Sunday, 9 December 2018


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : A FAVOURITE DAY OUT...: We love Emsworth , on the south coast in Hampshire. It's about a half an hour's drive south of us. A bit of a hidden gem, and we vi...


We love Emsworth, on the south coast in Hampshire. It's about a half an hour's drive south of us. A bit of a hidden gem, and we visit fairly regularly. It's a pretty town - gateway to Chichester Harbour (official description), discovered by us when daughter lived on nearby Thorney Island.

     When we decide it's time for a trip, we look at the diary and stick a pin in on a pleasant day when we have nothing planned.

     Husband looks up the tidal times if we fancy the three-mile walk along the beach to the pubs in Langstone Harbour when the tide's out.

On the day we take the Mini Cooper 
to Petersfield, Hampshire, mostly 
via the country route with fabulous views.

Petersfield's fabulous views. Ashford Hangers
Hampshire's right down the bottom. See Isle of Wight? Just north of that!

On route to Emsworth, we stop off for coffee in Horndean, an old brewery town. It's either The Ship & Bell in the winter - discovered when we broke down in one of our old classic cars! - or, in the summer, Keydell Nurseries, which we only discovered this year. It's big, sprawling and they serve excellent coffee. Another twenty minutes and we're in Emsworth.

It's that man again!

When we arrive in Emsworth, we go for a route march around the seawall, and, if the tide's out, do a spot of Mudlarking/ beach-combing. Then, lunch. During the summer it's in Flintstones Tea Room, which is an old fisherman's net drying loft on the sea front. During the cooler months, we pop into The Ship Inn.
You may notice the loft opening beyond the rafters. Southampton Art College students made cardboard sculptures of figures. The legs of one of them are dangling down!

If we're not marching the three mile beach route towards Langstone Harbour end, we visit Emsworth Antiques. A lot of my curios have come from there.  

Otherwise, we take that walk...

There are two pubs in Langstone Harbour - The Royal Oak and 
The Ship Inn. We've been to both. Good grub and great views of the harbour. 

After getting suitably inebriated, we head back, but not before trying to cross to Hayling Island, across from Langstone on a track exposed by the tide being out. Didn't get far. In the middle ran a deep stream. Needed our wellies! (Note for next time).

Excellent walk. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Six-and-a-half miles altogether. No wonder we were knackered! 

Yes - a favourite day out because there's so much going for it. Anyone else have a particular favourite day out? 

(Ps. My apologies for the various sizes of the fonts. Blogger can be a bugger like that! As long as it's readable, I say...)

Facebook Google+ Twitter LinkedIn 

Wednesday, 5 December 2018


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : CHRISTMAS - FIVE YEARS AGO...: I'm reposting this because I have a rather vital factor to add - the sub-conscious. The sub-conscious can contribute big time to depress...

Monday, 3 December 2018


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : CHRISTMAS - FIVE YEARS AGO...: Five years ago I had my medication crisis. On Christmas day itself, and a week after being prescribed Prozac by my psychiatrist, who then b...


I'm reposting this because I have a rather vital factor to add - the sub-conscious. The sub-conscious can contribute big time to depression and anxiety. I missed it out in the original posting and decided it's too important a factor not to discuss!

Jo Creating My Odyssey - Liberating the Real Me After 30 Years of Depression & Anxiety

Five years ago I had my medication crisis. On Christmas day itself, and a week after being prescribed Prozac by my psychiatrist, who then buggered off on his holidays, I became suicidal. In describing how I felt, I can only say that my brain felt poisoned. I squirmed and cried in bed after waking up over a period of around three days. Intermediately I would feel slightly better and calmer, usually in the evening, then the following day, down I went again. I'd been very up and down over the years, but this time I'd never felt so bad.

     My fabulous soul-mate Husband looked after me throughout this crisis, as he had done for over thirty years - which has left repercussions in itself. Through sheer luck during this appalling episode,
we were introduced to the brilliant mental health team who literally cured me of depression and anxiety, a journey that would take five years. They instantly - over the phone on initial contact - took me off Prozac. (Our GP had prescribed Quatiapine, an anti-psychotic that helped calm me). 

     A meeting was arranged with the team for New Year's Day. That was gob smacking - we'd assumed it would be arranged for three weeks next Tuesday (one of Husband's favourite quips). My new nursing practitioner wrote 'reasonably kempt' in his notes, which I was, if dozy as hell on Quatiapine. (I read the note upside down and teased him about it in later months). The team stabilised me. Then my new psychiatrist prescribed a higher dose of my anti-depressant Venlafaxine. Our GPs had declared that I was 'over-prescribed'. Wrong! Added to that was Mirtazipine. I began to feel better and better and better, although not a hundred percent, which would have been a miracle.

     To finalise, I was given a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I brought home the bedtime reading from this, and Husband declared: 'That makes absolute sense! We can do this!' I have to add that it does help if you have the right mindset, which I do. An 'I'm buggered if I'm gonna let this thing beat me' mindset.

     It took around three years to really feel better. The talking therapy lasted several months and brought me, more or less, to where I am now. I've never felt as mentally well as I am today. As calm (more or less!), as confident. Of course there are down days, but there's always a reason for this, and this is where Cognitive Behavioural Therapy comes into its own. The therapy challenges every negative thought, pulls it apart, and straightens it up. After years of distorted thinking, it's an essential tool for many people, with or without mental issues. With the help of scientifically-minded Husband (as it turns out, just the right bod to do this) I worked through it. When you feel depressed, it's not chemical reactions in the brain reacting, it's down to negative thoughts. What were you thinking about? Not: How do you feel? Difficult to identify. Very difficult, sometimes. That's where it helps to have a partner guide you through it. I was extraordinarily lucky.

I had always maintained that I didn't need therapy. 'It's clinical depression. A chemical imbalance.' How wrong I was! After two or three years of better-ness, we found an article on the mental health charity Mind's website with regard to so-called 'chemical imbalances'. They're suggesting that depression isn't caused by chemical imbalances, but that negative chemical changes in the brain are caused by years of negative thinking, in turn causing depression. So, they're suggesting, we aren't born with a chemical imbalance, but that happens if we've encountered years of verbal/mental/ physical abuse at the hands of whoever is our chief caretaker, for example. Here's what Mind are saying:

Is depression caused by a chemical imbalance?

No. As antidepressants work by changing brain chemistry, many people have assumed that depression must be caused by changes in brain chemistry which are then ‘corrected’ by the drugs. Some doctors may tell you that you have a ‘chemical imbalance’ and need medication to correct it.

But the evidence for this is very weak, and if changes to brain chemistry occur, we don’t know whether these are the result of the depression or its cause.

     Part of my therapy, and Husband's conviction, was the knowledge that I had to separate myself from my side of the family because I had received nothing from any of them emotionally or mentally. I had always defended them all. They were family, after all. But I always maintain that my life had consisted of lecturings and judgements. I don't remember much affection. I had received such from my parents, but the rest of them... I had felt like a stranger to them much of the time.

     Then both my parents died within days of one another. They were both in their early nineties and had led good, active lives. But mother had developed severe dementia in her early eighties and spent the last ten years in a nursing home. Dad had lost her. He died on Christmas Day, a year after my medication crisis, and mother died five days later. All familial obligations had vanished as far as I was concerned, so I made the major decision not to maintain contact with them all. It's possibly the best thing I ever did. I had reached a point of wellness whereby I had decided that nothing and no-one was going to spoil my new-found happiness.

    My own family - Husband, his family, daughter and her family, and our son - have been nothing but supportive, sympathetic and brilliant. Also protective.

    Around a year or two after beginning recovery, I decided to start this blog. I wanted to share with other depression and anxiety sufferers my experiences, and show them that recovery was possible. That depression is one of the most treatable of mental health issues. The hard part is finding that treatment. I wanted to share the new, creative, sometimes adventurous lifestyle which we were going to develop. Showcase the creativity that had been hidden under that bushel throughout.

     I became myself. My side of the family had stifled the quirky side of me. I was 'undiplomatic', over-excitable, too noisy, and various other superlatives. I had 'brought everything on myself', let things bother me... and so forth. I was brought up on all that, and it continued throughout young parenthood and into middle-age and late middle-age. Gee. Once free of all this, I could grow. And grow I have.

     I haven't finished growing, and probably won't. I've got so many things on my bucket list, some of which I hope to accomplish. Learn to snorkel, visit more countries, finish my novel, get stuck into Steampunk. I'm working on the archery!

     Ah, yes. It's all out there to discover!

(Ps. There's one factor I need to add here. The sub-conscious. It's very strong. You might have a rational realisation that life has improved, is getting better, but your sub-conscious mind doesn't feel the same way. It takes a while for the sub-conscious to catch up with the rest of you! It's used to feeling negative about things that have caused you depression and angst throughout the years, and needs to prove to itself that things have improved. 
My prime example is the writing of my novel Alias Jeannie Delaney. For years I have written and edited it and been embarrassed about it because of its raunchy subject matter and violence. I had somehow persuaded my sub-conscious over the years that, because I had never really shown it to anyone, including Husband, it was a bad thing to write and it was childish writing. It took a long time - a couple of years at least after starting to recover - to persuade that pesky sub-conscious of mine that actually, it's really good! The subject matter is unusual, and my writing has matured and improved over the years. But, until fairly recently, I still reacted to watching westerns or anything related. I felt sad, depressed. Lots of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy required. My rational mind had, through loads of support and positive comments on Facebook and elsewhere, finally accepted that it was good. But the bleedin' sub-conscious took a while longer - months, a year or two - to accept that. I think I'm finally there. Husband's editing and suggestions have doubtlessly contributed big time as well. In recent times I've been feeling so much better about it. Maybe, finally, my sub-conscious has decided 'Yes - it's a great book with sensational subject matter and great writing!'  Took its time, didn't it? But that's the invisible, cobwebby nature of the sub-conscious for you.)

   Had a similar experience? Tell me all about it. I'd love to know!



Sunday, 2 December 2018


(I'm posting this again because I left off Autumn's blog link).


 I was drinking coffee with a few of my colleagues a few days ago, and while the evening started as rela...

Saturday, 1 December 2018


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : GUEST POST - AUTUMN CAVENDER:: A Never-Ending Battle  I was drinking coffee with a few of my colleagues a few days ago, and while the evening started as rela...



A Never-Ending Battle 

I was drinking coffee with a few of my colleagues a few days ago, and while the evening started as relaxing and fun, it became completely uncomfortable for me in the end. We were having a light conversation until somebody brought up the topic of drug addiction.
Apparently, one of my co-workers was suspicious that her next-door-neighbor was doing drugs. She listed all the tell-tale signs that led her to this conclusion: His neighbor was always out, hanging out with the wrong crowd, his behavior has completely changed for the worst, and he looked dishevelled whenever she saw him. 
While everybody had something to say, I kept quiet. I was fuming inside because they were all blabbering about the stereotypes of addiction. None of them truly understood what it means to suffer from substance abuse disorder, and yet, they had plenty of awful words to say about a “potential drug addict”.

I went home that night with a heavy but thankful heart. I was disappointed that none of my colleagues appeared to have any real idea what addiction is. They all thought that drug addicts are “losers”. What they didn’t know is that there is such a thing as a high-functioning addict – someone who appears unperturbed and productive on the outside, but in reality enslaved to the captivating effects of drugs. I should know because I used to be one.

My Dark Past 
About 10 years ago, when I was still living in California, I met the man of my dreams -- Brent. He was charming and gave me a lot of attention. I’m a middle child so the devotion he showed me was captivating. He was the one who taught me how to use drugs, particularly opioids.
I couldn’t believe he was abusing drugs then. Just like my colleagues, I thought drug-addicted people were jobless, homeless, and basically insane. But Brent had a promising career and was well-liked. Perhaps I was curious, I didn’t really know the reason why I gave in and took Percocet, a painkiller that Brent used when he suffered a sports injury in college, but I did, and I liked it. Before long, the twenty-two year-old me was completely hooked. Brent and I tried to control our intake so that we could still go to work, talk to friends, and generally appear normal to others.
My mom, during her occasional visits, knew that something was wrong, but she was probably in denial that her precious daughter was doing drugs. I was raised in a Christian family and before I met Brent, I haven’t done anything that would displease my parents. I convinced myself then that I wasn’t addicted because I was still able to do the things I needed to do, at least I thought I did.
There were times when I would challenge myself and not use for a day, probably to prove to myself that I had no problem and could quit whenever I liked. But when I did so, I felt sick. I couldn’t fully describe the feeling, but I wanted to avoid it so much that I kept my “daily dose”.
Brent and I eventually broke up and I needed a new supplier. I tried various ways to get drugs even though a part of me was screaming “Stop!”.  Like any high-functioning addict, I finally lost any control. I left my job and went back to my parent’s house. I lied countless times, stole money from family members, and completely broke the hearts of my parents.
My Recovery Journey
My dad had a heart attack after we had a serious argument. I was yelling at him and spewing the most disgusting words I could ever think of and my dad fainted before my eyes. Thankfully, the paramedics were able to bring him to the hospital in time.
That day brought me to my senses. I knew I was turning into a completely different person and I had no way of controlling it. For the first time, I admitted to myself and to my mom that I needed help.
While there were many types of drug-addiction facilities in California, my mom thought that I needed a Christian or faith-based addiction treatment. I agreed with her. With the help of Sunshine Behavioral Health, we were able to find a Christian addiction facility near us. I went through the works  –  drug detox, counseling, and therapy. Even my family actively participated in the family therapy sessions. 

After my 28-day inpatient program, I came home with a renewed sense of purpose. It was difficult the first few weeks, but I kept writing in my journal, praying, and attending addiction meetings. Only a few of my friends knew what went on in my life. After two years of being sober, one of my closest friends invited me to join her in Illinois and start anew.
I moved in 2012, and worked as a receptionist in an accounting firm for a few years before I dived into freelance blogging. I haven’t used any drugs since then, but I know that there is no such thing as “cured” in addiction because of its chronic nature.
My battle against addiction will never end. Now, more than ever, I understand that I will always be vulnerable, which is why I commit to fight and win … every day.

Remember - if you've had experiences similar to Autumn's, don't forget, you're not alone. And seek help. Help is out there and most people are only to willing and able to do so.--- Jo