone, until I was nineteen. Where I grew up many women had a family of four by then.

It's therefore no wonder that clients, who meet a Psychiatrist for the first time and receive a full diagnosis fifty minutes later, sometimes get re-diagnosed by a different Psychiatrist later in life, having not only been taking the incorrect medication during that time, but have had to come to terms with a condition they didn't actually have.

Last week I went to visit a friend who's currently staying in a Psychiatric hospital. On arrival the doctor was very reluctant to let me see him and I had to say I was a staff member from a Mental Health service to get in. He told me I can have five minutes and to prepare myself as he was extremely high (manic) and so I took a deep breath and went to find him. I can honestly say he was as manic as he usually is and no more, but having not known him prior to admission the doctor wouldn't know that.

Well, I never thought I'd be putting Royal Mail on a pedestal, they are after all up there in the top five things we Brits love moaning about, alongside the weather, husbands, public transport and banks. But then I'm the crazy customer that sends thank you cards to credit card companies and takes chocolates into Specsavers. Maybe one day I'll send Interflora some flowers...