So, life is very different to how it was when I last posted a Blog. I think it might be time to pick this up again. But not tonight, I have had a busy day and it’s time to sleep.
This evening I have been working on repairing the damage to a very old family photo. It is of my Grandfather on my Fathers side with his three brothers, sister and my Great Grand Parents. Quite by accident I discovered an editing tool in Photoshop which was perfect for the job 🙂
It has been months since I have written anything for my blog, I intend to remedy this, but not tonight, here is my promise to myself, I will write something very soon…..
It is over a month since I last wrote, there has been a lot happening at home, our son was offered, and has started a new job, this is his first full time employment contract since leaving school. His other jobs have been zero hour contracts and agency work. We are delighted for him and he is enjoying it, he has spent the last few weeks training, working in all the sections of the factory and will be working in the quality control department once he has completed his familiarisation training.
Our daughter has moved out, she has lived away from home before and has returned but she says that at 26, she thinks that this will now be permanent. She is sharing a flat in North Greenwich, it is a purpose built 1970’s flat, the views from their second floor windows are fabulous. They can see Greenwich Observatory to the left, Greenwich Power Station (almost identical to Battersea Power Station) directly in front, and the Shard to the right. The flat is 5 minutes walk to the Thames and the Cutty Sark. We spent a busy and tiring day transporting all her things from our home to her new one.
I also have job news, I have a new job and will be starting in just over a week to work for a UK charity that changes young lives through taking children with a serious illness or disability, without their parents, on the holiday of a lifetime to Orlando, Florida. I am delighted! During my first week, their offices are moving to the town where I live and it will take me 17 minutes to walk there (according to Google Maps). I feel privileged to be able to contribute to such a worthwhile cause and the staff are all lovely.
I am prompted to write today as I saw a post at lunch-time by ‘Mind’ on Facebook that Sally Brampton has died. I read her book ‘Shoot the Damn Dog’ earlier this year when I was at a particularly low point, it was immensely helpful. I am so sad to hear this news, thinking of Sally’s family. I must admit the news shook me, I am not one to cry but today I did, I suppose I thought that as Sally was well enough to have written the book and had also written others, that she was managing well and was unlikely to relapse to such a severe degree, but it seems the ‘Black Dog’ returned to nip at her heals and it is this which scares me.
I have been doing really well since the dark days earlier this year, and with the supervision of my GP have come off the anti-depressants. I have also received the diagnosis of having an under-active thyroid, something which I have long suspected so it didn’t come a surprise, and am two weeks in to taking the initial dose of thyroxine. Low thyroid levels can be a factor in low mood and depression, I wonder if this may have been a contributory factor in my problems this winter.
What happened to Sally scares me because it reminds me that we are all vulnerable to relapse, I worry that it will happen to me too. But I am aware that to some extent, I can take charge of my mental health, there may be times when things get out of control but I hope that I have the strength to get through the bad times. I am practising self help as much as I possibly can, my new job will give me a new challenge, which may be stressful to start with but will I feel be offset by working for such a worthwhile cause and with such lovely colleagues. Being able to walk to and from work will give me more exercise which I really need, and will get me out in the fresh air, also a benefit. So I am hopeful that these things will be a positive contribution to maintaining good mental health. I am continuing with crafting and have several fairs over the next few weeks.
Although over recent weeks I have been unable to meet up with friends due to work commitments, this will settle down soon and I will make time for coffees and catch ups.
So having spent most of today in the garden working on restyling various things and making a large size dreamcatcher for my stall, I have enjoyed a tasty dinner cooked by my husband, and am now enjoying a glass of red wine before toddling off to bed. Here is the next instalment of my life story:
Chapter One – Part Two, Geoffrey’s Back-story.
My Paternal Grandfather, Robert, was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1897, he and his family moved to the UK at some point before his youngest brother was born in Camberwell in 1899. My Paternal Grandmother, Elsie, was born in Dartford, Kent in 1898, she was a secretary before they married in 1924.
Granddad Saunders second from left, Nana Saunders third from left:
My Grandfather served in the Army during the First World War and sustained a severe head wound but was able to return to the front after recovery. During the Second World War he served with the Kent Fire Service.
Granddad was an accountant in business with his brothers but they all fell out at some stage, after which he worked for a company called Patchell & Boobyer until his retirement. My grandad made news in the local paper a few times for having car accidents, after having so many crashes, no one would give him insurance. I think he was a bit of a daredevil!
Dad was born on 10 March 1929, his oldest brother, Donald, was born in 1925, then came Brian and Patricia (Twins) born in 1927. Sadly Patricia was either stillborn or died as an infant, we are not sure of the exact circumstances. Then came my Dad, he was born in a nursing home on 10th March 1929. A as a young child thought him being born in a nursing home meant that he had been adopted. Finally came Doreen, born in 1932.
At around age 7, Donald contracted Measles and suffered complications, we do not know which, but it was most likely meningitis – an infection of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, or encephalitis – an infection of the brain itself. As a result he suffered epilepsy, development delay & violent episodes. The family had a Nursery Nurse or ‘help’ for some time to assist with the care of the children and the home.
I remember hearing that there was an incident where Donald had an aggressive eposode and injured Brian, after this he went to live at The Stoke Park Colony for Mentally Defective Children, near Stapleton, Bristol:
The family lived in a detached bungalow, Glendon, 17, York Road, Dartford, Kent. The children attended St Albans Infants School and then York Road Primary School which was next door to their home, so no excuses for being late!
They seem to have had a quite privileged childhood, there were tales of building sailing boats to sail on ponds, go-karts and several holidays to the coast.
A holiday snap:
My Dad was apprenticed (maybe at age 14?) to Everards at Greenhithe, working on Thames Sailing Barges.
Dad and my Uncle Brian played basketball for Dartford, Basil Fanshawe Jagger (known to everybody as Joe) – Mick Jagger’s dad, was his coach. Dad remembered Mick going along to watch the team training and to matches.
Between age 17-21 (another unknown), Dad was called up to do his two years National Service. He worked as a mechanical engineer in the RAF for some of this time, based at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
Mum & Dad met at a fun-fair, they were engaged while Dad was still doing his National Service and after Dad was demobbed he returned to work for Everards.
Mum & Dad were married on 4th June 1952. Their first home was in Stone, near Dartford, they then moved to 10 Starboard Avenue, Greenhithe, in housing built for Everards employees and naval staff.
My eldest sister Sharon was born on 3rd September 1953 and middle sister Nicola on 31st January 1958.
Mum was ambitious for my Dad and encouraged him when he decided to study to become a Building Control Officer. When Dad was studying the dining room, my mum would lock the door so that my sisters couldn’t disturb him. He achieved his ONC in Building Control, progressing to HNC and then HND.
It has been months since I wrote and the reason I have been prompted to write today is that both my nieces have started their own blogs this month and reading what they have written has motivated me to write.
So, an update – I had the first of my five annual Mammogram screenings and check-up appointment in November. I am delighted to announce that the result of my mammogram shows NED – No Evidence of Disease. So I am now officially in remission, fabulous news!
However, despite being pleased, I admit that I wasn’t as excited about the news as you might expect, not because I am not grateful, for I certainly am. It is more that it felt more like the next step along the way to healing both physically and emotionally.
Looking back, my last proper blog was written on 2nd May 2015, it had just been agreed that I could reduce my working hours and I have been working three days a week since then, this has been significant in me feeling well enough to keep working, both at my paid employment and craft work.
There have been days recently where I have felt very low, the feelings were very familiar, anxiety and low mood hit me unexpectedly in early January, there were days I so wanted to stay home with a soft, fleecy blanket to snuggle under and my kindle. But I managed to grit my teeth and get myself to work, it took a lot of effort and at times I sat at my desk, anxiety twisting in my stomach and tears threatening when I would have picked up my things and walked out of the office. January has been a difficult month for me for many years, I probably have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but having not been formally diagnosed, I can only suppose this to be the case. I have a Light box on my desk at work and have started using it again, I think it is helping, I am beginning to feel more ‘me’.
On the 12th January, I posted on Facebook: ‘Two years ago today I was at the beginnings of another occurrence of depression. Today I am fearful because despite still being on maximum dose anti-depressants, I am heading downwards again. Those familiar feelings of despair and panic are re-surfacing. The wish to hide away somewhere warm and dark with a blanket and my kindle is just about all I feel I want to do. A re-assessment of life might be worth considering, perhaps it is time to make changes?’ I understand that some may not approve of putting such personal and negative sentiments on to social media, but I am blessed with some wise and caring friends who have supported me through this medium for many years and their comments and good wishes pick me up.
A dear friend commented:-
“”The wish to hide away somewhere warm and dark with a blanket and my kindle is just about all I feel I want to do.”
I understand those sentiments Dee, I’ve been somewhere similar myself. I am not sure what to say to you, as everyone’s situation is very different. If I could find a positive uplifting message that would make a difference, I’d write it, but the part of your post that did give me a lift was “A re-assessment of life might be worth considering, perhaps it is time to make changes?”
Quite possibly yes. I would caution you not to make them all at once, as that too can be overwhelming. One step at a time Dee. You and your family have had a lot going on in the last couple of years.
I know you’ll also have heard this, a lot, but please make sure you speak to someone in person about this – whether it’s Ray, a counsellor, your GP, someone.
I won’t say “it’ll be alright”, I don’t know that, and can’t say, but what I can say is that I hope and pray that you can follow through on the final words in your post, and take first steps in clearing your way through the miasma of depression ❤
For her words I am thankful, this lady can be relied upon to give advice is relevant and thoughtful and for that I am grateful. Yes, the last few years have had many challenges, I wonder whether staying strong through it all has left me emotionally exhausted with depression as the resultant fall-out.
So, one year on from the traumas Ray and I experienced at the hands of Bi-lateral Breast Cancer and Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) do still affect our day to day lives. Ray has days where he struggles to make it through work and will go to lay down when he gets home, just last week he went to do the grocery shopping and had to call me to go and pick him up as he felt too ill to drive home safely.
I have radiation damage to my left shoulder and upper arm, I am learning to live with nagging aches and on bad days, noticeable pain. It is better to keep the area warm but the hot flushes get so bad some days I need to put a fan on, which makes it cold and painful.
But I am grateful to be alive and well, to have my family around me, and for all the good things I am blessed with. Life has sent challenges, but I’m still standing!
Tuesday 12th May, Today’s gratefulnesses, the concrete base for my woman cave (well, shed) is down and the shed is ordered, yay!!! After a rainy start, the skies cleared and I got two loads of washing done, dried and put away. I have two meet ups with friends organised, have done some crafting today and have been snipping out roses for decoupage this evening, all in all a very good day!
I have been neglecting my blog writing for too long, the last few weeks have been busy and stressful, and I have been concentrating my literary efforts on posting a daily gratitude diary on my Facebook page in an effort to look for all that is good in my life.
Two weeks ago I had an emotional crisis regarding work, I was tired, very tired and even though still only working 22 ½ hours each week, was too weary to do anything constructive after work. It was getting me down, our house has been getting more and more messy through my lack of energy and enthusiasm to do anything other than look at it and get more fed up that I wasn’t able to do anything to rectify the situation.
I talked with Ray about all that was bothering me, we discussed me giving up work or carrying on working part-time with an advisory certificate from my doctor. I resolved to speak to my Director and did so two weeks ago, I explained how I was feeling and that as I have no idea if, or when, I might feel that I have enough stamina to go back to full time hours, asked formally for consideration to be given to allowing me to permanently reduce my hours to three days each week.
Thankfully, he agreed to think about it and would let me know as soon as possible what had been decided. I am absolutely delighted to report that it has been agreed for me to reduce my working week to three days, and with effect from 1st May, I will work Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s. I cannot properly put in to words just how relieved I am about this, it feels like a massive weight has been lifted from my shoulders, money will be tight, but at least I will not have the constant stress of worrying about being fit to return to full time working hours.
This news gave me a real boost, so much so that I actually decided to do some housework on Saturday afternoon. I am happy to report that I cleaned our bathroom for the first time since before my operation last October. Now wait!! It has been cleaned since then, just not by me!! The lovely Megan has been taking care of it 🙂
When that was all done, I set to putting together a new cupboard for the bathroom, I got fed up with buying cheap second hand storage which doesn’t quite do the job so I splashed out on a new unit. I managed to build it all by myself, and it stores loads more than any of the other previous unsatisfactory cupboards and looks good too! All in all a productive afternoon 🙂
This week, work started on preparing the base for my Summer House/Craft Studio, in a few weeks I will be able to move all my equipment in there and we will have our dining room back!
On Thursday, for the first time since surgery for Bi-lateral Breast Cancer, I have took Shadow for a walk to Captains Wood. I particularly wanted to go there to see the Bluebells, and it was worth the effort, simply beautiful! Then I had Liza’s company on a trip to Homebase and Sainsburys. In the afternoon I sorted through a massive amount of books my dear friend Jan had given me, and also went through our bookshelves. I managed to clear some space on our bookshelves which were getting rather full and to pack up the books I didn’t want to keep ready to try to sell to a second hand book dealer and get them loaded in to the boot of my car, they were a bit too heavy really but I managed it! In the evening, Ray and I have taken our first trip to Ikea since we have been ill, the restaurant now has Lamb Shanks on the menu, and they were delicious! We got the storage boxes and replacement loo seat we went for plus some other bits and bobs. We were both very tired when we got home and pleased to get to bed.
At Homebase, I bought a large terracotta saucer from the garden centre, so that I can start putting bird seed out again, we used to sprinkle it on the pond patio but it kept getting in between the slabs and sprouting, so we stopped doing that. I covered the bottom of the saucer with bird seed and it was all gone when I got home on Friday afternoon, so I put more seed in it, and have enjoyed looking out, watching the wood pigeons and turtle doves feeding. We have one bossy wood pigeon who spends so much time trying to chase all the other pigeons away that he hardly gets to eat anything, it is very funny to see them chasing about on the lawn 🙂 The little birds used to be frequent visitors too, but seem to have not noticed that we have put food out yet, I’m sure they will return soon. There is one pigeon that Liza has nicknamed ‘Mr fatty’ because he is so large, this is a picture I took of him last summer.
Today, between Ray, Megan and I, our front room is tidy and clean for the first time in months, Ray vacuumed, Megan and I dusted, I stripped the throws off the futons, and Megan put clean ones on, I took down the net curtain for a wash, cleaned the inside of the windows, and ironed the clean curtain and put it back up. It has been so satisfying to sit in our clean and tidy front room this evening, with candles lit in the hearth, and the fairy lights switched on, ah bliss!