I'm Jo, I'm 63 and I'm a UK artist, writer, traveller and wild westerner (www.kitty-le-roy.co.uk) with a zillion other interests. My decision
to start a blog has been very much a 'Shall I, shan't I?' affair. Yesnoyesnoyesno... I'm subscribed to umpteen blogs and felt strongly that it would be a great idea to put my own Creativity, Travels, Life and Musings out there. Fool! :-D
One big reason for this is because I've suffered on and off for thirty years with depression and anxiety. It really got hammering after the births of my children and two years ago I had a medication crisis. I'm lucky enough
to have the brilliant support of family, particularly my hero Husband/soulmate/rock. We were thankfully introduced to an amazing mental health team. They sorted my medication and gave me Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and two years later I feel better and more
confident than I've ever felt before.
Now I'm building the life I've always wanted. Not for me a life of domestic contentment. No thankyou. But a slightly eccentric kick-ass life of creativity, interests,
adventure, travels, fun, friendship... All the things I've been missing. And a blog. Always wanted to say: 'I'm a blogger.' Now I can say it.
Ps. I've got a contact page at the back, so if folk
would like to say 'Hello', that would be great!
Not Purged, Leeched or Chucked Off a Cliff
I'm grateful I wasn't born centuries ago. I would have been purged, leeched, made to vomit, thrown off a cliff,
or institutionalised and never seen again. I arrived during the early fifties, when an anti-depressant was discovered purely by chance. I'm rather pleased about that.
My youth consisted of creativity,
quirks, moods, and my dominant mother. She was the steel-minded daughter of a post war Olympics organiser. Says it all, really. She found my sensitivities difficult, and the family teased me about them. I was told off for 'overreacting'. Talk about a double
whammy. They were a down-to-earth, practical lot of the 'pull yourself together' (like a pair of curtains – my words) sort. I felt judged by family and their friends, particularly my older siblings and their wives, and was discouraged from excitability.
I mean, if you're excitable, you're excitable.
I matured. So did my interests – hundreds of them. Not for me a golden future of domestic bliss, ta muchly. I wanted different. I
took flying lessons aged seventeen, when everyone else was learning to drive (a newspaper photo of me at small plane cockpit controls, trying to look intelligent, appeared on a school noticeboard. Some bright spark had drawn a moustache on me. Hah!).
I rowed on the Thames as soon as l learned the term 'rollocks' (the metal thingies that hold the oars). I travelled abroad. I Greyhounded the States up, down, and sideways, two years running, then I met Husband. My soul mate/rock/best pal. As interested in
Life, the World and Everything in it as I was/am. The same schoolboy humour. This was IT. We got engaged. I got scared. We married. I felt low. All this happiness and bliss biz applied to engagement and marrying had taken a trip to Outer Mongolia as far as
I was concerned. 'You should be happy.' Mother said. She was 'right'. She knew lots. I enrolled on a three year art course and felt better. Then I became pregnant. Wham!Anti-natal depression. I recovered.
Gorgeous daughter was born. Wham! Post natal depression. 'You should be happy,' they (mostly family) said. 'Lovely baby, lovely husband, nice home..'
coped. Just about. Lots of tears. Fact was, looking back, even had I been well, I would have been bored silly. I'm not domesticated. Mother used to comment on my undusted house. Whatever. Boooring.
A year later I was prescribed anti-depressants, which helped enormously. 'So that's what it is!' Said mother. She still didn't fully understand. I attended coffee mornings like they were going out
of fashion, did voluntary work with baby strapped to my front, produced art for exhibitions, and wrote light-hearted anecdotes. I even started my humongous novel, typing with one hand while I fed baby with the other.
Three years later, I had my son. Husband and I had always wanted family and felt that we were now aware of depression and would manage it better. Hey ho. The depression was worse this
time, and God – did I hate young motherhood! 'Eat your greens.' 'Sit up straight.' 'Don't get your clothes dirty.' Guggh.
Discipline had to be taught, and manners, respect, dadehdah. But I did it, and they're brilliant kids/young adults, now. Our best mates. They reached eighteen and that
was it. I booted them out of the house and told them to get on with it. Just kidding. But I did quit nannying. And oh, what a relief! I liked their teens. I like teenagers and their sometimes extreme
points of view. Just point them in the right directions sometimes. When they drive you insane, you can nip out for coffee and leave them to stew.
When my daughter produced twin daughters
of her own, ten years ago, we rejoiced. With good reason. They're brilliant. And fun. Oh, we love grannie/grandadhood! But I was still up and down with anxiety and depressions, and my medications had changed over the years. I'd had a medication crisis - too
many types and mixes - but when you're relying on the medical establishment and official sources on the internet, what's a person to do?
Two years ago nearing Christmas, I was prescribed
another anti-depressant. On Christmas Day I became suicidal for two days. The most revolting thing that's ever happened to us, and my poor husband – my amazing carer - was at his wit's end. The neighbours came in to help. One of them had worked with
a local mental health team, and her daughter said: 'Mum – have you got their phone number?' I was invited in to see the team (I was a shambled wreck – 'reasonably kempt', according to
the nursing report) on New Year's Day. Gee whizz! I was taken off the new medication, stabilized, given a new one on top of my old medication – called 'California Rocket Fuel', then, finally,
CBT''d (cognitive behavioral therapy).
I can't say that creativity helped throughout all this, just that I needed to do it. Particularly writing, as I could write out my feelings, which did
help. But art went for a dive. I did produce some art, but my enthusiasm was as low as low.
Both my parents died the following Christmas, and various other family crisis occurred, but,
compared to THE crisis, they were nothing. I got better and better. Never felt this good. Ever. Since my literal cure, the creativity has returned. I'm painting, writing, sculpturing...etcetera-ing.I now have a new life to build, and build it I will. Just
see if I don't.