114 Days of freed0m-Day 4

Today I arranged to visit my friend Jenny who has a 10 week old puppy that I just have to see.  I have seen some photos and he looks adorable and I made sure that I took my camera with me.

I arrived at the house, opened the door and he came to greet me straight away; no nerves and no barking just much tail wagging. What a cutie.


As with most pups he is all big feet and long legs which are still not quite under his control when he runs around after Jenny-mummy everywhere she goes. He bombed around playing with his toys until he flopped and although he fought to stay awake, soon he was fast asleep on Jenny-mummy’s lap.


Nite-nite Fenn.

Sleep tight.






My First Anniversary-“Thank you”

Prozac-free and loving life!

“Fighting depression with positivity” is my tag-line and thankfully that’s just what I have been able to do this year. So much so that I am now celebrating a year without antidepressants and I really do feel that I have this unpredictable and debilitating illness under control at last.

Being positive can be hard work.  I know from personal experience that changing one’s thought processes from negative to positive and trying to block out unnecessary”white noise” and “rubbish”  is exhausting and the amount of effort that it takes to implement these emotional changes often takes people by surprise. But with the right help and support it gets easier and the further you progress, the more natural “positive thinking”  will become.

So, I would like to thank all my family, friends and colleagues for their continued support during 2012. I wouldn’t be able to maintain such a positive and stable mindset without my networks-I never underestimate their importance or take them for granted.


Breakfast with Tom

Sometimes we are honoured and privileged to have Tom join us for breakfast.

His table manners are impeccable and waits until we are all ready before he starts to eat.

Tom likes to be civilised and eat his food off a plate.

He never gobbles his food, preferring to take his time to savour the flavour (trout & spinach is his favourite)

After breakfast, it’s time for a mid-morning nap before lunch.


Tig, you’re on!

Hah! Just when I thought I’d escaped Crazytraintotinkytown got me! Blog-tag is great fun and many thanks to my cyberspace friend for searching me out and chasing me down.

Unlike the traditional playground version I used to play there are rules to this game;

You must post the rules
Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post
Create eleven new questions to ask the people you will tag
Tag (eleven) people with a link to your post
Let them know they’ve been tagged

So here goes with the the questions I’ve been given by my tagger:

1. What makes you laugh?

Gavin & Stacey, the “white horse joke” and people who accidentally trip over in public (as long as they are not hurt!) 

2. What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Trust your son.

3. What’s your favourite city?

Ooooh, Esfahan just about edges it over Berlin.

4. How would your best friend describe you?

Strong-minded, determined, untidy and compassionate.

5. What was the last book you read?

“Then they came for me” by Maziar Bahari 

6. What music do you listen to?

Chris de Burgh, Ed Sheeran, Noah & The Whale, Bob Marley, Hairspray, Amy McDonald, Adele & Junior Choice with Ed “Stewpot” Stewart on Christmas Day. 

7. When was the last time you cried?

On Jury Service when I realised I was going to have to deliver a verdict of “Not Guilty” to the court but all the time believing that the defendant was guilty.

8. Who was the last person to kiss you?

My husband, Feri.

9. Who is your hero?

Sir Bobby Robson. 4 times cancer survivor, amazing football Manager, a great man and fantastic example to all young men in football.

10. Where were you born?

Hurray for Hollywood (Hollywood, Birmingham 😦 )

11. Do you drive?

Yes, very carefully!

Here are my 11 questions for the Bloggers I tag:

1. What is your favourite flower?

2. Do you have a nickname?

3. If you lived in a zoo, which creature would you be?

4. Look in the mirror. What do you see?

5. Lights on or lights off?

6. Your last text. Who gets it?

7. Can you swim?

8. What is your favourite quote or saying?

9. What are your three most endearing characteristics?

10. Cabernet Sauvignon or Sauvignon Blanc?

11. Why do you think Smurfs are blue? 

Here are the blogs I chose (not 11 but close!) :

1. Stitch this

2. Fighting the Blues

3.  Juliajustgotcreative

4. Clothmonkey

Have fun!

Contrasting fortunes-the cycle of depression

Yesterday I spent time with two of my colleagues and the difference in their moods could not have been more marked. I had lunch with the lovely “K” who was bubbly, brimming over with newly found confidence and self-approval, smiley, chatty, shoulders back and eyes glinting full of mischief. A woman on a mission to make the most of the moment. Only “K” could come to the table with a glorious salad piled high only then to reach into her bag to find the cheese, salad dressing and croutons/sprinkles/crispy bits (whatever they’re called) to complete the spread! She kept me entertained for a good hour and it was great to see her so full of life and energy after so many tearful and difficult times.

This is the wonderful side of the human mind. With the right encouragement, treatments, inspiration and motivation, the support of friends, family and colleagues it has an amazing ability to recuperate and regenerate positivity from the pit of despair and despondency.

 Simply amazing and long may it last!

Unfortunately, “A” isn’t in such a good place right now. Overwhelmed and under pressure, tears welled as she spoke of her current low mood. Each problem individually manageable but collectively insurmountable and with little energy left over from fighting the depression she faces a constant stream of routine daily battles just to get through the day. All those things that people take for granted; having a shower, cleaning your teeth, eating breakfast, driving to work, facing the crowds on the train. Struggling in vain to concentrate with a mind that wanders and flits unproductively from task to task. Tired and worried. A vicious circle and a negative downward spiral awaits unless the self-critical behaviour is arrested.

Hopefully, “A” will find the strength and courage to face the battles with hope and belief that all will be well in the end given time and gets the support she deserves from her friends, family and colleagues. “A” is usually the strong one. The carer and nurturer. I just hope that she takes some time out for herself and gives herself a chance to regain her positive and capable self soon.

She’s taken the first, and often most difficult step in talking about it. It’s onwards and upwards from here “A”.

You go girl. We’re with you all the way. 🙂

Happy Birthday Poppyposts!

Poppyposts celebrates it’s first birthday tomorrow and thank you to everyone who has taken the time to log-in and read the posts. A total of 11,072 views in 12 months-I am amazed and delighted. Here’s to the next 12 months and exciting times.

I have now renewed my subscription which enables me to continue writing and unsurprisingly some themes will remain constant. Fighting the ever-present spectre of depression (currently in remission) is still important as is helping in the campaign against the stigma of mental illness which remains a priority. Talking openly and honestly about my experiences with depression undoubtedly helps to do this and I will continue to do this for as long as it does help. There will also be more trips to Iran which are a rich source of blogging material but I’m not planning on going out anytime soon as I understand that the temperature has dropped close to freezing and they have snow. Brrrr…..too cold.

Children In Need is upon us again and deserves another highlight. This year I have my Pudsey Bear ears to match my T-shirt and fairy cakes. I won’t however be doing the Santa 5k, or BBQ-ing Christmas Dinner in the back garden this year but I do have my new creative venture “The Scrapbook Fairy” to keep me occupied during the long winter days. I will also be working with Sandra, the lovely proprietor of JLT Crafts to put on scrapbooking crops and workshops in her shop in the New Year. This is something I’m really looking forward to.

The last 12 months have been exciting, challenging, sometimes difficult, often dark and disappointing but they have also been amazing. I am blessed with new friends, new activities and a new perspective on life.

Happy Birthday Poppyposts!

Thank you XXXX  

Uncharted territory indeed

My readers will be aware that I use the online do-it-yourself mood monitoring tool Moodscope which I find invaluable in helping manage my mood swings and lifestyle.  Another welcome feature for subscribers to Moodscope is the daily inspiring email from Jon (Cousins) the founder of Moodscope and diagnosed bi-polar depressive. I always read his email and often wonder how he manages to come up with something different each day. Respect. The trick to these emails however is not just to read them, but to take his comments on board and try to act on them. It’s all to do with being proactive and positive and in taking the initiative, you will reap the benefits of your efforts. Like me today.

Yesterday (21 September), Jon’s email was entitled “Uncharted territory” .  I read this Blog post and it dawned on me that, unusually, I haven’t spoken to anyone new for quite a while. As someone who does a lot of travelling on the train and has responsibility for several different offices across the UK, I realised that I had settled into a “comfort zone” which accompanied my recent downturn in mood and desire to withdraw from the world.

I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe that everything happens for a reason and I am always happy to make positive connections where I think they exist. Today, I was presented with lots of opportunities to speak with and work with “new” people and found it amazingly refreshing, exciting and I learnt a lot. Hurrah! Change, development, initiative, ideas, learning and creativity is what I thrive on and I feel that I have emerged from my self-imposed cocoon at last. At work I have “new” colleagues to work with over the next few months and I’m looking forward to it. The change is good and has inspired me to focus on what I do best with renewed energy.

This attitude and positivity also spilled over into my train journey home when I met a delightful young Somalian girl dressed in hijab and abaya who was travelling from Glasgow to  Leicester to help her Doctor husband pack his case and move up to Scotland. All she did was ask me, in broken english but with an endearing smile, which train she needed to catch from Birmingham New Street to Leicester. I explained that I was going that way myself and I would help her.

Over the next hour, we found the right train, some seats and found out a lot about each other. She told me that she has been in the UK (Glasgow) for 4 years and is learning how to speak English at Glasgow College. She also happened to mention that she was struggling to understand her tutor this year (a Glaswegian) whereas last year she had no such problems when she had a tutor from London.  At this I started to laugh and explained that if she can learn to speak English in Glasgow she’s brilliant! Although her English was broken, she made every effort to speak with me and made use of the vocabulary she had. No, it wasn’t perfect but she made herself understood and we “chatted” for an hour between Birmingham and Leicester.

She told me that she misses Somalia because she could go out in the warm weather with no shoes on whereas in Scotland it is cold all the time and shoes are always needed. She asked me if it ever stops raining and what is Buckingham Palace like? She wanted to know about my gold jewellery (obviously not European) and asked whether I had been to Africa. She will never go back to Somalia because “They are killing each other” and she will always look after her mum. She is the youngest of seven children and when someone gets married she does the beautiful henna hand paintings. All this and more with limited vocabulary.

 When we got to Leicester, I showed her the exit and where her husband would be waiting. Giving me a hug she said “Thank you so much. You have been very kind and it has been nice meeting you”.

Who needs Reddybrek for a warm glow? Not me.

Her name?

No idea 😦

I am blessed

I am truly lucky to have a small band of very loyal and thoughtful friends who seem to know the right time to appear to provide support and encouragement just when I need it, even when I don’t realise it.  It’s always nice when someone goes that extra mile to brighten the day and reinstall my faith in humanity.

This week has been a brilliant week for friends on many levels. Firstly, I discovered a fellow spirit and made a new friend on Tuesday when I met the lovely Katie. We sat and talked for quite a while over an early lunch and when I kept breaking into laughter, Katie would ask what was so amusing. What was so funny was that I could have been talking to myself. The same interests,a  similar outlook on life and shared experiences meant that I connected with this feisty, sensitive girl straight away. Even more spooky is the fact that we share a birthday. It was clearly meant to be.

Secondly, Sue came along and painted me a picture. A watercolour of my beloved orange poppies arrived through the post, beautifully framed and wrapped. Clearly a labour of love.  This is already a much treasured gift from someone I have known for a mere two months but whom I feel will be a friend for life. In the beginning I helped her realise that she isn’t on her own, and that some people really do understand. Now, the relationship has developed to such an extent that she is one of my few confidantes and being a “typical” Brummie, we get on like the proverbial house on fire. Thank you Sue.

Then, along comes the indomitable Colleen and announces that she has finally bagged her man! She is engaged to the wonderful Philip who loves her with every bone in his body. They deserve each other. They are a fantastic couple and deserve every ounce of happiness that life throws at them. For those who don’t know, Colleen has early onset Parkinson’s Disease but you would never know. She deals with this illness with immense dignity, humour and an amazing zest for life which leaves even the fittest of people breathless and exhausted. Go Colleen and I’m so looking forward to the epic party in April 2012. London Olympics? Your party will be the real place to be and the golden ticket to have next year! (Don’t forget to invite me!)

My cousin Julianne has continued to supply me with information and photos about my family which is so very welcome and is helping me to piece together the jigsaw that was my early life. This has made such a difference to me that I can’t thank her and her mum enough for spending the time in doing this. I am happier and more secure of my being as a result and it is not too dramatic to say that I feel a different person as a result of finding my family.

Nicolas continues to read my Blog and provide intelligent and sensitive comments on my posts. I truly appreciate this and again feel that although we have never met, we connect on many levels and in respect of various topics. In return, I love reading his weekly Blog which provides a quality of eloquent writing and deep understanding of his topic rarely seen in the professional arena, let alone in a Blog written as a hobby.

Judith has yet again come up trumps with her information on colour inhalation. As an alternative health practitioner she is able to tune in to my emotional state of mind without effort. She always provides simple and easy to follow alternative solutions to my agitated and confused persona and to me it all makes perfect sense. I now understand why I changed my Blog to “blue” and with a butterfly as my latest logo. Yes, I do wish to be calm and yes, I am ready for change.

So, along with Andrew, Caroline, Steve, Ian, Glen, Mand and Jenny may I take this opportunity to thank all my friends who make a difference.


Meet Milly the daisy-cropping Dalmatian Diva

Milly lives next door and she is a Diva of a Dalmatian.  Two years old and in the throes of adolescent attention seeking, Milly demands and commands your undivided attention whenever she hears you in the garden. Barking just loud enough to let you know that she is there, she waits for you to look over the fence and welcomes your presence with a very waggy tail and soppy-lopsided grin. Milly is gorgeous and she knows just how to show off her black and white spots to perfection. A red collar, adorned with a bone-shaped name tag is perfect and she wears it with the confidence of a fashion model.

Milly is at that age when the  long-limbs are finally coming under control and she is turning into a graceful and lithe dog yet she is still playful and can be gauche at times. Like all dogs, Milly has a character of her own and no more so than when she is cropping the daisies on the lawn. I have never seen a dog hoover up daisy flower heads like Milly and it is funny to watch as she goes round eating them like they are the latest dog-delicacy.

Milly- you are a star!