Helen’s Blog

Welcome to my blog. Please also click on my name above as that also has details of my work and related photographs.

The latest post will always be just under this one with preceding posts following on in date order. 

Busy busy busy

This week my baby has turned 10. He is a very trying young man and a lot harder to parent than my elder son. He argues, answer back, pushes my buttons and, on occasions, has really made me ill depression-wise.  But he is bright, generally happy and has a great sense of humour. We tried for 5 years before falling with him.

We got him a PC for his birthday as he needs one now to do his homework.  He also loves taking films on a phone and then editing them.  Just like his dad! It’s something we want to encourage.

Growing up we had dogs, chickens, ferrets but never cats.  The only time I had contact with a cat was my brother’s cat Purdy who bit me. So I was never keen.  When I moved out of home my boyfriend got me a kitten and it was love at first sight. Teacup was the first of many cats that I’ve had over the years. I did volunteer work in the 90s for the Cats Protection League and ended up with 7 of them because I couldn’t see them homeless.

All my cats have been great but there’s been 3 special ones.  Crimbo, a little girl I had from 4 weeks because she was the runt and was going to be killed. She had such a character.  We taught her to fetch a bell!  Then Elvis, a massive ginger tom who had a heart of gold. And finally, Peggy Sue – the little cat above.  Peggy was a stray.  A friend knocked on our door to see if she was ours as she was following her up our road towards the main road. We took her in and tried to find if she had an owner but no-one came forward and she wasn’t chipped. So she stayed.

People quite rightly say that cats aren’t that loyal.  They are happy with anyone that feeds them.  But this little lady is my cat.  She tolerates Nik, Samuel and Jamie but she adores me. If I sit down, she’s there laying on me. She’s my side kick.  She is the most amazing little cat.

Half Term

It’s been a lazy but nice half term.  The child has been hyped up because it’s his birthday the following Monday.

Nik had a disco Wednesday evening so Jamie came with me to uni.  He enjoyed it and mainly stayed quiet!

On Thursday we went to a friend’s house for a Halloween party.  The kids had a great time. My friend is such a natural when it comes to entertaining kids and I’m not.  Having typed this, I’ve just realised the irony of this sentence as I’m a children’s entertainer!  But with a small group of children, I prefer to take them to a play centre..  My house is far too small and far too full of animals to have kids everywhere.

So we played wrap up the mummy and carved pumpkins.

Pumpkin carving
The finished article!
Who's going to win?
Winner winner chicken dinner!
Stick on makeup. I could not move my face! Is this what Botox feels like?

After trick and treating where the tired kids bickered, we went to a local pub that was having a party of the children and we had some food. In my opinion, the disco was far too loud and not playing the right kind of music for children. Our lot only went in to get the sweets! It was a lovely afternoon/evening for us all. My little ghost prisoner does not do well being tired so we went home earlier than planned.

Class mates and friends
The girls!

I say that my anti depressants keep me on an even keel. And they do. But sometimes I think they dull me down.  I was having fun but it was like I can’t feel those emotions to the full. Almost like I’m on the outside looking in.

On Friday I provided a disco for a 12th birthday. It was a bit dull until we got nearer the end. They were too cool to dance at first! Mum was happy though.

Some years ago, I provided a last minute disco for a pub in Lechlade, Gloucs. It was just over an hour and half away and I did it fairly cheaply. But it was a fantastic gig and I’d been having a rough time with my gigs and they absolutely loved me! It was such a boost to my confidence. They booked me for some other gigs and although it wasn’t really profitable, I did them because they were such great gigs to do.

They booked me for Halloween this year. I wasn’t looking forward to going because it had been a year since I’d been done there, the weather was shocking and, with M5 roadworks, the journey was nearer 2 hours. But off I went…. I’d forgotten how good it is to work there!  They love such a different range of music – in fact they’ll sing to anything! They really enjoy the photos and they buy me chips! So I was buzzing when I left.

The view from behind my deck!

Then on the way home my poxy car decided not to start. Fortunately I had stopped for a coffee at the services.  The AA turned up and said the starter motor had gone but he did the technical thing and whacked it! It started long enough to get me home.

24 - 30 October 2019

Busy time this week.  I did a Halloween disco on Friday for a pre-school.  So cute. Love doing the little ones parties.

I have a very on/off relationship with my mum. A few months ago my eldest son said he would be moving back down South after he’s finished uni.  He’s lived the majority of his life up here.  My mum did not like us bringing him up here.  So I feel like she feels like she’s won him back now.  And I feel crappy about it.  It’s stopped me calling her, I’m just so angry.

On Friday night I saw some pictures of Facebook of my mum at a family party.  It hurts. So on Saturday I was so love.  I couldn’t get up on Saturday.  I pretty much stayed in bed all day.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been this low. I had to be up for a disco on the night

Then on Monday I get home to find my neighbour has a parcel for me. I recognised my mum’s handwriting.  She sent me 2 lavender bags that she’s made for me.  I love lavender, it really helps with my depression.  And a note giving some news and asking about us.  It floored me. It made my mood improve but now I have to ring which I’m struggling with.

And it’s half term. My child is home for a week.  I just want to say how much I love school. Best child care EVER! Jamie is a high maintenance child. He talks a lot and he talks a lot mainly to me.

23 October 2019

Uni today.  Morning session involved a lot of talking about photos which I enjoyed. I sometimes feel like I’m not as intelligent in how I come across in these classes but I’m working on that.  I need more confidence in myself.

The afternoon was saw some students talking to us about their work.  Interesting to listen to but I’m not sure I got the sea water processing one. I’d rather see a nice sea shot!

22 October 2019

Today we said goodbye to one of our old soldiers, Mick.  He was a lovely man who we’ve got to know well over the last 7 years.

His son lives in America and couldn’t get over for the funeral so Mick’s wife asked if we would video the funeral for her.

Seeing his wife cry broke my heart and started me crying.  I’m so emotional.  I come from a long line of emotional people.  My mum has a very hard outside but is very soft on the inside.  Trouble is it’s not always easy to get to that bit.

My maternal nan had a lot of mental problems.  I only remember her when she was much older and in a home.  She wasn’t in her right mind and didn’t really know who people were apart from my mum, dad and her other children.  One Christmas, probably mid 80’s she gave us £1 for Christmas.  That was for me and her 7 great-grandchildren!

My mum had my brother at 17, my sister at 19, my other brother at 21 (I came along when she was 30).  My dad worked hard and, in those days, the house and kids were the woman’s domain.  My mum was never diagnosed with depression but almost definitely had it.  My youngest brother was diagnosed with haemophilia aged 4.  The authorities thought she was hurting him because he was badly bruised.  It hadn’t been in our family line before. This then involved trips to St Thomas’s in London and Alex’s Hospital in Brighton.  My mum saw a lot of parents smacked of their heads on Valium. She then had a life long distrust of any antidepressant. When I got PND in 1997, my mum was right behind me but this was on the basis that I treated it with natural remedies such as St John’s Wort and lavender oil.  This worked to a certain extent.  In 2000, my husband moved out, my dad had throat cancer and I started having panic attacks.  The first one was in the middle of the night and I woke up and it happened.  I’ve never known fear like it.  I tried to tell my mum but she said she was dealing with my dad’s cancer, she couldn’t deal with my stuff too. I’ve never felt so lonely.  I would go to my mum’s after work because my panic happened in my flat.  One night my mum told me she was not cooking dinner for me one more time and to go home.

I was scared of not being able to look after my 4 year old son.  What if he woke up at night?  How would I cope? I wanted my sister to have him because he deserved a better mum than me. My son is now 23 and typing this still makes me cry.

When I was completely lost and not knowing where to turn next, I rang my Sue, my Health Visitor.  She was on leave and there was no-one else to talk to me.  Just after I put the phone down, it rang again.  Sue had just returned to the office by chance.  She came straight over to see me.  She stayed with me until I was feeling better.  She made an appointment with my GP the next day and came with me.  Anti-depressants were prescribed. This woman was my saviour.  I have recently caught up with her on Facebook and told her this.

21 October 2019

16 October 2019

I was asked what sort of photos I would be taking for my project, I said pictures of my medication, hair dye, damn spots (I’ve got more than I had as a teenager), rumpled bed – night sweats and selfies of me.  It was suggested that I use my phone to do this.  I hadn’t thought of it.  It was also suggested that I take a picture every day in the same place.  I started doing this but felt it didn’t really describe my day so decided to do them in different places with a description of what I was thinking/feeling/doing.

9 October 2019

My project proposoal presentation

Slide 1: Originally, I wanted to look at women approaching the menopause as this is a difficult stage in many women’s lives. However, having thought about it, I think I want to look at ageing and what it means to me.  How I felt about it through the years.  The positives and negatives of ageing.

Slide 2: Next year I will be the big 50.  It is an age that has crept up on me it seems.

I want to explore different ideas I had about the age I was at

Slide 3: How I thought I was fat and unattractive when I was 14 yet, looking back now, I was not at all and I wish I could be as fat and unattractive as that now! How people’s opinions and comments affected how I saw myself.

Slide 4: How a career was most important to me. And having fun with my friends.

Slide 5: Then marriage and children. My priorities changed.

Slide 6: Then came post natal depression, anxiety and panic attacks.  By 30 I was separated and a single mum.

Slide 7: Moving away from my hometown which was not the done thing in my family.  This caused a lot of upheaval and bad feeling with my lot.  Marrying again and being a mum again at 39.

Slide 8: Re-inventing myself career wise. Acceptance of medical conditions. More confident and acceptance of myself.

Slide 9: I am not very good at looking inwards. I’ll be looking at my past and my future so, as a very emotional person it will be very challenging for me. As you know, my love is animals and nature so doing something like this will stretch me.

Ideas for my project

These are some of the pictures I have taken and that lights my fire. Flora and fauna. This was the path I was planning on taking for my MA.

However, as a depression sufferer, I am interested in mental health and how we deal with it. But I didn’t want to talk to other people about depression.  I am an emotional sponge and I would take all their sadness on board. Selfish I know but I’ve learnt that sometimes I have to look after myself first.

I did joke with a friend that I was going to do something on the menopause as I am suffering with hot flushes. She didn’t laugh, she thought it was a good idea! So this became the road I was going down.

Then I thought that I could combine the two ideas.  I could look at ageing and how it’s affected my mental health and the way I think about myself.