Our Journey

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“You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.”
―Tom Hiddleston

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The journey we travel is rarely easy … we stumble, we fall, we get lost.   Sometimes we get hurt. But we have 2 choices .. stay where we are .. existing in our comfort zone, or we just keep going .. at our own pace, in our own time.

Over the past 3 years I have been on a journey .. at times it has been hard to see the way ahead and I have fallen and lost my way a few times.

Sometimes the tunnel has been so dark and so long that I never thought I would get to the end of it … but I have…

I am not sure yet where my destination (or destiny!) is taking me … but I do know that I am now on the right path.   I have peace again, I am settled and I’m happy.

I have been assisted by many friends on my way .. old and new .. and to them I am eternally grateful … I will never be able to repay the kindness and understanding that has been shown to me during my many stumbles.

It is funny thing when you look back and see things clearly.   At the time, in the moment, you cannot see or understand that you are losing your way … for me it wasn’t a sudden process but a long slow slide caused by stress.

One of my faults is that I am very proud … I do not always like to admit that I need help or I am failing .. I am working on this .. but I am finding it easier to say when I cannot achieve or do what I want to do … funny enough the more I manage to do this, the more freedom I feel inside of me.   I was a prisoner of my own mind, my own standards … my own faults.

I have found myself as a Celebrant .. something that I never planned, but just sort of fell into .. it is a job that I love .. and, without being big headed, I am good at.    Two years ago I never even knew what a Celebrant was … and never in the life of me thought I would be officiating at funerals and weddings! … but here I am.

My journey is not yet over … it never will be .. until the day my ashes are spread at the Lochan in Glencoe I will continue to move forward … meeting new people, having new experiences and no doubt leaving behind some things that were important to me once .. that is life … this is me.

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The “D” word

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I have written about the subject of Depression many times in this blog and I know that is a subject that few understand, unless they have been touched by it in the past.

Many are embarrassed to talk about it … they are ashamed, feel that they are somehow not “normal” because of it.   The truth is any of us can go through it .. sometimes only once, sometimes repeatedly .. but the result of our depression leaves us a different person. There is an old saying that ” when you come out of the other side you will not the the same person who walked into the storm” .. and this is true …

I like to think that I have only had depression once, but in reality this is not true.   Many years ago I lost a business, my home and everything I had worked for … and looking back I know I went through it then… although at the time I didn’t realise I was depressed.. I was so used to feeling stressed that I did not have the common sense to see the difference between normal stress and depression.

You cannot explain to someone who has not gone through depression what it is like.    The nearest I can get is that you lose the ability to feel anything.   Occasionally you have a wee blip of something but you can’t sustain it.   You just feel empty, worn out, you cannot deal with drama of any kind, and although you try to lead a “normal” life, you are in reality just going through the motions.

I was lucky, I had a couple of friends who could see what was happening to me .. and through being able to talk to them and my doctor, honestly and frankly, I began to find my feet again.   

It wasn’t easy .. and I know my thoughts at the time swung wildly, the battle within was a struggle, a huge battle, but with the help of my friends I slowly won.    Not in a great sudden burst of victorious celebration but in a gentle, peaceful, quiet way.

I knew things in my life had to change… and although it would mean sacrifices in more ways than one, I began to take the steps forward to a new life.

People talk about starting a “new chapter” in their lives … for me .. it is a whole new book.

I have taken time out .. to concentrate on me .. I am not foolish enough to think that by “having someone in my life” that my problems would be solved .. I knew that I had to find contentedness and peace within me before I could ever consider entering into a relationship other than friendship with anyone.

I know some people think I have been “brave” to start a new life at my age .. I am not brave, I am a bit of stubborn old fool, I refuse to let life and myself let me down!   

As for the future, who knows, I am loving my new “vocation” … and I have been lucky that I met someone who turned a key in me, that let me see what love is really all about, and although this was not, and never will be anything else than a deep friendship, for that I am truly grateful.

I know I am lucky, my life has been a mix of great successes combined with a few spectacular failures and I do still have a wee niggle that I am a bit of a “liability” to consider being in a relationship but in the end I have found what a lot of people will never find .. contentment and peace… and perhaps, for me, that is enough.    

The Richness of Life

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Over the last two years my life and my circumstances have changed beyond recognition.

The depression brought on by stress was a very tough time, but in hindsight it made me stop and look at my life and what really made me happy rather than what I thought would make me happy.

I know I am a woman of two halves.   I love my friends and socialising and yet I love time on my own, in my peace.

Lately my circumstances have curtailed the times I can spend socialising.    I have had to plan what i can do, I have had to hold my hands up and say “sorry, I can’t make it” … sometimes I have lied and used various excuses rather than admit the real reason .. but the more I think about it .. it is the embarrassment of not having money that makes me do this and the question I then ask is .. why?  …. I have no idea .. so … I have decided to be honest and say please excuse me if you think I am being unsociable, but I have to pull the belt in for a few months.

The strange thing about having no money is the peace I have found…. maybe it is a mixture of now embarking on something that I want to do rather than I have to do … maybe it is because I realise that I do not need a lot of money to be happy, I have peace in my mind once again.  I am happy.     

No amount of money can buy that.

New beginnings

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If we are lucky we will suffer a really tough time in our lives.   I say lucky because when you are at rock bottom you find out what is really important to you.    Often what you discover is surprising, but it does give you the opportunity to look at your  life and yourself and decide if you want to change.

It is no secret that I suffered from depression last year.   It was a very tough time for me as I was very stressed about the business I then had, I was worried about the people who worked for me, I was scared to fail again.

 

Throughout my depression and my non productivity in work, Karen my business partner stood by me, she understood, gave me space, let me rant, gave me peace.

This is actually the second time Karen has helped me in this type of way.  9 years ago I lost another business and my home, everything I had worked for.   Karen stood by me then and let me recover in my own time, just like this time.   I can never thank her enough for that and she is still the person I trust more than anyone else in this world.

We both realised that there was little we could do to save the business.  We tried so hard but eventually all the fight just left us.  We had an acceptance of our fate.  

Today for the last time Karen and I sat together in our office as Karen has still a little bit of financial work to finish off.  I went along to help carry stuff to the car and basically annoy her *smile*.

As we left I said to Karen “it served us well” .. and it did.   For both of us it was an experience that we learned so much from, about business, about ourselves and, most importantly, that no matter what, life goes on.

Karen starts her fabulous new job on Friday.    It is her dream job and I am so happy for her.   For me, I am still plodding around the job centre until I can get things sorted out with Business Gateway (or not!) … and get myself up and running as a Celebrant.

It is a whole new career and a whole new beginning for me.   After 27 years in recruitment it is a bit scary to be going off to do something completely different, BUT I know this is the right thing to do.

I may be financially and, therefore, socially restricted for a while but that doesn’t matter.   I have lost the stress and replaced it with excitement.

This is my new beginning.   

 

How to understand depression

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I found this video doing the rounds on Facebook.

Last year I suffered from depression. To say it was a shock to the system is an understatement.

In a way it was probably one of the best things to happen to me… it made me stop, think and re-evaluate my life. Decide what is important, and what is not.

I have tried in previous posts to describe this time, but this video says it much better than I ever could!

Lesbians and Mental Health

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You cannot tell most of the time if the person sitting next to you has Mental health problems.   You cannot  always tell if a friend, lover or relative has Mental health problems unless he or she tells you.

I see things online everyday that makes me think “ah oh” .. there are woman out there now who have problems, some quite severe, that they do not recognise, cannot see.   I am not sure why the issue of mental health in lesbians is so common, but there is definitely a high percentage of women suffering.    It could be to do with environment or guilt or pressure from family not to be “different” .. I have no idea, none of these were my reason for my slip but I do know that some women do suffer from all of these.

Mental health is a huge subject and I am certainly no expert but I am one of the “one in three” who has suffered from mental health issues in the form of depression.

Depression is a funny old thing (no .. really .. it is!) … sometimes it leaps out of nowhere and pins people to the ground immediately, sometimes, as was in my case, it was a long slow stressful fall that happened without me really noticing.

It is very hard to describe what you feel when you are depressed, your brain is foggy, you just want to curl up and sleep all the time and you crave something to make you look forward, anything.. just something that will make you feel something.   The problem being is that you believe this “thing” will make you feel better, you will feel alive .. but it never works out like that.    Life becomes one big mess of nothingness, no excitement, no joy, no feeling, just a routine, a sufferance that has to be endured.

I got to the point where I didn’t care if I lived or died… don’t get me wrong, I didn’t actually WANT to die but I just didn’t care if I did or not.    I lost all respect for me, I felt I was stuck behind a glass screen watching my life but couldn’t touch it… I know this sounds strange and if you have never been depressed you will probably  think this woman is a lunatic!   but I am no lunatic  and I am, most of the time, a joker, a clown and always filled with optimism, I really am the last person I would have marked down as being a victim of depression, but I was.

I am lucky, eventually (with the help of friends and a holiday!) I realised how far from me I had become, I looked in the mirror and seen a face but could not recognise the spirit or the soul inside me … I was empty.

It has been nearly a year now since I was officially diagnosed, I still have the same pressure as before but I know enough to acknowledge that .. to realise that I am NOT responsible for everything in this world and I can let the guilt go.

I decided at the time to “come out” about my problem … I knew one or two of my friends had been in the same situation as me and found it harder as they had not opened up and I am of the character where I think that if I am honest then people can accept me for the truth or not at all.

I was stunned by the reaction I had … in a very positive way … so many people messaged me or emailed me to say that they had been through a similar thing, some, like me were still fighting to find themselves again, some still are.

Sometimes we have to acknowledge our failings and decide to deal with them.    I know I had a couple of stupid comments “keep smiling” or “read a self help book” .. this is not the response you need or want when you open up to someone .. what you need is someone who sometimes will say nothing but just listen, let you pour out what you think and what you feel, which may be very different to what you think or feel tomorrow.

I am glad I went through what I did last year.   In a way it was the best thing for me as it gave me the insight to what is important  in my life and the power of the brain.

I have a friend who is having a very rough time at the moment.  She is where I was and I can see that as her posts are downbeat and depressive, she knows she has a problem but is not yet at the stage where she feels she can do something about it herself.   I would love to pick her up and shake her and say “listen to me.. only YOU can do this” but I know that this will not work .. this is something she has to find from within her and no amount of preaching or advice from me, or anyone else will help.

Looking back now on how I felt last year is quite amazing, again it is like looking through glass to another life, but this time I am happy to stay on this side and have no wish to go back to how I was then.

Coming out the otherside was a bit like a slow lazy wake up…. I began by feeling a bit more settled, more at peace until one day I woke up and I felt happy … I genuinely thought to myself “my gawd, I feel happy” .. and feeling is returning, I do not feel “dead” inside, nothing is as much as an effort, I do not have to “try” to function, I just do.

I was talking to a very close friend the other day and she said “all the beautifully interesting  people have survived depression” … maybe she is right… maybe I’m on my way to be interesting!!  *smile*

52.5

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Today I am 52.5 … a strange thing to say I know … but my birthday is Christmas day and as a kid my mum used to give me a special day in the summer because she felt it was unfair for me to only have one day per year to celebrate.

I haven’t really celebrated my “half” birthday in many a year, but last year I ended up having a barbeque, not for me really, but for an ex who was celebrating her birthday.

It was a bit of a struggle for me.   I tried to enjoy the day as my garden was full of some wonderful and funny women but I felt very out of sorts.  It was nothing to do with any of the people there but rather within me.

I found it very hard that day, I ended up sitting in the summerhouse trying to find some peace but I tried very hard to make myself “mingle” … but I was forcing it, forcing humour, forcing smiles … I was struggling .. I wanted to be happy, but I wasn’t.     It was so much of an effort and I just felt exhausted.     I had also spent some time picking out what I thought was a fabulous birthday present.   I was wrong and I ended up feeling very disappointed, not only because my ex didn’t like it or want it (it was a small Fossil leather bag), but that I had misjudged it so badly.  

This year I am not having a BBQ, instead I will be celebrating the 1st birthday of Fife Inbetweeners (a gay women’s group that I run) … we are having an 80’s party, with 80’s food and a pool competition.    It will be an evening spent with a small number of friends and this year I feel like partying, my humour will not need to be forced and I can enjoy the company for the great friendship it brings.   

Sometimes we cannot see things in life until we look back on them from a very different viewpoint.

This weekend I will smile and celebrate where I am in life … I like it here, everything feels great again!

 

 

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