Monday, 12 November 2018


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : FIVE YEARS LATER - HOW I FEEL NOW: I look fine in most of these.  And I probably was,  but I'm putting on my 'cheerful' face in some,  and many times in...


I look fine in most of these. 
And I probably was, 
but I'm putting on my 'cheerful' face in some, 
and many times in between, I wasn't fine.

I wrote a post 'Five Years Later' before, and that covers much of what happened over the years that led to now. This one will relate how I - largely - feel today.

Since starting on my new medication combination of Venlafaxine  and Mirtazapine (known in the biz as California Rocket Fuel *chuckle* five years ago, I gradually grew calmer. Less frenzied about everything. Less hysterical (historical, I called it!). Life gradually became lighter, better. I became excited about some things. My new medication brought me to a happier place.

The next step...

I was given Cognitive Behavioural Therapy by my brilliant mental health team. My psychologist took me, over a period of months, through thoughts that had been distorted over a lifetime of negative thinking, and challenged them. Husband saw my bedtime reading for this and said: 'Makes absolute sense! We can do this!' Apparently I was the right 'candidate' for this. I responded well to this therapy, as well as the medication. (Although, it has to be said, there is a downside to the medication, and that's how it can effect the love life, as it has mine. We're working on that as we speak.).

Psychologically, the great big factor that caused my general moody state of mind over the years, apart from one's hormones (*so we thought - more on this below), was my upbringing. My parents and siblings. My parents  - the practical wartime generation - had no clue as to how to bring me up. Depression and anxiety was something to either 'pull yourself together' like a pair of curtains (our words) over, or to be patronised over: 'Ah, you'll get over it.'. Or to be teased over. I grew up being judged and lectured, particularly by mother. *Years of this drip-fed treatment had highly likely changed the chemical make-up of my brain, causing depression in later life. We discovered this from the mental health charity, Mind, .

A year after my medication crisis my parents died within days of one another. (Read 'My Profile' - can't find a link to it...sorry. I'm uncertain whether or not I've written this up). Their deaths precipitated a major decision. Sadly I had to 'divorce' my family, but because I now felt better than I'd ever felt before, I decided that no-one was going to ruin my new found happiness, something I'd never felt before, and I would be at risk in their company. No-one needs negativity in their lives.

Our own family - daughter and her family, and our son - Husband's family and various friends, have been fabulous, sympathetic and understanding about my depression and Husband's welfare. We have had nothing but support from all of them. This has contributed hugely towards my healing. I can't state that too highly. Now I'm able to pursue, or work towards, all those activities Husband and I want to do, and enjoy the process.

How do I feel today? One enormous change was my mornings. I was never a morning person. *Bluurgh...* I gradually - I use that word a lot because that's what it was - began to feel good on waking up. I'd never had that experience before. Of course, not having to go to work helps, because, even after the kids grew up, I was never well enough to go to work, although I did a lot of voluntary work and part-time jobs. But, being of retirement age now, we're free to do as we please, more or less. Today I'm able to get up reasonably early (8am? That's early for me!) and not mind, even feel perky. Poor Perky. Such novelty!

Two of the last issues I had to get to grips with was a) being at home for any length of time and b) My novel. Both would depress me. I'm slowly getting to grips with them, with the help of Husband and cognitive behavioural therapy.

Being at home for lengths of time left me with past associations of being trapped in the home, caring for children, which I'd hated. It's taken time to convince my sub-conscious (because that's what it is) that being at home now is actually safe, pleasant and pleasurable. Gardening always helped initially, but I'd grow low being inside. So, I am growing happier in the house - any part of the house - at any time of day. It helps that we're redecorating virtually the whole house. Hooray!

My novel
. We know all about that. Againcognitive behavioural therapy, with Husband's help, is getting me through it. I can report that some day sooner rather than later - don't ask me when! - I'll have the first three parts finished and self-published. Again...hooray! 

So, here I am, bang up to date. Obstacles remain, but not insurmountable ones. We're working on them as I type.

Today I feel better than I've ever been. Yesterday I helped Husband vacuum bilge water out of the engine bay of Dotterel, our narrow boat in Warwickshire. I enjoyed that and felt productive. He said: 'Great! That's definitely a two-wo/man job!'

So inspiring!

If anyone else has a similar story, I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, 7 November 2018


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : DEPRESSED? SOME OF THIS MIGHT HELP...: It's that time of year...when many of us who suffer from depression and anxiety or SAD (seasonal affective disorder) are afflicted most....


It's that time of year...when many of us who suffer from depression and anxiety or SAD (seasonal affective disorder) are afflicted most. So here's an extensive list of coping strategies I've accrued over five years of getting to where I am now...

Talk to your GP - Change your GP if s/he isn't sympathetic.
Seek councilling.
Talk Therapy - group or individual. (Mental Health Charity). Counselling Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This challenges negative thought patterns.
Meet up with friends and/or family.
Educate yourself and the people around you about depression. Show them scientific evidence and research.
Don't neglect your hobbies and interests  
Join associations/groups specialising in mental health and depression.Eg. Mind, Depression Alliance.
Go outside every day. Fresh air and daylight are essential to wellbeing.
Visit the coast.

Explore your neighbourhood by foot. Or just explore - anywhere, anyhow.
Buy a lightbox (particularly helpful if you suffer from SAD - Seasonal Affected Disorder).
Antidepressant medication. There are so many on the market you may find one to suit you.
Alternative therapies - 
Clear clutter in the home. Clean your house. This can contribute towards depression big time.
Get organised! I'm the world's worst!
Creativity - very good for psychological problems. Scribble. Doodle. Clay modelling...
Learn something new. It'll give your mind something fresh to think about.
Take a bubble bath.
Do some exercise. Move yer body!
Try yoga
Or mindfulness
Go for a run. Not my thing - I hate it - but some love it!
I enjoy gardening.
Eat sensibly.
Try being more loving towards your partner.
Listen to upbeat music.
Record your mood from hour to hour. (Doctors love this! It gives them a good idea of the situation you're going through).
Record your medications - dosage, when taken etcetera...
Write. (I used to write what I was thinking when I couldn't put it into words. Very helpful).
Write for the fun of it.
Try adult education. 
Visit art galleries.
Pet your dog/cat/guinea-pig. 
Watch a favorite TV show. 
Go to the cinema/theatre/concert.
Do some puzzles (crosswords/wordsearch)
Play a musical instrument. 
Punch a punch bag.
Redecorate your home, or perhaps one room. (We're doing the whole shebang, neglected for years).
Try aromatherapy (candle, lotion, room spray).
Go shopping.
Read a good - funny? - book.

Pray. Visit your local church.
Study the sky in daylight and on a clear night.
Write a letter or send an email to a friend or family.
Face your fears - but don't be too brutal to yourself!
Paint your nails, do your make-up or hair. If you look good, it can make you feel good.
Banish toxic people from your life, even if they're family. (I had to do this.)
Surround yourself with positive, supportive people.
Don't drink too much alcohol.
Hug a pillow/stuffed animal/your partner/mum/dad/friend.
Build a pillow fort. 
Be childlike (not childish!).
Do something adventurous. (We go canoeing and occasionally cycling and lengthy walks). 
Take a trip abroad.

And I'm sure there are more. If anyone has any further ideas, do let me know! 

Tuesday, 6 November 2018


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : I NEED TO IMPROVE THIS BLOG, DEAR READER/S... IDEA...: I'm struggling with technological issues with this blog. I love doing it, but I'd love a bit of help. I need you guys and any other ...


I'm struggling with technological issues with this blog. I love doing it, but I'd love a bit of help. I need you guys and any other potential readers to give me a hand!

For a start the blog doesn't work properly. The links at the side aren't working. I tried them out and none of them - with the exception of Kitty Le Roy's Wild West -  link to their subjects. Infuriating. I'm still learning about Blogger, which is fine, but Googling the subject brings up many thoughts on 'How to...' but often the tech speak and instructions are so obscure I'm left thinking 'Whaa....?'. And I need images, not words!

So, one - fix technical problems. Two - how to get readers to interact. That's a big one, and apparently one of the biggest problems bloggers face. I've had a few responses in the comments boxes, but not many. Most of my comments have been via Facebook or other social media channels. Which is great, but interaction on the blog itself would be fab-u-lous. This problem is common and a tad lonely.

So, two - interaction. Am I writing the right stuff? Am I boring the pants off potential readers? Is there a reasonable balance between mental health subjects and my waffle? Is my content too varied? I would love to hear everyone's views.

Three - design. Is that okay? Is it attractive enough to want to peruse? Given half the chance I would really up my design game when it comes to my renaissance soul subjects. Blogger makes that hard to do when you're artistic and would love to go to town on some posts, such as the quirkier ones where I'd love to place photos at a slight angle say, or frame them with a silly border. There might even be a design feature on Blogger to do just that, but I've yet to find it. But - I hear you say - it is free! True. I have signed up to Canva, which is a design platform bloggers and designers use, but I've yet to try it. But I must, I must!

Anyhoo, any suggestions and comments would be fabulous, so, follower - yes, you, I'm talking to you! - respond and tell me what you think.

                                                      CREATING MY ODYSSEY

Wednesday, 31 October 2018




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Husband possesses the third eye. So does his mum and so did son. They’re what you might call ‘fey’. There's something in the water.

    I shove Husband into historic properties booked for holidays first to check they're not haunted and he says:
'Nada. Not a sausage.' (He says it to shut me up. My imagination’s up there with the fairies.)         If he'd responded in the affirmative, I'd have demanded re-allocating to the nearest spanking new glass and steel hostelry. That's not to say that that won't be spooked, having perhaps been built on the site of an ancient monastery, the habitat of habited ghostly monks miffed at having holiday makers tromping around. 

 Some years ago we stayed in a historic property in Cornwall. The house had been 'modernised' in the eighteenth century with a new range added in the kitchen. I loved the place. It wasn't until we were driving home that Husband said:
'There was something on the landing.’
He tells me these things afterwards so that I don't freak out while we're there.
‘There was something on the landing. I felt it at night and shut the bedroom door on it. It was there in the daytime as well.’
Son sensed it too. He said that he wondered if the place was haunted. Creepy. Son is rarely creeped. Just tells ‘it’ to ‘**** off.’ Me? I sense zilch. Flat as the proverbial pancake except for my creeped imagination. Husband is a scientist and engineer. Rational. Logical.
'I can only tell you what I experienced.' 

Husband and son are sensitives. Not the kind of sensitive that weeps over a sunset (although they do that as well) but the sensitive of the 'something's lurking back there' variety. You may not believe in this malarkey but I think there's something. I can usually tell if Husband is sensing something by the look on his face. Sort of blank. A couple of years ago we toured a pre-English Civil War National Trust property in Oxforshire and his expression dawned as he stood in the end corner of a corridor busy with visitors.
'I've got to get out of here,' he murmured. We moved into another room. 'I sensed fighting, with swords. And I was depressed. Horrible.' He shivered. As we departed the house, he uttered: 'Walter.'
'Water? You thirsty?'
'Walter. The name's just popped into my head.'
'Ooooh. I gotta Google this back at the house.'
I'd brought my laptop with me. I typed the name of the house and the name 'Walter', and facts popped up. Ooh. Walter was an early owner of the property, information not mentioned in the National Trust brochure, and fighting had taken place in the house during the English Civil War. Our gobs were smacked. 

More recently, Husband and I visited an acquaintance, Rosie, in her 1890’s home in Hampshire. Over tea we chatted about the history of the house and the resident ghost who paced her son's bedroom, disturbing his sleep so much he had to change rooms. They thought that this may be the Victorian maid who'd fallen down the stairs and died. We also chatted about our friend’s very much alive dogs. As we left the house Husband said:
'The maid was Edith. She was standing behind me when Rosie was talking and I had a sensation of darkness. When Rosie began to talk about the dogs, Edith faded away. She doesn't like dogs.'
Back to Google and I typed in our friend's address, the name ‘Edith’ and looked up the 1891 Census. Up popped Edith Clarke, maid of that house. Whatever you think – claptrap or gobbledy-gook – it's bloomin’ fascinating. 

There's more. Our local pub is haunted by a dog and Husband has seen and felt it several times. Son worked in the pub, and he grew accustomed to glimpsing people-shaped shadows flitting past the open door while he worked in the kitchen.

I'm a seriously sensitive person. I get funny over adverse comments about my fashion sense, but things that go bump in the night? My imagination may be bonkers, but my spook sensitivity's as dead as a zombie. Which is just as well. If I saw anything, I'd squeal like a little girl and run. 

I watch programmes such as Ghost Adventures and every other ghost show when Husband lets me. (I used to watch Most Haunted but Yvette Fielding and her fellow girl investigators screamed a lot, which totally ruined it.) The four American guys who host Ghost Adventures are fun and charismatic and don’t scream a lot. Mostly they respond: ‘Whoa, whoa, bro…(or dude)…when something happens. They take photographs and record voices. Scoff if you will. I like it. 

Which all convince me that at least one experience out of a hundred may be real. Blow me down – ghosts, phantoms, spirits, apparitions – possibly really exist. But I don't want to see one. Which is why I watch ghost shows. They can experience it. I can watch them experiencing it in the safety and warmth of my sitting room.
As to Husband, I relish listening to his latest experience, but hey – he can keep ‘em!

I'd love to hear about readers' spooky experiences - bring it on!

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CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : HOW DEPRESSION FOUND ITS WAY BACK TO WHERE I AM ...:                         Charles Watson                      https://www.sunshine behavioral...


Charles Watson


                      Charles Watson

Charles Watson is a freelance writer specializing in health and addiction. He has a background in journalism and an English degree from Central Michigan University. He is the head content writer for Sunshine Behavioral Health, and a lifelong health advocate.   While not writing and interviewing for the center, you can catch him at a local Detroit Tigers game (yes, even in 2018) or reading new material from his favorite author, Tim Ferris. Currently, he publishes content for and can be reached directly on Twitter at @charleswatson00 or at Google+

This is 'Holly's' story, as related to Charles - 

Meet "Holly," and try to take in her story.
'I grew up in a dysfunctional home.  My dad is an alcoholic who nagged my mom so much that I can barely recall a peaceful and relaxing day at home growing up. Since I am an only child, I had no one to talk to about my resentment for my dad and the guilt I had for not being able to stand up for my mom.  I was always crying myself to sleep but nobody knew how lonely I was.
“Have you ever experienced the kind of loneliness so strong that you can literally feel it seeping through your bones? I have, and It’s making me wonder if there’s any reason to go on.”  This is an entry in my journal when I was nine.  
Other kids were thinking about games and fun while I was writing such depressing thoughts on paper.

Hiding My Secret

I learned to live a double-life.  No one knew about my home situation and I learned early on how to be a “functional extrovert”.  
I “acted” friendly, outgoing, and sociable.  My acting must have been convincing since I was one of the most popular girls in high school and even in college.  While I socialize with everyone, I didn’t let anyone get too close, for fear that my secret family life would be discovered.
To compensate for having an alcoholic father and abused mother, I worked hard to live a perfect life on my own.  True enough, I graduated at the top of my class and eventually landed a job in a large firm where I flourished and became recognized.
Since I was living in another city and far from the drama at home, I felt much better.  I worked long hours and loved my job.  I was only 24 years old, but I have already achieved my goals – a nice apartment, car, money, and a high position in the company.
Whatever feelings of deep loneliness I have in my heart, I buried it by working like there’s no tomorrow.

My Depression Crept Back

My greatest fear was marrying a man just like my dad.  But I was too insecure to date good men because I was afraid they will abandon me as soon as they knew about my family situation.
I brought the curse to myself. I married a man who was verbally and physically abusive. He hated that I worked a lot and that I earned more than him, so he made sure to make a fuss whenever I got home from work.
After draining my energy, confidence, and hope in the three years that we were together, he abandoned me.  I was devastated.  The thought that an incompetent man couldn’t even stand to stay with me brought back the loneliness I felt before.
I was like a robot programmed to merely go to work and come home after the day is done. I could barely sleep.  I had no appetite.  I was living but it sure didn’t feel like it.  I felt exactly like my 9-year-old self who was writing in her journal about “loneliness that seeps through the bones”.
I kept to myself and no longer bothered to wear my “extrovert” mask.  I was irritable and yelled a lot.  My friends were concerned but I pushed them all back. I couldn’t stand being pitied.
There were days I could hardly force myself to get out of bed.  I was late for meetings. I missed deadlines.  My boss was concerned but I didn’t care.
My headaches seemed to not go away, and I couldn’t stop my eyes from shedding buckets of tears.  I hated the evenings because the darkness and silence seemed to suffocate me.  I was a mess.
I read about depression and its warning signs.  I knew my case was textbook.  I was afraid, desperate, and panic-stricken.  I knew deep in my heart that I needed help.

Finding the Will to Fight Back

I was fortunate to have a friend who didn’t let go of me, even when I was the worst friend anyone could have.  She found me a good counselor who helped me deal with my sadness and emptiness.
I was hesitant at first, but I realized after a couple of counseling sessions that talking helps.  I poured my soul out to a complete stranger.  It was refreshing to let go, take off my mask, and not care about what other people thought of me.
I told the therapist about my alcoholic dad, my deep-seated insecurities about not being enough, my hellish marriage – everything.  I cried, shouted, cursed during sessions and it was cathartic.
It has been three months since I first went to counseling and I am feeling a lot better.  Although there are still times when I feel empty, I force myself to get out of bed and write.
I have always loved writing since I was a little girl.  I have several notebooks filled with thoughts I had when my parents were fighting or when I felt sad and alone.
I knew that writing is therapeutic even without my counselor telling me.  Jotting my feelings down on paper serves as an effective way to release all the overwhelming emotions I keep inside.
I write everything since nobody will read it anyway.  When the emotions are too intense, I even burn what I wrote and think that I am being freed from those emotions as the pages slowly turn to ashes.
I know that I am far from being completely free from the shackles of depression since it fought hard to stay with me, but I try to remind myself every day that I have come a long way.  I give myself a hug every morning and greet my reflection in the mirror with a smile.  Little things help.  Little things matter.
If you can relate to my story because you also stared depression in the face, know that there is hope, and help is available.
Give yourself a tight hug, close your eyes, and whisper, “It’s okay. You can do this.” '
Charles would like to thank "Holly" for the time she gave in discussing her past for this article, and I would like to thanks Charles for the opportunity to share "Holly's" experience.