Wednesday, 20 February 2019


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : GETTING STUFF DONE - OH, YEAH! ��: As we speak I'm trawling the internet for ideas on how to finish multiple projects, creative or otherwise. What I'm seeing is the fa...


As we speak I'm trawling the internet for ideas on how to finish multiple projects, creative or otherwise. What I'm seeing is the fact that I don't give myself enough time when it comes to mental health blog posts for other people, bearing in mind that all this is voluntary. I've reached the conclusion that giving myself perhaps a week or a month to finish these is a good strategy, depending on what it is.

Ever since I recovered from depression and anxiety, I went full out/hell for leather (all those cliches) wanting/needing to tell people - mental health sufferers and those connected to mental health in any way - about what happened five/six years ago, so that I could share the knowledge that depression is curable.

That's when I decided to start this blog. I sent this introduction message - still doing that - to any number of creatives, renaissance souls, mental health charities, and people in that industry.

I'm Jo – quirky artist, writer, garden lover, mental health advocate, traveller, wild west and ghost nut intrigued by science, medical matters and space research. A renaissance soul with a potty sense of humour!

Five years ago I began a miraculous journey to full recovery from thirty years of depression and anxiety. The catalyst was a medication crisis. A brilliant mental health team prescribed the right treatment, including a medication known as California Rocket Fuel (love it!), as a result of which I'm better than I've ever been! I'm now rebuilding my eclectic, sometimes adventurous creativity and life with the help of my fabulous soulmate Husband, and recording it on my blog, Creating My Odyssey. I'm sharing my mental health experiences and articles to give other sufferers of depression hope, because depression is a mental disorder that can be treated provided the right help can be found, which isn't easy.

I'm also aspiring to be a bit of a role model for my age group - ageism is one of my pet hates - and living a life less ordinary and encouraging those in a similar situation to do this as well. 

Creating My Odyssey is a great vehicle for my creativity, which has been hidden under a bushel throughout my depression - an epic novel I've been working on forever (Alias Jeannie Delaney is the life story of a devastating cowgirl who's the fastest gun in the west and also bisexual) - anecdotal and mental health articles, many of which have been published, and art. I've had exhibitions and sold work over the years, but throughout depression my art fell by the wayside, which I regret. Now I'm returning to it with fresh vigour.

I'm swapping posts and links with creatives, people with similar interests and those with mental health issues or connected to mental health, and possibly collaborating in other ways.

As a result of this, I've had many mental health people ask for blog posts and I'm delighted to do this. I've also exchanged posts and posted blog sites of creatives and renaissance soul folk. Exciting! As a result of which I have a tendency to overload myself 😮!

Trouble is, when you're the one who initiated the job in the first place, to tell someone that the task you've promised them will have to wait because you've overloaded yourself is a bit, well, foolish...  See where I'm coming from? 😃

So I'm gradually learning to be a bit more disciplined, something I managed when the kids were young, to fit creativity into my day. I was also rather good at packing for holidays, using a packing list.

But now, I want this self-management/discipline to extend further today. I have, like Leonardo Da Vinci (I love comparing myself to him!) many pieces of artwork lying around in our beautiful brand new conservatory/studio gathering dust, and I'm attempting to organise them into an 'artwork to be completed or ditched' area. I have completed artworks that I haven't cared for properly, also gathering dust. They need an allocated place, too.

I have sold artwork in the past, and have had exhibitions at various times, but now I rarely sell anything. I could do, if I put my mind to it, but I've never been good at marketing myself. I look at all this work and think: 'What a waste.' Husband has always said he'd help me with the marketing, so there's always an opportunity there. Every now and then I get a brain spark after seeing artwork on Etsy, and think: 'I could do that!' Well - bloody do it then! I tell myself. Select the artwork, tidy them up and present them properly, then photograph them and upload them to Etsy. Easy peasy. Well, it could be if I tried harder. More dosh, more fun!

Another problem, if you could call it that, is the fact that my artistic style is so varied and eclectic. I love sculpture and 3D work, working with clay and wood - although the end product isn't always saleable! I love collage. I like printing one offs. I like Collagraphy, I love pastels, gouache, pencil, coloured pencil, acrylics, inks. My style varies as much as my mediums. Stylised - think Art Nouveau or Art Deco - I love realism, abstract, Surface Pattern Design and even cartoons. My subject matters are also pretty varied. Still lives, landscape, people, architectural... You name it...

The only problem is that I enjoy all of these styles and methods. How to manage all that and room for other creative endeavours! I do know that to market any of this, I have to divide them all into their categories. Simples.

Apart from all that I have a folder wodge-full of anecdotal articles I've written over the years, plus notes for future articles. I've theorised that I can use my articles and cartoons on this blog, and to an extent that has happened, but my collection of articles is untidy and disorganised. I'm determined to sort them.

Since my recovery from depression my mind is gradually turning to all the possibilities I could have if I choose to do so. So do it! 

                                 CREATING MY ODYSSEY

                                                                                        Pinterest  Ello  Bloglovin'

Thursday, 14 February 2019


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : A BRAINFUL OF STUFF!: I haven't posted for a while for which I humbly apologise. It's not for the lack of ideas - never short of those! - it's mostly ...


I haven't posted for a while for which I humbly apologise. It's not for the lack of ideas - never short of those! - it's mostly fitting everything in! I've got so many ideas and projects going on that I'm trying to work out how to do them all. 🤔 Still, that's a very nice situation to be in.

Art - Refreshing and smartening old art that's been gathering dust forever. The new me has intentions of uploading them to Etsy.
Sculpture - Ongoing experimenting.
Writing :
                 The Novel - Continued work on that.
                  Blogging -  Posts to write for mental health sites, plus my own posts.
                 Anthology - Some years ago I began to create an anthology of anecdotal articles I've written over the years. I intended to put them on Amazon. But reading back through them I felt I could improve on them. So that's ongoing.
Archery -  Returning in the spring. Setting myself up and learning more about it.
Redecorating - Ongoing. The house is beginning to look nice. But the winter leaves loads of cleaning to be done!
Kitty Le Roy's Cabin - My western cabin. I hope to improve on its appearance this year.
Steampunk - Costumes and events to plan. One event that we're definitely cutting our teeth on is Bressingham Steam Museum Steampunk event.
Dotterel - Our narrow boat is moored in Warwickshire, and we use her as a base for visiting daughter and family and events etcetera in the Midlands. Dotterel needs cleaning up and maintenance.

And anything else I can think of!

Just for now, though, here's a silly poem wot I wrote for our friend's Open Mic night last night:

There was once a writer,
she lived in Timbuktu,
she had a dreaded deadline,
she didn't know what to do.

The deadline was on Wednesday,
an open mic no less,
she had to dream up something,
a challenging process.

Would she write a story,
or do a silly verse,
perhaps a funny anecdote?
So jolly to rehearse.

She settled on a poem,
she found them fun to do.
Her brain dreamed up the sentences,
and Husband gave her clues.

Together they used Rhymezone,
which gives you words that rhyme, 
which inspired them onwards,
for open mic next time.

But concentrate on now,
this verse she must complete.
She's reading out at open mic,
on Wednesday when they meet.

Finally she's finished! 
It really wasn't bad.
It took a little effort,
but now she feels quite glad.

For next time however,
a challenge would be good.
How about a limerick?
So easily understood

After creative Wednesday 
there's Friday's writing class,
will it never end?
More work to do, alas.

So this creative writer,
the one from Timbuktu,
must wrack her brain once more,
as now she has no clue!

She'll come up with something, 
she nearly always does,
and if she finds it really hard,
a poem is what she loves!

Saturday, 9 February 2019





Image result for glad join us in the world's largest study

Image result for glad join us in the world's largest study

The Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression (GLAD) Study, led by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Mental Health BioResource and researchers at King’s College London, is a project set up to support studies exploring risk factors for depression and/or anxiety. Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health disorders worldwide. 

In the UK, 1 in 3 people will experience symptoms during their lifetime. The GLAD Study aims to better understand depression and anxiety in order to find effective treatments and improve the lives of people experiencing these disorders. We invite you to take part! There are 4 simple steps to signing up to the GLAD Study:

Register for the website and read the information sheet
Provide consent
Complete a 30 minute questionnaire to see if you are eligible
Send a saliva DNA sample through the post

Once you have signed up to the GLAD Study, you will be able to see information on the website about a number of optional questionnaires or other research studies that are being carried out. You will be able to choose to take part in these studies should you wish to.
We would like to emphasise that you can stop taking part in the GLAD Study at any time.

Want to keep up to date with the GLAD Study and the important research being done by our team? Follow us on social media!



Wednesday, 6 February 2019


(I'm reposting Marianne's story because I think it's worth reading about recovery from depression, and understanding that although it is difficult to find the right help, as Marianne finally did, it is possible.)

My name is Marianne Orlando and I'm a freelance illustrator from Massachusetts, and I also work a full-time job as a proof reader for a large retailer. 

In 1979, in graduate school in Michigan, at age 25, I had a nervous breakdown that precipitated severe, suicidal depression. I couldn't eat, couldn't focus, could barely talk, and felt like I was under water. Being the stoic that I am, I tried ignoring the pain, but the physical and emotional pain were so intense, I couldn't ignore it. I met with a social worker, was diagnosed as Bipolar, and promptly committed to a psychiatric hospital. I swallowed a whole lot of pills, so they put me on suicide watch. There, I was treated by a crackerjack therapist. Things went well and I asked him: 'When will I get better?' but he said: 'It's a matter or years, not months.'. Turns out he was right. That was 40 years ago. 

Eventually, I returned to the workforce, got a Masters Degree in Landscape Architecture, and continued to see therapists (I can't even remember their names or faces, there were so many of them). I had two more meltdowns, each time committing myself to a psychiatric hospital because I knew something was very wrong and that I needed to change but didn’t know how. In 1986, I moved into a halfway house because I realized I couldn’t take care of myself living alone.

The halfway house was a terrific growth opportunity. The woman in charge ran the house with unconditional love. I had a part-time job, and got assistance from Social Security Disability Insurance. I learned a lot about myself, and studied computer sciences at a rehabilitation center in Boston and started enjoying life. Things got better and better: I got a fulfilling full-time job and married a wonderful man, but the meds I was on didn’t really help me at all. I was still on the dismaying merry-go-round of therapists who kept leaving to pursue other work and just listened to me, but didn’t really challenge me.

Around 2005, I hit rock bottom again: I got assigned to an incompetent therapist (Dr. X) who prescribed the wrong meds. Used to being the life of the party with a quick and active mind, under Risperdal and a whole lot of Clonopin my personality was masked and the side effects included rigid body language and a slowing down of movement and speech. My body was stiff, I was paranoid and my mind was foggy and I couldn’t talk with people at work. People at work made fun of me because it took so much effort to talk. This was a marked contrast from my real personality which is more like being a warm and witty person. I told Dr. X something was terribly wrong, that the only time I was happy was when I was asleep and that life was not worth living. Her response was: 'That’s good. I’m glad you’re getting enough sleep.'. I think she missed the point. Throughout these years, I was suicidal but I never again attempted to harm myself.

Flash forward to 2015. My insurance company suddenly announced that Dr. X was out of the network and her visits would cost $300 apiece. I scrambled, panicked, and found a new therapist – a social worker Ms.Y – whose website told me her expertise was just what I needed. Ms.Y happened to work with a brilliant psycho-pharmacist, Dr. Z. He changed the doses and the meds I was on, got rid of the Risperdal  and cut back on the Clonopin that were causing the masklike affect and told me the Bipolar diagnosis I had been living with for 40 years was incorrect – he saw no indication of mania. Y was marvellous and challenged every assumption about life I had ever had. She gave me the tools to figure out what needed changing. I went from a cowering person with the emotional intelligence of a 15-year-old to a mature adult – who is now her own best friend. Over the last 3 years I have not had one single episode of depression – which I think is a miracle because in the past I got depressed for about 11 days every 3 weeks or so. Today I can say I haven’t had depression for 3 solid years, and that’s what I call a happy life.

My old personality has returned. I have a sparkle in my eye. I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and reorganized my entire home. I read Big MagicLiving Creatively without Fear and tapped into my creativity. I’ve gone to spiritual retreats and rekindled my relationship with Source/God/Nature – whatever is out there that is definitely bigger than I am. I’ve rediscovered my passion for drawing and founded a freelance business, Marianne Orlando Illustrations. I am positive and walk with a bounce in my step and now have many friends at work and from church.

I am again a happy person.

It took some luck, a LOT of hard work rediscovering myself and figuring out who I really am, and once again, having the right tools, the right diagnosis, the right doctor and social worker, and being on the right meds.

I am forever grateful and finally just as happy when I’m awake as when I am asleep.

It was a long tough 40-year journey, but I have no regrets.
So, thank you Jo. That’s my story. 

Marianne Orlando

Marianne Orlando

508 875 4552