Tag Archives: depression

Symptoms and Causes

I’ve been in the mental health field for a number of years now and although the majority of my work is working with people to cope with their symptoms, I am realising more and more we need to deal with the causes.

What do I mean by this?
Depression, anxiety, stress and much more are symptoms of how we live our lives. These are the result of what pace we go, how we process and react to things, where we are and who we are connected to.
Thankfully in most cases everything is good and any symptoms can be dealt with, perhaps not even noticed.

But it’s when the symptoms stop us from living, stop us from being our True Selves, we need to get support. Much of the time, this is where I come in.
And I love my job, don’t get me wrong but I have to be honest with you – I am seeing an increase in anxiety and depression and this is NOT ok.

I get frustrated at society and what we seem to focus on as a collective species, far removed from how we are meant to function and life, might I add.

I have worked with many people not wanting to go on medication for their symptoms eg depression and anxiety, so I know first hand people can get better by changing their thinking, changing things in life such as pace, connections, and focus on their needs and their very existence.

I know it can be done and I for one am campaigning that we need to start from scratch but build our lives in a way that suits us better. Let’s look at the causes and work on this rather than just the symptoms.

Maybe then we can start making some serious changes in our lives and in our greater society.


Invite nature in

For some who get depressed, getting out is difficult but add advice says getting out into the fresh air helps lift your mood.

But what can you do if your body feels like lead, heavy and unmovable?
The thought of going out fills you with fear and there is simply no motivation to get moving?
There is no energy in your battery and the most you can think about coping with is sitting there, just being.

How can we gently invite nature in to help with the healing process?

There are a few things we can do, very small things which may or may not help:

  • Open a window – even if it’s for 5 minutes, sometimes letting fresh air in can bring in a new energy and probably much needed freshness
  • If the sun is shinning, sit in the rays and let them warm you up. It can feel like nature is giving you a hug and you warm up from the inside out
  • Get an air plant – I find these fascinating as they don’t need any soil and get moisture from the air. Extremely low maintenance but some greenery into your room.
  • Get a plant – house plants are nature’s air fresheners, can introduce scent, colour or dynamic shapes and are non judgemental companions
  • Plant something that will give you food – or you can buy a little plant and nurture it. Getting something back is very rewarding plus the taste is amazing! Maybe start out with something simple like a tomato plant on your kitchen window sill?

Of course there are lots more you can do and this is something I will be looking into in more detail in the Head Garden program. Click the image to find out more.

Ray of light in the darkness

When the kids were small, I did struggle with postnatal depression. Things were difficult as I tried to figure out my new identity and ride the wave of stormy hormones and goodness knows what other chemical changes in my brain.

There were small moments though that helped me hold on, showed me there was hope that I even took a photo! 16 years ago taking a photo was not as easy as it is these days with camera phones. I actually had to make an effort to get my camera and take the photo – but then again, as an obsessive photographer and recorder of things, I always had my camera with me. (our first digital camera could capture a whooping 2MB!!)

Having come from Africa, I found the UK weather extremely difficult to cope with and it didn’t help my depression at all. So when the sun shone, the air was fresh, I would try my best to get out. I wasn’t very good at getting out and about like the other Mums would; coffee mornings filled me with anxiety, driving gave me panic attacks, walking hurt me physically…there were so many barriers.

But the back garden was always there. It was a space I could go out and feel grounded, feel warm in the sun and, dare I say it, feel happy and content.

This photo is very special to me because I remember I was having a particular bad period. My son was coming up to 6 or 7 months, the garden was an extra chore I couldn’t cope with (I wasn’t coping with what I had on my plate let alone extras!), my daughter was 3 and hard work…It was all too much.

I took this photo because it was a rare moment of absolute magic. I had been painting the kids’ wendy house with my son in the push chair and a baby bird, learning to fly, went into the pushchair with him! It was such a sweet little thing and my son got so happy. It was magical to feel so close to nature, my heart felt so expansive and it reminded me of what was important.

That moment was a ray of light in the darkness I was in and 16 years on, I remember it fondly.

If you’d like to join me in my Head Garden program where we take time out in nature to help with our mental health, then please click on the image below for more details.

The greatest teacher you’ll ever know

Maybe it’s just me but I find a lot of my answers to the big questions of life from nature. In this Western world it is the norm to rush, to do Everything and do it quick, do it to keep up, to not fail. We end up anxiety driven exhausted shells of who we are meant to be and I’m not sure we are designed as a species to live this way.

Nature does things in it’s own time. In it’s own season. With Spring around the corner, my mind is starting to think of the garden, to think of blooms. Starting to feel hints of fresh air, starting to see the first signs; snowdrops, buds, new growth.

This has all been my inspiration to put together the 6 month program Head Garden. I could have done a quick 6 week package but NO, I want to take time, I want to go at a slower pace, to go at nature’s pace.

You can’t force seedlings to grow quicker than they will, You can’t force things to fruit quicker than it’s meant to (OK, I know, you can technically with green houses etc ;)) When not interfering, nature does things when they are meant to happen.

We have lost the art of Patience. We have forgotten how to wait, to nurture, to work slowly and deeply.

There is such a need for quick fixes; I’m depressed, Here are some pills and you’ll feel better in 2 weeks. I’m anxious, Here is something to numb you instantly (take your pick from scrolling on social media, sugar, food, alcohol, drugs, gambling and do add your own)

For me gardening has forced me to slow down and remember how we are meant to live as a species, how we are truly meant to be. It calms my anxiety, lifts my depression all in the quiet and peace of my own back yard.

If you would like to join me on my 6 month program, starting 1st March, join me in gardening and looking at what else we can learn from nature, please have a look at the following link (click on the photo). I’d love to have you 🙂

My Way to help you live life Your Way

I know I have talked about labels before and for those of you who have been with me for a while now have seen the journey I have been on; Family portraits, Healing photography, Counselling and now, a mix of Counselling and Phototherapy and soon, Coaching. This is me trying to figure things out and be more authentic, finding what I am meant to do in this life!

I have worked with the amazing Judith, a loving, no nonsense business coach, and I was so happy to see she had written a book (JudithMorgan.com/book). This book and Judith’s invitation to join her Blogfest ( JudithMorgan.com/blog), has inspired me to write this post.

You see, being in business is not easy, not at all! You have to be the Director to the Cleaner, master marketing and also do the actual work you want to do. Then there are the personal feelings, the massive ups and downs as you try and navigate and learn everything. Really, it isn’t easy, and that is an understatement.

Reading Judith’s book, I was reminded of the core conditions based in person centred counselling; Unconditional Positive Regard, Congruence and No Judgement. These are the simple but powerful 3 things that make a great counsellor, make the relationship with client work and most importantly, help the client to be more themselves.

I feel this from Judith, and she reminded me that I need to apply these conditions to myself. Trust me, from the start of my studying, I have been trying (again, it’s not easy!) but she broke it down into the practicalities, sharing what others have been feeling and saying. In answering those questions, I didn’t feel alone and I felt inspired!

You see, when we start out in life, on a new journey, on a new project or task maybe, we are a clean slate. We start with motivation, enthusiasm and hope. But as we go on, others start judging, we start comparing, we listen to all this and lose who we are and our original mindset.

We respond to the conditions put on us and we try to conform, fitting in so we don’t stand out but the result is we move further away from our True Selves. It is only with Unconditional Positive Regard, or Love as I like to call it we can get back to our True Selves. Love in the bigger and wider sense, pure Love given to another being for simply existing; no judgement, no expectations but full of support and care and compassion.

But being our True Selves with all these conditions isn’t easy – in life or in business, or in any role. It means we have to look at ourselves with the light on, in detail and face what we fear, what we don’t like, what we can’t cope with. Feelings are tough to face, fear of failure, fear of standing out and being visible, not being a ‘Good Girl’ and being judged and criticised for doing it wrong, for not fitting in.

But the only way to move forward is to trust our instincts, we need to create strong boundaries so we can create spaces of quiet. We need to become our own best friends to really hear what we are saying to ourselves through our feelings, especially the negative ones. And worst of it, we need to to this on our own. Sure there are people out there for support – like Judith, my personal counsellor, my supervisor etc are to me, but essentially, this is a journey we do on our own. That is why it’s most important we have Us on our own side, that gentleness, that self compassion and care.

And what can we find in the quietness? Our True Selves, self worth, self belief, confidence and deep knowing of our own truth.

Sounds fab, doesn’t it? I wish it was easy for me, I wish it was easy for my clients but nope, not easy. Then again, life would be boring if it wasn’t easy, right?

The biggest thing I’ve struggled with is finding my voice. I have so many ideas but how to put it across to help others? And I live with depression, so sometimes my voice is like Eeyore, who wants to hear that?

For a while now I have been putting my self care first (especially after some personal traumas) and encompassing all that means; resting, putting my health first and meeting those needs, accepting support from others (why is this so difficult??), letting go of what is not serving me physically and mentally by decluttering and slowly fixing broken things (again, physically (yay, no more leaking shower!) and mentally).

There is a huge element of being still and quiet, finally finding the time and space to actually hear my own voice and learning to trust my own intuition, without guilt or needing permission. I have cut away so much ‘noise’ in my life, expectations, obligations, shoulds and conditions. It feels so nice to create quietness and to simply be, without judgement and with full acceptance.

I’m trying to write something every day, being self compassionate when things don’t work and being brave and putting it out there. I am learning to trust in my intuition and have learned to see that each business I focus on, each area I study in, each thing I do are all stepping stones to where I want and need to be. It will take time but I’ve got to do it my way, at my pace and learn what I need to say. After all my clients need to SEE me to be able to trust me and work with me. This is my motivation, keeping the bigger picture in mind and I keep telling myself, if I only help ONE person feel happier, then I am successful.

I have been a counsellor now in private practice for a couple of years and feel confident as one but I needed more. The counselling world feels limiting and the more I practice, the more I find Me coming through. Introducing phototherapy has been a dream I have had now for 6 years and having seen the simple but powerful results, I am so happy I took that step. I am realising there is time (as Judith says in her book!) and I will be offering coaching packages soon too. I haven’t come across other counsellors offering phototherapy so I feel very much on my own in doing this but the flip side is I can make it truly my own unique way of working, ensuring each client gets bespoke support tailored and developed just for them. Now THAT feels very congruent and energising!

There is still a long way to go, after all (as cliché as it sounds) it is a journey and by no means am I done yet. The only thing I know and have as my strength is that I have to be honest and true to myself in everything I do. It’s the only way I have found to be truly at peace and be content which puts me in the space to be able to lovingly support others.

A lesson really, that when we try to do anything, becoming a Mum, running a business, trying anything new or simply living, it’s got to start from within.

On becoming a Mum

Many of my postnatal clients experience a huge panic when they become mothers, the pressure of parenthood overwhelming and crushing them and they respond by becoming depressed.

When we work through things, what comes to the surface is interesting; their own experiences in childhood come back and their relationships with their parents, mostly mothers, is weighing heavy on their minds.

Becoming a mother is a massive step into adulthood and many feel it is a right of passage, an initiation to finally being a grown up. But what doe this mean for their relationship with their mothers? Are they still children? Does the relationship need to be redefined as they are now Adult and Adult and not Child and Adult?

And what of mothers who clients do not feel where there for them and feel their emotional needs were not met? How can they be good mothers if they were not shown by example how it is done? But worst of all – what if they pass on the behaviours they struggle with to their children?

In these situations we look at the here and now; you are the mother now and this is your child. This is your little family and no one can come in between that. Boundaries need to be set to ensure this which can then bring up issues of self esteem and confidence about standing up for yourself.
You can choose how you parent and create your own positive habits that you can pass down to your children. You can use this time to learn how to change and live in a more authentic way, more you, true to you and your heart.

It is difficult but childhood experiences do stay with us and have played a part in forming who we are today. Again, in therapy, you can change this and learn a new way of being, learn to give your child-self what it needed, learn to let go and learn to live congruently as an Adult now.

I feel that a new situation does bring about a new identity; the old you is destroyed to some extent and many seem to feel like they have lost who they are. When things are broken, it is a good opportunity to remake it but without the parts you didn’t like. It’s a chance to start fresh, a clean slate.

And new mums, don’t forget, you don’t have to do this all in one go. You have time, perhaps think of your new identity as a mum as your child. There is lots to learn and you can’t run before you can walk (or crawl!). Baby steps, New Mum, you will get there but take it a little baby step at a time.

We are not taught how to take care or manage our mental and emotional needs but there are strategies and tools to help, which you can develop and change to suit your specific needs and way of being. And just think, as you think of new ways, what wonderful things can you pass down to your children?

And if you’re struggling, you know where I am. You’re not alone and I’m here to help <3



largeI watched a movie, “Story of Us” with Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer a while ago. I won’t go into the movie but one thing stuck with me from when I watched it.

Every night, when the family in the movie would get together for dinner, they would talk about “High, Low”.

Such a simple conversation starter that really can help with connections and getting to know each other better. I also feel, this can help change your perception of how well your life is going.

Now I know in the 5 a day I just mention Highs. If you are feeling very low, do you really want to think about the lows in your day?

Just thinking of the Highs can help counter balance the Lows. And this can be a family activity – with everyone talking about their high/low in their day.

Why not give it a try?


Admitting how you feel

Image result for admitting depression

The first step to any change is awareness. If you don’t know that something is happening in you, then how do you know where to start?

If you are aware that you have postnatal depression, that is the first step. Then comes the most difficult step – admitting it to yourself!

For many of us once we realise we have depression, it can take a while to admit it to ourselves. Admitting it means we are telling the world we are not coping, we have failed, we are not good enough – right?

Not at all! Admitting you have depression is realising that your whole world has changed and that you need support. You haven’t failed and you are good enough.

We get training in everything else we do. What training have you had as a mother? And why is it assumed you will know what to do?

Depression is a signal to yourself that something needs to change somewhere, so by admitting it to yourself, and others, you can then start to receive the correct support you need and hopefully start on the road to recovery.

We don’t hesitate to seek help for cancer or diabetes – depression is no different. You have been through so much with the pregnancy, birth and dealing with a new baby. It is all a lot to take on and process and how are you meant to know how to do it if you’ve never been shown?