Showing posts with label The Red Dutchess. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Red Dutchess. Show all posts

Sunday, 10 December 2017

The Core of Me

A time traveller from as recent as the 1980s upon landing in the almost 2020s and finding us having a non-reciprocal conversation with our phone screens would propel him to scurry back into the 80s in whatever format he arrived in. Only after I hustled him for his retro Adidas slippers, of course. Oops, capitalism sneaking in there and I haven’t even got to making that point yet. Anyway, there I was, on snapchat; surpassing my recommended daily intake advised for a healthy social media diet.
I stood there trying to justify why I wore more makeup than usual. I know how it looks when somebody, who aims (and claims) to live their life ‘authentically’, says so whilst wearing a full face of makeup.  So I’ve decided to let you in on understanding the guilt I feel as a privileged, westernised girl (I’m 29 soon, and yet I don’t feel calling myself Woman is a force I can lay upon my emotions just yet)  whose mind extends beyond the shores of the capitalist regime of well, the world. Not because I feel you should know about me, but because it may lead you to understand your own internal struggles. Unless you’re not a complex thinker as I am, to which I will say ‘I bet you’re glad’.

The Journey to the Centre

This post isn’t so much about getting you to understand me as it is for me to understand myself. So, to set the context for the journey to the centre of my mind, let me share my deep, core beliefs. Simply put, we all have ‘Core Beliefs’ which we are unconscious of.  Tell me go into therapist mode here for a minute and explain just exactly what core beliefs are, and the strength of these beliefs. In ‘Cognitive Therapy’ these core beliefs  drive our thinking, emotions and behaviours. They’re formed when we’re young and quite impressionable. They mould our perception of ourselves, people and the world. To illustrate this point further let me take you back to 1999 when I was 10 years old. I had just moved house from an estate where we were closer as a community and our dogs all ran mad around the street. Frankly, therein lay the best days of my life and the essence of my childhood. I moved to a more private estate, excuse us!. It was basically a huge change for us all, my dog included. So a couple of weeks after having moved, my daddy and I took my dog out a walk in our new surroundings. Being an absolute hallion we let our dog run loose, much to the detriment of well, the rest of my life because Tandy (the dog) ran out onto a busy road upon seeing another dog and getting hit twice. To cut a traumatic long story short, the core belief that would dictate my life formed on the very spot, in that very moment where I stood in dry shock having seen and heard my dog getting killed. I AM RESPONSIBLE!

To be clear, I didn’t consciously stir up this Core Belief, it was my unconsciousness at work because somewhere in the Mines of Moria of my mind the Balrog was stirring. (That was a Lord of the Rings reference there for you otherwise Harry Potter fans).

Nobody had told me it was my fault, nobody told me she died because she wasn’t on a leash. It was the nerve, literally, of my brain to form that conclusion.

So how do I know that my ‘Core Belief’ is “I am Responsible” if we’re meant to be unconscious of them?

Well, the formation of this core belief on that night in September 1999 led me to develop a crippling form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (O.C.D) which had to be managed with C.B.T therapy. Ironically, I was training in it whilst receiving it for my newly diagnosed mental health disorder. O.C.D is a condition that there is no known cure for, so we’re roomies for the foreseeable future, it and I. It knows not to drink out of my cup or sit on my bed, but it’s a shapeshifter because when I think I see myself in the mirror it’s actually my O.C.D presenting itself as me, telling me I’m the worst thing in the world. And it’s easy to believe it, especially when it’s your own reflection telling you so. O.C.D feeds off your identity. You can never really tell when your mind is your own, or the O.C.D at play. That was a metaphor, by the way. O.C.D is a on the neurosis end of the scale, it's not psychosis. My reflection doesn't speak back to me. Just to be clear.

So I take certain tablets to break us up, to keep it somewhat restrained. It still stares at me, from across the room it is not paying rent for in my head. Sometimes, if I shift my gaze, it can attack. It tries to attack often.

So, when you have this knowledge that you’re ‘responsible’ as a result of a tragic situation where you were irresponsible would you change it? No! Because for me it drives me to behave in a way to be responsible for others when they themselves can’t be. So there’s why I work in mental health. I don’t charge what I could charge for my services. Why? I believe mental health care and support should be very cheap if not free. So I don’t want to be responsible for somebody’s ill health because they couldn’t afford therapy.

So that brings us to why I feel I have to justify my actions and behaviours. The more privileged I am the more guilt I feel for those who don’t have warmth, food, shelter, love. I feel responsible for what I have and for what they don’t have.

My View of the World

As a reluctant citizen of the Western world I’m in conflict between wanting to be successful and wanting to fulfil my obligation of being responsible, both of which are excruciatingly demanding. To have ‘effect’ in my world in mental health I have to be ‘seen’. I have to be ‘heard’, to tell people “Look, there is help”. But the modern method is seeking attention conflicts with my need to be authentic. If I don’t show that my backside is toned on Instagram, will I be ignored? How is my Ego being fuelled in all of this? Will I catch the attention I need to lead them to what I really want them to see? That real, genuine care that is overlooked if I don’t package it with a big sicker of myself on the front for the voyeurs that populates social media. My running thought is “how can I do something that attracts attention to the help I’m offering in a way that is alluring to the ‘superficial’ and ‘choreographed’  standards of social media, but authentic to me?”  Can you see how difficult it can be?  Can you begin to understand that internal conflict I, and so many others, deal with?

Because I understand certain people’s incessant need for validation from posting incessant photos of themselves, I begin to fear that if I do it then I will look just as insecure and drive my the need to inflate my ego. Let me go into therapist mode again. Whilst my main core belief is ‘I am responsible’, there are many of us whose main core belief is “I’m not good enough”, “I’m unlovable”, etc. So then, just as my behaviours are driven by the need to do things that keep me from being irresponsible, so too do the people who feel unworthy do things that stop them from feeling unworthy. So then we have those people who constantly post photos of themselves filtered to the eyeballs. They overcompensate for the ‘lack’ that they feel. Just like I feel guilt for being unable to help the people who are living third world countries. The result of my guilt is cynicism and disgust for the world I live in, just as the person’s incessant posting of themselves is a result of their feelings of unworthiness which is temporarily placated by ‘likes’. When that wears off, they post another photo and then another and another.

So to myself who feels responsible, you don’t have to be and you can’t be. You can contribute to change, but you can’t change the world by not wearing lipstick. To the person who feels unloved and unworthy, you are validated long before you take that photo and post it. You are enough without having to prove it. You are lovable in all your imperfect perfection.

The Authentic Self

My need to be ‘authentic’ doesn’t have to comply with this unrealistic demand upon myself to be responsible. My authentic self wants to wear makeup, it would be inauthentic to deny myself that. My belief of needing to be ‘responsible’ shames me into believing that wearing makeup is superficial in the bigger picture of a world full of suffering. So can you see why I felt compelled to justify my wearing of makeup on snapchat? I tread carefully. I deliberate over each photo I post, over my actions and my words. “Does it comply with my ‘authenticity’? Yes, I love makeup and it’s a photo of me wearing makeup! But are you being responsible? No, it’s superficial and there are people dying and here I am putting on makeup”. Yes, it’s exhausting.

The Destination does not Exist

Our pursuit for ‘Happiness’ is what drives our life decisions. However, our concept of ‘Happy’ is flawed, in regards to our culture which enforces it via advertising.
The Westernised concept of happiness is capitalised. It’s the new 4X4 jeep that can do your brows as you drive, or the Gucci bag made from the skin of your enemies. Happiness, in the West, is an obscure refraction of a much more simplistic and metaphysical value system.
Travel the world and you’ll find different concepts of happiness respective of cultures and religions. Our ignorant culture makes us sympathise for the “poor people in the East who can’t afford a wee Iphone”, whilst they look at us and think “poor white people have to buy an Iphone to feel happy.”

The road of life is not paved with happiness, it’s formed from ‘contentment’. Happiness is just the flowers we see on the way; not always there, but pleasant when we do come across them. The flowers cannot sustain us, it’s the hardy ground of contentment that we need more to keep us going.  Contentment is acceptance of the fact that you’re not the most beautiful, richest or smartest, but grateful that you’ve stability to keep walking through life anyway.

So there, a reflection of my mind in one sitting.
I applaud you if you’ve gotten this far.
If anything, the awareness in and of itself of how my mind and its internal conflicts are enough to keep me grounded, humble and conscious people other than myself. I could come to a destination where these conflicts no longer exist and I can make clear, constructed and conscientious decisions. But that destination doesn’t exist because it’s the very struggle of life itself that takes us from a piece of rock to a sculpture of our true selves that resides within. Life is the sculptor and we are its art.

Friday, 1 December 2017

The Rise of C.B.D oil

You will have heard all of the members of the Replenish team mention the benefits of C.B.D oil at some stage of our workshops, videos, talks, etc.

In the previous  Replenish's 'Steps to Self-Care' post, under the 'Medication: Synthetic and Herbal' section I talked about if I thought "a  client could benefit from a natural aid to promote calm I'd always recommend ‘C.B.D. oil’. I wish I had this oil when I was a teenager rather than the placebo of ‘Kalms’ and ‘Quiet Life’."

So I'm excited to let you know that MacCaffery's Chemist in Derry (and online) are stocked up on C.B.D oil and ready to sell to you with the added perk of working with 'Replenish' and giving you a discount code at check-out online and in-store.

But first, let me sound like a cheesy commercial and tell you why C.B.D oil could change your life like it has changed mine.

So, I live with O.C.D. I'm on medication for it. I have my self-care plan that consists of a mental-health friendly diet, yoga, hobbies, routines. You get the gist. However, despite all of this, I still get bad days, especially if I'm hormonal or stressed. So whilst I allow myself to have the bad days I also take C.B.D oil.

Why do I take C.B.D oil?

As I've said, I still get my bad days.  So why I recommend C.B.D oil is because all humans have what is called our ‘Endogenous Cannabinoid System’  that regulates our mood, sleep, appetite, hormone regulation, pain, and immunity response.
However our lifestyles can cause stresses that interfere with our mood, sleep and all those other important elements of health. So taking CBD oil regulates any imbalances in our already existing cannabinoid system.

So that's why C.B.D oil, in high strengths, is also used by people with conditions that cause chronic pain, whether it be people with Fibromyalgia, Cancer and bone diseases.It has anti-inflammatory benefits and can also be used to treat acne. It’s important to consult with your Doctor or pharmacist about taking C.B.D oil for any of the aforementioned conditions.

Is it legal?

Absolutely. I’d not recommend it otherwise (lol) It’s not legal in all countries, but it is in Ireland. It can be bought in health food shops and in pharmacies such as MacCafferty’s.
It is legal because whilst it’s from the 'Cannabis Stavia L' plant, it does not contain as much THC as marijuana, which is the psychoactive chemical that gives a ‘high’ effect. It's the fact that it's hemp, low in THC and high in CBD, which makes it legal.

How to use it?

The oil can also come in ‘powder’ form that people mix into creams to rub on their bodies. However, it’s commonly bought as an oil. It’s recommended to take a few drops, to begin with, under the tongue for maximum and quicker absorption into the bloodstream.
The C.B.D oil comes in various strengths and prices.

Want to buy it now?

MacCafferty’s Pharmacy stock and sell three different strengths of a reputable brand of C.B.D. They are also offering 10% discount to anyone who quotes ‘Replenish’ at the till or in the coupon box in the online check-out.

Buy it HERE

Have you tried it yet? Let me know in the Replenish Official Facebook Group.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Steps to Self-Care

Steps to Self-Care

Self-care is something that should be taken so seriously.  It’s as important as our need, and right for food and water to sustain us.

Self-care is not about ‘looking good’ as social media may suggest. You have to actually enrich the energy that resides within you.
Our society glorifies ‘busy’, and it’s a trend that we’re all trying to keep up with, much to the detriment of our mental health and overall wellbeing. We’re simply not taking the time out that we need, irrespective of whether or not we think we deserve it. 

The fact that ‘Replenish: Acting on Mental Health’ is just under a year old and yet booked by numerous companies and businesses to deliver ‘Mental Health in the Workplace’ workshops is suffice to indicate that the need for, and recognition of, self-care is becoming more prevalent.  After all, how can a business be prolific in its output of services and goods if its workforce isn’t in optimum health?

On a Personal Level

For myself personally, self-care is a sacred factor in maintaining my wellbeing. Living with a mental health disorder alongside being a therapist means that it’s not a choice, but a necessity. 
After all, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. 
So whilst I am on medication for my mental health, AND as knowledgable in the field of mental health care and support as I try to be, I still am very conscious of the fact that my mental health can still be quite precarious and inclined to deteriorate if certain steps are not taken and efforts maintained.
So a few of the Replenish team have compiled a list of the steps that we all should take to ensure optimum wellbeing because mental health wellbeing isn’t dependant on ‘one solution’, unfortunately. It’s the realisation that wellbeing and recovery is comprised of smaller pieces that accumulate to make up a customised and personalised jigsaw of wellness.   

As I go through these steps you’ll see why ‘Replenish’ is made up of various professionals of various fields that are conducive to acting on mental health.

Each steps is written by a professional within Replenish and you will be able to contact as they've listed their contact details below. 

To begin with, Yasmin will detail the importance of her role as an Occupational Therapist in developing a lifestyle conducive to good mental health.

Occupational Therapy

Yasmin Leake ||Occupational Therapist ||
Helping you Balance

As an Occupational Therapist, one of our main focuses is understanding the importance of and creating a balance between a human’s occupations. 
Occupational balance is a way of being, cultivated by a multitude of self care, productivity and leisure occupations.  Balanced engagement in such occupations should promote feelings of positivity, satisfaction and achievement. 
I am therefore a firm believer in working with my clients to review their current daily routines and find strategies that will achieve a balance in their daily routine. 
By investing time in balancing your self care, productivity and leisure occupations, you are likely to benefit from an increased sense of well being and able to manage stress more effectively. 
There is no quick fix to managing your mental health, instead focus on making your whole health a priority every day and you will see positive changes. 
One of my favourite habits I practice every day is going for a 30 minute walk. I try to do this in the morning time when I first wake up, it’s my ‘me’ time, it allows me to be in nature and calm my mind before my working day commences.  It could also be an idea to incorporate an after dinner walk in the evening as an opportunity to unwind and distress from the day. 
If you would like any additional tips/help in creating an occupational balance please contact me at:   


Step 1

Michelle Harkin || Pharmacist||

Taking medication for mental health is only one of many tools. It can help reduce symptoms enough to enable a person to pursue and receive benefits from lifestyle changes, support groups and counselling. As a pharmacist,  I am aware that most people don't particularly want to feel that they need medication for any illness, but if appropriate, taking care of yourself in the best possible way is always a good thing and is not a sign of weakness.

What Caroline has to say...

Medication isn’t for everyone. It’s not needed by every person who has anxiety and or depression because depending on the severity of your condition, you can manage it without pharmaceuticals. However, I have a clinical diagnosis of O.C.D, the “tenth most debilitating disorder in the world” according to the World Health Organisation. So basically, I need my medication to help me function and to live a ‘normal’ life. 

When I think a client could benefit from an natural aid to promote calm I always recommend ‘C.B.D. oil’. I wish I had this oil when I was a teenager rather than the placebo of ‘Kalms’ and ‘Quiet Life’. 

So what is CBD OIL?
CBD hemp oil is from the Cannabis plant, however it is legal because it doesn’t have THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient that gives that ‘high’. 

What does it do?
All humans have what is called our ‘Endogenous Cannabinoid System’  that regulates our mood, sleep, appetite, hormone regulation, pain, and immunity response.
However our lifestyles can cause stresses that interfere with our mood, sleep and all those other important elements of health. So taking CBD oil regulates any imbalances in our already existing cannabinoid system. 

Buy CBD oil HERE

 What else can it be used for:
Whilst I myself use if for hormonal times, it’s often used by many to help with:

- Anxiety
  - Epilepsy    
      - Cancer pain
       - Chronic pain

  Step 2
Diet & Supplements

RĂ­adh Egan || Nutritionist||

Nutrition and supplementation for your mental health

Like an expensive car, your brain functions best when it gets premium fuel. This is why adequate nutrition is so important for our mental health. Eating high quality food that contains lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress - the “waste” produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells. 

Your brain can be damaged if you ingest anything other than premium fuel. If substances from “low premium” fuel (such as those you get from processed foods) get to the brain it has little ability to get rid of them. Diets high in sugar are harmful our brain and promote inflammation and oxidative stress. 

Vitamin Supplementation 

Vitamin B complex 

The B complex vitamins include 11 vitamins essential to mental health and well being. They cannot be stored in our bodies therefore we must depend on our diet to supply them. They can be destroyed by alcohol, refined sugars, caffefine and niacatine. 

Oral contraceptives in women can deplete the body of vitamins B6. this particular nutrient is needed for normal mental health functioning. In such cases vitamin B6 can improve mood. Deficiency in vitamin B12 can cause depression and in B6 can disrupt the formation of neurotransmitters in the brain.

According to a study reported in neuropsychobiology, supplementation of nine of these vitamins improves mood in both men and women. This mood improvement was particularly associated with vitamin B2 and B6.

When we hear folate or folic acid we usually think of women in pregnancy or trying to conceive. But actually it is something I recommend for individuals with a mental health illness. 

It has been observed that people with depression have blood folate levels, which are, on an average, 25% lower than healthy controls.
Low levels of folate have also been identified as a strong predisposing factor of poor outcome with antidepressant therapy.

 Folic acid can enhance the effectiveness of antidepressant medication according to studies. 

Vitamin D 

Also known as the Sunshine Vitamin as we get it from the sun. Living in Ireland or any other country that really only sees the sun a couple of months in the year, means that the majority of the population can be deficient in Vitamin D. 

Buy 'The D' Here HERE 

Vitamin D receptors have been found in many parts of the brain.
Some of the receptors in the brain are receptors for vitamin D, which means that vitamin D is acting in some way in the brain. These receptors are found in the areas of the brain that are linked to the development of depression. For this reason, vitamin D has been linked with depression and with other mental health problems.

Exactly how vitamin D works in the brain isn’t fully understood. One theory is that vitamin D affects the amount of chemicals called monoamines, such as serotonin, and how they work in the brain.5 Many anti-depressant medications work by increasing the amount of monoamines in the brain. Therefore vitamin D may also increase the amount of monoamines, which may help treat depression.

Feel Good Foods for your Mental Health 
Green Tea 
Dark Chocolate 

Should you need any information on nutrition or supplementation please free feel to get in touch. 
Phone: 0863529366

Step 3

Sophie Dechant || Yoga Instructor ||

Are you really Breathing? 
I know you’re breathing .. about 25,000 times a day. 
But are you really aware of all these breaths you take? 

Stop Right Now

  • Place both hands gently on your belly EXHALE all of the air out of  your lungs through your nose.

  • Now inhale (through your nose) slow and strong right down deep to your belly, pushing your hands softly outwards.

  • Exhale again. 

  • Inhale thoroughly. Keep moving your hands with your breath. Up and down. Up and down.
 Now you’re breathing. 
This is abdominal breathing, the first way yoga students are taught to breathe.
Breathe properly and you send oxygen flooding into every cell of your body...yes, your cells breathe. Breathing is important because our cells need a constant supply of oxygen so they can produce energy. Without oxygen cellular function is impaired and and cell death is possible.
So we can see that breath is the very essence of life. In yoga we call it Prana, which is known as 'life force'.
Breathing calms the autonomic nervous system and induces a sense of calm and relaxation. 
It helps us deal with unnecessary impulsive reactions and reduces our stress levels.
Starting with simple abdominal breathing will benefit you physically and mentally


Step 4

Self-Respect and Self-Awareness
Natasha Clyde Mulhern || Counsellor ||

When I feel low & anxious I feel worthless, like I have nothing interesting to say to my friends, family, colleagues. Especially colleagues & customers - the people who least know me. The paranoia is relentless & persistent & exhausting. The internal dialogue - 'they think I'm boring/stupid, they wish I'd hurry up, they think I'm weird because I don't go on work nights out or drink, I'm the only one who makes mistakes' and on and on the list is endless.

When I'm having a 'bad day' I see no point in anything, there's no colour, everything is messy & dis-organised. I just want to stay in bed. I feel like I am merely going through the motions, functioning at the lowest level necessary, existing - NOT living.
That is what anxiety does to you. It robs you of your personality, robs you of your confidence and robs you of your identity. 

My only thought can be HOPE. Recovering from the way I feel on those 'bad days'. I can tell those of you who feel like this that your emotions do come back in recovery. Your confidence and personality gradually return in little strips, building up in layers, until eventually you feel like the person you were before you became ill.

It takes commitment & tenacity. It takes speaking up, confiding in your 'tribe', being honest with yourself & with them. Totally honest. If you can't say it out loud, technology is your friend - put it in a text, just start the conversation.

Everyone's self-care is different. For me it's taking quiet time out, detaching, re-charging. My work is busy, both physically & mentally demanding, so quiet time is vital for me. I like to spend time with people who are close in my circle, people I feel safe with. Movies, pamper time, naps, meditation - these are all things I enjoy & make time to incorporate them into my life. It's absolutely vital for me. 

I read a lot about anxiety & obsessive thoughts. Meeting Caroline has been an absolutely pivotal part in my recovery. Finally I felt like I could speak about how I was feeling, without fear. It was absolutely liberating. I drove home exhilarated after my first group session - I WAS NOT ALONE.

One thing I've read & utilise now on the daily is this :
"Never say yes when you mean no, and never say no when you means yes"

Simple but effective. Try it. I was a people pleaser even to my detriment on most occasions & now I realise I also need to please myself. 
I've started challenging negative thoughts when I have them and try to list facts to support the thoughts - the majority of the time they are unsupported.
I am the most impatient person, this I know. With everything in my life, not just wanting to be well. Recovery, I am told, will come in time. There is no time limit or magic cure. Everybody is different and some people will recover more quickly than others. Medication & therapy which works for one person might be totally ineffective for you - as I've discovered. Yes, it's frustrating - please trust me, just be patient and your body will take care of itself in its own time.
Remember this - you deserve to BE WELL. If you are struggling to be taken seriously by health professionals then be aware that you can take an advocate with you to help speak with you. I took Caroline with me to get the ball rolling. It started my journey towards reclaiming good mental health & has given me confidence to speak up to my GP since.


Please feel free to join our Replenish group for more vital information on how you can Act on your Mental Health:

Work with us: Replenish

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