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Sandra Dean – Registered Member

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Compassion for humans and animals is the soul of humanity, my mum’s abuse and how music is key- animal therapy and music therapy for stress relief

Gorgeous little Charlie my foster kitten

Gorgeous little Charlie my foster kitten

I have been spending much more time with my dad lately, building bridges and nurturing my love for him as a father, due to his triple heart bypass operation and many other adversities he has had to overcome this year and my involvement in those things.

In doing so, we have chatted a lot; some light hearted banter, some in depth conversations. The other day he was talking of how mum is getting ‘worse’ so I went through my list of reasons why we should get her back to the doctors – she has a terrible eating disorder and has lost lots of weight and is seven stone something at 78 years old – not good, even if she is only just over five foot. She can be abusive, angry, happy, excitable, tearful or confused at any one time, although it’s usually a self destructive or ‘husband’ destructive mood that takes over her mind and she makes her own life mostly miserable as well as my dads. I fear that she also has dementia setting in as she is becoming increasingly forgetful and confused, although that could also be to do with the fact that she cannot hear very well and refuses to wear a hearing aid. I have no idea if she still has schizophrenia but she certainly isn’t catatonic, but these things should be monitored and she is not. The things I want sorting out, as above, have nothing to do with Schizophrenia, particularly Catatonic Schizophrenia which she was diagnosed with in her early twenties, and they are not symptoms of the illness, they are totally separate, just to make that clear.

I have also only just realised how rude she can be to me too. I’ll walk in the door and she might ignore me, be nice or just say “I’m going out” despite my generous frivolity as I am used to giving her in order to ‘cheer her up’ which is now inbuilt from childhood.

I am not moaning here, just stating some facts, briefly.

Anyway, dad and I were talking about the need to get her to a psychiatrist when he has fully recovered from his heart operation (he is doing marvellously by the way) and how it will be nigh on impossible because mum is in total denial of her issues and it brought us onto the beginning of their marriage when he decided to stay with her ‘til death do us part… His own mum told him one year after their marriage that he could ‘anull’ it. Mum was sectioned just two weeks into their marriage, before it was consummated, so he could have…

But he told her “No”.

“Why dad?” I asked. “Did you feel guilty that she was in a psychiatric hospital or had Catatonic Schizophrenia?”

“No” he said. “I didn’t feel guilty, I felt compassion towards her – do you understand that?”

“Yes, I do” I replied.

“It’s a bit like you and your kitten, you feel compassion towards him and don’t give up on him”

“Yes, that’s right, I do”

It was right. Despite my dad, Chris and others’ feeling that I should give up on Charlie my foster kitten, because of his upset tummy, daily washes and cleaning up he needs, vet visits and not being able to go out for a full day, I don’t feel that way at all. How could I give up on him because he is ill? Him being ill, in my mind, is even more reason to stick with him and look after him; give him the best kitten months I can.

Well, that is how my dad felt about my mum. OK he made that decision when he was in his mid twenties, and he’s now eighty one, and has suffered greatly for that decision, but he gave my mum a caring home and four children despite her twenty years on and off in hospital and having to section her many times. He has paid for that decision and so have we all, but that’s not to do with her illness, it’s an inner resentment she holds and total denial of her issues, plus bloody mindedness.


I worried a lot about him during his operation and how she would be when he came out of hospital and she was good for a week but went downhill again, despite me telling her how lucky she is and pointing out how things might be if he wasn’t there to care for her and sort the house, bills and cooking out. He is her carer in that respect.


I love to try to be good to humans, especially those with special needs or those who are innocent or helpless, such as mentally ill, disabled, children etc. I have a huge capacity for empathy, to the point sometimes where I feel far too much for my own good.

However, I have racked my brains about this and I cannot help thinking that I have an even bigger capacity for love, compassion and unselfishness when it comes to animals. This was further acknowledged when I chatted to dad the other day about mum. I am no angel here, and don’t purport to be in any way, and I have been selfish most of my life, so it is something I seem to have ‘grown into’ with age perhaps.

I am also reading ‘Man in a Haystack’ by Alice Huskisson which I have now found out to be a true story, and as I read about her experiences of dating in her forties, and her experiences of selfish men, I am reminded of my many relationships, many of which I have never even written about, despite writing two memoirs to date. My realisations are upsetting me. I am realising what a fool I have been with men. It is bringing about more resentment. I thought I knew myself well enough by now to realise ALL the things I might be resentful of, which is what I hope to sort out in my present psychotherapy sessions (soon to be group analysis apparently – ew!), but I don’t. I have so much ‘stuff’ going on lately that, I guess I am so caught up in it all, I didn’t realise just how harmful resentment is, and it is going to stop. Forgiveness is a must in order to live a calm and happy life.

My point? Well, let’s just say that, because I have been hurt a lot by humans in the past, more so than loved (although I have been loved and basked in it) that I turn my efforts to those who do not hurt me, such as children and animals.

Since enjoying our family cat, my two hamsters and pet locusts (yes I know odd choice for a child eh!) no matter what I think about how I see them (zoos etc which I don’t strictly agree with), when I see animals I cheer up, I feel at peace and I can come out of the blackest moods. NO human can do that for me, not even my own efforts in those darkest times, and so animals ARE therapy for me. My cat and kitten have kept me on the right path too and I adore them. By the way, little Charlie has had full tests done today to find out what is wrong with his tummy – once and for all I do hope we can help him get better now.

The other thing I need to keep calm is music – whether it’s Gotan Project or Deep Forest, Rhianna or Psy, dance, hip hop, pop, rock, ballad’s… bring it on. I own, music for every mood, I know music for memories, good, bad and sad, and I know music works for others as therapy as I have tried it out many times. So turn off the TV and play some music – relax, dance or remember. We have five senses we can stimulate when we need to keep focussed, calm down or use to get out of a depressive mood for example.


Sight – look at photos, beautiful sights, watch a favourite movie

Touch – touch soft things, stroke the cat/dog

Taste – eat yummy food! Maybe foods that bring back good memories, favourite sweets etc.

Hearing – listen to your favourite music, turn everything off and listen to the silence, or birds singing.

Smell – Bake something and enjoy the smell of it cooking or wear your favourite perfume even if you are staying indoors.

If you’d like to read more, my new memoir is out now, called ’39’ available as an e-book on Amazon – just click this link and sample for FREE

Happy Monday and have a peaceful day!


Amanda 🙂


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