Mental Health #MOT

I was reading something the other day that said ‘if your knee kept hurting, you wouldn’t wait until it broke in half or until you couldn’t walk’ so why is mental health any different?

Basically the dialogue entailed having a ‘mental health MOT’ before anything severe could happen.

I see this with my youngest daughter. She was struggling for several months. I tried to speak to the school about my concerns, but they just didn’t think they were ‘bad enough’ to get support. The school basically told me she didn’t meet the threshold to get support within her school.

So, her anxiety kept getting worse and worse until she could no longer take it and had to be pulled out of school. It wasn’t until then that the school and local authorities such as the CAMHS NHS took her symptoms seriously. Now, as a psychologist I think the system shockingly failed my daughter. It has also failed many children and families who need support. I guess that is why seeking private psychologists are helpful. However, what if that private psychologist is your mother? I really took a step back and reflected. I took a breath. I trusted my intuition. And, I knew deep down that I had to change her environment. After all, I am not only her mother, but I am an expert too. I had more experience than that of her previous school and they were not validating any of my concerns.

My youngest then found a new supportive school. A school that supports her learning needs. A school that validates my concerns and understands that often females can mask certain symptoms such as ADHD, dyslexia and other neurodiverse conditions. It has been a great relief to me having the support of such a switched on school. We are lucky and blessed that this school is up to date with mental health and learning abilities of students. With this experience I have learned so much, we all have and continue to grow and learn. We take one day at a time. And, because of this experience I can share with other families and support them through their difficult times when they have not felt validated or supported by people they trusted.

This is where the mental health MOT comes to play.

Shouldn’t we all from time to time ‘check in’ to see how we are feeling? Maybe we feel fine all of the time (I remember those days), but as we get older life gets more difficult- especially if you have kids.

Shouldn’t we be teaching children how to recognise their feelings? healthy ways to manage feelings such as anxiety or feeling low? Why do we ignore these things in school? personally? in life?

I do understand that not everyone will have emotional intelligence or even be able to recognise different feelings within themself; however, what if you made an appointment with a therapist, psychologist or counsellor to have a mental health MOT?

Your mental health MOT would include: making sure you are happy with all aspects of your life, making sure you have a good work, life, family balance. Basically, a mental health MOT would be very similar to having your car MOT’d. It would make sure that you don’t end up getting a flat tire, or breaking down in the middle of a busy road (or life in this analogy) and so that you would continue to safely run.

I believe we need to apply this concept towards our mental health. Firstly, it is nice to talk. It is good to talk. It is healthy to talk. When we keep unwanted thoughts inside our mind, or ruminate, it can manifest into depression or anger. If people spoke more about anxiety and things that troubled them then perhaps more people would not suffer from severe mental health issues.

We are faced with so much pressure in life, school, work, social media, technology… and pressure we put on ourselves to keep up with the world… why don’t we start looking at things that can reduce these pressures? Things such as self-care, self-love and relaxing and meditating. And, most importantly scheduling a mental health MOT.
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Escaping from family trauma: is it difficult to let it go?

Can one ever escape from past family trauma? Parents divorcing? Abuse? Loss of a loved one? Moving? Blended families? Whatever consists of trauma within the individual? I believe that they can. It’s all about what you want as an individual. Do you want to move on from family trauma? What are you doing about it? Are you seeking a healer? a psychologist? someone to support you? I think anything is possible. For me, writing my own narrative is one way to let go of the past and move forward. And, so here my story goes. 

This song makes me think of my siblings; mostly my sister. When we were younger we used to go on many crazy adventures. My sister had this friend. She had this green Jeep. It had tan leather interior and we used to ride with the windows down with the wind blowing in our hair. My sister’s friend was called Julie. I am unsure where they met, but I used to tag along. We used to drive, smoke and go from Canton, Ohio to Columbus chasing parties. We used to play this game called Radish, Radish. That game always made me laugh. Tears would pour out of my eyes with utter content. My sister was younger than me. But she was always more advanced than me in everything. She was always partying before me. She knew the best parties, the best festivals and the knew where to get the coolest clothes.

The irony of it all… she probably thought the same about me. She probably looked at me and thought, ‘Jessica had it all’ or ‘has it all’. It’s funny how people’s perspective vary. It’s that whole the grass is greener syndrome. For me, I always felt I could never keep up. I don’t mean keep up with my sister, but just people in general. It was easier to be different, to be odd, to cut my hair shorter than everyone before it was the ‘in thing’ to do and to slide on those leather pants knowing people probably judged me and at that time in my life didn’t give a rats ass who judged. I naturally escaped from the whole conformity of society. I think nowadays there would be words for me: bohemian, hedonist, neurodiverse. But, do labels help? What do you think? In the past, I didn’t care what people thought of me. But, I guess as one matures, gets married, has children, gets divorced, raises kids… one starts to develop a different view on things in life. For me, I don’t really care what people think of me. It’s just sort of like I don’t want any ill will or bad vibes in my life or on my journey. But as you get older you realise that this is all part of growing up and maturing, unfortunately.

SEEING THINGS IN A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE always matter!

My youngest just asked me about the moon. She said ‘how does the moon stay up in the sky?’ I said ‘due to gravitational force’. She said, so I could be upside down right now? as she puts her hands upside down along side of her hands to display exactly what she is verbalizing. I responded, yes. She stood still. Posed while hanging upside down, her hair falling loose. She said as a matter of factly, I feel better upside down. And, I replied- so do I sometimes! We giggled. Funny how when you are a child your view on life is so clear. And, sometimes we as adults tend to mess everything up.

When I was younger, my sister and I were very close. We used to stay up late and giggle. We used to see the world upside down.

When I hear Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car, nostalgia dances to me like a wave that has just hit me unexpectedly. It always makes me think of my sister and myself escaping the world together. It makes me think about just me being part of her world and being so excited about it all. It was high school. It was a long time ago. But, that is when I felt most close to her; the times when we would stay up late in bed and talk and laugh. Exactly like my very own children do now.

That doesn’t mean I leave my brother out of the equation. He and I were the dynamic duo when we used to work together. People came to see us behind the bar. We had charisma, we had something that many people didn’t have working behind the bar. We just didn’t care. We laughed, we drank, we created some of the best parties when we worked together. Those were the days.

But things evolve. We get older, get married, have children, develop something that is called ‘responsibility’ and there the story goes.

We grow, we change, we love. But one thing remains constant. The love and affection I have for my siblings. It is a continuum.

 

A letter of Goodbye

I am sorry for leaving
I am sorry for not leading
I am sorry for escaping
I am sorry for not mothering
I am sorry I had my own issues
I am sorry for being selfish
I am sorry for leaving you behind
I am sorry for not protecting you
Mostly
My travels are coming to end
I am now in my 40’s
And, that is when you learn
You learn when you have your own kids
You learn when you fail
I am the oldest
I should have known better
I should have been there when she wasn’t
When he wasn’t
I should have been there
I am sorry for failing you
I am sorry for letting you down
I am sorry for misleading you

 

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from Memoires across the Pond

Moving forward using all my breath: letting go of the past

Moving forward using all my breath. Sometimes that is what I feel like when I am trying to evolve and move forward in my life with people, my life and things in general. Many people are happy staying still. Some people are content staying still. You see, to me.. I think that staying still is very smelly and  stagnant. It’s not like I am unsettled, or feeling anxious.. I am just ever evolving and growing. And, I am in touch with that. I am embracing that. I like change. I welcome change. Change is inevitable. We as human beings change every single day. Some people are not even aware of this phenomenon. But we are growing both physically and emotionally. Yes, we get to a point in our life where we are fully grown, but then we change shape and decline in our stature.

I unfortunately, painfully, am aware of my change. Every day, every moment, every time I fall into the rabbit hole. You see sometimes I feel this is a weakness. However, I know it is a great strength. This awareness is a great strength. I do not call myself a healer. But, I am someone who has been there. I have experienced so many things and I can be supportive and exhibit empathy.  This is one reason I can help inspire people- I am aware of these changes in myself which gives me the strength to share them with other people.

Erik Erikson explains the psychosocial stages of human development. 

We change all of the time whether you like it or not. But, why are relationships so difficult? Well, I can tell you one reason why… we all don’t change at the same time. Sometimes we can change together. But, sometimes someone changes first. We are all on a journey.. but on different speeds. That is what makes life so challenging sometimes.

These past 12 years living in England has brought me on a what might be called a super dooper magic carpet ride. I have made friends. And, lost friends. I have thought friends were my family. But, only found out they were toxic. I believed in others to help me to get through whatever it was I was feeling or not in touch with and that was totally wrong of me. I am sure I have hurt people because I had to move forward. I didn’t like the vibe we were in or they were exhibiting unhealthy behaviors for me and I was ready to move on. Let’s face it. Sometimes being stagnant is boring. It wasn’t easy, but I know it was the best thing for my family and for myself. People were very unkind to me and I had to let that hurt go and walk away from people who were not my ‘tribe’ or even ‘my people’.   I was and am on my own journey and they were only holding me back so I had to let them go. Does this sound familiar? Have you ever experienced something like this?

These changes have been difficult for me as well. It is not easy moving forward with anchors at your feet only to drag you down when you are being pushed up, evolving and inflated up into the Universe. People can be quite jealous and also not happy for you when you are doing so well and working hard. It is such a shame that sometimes we as humans find it difficult to celebrate the small achievements in life eg. being a single parent and kicking ass, getting that raise, going back to school, getting through that tough time, making that move, being kind to someone who doesn’t deserve it, moving on etc.

It is not easy to push on through, break on through to the other side as Jim Morrison would say. You have family that may try to anchor you. You have friends that just do not ‘get’ you. But, it’s evolution that is only sustaining you. You are inevitably evolving and moving forward whether you like it or not; whether you are noticing it or not.

So, if you are evolving what and where will it take you?

I know for me I have always felt that I dance to a different beat to the drum. I have always felt unique and amazing for doing this. However, sometimes when life gets difficult and one gets lost or one is meandering… one may lose faith. It is totally okay to be yourself. It is totally okay to not follow the conformity of society. It is okay to follow your intuition and believe in yourself. Do it! Move forward. Move on. Let the past go. Let limited beliefs go. You are YOU now. You are not that small child anymore. You have moved on. Who is that person that you have grown into?

I guess it is difficult because shedding toxic people is a choice. Telling people how you feel is a choice. They more than likely will not like your response. They are not true friends. They are people who feed off of your energy and your charisma. It is fine to have friends like that, I am not judging. What I am saying is that we often have to make difficult choices to grow. It’s not just as easy as planting the seed and watching it grow. Sometimes we plant the seed and there is a massive hurricane and it doesn’t grow for years.

I have literally cleaned out three bags of clothes this week. I just think to myself, gosh, very gluttonous of me. This week I am ‘clearing’. I am clearing out every single part of my house, closet, loft, cupboard, and patio. It is time to ‘clear’ out and move forward.

That goes for the past. Letting go of EVERYTHING IN THE PAST! It is gone. Shed. I am not looking backwards anymore. Moving forward losing all my breath. The time has come to experience change. And, change wherever it may take me or you will be a positive thing.

I am making the difficult decisions to throw away family heirlooms that I thought once kept me grounded. Gone. I have held on to sentimental things thinking that those objects anchor me. Gone. No longer will I look back. Only forward. Only growth. Moving away from those that judge. Freedom.

What do you think about this? Would you ever do this? Go through all of your things and shed unwanted things in your home? In your life? In your filing cabinet? I challenge you to this! Can you do this? Do you have too much in your house? In your mind? In your heart? In your past?

Learn to breathe and let it all go. Now is the time.

Moving forward using all my breath. I am looking forward to the next few chapters that this #snowmoon has brought to all of us. I am slowly feeling more positive about this clearing out and all is slowly settling. That is the thing about change. Sometimes is creeps up on us when we aren’t looking and sometimes we will it and make the change. Either way let’s embrace it together. Because change is the Universe and the Universe will always provide. But, first believe in yourself. Because you are part of the Universe.

www.brightonwellnesscentre.co.uk
www.onlinetherapyhelps.com

 

Here is to finding ourselves and one another.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder is Real

Remaining positive when it’s grey outside, cold and miserable is not an easy thing to do. It’s not an easy thing to so especially when you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder like I do, and to be frank, like most people. Seasonal Affective Disorder is when you lose energy, have difficulty sleeping and generally feel rubbish during the winter months. All I want to do is stuff myself with pizza and then ‘sleep for England’!

When I lived in the states I only really suffered with it for three months. In comparison to how I feel in England and how I felt in America; it is much more intense here in England. I think it’s because the winter months last longer than three months. It seems as though the winter months last 9 months. And, for me… that’s way too long to be grumpy. It is very natural for your body to want lots of food and lots of sleep in the winter. We are trying to preserve our energy. But, for some reason that natural cycle gets me really down. I don’t want to slow down. I want it to be summer time all year- especially in Brighton!

Twelve years ago, I lived in the states. During those three months I would exercise, go to the tanning beds to get my sun fix when those were popular (not healthy) and also met with my therapist, Dr. John, on a weekly basis. Dr. John was the balls. He was a cool little Italian dude who just sat there and stared at me for two years. His style was that of psychotherapy. He was old school. None of this 2019 CBT quick fix therapy. He sat there and listened and nodded when appropriate. He didn’t diagnose or try to fix me. He was the one that told me about Seasonal Affective Disorder. He told me to make sure I cut down on my sugars, take Vit B and Fish Oils and exercise. I learned a lot when I was seeing him. I use a lot of what I learned in our sessions in some of my sessions today, actually.

I think living in an area that is cold, rainy and damp for the most part of the year is quite difficult. I mean after all, I did not grow up with this sort of weather in my veins. I am not a native. Even when I lived in the states my colleagues would comment on how I felt cold all of the time. I am not meant to live in cold weather. But, what if you have to? What if you don’t have a choice? What if living in the cold is part of who you are and inevitable?

One thing I find annoying is that when you feel rubbish, other people feel rubbish, too. So, who is going to do the lifting up of the spirits in your friendship group? It’s a tough one. We all follow that ‘one’ inspirational or ‘two’ gurus to get us by. But, it’s not that easy. I find having Seasonal Affective Disorder quite debilitating sometimes. The winter blues have got us all down, but what can we do?

WHAT CAN WE DO TO GET THROUGH THE SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER? 

  1. stay warm
  2. when it’s sunny get those arms and legs out – and face into the sun
  3. talk to friends
  4. don’t isolate yourself
  5. exercise
  6. take Vitamin B and D
  7. take Krill Oil
  8. plunge into cold water
  9. join a weekly group
  10. travel
  11. Stop eating junk food
  12. Embrace the sleep
  13. Be gentle with yourself

I think a support group needs to be created for those who suffer from SAD. I think it would be a great idea. During the winter months people who need to be around people and positive energy could get together and go hiking, movies, parties and whatever people’s interests are. I follow a lovely lady on instagram and she swims everyday in the English Channel. Now that is totally awesome. Talk about an inspiration.

I think one tip for people who have SAD would be to manage their moods in a diary or calendar.

For instance, in your calendar every year mark a big fat X in the day where you are grumpy that way you can self regulate your moods. What I mean when I say self regulate your mood- you know why you are in a bad mood. It’s because your skin has not seen Vit D in ages, it’s cold, you are tired, things are moving slowly… If you can remind yourself of these things… this time or phase will pass more gracefully.

What are some things you do to get through the winter months? Do you fight it? Do you embrace the SAD? Some people love the winter time! Well, it can be invigorating. @onlinetherapyhelps @getwellbrighton
www.brightonwellnesscentre.co.uk
www.onlinetherapyhelps.com

Get in touch! We would love to hear what you have to say!

 

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10 top tips on how to keep yourself well in the winter months

During the cold winter months where the days are darker and seem to drag on… we find ourselves wanting wholesome foods, warmer meals, wanting to hibernate and sneezing more and running out of tissues! I must say I almost never get sick. But, this year the cold got to me. I live in a terrace house where you would think the insulation would be helpful, but on the coldest and dampest of the winter nights no matter how many blankets I have on my bed my nose still gets cold.  Since living in the United Kingdom now for 12 years I have figured out how ‘not’ to let the cold get to me.

  1. drink warm liquids all day eg herbal tea
  2. always where a hat
  3. keep your feet warm
  4. invest in a luxurious electric heating blanket

But what if you prevented as much as you could prevent and the cold snuck through and has gotten inside those bones? You feel run down, tired and cold all of the time. You don’t seem to have enough energy to get up and go to work, or when you come home from work the first thing you want to do is to jump in your pajamas after scarfing down a pot pie and digesting it in a fetal position coma style under ten inches of Habitat blankets.

It all comes down to self-care. Sometimes getting ill is inevitable no matter how many precautions one can put in place or practice. Self care involves slowing down, resting and taking it easy. Resting is okay. Taking it slower in the winter months is quite normal. After all, we human beings are animals, too. Depending on where our geographic make up stems from some of us really need the heat of the sun where as others are happy to embrace the colder weather.

As a psychologist, I have learned on this wild ride which we will call ‘my journey’ many things. One thing I learned is  to practice what I preach. And, what I like to put in place when I am not feeling up to scratch in terms of my physical health are a few tips that I will share with you right now.

 

  1. Keep warm. If your head, hands and feet are warm you will be able to get through these long winter months with greater ease. Investing in a warm winter coat is helpful as well. Sometimes it is not all about the fashion as it is as much as staying warm.
  2. Drink plenty of fluids. I opt for YOGI tea. At the moment I have an Echinacea tea, Green Chai and Chamomile at my fingertips. One thing that I have done is purchased a mini kettle that I can keep in my room. I don’t have to move from under my blankets when I want a cup of herbal tea.
  3. Invest in a heating blanket. I know that some people may use hot water bottles… go for it! I need to feel heat inside my bones or I will never leave the house. This technique actually give me more energy, but then again I am a person that needs the sun.

 

WHAT ELSE CAN I DO WHEN I DON’T FEEL WELL AND IT’S COLD OUTSIDE? 

4. Up vitamins especially D and B, but don’t forget the omegas!! When the sun doesn’t make an appearance    that often our bodies tend to lose energy. Vitamin D is one vitamin that we need to up in our diet over the cold winter months. This Krill oil with complete D and B vitamins is a sure way to jump start that hidden energy that we all long for during the winter months. I swear by this Krill oil!

5. Practice self-care by taking up exercise. I love swimming and jacuzzi! No, jacuzzi is not an exercise; however, the warm water warms up the old bones and keeps the muscles relaxed.  Hot steam is good to decongest those stuffy noses. You can do this in your very own bathroom. Try getting some Eucalyptus essential oil and put a few drops in your shower before you turn on the hot water. Take three deep breaths in and and slowly exhale. Feel your sinuses getting clearer.

6. Eat lots of veggies! I also eat garlic, onions, and turmeric on a daily basis. Yes, there are no vampires knocking on this front door- but you will never see me missing work or staying in bed all day because I am ill.

7. Keep stress at bay. Taking things slow, breathing, meditating, practicing yoga, reading, watching movies, having a glass of red wine… whatever it is to help relax your mind, your body and your soul will reduce stress. And, when there is a high stress level running through that body… you are more likely to get ill.

8. I believe in red wine. There is something in red wine that is just so medicinal. Sore throat? Have a glass of red. Feeling drained? Have a glass of red. I am not saying down a whole bottle. But, those tannins must have some antioxidants.

9. Mind over matter. ‘I do not get the flu’ I will not get the flu’ ‘I don’t get sick’ … these are mantras you need to tell yourself. Your brain is more powerful than you think!

10. Wash your hands. Simple thing. You touch a door handle in a public place. Wash your hands. You come in from work into the house. Wash your hands. By practicing simple hygiene will reduce how many times you get ill or not.

 

There are so many tips and tricks on how to stay healthy physically during the winter months. Do you have a trick or top tip to share? Do you have something that really works on helping you not get sick over the winter months? Please do share.

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A Day in the Life of a Single Parent

 

I can’t tell you how many times I have been let down this week. Let down by my children’s father, let down by my friends, let down by the men in my life (there may be a few), let down by the government and just people in general. Where do I begin? Just like I prompt my clients. I guess from the beginning.

It isn’t easy being a single parent. It is almost degrading really. Like if you are a single parent you are the lowest of the low. That’s how it feels sometimes. No one wants to help you. You can’t get any childcare as it’s too much pressure or the house is a mess or too chaotic. If you are lucky enough to work the government won’t help you financially. So, you’re on your own there. No help from the government and no financial help from the ex well now that’s a double whammy. But even though life as a single parent has it’s woes there is an upside of it, too. As the great Taoist philosopher Lao Zao would say- take every negative experience, learn from it and turn it into something positive- this is how I live my life. So, when things get me down like- my ex hasn’t given me money in 9 months- instead of holding onto that negativity I say to myself- I have been smashing it for 9 months on my own. I have worked my ass off and supported my children on my own with no help for the past 9 months. How awesome am I? I have taught my kids what a strong, independent, single parent CAN do when she sets her mind to it and focuses.  Shedding the negativity. I don’t need to be in another unhealthy relationship because I think to myself ‘I can’t do it on my own’ because I AM doing it on my own!!  And, I don’t need help doing anything.  That feels amazing and it is very empowering. It’s such a buzz! And, trust me ladies…I still feel sorry for myself sometimes. After all, I am human. But, I do not let those feelings hold me back- at least not for too long.

Life as a single parent. It is not for the faint hearted. It is not for the meek. It is not for the mild. To be a single parent you must be a warrior!

You must get up at 6.30am to take your eldest to high school. It doesn’t matter if you’ve stayed up until midnight drinking wine with your friends, thrown your back out, have had major surgery or have had a dodgy curry and have had diarrhea all night and morning. You are still getting up and taking your child to school. There is no one else. Then when you get back you will brush your teeth because essentially you have just rolled right out of bed to complete the first task of the day. You then take a quick shower. Then you take the two other children to school. First you make a fried egg for your middle child and give her a pep talk as she is going to need it. Because the youngest child will have a full blown tantrum. One that makes the whole family cry even me. She will need to be forced to get dressed, screaming like there is someone pulling her finger nails out with a pair of metal pliers. Then you will have to physically put her in the car and lock her in crying and shouting because well- she’s a kid and doesn’t want to go to school. Your neighbors are watching and thinking ‘oh dear’ or ‘what a lovely morning’ because of course they are British and ignore that you have just literally foot planted your child into the car after dragging her on the cement from the front door. After, throwing her in the car you will verbally threatened her by saying if she doesn’t get in the car you will call the police. And, if she doesn’t go to school we will be homeless living on the streets. Because after all she doesn’t already put enough pressure on herself already. And, where is the ex in all of this? Not around. That is the life of a single parent.

After the kids get dropped off at school- round two- you will get back to the house and finish getting ready for work. Make up and hair. Grab books, computer and pen and shed all the stress that has been endured as you drive to work knowing that you are going to have to pull your shit together because you have to actually use your brain for a living. You will work until closing time. Have to manage after school care and liaise with nanny, friends and school.. all on your own back both physically and financially not to mention emotionally. Emotionally this can be very draining. When you get home dinner will be bought and cooked. Then it’s clean up time! The forever mess that seems to get dirtier the more you clean it so you just say ‘F’ it… and let the cleaning go. Homework time. How was your day? Bath time. Play time. Work some more. Organize the day for tomorrow. Bed time. Hearing the giggling and chatting of the children. Me shouting down ‘girls, go to sleep’ in an attempt of a stern voice, but deep down loving the relationship that they have with one another has every bit to do with me. One more glass of wine from mom. Shower. Read or Netflix… trying to write more. Repeat. That is the life of a single parent.

And if you are a single parent like I am you will understand what I mean. I mean cleaning your house is not a top priority as much as your sanity. Even so, your children’s happiness and their well-being is at the top of this hierarchy. Life as a single parent one does not have a lot of leisure time. But, I am okay with that. Again, my Taoist views remind me… I love cooking. I love creating in the kitchen. I don’t care about mess. I know it’s not forever. And, I love my kids and having them all to myself. They are the most amazing creatures I have ever had the honor knowing and getting to know with their ever changing little personalities. I am so lucky. They make me laugh and smile every day. That is life as a single parent.

Life as a single parent is far from easy. The other day when my car was being clamped because I did not pay £2.50 apparently through the Dartford Tunnel (which ironically I have an account and my bank account showed I did pay, I emailed them to show proof and they did not acknowledge this even though it was written in the bailiff’s notes- wow what a brut he was….they could not help me- I had no options and no one to help- not even a hotline. I do not take this personally because even if you were not a single parent you would have more than likely been screwed here. Take note.) – While he was handing me my fine of £400 I told him I couldn’t afford this right now because I am a single parent his response was ‘WE ALL have children.’ My mouth literally dropped. Words could not express. Well, hell. No words could even come out. Fun fact: No one has children like the single parent has children. It is not the same. Now, I did not even engage with him after that. I told my daughter to come out of the car and called a cab to only deal with him after I got my kids to school. After all, a single mother knows her priorities. Her children always come first. That is the life of a single parent.

Take dating for an example. No one wants to date you because your children will throw tantrums the moment they turn up with flowers in their hand- no wait- we are in Brighton- men don’t do that- do they? No one wants to date single mothers. Why? Well, some men that I have met on my journey can’t stand the competition. Some men that I have met on my journey want to live like Peter Pan for the rest of their life. Other men are too needy and need someone at their beck and call all of the time. Well, that is not me. I am strong and independent. Life as a single parent teaches you that. The only thing we need is our dignity, our strength, our children and well technically.. a good vibrator!

If you ask a single parent out you better have a back bone with good intentions or her children will eat you alive. Can you handle that? Do you have enough guts to deal with that? Well, it’s not even guts you need. Her children will see right through you. Are you smart enough for my mommy? Are you capable of looking after her? us? Children who have one mommy where daddy has let them down will not let just anyone in their life and rightly so. But to be fair gentleman, single moms actually don’t need a man. If you are lucky enough to be invited in know this… they can do everything on their own back. They don’t need you. They want you. Can you handle that? And, if they decide to let you in their life- cherish her. It will be an honor. That is the life of a single parent.

There are so many aspects of the ins and outs of being a single parent. It isn’t easy, but who said life was easy all of the time.

post script: the motivation of this written expression is due to the result of my work at the hospital today. It saddens me that so many women who are raising children on their own are not getting the support that they need. I am aware that the NHS have loads of financial cuts and the schools, too. But, it just doesn’t seem right. I could see the pain in the mothers’ eyes when I ask are you on your own with your children? And, when I speak to mothers on the phone the first thing they say is ‘I have had a difficult start of the day already’ and ‘it’s not getting any better’ and ‘I am on my own.’ I thought that by sharing my experience as a Chartered Counselling Psychologist and as a single parent that others would know that they are never alone and that there is help and support out there. Ask your GP to give you more information on how you can receive support as a single parent. Let’s raise the bar and ask for help. Help that we deserve and need for raising the next generation. #getwellbrighton. 

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to support these single parents who are parenting difficult children on their own. Now, that IS a Superpower. Stay strong out there. www.brightonwellnesscentre.co.uk.

Seeing others succeed can fill us with happiness

Seeing others succeed can fill us with happiness

Depending on what type of person you are, seeing others succeed can bring with it just as much joy and happiness as if you were the person it happened to. I think this is a big part of why certain sports can take over the nation.

When thinking about sports when I was younger, I always dreamt of what it would be like for two things to happen – Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, and England winning the World Cup. One of them has happened, twice, and the country found themselves within touching distance of another. Both of these created huge television viewing figures, and united the country, even just for a short time. But why was that?

It could be that both have not happened in a very long time – we had to wait over 70 years for a British man to win another Wimbledon singles title, and we’re still waiting over 50 years for England to win another World Cup. But when people become invested in these things happening, when they do, or expectations are at least exceeded, it creates a huge sense of pride, delight, and a new found happiness.

With the England (men’s) football team, it was a case of, in my opinion, expectations being well and truly walked over. A semi-final in a World Cup was beyond probably everyone’s expectations, but it made the country, largely, happy. England also had a manager that people believed in again, with a hashtag on twitter and a day named in honour of his fondness for waistcoats. The scenes where goals were scored saw thousands of people scream in elation that the dream could possibly come true.

Seeing other people succeed in our own lives can also bring with that happiness; a family member or a friend, a work colleague, or even a friend of a friend you don’t know very well – hearing about and seeing people succeeding in their goals can only be a good thing, surely? And even if it isn’t, in the long run it can hopefully allow us to all believe in ourselves, and that hard work pays off in the long run.

Sarah Keeping MBPsS MSc PgDip GDip BA (Hons) Follow Sarah on twitter at @keepingapproach

Five Ways to Make Your House Accessible for Your Disabled Child

Unfortunately, today’s society is not geared toward making the lives of those with disabilities easier. Ramps are not as common as they should be. Movies aren’t shown with subtitles often enough. Bathrooms, at the best of times, are hazardous. If your child has a disability, they should not have to face such difficulties at home. There are numerous things you can do to transform your home into the sanctuary your child needs, many within a reasonable budget.

Threshold

Let’s start with the beginning, when your child will be entering the home. If your child uses a wheelchair, forearm crutches, a cane, or any implement to help movement, stairs are a nightmare. According to Angie’s List, “A threshold ramp in a doorway could cost as little as $100, but larger ramps, depending on material and size, can cost $1,000 to $15,000.” A hundred dollars is a completely affordable way to help your child navigate in and out of the home while maintaining independence.

The Bathroom

The restroom is possibly the most difficult room of the home to navigate when you have limited mobility. You need to consider access to the sink, the toilet, and the tub/shower, and you need to be sure your child has room to maneuver easily. You may need to expand the doorway so your child can comfortably access the room alone. Depending on what machinery your child uses, you also might need to raise or lower the sink. You can add grab bars and handrails for your child to be able to easily use the toilet and the bathtub, or you can opt for a door-access tub or a wheelchair-friendly shower.

Flooring

You will have to consider every room your child is going to access. If you currently have flooring that is not smooth, that can bunch, has gaps or is porous, moving about the home is going to be difficult, and potentially dangerous, for your child. It needs to be durable and slip resistant to help your child. If your child uses a wheelchair, then it will require extra resilience, as the wheels may cause deterioration or grooves in the surface over time.

The Kitchen

If your child is young, it may seem easier to simply make sure the kitchen is off-limits for their own protection. But, as your child ages, it may become important to them to have access to the kitchen, such as to get a snack, a drink, or make themselves a meal. If you can aid their independence, you should strive to do so. Again, you will need to make sure pathways are wide enough for your child to easily navigate. Like with the bathroom, you might consider adjusting the height of the sink to be at the level your child can best access. It is often easier to use a sliding cabinet door than one that pulls open, simply because the open door may force the user to move to make room for it. Make sure your counter-tops do not have dangerous edges, as they can easily cause injury.

Stairways

If you live in a two-story home, it will be imperative to render the staircase manageable for your child. Depending on mobility, handrails on both sides of the stairs may be beneficial. If there is carpet, ensure that it is properly tucked and stapled down to minimize the risk of trips and falls. Non-slip adhesive can be applied to further aid stability. If your child has a wheelchair, you should consider installing a stair lift, as doing so is much more reasonably priced than installing an elevator.

The world is not made to accommodate disabilities, but that doesn’t mean our homes can’t be fitted to help those with disabilities flourish. Times are changing, but it remains a slow process. You can help your child feel at home, safe and encourage their independence by making your house into the sanctuary it should be.

If you could plan life exactly how you would want it- would you?

I wish you could plan life, I really do, but it’s simply not possible. If you remember what you wanted to do and how you felt two, five, even ten years ago, I bet it would be very different from how you feel now. That is why it’s not possible. I am talking about the big things though, not things like where you’re going on holiday next summer.

Life happens. You meet people, get given opportunities, and find out things you never knew before. All of these impact on the interests, priorities, and ultimately the choices we make which then influence what happens in our life. And then there’s aspects of life that can be out of our control, such as our health and other people’s actions.

Even the most organised of people can’t predict the future. This is unfortunate, but perhaps also exciting. Wouldn’t it be dull to know exactly what was going to happen? How would people be able to daydream about what their future would be like and hope that things will be a certain way? Being able to plan such things would make life very tedious and unable to be changed. What a boring life that would be.

*Sarah Keeping is currently undertaking a Counselling Skills course in London and is looking to change her professional subject area to Counselling Psychology. Previous qualifications are in Investigative Psychology, Psychology, Applied Criminology, and Criminology and Sociology. Follow Sarah on twitter at @SKeeping_Psych

Changing for the better

I’ve recently been thinking about how much you have to put up with before you say enough is enough. There are so many areas of life this can be applied to; work, friendships, relationships to name a few, but how long can you put up with things you don’t like just to not ‘rock the boat’?

Friendships, for example, can change massively over a life span. Not many people are the same person at the age of 18 as they are at 50. And what if your friends go through life at a different pace? If they’re buying houses, getting married and having children and you are not, how difficult is it to maintain a sense of compatibility when it was once all of you going through driving tests, exams and university together?

Of course, it depends on how a person reacts to this. If someone doesn’t mind seeing their peers go through all these life changes then great, but what about if they start to treat you differently, or think about you in a different way because you can’t understand what it’s like for them? How far down the road does this have to go before there has to be an inevitable crossroads where you look at a relationship and wonder if it is worth the anguish? Do you just find different people that understand you? Probably not…but perhaps.

*Sarah Keeping is currently undertaking a Counselling Skills course in London and is looking to change her professional subject area to Counselling Psychology. Previous qualifications are in Investigative Psychology, Psychology, Applied Criminology, and Criminology and Sociology. Follow Sarah on twitter at @SKeeping_Psych