Creating My Odyssey

Quirky artist / writer / explorer / wild west, steampunk & ghost nut /renaissance soul / mental health & lifestyle blogger

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Medication crisis

Three years ago I had a medication crisis over the Christmas period and became suicidal. I'd been prescribed various mixes of antidepressants over the previous years as individual medication effects had worn off. The final medication was the clichรฉd last straw. It did me in, starting that Christmas Day. Before that I had been up and down like the proverbial yo-yo, principally since the birth of my daughter thirty years earlier. Before that, I'd always been a moody kid and young girl, always wanting to be happy but not knowing how, exactly. My teens and twenties had been thankfully fine, allowing me creativity and travel and other adventures.

Me, aged seventeen, learning to fly with the Metropolitan Flying Club
(dad was a police officer) but, me being an impoverished student,
I ran out of dosh!

      But three years ago, on Christmas Day, 'A disaster, dahling' dealt us a supreme shock. I remember sitting in the living room, feeling rotten, feeling that I should feel good and jolly on Christmas Day. There we go with the 'shoulds' and 'oughts' we've had drummed into us/me as kids. I couldn't stand it. I retreated to bed, foetus style, while Husband, then son - who'd returned from work -  rushed around, ripping the decorations down.
      This was the catalyst towards the start of my without-a-doubt miraculous, complete cure. Today I've never been this good. Ever. And I really, really do mean that! However, we weren't to know this then, and my brilliant Husband, myself – both a tad+ bonkers – and our totally brilliant, bonkers son went through hell for around three days. (All my family are brilliant cuz my beautiful, gifted daughter, a succesful author of corset-ripping historical novels, eventually travelled down from the Midlands to care for us. She might not be bonkers but her sense of humour can be rather earthy and surreal).

      I don't have any idea of how long this awfulness lasted. I just remember waking up and starting to cry and growing worse throughout the day for a couple of days. It wasn't a feeling of low mood. I can't really describe it. I just knew how it felt to 'face the fire', which people who have felt suicidal have often described it. In retrospect, I described it as having had my brain poisoned. Husband was beside himself. He called in reinforcements in the shape of his family. They arrived. Husband and his sister trooped out for a much needed coffee while my brother-in-law me-sat. They departed. The medical services were down to skeleton (:-D!) emergencies over the festive period. Wasn't I an emergency? The outpatients department at our local hospital didn't seem to think so. Husband, in desperation over what to do, strode out into the quiet cul-de-sac where we live, leaving me squirming and howling in bed, in the hopes of finding someone to help us over this holiday period. Then a beautful vision in red entered the bedroom.
     'Are you the doctor?' I remember whispering.
     'No, Jo. It's Kate. Hello.'
     Kate is a daughter of one of our lovely neighbours. She and her husband kindly drove us to hospital. The drive, funnily enough, was peaceful, and I felt okay for a while, and strangely comfortable. I didn't want to get out of the car. But we waited in the huge, horrible, echoing, crowded, impersonal public waiting room, my head on Husband's shoulder. Eventually a doctor saw me, but frankly, he didn't have a clue. He gave me a tranquilizer (I think), and sent us home. Whether or not I took this drug I haven't a clue either. I don't think I did.
     I was in and out of suicidal state all day. Our own doctor eventually called in.
     'Do something about this f*****g shit!' I screamed at him. He's a very laid-back bloke.
     'That's the spirit,' He responded, 'Let it all hang out.'
      Like that was going to help. I do like the man, a lot, but he wasn't the right medic for the task. He prescribed an antipsychotic which I ultimately used, and which probably did save my life, but this was early timing.
     In the afternoon, the neighbours dropped in once more. Kate, in red, turned to her mum.
     'Mum - how about the mental health team you used to work for?'
     Those were the words that began my long, slow climb to complete wellness. I'll never forget it and I have thanked her mum, profusely, recently. She rushed home, retrieved the contact details and the next I knew, the team were ordering me off the drug I'd been prescribed. Why it hadn't occurred to us that it was this drug that had caused my downfall I am yet to decipher. We can only figure out that we were so in the depth of things, we couldn't think straight.

     I began taking my doctor's prescribed antipsychotic, which made me very sleepy, but calmer. Our daughter arranged for my first appointment with the team.
     'Probably two weeks on Tuesday.' Husband quipped to her.
     The team asked: 'Can you come in tomorrow?'
      New Year's Day?! Nil problemo! Awesome!
     I was in dozy wreck state when we first met our nurse practioner, James, who's job was to assess me and decide upon the next step. He was brilliant. I know – I overuse that word, but I really do mean that. He duly sent us his report. I was 'Reasonably kempt' apparently. Hilarious.
     Next was the visit to the team's psychiatrist, Paul. Again, brilliant. We discussed my drug, and the fact that our doctors had decided not to increase the dozage. Too risky. Paul increased it.
     'That's fine. No problem with that.' He reiterated.
     The plan was to stabalise me first, then decide upon the addition of a stronger medication. A few weeks later the stronger antidepressant was added. It's known in the trade as 'California Rocket Fuel'!
'Gimme!' I demanded. If anything is gonna kick my serotonin (the feel good chemical in one's brain) up the bum, it's that. It did. That and the cognitive behavioral therapy I was more than encouraged to go for. I'd always stated emphatically that I didn't need it. That my depression was clinical, which indeed it was. But years of living under the thumb of my well-meaning, dominant mother, and years of distorted thinking brought on by years of depression, had bent my brain. It needed straightening out. (I had always maintained that going on holidays had always turned my brain upside down and inside out.) The CBT worked.
     Thankfully my brilliant husband (did I tell you he's brilliant? Just in case you missed it...) is scientifically minded and logical. He took one look at the leaflets and material that my CBT psychologist had given me and nodded emphatically.
     'Makes absolute sense.' Declareth he. 'We can do this!'
     And we did. Took three years, and he kept re-iterating: 'This is for the long haul.'
     Basically, CBT takes apart your distorted thoughts and challenges each one.
     'I'm anxious.' About what? Why? Is there evidence to support the thought? 'I'm depressed.' Why? What were you thinking to bring that on? And so forth. I found the 'what were you thinking?' part quite hard. Not how you're feeling, but what are you thinking about? That's hard. Slowly, bit by bit, I began to see the light, almost literally. 
     Three years later, and I'm still working on it. I know how it feels to feel fine. I know what happiness feels like. Although I wasn't actually depressed as a kid, I was terrifically moody, and I had my non-understanding family, mother, school, and then work to contend with. None of that today. My own little family, and Husband's family, are – dare I say it? - brilliant. All of 'em.
     There came a point, around a year ago, that I felt the need to impart what had happened to me to those who suffered mentally, and who I felt could and should have similar treatment. Mine came about purely by chance, which actually made me feel pretty angry. Why had I not been told about the team? Why had it taken a situation such as this to take me there? The team preferred your doctor to handle things as much as possible because they're so stretched money and staff-wise. Understandable. But why should it reach this stage before they can step in? Ain't right. That's why I'm writing my mental health blogs, and to groups and sufferers, to get this message across.
     There are still moments when the gloom descends. Particularly when I'm at home, if I've been home for too long. I'm no homebody. I love out and about. But habits are hard to drop, and, when not out and about, we go out for coffee in the morning, and, more often than not, return home for the afternoon. And my new state of wellness doesn't mind being at home so much now. To such an extent that I'm now hosting art afternoons with writing friends. Yippee! But then restlessness nips at my heels and I just need to get out for an adventure or two. Still working on that.

     But compared to three years ago, well...
The year following The Crisis, both my parents died within days of one another (which actually left me feeling freer than I've ever felt), Husband's mum was admitted into a nursing home, and a close family member split from her husband. As Husband's niece so aptly put it: 'What the f***k?' Well, indeed, what the....? Blessingly (is that a word?) I was sitting with my dad in hospital when he died, Husband's hand on my knee. My mother followed within days. Of course I grieved a little. But compared to the year before, all this was zilch. Nothing. Nadder. 
     I was called for a medication review some months ago, and the doc was rather surprised at my medication doseage.
     'It works,' I stated. 'After thirty odd years, I'm better than I've ever been.' When he asked if I'd consider changing the medication from five tablets to one of the same doseage to save the NHS, I laughed. 'Over my dead body! It ain't broke, so don't fix it.' He raised his hands with a smile.

     Here I am with Husband, enjoying a Land Rover trip up the volcanic mountain on Madeira, the first time we ventured that far, two years after The Crisis. We returned last year cuz we loved it so much. And may the fun continue...  

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Creating My Odyssey: Pillarto PostYouthought your garden was overgrown?...

Creating My Odyssey: Pillarto PostYouthought your garden was overgrown?...: Pillar to Post You thought your garden was overgrown? You ain’t seen nothin ’ !      I love my garden. I love gardens, full stop. Was br...

Pillar to Post

You thought your garden was overgrown? You ain’t seen nothin!
     I love my garden. I love gardens, full stop. Was brought up by a gardener, and her daddy was a gardener. Not that she knew all the Latin names for plants, but many’s the time I’d arrive home from school and she’d be up to her knees in wellies and spuds.
     'Good Heavens - is that really the time? Let’s pop the kettle on.’
       Grandad - Mum’s dad - had a very large garden in Banstead, Surrey, UK. He had had his mock Tudor house built during the early twenties (this was a popular style then) occupying a huge tract of land composed of the apple orchard he cultivated and lawn large enough to accommodate archery and games of tennis. I’ve got the photos to prove it, plus photos of granddad planting and planning, holding chalk and lengths of string. As a kid I recall the small kitchen and a small greenhouse next to it, packed with cardboard boxes overflowing with apples. My mum adored apples. Could never get enough of 'em.
     The house was demolished during the seventies - its exsitence didn't last long - after the Grandfolks came to live with us. Today the plot is a thankfully tasteful Georgian-style housing estate.

I'm the blondie second from right on ground, looking moody. That's mum and dad,
standing behind Grandad.

     I grew up in a bungalow opposite the River Thames in Sunbury-on-Thames, Middlesex - sorry - Surray - (county names were shifted during the seventies and Surrey was/is ‘porsh/posh’). Mum and dad had a substantial bit of garden, themselves, both front and back, and mother spent a vast amount of time there, cultivating fruit and veg and flower beds, much preferring that to being in the house. She told me in latter years that she would have liked to have been a horticulturalist.
     Most of my childhood was spent playing in it, on the swing, pretending to be a hippy, wanting to be one, and making daisy chains. But I had no interest in gardening or gardens. That didn’t happen ‘till adulthood. I simply felt proud that we had a garden this big, and that grandad’s garden was big enough to hold an American baseball team.
     Plough on twenty-plus years. After husband and I married, we moved to Hampshire (Hampsherrre – as the natives utter – actually they don't very often) which I love - from posh to village idiot. Our first plot consisted of a box end of terrace ex-council house, which meant we owned the largest rear garden. We owned a tree and attempted, quite successfully, to grow a wigwam of sweet peas. Boot on another twenty years and two more houses in Hampshirrre. The first of these still boasted the largest garden, two trees, a rockery, steps and a patio. Tres posh. Now we’re getting somewhere. I still wasn’t into gardening per se but I had matured, like manure, a liking and desire for a garden with lush, exotic plants, trees, and eccentricities such as sculptures, water features, hidey-holes and secret bits. This garden was large enough to accommodate husband's figure of eight 0 guage model railway in and around the rockery. Great fun.
     The next pad was our current and probably final. We brought/dragged the kids up here, so time for garden appreciation or actual gardening remained limited. This house boasts a conservatory – nya (what posh folk say) - and the biggest lawn we’ve owned yet. I wanted trees. Trees? We had a forest-full! Slight exaggeration, but we were surrounded by ‘em. Enough to give us ample privacy to do anything questionable we fancied on the lawn that only Google Earth helicoptor pilots could photograph.
     We chopped several down over the years to let more light in and reduce the maintenance. Husband
declares he’s gonna concrete the lot so’s he can ignore it. ‘At least make it green,’ I responded.
     Initially I hinted that we’re overgrown. I’m no gardener a la mother, and can't tell my perrenials from my annuals (no real desire to, either...), but I do appreciate a good potter, a prune, a trim, a weed. Don’t mind a mow - good exercise - burying the occasional plant and watching it wither, but haven’t a clue about bedding plants (what’re they, when they’re at home?), and what’s good for where? Our garden ain’t cultivated, ain’t manicured. The lawn doesn’t have alternatively shaded mown stripes. It’s choc-full of weed and moss - dandelions make excellent soup (apparently Russians love 'em) and I love their colour, and moss is super soft, springy and pretty. Yes - there was/is an awful lot of overgrown about our garden, but we’re on-root - haha! - to fixing this. Away with the scythe and out with the secateurs. Buzz off, Death. Hello, Titchmarsh (Alan Titchmarsh, to the uninitiated – non-Brits mostly – is a famous British gardener/TV presenter. I do love his novels, I have to say, and have read most of them). Talking of which, our plot is beginning to look a teeny bit more landscaped with terrace, steps and fruit trees.

     Among our oodles of interests is visiting British National Trust properties and exploring their gardens. Occasionally ideas may be gleaned from a roam around, although constructing a ‘ruin’ or Greek temple (did you know the saucy reason behind the Temple of Venus at West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire? Go on, you Brits…look it up. Ooh...!) might be a bit far fetched, but you never know.
     Husband’s railway was demolished due to nicely rotting wooden bridges, but it used to squiggle
all over the place, hither and thither, through a tunnel, beneath a bridge and over one of four ponds - a sophisticated one is his, mine is ‘wild’. Go figure. My wind chimes send the neighbours barmy in a high gale, and a pottery pig and two ugly gargoyles (mine) and luscious ladies (his) grace the lawn. A water feature sits within a gravelled patio, waiting for James Bond and his Martinis, and a fourth pond and solar panel operated waterfall are set into a steep slope, making you want to go for widdle when the sun's out.
     Our rockery, besides accommodating the usual plants, houses bits and bobs that any budding archaeologist (me) would be proud of. Broken bits of colourful pot, a whale vertebrae, railway odds and sods, and whatever else I feel like chucking at it.

     Finally an upside-down Canadian canoe provides shelter for spiders waiting to be taken for a paddle – the canoe, not the spiders - on our local Basingstoke Canal (which way's Alaska? Old joke), and my small cabin contains Wild West artefacts and may one day boast an extension.
     But I have a concern that I'll wake up one morning with the gentle strains of a churning cement mixer filtering through my window and Husband joyfully flattening the surface of the concrete that's creeping mercilessly, like fence to fence carpeting.
     I wanted a jungle, a wilderness. He wants one pot plant.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Hello all!

Just to say Hi to all my umpteen zillions of new fans (many of you from Twitter), and new post due soon. Pic taken recently, just after I'd washed my hair (Husband's fault - he said I looked good - *snort*! Takes all sorts). Getting to grips with Blogger here, from my bed, on my trusty new tablet. I listen to Himself next door (in my bed) mumbling and grumbling cuz his tablet, same as my old one, is rubbish.

     Working on my novel which is a never ending saga - the working of it, not the story itself, although that is pretty epic - and finally getting to grips with that as well. Wouldn't have started from here, as they say. Was getting very frustrated with not 'getting it out there' because, as Husband says, I don't have a definite deadline and I tend to work on it in hotches and splotches. Not particularly disciplined. Not a great way of working. Went for coffee with Husband and we worked through the outline. He's a great critique-er - (honest without being brutal). It's my baby and I receive any criticism with a: 'WHY?? WHAT 'S WRONG WITH IT??' *:-O! Take it like a woman, woman. Writing group tomorrow so have to find something to read (don't panic!). Not a novel chapter, far too self-conscious for that at the moment although slowly - very s-l-o-w-l-y *yawn* - growing more confident about it.

       Haven't done any art lately but am due back at sculpture class next week so that's something to look forward to, particularly as I love Yvonne, our lovely tutor. She's dipsy, an ex-solicitor, or lawyer, can't remember which. But... we (Husband and I) have started hosting an art group in our house Friday afternoons once a month. Never done anything like that before! All down to my miraculous brain cure.  I disliked being in the house for any length of time, but in recent months I've found I actually don't mind being in the house in the afternoons. I used to be desperate to get out. But there is a limit. (That applies to any number of people).

       Onto my humungous weight issue (I was classed 'obese' at around 14 stone, which I didn't believe cuz I didn't, thankfully, look it). Lost two and a bit stone in the year after my cure. Although we were away for two weeks holiday, around two weeks ago, didn't put any weight on despite the gorgeous ice creams - his chocolate, mine cherry and mint, yum!!๐Ÿ˜Š - and chocolate bars (drool...). Walked a lot, which obviously helped. Love walking, and capable of walking several miles. Remember walking ten miles in Buckinghamshire, years ago, almost in one go, with a brief stop in a pub for a drink, and want to return to that. Hate running. Never could run. One's female parts bounce up and down like billy-o. Brisk walking's good, even power walking. Have started back at the gym, too, just need the discipline to actually go. I'm a very lazy person, I know that. Shame on me! My inclination is to sit or lounge in unladylike positions and do creative thingummyjigs. Could do that all day. Have to lecture myself to get off my bum and do stuff.

     Other stuff. We're slowly, again slowly, as with all these things, cleaning, redecorating etcetera the house, and doing similar to the garden (going round the garden with a vacuum cleaner and duster, hadeha). Thirty-odd years of neglect, basically cuz I was always half-hearted about it all due to depression, and I was never domesticated anyway. When I fully recovered, I looked around the house and (aghast expression on fizzog) said: 'Good God -  that's disgusting!' Don't know what 'that' was, but there was a lot of it. We hadn't had the energy before to deal with it, whatever 'it'was. But now I've got the energy and enthusiasm to actually DO something about whatever 'it'was.

     Other other. Keep telling myself I'm going to return to archery. I'm nervous about that. Naturellement. Not that I'm nervous about meeting the people cuz I never was about that, but it is stepping into the unknown. I've got my kit (bow, pretty pearlised pink arrows - lovely- and rubbish string that needs replacing). All I need now is to email (hate phones) and tell 'em I'm coming. *Gulp*.

     So there we go, over and out, except to say weve just taken delivery of a brand new cooker (Husband's treat - he's chief chef, I wash). It looks luverly, and the guys delivering were a right couple of characters! Brilliant! Hilarious and just my type!


Monday, 17 April 2017

Eeh-Hah! And all that!

Some of you may be aware that I'm wild about the west. :-D! (No kidding.) My western site, Kitty Le Roy's Wild West, has been running for some years now, as has my Facebook page Kitty Le Roy's Wild West Saloon. Many members and many posts later, one of my western friends, Madam Molly (from Tombstone, Arizona) informed me that I'd been running for around twelve years. I couldn't believe it.
   It's April, and this is the time of year I'm beginning to think about this particular part of me, cuz this is the start of the wild west living history camp season, roundups an' all. We all dig out our gear – clothes, tents, stoves, weapons (blank firing) etcetera. Clean off all the gunk accumulated over winter and get into the swing of it again.

     So, I have to update my site – I've been promising myself of that forever – re -add a whole section devoted to a list of southern (I'm Hampshire, UK) outfitters, stores, clubs, anything affiliated with the wild west, in other words, which somehow managed to get itself deleted. (I didn't do it, I swear. It was the computer...).

    We also have a cabin in the back garden – my shack, essentially, which holds all things western. Artefacts, art, posters, a skull (not human), fur rugs, and other kit associated with living history camping, which I finally managed to return to last summer after quitting several years ago due to depression and anxiety. And it was good. Met old friends, made new ones... And enjoyed myself after the initial nerves. What could be better? And it was local. We could go home if we needed a comfy bed.
     So - for anyone who may be interested, here's Kitty Le Roy's Wild West website:   Thankee, y'all!

Ps - Apologies for lack of link to site, I'll try and do better next time!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Howdy Hoo!

Never park your car - or walk - under a lamp post with a seagull perched on it. Without going into graphic detail, I've just spent the best part of a day cleaning a fortnight's worth of seagull poo off my lovely Mini Cooper. (First time I've really cleaned the first car I've ever owned. My precious Mini, which I lurrrve to drive! I've never owned my own car. Part owned, yes, with His Greatness (Husband), but never my own. And this is indeed something I relish since my brain cure).

Anyway, I digress. Seagulls and seaside. Returned on Friday from our first two week holiday in donkeys years. The west country. Minehead in Zoomerrzet (sorry – Somerset) and Looe Harbour in Cornwall, to be precise. We've had many hols in Looe, and love it. And the weather was continuously glorious. Love the west country. Naturally I took umpteen zillion photos:

The whole place grabbed my imagination.

Up the stairs...

Our landing...

(Eh, well. Trying to get to grips with Blogger. If it looks bonkers - it is! But it gives me the flexibility to add more photos and for my lovely fan ๐Ÿ˜„ to respond.) Anyway...Onwards!

The sitting room.

View from our balcony of the bay and, in the distance, the white tent-like building, is Butlins!

The bedroom. Not all original features, we think, but some of it may have been. The rooms had been reconfigured, we could tell.


Add caption
This was the opposite end of Minehead, away from the town itself. A lovely, quaint harbour. Our house is in there, somewhere!

A vast expanse of sand when the tide's out.

It would appear that I've run out of capability to upload any more photos! Eh, well, live and learn. To be continued...๐Ÿ˜Š