Did you see the programme on BBC Two tonight about the Red Arrows? It took me right back to my RAF days, which was both a blessing and a curse. Blessing because I remembered all the fun and laughter of the Mess and the gritty, good feeling when a job was well done. Curse because I was chucked out in my prime and could have gone so much further. Had the RAF decided to treat me, rather than punish me, (see before) I might have stayed in. The programme reminded me what it was like to fly in a fast jet - I've flown in a Phantom, a Tornado and a Lightning - that fantastic feeling of defying gravity and just going really, really fast. I've also flown in quite a few helicopters and the Hercules. Oh, and the VC10. During the work up to the Falklands War, I was offered a trip in a Mirage with a French pilot, but my Boss wouldn't let me go! Bastard. I've been up close and personal i.e. clambered all over every aircraft the RAF had during my time - Vulcans, Victors, Harriers, Sea Kings to name but a few. I even loved the smell of aviation fuel and I've been through the sound barrier. It was a pretty good life, really. And I worked quite hard as well.
My old Boss from Germany was 91 last week - a brave and clever man. He flew Lancasters as a Bomb Aimer during the latter stages of the war and then banged out of a Meteor over the Malayan Jungle.. He then spent a lot of time at Farnborough, testing new types of aircraft. He ended up as the Protocol manager in RAF Germany, when I was the Protocol Officer. He has the best one liners that I've ever heard, and some of the funniest jokes. Happy Birthday Frank and glad you're enjoying the voddie.
Well, I might try bed, I think. Or I might not.
I spent a bit of last week writing a draft of an article to go in a psychiatric journal. It's on Lived Experience Mentoring; that is to say, pairing a psychiatrist up with a service user to help the psychiatrist improve his practice. It's a ground breaking project, and I think we are the only organisation to be doing it. So far, three psychiatrists have been through the programme, with two service users, one of whom is me. The aim is to produce recovery orientated doctors, who will see the client as a person with goals, hopes and ideas, rather than just as a patient. This may sound like teaching your Grandmother, but as you will all know, most psychiatrists don't work like that. The results are at an early stage and the project has yet to be properly evaluated, but all the signs are good. All three doctors say it has made them very aware of their own practice and how it has improved with mentoring. One of the topics we covered was power and how the mentoring was a kind of inversion of the power game. Many doctors act like tin pot gods, making sure that we, the patients, know exactly who is the expert - this project has shown that service users are the experts by experience. My only slight fear is that, so far, only psychiatrists who are interested in either recovery or improving their practice have signed up. The ones who think they know it all, whose practice is poor, we haven't reached yet. They're my next target for attack.
I've had a quiet weekend, punctuated by writing letters to the Times and the Telegraph about mental health. I think I must be the original Disgusted of Dorset. I've had a few letters published before, so I write in hope rather than expectation. There have been so many articles and letters over the past couple of years about mental health being the Cinderella service - yet still nothing is done. Efforts (and money) are poured into cancer drugs to halt the side effects, but we continue to face very similar side effects all our lives. Research grants are given to Cancer Research UK, but I don't think there even is a research charity looking at mental illness. I'm completely fed up with it.
Next week is fairly busy with meetings and a lunch out on Friday with a friend who lives the other side of town.
I'm wide awake again - must have missed that all important drug window.
Still awake haha. I thought I'd download Tor, the browser that encrypts one's searching on the web. It's taken me two hours and it still won't work. My Mac keeps telling me that I am running a version of Firefox - I don't have Firefox - and that I can't run two versions. I have tried everything, searched the web until my eyes hurt, and it still won't load. I've tried Spotlight and apparently I don't have Firefox anywhere on my computer. So how the fuck can it be running???? If anybody out in the ether has any ideas, please message me - I'm in despair! And yes, I did change my security settings to download and open it, so it's not that. They're back to normal now.
It's 0230. I'm also trying to copy and paste my blog into a manuscript that I can read - and even that won't work! I cut, but when I paste the format is completely buggered - technical term - and puts a single word on each line. Once again, any ideas gratefully received. I was told that a box would open for me to choose paste options, but I think that's for Windows.
Thus all in all, I haven't had a terribly successful night. I'm living on coffee and fags as I type, but I have had a cheese sandwich - I always get hungry at night if I'm up. When I worked nights, I had to eat for the whole shift otherwise I'd collapse! Didn't do much for the weight - I've lost a stone, by the way. Many more to go.
My shoulders ache as does my back - too much bending over a laptop. Hey ho - I'll try sleep again.
That last post wasn't shared on Facebook for some reason which I don't understand. I'll try with this one.
Because I was high a while ago, I now have two iPads, a Buffalo hard drive, a speaker dock for iPad and iPhone and the dinky little yellow mushroom speaker which I mentioned before. I"m hoping to sell the second iPad. There's something so seductive about Amazon, don't you find? When I click on a buy, I don't think I'm spending money, and even when I get my credit card statement, it doesn't seem real. Does everyone think like that, or am I one of a few? When I was in the RAF doing debt counselling (!) there were quite a few airmen who thought that a new cheque book meant they had more money. I can identify with that.
Stephen Fry has once again opened his mouth without engaging his brain, this time about Op Yewtree. Admittedly, he only has bipolar lite, so he has no excuse. Celebs who suddenly develop bipolar disorder spoil it for the rest of us - they very rarely have to suffer hospital admissions, unless it's to The Priory, and in most cases they can afford manic spends. I actually think Ruby Wax has done a lot more for mental health than most - I read her book about the brain, and although it was a bit of a Noddy's guide, it did at least try to make sense of the whole business. She did a thing on the BBC website about mental illness, which was great.
Now listening to Wild Thing by The Troggs, which used to be my party piece at Happy Hours in the mess. Three chords on a guitar and anyone can play it. I taught myself the guitar when I was 11 - the first one I had cost me £10 and was a semi acoustic cherry red marvel, with steel strings so my fingers bled. I skived off school for a week to learn how to play. Now I have three guitars, including a 12 string, and my sister and I often jam together when she's here.
Maybe I'll try to sleep?
It's been a funny old day, culminating in - yet again - having trouble sleeping. I blame the full moon; I always have a problem with sleep when it appears. Had a lovely weekend, with a smashing party from which I eventually retired at about 0100. There were about 50 people there, many of whom I didn't know, so it was an excellent chance to meet them. There were long tables underneath gazebos with wine and food in plentiful supply. AND an amazing cocktail to start with. Liz - you are a star.
I've got friends arriving tomorrow and then my sister comes down on Thursday, which will be great - staying until Saturday.
I've been re reading this blog and realising how important it has been to me - some of the entries have been quite depressing, like those in Sep/Oct last year - but I'm very glad I've written it.
Well - off to bed again, in the hopes that I'll eventually drop off.
I spent 16 years in the RAF defending the Free World , then got bunged out unceremoniously for being bipolar. I and was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD. Funny old world, isn't it?