Mental health (a bit of a passion of mine if you hadn’t already guessed!)

If I asked you to write every thing you know about mental health I have no doubt that most of you would think and write about mental illness, funnily that doesn’t happen when we think about physical health. So what is mental health, how can we acheive it and how can we help our children acheive it?

The world health organisation describes mental health as, ” a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”

I think Wikipedia puts it nicely as being “a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder, mental health may include an individual’s ability to enjoy life, and create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience, an expression of emotions, and as signifying a successful adaptation to a range of demands.

When talking about mental health to large groups or individual clients I use “the long and winding road” to demonstrate how none of us are mentally healthy all of the time.

road with me on

As you can see I have placed myself on the road a little way down from being 100% mentally healthy. Who is a 100% mentally healthy all of the time? Most of us if not all of us have mental health problems at some time. I mean we wouldn’t expect to be physically in top form all of the time would we?

We are all up and down the long and winding road, here are a few facts and figures about the prevalence on mental health in the UK :

  • 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year
  • Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain
  • Women are more likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than men
  • About 10% of children have a mental health problem at any one time
  • Depression affects 1 in 5 older people
  • Suicides rates show that British men are three times as likely to die by suicide than British women
  • Self-harm statistics for the UK show one of the highest rates in Europe: 400 per 100,000 population
  • Only 1 in 10 prisoners has no mental disorder

Luckily we talk a lot more about recovery nowadays.

But what sort of things are likely to bring us down the road perhaps more importantly back up again?

Well I of course believe having our LAMBSS (see previous post) met in balance is a good start.

Here is a list of some of the possible life situations or choices that can take us towards mental illness:

Substance misuse
Financial worries
Family break-up
Physical ill health

And some factors that can bring us back towards being mentally healthy

A good support network (friends and family)
Talking to someone
Personality (in built resilience factors)
Positive attitude
Good self esteem
Prescribed medication

How do we ensure our children have these, what can we do as parents to reduce the likelihood of our children developing mental illness?

Again these are my personal beliefs built on my experiences and map of the world.

I beiieve in order to have mentally healthy children we need mentally health adults that can act as good positive role models.

So take a good hard look at yourself and see what you are role modelling.

Are you demonstating how to manage stress?
Having a good work/life balance?
How to manage Anger?
Good self esteem?

Hmm, now here’s your starting point………. YOU

It’s not always easy as we are all human and fallible, but if we really want to make a difference to our children’s mental health it’s where we need to begin.

posterchild change copy

I think we all want our children to be happy.

For those of you who haven’t yet seen or heard this young 13 year old boy speak (if you follow me on facebook you  may have seen it there), here is a very inspirational young man who can teach us a thing or two.

Enjoy your day.

Deborah x

NLP and my personal journey…

I am wanting to share with you my very personal journey into the world of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), although it does take some courage, I am doing so  because it may help someone else out there.  Everything in life, I believe, happens for a reason and I wouldn’t want to change my past as it has moulded my today, and today I am (for most of the time ), a happy, positive content person.

NLP explores the relationships between how we think (neuro), how we communicate (linguistic) and our patterns of behaviour and emotion (programmes).

By studying and learning from these relationships you can effectively transform the way you traditionally think and act, adopting new, far more successful models of human excellence. (This activity is called modelling and is a key feature that distinguishes NLP from psychology).
In effect, NLP is a powerful change management tool that transforms the way people think and act to have the greatest impact both professionally and personally.
I can quite literally say NLP changed my life around.
At a young age my father left us, there is no need to go in to the reasons why but for a small child it was a significant event. To me he was my daddy and like many children going through a similar situation, I thought I must have done something very bad for this to have happened. The man I trusted most in the world abandoned me (or that’s how I perceived it at the time) . I thought I must be pretty ugly, naughty, useless for this to have happened. He did come back into my life briefly as a young adult, and we communicated by letter  ( no emails or Facebook back in the olden days), then quite suddenly he died in a car crash. This wasn’t hard for me to cope with because by then I was resigned to anything good being taken away as it was my lot and I was unworthy of anything more. I could have predicted it happening so it came as no surprise.
Does this sound like the person you read about today, the positive successful girl who sees the good in most things?
I had built up a strong belief about myself that I carried around like a heavy bag of coal on my back. It was wearing, boring and quite honestly exhausting.  In my head was a voice that would twist and turn every conversation or event into something that fitted with that strong sense of believe that I wasn’t worthy,  I didn’t trust anyone. If someone told me anything good I would look for a reason why they were saying it, and wouldn’t believe it to be true. If you don’t see the good in yourself it is hard for others to see it too, but from an early age I was determined to be good and kind to others, probably in the vain hope that they would like me,  I just never believed they could.
Until one day that changed my life forever. The bag of coal was lifted from my shoulders and the destructive voice inside banished to the museum of old beliefs.
Understanding how my brain worked and why, teaching it a new set of rules, re- programming and reframing, changing the language was as I have already said, quite literally life changing.
Emotional experiences throughout life, and especially during the early imprint years can result in the creation of ‘Parts’ within the unconscious mind. These Parts generate their own values and beliefs, and are responsible for certain behaviours. Overwhelming feelings and reactions, as well as out of control behaviours are the result of ‘Conflicting Parts’.
There is an amazing technique in NLP called Parts Integration that helps to resolve these conflicts between the parts by looking for the highest positive intention.
One 30 minute session with my very skilled NLP instructor Dee, turned everything around for me and the burden of self doubt was lifted.
So this is why NLP plays such a large part in my professional and personal life.
I now have confidence in myself, I can trust others and have a different positive set of beliefs and values that act as my map of the world.
Who would ever believe that the quiet unassured girl, lacking in confidence, would stand up in front of an audience of hundreds and speak about a resource she had developed or share a method of working that she had found worked well with parents and children. That she would win national awards and most importantly be able to accept them graciously.
How did that happen,?
What actually went on that day to change my life around so dramatically?
I remember it so well. I was doing a time-line exercise which explores negative emotions and limiting beliefs, at Dee’ s house one sunny afternoon, when I was overcome with emotion and completely frustrated with myself as I wanted to finish the exercise.
Dee took me to one side and asked how she could help. I remember saying to her that it was very boring, not her excellent training course, but my inner conflict. It bored me so God  knows it must have bored others. I explained to her about my inner voice and the heavy burden I had carried around for years. The time had come, I was ready to move on and discard those old stories and destructive self beliefs.
Dee took me through a process that involved identifying the inner conflicts I was experiencing. I gave the voice in my head a name ( I shall call it Dan for the purpose of this blog) and I thanked it for keeping me safe for all these years. I explored his intention and acknowledged the important role he had played. I then looked at another part or voice that had been much quieter and often drowned out by Dan, a positive role model that so much wanted to have her voice heard. I gave her a name, Julia Roberts, funnily enough,  it was a name that popped into my head at the time. It needed to be someone I admired and I think I had recently watched Notting Hill ( it didn’t have to be a male and female, it doesn’t actually have to be a person  it was just what I chose at the time).
Dan was made redundant (don’t worry he received a good pay out for all his hard work) ,   he had done his duty and his services were no longer required. Julia was offered a job and I often see her beaming smile as she reminds me of who I am today and the things I have achieved in my life. She is there with me as I step on stage her radiant smile lightning up the audience.
The relief I felt from the release of carrying around that bag of coal for years was indescribable although I have tried my best to do so here. From going from daily, no hourly doubting myself , telling myself (or rather Dan telling me) I wasn’t worthy. to how I feel today. It was just so magical how could I not go on to learn more, become a master NLP practitioner myself and use the many tools it has to offer to help others.
I am happy to say that I have influenced many people to find out more about NLP and train for themselves. We have four NLP practitioner in our team and many of the school nurses and health visitors went on to do the training. My sister is also now a master NLP practitioner, and combines this with her skills and passion with horses to teach communication skills, among other things. Kate  has her next workshop  coming up on May 24th so if your interested in this or any other NLP or mental health training just email me at and I will put you in touch with the right people. I may even do a bit more training myself.
Anyway I will leave you with a little story I sent a friend many years ago and her response.
A friend of mine was fed up with all of the baggage kept in his shed. “Enough is enough” he said one day, “It’s time to remove  all of the unwanted junk.” He hadn’t anticipated all of the things he would  find in there, and it was true, there was a lot of junk, but some precious  things too, an old grammar phone and an LP. He hadn’t come across it before, and he wasn’t even sure it would work. But you know that sometimes you have to put on the music and dance to it to understand it and know its beauty. He hadn’t anticipated the many ways in which an LP could change his life, but suddenly clearing out the junk became simpler. He felt freer as he listened and learnt from an LP he’d never even realised could be this powerful. By now, the benefits were spreading and his friends and colleagues were all interested in acquiring an L.P for themselves. So he shared with them his experiences and all he had seen and heard.

Dear Deborah

That man…. was it you and your shed…. your treasure.

So glad that I’ve found my an LP in my shed.  It’s made all the difference to my garden and all those who come to visit.   Thanks for giving me the inspiration to seek it out.

You’re a great DJ keep on spreading the music. X

I did my NPL practitioner training with Dee and Paul at New Oceans
and my master practitioner with Melody and Jo
They  have very different approaches to the subject and are all great teachers. They often offer free taster days so it’s with checking out and finding which style suits you best.
I gained so much from them all but want to dedicate this post to Dee who changed my life around, and to whom I shall be forever grateful.

Sunday morning ramblings and oh so much more …

I understand the mind and body connection only too well and most of the time my mind controls my body. Yesterday my body took charge. My head wanted to shop, I was looking forward to visiting my favourite little fair trade vintage clothes store in Saffron Walden. It was open for the last time yesterday and I dreamed of picking up some bargains, saying farewell to Liz and wishing her all the best for the future, my body however had other plans. I am learning to listen more to my body nowadays and yesterday it was right, I could hardly move from the sofa never mind wander around outside in the cold.  So it was back to succumbing again!

I am never alone, besides having my lovely husband for company my imagination is my best friend. I have no need for external stimuli as I can lie for hours thinking and dreaming.

Yesterday I was thinking more about coincidence, well actually synchronicity.

Here’s a quote from The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield

“I don’t think that anything happens by coincidence… No one is here by accident… Everyone who crosses our path has a message for us. Otherwise they would have taken another path, or left earlier or later. The fact that these people are here means that they are here for some reason”…”

The uncanny coincidence, the unlikely conjunction of events, the startling serendipity, who hasn’t had it happen in their life? You think of someone for the first time in years, and run into them a few hours later. An unusual phrase you’d never heard before jumps out at you three times in the same day. On a back street in a foreign country, you bump into an old colleague. A book falls off the shelf at the bookstore and it’s exactly what you need.

Synchronicity is a concept developed by psychologist Carl Jung to describe a perceived meaningful coincidence. Jung described synchronicity as an “a causal connecting principle” in which events, both large and small, in the external world might align to the experience of the individual, perhaps mirroring or echoing personal concerns or thoughts.

Although some scientists see potential evidence of synchronicity in areas of research such as quantum theory and the chaos theory the concept is not testable by any current scientific method. Skeptics, argue that the perception of synchronicity is better explained as apophenia, which is the human tendency to seek and perceive connections between unrelated phenomena.

Our scientific worldview is built on the concept of cause and effect, as a culture we tend to doubt and deny aspects of experience that aren’t measurable and verifiable. So often when events coincide in startling ways, the first words we hear or say are, “Oh, it’s just a coincidence.”

I am not sure I agree, too many examples of coincidences have happened in my life to put it down to pure chance. Many people have come into my life at just the right time. Tske for example the psychologist in my team who turned out to be married to one of the leading experts in a field closely related to Myeloma and who put me in touch with the amazing consultant that I put my ultimate faith in to today.

The concept that everything has a concrete cause is so entrenched in our modern Western mentality that it took considerable courage for Carl Jung to take on the subject of synchronicity. He had been looking for some way to break through to a patient who was very rational and rigid in her thinking and had a stock answer for everything. he was stuck as how to help her move forward. He writes, “I was sitting opposite her one day with my back to the window, listening to her flow of rhetoric. She had an impressive dream the night before, in which someone had given her a golden scarab—a costly piece of jewellery. While she was still telling me this dream, I heard something behind me gently tapping on the window. I turned around and saw that it was a fairly large flying insect that was knocking against the windowpane from outside in the obvious effort to get into the dark room. This seemed to me very strange. I opened the window immediately and caught the insect in the air as it flew in. It was a scarabaeid beetle, whose gold-green colour most nearly resembles that of a golden scarab. I handed the beetle to my patient with the words, ‘Here is your scarab.’ The experience punctured the desired hole in her rationalism and broke the ice of her intellectual resistance.”

Colin loves Pink Floyd and has spent a lifetime trying to create music that comes close to his idols ( I think he does a pretty good job) but up until now I have never really appreciated their music in the same way. Last night at approx 3.15 I had an awakening, well I was awake but also awakened to the sounds in a different way. In my research into synchronicity. (it’s marvellous what the iPad allows you to do in the early hours), I came across Dark Side of the Rainbow.

Fans of the rock group Pink Floyd have pointed out that their album Dark Side of the Moon (DSotM), can be used as an alternative soundtrack for the MGM motion picture The Wizard of Oz (1939) in a phenomenon generally referred to as Dark Side of the Rainbow. (DSotR) Contrary to the suggestion by some that this sync was done intentionally, there is strong evidence to support the conclusion that Pink Floyd actually synchronized this album to 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), which would tend to discount the claim that it was deliberately synchronized to the Oz movie. In an effort to find an alternative explanation, some have dismissed it as mere coincidence; others have tried to explain it as a trick of the mind, as in apophenia; but most interestingly, in 1997, writing for Relix magazine, Dave Kopel suggested the phenomenon was an example of Carl Jung’s synchronicity. Since then, fans of DSotR have been citing the phenomenon as an example of synchronicity, perhaps without truly appreciating what synchronicity really means, or just how closely The Wizard of Oz resembles a parable on Jungian psychology.

Since your consciousness is constantly interacting with all levels of yourself, some synchronicities will have more personal significance than others in your life. You can generally gauge how important a given synchronicity is for you by feeling how you respond emotionally and physically to it.

“When a person really desires something all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.” I read this on page 114 of “The Alchemist.” The story is about pursuing ones personal legend and is a favourite book of mine.

I don’t know how synchronicity works, but I believe our thoughts are energy’s that exist outside of our physical bodies. They somehow connect with another persons thoughts, energy. Therefore we unknowingly and probably someday knowingly bring a person or event into our lives.

An example of this has happened recently. I was looking for a singer for my summer party. I searched YouTube videos and asked around. My lovely secretary at work knew of a guy who might just fit the bill. So I watched his YouTube video and thought yes please he would be ideal. But ohh so much more than that, once we got chatting via email we realised we shared some passions about education, coincidences and the universe.

Have a look at:

Following up from the interest you showed from yesterday’s blog on education I think you will enjoy it.

The best way to begin attracting meaningful coincidences and synchronicity is to pay attention to when they occur. Don’t dismiss these unusual experiences as “just coincidence.” If you’ve never done this, you might be surprised at the similar themes that occur in both your dreams and the synchronicity’s you experience in real life. These might be important keys calling your attention to opportunities, relationships, and possibilities you weren’t aware of before.

The more attentive you are to coincidences, the more they occur. And it starts to get really fun when you realize that the things in life you are most passionate about tend to be the things that crop up in coincidence over and over. A particular band’s music, a friend’s birthdate, the name of a book you love, and so on. You also will likely find that you’ll be generating coincidences with your closest friends and family members, something you talked about in passing will turn into a recurring theme all day long or even for several days running.

You may begin to notice, if you haven’t already, the way it starts to look like everything is connected. One theme begins and travels along, then connects with another theme and yet another, and creates a roundabout back to where you originally began. Patterns emerge and intersect and the synchronicities become too apparent to be able to dismiss any longer!

When you experience synchronicity in your life, you can sometimes gain deeper insight into what you intuitively know to be true by taking a closer look at the synchronicity in question. Could it be true that the universe is trying to tell you something? To find out if there may be deeper meaning to a given synchronicity, ask yourself:
o What symbols does this synchronicity contain?
o What do these symbols mean for me, personally, at this time?
o How do I feel about this?

Have a go and start to notice what is happening around you, you may be more surprised than you think.

So much for my short Sunday morning ramblings I just couldn’t help myself.

Have a great day of rest.


Education and co-incidence…

Our education system failed me I dreaded every day of school and after years of wasted opportunities I came out with nothing. (OK one English O’level). Such a disappointment I am sure to my parents who encouraged me to stay on another year in case I was a late developer, I was late alright by another 20 years! Never mind it was probably the school and they would have more luck with my sister who they somehow managed to get into an all girls catholic school. Guess what she did about as well as me. Perhaps my brother had a better chance of shining, his father had at least been to university so just maybe he had the more intelligent gene (not that our mother is stupid, far from it!) but alas he didn’t fair much better.

Back in the early 90’s I completed a full year of teacher training in order to achieve a bachelor of education degree but I dropped out at the end frustrated by the lack of opportunity to use any creativity. The education system seemed so rigid to me and my teaching practices didn’t allow for the sharing or exploration of new ideas with other teaching staff. With the curriculum as it stands , you deliver it as and when you are told and are measured as to how good a teacher you are by the number of A stars your pupils achieve.

Today I visit schools to deliver training or to take part in meetings to discuss a particular child and there so called problems and it seems not much has changed. Teachers are dictated to about what they teach and when and the children must be able to sit still and learn in a particular fashion. Now we know we all have different maps of the world and different learning styles so it must be an enormous challenge to deliver a lesson on a subject that quite frankly is probably completely irrelevant to a class of thirty very different individuals. Ah Ha you’re not allowed to be an individual, stray too far from the norm and you will end up being referred to our service! We mostly see very creative intelligent young people whose contribution to the world could be enormous if they could be channeled in the right direction. Instead these kids fit like square pegs in a round hole. They don’t do boredom and won’t sit there for hours just because that are told to do so. They don’t see the point and quite frankly I often have to agree with them. Unfortunately in this country unless your willing to pay a lot of money there doesn’t seem to be many choices available if any?

Have any of you read the Celestine Prophecy? I digress a little but bear with me. This is just a simple, easy to read, book of fiction (although the author admits his intention of it being more of a parable to illustrate a point) . It discuses various psychological and spiritual ideas and talks much about co- incidences. The book is a first-person narrative of spiritual awakening. The narrator is in a transitional period of his life, and begins to notice instances of synchronicity, which is the belief that coincidences have a meaning personal to those who experience them.

The book starts like this:

“For half a century now, a new consciousness has been entering the human world, a new awareness that can only be called transcendent, spiritual. If you find yourself reading this book, then perhaps you already sense what is happening, already feel it inside.”

Recently I have met a guy, well I haven’t actually met him yet, but he is coming to sing at my charity birthday festival. And by co- incidence he shares some of mine and Colin’s beliefs about the education system on offer for our children here in the UK today. (see there is a link) David kindly sent me a link to a school in America, which he was fortunate enough to spend some time visiting. At this school the children choose what they want to learn and when, If they choose to play video games all day then thats what they do. Now before you make a judgement, about what you think about that, take a look at the film on their website and then come back.

I was reminded of a conversation I had with a teacher who couldn’t understand why this particular boy had no interest in attending school. I asked her for a good reason why he should. She was flabbergasted by this question and looked at me in horror as she firmly stated to get an education of course! Is that the only way we become educated?

Here is a quote from one of the children who attend The Sudbury Valley School.

“I didn’t really think about getting an education. I didn’t understand the idea of having to artificially “get” an education. I thought that you lived in the world and you got smarter because every day you were learning. I thought that there was no way you could get dumber unless you were erasing stuff out of your brain. It seemed to me that one day you were talking to someone about one subject and another day you were talking to someone about another, and eventually you’d get around to all of them.”

A few years ago now a colleague and I were asked to speak to a large audience of teachers, on an inset day about managing stress. It was the end of the summer holidays and the day before the new school year. ( I’m not sure the timing was great). Besides speaking we were also on hand to offer a few individual sessions for any teachers wishing to make use of our skills and time. I think we only had time for 6 slots between us and they soon got filled. Each one of the teachers we saw broke down in tears as they described the stress of teaching, lack of supervision and support, bullying and fear of failure, and the new year hadn’t even started! How were these teachers meant to act as good role models? I very strongly believe to have mentally healthy children we need to start with mentally health adults. Sue and I ended up with recommending to some of these teachers they visit their GP as.the signs of clinical depression were clearly there.

Surely it is time for us to rethink our educational system.

Would you agree?

Have a great weekend


ps just in case your worried about your kids spelling this ones for you:

I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh?

Story telling…

I love story telling and the use of metaphor and have used  it with many of the young people and families I have worked with. This morning I was thinking of a particular story (and I have so many I would love to share with you ), when I remembered that together with a good friend we had written a book.  Not only that, it had won a national award presented to us by Jo Brand.  I had forgotten all about it up until now but thought I would use this opportunity to share it with you.  Maybe we should get it properly published and available through Amazon?

So here it is ‘Sticking Plasters for Children’s Souls’ I am particularly proud of the Light and Dark story. Click on the link to read.
Using story telling and in particular metaphors  in therapy can harness creative and imaginative energy and lead to a greater understanding and resolution of even deeply seated difficulties.
My belief is that if you can see a situation in a related yet different way, and you can see your own role in the experience, you have a chance of getting out of the stuck places in your mind if you so wish to do do. Metaphors can help “reframe” the situation, and thus can be a tool for genuine self-help. You can use metaphors to deal with stress, and to reduce feelings of anger, hurt, depression, worry, anxiety, guilt and fear.
So here is one of my very favourite stories:
Happy reading ….
It was not long after the Gods had created humankind that they very soon realised that they had made a huge mistake. The creatures that they had created were so adept, so skilful, so full of curiosity and the spirit of enquiry that it was only a matter of time before they would start to challenge the Gods themselves for supremacy.
To ensure their pre-eminence, the Gods held a large conference to discuss the issue. Gods were summoned from all over the known and unknown worlds. The debates were long, detailed, and soul-searching, and lasted well into the night.
They were all unanimous about one thing. What differentiated the Gods from the mortals that they had created were the differences between the quality of the resources they had. While humans had their egos and were concerned with the external, material aspects of the world, the Gods had spirit, soul, and an understanding of the workings of the inner self.
The Gods realised that sooner or later the humans would want some of that too.
And so the Gods decided to hide their precious resources. The question was: where? This was the reason for the length and passion of the debates at the Great Conference of the Gods.
Some suggested hiding these resources at the top of the highest mountain. But it was realised that sooner or later the humans would scale such a mountain.
And the deepest crater in the deepest ocean would be discovered.
And mines would be sunk into the earth.
And the most impenetrable jungles would give up their secrets.
And mechanical birds would explore the sky and space.
And the moon and the planets would become tourist attractions.
And even the wisest and most creative of the Gods fell silent as if every avenue had been explored and found wanting. Where on earth could they hide these precious resources?
And then, the Littlest God, who had been silent until now, spoke up. “Why don’t we hide these resources inside each human? They will never think to look for them there.”
And so they did. Many of us don’t think to look at our own resources, or those of our workforces, but when we do we can often find real power.
Look inside yourself today and wonder at all the wonderful resources you have within.
Use them wisely and have a great day.

Donate a scarf and make a difference.

It doesn’t always take money to help others. If we take the time and a little bit of thought, we can come up with some great ways to make a difference.

Yesterday following my daily dose of beetle juice etc, I visited the amazing “Living Room” on the ground floor of the hospital. This is a unique oasis in my Parallel Universe, crewed by a team of highly skilled and compassionate staff and has provided me with the time and space I so needed before stepping back into the reality of the outside world again. Walking through the doors you are greeted by a friendly smile, a good old cup of tea and let me say again, (as I am sure I must have mentioned in previous posts) that most precious and invaluable resource of all…TIME.

Before I go on I must talk about TIME again because for me, there is nothing more precious you could give to yourself or anyone else in order to make a difference. I may be digressing a little from my original blog posting for the day but it really is so important. Yesterday, listening to Radio 4 on our in, what seemed like a very long car journey, (I blame the small sprinkle of snow), I heard about yet another parenting programme. This one had been brought over from Australia, to support vulnerable families. I forget what name that was attributed to it, and I am not disputing its value but it got me thinking about the time and cost it took to train the therapists in this latest idea (which I can honestly say in my humble opinion, was nothing new.) Am I just getting old, but however you dress it up, whatever name you care to give to the latest therapy or idea the basic gift you are giving is TIME. If you are going into to a families home and spending quality time listening to their stories and working with them and their resources, it really isn’t rocket science to know you are going to make a difference. However, I do fear that maybe I have just become so unconsciously competent I am not seeing it? I am also not disputing the years of training and skills myself and the excellent therapists in my team have developed to help and empower our patients, but I do believe that if a family or person is ready and willing to move forward it is the time you spend with them that counts. Recently there has been a big change around with further investment into health visiting. Health visiting resources were reduced, and I won’t get into the politics of by whom or why, but it resulted in less time for these skilled professionals to spend time with new mums, and the consequences for those especially experiencing depression and anxiety, soon became clear, as child protection cases rose and children’s and adults mental ill health increased. Now there is a re- investment as someone who must be really smart has thought this is what was needed after all HUH, Is it just me? I must put in a plug here now for a similar investment into school nursing which I could talk for hours on!

How much time do you give to yourself, your family ,friends? Oh dear this isn’t meant to be a lecture and I can honestly say that I have been better at preaching than practicing this in the past, but being faced head on with a big life changing event pulls you up by your boot strings.

Take 15 mins of time tonight to jot down how you divided up your time today. How much time did you spend working, doing house chores, listening to your partner and family and how much time was purely spent on yourself. I can guess which comes out top. Of course most of have to work be able to afford all the luxuries that surround us and that we are convinced are most necessary in order to make our lives easier and more bearable to cope with, but at what cost to ourselves and the people we really care about and love? Ask any one in my amazing team, what is the number one criteria is for working in Step2 and if they don’t come up with the answer of, first of all making sure they are feeling mentally and emotionally healthy, and looking after themselves, then they don’t deserve to be there. How productive can you be if you are stressed out or anxious yourself, especially in a mental health service?

That reminds me, I did start to write a book which I must dig out and finish, I think I called it the Me Day concept or some other such catchy title, but it was all about permission and diary in time in for oneself. Maybe I had better get back to it?

It is amazing how powerful words are. We apply meaning and feelings to so many, and yet, often we forget that the true purpose of words is to remove the ambiguity of meaning. We get mired in what is expected of us, rather than what is right. We are more worried about how our actions are viewed, than whether the outcomes are right. We fear how others view us so we stand silent or chose conflicting courses of action.

The word ‘ selfish’ has been provided with such negative connotations. It’s seen as a tremendous character flaw. To be fair, part of that reputation is earned. We’ve all known people that are truly selfish , that step on others in order to pursue their own needs. They often know very little of caring, happiness, giving, and love. Yet it’s possible that, as a society, we’ve gone too far to the other side, promoting the idea that if we want to truly be good people, we need to be as selfless as possible. We see this with caregiving, volunteer work, and raising a family – many people dedicate their entire lives to others. But there’s a problem – complete selflessness has a cost – and that cost is often to our own health, happiness, and lives.

Having good mental health as an individual leads to good mental health as a society so let me take you back to the LAMBSS from a previous post which illustrates the importance of having our emotion and mental health needs meet in balance. I believe the same could With so much emphasis on helping others, be said for the balance between being selfish and selfless.

You should always remember that you deserve as much health and happiness as anyone else – possibly more. This is because…You Are a Person too, and with so much emphasis on helping others this can get lost with detrimental effects on the people around you that you love most and are so wanting to be there for. As much as you try to help others, the only person whose happiness you can fix with any certainty is your own. When it comes to your life, no one is more important than yourself but this last point is often forgotten. YOU are important, YOU matter. And you especially matter to you – the one person in this world that knows you best of all. It is for that reason that being a little bit selfish may be a good thing.

It’s time to be a little bit selfish. It’s time to care about your own health and happiness, even if it’s slightly at the expense of someone you care about. Your happiness needs to be important to you. But perhaps the greatest reason to be a little selfish is because it makes you a better person for others as well.

OMG this was going to be a short post about how you could possibly help me to help other cancer sufferers, and now look what I’ve done! I do hope you are still with me.

As I started saying yesterday I visited the Living Room, I was feeling a little anxious about my thinning hair and thought I would just explore a few options and before I knew it I had been whisked away by this lovely lady in front of a mirror and presented with an array of scarves, hats and wigs and I must admit I starting getting a tad excited (it doesn’t take much!). One of the very glamorous wigs, I tried on, would even give Heather a run for her money, who I think has simply gorgeous hair. ( you know who you are!) .

The wigs aren’t cheap although you do get a £64.0O prescription towards it from the NHS which isn’t bad. Also, by the time you have bought these special soft caps and an array of scarves I expect it soon adds up.

That got me thinking, I know we are all often looking for ways to help others but I don’t think it always needs to be about giving large sums of money, and, to be frank, in this day it is in short supply for most of us. So how about donating a scarf or hat? Ideally it would be new but if not I could easily wash and bag up. We could include a little inspirational note or kind message to brighten up someones day. I could hand them in to the Living Room for them to give freely away or sell them at a small charge with 100% of profits going towards the Macmillan Cancer Support charity, perhaps enabling more wonderful people to be employed to support others at their time of need.

What do you think, is it a goer? Perhaps you could get it started at your workplace and colleagues in your company could be encouraged to become involved?

I’ve also found some great knitting and crochet patterns for those so inclined to do so, in front of the latest episode of Coronation Street or Mr Selfridge, ( I am so loving that programme at the moment).

Get your thinking caps on and please let me know your thoughts.

Will I ever be short of subject matter for my blog…somehow I don’t think so.

Forever grateful knowing you are there.

Deborah x

The reluctant Grandma.

I must admit becoming a grandma was not top of my wish list and I entered the new role kicking and screaming. My years of Sunday lunch sex educational talks came shattering around my ankles one eventful Mothering Sunday in March 2011. My daughter wasn’t terribly young (22) and she was in, what could have been described, as an OK relationship (the kind young people seem to have nowadays all text and six packs?) but it just didn’t feel right, I was far too young to be a grandma! Oh, I tried to fight it and negotiate trendy names such as Mamon or Memie but my dear daughter was insistent. So whether I like it or not I am a GRANDMA! And do you know, a year on, I am secretly quite enjoying it.

I was privileged enough to be invited to participate in my grandson’s arrival, with the important and very vital role of chief supplier of energy giving Malteser’s. Witnessing Elliot’s arrival, which in my opinion, my beautiful youngest daughter made look far too easy and stress free than I remember, filled me with pride and suddenly my new acquired title faded into insignificance.

So today, a year and a bit later I am looking forward to another Grandma (and special youngest daughter) day. I am fortunate enough to have Jem living only about 15 mins drive away, so these visits can be as frequent as we all desire, but we usually manage to catch up weekly or near enough. Jem is an excellent mum and Elliot a perfect bundle of joy, who can’t help but bring laughter and happiness into a home. Never complaining about being guided away from the wood burning stove, low shelving, tippy-up coffee tables and numerous other baby hazards. We are armed with sheds full of suitable baby attire brought out upon arrival. high chair, pushchair, playpen, travel cot, toys, dogcart, walkers etc all easily put out of sight again as the home is quickly retuned back to a baby free zone. Being a Grandma is like having all the good bits of having a baby, minus most of the hard work. Jem appreciate’s the break and Grandpa and I get some quality play time.

Times have changed, so it’s sometimes hard to keep up with the latest advice and trends for baby rearing, but the good old stalwarts (is that a real word?) remain. A bath in the washing up bowl with lots of bubbles, sitting in the garden with a tray full of Rice Krispies to throw, eat squash and added to ice-cream, paint with. Washing line, kitchen utensil mobiles and saucepan drums. This baby navigates the modern world of FaceTime iPad screens as we wave goodnight from our separate locations with traditional family values and perhaps, rather antiquated entertainment solutions, with ease. My lovely daughter has succumb to the realisation that expensive brand new plastic gadgets and toys do not equate to being the yummiest mummy in town and that there is no substitute for mummy or indeed grandma and grandpa TIME. The most precious, scarce and undervalued ( in my humble opinion) resource of all.
We were lucky enough to have Jem and Elliot live with us for a few weeks, providing great learning and bonding experiences and a new found respect for each other. Ooh she rightly worries about the rusty nail on the dogcart, and that eating grass and climbing the wrong way down from the sofa may be a little hazardous but this young chap is building up resilience as he discovers the challenges of his external environment, so far with very few disastrous consequences that haven’t been easily solved with a warm wet flannel and a hidden milky bar (whoops sorry all avid blog reading health visitor colleagues).


So today will be fun, steroids should keep tiredness at bay and with good planning the wood burning Rayburn should cook an excellent family roast. With a bit of luck the weather will allow for a short country dog / baby walking stroll and you never know I think we may be privileged enough today to witness Elliot take his first steps so watch this space for breaking news.

PS. Somehow yesterday I missed out on the fact that it was World Cancer Day, however I do think my blog was most appropriate for that. To find out more please go to:

A Missed Opportunity and the Birth of the BrainBox.

Can you believe it! Yesterday we had a bit of a late start, partly due to my dear husbands desire to ensure he delivered his quota of our village news around our neighbourhood, and my need to clear up from the trail of party try on’s and make up and hair products spread from one end of our upstairs rooms to the other. This led to us arriving at the hospital half an hour after, wait for it, a visit to my very beetle juicing floor , by His Royal Highness Prince Charles his very self!!! Perhaps the universe thought I had already received my fair quota of excitement for the week but how good would have meeting royalty have been, never mind I shall just have to wait until my palace invite now.

On another note I want to share with you some information about a product I designed and developed, to enable a better understanding about how the brain works, when faced with what it may perceive as being dangerous situations. The BrainBox is being used by the mental health professionals not only in my team, but by psychologists, teachers and youth workers who have purchased the few models we managed to produce and sell from our back room a few years ago and it really is making a huge difference according to all the positive feedback I am receiving. But before I tell you more about it I want to honestly share with you a little bit about why and how it came about.

As a small child growing up in Sheffield (just down the road from Jarvis!), life may have been viewed as a simple family affair, but as for many children, it was not always as easy on the inside as it may have appeared to the outside world. Differences between my parents resulted in, without going into too much detail, a difficult time for us two girls which accumulated in a midnight run away from all we knew to the far too bright lights of London. My father was not always a good man and to escape the world he had found himself in he fled the country leaving his little girls behind. Unfortunately details are often spared from little children, but little children do have ears and eyes and large imaginations that can so often be abused. Gaps filled my head with stories as to why my daddy would abandon me and we had to leave our dear kitten, friends and family behind so suddenly. Daddy would visit, he would write and come back wouldn’t he? Had we really been that bad, that ugly, that naughty all that sort of thing. Grown ups thinking they were doing their best a new different life, new schools, new daddies all would move on smoothly and be forgotten. No blame is intended here it was just life, we see it in many homes, parents struggling with their own battles trying their very best to do the right things with little understanding of the possible consequences. In my case the circumstances led to feelings of low self esteem, and a real fear of abandonment and lack of trust. I withdrew into my own imaginative little world where goodness prevailed and I would do all I could to try to be kind and be loved but with a real belief this wouldn’t be possible. Each opportunity the devil on my shoulder would remind me that it couldn’t be, that I was unworthy to expect it, and that I should avoid and disrupt any opportunity to trust in anyone or thing so to avoid a life and death situation. Wow this is getting heavy! The reason I am explaining this is that as I became older and wiser I became more fascinated in the workings of the brain and more interested in how amazingly it would operate in order to do what it perceived was required to keep me safe. The Neuro -Linguistic Practitioner and Human Givens Psychology training provided me with a greater understanding of the workings of the human mind and with the knowledge gained during my psychiatric nurse training it all seemed to click into place. I was able to re-program my brain and move on, storing stories and banishing memories to my museum of old values and beliefs. Emerging from my cocoon into a new world where I grew in confidence and self belief, free from the little voice that used to say you can’t, you mustn’t, you can’t it is too dangerous. Today I know I can, and I do, and I survive. Gosh I do sound like such a drama queen! But this story is to illustrate why and how the BrainBox came about. In my working role I was meeting lots of families experiencing difficulties coping with situations that the brain has interpreted as dangerous, causing them great problems with anxiety and anger and sparking off the ‘ fight or flight’ response. I just thought that if I could maybe find a simple way of demonstrating this natural response, then perhaps armed with a greater understanding of their own minds, could possibly empower others to move forward in their lives. So one early morning my mind was working overdrive ( without the steroids) and the BrainBox was born.

I shall use my next blog posting to explain the BrainBox in more detail as its now 3am and If I am to stand any chance of visiting Ikea today, to pick up a much desired sofa bed to allow me to take advantage of our beautiful views , from our conservatory during my recuperation period, I will need to at least try to get some more sleep.

Wish me luck!

It worked 6 hours sleep achieved whoopee Ikea here we come!