Me – for Growing Self’s first anniversary!

FF 9
Who is this little lad? Yes it is me! In my grandfather’s garden in 1969.

I so much want to support the anniversary of my friend Roda’s blog at Growing Self and in order to do so I am going to participate in the challenge she has set here.


So I am supposed to write about me? Well, like most bloggers, I often do that anyway as it is a subject I know quite a bit about – though my wife insists she knows more.

So who am I? Well here is a starter:

Full time lab rat. Part time artist, plantsman, gardener, naturalist, sci-fi geek, gym bunny, musician, comedian, blogger, photographer, caffeine addict, recovering depressive and wannabe gigolo.

I was born in 1966, back when the world was still in black and white, and am still thinking about growing up.

I live in NW England. It rains a lot and there are sheep.


What do you mean, ‘no, seriously’?

The above pretty much sums me up really. I suspect Roda wants something a little more in depth..

What brings me joy? I have always loved nature. The perfection of a flower or and insect’s wing and how as you focus further in and see more detail they just become even more wondrous. I bought myself a microscope when I was 11 and am still exploring nature 40 years later, with even more enthusiasm. The way nature adapts and grows to fill every life possibility is a lesson to us all I think.

How have I grown over the past year? Well this is quite a story! A year ago I was in the depths of one of my worst depressive episodes in decades.  I had a breakdown in mid summer and was prescribed Citalopram. This improved my mood enough to start taking steps, including reviving my long neglected blog. I started reaching out and connecting with other like-minded bloggers. Some of these people have become true real-life friends who bring me joy every single day with thoughtful messages, comments and gifts. My day always starts with checking my e-mail and wordpress for news from my friends.

The loneliness I had felt for years has gone. I have found a sense of family.

My new friends have encouraged me in my efforts to grow and fulfil my dreams. Feeling loved and supported has made me so much more brave and willing to push my limits. Most recently I started to learn to swim at 51. This week I swam my first length and it made me SO happy. My dream of scuba diving on a coral reef is now a step closer!

I am working toward selling my art and collaborating with friends on blogging projects too. I am busy but happy for the first time in so long.

How have I learned to love myself? By listening instead of dismissing compliments, often from the same friends above. I started to accept that maybe my self-perception had been skewed for a long time and maybe I am an OK guy after all.

What challenges have I overcome in my life? The biggest was the scars left by my childhood. I drafted a blog post about this once but it was so painful that I could not bear to publish it and have only shared the full story with one person. It culminated in a suicide attempt at 17 and a lifetime of self-esteem issues and depression which in turn led to loneliness. I have fought back on occasions before but in the last six months there has been what feels like a permanent shift back into the light, as I have already described.

Growing Self was one of the first blogs I followed when I returned to blogging and has inspired me in many ways; from Roda’s sublime photography, her lovely family and her critters. Her love of flowers and nature but most of all because of Roda’s loving and sunny heart. I know where to go if I need a smile or to feel some warmth. Thank you Roda for bringing sunshine to the lives of your loving friends over the last year and long may you continue.



  1. Aw, this post brought tears to my eyes Darren! I am so glad you have overcome and are here on this earth to brighten the lives of so many others with your many gifts and talents. I’m sorry for your painful past, I think though that sometimes those who have painful experiences become some of the kindest most compassionate people, and you certainly seem to have a kind heart and much love for others. Love to you, I am so glad our paths have crossed her in the blogging world!!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Beautiful post, really made me think and honestly gave me hope. For one that I might be able to learn to swim one day haha but also that light can come at any stage of life. You’re such a wonderful person it annoys me no end that depression had you in its grip, but I am so so glad that you found friendships that let you see the real you. 😊

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Oh I’m so happy for you !! Got through a lot and found real friends on WP 😊💐🌸🌷
    always Remember to be happy and be self confident !

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Aww such a wonderful post for our mutual friend. As I read it I couldn’t help smiling. Two hours ago I was actually thinking about you and Roda. I was painted from neck to toe with mud, swaddled in plastic and wrapped in a blanket… I looked very much like a bean burrito! I couldn’t stop thinking about my Twin Sis who I know would have told me “Be Still”, be present in the moment and enjoy this pampered time. You would have told me kind words as well just to reassure me and make me laugh. Both of your friendships mean a lot to me. Just like mud you are nurturing and soothing. I might look like warmed over Tex-Mex sometimes but both of you always make me feel like haute cuisine! Thank you. BTW – Thanks also for introducing me to Roda. 😍

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you for that image. I shall carry it with me all day!😄
      I have a hot oil massage on tuesday and promise I will think of you too!
      I am so pleased you met Roda through me and it has been lovely to watch that friendship develop. Love to you both.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. You were such an adorable little guy! My eyes were tearing up with this post and I am so happy that you are in a better place right now and you are happy! You really are a talented and awesome person, never forget that! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I am happy to see that you are comfortable enough to share these things here. You really have blossomed having the right people caring for you. I was going to make a joke about blossoming because of the right fertilizer, but I’ll be good.

    I do have one thing to say that I hope will make you think twice before you start to second guess your worth. Remember that you and I have oodles of things in common. We are almost the same person! So! I know you value me and I want you to know that others value you just as much as that. I think that means we’re both fabulous! That’s my story, at any rate!

    You swam a whole lap!? That is AWESOME. There’s a snorkel in your future and then on to the scuba gear! Hey, there are some really awesome plants underwater. You can add some aquatic pieces to your artwork!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You make a great point thank you Linda. Yes I value you a great deal and we do have loads in common. And you are definitely fabulous!

      Yes I have blossomed, fertiliser or not😉😄. I see a whole new world of possibilities now. Thank you my friend for being one of my new family. Tearful hugs!

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Your photo is adorable. I always remember the instant photos were snapped after about twoish. Wondering if you remember that moment. I’m speechless really, and saddened, which I know were not your intention I’m just being honest. Not only are you brilliant but you have so much to share with the world. Depression is such a thief, but looking back at it, knowing you’re on the other side is a good feeling. Looking forward to hearing about your scuba adventures. Congrats on tackling swimming! Honestly water terrifies me, I can doggie paddle…does that count as swimming? Meh…a little, enough. 😁 Be well🌿

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t remember that moment but I fo recall that garden in intimate detail. I would spend hours just lying watching the ants and bugs busying around. My grandfather was by far my biggest positive influence and gave me my love of nature.

      Your lovely words about me move me a lot, thank you. Yes, depression is a thief. It is not going to drag me back this time. My life is my own from now on.

      We were dragged by school to the pool once a week and i hated evety moment. After several years I could just about doggy paddle a width by the time i left school. This is new and a great adventure! Thank you again. Dx

      Liked by 2 people

  8. You brought tears to my eyes! What a beautiful post! I always love to learn more about you and I am so blessed to be able to call you my friend. Buying a microscope at age 11, that picture of you in the garden, I love who you are. So proud of you for taking swim lessons, the feel of the water is so freeing! You are a brilliant, fantastic guy, and so talented! Thank you for sharing this with us! Many hugs! 😍 You have sunlight in you just like Roda 🌻

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Lisa, you are always so lovely and supportive and a friend indeed. Thank you for the wonderful things you have said in your comment. I am honoured that you are a part of my new family. Love and hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow Darren so much love for you my friend! You know I am proud of you for the swimming and achieving your goal (one of them anyway), and how much I admire your talent as an artist. You were an adorable little one and the mother in me just wants to rescue that little boy with the sad eyes. Although we haven’t ‘known’ each other that long what I most admire about you is that you have shown me an open heart and been willing to go out on a limb through your blog. I hope I can be a good friend to you over time. Much love to you xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you and you are already a good friend of course. Sorry this took so long to respond to as I have been at the show pretty much since lunchtime yesterday and was already feeling overwhelmed at all the lovely comments. Nice day at the show though. Snowing like a really snowy thing now so I am glad we are home. Send some of your Aussie sun please! Dx

      Liked by 1 person

        1. We are enjoying what the press has named ‘Beast from the East 2.0’ due to the return of the arctic weather we had two weeks ago. Snow and sub zero temperatures. The Murdoch owned press are probably blaming the EU and promising that after Brexit we will no longer get any of that nasty foreign weather. The Guardian are probably blaming straight white males. The Times and FT will be focusing on the economic disruption caused by closing roads and businesses to prevent employees inconsiderately dying on their way to work.
          As you can see. I am wearing my cynic head today!

          Liked by 1 person

  10. What a beautiful post about hope and friendship. Hope because you start to get out of that hell hole called depression and are finding joy in your life again, for which I´m so happy and thankful, Darren. Everybody who knows you surely feels the same. It´s wonderful to see you grow with each post, wonderful and inspiring. Sending you hugs and love! xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I am sorry that you had a difficult time for so long. You sound like such an endearing child with natural curiosity and an affinity with nature. I am glad you held on to that and use it on your art and gardening. I really need to gush about your paintings because they are utterly beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

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