MY NEW RENAISSANCE or
WHY I’M OVERDOING IT!
I’m overdoing it.
Since starting my recovery from years of depression and anxiety I’ve subscribed to umpteen zillion newsletters – self improvement, creative, renaissance soul, writing, travel, hippy/bohemian, quirky… and so on and so forth. I also started my blog on the premise that I wanted to contact people with depression and anxiety because I’m literally cured, and needed to inform them that depression is the simplest mental health issue to treat and that a cure is possible. The hard part being finding the right treatment and the right doctors to prescribe it. Very hard. I also wanted sufferers to know that they weren’t alone.
Five years ago – five years? F**k! – I became suicidal over the Christmas period after my psychiatrist prescribed Prozac then buzzed off on holiday. Our lovely neighbours came into our bedroom when Husband became desperate. I lay in bed – writhed is the more apt description – crying, swearing and wanting whatever it was to *f* off. It hadn’t occurred to us that it was the Prozac that had done this, so deeply were we imprisoned.
Our neighbour Kate turned to her mum:
‘Mum – didn’t you used to work for the mental health team?’
She zipped back home, returned with a number, and someone rang the team. The team ordered me off Prozac and our own GP gave meQuitiepin, an anti psychotic, which calmed me down and likely saved my life. The team then prescribed a medication combination ofMirtazapine and Venlafaxine, or California Rocket Fuel(!) as it’s known.
‘Gimme that!’ I said.
I began the long climb towards my completely cured mental state.
Why, oh, why, I wondered, and still do, why our GPs hadn’t referred us to the team in the first place? Because the team want GPs to care for the patient as much as possible, such is the system. What, until the patient is suicidal? Even then it took neighbours, quite by chance, to refer us. This remains an unanswered question. Maybe I’ll broach it to our GPs one day.
A year after my crisis, my dad died on Christmas day – Husband and I sat at his hospital bedside, which I’ll always be grateful for. Five days later my mother – who had suffered severely from dementia for ten years – died. They had been devoted to one another. Thereafter all familial obligations vanished. My parents, brothers and their wives had contributed hugely – unwittingly or otherwise – to my psychological non-recovery from clinical depression.
I had always been a renaissance soul. Never wanted to settle for one thing. That started fairly early in life, but what didn’t help was my large inferiority complex, garnered by mother in particular. Naggings, ‘you shoulds’, ‘what do you want to do that for?’ etcetera.
So, separation from toxicity – family members – was imperative. An absence of sarcasm from one sister-in-law and snobbish dismissal from the other, plus non-communication from both brothers – all of which I’d endured all my life. This separation contributed towards my recovery. Add this to the mental health team’s cognitive behavioural therapy that brought me right up, mentally, to where I am today, and I made the firm decision to have nothing to do with family, because nothing and no-one was going to ruin my new found, never before encountered betterness!
Back to newsletters. Hundreds of ’em! Clogging up my inbox. I wanted ideas and encouragement for the kind of new lifestyle that I wanted for Husband and me. I don’t remember at what point I began envisioning my own blog. I put the idea to Husband.
‘I wouldn’t bother. Can be disappointing.’ Himself muttered.
Daughter said: ‘I wouldn’t bother, Mum, no-one ever reads ’em.’
Son said: ‘Up to you, Mum.’
Good ol’ son.
It took a while, but eventually I decided on the title Creating My Odyssey, because I am, and because it is. The premise of my blog would be mental health, particularly depression and anxiety, and explain what happened, and also – less altruistically perhaps – to showcase my creativity, my art and writing. I’m even considering attempting to sell my artwork. I wanted to talk about the epic novel I’ve been writing forever (‘Alias Jeannie Delaney – The life story of a devastating cowgirl who’s the fastest gun in the west and also bisexual’) particularly the idea of finally finishing it and ‘getting it out there’. I wanted, desperately (a result of depression) to prove that women such as my protagonist might have existed, hence my own portrayal of Kitty Le Roy – who did exist, incidentally, and to prove that women of my age group enjoy the west and shooting just as much as the guys do!
Lastly, on my blog, I want to chronicle the rebuilding of my polymath creativity and life.
A couple of years on, probably more, and having read many, many blogs and joined umpteen Facebook groups on writing, creativity, renaissance soul pages, blog pages, wild west sites (not forgetting my own Facebook pages Jo Bennett, Creating My Odyssey and Kitty Le Roy’s Wild West Saloon), I began accrueing many ideas. I wrote my introductionary message early on, and, following other bloggers’ leads, more recently I began swopping links, writing blog posts to mental health groups and posting guest articles on mental health and creativity. I’m behind on this one. My apologies to those of you I’ve promised a blog post!
I’ve also asked writers to give me feedback on my novel, something I’d been sadly lacking all these years. I still find that difficult. Trying to convince my brain that the premise of it is exciting, unusual, and, indeed, good. That’s probably the only area where any remaining lows descend on me. I’ve got to finish editing my novel – with the help of my brilliant Husband – my soulmate/rock/best friend – and I’m the only one who can finish it. I’ve had fabulous feedback from people so perhaps my brain is finally acknowledging the facts.
But, life is getting interesting and inspiring. I joined a sculpture class and my tutor is now my lovely friend. I’m returning to archery, an interest I had years ago and stopped doing because of depression. I want to use our canoe more, learn to snorkel (start in our new bathtub)… We’ve begun travelling. I bought a Mini Cooper convertible, I want to keep going with my wild west, perhaps develop my garden cabin into something more western,
although I had to give up living history because, in the end, it really didn’t suit me.
I’ve become pretty confident and outspoken – even more so than I used to be. I was ‘expelled’ from a writing group because my new brand of outspoken-ness, while not actually unpleasant, was disapproved of among the largely older membership. And talking of older, I’m sixty-five this year, and I’m going to have the first birthday party I’ve had possiblyever! Celebrate five years of depression freedom. And celebrate a milestone.
I have another quest. I’d like to be a role model for the over sixties. I watch folk of this age and over, and with few exceptions, they dissolve into the background in a sea of grey/white haired, brown, dark blue, beige-ness. And their personalities seem to dissolve too. Perhaps I’m being unfair, in which case I apologise. But, since my own style has been inspired by my grown-up daughter, I want to wear clothes with style and shebang! So, if I reach dear old biddy stage, I want to wear vibrant clothes that make your eyes water, I want to stand up straight, and I want to walk with the brisk stride that I use now. The tastes of both Husband and me have definitely retained youthful vibes, including enjoying rap and heavy metal. And why not? We’ve always been lucky in the youthful department. It helps having two kids and grandkids!
Everything has happened over the last five years. I’m also attempting, not always successfully, to be more organised. But I can’t organise ‘a piss up in a brewery’ as my dear old dad used to say. I have too many blog posts to write and too many projects on the go simultaneously. My own fault entirely.
To add to this mix, Husband and I are virtually redecorating the entire house after thirty years of neglect and I ‘can’t be bovered’, plus the fact that we’re travelling. Off to Madeira soon.
I’ll end on an interesting note. Son is dyslexic. He’s struggled all his life. Bullying at school. Non-conforming. Hey – that sounds familiar! He wants to take on the world, preferably on his Harley, travel the globe. We compare notes. He’s preparing to build a new life for himself and so am I. There’s only one thing left to say:
Go for it!