Friday, 11 August 2017


Creating My Odyssey: DEPRESSION AND MENTAL HEALTH BLOGS AND SITES: When my daughter was born in 1985, there was zilch as far as organisagtions/associations/groups went. No-one really to contact to give you h...


When my daughter was born in 1985, there was zilch as far as organisagtions/associations/groups went. No-one really to contact to give you help as far as depression or mental illness went. And I went a year without anyone knowing about my state of mentality. It wasn't horrendous, but it wasn't fun, either. I learned to tolerate taking care of my daughter (a little like I learned to tolerate school – you just had to do it. Mumble/moan...). But by the time my son was born in 1988 and depression swamped me again *sigh*, matters were improving, and I approached a number of organisations. The first gave you a list of possible penpals you could write to (this was pre emails and texts!) so it was a very slow, time consuming task. Today it's so much better, and with the advent of Facebook and various other social media platforms (note the technical term – posh, eh?! :-D ) things are so much better! Anyway, here follows a list, with possible additions to come.

Sick Not Weak
Twitter @SickNotWeak  

Mental Movement (magazine)
Twitter @MentalMovement

Councillors Cafe
Facebook The Councilors Cafe
Twitter @CouncillorsCafe

Mind                                                                                                                                                           15-19 Broadway, Stratford,
London E15 4B                                                                                                                     020 8519 2122                                                                                                        

Mental Health Foundation                                                                                                                                                                   Colechurch House, 1 London Bridge Walk, SE1                                                                                                                                         44 (0) 

The Blurt Foundation                                                                            

Kind Over Matter
Twitter @kindovermatter

Mental Health Matters

Phone 116 123 (UK)
PO Box 9090,

Depression UK
PO Box 10566
NG13 8LU
Uncommon Knowledge Ltd
Boswell House
Argyll Square
PA34 4BD
Tel: +(44)0 1273 77 67 70
Depression Helper
(I've just subscribed to this one, and it's similar in philosophy to my blog in that it's encouraging sufferers and those in recovery to rebuild a kick-ass life.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Wild West History: Audubon: North America's Birds and the Bird Myster...

Wild West History: Audubon: North America's Birds and the Bird Myster...: John James Audubon by John Syme , December 31, 1825. Public domain. He wasn't the first person to try and document all the birds...

Wild West History: Baca: How the Young, Tough, Elfego Baca Fought and...

Wild West History: Baca: How the Young, Tough, Elfego Baca Fought and...: Deputy Sheriff Elfego Baca was 19 years old when he made his name as a fearless lawman and became a popular New Mexico folk hero. Photo...

Wild West History: Colorado's Pike's Peak in the Days of Exploration

Wild West History: Colorado's Pike's Peak in the Days of Exploration: Albert Bierstadt's painting of Pike's Peak in Southern Colorado, public domain. Pikes Peak is the highest summit in North A...

Wild West History: The Oregonian, Thomas Dryer, Henry Pittock, Mt. St...

Wild West History: The Oregonian, Thomas Dryer, Henry Pittock, Mt. St...:   Mount Hood reflected in Mirror Lake, Oregon. Public domain. Courtesy of Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory. Released into public domain ...

Wild West History: Colorado's Deadliest Floods by Darla Sue Dollman

Wild West History: Colorado's Deadliest Floods by Darla Sue Dollman

Wild West History: Employment Opportunities for Women in the Old West...

Wild West History: Employment Opportunities for Women in the Old West...: Judy Garland from a scene in the movie The Harvey Girls, 1946. Public domain. The first time I saw Judy Garland in a film was in Th...

Wednesday, 9 August 2017


Creating My Odyssey: THE EVENT THAT REALLY KICK STARTED MY DEPRESSION: I'd always been inclined towards depression, but nothing serious. Just moods, mostly, nothing to fuss about. But when I got engaged, ins...


I'd always been inclined towards depression, but nothing serious. Just moods, mostly, nothing to fuss about. But when I got engaged, instead of feeling happy, as would be expected, I - we - were scared. We kind of celebrated with our folks, drinking the obligatory sherry, kissing cheeks and shaking hands all round (including the unbelievable comment from my mother: 'What do you want to do a thing like that for?!' She who exacerbated, along with the rest of my family, my depression). I cried on route to Husband's family.

     I recovered from that, and six months later,  knew how much I wanted to marry Husband. We married - a fun wedding, planned to the 'n'th degree by my mother - and set off on honeymoon. Halfway down the motorway I began to cry. I felt strange. Not happy. Just weird. I had a good howl on Husband's shoulder on the hard shoulder and we continued to our Cornish honeymoon.

     Even after settling into married life I cried for no apparent reason. I didn't like being at home much. I had a voluntary job at the local hospital after leaving my previous temporary typing job to move for Husband's work, and that helped, then I took up a place on a three year art course near London. Enjoyed that, a lot, despite my shyness and lacking in confidence.

     I finished the course, during which we'd moved house, and I became pregnant. Much rejoicing, but early on, while on holiday, I became quite depressed. We were in Suffolk, and we walked beside a river near the sea and a low feeling descended on me. Antenatal depression. Apparently one in ten women suffer from it.

      I got over that, and the time for the birth arrived. I had high blood pressure and the baby was back to back in my womb. 'That's okay,' I was assured, probably by my lovely midwife, 'the contractions should be strong enough to turn the baby around.' Due to my high blood pressure, I was invited into hospital to be induced (high blood pressure isn't a good thing in this biz). It was February 1985, and snow was thick on the ground. I felt fine, then Husband visited the night before the induction. We watched Star Trek, a sixties episode featuring a planet peopled by beings in Greek robes and Corinthian columns, as they did. Husband went home and the nurses began my induction, which involved the use of something that looked extraordinarily like a Turkish delight fork. Won't go into graphic detail.

     The following day Husband turned up. My contractions had begun. Not too bad to start with. I tried Pethadine, which instantly made me throw up. Then the contractions grew worse. The baby being back to back and turning round made those contractions sheer agony. I know, at the time, that an American political broadcast was being shown on telly, but all I could think of was having relief from the pain. Husband has my fingernail marks on his hand to this day - don't know if that was the American politics or not. Probably not because I don't do politics.  It was agonising and horrendous and seemed to last forever, just waiting for someone available to administer the epidural. The relief when it arrived cannot be described. Being stitched up afterwards was nothing.

     A girl. 12.05am. We had a girl. Samantha. Named after Samantha in Bewitched, and I loved the name Sam. My parent's fifth granddaughter! I was wheeled back to the ward and Samantha was placed in a cot next to me. Post natal depression kicked in immediately. My daughter. Sounded weird. Hated the idea. I listened to a lady in the ward coaxing her newborn to sleep and she sounded fine. I wished I felt like that. I think, looking back, that apart from post natal depression, I also suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, the birth was so agonising. Something that's only really occurred to us in recent times.

     I wanted to go home. No I didn't. Yes I did. No... I didn't know. My parents arrived and I wiped the tears away and put on a brave face. I couldn't tell them I felt ******* awful. Later, Husband and his parents arrived and I howled. Just goes to show what kind of people they were.

     I eventually went home. Felt very weird. Horrible. And Sam didn't sleep well. And I detested being a cow. Eugh. Husband said: 'You do realise you'll have to sterilize bottles and make up the milk?' 'Yes! Yes! Anything but being a bloody cow!'

     Husband returned to work and I cried into my cornflakes. Then I invited myself round to my neighbour, Olive, who I hadn't really met since our move. And so much for being a freelance artist. Was far too depressed for that. In the end, initial shock gradually wore off and, stunned but learning to cope, I began voluntary work with babe in arms, including voluntary art, visited numerous coffee mornings (I loathed being at home at any time of day) and attended every toddler group going. I began to produce artwork, began writing The Novel, wrote anecdotal articles, and, because I was attending a young mothers church group (I'm not at all religious, but did begin 'searching', if you will). All in all, I survived.

     A year later I was still low. Husband suggested I see the doctor. 'Post natal depression.' He said, and prescribed my first antidepressant. It returned me to some kind of normality and kept me going for the next twenty years. At which point I'll continue with the rest of my story, which includes 'the crisis'.

     I'd love to hear from anyone else who's had similar experiences. So do please contact me!





Tuesday, 8 August 2017


Last night I had a mental wobble. I'm on holiday with our gorgeous eleven year old twin granddaughters and we are having really lovely time, but last night I had a woopsit. One of the girls was knackered and went to bed just after dinner. The other more noisy
one, Husband and I started talking about Husband's narrow boat Birmingham canal challenge that he's done three years in a row since my recovery. I'd said: 'Go do this. After thirty years of looking after me you deserve it!' And he does, and he did, and he thoroughly enjoyed it!

     He's done it again twice since and it's a permanent fixture on our calendar now. So, this holiday we talked about it with granddaughter. I then went into the sitting room and started trying to organise the zillions of photos on my phone, while Husband and granddaughter finished a jigsaw we were doing in the kitchen. They laugh a lot and Husband is funny.  My brain started getting jealous. Husband talks to the twins a lot about his childhood, growing up, and his holidays. He's talkative. That's what he does. And thank goodness for that! I could do the same, but for some reason I don't - not in the same way. My brain sees that if I start talking about me, they don't seem so interested (which ain't true in the slightest!). Fact is, when I was depressed, Husband had to do the talking. Also, when I was a child, I felt very left out of things within my family. Wasn't given the right amount of attention. Was dismissed as being arty and over sensitive.

     So there I was, listening to Husband and granddaughter, and growing more and more unhappy. They finished the jigsaw, came into the sitting room, and carried on talking. I couldn't take it anymore, and couldn't explain to them how I felt. I went upstairs and sulked, then cried.

     After a while, Husband popped upstairs. He knew something was wrong. Gradually he forced it out of me. 'The girls adore their Gran (That's me!). They know about what's happened in the past. We just have to explain to them how we've got to handle everything a bit better. Make sure you're not left out. After all these years it's a learning curve.' He popped downstairs and explained to the girls the problem - granddaughter number two was awake by now. 'Let's cheer Gran up!' He said. 'Yay!' They said, flinging their arms in the air. Their response was lovely.  I came downstairs and we talked. Briefly. Granddaughter - the sleepy one - told me how she often felt left out because she was so quiet. Understand exactly how she feels!

     But now I'm cured, the new me has got to work on this. Job in progress.

     How about you guys? Anyone in a similar position?


Sunday, 6 August 2017


My first sight of Maderia was of the island's mountain
top peeping through the clouds as we began to descend
for landing. It was jaw droppingly spectacular. The
island, off the African coast, is actually cooler than other
sub tropics, being surrounded by the sea, and being January,
was cooler still. But a lovely temperature for us. And the
landing was amazing. The ninth scariest landing, apparently!
This picture was taken from the cable car that runs up the
mountain side from the sea front. A gorgeous country, of which
more anon. We'll be returning this coming January, and I have
a separate article in the pipeline, called 'Flip Flops and Furry
Boots'. That'll keep you guessing.

Twenty Countries

I think it's clear what this is. The tips of the Familiar steeples could just be seen over the roofs of adjacent buildings from our apartment balcony. What a lovely surprise!
Twenty countries! Yup - I've been to twenty countries! Wey-hey! (Cease with the exclamation marks, why don't you...?). I read some years ago in a bonafide travel magazine that you can be classed a real traveller if you've visited twenty countries. Shall I list them? Here goes, in no particular order. Deep breath... 
     America, Canada, Mexico, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Hungary, Africa, Turkey, Malaysia, Portugal, Slovenia, and now Madera- although that's part of Portugal. Exhale. I'm so proud. I had thought it was nineteen until Husband the Great Mathematician pointed out that it was, in fact, twenty.  During the late 70s, while Greyhound bussing the States, someone calling me a 'world traveller'. That stuck with me.
     At one time I wanted to do some sort of volunteering overseas, and I do regret not doing so. I was a shy soul and was scared 
that I would be homesick. Now my son is planning on riding his Harley Davidson abroad and possibly doing just that. In my not so generous moments - of which there are many - I'm really jealous. I considered, all those years ago, of doing grape picking on an Israeli kibbutz (still possible, I wonder, but unadvisable today, I should think). Or joining Operation Drake or Raleigh as a crew member on board a full rigged ship and travelling to third world countries to build local schools and hospitals, construct wells, give medicines. They take artists and scientists on various overseas projects. I loved the idea! I took/take great interest in travelling and adventuring artists, botanists, scientists, medics who collected medicinal plants for Kew Botanic Gardens, as an example.
     I'd love to scuba dive among wrecks in the Caribean seas. But I'm not keen on the idea of breathing like that beneath the depths, no matter how tantalising. I will, however, attempt to learn to snorkel so that I can swim a coral reef, maybe Australia, who knows? One for the bucket list. (Incidentally, I did briefly snorkel on the UK south coast recently accompanied by an American World War two fighter pilot doing his airobatic stunts. Just for us! 
     I'll be posting mores photos in due course. Of which there are a zillion. In the meantime, adios, caio, au revoir, etcetera.