Jo Clutton › jo-clutton
Jo Clutton

Jo Clutton has been fighting depression for the last 30 years. Her blog Creating My Odyssey covers her extensive battle with mental illness and her miraculous journey to full recovery. 

Jo is a self-described “quirky, creative, mental health advocate and traveler.” She credits the love and support of Husband, California Rocket Fuel (CRF), and cognitive behavioral therapy as the cocktail that helped regain her life. And, pursue the productive and creative aspirations attuned to her own unique rhythm.

Last December (2018), Jo Clutton connected with MPM and other creative types struggling with depression. Her reaching out precipitated an opportunity to build a community of health care and healing arts professionals. But more importantly, provide a place for EVERYONE to openly discuss depression and share information about medical and alternative healing treatments and modalities. 

Disclaimer: is not qualified nor recommends, encourages and/or prescribes any treatment, pharmaceutical drug or natural medicine. Information shared is to educate people about depression and treatments that have proved successful for people on an individual basis. Please consult your physician before attempting/choosing any modality or treatment as it may interfere with your current protocol. 

MPM spoke with Jo Clutton about the heroic journey back to herself. › jo-clutton

Medication Crisis

MPM: “What was the catalyst that led to your recovery?”

“The catalyst was a medication crisis. Now I’m better than I’ve ever been and I’m rebuilding my eclectic, adventurous creativity, and life. I’m sharing my experiences to give other sufferers of depression hope. Depression is one of the most easily treated of mental health issues, if the right help can be found. I’m also aspiring to be a role model for the over-60s, because I hate ageism, and to live a life less ordinary.” 


MPM: “Why is there a stigma discussing and/or educating people about mental illness?”

“Society still has stereotyped, old views about mental illness. Many people believe that those with mental ill health are violent and dangerous, views which are often emphasised by media reports linking mental illness with violence, or portraying people with mental health issues as dangerous, criminal, evil, or disabled and unable to live normal, fulfilled lives.” › jo-clutton

California Rocket Fuel (CRF)

MPM: “What is California Rocket Fuel (CRF)? How did it help you overcome anxiety and mental illness?”

CRF is an antidepressant/anti-anxiety drug popularized by psychiatrist Stephen Stahl. California Rocket Fuel (CRF) is a slang term created by the psychiatric community to refer to the higher than average potency and efficacy of Effexor (Venlafaxine) and Remeron (Mirtazapine). 

Effexor is a potent SSNRI that inhibits re-uptake or recycling of serotonin and norepinephrine transmitters. Recycling of serotonin prevents its transmitters from crossing the small space or junction between neurons. Serotonin’s inability to cross that junction prevents the transmission of messages between brain cells and neurotransmitters. › jo-clutton

Dynamic Duo

The dynamic duo drug therapy has proven synergy. This is due to both, Effexor and Remeron possessing serotonin and norepinephrine modulators and selective mechanisms. This powerful combination packs such a punch that some people notice rapid improvement in their depressive symptoms. 

Note: Studies have stated CRF should be performed only for drug-resistant depression. But, there are cases where it has been used as a first line of treatment in selected patients. ScienceDirectMentalHealthDaily

Jo said, “The mental health nurse practitioner, when we were first introduced to the team, told us about CRF, and he fully recommended it. We’d never heard of it, and wondered why? I was stabilized after my horrendous hiccup with Prozac, given Quatiepin, an anti-psychotic, to calm me down again and return me to ‘tolerably bad’ as Husband put it, and then I would be introduced to CRF.” › jo-clutton

The Team Tried

“Initially, the team tried me on Mirtazipine and Prothiaden.” Prothiaden was the first antidepressant Jo had been prescribed when she had post-natal depression 30+ years ago which worked well. But a week after she started Mirtazipine and Prothiaden, she awoke in a panic. 

“I felt just as I had felt while going through the suicidal feelings. I took Quitiapine and calmed down. Husband rang the team and we were invited in that morning, by which time I felt better. That’s when I was prescribed the CRF combination of Venlafaxine and Mirtazipine”, Jo finished.

Water Lilies – Sri Lanka

Mental Health Improved

“This was five to three years ago, and my mental health improved more and more, until I began to feel better than I’d ever felt. I wasn’t completely there, until cognitive behavioural therapy was added, which completed the job. CRF, without a doubt, and certainly in my case, packs a punch!”

Chemical Imbalance

MPM: “Is depression a chemical imbalance?”

“I’ve always felt that I had a chemical imbalance in my skull. I didn’t have enough serotonin up there, and that was the general cause of depression in general”, Jo said. Until she read an article about chemical ‘imbalance” in Mind.Org.UK

Now Jo says, 

“No. As antidepressants work by changing brain chemistry, many people have assumed that depression must be caused by changes in brain chemistry which are then ‘corrected’ by the drugs. Some doctors may tell you that you have a ‘chemical imbalance’ and need medication to correct it. But the evidence for this is very weak, and if changes to brain chemistry occur, we don’t know whether these are the result of the depression or its cause.”


Jo, now appreciates that her depression like others was caused by her upbringing. “Years of emotional neglect/abuse, can cause chemical changes in the brain. My parents and siblings were the chief contributors. After my parents died within days of one another four years ago, I made the decision to ‘divorce’ myself from my family.” Jo had reached a point of “new-found happiness and nothing and no-one was going to spoil it”. › jo-clutton
Kangima Primary School Kenya

Good Feeling

It’s a feeling she hadn’t experienced before. And to maintain that good feeling growing within herself, Jo began cognitive behavioural therapy sessions. The modality helped her see the reality of her relationship with family members. Husband had tried to make Jo realize the family dynamic was toxic. But, it took Jo cutting all ties and not defending their bad behaviour that made a huge difference to her mental health. 


MPM: “What steps are you making to keep yourself healthy and happy?”

In cognitive behavioural therapy, the modality states that a thought precedes a depressive down. What were you thinking? Not feeling, but thinking. “That was hard, but it worked. Cognitive behavioural therapy challenges negative thought patterns, pulls them apart and straightens them up”, Jo said.

Husband in Surf

Negative Thought Patterns

“After thirty years of negative thought patterns learned through my mostly toxic upbringing, they needed challenging. My inferiority complex, my apparently ‘too sensitive’ outlook. Many ‘you shoulds’, judgements and lecturings. ‘Divorcing’ myself from my siblings has, combined with medication and talking therapy, definitely contributed big-time to my happiness”, Jo added. › jo-clutton
Jo and Husband

Unhampered by depression and anxiety

“I’m working my way through creating the life that I tried to aspire to before I had children”, Jo smiled. Aspirations like editing her epic western novel, returning to archery, walking miles at a time, cycling, canoeing, boating, creating artwork, and taking up Steampunk! › jo-clutton
But that’s not all.. 

She’d love to do an archaeological dig and be an extra on a TV/film set. “I want to snorkel in the Dead Sea or the Great Barrier Reef, and I want to make new friends! One of the downsides of depression is the lack of a social life. That sucked. So we’re working on that one”, Jo finished.

Prone to Depression

MPM: “Why are creative people more prone to depression?

“Because of innate sensitivity and possible weird-ness!” Jo laughed.

Groovy Tree Ring Mixed Media MPM

Creatives Ruminate

“Creatives tend to think more, and ruminate. I’ve looked at various websites and the conclusion reached isn’t necessarily something wrong with the brain “chemical imbalance”. It’s more likely…creatives of all kinds – thinkers, scientists, artists, writers, musicians – …reflect more than other people. They question things. They’re curious. That can make them moody or depressed. In some cases, …a toxic upbringing can contribute to the conundrum.”


But, Jo tries to keep healthy and active. “It’s vital” for her and “Husband”, both in their 60’s. And, unlike their contemporaries, they don’t accept getting “old”. Jo thinks this is a great time in their lives to be doing it all! Still got our faculties and good walking legs. What more can I say?!” › jo-clutton

Thank you Jo Clutton at CreatingMyOdyssey for your bravery in sharing your experiences. Jo has noticed that joy has returned to her life after acknowledging her creative self. A feeling she has always wanted to express but locked away. 

Listen here for Anette Stjarnhjarta discuss her unique healing skills.

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