Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Black Dog


The Black Dog is the metaphor for depression and is used by the charity SANE to promote mental health awareness.

The Black Dog lives here at times, and very sadly as a mother, the dog visits my beautiful, intelligent, funny, kind daughters. A dog lives with my father and has done all his life. At the age of 77, my father got to know his dog and now manages it well with good meds and support. I cannot imagine a WHOLE LIFE living with it and not being able to do anything. There is much to be said for our more ‘open’ society. (Dad’s word).

It seems that it ‘runs in the family’, like curly hair, or freckles, or a talent. Interestingly, my mother claims it is only on our father’s side!!

In the last few weeks, as I have been studying, posting blogs and getting on with things, the dog has been growing and finally it rendered me unable to do a thing. We got back from our sunny walk in Brighton and it moved in, sitting on me, heavy and bleak, and there was nothing I could do. One waits for it to go. It always does.

While my dog was here, daughter’s was too and she is new to coping with this phenomena. We talked a lot about it, how we recognise the signs, what we do to cope, how we treat ourselves, and most importantly, to be patient.

Rest helps if it possible. Not endless hours of inertia, but rest as needed. Good healthy food helps. Exercise helps. I did a 5k walk with the real dog yesterday and it made a difference. Time and love help. It is ok to cry, feel down, bad, blue, worried, scared, anxious or what it is one feels. Being told to ‘snap out of it’, ‘pull oneself together’ etc. does not help.

The dog is moving off now and who knows when it will be back. But thinking about it, living with depression and functioning in our high energy, high expectation society is an amazing feat. Hats off to anyone who lives with the black dog.







Boots – as in for feet


I wear lace up ankle boots most of the time that I am not required to wear uniform flats, wellies, hiking boots and sneakers. Oh, and not with summer dresses, but most of the time boots are the footwear of choice.

Clarks have historically been the best source of these boots. One year, when living in Japan, some friends and I ordered Clarks boots from the USA, (getting shoes there for foreign feet that one actually WANTED to wear or could afford was problematic and for some reason it was easier to get British shoes from America…..). Not sure how to gauge the foot size difference we sent off paper tracings of our socked feet to help the supplier get the size right. And they did! We wore identical boots for ages and as you have to take your shoes off and leave them in the entrance of any home you enter, there were three pairs of the same footwear in different sizes in the porch!

Like most of my boots they were worn into the ground.

A few years later I got a great looking dark brown pair, and on a trip home to Australia, my younger sister admired them so much, I gave them to her, sure that I could replace them.

It was not to be. Same style, but only in black….so I wore them for another year and on another trip to Oz the same sister received the boots and again last year…..!

I buy my boots online through Quidco, where at times there is a 12% cashback offer. This time in Australia, my youngest sister gave me her boots, cool looking Country Road things with zips after I had parted with my pair. Alas, they are a fraction too big (but ok with thick socks) but the real issue is that they are loose around the ankle. So after sliding around in them for the last 5 months I have crumpled and have ordered, from the Clarks Outlet Sale, with cashback on top, one of the last remaining three pairs of my favourite boots, in black….

The Country Road boots will be donated and I will have footwear that fits when I head off to Italy to see younger sister who is there now…but she is not getting my boots!

Writing from a warm bed – and an update later in the day


Wind is tossing the birds about and rain is lashing against the window. Eldest Daughter and I were up till about 2:30 this morning. It was a celebration of sorts. The end of the semester (the essay was submitted 5 hours before the deadline) for me and acceptance for her about her recent breakup. We watched The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp. It was a hoot and just right for a bit of silliness after all the recent angst.

Just before submission and reading through the thing, again, I began to worry that the question had not been answered properly. It’s bit of a problem when one doesn’t even know if it HAS been answered or not too…….In fact that wee worm of worry lingers still. Time will tell. Academic writing is hard work, non of this blog-like rambling allowed!

There are now four days of no academic commitment. Four whole days for US, for getting stuck into the house, cleaning it (nasty!), ridding it of more THINGS and getting ready for the day I move.

It also means Eldest Daughter can have more of my attention, she has been very patient with me locked away day and night, writing. And she is brilliant at editing and referencing, really helpful….She needs loads of TLC right now and I am happy that we are going to get a bit of time for that.

We might not get the best weather over the next few days, so long seaside walks may be off the cards, but we can still hang out and have fun be good to ourselves and each other.


After a slow morning reading blogs, loving Zero Waste Home especially, Daughter and I headed to town, she had things to see to. We ate lunch out, something healthy for me and comforting for her. (I know I said I was going to be frugal, but we were both tired and somewhat delicate after last night….).

We had a poke around the charity shops, but spent nothing there. The weather continued to be horrible and town was very quiet.

Once home I tackled part of the garage. A sideboard and sofa are to go, as well as the dining table and chairs from inside the house, but the sideboard had to be emptied.

For shame! Boxes of new, unopened wine glasses in the original carrier bag….they never even made it into the house. They have probably been there 6 years, or more? Dozens more cut glass and crystal glasses that he has had for more than twenty five years, plates, a whopping big cafetiere, faded old placemats and a broken Tiffany lamp (not allowed to chuck it because he might fix it one day….). Decisions were made. Some items went into his keep pile – i.e. I cannot decide for him so they will go to him and he can take over. The new glasses will come with me to replace the odd collection I have. A big box of stuff went to the charity shop and the rest went to the tip.

I even got to empty motor oil into the giant ‘can’ for that purpose at the tip and was really chuffed.

When I dropped off the bits to the Red Cross, the lady told me the van has broken down and they won’t be collecting this week after all. Pity really as I was looking forward to seeing the space in the garage. Another time….

Finally, another one of the drawers in the kitchen has been streamlined down to ONE of everything THAT I ACTUALLY USE (except chopsticks, we have a few pairs of those). Things not used are all on the way out.










Now there’s a (troubling) thought


He says he might pack it in and come back. The job is not what he was told and expected. He would have to stay in the house with me (eeek), (good thing the charity folk haven’t collected the beds yet!).

Heart sinking moment or two, but it is still a MIGHT.

It is a troubling idea though. Under one roof again.

But, let’s cross that bridge when it rises up before us…

Daughter is THIN and pale and worn out. Lots of TLC, good food, some chocolate and REST. Tonight we are having TONJIRU the all time best ‘feel good’ food. My dear friend in Japan made it for me at the lowest point in my life, that and apple crumble….cures everything. Only we are having Tori (chicken) jiru (soup), cos the pork looked so awful and I prefer chicken anyway, still does the same trick…

Flights to Bologna booked and paid for but sadly not with Nectar points as I missed out by not booking them on Thursday. It seems that only one or two seats per flight can be purchased that way, and one has to be quick. However, I still managed a fab deal and feel proud and really, really excited. Just over a month to go.




All at sea


It has been a bit of a bumpy ride since the exam. Nothing dreadful, just out of sorts and not myself. Lost focus and lots of niggles.

It feels like pieces of a jigsaw are missing. I can’t move till I find a house and I can’t look for one until the flat sells, and He who lives in paradise is concerned that plummeting stock markets have made it difficult for him to produce the dosh etc, and it is all a mishmash of things not happening.

A 3000 word essay is due Tuesday night and I am about half way through. I have lost my drive. It was the one thing that kept me going, the degree, nursing and the future, but right now, even that has gone. (It will return, but it is not a good feeling when my true passion has faded).

It is a matter of (again) re-evaluating, making priorities, and taking manageable steps to get things done.

It does not help that apart from dog walks there has been no serious exercise. Endorphins really do work!

Oldest daughter had a blip at uni this week, boyfriend and other things and has been packed off home for a few days by her tutor for some TLC. It is hard when you are young and have to learn about the painful side of love. She arrives tomorrow. Having her here will be nice, although she warns me that she plans to sleep a lot!

I have vowed to do SOMETHING on the essay tonight , just to feel as though progress is being made. I have also downloaded ENDOMONDO on my phone – an app I used to have and used all the time.

I do this, flounder and then attempt to rally and boost myself up again,  we all do no doubt. But it is a bit like being all at sea, bobbing around, waiting for other things to fall into place so that I can get on.

But one thing happened today that was very unusual and very welcome. A large sum of money hit my account from Student Finance. I immediately allocated it to various places that will cover upcoming expenses, to my cash ISA and have some left which I plan to invest! (Part of my plan to put something towards my dotage as I do not have a pension here….). There are some who might think that student finance is for living on, it is, but I am so frugal at the moment that I do not for now, have to touch it. That may change when I come to buy my new home, so it may as well work for me while it can!

Wall Street – watch out!!!

why do we feel bad about getting help?


I was at the uni today, the plan was to gym then study, before seeing the Head of the programme, but ‘the best laid schemes of mice and men…’ etc etc….

My nose has been streaming and it is bitterly cold so it was warm woollies and tissues for me all day, no sitting in a draughty library and no lycra!

When with the Head, she suggested given my current situation that I should apply for extenuating circumstances….this reeks of failure and weakness and all sorts of negative stuff. She patiently explained that if I were NOT going through this whole divorce, moving out, adjusting etc thing, then they would expect that the only thing that would impede my work would be me. However, with all this going on it is not likely that I am performing at my best. (True).  I talked it over with LE and tonight have submitted a request. It means that I can do the work but if I do not do well I can have another go without punishment. Not sure how fair it sounds, but I do know that I have been diligent and have only missed two days. I have worked long and hard at all aspects of the course and on placement, but really felt as if I was floundering before the exam.

Makes me wonder why it is sometimes so hard to accept the help offered.




A weird thing to do, or is it just me?


Facebook revealed a photo of the ex today, uploaded by a friend, of him and his first wife at their wedding. There was some banter about him holding his stomach in and a comment from someone I have seen in the last few months saying ‘ how nice to see….’ (name of ex-wife).

It hurt, and here is why. That marriage ended in tears and then very, very sadly a few months later in the death of his wife.

The person who commented about his wife, was once a bit unkind about her, to ME.

Since that marriage, we were married, but it seemed as if the last ten years just DO NOT exist.

So, here I am getting all upset and hurt, then I started thinking how very odd to put up a photo that is so OLD. He looks nothing like that now. It was not (according to him) a happy relationship, but there was the photo for all to see. What on earth was the point?

So weird, or is it me just thinking that?

Once I manned up, I started, tentatively tackling my ever growing ‘to do’ list. More stuff for the charity shop, and they are coming with the van next week to take some of the bulkier bits of furniture….

Student Finance has agreed to lend me money – never thought I would be happy to be in debt, but it is going to seriously help over the next few months. I emptied my pound coin and penny jar and had over £50 which was banked.

I am now about to start more work and have a gym date at uni in the morning before hitting the library and seeing the head of the program.






Savouring the week


Sometimes it is easy to be so caught up in doing things that one forgets to actually experience the moment.

This week has been like that, a rushed, intense swirl of study and shifts and a little socialising.

The exam essay questions were the ones I had hoped for but, in the allotted time, I felt rushed and in one area, underprepared. I came out with a stiff neck and was so wired had trouble sleeping! But it is over.

Three long shifts saw my mentor(s) increasingly allowing me to dress wounds alone and the whole team in turn took time out to show me how to put up IVs and draw up drugs and be part of anything that would enhance my training. The placement finished yesterday and I was genuinely sorry. I even got a hug from Sister!!

It was snowing on the walk home last night and everything is white this morning. I love snow and plan to get the wellies on and take the dog out in it later.

On Friday night a few friends arranged a meal in a local pub (alcohol free for moi) and it was so much fun. It has been a while since I have been out!! It reminded me that I have some lovely folk in my life.

Another lovely one took the dog for two nights as I worry so much about her being alone for so long and the dog walker is on holiday…..

Things in Australia are better, with my father sounding really perky now that he is home and the catheter out. We had a long talk this morning.

I managed to make my lunch every day and spend very little. I did however bid on a coat on ebay and won it at 50% of the retail price. But I NEED a warm coat. Daughter raided my wardrobe and took mine back to uni with her….it is colder up there, but I was feeling very nippy this week in my ultra light down.

Mr Moany has sent the odd nagging message from paradise (and another member of his family has cut me), but it is easier now to wait and think before responding, if in fact I do.  I am managing the emotions a lot better.

I have been living like a bear in a cave, and it is time to let air in, light in, clear the study papers and clear more out of the house…..yay!







David Bowie and my sister


Younger sister has always been a Bowie fan and at our staid boarding school in the Darling Downs in Queensland, she was considered a little quirky, even outrageous for it. This was in the heydays of Slim Dusty to be fair!

Yesterday I texted her to say I was thinking about her when the news of his death broke. She replied and reminded me that somehow, in the 70s at this super conservative girls school, I managed to get a ticket to a Bowie concert and persuade the Headmistress to let my sister go to it. 200k away, alone in the big city. Amazingly the Head said yes….


Shutting off


It has been a hectic week with long shifts, some horrible weather and a daughter who is doing all she can to manage her demons. She has gone back now and it was a wrench, but only she can live her life. My job is to be here for them both if they need/want me.

At the same time in Australia, there has been another operation for my father and for a few days no contact from mum. We are all reconnected now and things are as good as they can be with them for now.

A sister is now in Italy for a few months and in a week or so I hope to be able to plan a short trip there, using no less, my NECTAR points for the airfare…

Oldest turns 21 today and is enjoying the love she feels from her friends and loved ones. Well deserved too.

I am in a state about the exam next week so have cleared the desk, written a list of the things that have to be done around the house/for the ex/for student finance etc. so that it does not have to whirl around in my head while I try to focus.

The mobile is off, and I hope by shutting myself off from the world for 48 hours or so I will be able to retain enough for a reasonable mark. Feeling surprisingly nervous and lacking in confidence this time around.  Need to overcome that!!