Monthly Archives: May 2019

A Girl’s BestFriend

It’s been Mental Health Awareness Week and I want to begin this diatribe with talking about my dog.  Those who hate dog parents (yes, I’m proud of what I am) talking incessantly about their fluffy children (new parents aren’t nearly as bad they say), please bear with me.  If you’re a cat person, rat keeper or not keen on canines in general (there’s that quote ‘the more I meet people, the more I love my dog’), then you still need to keep reading.  You see, I believe my Rosie Dog has saved my life more than once.

Rosie the Wonder Dog, Rosalina, Sausage and Pudfibg Face, bounded into our lives in November 2016.  A bandy black and white liver-faced bundle of fun, who literally knocked us all for six (she knocked me over at such a force, I smashed my face so badly that it looked like I’d been beaten up).  A ‘Lennie’ among dogs; breaking everything is her crazy path (my glasses), yet petrified of stairs and her own reflection in the glass, Rosie the Puppy-Dog forced her way into our affections.  The baby whirlwind melted our hearts and barged her way into our tidy home.

Rosie became ours because she needed us and we needed her.  We were united at a time where she was lacking a home and we were reeling from a time, which felt like we were walking over Flanders after the Armistice (our garden also began to resemble the fields too).  Her need for our attention made us leave the house on cold and wintery days; embracing the great outdoors.  And, as she started to sneakily creep, like our love for her, into our living room (she’s going to live in the hall), into our beds (no way am I having a dog in my bedroom, in fact, she’s not even allowed upstairs), she became our baby – my favourite child, and I became her dog kissing mummy (I swore I’d never call myself this).

Within a short space of time, we realised that Rosie’s faithfulness, love, affection and cuddles, were the greatest medicine.  She has this sixth sense where she can tell when you’re not right.  If you cry she sits on your knee and tries to lick your tears.  If you’re poorly she won’t leave your side.  And, as we speak, she’s sitting lovingly beside the MoominTroll, who has just developed chicken pox.

Her most recent life saving role involved making me get out of bed and onto the beach.  In the dark days, she needed me as much as I needed her.  She cuddled me, walked miles with me and showed me such unshakeable love, that the family rechristened her the ‘Therapy Dog’.  You see, she’s got the softest and kindest nature.  All she’s ever had is a houseful of love and that’s taught her to reciprocate it.  She’s done that in spades.

Roaming with Rosie has helped me feel safe.  It’s given me confidence and helped with the loneliness and isolation that depression can bring.  She’s also given me time to reflect and think.  The miles trekked have cleared my head and made me realise that time is a great healer.  She’s slowed me down (not when she’s pulling me in the sea) and made me take things in their stride.

When you go through a life changing situation, it’s important to stop worrying about the future.  The mountain appears insurmountable and the peak out of reach.  So taking one step at a time with the RDog has enabled me to begin to shed some of the worry weight (she’s also lost weight and the vet is super impressed with her current physique).

And if I think back, there was a time that I couldn’t turn the sound of in my head.  It buzzed constantly.  An ongoing chatter of anxiety and worry made for bouts of insomnia and made me feel like I couldn’t escape.  I couldn’t see a future beyond the mess I was in.  Healing with Rosie has calmed my brain.  I feel excited about the way forward and no longer feel anxious that it’s all going to go wrong (well that’s a lie but it’s not nearly as bad).  Today we went for a training run (she’s no guide dog as I had a stumble) and I thought ‘How would I like to be remembered?’.  Now, let’s get this straight, I’m in no way wanting it all to end, instead I realised that I don’t want to be hashtagged #RIPwomanwhowprkedreally hardandneverdawherfamilyandfriends, or #RIPblindlady, or even being forgotten because I’ve spent the remainder of my life hiding.  Instead I wish to be celebrated as being someone who was loved, who achieved great things for others and herself, and to have ‘Dame’ on my obituary would be a bonus too.

Diet, exercise, family, friends, kind words, holding hands, kisses, prayers, angels, elephants, Buddhas, white feathers, horoscopes, numerology, music, laughter…are all ingredients to help you mend.  But, the biggest piece of advice I can give you, if you are feeling like you need saving is to get a furry friend.  They listen, keep you company and show you an uncomplicated love.

Have a fabulous week!


Follow my journey with Rosie, by sponsoring me for The Great North Run 2019, in aid of Retina Uk, at:


Looking Down

When you’ve had a wobbly day and night (it’s taken me three days to write this), it’s always important to remember the motivation for your journey.  So, that is why, after a couple of weeks enjoying a lighter climb, upon reaching rocky and uneven ground, I’m feeling the need to stop and contemplate.

I’m finding that I’m rather scared.

Setbacks they call them and something I felt sure I was immune from.  All along I’ve always felt ‘am I really that bad?’ But then I have to think back to the wilderness ‘Mad Woman Walking’ days…Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in that awful place I was but I have got a bit of The Fear going on.  Avoiding the phone, worrying about what others think – when actually I shouldn’t as my journey does not require their thoughts and opinions. A constant mild state of panic as I open up my world…

A natural worrier, I often struggle when I’ve a lot on my plate.  However, when you’re climbing out the pits of hell, these things can drag you backwards.  So what do you do? You look down the mountain path travelled so far and look at how bloody far you’ve come.

After months of aimlessly wandering in and out of a mindless grey fug, Good Friday brought with it a stigmata (my mum called it rheumatics – same difference both are a pain) and a steady wave of optimism and excitement for the future.  For once I felt more liberated and able.  It felt like I’d shed a skin.  This lightness of feeling continued. It encouraged me to try and do some things I’ve not felt able to do in a while.  Things like: making phone enquiries (not so bad but generates more questions than answers),  venturing places other than the beach (varying successes and paranoia on eyes on me), meeting new people (revelations),  and setting myself a new personal challenge.  It appears as spring is being sprung I’m both enthused and petrified about the future.

Firstly, I need to describe my current climb as a mixed bag of terror and excitement which keeps scudding over me like the incessant April/May showers – they won’t eff off and let summer begin.  Shame continues to tug at my coat tails, like an annoying child.  But in clearer moments, I look around me and think ‘why should I feel ashamed?’  Well, that’s the thing, I’ve had years of shame and feelings of inferiority and inadequacy.  This worthlessness made me into a person who never asked for help as I didn’t feel I was worthy enough.  I’ve always felt there are far more deserving people than me out there.  I also don’t like putting people out or causing them stress.  So, the series of phone calls, referrals and enquiries, have unsettled me and tilted my world.  Talking about what I can do (well not always) and can’t do (well not always), actually means I do require help and assistance.  This all absolutely makes me want to run for the hills.  Being, as I can’t seem to call it anything other than ‘a burden’, is an awful feeling for someone who feels (on good days) a bit of a Beyonce when she looks in the mirror.

Questions such as: can you manage in the kitchen?

Well, yes, I can cook for my family and friends.  I’m a good cook.

But what can’t you do? Well…

And that’s where it all unravels.  It turns out I’ve been ‘coping’ (another awful word.  Who the hell wants to just ‘cope’?) for years.  Lighting, magnifiers, using an iPad, helpful family members (ahem) and supermarket online shopping, are all just a small amount of things I do to manage my family kitchen.   Holding my life up to such scrutiny is quite interesting but stomach churning.  Words such as ‘support’, ‘access’ and ‘disability’ are provided in order to reassure me.  However, this new clarity of vision means change.  Am I up to it I thought?

Therefore, I took myself to task.  Starting with facing up to the world around me.

I realised I needed to try and stand on my own two feet.  After all, I’m a big girl and relying on others for everything isn’t going to get me anywhere.  Therefore, becoming  more independent has shown me what I can and can’t do.  It’s brilliant to be able to see stairs again and not have a mini heart attack every time I reach a set.  The fear of free falling Alice style has dissipated slightly and the knife edge of going to a basement toilet has become smoother (don’t ask about basement toilets and no, I have not got s double life).  However, being left to wander can be troublesome.  I seem to achieve many embarrassing and comedic moments, that, if I allowed, could make pots of £250 on You’ve Been Framed.  In fact, Harry Hill could do a whole segment, maybe even a show, on my ridiculous shenanigans of banging into things, knocking things over and mistaking – I’m never sure if I’ve got the right end of the stick!  It all leaves me very dizzy and sick, along with a pounding head.  Bright lights, odd looks, struggling to decipher what’s on a shelf…I’m going to stick to the internet thank you! But, in all this whirlwind of emotions comes one thing I can do better than anything; which is that I can laugh, joke and talk about it.  Leaving me thinking: why should I feel ashamed?

My new found honesty has enabled me to talk openly to others.  I’ve even connected with other people with sight loss.  This is something I would never have contemplated a few months ago.  You see, living on the edge of the world, I often felt isolated – there’s no one like me.  I also didn’t want to admit to myself, let alone anyone else, how bad things were getting.  However, after one conversation with a fellow RPer (and runner.  More about that later), I was lifted onto a revelatory platform: I am not alone and guess what? I’m quite normal! Now, you may disagree with the previous statement as, quite rightly, we all know I’m quite nuts, but knowing that the thoughts and feelings which haunt me are not silly, that my winter fear of limited daylight and therefore running/walking hours reduced, lead to more anxiety, isn’t so stupid after all.  I’m actually allowed these emotions.

So, I felt I needed a challenge.  I felt a need to celebrate my life and journey.  And what better way than to run.

Racing, like I always do, to reach a goal, I grabbed at the opportunity to do the Great North Run for Retina UK.  After running my last (and first) half marathon with only one eye, was well, exciting to say the least.  The tears at ten miles and a quick call to my family kept me going, so much so, when I saw them at the finish line I sobbed yet again (I quickly repaired the situation as my middle child told me off).    Little did I tell anyone that the rough terrain was taking its toll on my vision and senses.  Along with the sun coming out (it was better when it was dull and rainy) and tiredness kicking in, my healthy time took a tumble (like me at mile eleven).  So, it’s been decided, to achieve greatness in September,  I’m going to have a guide.  I’ve been told this can be either one provided by the charity or a friend.  So far no friends or family have been very forthcoming…(applications are encouraged here).  My new found RP running friend gave me some wonderful advice, making my latest challenge feel doable.  I’m even hoping )dare I say it) for a healthier time.

Friends, new acquaintances, plans for the future.  It’s all very daunting.  But then I look back because I have to remember.  To move forward we have to understand the past.

Looking back to the deepest darkest winter, with only a smattering of pagan lights to brighten the gloom, I remember the best option was preferably to die rather than to carry on.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to do anything, I just wanted something to numb life – I went numb.  I became remote like an island.

But, then there was lightness and with it came facing up to things.  Feelings of shame needed to be quashed, normality leading to comfort.  My low week has been counterbalanced by my training.  I felt shaky yesterday.  It started out as easy – RDog walk, then I made myself do things like attending to ‘life tasks’ – things which you’d do easily but took me out of my comfort zone.  All too soon the anxiety began to rise.  I kept steady.  By late afternoon the stresses, strains and tiredness (I still struggle with ridiculous matchstick eye fatigue).  And then I went spinning: a dark room, disco lights, music and the bike.  Flanked by a bestie and the gorgeous godforsakeson, we raced our way through an eclectic set list.  All the day melted away and even though I couldn’t see the instructor, I was listening, with people I loved and killing it.  I think that should be my moto for life.

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The Mad Ramblings Show

Have you ever felt like you’re starring in The Truman Show?  That someone somewhere is writing a script which will entertain your viewers by either: watching your heartbreaking storyline develop (unfortunately we’ve all experienced heartbreak – apart from that woman in Scotland who doesn’t feel pain – see the other week’s news).  There’s that hilarious event which occurs leaving them rolling in the aisles at your expense (this would be me every-time, as I’ve been told I’m far from sensible and quite silly).  Or, something lovely happening which is then ruined by a dark black cloud hovering on the horizon (think couple about to marry and then she finds out he’s being carrying on with the best friend, just as they’re standing at the alter).  Sometimes, whilst I’m contemplating the enormity of life and it’s twists and turns, latest revelations…I think that I am Truman and that the scriptwriters are having a jolly good laugh at my expense.

Firstly, to contextualise and for those of you who have never seen it, The Truman Show is a film about a man living in a real life soap opera – only he doesn’t know it.  His whole life, from birth, has been controlled by the executive producer and scriptwriters, of the television show.  Whilst all the people in Truman’s life are actors (even his wife), Truman is oblivious to the charade.  Until one day, he begins to notice strange things.  For example: a camera light which falls from the sky; the realisation he can’t leave his home town (the set comes to an end).  The film is both funny (Jim Carrey, what do you expect?) and incredibly sad.  It’s like watching the ultimate reality television show.

Rather prophetically, the film being twenty years old, it explores the danger of this all seeing,fabricated, reality led television world, which we now see saturating our screens on an hourly basis.  Complete strangers lives been opened up to scrutiny and analysed by a hyper critical world.  Which, ultimately, we often see being ripped apart…Awful stories about messy relationships, addictions and suicide are splashed across the front pages.l: all in the name of ‘news’.  Chances are these ‘reality stars’ have been picked for their quirks or beauty – this then leading to their downfall.  Lost in showbiz like one hit wonders.  They can go from a pampered world of, somewhat, scripted behaviour, and VIP night club appearances and lapping up the attention for being famous for being ‘them’.

Imagine being paid for just being you!

In fact, if you think about it, actually, many of us are out there for all to see.  We might not be paid, but our lives (by us, by others) are documented through the power of social media.  But, unlike these easily led reality stars and Truman (at the beginning of the film), we are all masters of our own destinies.

So, thrills, spills and bellyaches…I might be in control of my life, but fate, like a well written storyline, can keep the viewers hooked.  I for once would like a holiday from the ‘show of life’.  Soap opera stars get a break after a major storyline.  Reality stars get a holiday after coming out of the jungle.  I just get sucked into other starlets subplots.  Subplots which are costing me emotionally and financially (woe me ha!) Some of the subplots are like shockwaves from the earthquake of my sight loss.  Some are just ‘life’ which when you’re in the middle of rebuilding yourself, can knock you and exhaust you yet again.    The subplots are not mine to share, but my bit parts and fluff fillers I can.

Yesterday’s episode of the ‘Mad Ramblings Show’ went like this (and will possibly fill in some subplots):

Mad drive to London in the new, unexpected expense (failed MOT), large (we were all miserable when buying as we wanted a sports car but six into a two seater doesn’t work), car/bus (middle one calls it the paedo van).  A visit to the wonderful Prof and his gorgeous Brazilian assistant.  Blindness again due to mega eye drops.  Patient watching in the waiting room (that clinic has some very important clients.  However, my lips are sealed as to who I met due to patient confidentiality).  Me: blind woman (lack of spacial  awareness and annoying tubesters, plus reluctance to wear a badge or high biz vest, has made me decide I’m going to get a stick) being guided around by Him- a hangry man who can never read tube signs correctly (at this point I was actually more upset I didn’t see anyone glued to a train).  Lunch in a flower garden, where I couldn’t read the menu and police the situation.  This ultimately resulted in Him being mistaken and us ending up with ‘small plates’ (tiny morsels of exquisite food which I loved, but no good for a six foot food beast) and Hangry unsated Him snapping at the lady in the flower garden giving out free samples of fragrance (I could not read, nor see a thing as again, still super blind as it takes six hours).  A walk through Green Park and Mayfair cleared away the angst and cobwebs. Temporary relief and an impromptu granny nap on the tube…cut to home and to bedtime (subplots and boring fillers you need know nothing about other than we watched – eye sight resuming – Toast of London, a bizarrely funny but cleverly written must see).  We were exhausted.  But then, my bed, my favourite place in THE ENTIRE WORLD (bed or Greece? Hmmmm) was soaked.  Rosie Dog had made a filthy protest at me leaving her yet again (why couldn’t she have just glued herself to it?).  This comes hot off the heels of last time I left her and she’d slashed my bed sheets in three places.  Now, my beautiful pointer dog has never been destructive since her six month old puppy self was finding her feet.  An emotional being, she has always needed constant cuddles, kisses and reassurance.  Therefore, without the help of The Supervet ‘Noel’ (why can he not be our vet? Him says no as we will be living in a tent at this rate), and dismissing three AM fears of the Stephen King variety, I’ve diagnosed separation anxiety and am now briefing the immediate sub-plotters  on how to support our Rosie Dog in her time of crisis.  Upshot being, myself being princess-like, now requires (rather quickly as this royal lady cannot spend another night with the shaking RDog on a two seater sofa) a rather comfortable (no doubt pricey) king size mattress.   

But, as I always say, we all have our own crosses to bear.  Your journey/storyline is integral to your path.  At times we can deal with the twists, turns, but in times of darkness it becomes insurmountable.  Where, even the thought of answering the phone freaks the bejesus out of us.  We ultimately must learn.  And it’s this that we have to remember.  We might be on a glorious high, however, another may not be.  Also, not only does our own storyline affect others (exhibit a. RDog), by implications and stresses on causing upset in another’s life (guilty feelings linger often) but the sub-plotters are living their own storylines too.  I’m lucky that I’ve had brilliant friends and family around me over the past past few months.  Lots of advice, tears and plenty of laughter (thanks for the giggles!).  However, a coffee can also lead (and always should) to sharing and I often think ‘there’s always someone worse off than yourself’, which, it seems, they are often thinking the about you.

Quiet life? Rest and recuperate they say? Not me, this is the bloody ‘Mad Ramblings Show’ and for want of sailing to the end of the set whilst trying to escape (watch the film) it’s real life.

But, it’s not about me it’s about you.   Be kind to yourself (best advice ever from my beautiful K) and random acts of kindness can cost little and mean a lot.  This means the storylines, subplots, fluff, are all written with warmth and a dark humour.  This is far more conducive to living your own fabulous story.