The times they are a’changin


& miraculously!… (actually mechanically) with a quick flick of the wrist. Hey Presto we’ve turned back time. To find we’ve earlier darker evenings.

No matter that the turning back time ritual takes place  each year in UK it makes many people disorientated. That’s hardly surprising for it occurs when nature is already heralding a change for the colder seasons. And we’re humans not machines, unlike time pieces, we’re not so easily adjusted.

One of my time pieces depicted here, doesn’t keep time anymore. With it’s zany numbering it never accurately told time. Always Dylanesque. It’s a keepsake, reminding me of its maker and also I guess that measuring time needs the occasional disruptive and zany take.

In my ‘Songs of Praise’ blog I suggested the darker evenings were an atmospheric time to reflect and write. The return to longer hours conjures memories of crafts done by the fireside at home. There’s no doubt writing is a craft and not the easiest for some!

Those of us old enough to remember using (and making) coal fires will know that as a focal point of our homes, fireplaces served both practical and symbolical uses. Images of sitting near a radiator just  don’t comfort in quite the same way.

Mother Nature would have got us to the darker evenings in her own sweet, slower way, but that’s humans for you always manipulating nature. Not that I think that’s all bad.

So at least for a week or two ‘she’ allows us a lighter hour in the morning. And what  spectacular Autumn mornings we’ve had.

November already! And just a short sprint to mid-winter festivals.

Because this is a blog about wellbeing, and I referred in my earlier blog about simple pastimes that aid my wellbeing; good friends, songs and how a dissenting religous upbringing gave me much to be happy about..

…bear with me while I tie those two notions; ‘wellbeing’ and ‘dissent’ together, as I relate a recent experience in my quest to remain well.

In my desire to reduce use of medication I’ve been prescribed for many years I agreed for my GP to refer me to a psychiatrist for advice how to do that. I was 99% confident I was mentally well and therefore not intent on seeking assessment for that.**(check footnote)

The 1%  doubt?…. I do think having once been acutely mentally distressed and receiving a diagnosis does even though well, allow self-doubt to creep in. It does for me especially when I encounter things that seriously test my sense of perception, at those times I can quickly become emotionally aroused, filled with self-doubt, distressed, and disorientated because I can’t match thought with feeling…..

Feelings like….stomach churning, dizziness, forgetfulness, a pounding head…and then feeling ‘down’, emotionally, drained; wrung out like a wet cloth.
That’s how ‘stepping’ in, and then out of the psychiatrists office on this occasion left me. And with a prescription for increased medication!

I’d been discharged from  CMHT for years but I’ve visited the same building for different services in the interim.CAB etc but it’s not been triggering. Although seeing people in the waiting area there who are acutely unwell is never a pleasant experience.

So what has a dissenting religious upbringing got to do with that? For me its because it helped me develop an inner strength when stigmatized for my core beliefs. Alert to other similar instances when ‘gaslighting’ occurs. And a drive to voice any injustice in creative ways. Experience shows that addressing them directly at ‘source’ is not always a safe option or wise when mental health is in doubt.

Time will tell how this current assault on personal truth pans out. It did knock me off course but the reassurance of friends, very much appreciated, helped me regain composure sufficiently well to draw upon my inner wellspring of self belief, to declare I am mentally well.


** my view on psychiatry are personal and I know many do excellent work, I’ve experienced some good practice.  Medication has it’s place and I do not ‘pill shame’ or advocate anyone stopping medication without appropriate support. I was however recently able to attend the relaunch of Sorteria in Bradford and the Soteria Network  are a useful resource for anyone who does seek support reducing or coming off.


British Summer Time 2014

Seasonal Change

Those who live with the experience of mental distress, often find seasonal change affects them, sometimes positively, at other times less so. I am no exception. Fluctuating mood change can be exacerbated by a lack or an excess of light, and warmth. Seasonal change, particularly Autumn to Winter, when British Summer Time ends, and I’ve turned back my clock, is a time of reflection.

This year Autumn was mild in temperature and without strong winds, enabling the ‘last of leaves’¹, in all their multicolored glory, to remain clinging to their branches. Making way for a slide show of every shade and hue.

Changing colours

Changing colours Sue Margaret

Evergreens, gold, fuschia, magenta, copper, lime……fruits and berries ripen blood red and burnt orange;

Berry ripe  Sue Margaret

Berry ripe
Sue Margaret

Shiny horse chestnut fruits, rosehips. Natures harvest, a time when the old harvest festival hymns may drift to the surface of my mind. Memories of garnered wheatsheaves inspire  to indoor crafts, and remembrance of my earlier years when household grated fires were commonplace…..’all is safely gathered in’².

The Autumn always touches the wistful parts of me, and thus affects my wellbeing, mostly in positive ways. Initially at the change of season I may feel a twinge of mourning for the passing of the lighter and warmer months.Temporarily I go in to hibernation mode, feeling uncontrollably sleepy,  pj days become more frequent. After the initial adjustment to the seasons change I enjoy it’s mellowness and ‘faint blue mists’³, which tap in to my ‘foggy ruins of time’.¹ It’s  ‘carpet of gold’¹, with fungi and the earthy smells of decaying foliage, evoke feelings that are hard to grasp or write about. I give them freedom to ripple through me. Although every season has it’s charm I think Autumn is my favorite because it keeps me in touch with the transient nature of all things, and my recognition that there is beauty in change. Fallen leaves that have withered and dried or turned soggy, form their own lovely patterns.

Dry withering & soggy beauty

Dry withering & soggy beauty by Sue Margaret

Now in the Autumn of my life I find I’ve physically slowed down, (the mind still races!). This together with ‘retirement’ has given me more time in my daily routine to ‘stand and stare’. I frequently dawdle to admire all the fleetingly gorgeous scenes of seasonal change, and talk to any little furry or feathered creature that crosses my path. During the summer I also had some lovely chats with people over their garden fences, and in addition  glanced more frequently above street level. One mid-summer evening with the sun sinking fast I paused to watch and photograph. I wasn’t sure the dimming light would allow me to get a good shot of Kirkgate Market’s spectacular Kremlin like rooftop. I was pleased with the result my Bloggie snap camera made of the fading blue and tinged pink sky of sunset. This Lower Eastgate vista will soon disappear permanently as it becomes hidden by Victoria Gate, indeed within a few days of taking the shot, cranes and diggers had moved on site, marring the view. Actually I like cranes and diggers, and often stop and watch them, pondering about the amount of design, planning and sheer slog which goes into any building, and the lives of those who regardless of the season labour outdoors.

Bloggie disappearing skyline

The pleasurable warmth and light of this Spring and Summer’s seasonal change and experiences, linger still. As the color show of Autumn fades and the season descends into the stark contrasting shades of Winter, I anticipate with pleasure its glittering hoar frosts, when frozen grass will crunch beneath my feet, and the icy air make steam of each person’s breath. Wellbeing for me involves adjusting gracefully or otherwise to seasonal, physical and emotional change, embracing their darker side.

Sue Margaret

¹ Bob Dylan ‘Lay down your weary tune’: Mr Tambourine Man’ & ‘When the ship come in’

² Henry Alford ‘Come you thankful people come’

³ Seigfreid Sassoon ‘October’