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Postcards from Scotland

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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. Her latest book is Hiding in Plain Sight: Exploring Scotland's ill health. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 13/12/2017

In the past couple of  years our dog has developed a habit: if he has been away for a few days he goes outside, puts his nose in the air and barks loudly as if to let the neighbourhood know he’s back. Unfortunately I haven’t yet managed to photograph him mid-bark.

This image has come to mind in the last few weeks for the simple reason that after almost two years of silence I too am back.

After I set up the Centre in 2005 I regularly expressed my views in books, frequent blogs and an unbelievable number of talks and presentations. In fact I averaged about 50 talks a year. In the past two years I have written three blogs – two on new Postcards from Scotland books and one on Brexit and I’ve only spoken at two or three events.

It would be easy to attribute this silence to being burned out by all that previous activity but that doesn’t feel right. Anything I’ve read about burn out explains that one of its chief characteristics is lack of motivation. Previous activities that were once so important in a person’s life now have no appeal: drive and motivation dry up.

For me burn out would have been easier to deal with – I just wouldn’t have cared that I couldn’t keep doing what I’d previously done. No, my drive and motivation to be part of a wider discussion and movement in Scotland didn’t abate, but my physical and mental capacity to participate did.

I’m finally beginning to feel a lot better. I’m sure that some of my health problems were due to the treatment I received a few years ago for Hepatitis C –a virus I had contracted in my 20s from a blood transfusion and which I wasn’t aware of for 38 years. But I now know that traumatic stress and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have played a big part in my health problems. I really identify with the ACE researchers’ description of how hyper-vigilance develops. I experienced this as a result of an unpredictable home and school environment (I’m dyslexic). I describe these experiences and their impact in my latest book Hiding in Plain Sight.

In the past year I’ve not only written that book but I’ve also edited and been involved in the production of another two Postcards from Scotland – Alan McLean’s terrific new book Knowing and Growing: Insights for Developing Ourselves and Others and Working for Equality: Policy, politics, people edited by Richard Freeman, Fiona McHardie and Danny Murphy.

So in the space of six weeks I’ve been involved in the publication of three books. Other books in the series will appear early in 2018. This is why I have a strong sense of being back.

But it’s definitely not with a vengeance. In the past few decades I’ve been fairly intrepid. I couldn’t have written some of my earlier books or set up the Centre if I hadn’t been able to deal with a fair amount of flak. I’m now in my mid 60s and like many of my age I no longer feel able to accommodate the same level of stress in my life. The problem isn’t mental; it’s physical. So I’ll not be on social media late at night or constantly travelling about the country giving talks. But I do hope to get back to generating and discussing ideas on what people can do to improve not only their sense of themselves, but also their relationships, their communities and their lives. Crucially I want to be part of the growing movement which aims to transform Scotland so that we become better at raising and nurturing children.


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