Assorted ramblings

It has been a little while since an update so here goes:

Mental state?

Still loopy.

Not helpful? OK then. Side effects from med withdrawal seem to have dissipated now, with no more dizziness since the London trip. I am starting to notice the true effects of being without meds now:

  • Clear headedness. My focus has improved and I am no longer so tired.
  • ‘Stroppiness’. My wife’s words, not mine. She tells me that I am being more argumentative but I think I am simply being less passive. My boss also reports I am being more awkward to manage. I like this πŸ˜‰
  • Withdrawal. This is the one that really bothers me. I have been finding being around my colleagues and even noisy strangers on the bus really overwhelming. There was even an evening where I looked through the gym window before going in just to make sure the place was fairly empty. It is two years since I felt this uneasy around people.
  • Ironically though, my ventures into Instagram have resulted in my being acquainted with more people in my city than ever before – just at a safe distance.
  • I did have some fun this week when Lisa sent a good morning message on IG shortly after I got on my bus to work on Wednesday morning. She then got a brief tour of the area from 3000 miles away as I shared my journey with her.
  • Dominique has drawn my attention to it being Naked Gardening Day tomorrow. I interpreted this as a challenge….

I am very conscious that at the back of my mind is the knowledge that my breakdown was inevitable because I never made the changes I should have made when I last recovered a decade ago. This has led to some recent changes that, to some, look irrational. There is a logic to them, even if only I can see the bigger picture at the moment. Take de-cluttering for example:

I accumulate both hobbies and their trappings, always have. I know that largely this was because I was chasing something to fill the void left by lack of positive social contact. I am not complaining about this – I am an introvert and almost always prefer to be alone. It is not that simple though – nothing ever is. Is my introversion my natural state or was it forced on me as a way of surviving my childhood? I am increasingly questioning that because I get a great deal of pleasure from my interactions with the friends I have made here. And not just digitally either – I am of to Canada again in a few weeks to meet up with WP friends again, and I can’t wait.

So, what that leads to is a desire to explore this further. I do not have a lot of spare hours in the day so am forced to a choice. I can’t work full time, develop my creative pursuits into a business, look after a huge plant collection, travel, do my share of chores, keep up with my wife and my friends, blog, go to the gym etc. I am already getting stressed by it. I have not read a book or played my guitar in months.

Therefore, at the very least I will be reducing my plant collection, which takes a lot of my time. I expect a lot of dormant bulbs will be sold via ebay over the summer. They might be replaced with lower-maintenance things like cacti. This has the double advantage of raising some travel money. Those of you who follow me on Instagram will have seen that a lot of old vinyl records are biting the dust too…


The new energy and focus has encouraged extra creative activity. I have several drawing projects currently in progress. Saturday afternoon saw me drawing a wooden spoon (don’t ask) whilst simultaneously having a skype conversation with Dominique.

I have also drawn a rather cute ostrich and started an Alpaca for one of our collaborative projects, and am drawing a cowslip (Primula veris) for another collaboration.

With regards my own personal botanical art projects: The passion flower piece should be finished this coming weekend. I have the basic outline of the next piece in mind also.

I have received tickets for the Private View of the Society of Botanical Artists exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London from 5-8pm on June 4th. I have three pieces in this exibition. If any of you are in London that evening and would like to attend please get in touch. The exhibition opens to the public on June 5th. I will be there helping man the diploma course stand from 2pm.

The only bad news about the exhibition is that the Orange Pussy Grabber is crossing the Atlantic for a state visit that week so there are likely to be protests in the area.

My NuMonday shop is now active and has been tested (Thank you Dominique). Thanks also to Dee Dee for being the first person to buy a print privately and for her friendship and support.

I had some test Greetings cards printed with our strawberry/hearts design. Though they are a Fashioned by Nature project I may test the waters by offering them on NuMonday initially.

Strawberry/hearts cards – as printed, before folding

Finally – some pretty pictures from around the garden.

The tiny but long named Turbinicarpus schmiedeckianus pseudomacrochele

Turbinicarpus valdezianus
Pediocactus knowltonii with finger for scale
Babiana rubrocyanea
Arisaema griffithii
Moraea mediterranea – one of the two or three Eurasian moraea
Tiny Aquilegia canadensis is only 10cm tall.
Cyanella alba


  1. First question that you may or may not be able to answer. Why do tulips end up red and yellow? I have had so many colors in my yard and unless they are potted alone, they end up red or yellow or in combinations of.
    Second question. The little columbine, that is a thing? I thought it just meant they weren’t watered enough!!!
    Third is more comment! You sound busy and doing as well as you can at the moment. Baby steps are good, especially in gardens, you don’t squash things as often that way.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Kris,
      I think there are several explanations for the tulip thing. Firstly – most wild tulips are red or yellow and any seedlings are likely to revert to thise colours. Secondly – they are simply tougher than the fancy ones which tend to die out. The stripy or feathered ones I suspect are weakened anyway by the virus that caused the colour breaks. Thirdly – bulb suppliers have a vested interest in providing fancy ones that die out and force you to buy them again next yearπŸ˜‰. Tulips are native to areas with hot dry summers and are prone to dying out in wet summers anyway if you don’t lift them and store them dry.
      The columbine? Yes there are some very tiny alpine species. Try googling Aquilegia jonesii to see the tiniest!
      Thank you and yes I am trying to take things as slowly as possible!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Beautiful photos and I’m glad to see both the forthcoming exhibition and that you’re getting over the physical symptoms of withdrawal. I do wonder whether I might be clearer headed and less tired if I got off the meds I take daily for migraines. Amitryptaline (Endep) was an antidepressant but is now marketed for chronic pain, and though I don’t take it in the same dose as for depression, I do wonder at its side effects. Anyway, I wish I could come over for the exhibition!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Being clear headed has its downside – mind working at what seems like 150% is also distressing and I hope I can find a way to relax.

      Suffering from migraine must be awful for you as you write professionally and look at screens all day!

      I wish all my wp buddies could be there for the exhibition but would not want to inflict Trump on them. There may be a risk of breathing one of the same air molecules!

      Liked by 3 people

  3. It sounds like you are managing what you need really well. It’s good to take stock and reevaluate what is giving you joy and what is not worth the stress. You can come back to it later if you miss it. It sounds like you are being really productive with your drawings. I love your strawberry card.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Ali. The day job is not worth the stress but some things can’t be helpedπŸ˜‰πŸ˜Š.
      Trimming the plant collection will need careful thought. Even the things that I might be bored with include a few species that are grown from seed sent by now-deceased botanists and to the best of my knowledge I am the only person in the uk growing them. I feel a sense of responsibility.

      The more drawing I do, and the more I move out of my comfort zone, the more I am enjoying it. So pleased you like the cardπŸ˜ŠπŸ’•. Thank you. x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, my friend, I am so happy you have opened up your shop. I have always wanted those Indian spices on my kitchen wall!

    “Stroppiness” is a fabulous word. I’m quite pleased that you’ve attained that state. It’s about time the real you has shone through the fogginess the drugs provides. I would never have guessed that your true state is a stroppy one, but I like it! I also love all of those flowers. I had to laugh when I saw the Columbine. It is the one flower that dares to show it’s petals in Walter’s kennel. It flattens itself against the house foundation and hopes for the best. We see those beautiful flowers every year and marvel.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Your Indian spices will be with you soon my friend😍. Thank you so much!

      I don’t think stroppy is my natural state. I think I just feel cornered!

      Columbines seed themselves in the tiniest cracks in paving in our garden. They definitely do better if allowed to select their own spot – even if it is shared with Walter!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s amazing that you are so self-aware Darren – coming off meds is a bit like taking off ear muffs after wearing them for a few months – everything feels so intense, but you sound as though you’re battling your way through it to somewhere really positive! So happy for you that you’re going back to Canada, I hope that you have a wonderful time.
    I love your photos – they’re such a glorious riot of colour and your strawberry drawings are really amazing – you have so much talent. :O) xx

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I completely understand peering through that gym window. I’m not sure you will get much quiet time in Montreal lol…we will be chatting your ears off! πŸ’• The cards are absolutely beautiful! I so enjoyed the tour so much! I appreciate that you say on the upper level of the bus 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I have tried and failed to subscribe and to click the “Like” button so maybe WP will let me leave a comment. I am totally already signed in, so ?????
    I had similar problems with meds and with coming off of them so I can relate. Take it easy on yourself. It does sound like you have an awful lot on your plate. I tend to do that too. I just read a book by an autistic person and she described her use of meds to control her sensory overwhelm which I thought was interesting. It was “Thinking in Pictures”.. After reading her book I think perhaps bipolar is closely linked to autism. Your work is beautiful.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yep. Comment worked. Thank you so much for your kind words Melissa. Today I am actually getting stressed whilst drawing and that never happens. Need to ease off for sure.
      Most of the time the sensory input is lovely and inspires me but yes, it can get too much! The book sounds interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah it gave me a different perspective. I was about to say, “here’s to finding balance in our lives” when I remembered, balance is a moving target!

        Liked by 2 people

  8. You have such a busy schedule Darren. No wonder you need some quiet time and a break from work to restore. Lisa, Linda and I will make sure that you have some but do expect lots of giggles and laughs… That you won’t be able to get away from. So you better bring your earplugs for real! You are doing great. We have known each other for almost two years now and I’ve seen all the efforts and changes you made to make sure there is no more breakdown. You are stronger than you think, and you might be an introvert but I noticed that people are drawn to you. So you better start getting used to it because with your artwork you will meet more and more people. I am so happy that Lisa could enjoyed the tour on the upper level of the bus. She wanted to do that for such a long time! Cant wait to have you both and Linda here in Montreal. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Dominique.
      I look forward to needing those earplugs! I am looking forward to seeing you all. You and I talked recently about the photo Linda took on my last visit, the one I use as my Skype photo. You and I both like that photo because I look truly happy – as indeed I was. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  9. As always it’s lovely to read your catchup, Darren! I was wondering how you are without the meds and am glad that you’re feeling a bit more clearheaded and less tired now. But I do get that especially the first can be a bit of a problem too when you’re mind refuses to shut down when you want to sleep. And I think it’s awesome that your boss finds you more difficult to handle now – well done! πŸ˜‰
    As to the withdrawal socially – I think that trip to Canada will take care of that problem so don’t worry too much now.
    A naked gardening day?! Really?! Please tell me you did particpate in the challenge even if you won’t share pics. πŸ˜‰ Sounds like a lot of fun, especially when cold, rainy and cacti were involved. πŸ˜‚
    It really would be so wonderful to visit the exhibition! But maybe you could shoot a small video for us?? Just a thought. 😊
    The tiny cacti are fantastic! Nature’s just beyond awesome! πŸ˜„πŸ’•

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sarah. What a lovely comment. Yes I badly need that trip to Canada!

      Naked gardening? Well I was technically naked under numerous layers of clothing! I did actually plan to strip off in the greenhouse for a photo, holding a plant strategically placed. But it really was cold! At least that means I would not have needed a big plant I suppose. The thought of using a cactus for this makes my eyes water a bit…
      I hope to at least take some pics at the exhibition but they are a bit strict about photography and I will have to ask.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Arent’t we all technically naked? πŸ˜‰
        They should move that naked gardening day up the calendar when it’s a bit warmer all around except in the southern hemisphere of course. πŸ˜€
        I’ve been hoping the rules about taking pictures at an exhibition would be less strict in England as they are here in Germany. In that case I fear you have to make yourself acquainted with quick and urban sketching, I’m afraid to show us how it looks. πŸ˜‰ As we’ve discussed before – you’ve got plenty of time to do that on those planes to and from Canada. πŸ˜‰

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I thought it was a funny date for Naked Gardening Day too! Maybe because it is equally cold in both N and S hemispheres in early May so everyone can suffer equally!

          I am sure a picture of me next to my own work would be allowed.

          I did actually check to see if I could take drawing supplies in my cabin baggage and yes I can😊

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Good thing you checked! I mean, look at all those sharp points of your pencils!! I’m sure you could do some harm with them! πŸ˜‚ Next thing will be little old ladies having to worry about their knitting needles! πŸ˜‰

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Little old ladies don’t even need knitting needles – I am sure they get their elbows sharpened. I did once get stopped because of a pencil in my hand luggage at the tiny airfield at Upington in South Africa. It struck me as odd especially when the plane was so small and cramped that the attendant sat on the floor during the flight, and then the pilot missed the runway at Cape Town and had to turn round and try again! And they were worried about a pencil!!!

              Liked by 1 person

              1. LOL! So it’s best to stay aways from those sharpened elbows! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜‰
                Oh my! What a story about that flight! The pilot probably missed the runway because he was so distracted by thinking about all the ways that pencil of yours could do him harm! πŸ˜‰ I had to give up a pair of tweezers once – very deadly weapons apparently. πŸ˜‰ xx


  10. HI Darren, it’s so nice to find out a little more about you. I am glad you feel more focused and clear headed, so coming off the drugs can only be a good thing. I think people will not be used to this new you and it will take time to adjust themselves (especially your boss! Well done for making him work a bit harder πŸ˜‰ I know exactly how you feel about being uneasy around people, I spent the last 10 years in Thailand in my lovely little bubble and each time I came home I freaked out at being in the company of more than 2 people (family included), but now I am home I am slowly becoming my old self! I think introverted people are different with different people, with some you will feel like running away and/or being alone and with others they have a knack of bringing you out of your shell – like your lovely friends in Canada and the people on here. I feel exactly the same. I also have lots of activities on at once, writing, drawing, exercise etc., my day is not long enough and I feel stressed that I haven’t done things for a long time etc., but we need to concentrate on the things we love the most so we feel happy all the time. I have just subscribed to NuMonday and will look forward to seeing all your art work and I also wish you all the luck in the world with it. Your garden looks beautiful with all the colourful flowers. I also wish you the best of luck with the exhibition! AND your holiday to Canada, I have a feeling that your friends there are looking forward to seeing you as much as you are them! Have a wonderful weekend πŸ™‚ x


    1. What a lovely comment Gill, thank you so much😍.

      I was very brave this evening and went to an event at a gallery in my city and actually introduced myself to a few people I recognised from Instagram. The free wine did help with the bravery I confess…
      Agree with you totally about the effects of different people on introverts. I tense up instantly in groups at work or if in a noisy crowd. Curiously I can happily go to a loud rock gig in a busy venue without trouble – because interaction is not expected! Similarly I am very comfortable with public speaking and even enjoy it – because again no personal interaction is required.

      Funny you should mention my WP friends and Canada. When Dominique met me at the airport in september it was the first time I had ever met any of my WP buddies in person. By the time we had walked to her car I felt 100% comfortable. The same with Dee Dee, Linda and Bill a few days later and when we were all together.

      You are right of course – we need to concentrate on what we love most. I need to let some things go for sure.

      Many thanks again and I hope you have a lovely weekend too!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Its so hard to fit in everything we love to do, isn’t it? Then add the stress of the meds….You are doing amazing my friendπŸ’• I do hope you give yourself a break and realize just how much and how far you have travelled on this journey. You will have such a wonderful time in Montreal, it will recharge you😊
    And, thank you for letting me buy that gorgeous drawing of yours❀️

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s