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I never promised you a rose garden. Friday September 22, 2017

I have never read this book – for others who do not know it, a schizophrenic girl of 16 creates another world in order to escape. Her parents struggle with the stigma of mental illness, then she is lucky enough to meet a brilliant therapist who wins her trust and gives her the courage to fight the illness.

My life has been full of physical (as opposed to metaphorical) roses. A picture exists of me, just walking, under lovely rose arches. I still have roses, every garden has had roses, so that is eight decades of roses! But the path has been decidedly thorny at times, none more so than at the present.

I have just had an hour talking to my only niece. Her brother is schizophrenic (so they say) but his father never talks about him, and his sister is scared of him, he has been violent in the past, and now is scary – luckily, perhaps, for everybody, he has become very withdrawn. Her father, 91, is in hospital – she has had to cancel her holiday to be with him. He treats her in the same way as his brother treats me, like a servant. When his second wife had cancer, his daughter was there, propping him up in any way she could, although she was a full-time teacher. Then her own mother (the divorce was bitter, and the children suffered) had cancer, and off the poor girl went again, commuting by train at least every fortnight.

My friend who I have often cited here has been treated (for depression, in theory – she is also a true hypochondriac while being as fit as a fiddle) on and off for 30 years – she goes from GP to faith healer to devotion (she is Catholic), many charlatans, now she doses herself off the Web. She has drained the sympathy of most of her family and friends.

My husband goes to the excellent Alzheimer Day centre here. I am well known – my car, my shop, my chignon – and I have loads of 'pals' among the inmates/patients, I don't know what is politically correct. The unit is the last and most modern added to a hospital which started in 1347. It houses all types of psychiatric illness. My 'pals' are those who are out and about. They all have mental disorders. Do they, like the girl above, have a world to escape to in their minds? Peopled by fairies? An alter ego? Hobgoblins? I think of these people in the light of the Peter Sarsted song 'Where do you go to my lovely?'

In the depths of depression, is everything black? Or have you had your 'rose garden' dreams?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

P.S. I lay no claim to the roses in the picture. The church is famed because it has had continuous colonies of bees for four centuries. It is in the Mayenne department, calm and beautiful.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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David Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 3:08am

Hello, your World seems to be surrounded by mental health issues. That is why it was good they closed most of the Mental Health Institutions in the U.K. as they were not conducive to helping people overcome their problems.The problem now is all the CAPITAL finance was wasted by POLITICIANS so there is no CARE IN THE COMMUNITY finance in place of them and people have been left, sometimes on the streets to fend for themselves or even worse commit SUICIDE, which is a route an Uncle of mine took.Good Luck with the many unresolved problems you have.

Brum Mum Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 2:29pm

Hi David, I'm not sure I agree with you about the closure of psychiatric hospitals in the uk. I have had two spells in them, one in 1989 and one in 2013. They were both scary times but there was far more opportunity and resources for therapeutic treatment (non medical) in 1989. The one I stayed in for ten days in 2013 as a voluntary patient was really scary. There was an edginess on the ward and I saw one patient attack another patient. Needless to say A lot of time I locked myself in my room as it felt like the only safe place. As hospitals have been closed those left are only for extreme cases and my consultant who misdiagnosed my condition as bi-polar (fortunately instantly reversed by the community psychiatrist) constantly was reminding me of the cost of the bed I was occupying when I was in and the pressure he was under to discharge as quickly as possible. I have vowed "never again"....

Molly Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 4:57pm

This is interesting, as I think David was referring to how things used to be, ie seeing people as 'mad' and treating them as such, a bit like that film, 'One flew over the Cuckoo Nest' and personally I really hate that film. Brum Mum, in the year 1989 myself, I had my first nervous breakdown, and I was offered counselling every single day (that would not happen now) they refused to put me in hospital, explaining how it would not help me because of other people in there. I didn't understand that at the time, but now, I do. There is no help available these days at all, in my experience, and maybe they should have psychiatric hospitals and counselling for those on different levels. I have to say I agree with both of you on this. I worked for a politician, and was then given a lecture from a psychiatrist, when I told him what I did for a living, like it was all my fault that there was lack of funding !! He went on to say how very lucky I was that I had been offered group therapy, which is something I have never been able to do (being in a group). I went three times and we talked about things like pebbles and how they felt in your hand. When I refused to go anymore, they discharged me. Love from a rather stressed and unhappy Molly (for more reasons than I have disclosed)

The Gardener Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 5:03pm

Hello Molly - therapy is a 'double-edged sword'. Really only one to one works, I think, then there has to be real empathy, and the money to pay for it! Sorry you are unhappy - I'm having a good day, despite Mr G's childishness over his shower this morning, and hassling me now. The sun shone, I planted seeds, always the blog to come back to and read replies and I have a translating job. Love and luck xx

David Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 5:14pm

I also had a very frightening voluntary 3 days in WELLS, Somerset and could not get out of there quick enough, like you Brum. I have now instructed a legal team to get compensation for mistreatment and redress in the courts.

Molly Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 8:04pm

Thank you Gardener. Love and luck sending right back to you xx

Mary Wednesday Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 9:27pm

Sending gentle hugs, Molly - for whatever reason.

Molly Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 10:46pm

Thank you Mary, I apologise for not responding to your blog this week. I had a couple of bad days and couldn't 'think'. Molly xx

Mary Wednesday Sat, Sep 23rd 2017 @ 8:13am

No problem. There is no rule which Says you must comment. I did miss you though!

Molly Sun, Sep 24th 2017 @ 12:08am

Aw - that is so nice to say Mary xx

Orangeblossom Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 6:57am

Thanks for the blog which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I hope that the thorns from your rose garden don't spoil the enjoyment of the roses for you today. Love

LP Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 7:21am

Hi TG,
Interestingly although I aspire to be a calm water Lilly I've always seen myself as a thorny rose.
When low, I have nowhere to escape to there is no blackness, just stuck in the muddy torment of negative thinking about who is getting to me.
I have been lower still with uncontrollable crying into the mix.
Thankfully though I'm ok at the moment and that feels great. The manager is looming in the distance but I'm ok.
The usual backlog of things to catch up on and sort out.
My heart goes out to you with your current situation and I hope it's not too long before things change for the better for you. You've come this far and we are with you.
Thank you for your blog and the picture. You are an inspiration TG.
Sending sunshine and smiles to all. LP xxx

Mary Wednesday Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 7:38am

In the very darkest of times my magical worlds all faded into black. But only in the very dark times. Mostly I live in the other realm with my characters. I don't think my realm has been populated with faries since I was seven, but with super-powers, yes. I have apocalyptic beings made of light and emotionally intelligent cyborgs. But mostly humans; fallible and loveable. They bring me so much comfort. When "ordinarily" down (just miserable - experiencing the "blues", not depressed) I pop into their world. They hug me and make me tea, and tell me what is happening with their lives now that their main story has been told. They are my friends. They just can't text me back when I really need a phone hug!

Mary Wednesday Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 7:40am

And roses.... thats another story. I have never been given a dozen red roses. Well, Raz sent me a dozen virtual roses once, but I cannot be absolutely sure he didn't send them by mistake or if they were really meant for someone else. ;)

Mary Wednesday Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 7:47am

And - I missed saying thank you for a beautiful blog and introducing me to a possible book for our book club

Brum Mum Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 2:21pm

Sounds like you need to leave this blog printed out in large print for your husband to find ?

Mary Wednesday Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 9:31pm

Ha ha! Great idea! But - Well, actually, my husband, when he does buy me flowers (about three times in the last 15 years) does something very sweet in that he goes a florist and picks all my favourite colours. He gets me Leonardo roses, which are a lovely velvety brown. So, red roses from him would be a little unimaginative.

Molly Sat, Sep 23rd 2017 @ 2:14am

My husband used to buy me lillies - he thought I liked them, as when he first bought them, I made a big fuss about how grateful I was. I do like them but not so much that he has to buy them every time. It has been a while since he bought me flowers regardless. We had an anniversary recently and I would have been grateful for anything, I just got a card from him (a lovely card) and then went and bought some flowers for myself xx

Mary Wednesday Sat, Sep 23rd 2017 @ 8:22am

As I like flowers, I buy them for myself. I have a little table in my study with a beautiful cross-stitched cloth on it which was made for me by Raz's mother. I nearly always have flowers on that table and they are invariably bought by me! If there was the facility on these posts I would post a photo of this week's rust and gold freesias, which are so sweetly scented too.

Molly Sun, Sep 24th 2017 @ 12:36am

Sounds lovely xx

Sarah yellow rose Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 8:13am

TG, thank you for your blog which was like a short story and I found the tread interesting. Have you read Human Traces by Sebastian Faulks? I found it a great insight into the human mind.

Ach UK Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 8:41am

TG, Thank you for your blog. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your world. Your sharing gives me joy and hope and peace. Your compassion is awesome, your honesty of the difficulties inspiring and your openness to show us your despair and rage is humbling and I Thank You. XX. Ach.

Ps: Two evocative roses in my life are "Ena Harkness" and "Peace".

The Gardener Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 9:12am

Ditto to those two roses Ach. The one in the picture could possibly be Ena Harkness. The rose garden I've just driven through twice is amazing - must find variety - they are still bravely flowering after being pounded by awful weather. It was the combination of the roses and the people I meet in my daily commute which inspired the blog.

Hopeful One Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 9:00am

Hi Gardner- I feel like you say that one cannot walk in the rose garden of life without experiencing the thorns as well. I am sorry read that you appear to have had more than your share of the thorns.Focus on the roses not the thorns.

And don't forget to laugh too

A little old lady goes to the doctor and says, "Doctor I have this problem with gas, but it really doesn't bother me too much. When I break wind they never smell and are always silent. As a matter of fact, I've broken wind at least 20 times since I've been here in your office. You didn't know that I was breaking wind because they don't smell and are silent." The doctor says, "I see, take these pills and come back to see me next week." The next week the lady comes back. "Doctor," she says, "I don't know what the hell you gave me, but now when I break wind ...although still silent...they stink terribly." The doctor says, "Good!!! Now that we've cleared up your sinuses, let's work on your hearing.

Sheena Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 9:13am

Good Morning The Gardener!

Although I am a long standing Moodscoper, I haven't been checking my score for a little while - amazingly it was too steady. However, I still pick up and read the daily blogs. Yours today is just lovely and quite inspiring. Beautifully expressed and there is so much depth there, thank you. I do not know the book you are referring to but I do recall the song. Sometimes I think I am more a 'Girl Interrupted' which I recall as a film but may also be a book.

We all need to tread our own path. Sometimes we need help. Who to trust? There is the issue.

Best wishes from Sheena

The Gardener Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 9:17am

Oh HO! Thanks to all who have already replied. Having the blog (and reading and replying to all of them) has an incredible effect on my day. Had a night's sleep - a real gift. Then. It was shower and hair wash day for Mr G. I shut all the doors, turn the radio up, and let nurse get on with it. If you are of an age where you washed the kids hair in the bath and all shampoos stung the eyes you may remember the battle royal. It upset Mr G for the morning, despite sun, warm house, pretty table cloth, good coffee, porridge and delicious stewed fruit.

Charlie the Farmer Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 9:45am

Very evocative, nicely done mama.

Tim Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 10:46am

What a lovely post. Not, of course, in the steady stream of challenging circumstances you catalogue. That's dreadful. But in the allusion. Also for bringing back to mind that lithe little tune by Peter Salstead. I'm sure we do all have fairies and hobgoblins in our private worlds, invented or not. (And who's to say the "real" world we move within is any more true than the one we feel we're living through in our heads?) I've probably mentioned before a wonderful TED Talk, suggested by happenstance to me by Facebook, given by former Chief Rabbi in the U.K., Dr Jonathan Sachs. Its point was, in these times more than most, we should surround ourselves with those who are quite UNLIKE us, rather than clubbing together. Keeping us calibrated, live to our common human frailties, and other-serving. Hard, but worth it. Like a bike ride. Perhaps this is what you're doing among your 'pals'. And you both benefit. Maybe it's what we do when we "go away" among the fairies and hobgoblins; they remind us of the vitality that comes from getting outside our circles of comfort. Easy to say when feeling well, in control. Bloody terrifying when we're not.

The Gardener Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 11:25am

Thanks Tim, must see if I can locate that TED talk - I find the issues on 'Thought for the Day' on Radio 4 very wide-reaching - I think there is some idea of 'axing' it as not being 'modern'. Hmm. Before they found the cause for my wild mood swings (took many years) I would have terrifying 'visions' just before I'd go to sleep. Light out, book shut, close eyes. And there they were! Always blue (because my favourite artist is Marc Chagall) often like those kids toys, all hair and eyes. Occasionally, they would be iridescent, like those glorious butterflies. Mostly they were more like Blake - real horrors - always had to wake up, do a puzzle or something, even get up for a bit, otherwise they'd come straight back. Tim, you talk about 'comfort circles'. I'm seldom in one - but despite the challenges of the last 4 years I've met the unexpected, done what I never thought I could do, met and been welcomed by people I would never have met - and come to grips with a real terror - dealing with mental problems - shaking hands and smiling at an old man who has to be propped up to still his nodding head - the old girls (younger than me, probably!) who shamble up, with lop-sided smiles to give me a 'bon jour'. This has been a huge hurdle to overcome.

Nicco Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 2:38pm

TG - I have always read your blogs with admiration for your positivity in the midst of adversity. You are an inspiration. I try to use guided imagery as a form of meditation when I'm able which helps calm my mind & raging nervous system - easy when well, harder when sad, almost impossible when depressed - but I'm glad it's there as a 'tool' I can use to try to access a place that is calmer than where I'm at at the time. I love the picture of the beautiful roses - thank you for sharing it. I, too, have roses in my garden and even wrote a poem a few years ago about likening myself to a rose, albeit diseased & deformed, but blossoming none the less. I hope you will always be able to admire and benefit from the beauty of the blooms & pick your way through the thorns without them doing too much pricking. x Nicco x

Molly Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 4:58pm

Sending a rose to you Gardener xx

Lexi Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 5:01pm

Dear lovely Gardener, you are thousands of miles away from me yet I feel a kindred spirit in you. I am not taking care of an ill loved one at the moment, but your honesty and compassion and beautiful descriptions of your village make me feel less alone. My cousin - he was the same age as me - was diagnosed with schizophrenia at a very young age, 11 or 12 I believe, after a violent episode. He and I played together all the time as children. But when my family moved away I never saw him again because he spent the rest of his life in an institution until he was of an age no longer deemed a ward of the state. His life outside the hospital was worse, fraught with homelessness, arrests, being thrown out of halfway houses for fighting. He finally seemed to be turning a corner a few years ago. He found a living situation that worked for him and he seemed (from his brother’s point of view) to be feeling content. Then he died suddenly. A heart attack, brought on by simply years of hard living. It still breaks my heart. I struggle with my therapist when she tells me that I am a loving soul, that I am perfect at my center, that I deserve all the love and happiness in the world. But what about my cousin? What about those children and families in Mexico, in Syria? What chance did they have? I know there are arguments made for karma, and living our lives out to learn lessons, etc. Also that life Is full of suffering and we are meant to learn compassion, but still. I am at a loss to say why I have a chance at happiness and others do not. Sorry, I know I went off on a tangent there that had nothing to do with your post. But when I am black, my thoughts go there. Xo Lexi

Mary Wednesday Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 9:38pm

We cannot help everyone. We can help the ones put before us. It's the one starfish at a time analogy, or the one candle in the darkness. I sponsor a child in Uganda. For that one child, my pittance a month (less than a cup of coffee a day), means she eats, is clothed and receives an education. She has a better future because of me. If I think of the others who do not have that, then despair overwhelms me. If I think of her, then I have hope.

The Gardener Fri, Sep 22nd 2017 @ 5:13pm

Lexi, never mind tangents - as is pretty obvious I have to maintain iron discipline to stick anywhere near the subject. I, too, feel for all those awful sufferings you mention. Long ago, I came to the decision you can't help all the world. In India, we settled on a small corner, sponsored 3 girls (going to be a proxi grand-mother, joy) - and educated 8 others to be nurses, teachers or dancers. Research is showing how many children have signs of depression in their teens (put down as bloody-mindedness, or not noticed till they start to self-harm) with my nephew, like you with your cousin, it's the frustration and the awful waste of a life that gets you. Thanks xx

Jane SG Sat, Sep 23rd 2017 @ 10:17am

A lovely picture TG. I cope with the black moments by going into a fantasy world. Or creating it in the first place to try and avoid pain. I'm slowly learning to stop doing this now and therefore feeling the pain. I hope you are ok, you have to cope with so much everyday. You have my admiration xx

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