In the young wood, Westhope, where the sparrowhawks wheel. Photo by me.
This, chosen as one of the Guardian readers top 2010 photos.

I just want to note this moment in terms of my own mental health. As an ecophilosopher, I do not separate myself from my thoughts. It would be like ripping me apart, limb from limb. I write about life-love as a devotion, and I am similarly devoted to my cause. These are exceptional and difficult times, and it is important to recognise despair and kindle hope. If someone attacks my core devotion, and any attempt to recognise despair and kindle hope, they are attacking me.

I can take legitimate critiques of the results of my philosophical work, particularly critiques of my literary inadequacies, but not the fact that I work at all. I can take legitimate criticism of neologisms I craft, but not that I craft them at all nor the approach I take. I can take criticism of the contributions I make on social media, but not that I am a woman doing these things. Being overlooked is, I think, one of the biggest struggles of women at work. Neither do I appreciate ideas stolen from beneath me. They are gifts, of course, but I expect some reciprocal credit, especially from revered and financially successful writers.

Being a woman on social media is harder than being a man. That’s not what frustrates me most, drives my anger, self-doubt and depression. It is that my daughter faces all of this, and more. It’s tough enough facing a life with a tsunami of complex problems swallowing our beautiful Earth. That women (including trans women, especially black women), are not treated with equal respect into the future is desperately wrong.

I have written before about my experiences of 2008, so I don’t want to rake it all over. In short, I had as severe an episode of trauma as one can have without ending it all. After finding my mother’s body after her suicide, I nearly followed her into those depths of eternal nothingness. The shock and the guilt. If it were not for the light of my beautiful young daughter, the unbroken affection for and from Ben-dog, and the right help found by my husband at the time, I would not be here at all. I remember the searing feeling of a tear in my frontal cortex *, that moment of choice.

Moving home from Cardiff, Wales, to Hereford, England, straight after an appendectomy, has meant this last few weeks have been hard. Anxieties about my type 3 cancer returning bubble away. And I work hard to recognise them as such. The good news is that I returned to the woods behind the house where I grew up, where I found Mum, and I felt good about being there. I was not terrified, nor miserable. I still know these woods intimately, after all these years. I noticed where the new owners have taken out single trees for their wood burner. But there, in the young wood (see photo above), in the company of my now 16 year old beautiful daughter, I recorded my thoughts for Melissa Harrison’s brilliant podcast, The Stubborn Light of Things, episode 25 on Healing, and you are welcome to listen to it here.

Despite progress, I am still vulnerable to shocks. I struggle with keeping my anxieties on a leash. The deep sadness of a failed marriage, and a frustrated love. There is no perfect life after trauma, but there is perfection in the imperfection. I am still dependent upon medications that also drive appetite as a side effect. Covid and weight have a co-morbidity. I have put on too much weight, so I am reducing my dose, reducing my weight. I am unsettled, whilst also beginning PhD studies. But these studies are important to me. I am holding them very close, in the spirit of Frankl’s love and meaning, my own welldoing.

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  • Since documented by my Psychiatrist at the time, and discussed at a conference with my consent.

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Audio:

 

 

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