6 Minutes.

I suppose when you put your mind to it, in the space of 6 minutes you can do quite a bit.  For example

  • Do 15 push ups
  • Write a letter to a friend/family member
  • Make your bed
  • Enjoy a cup of tea/coffee
  • Put the laundry on
  • Meditation

A lot of other things can happen in the space of 6 minutes too.  Sometimes that time goes by ever so fast, sometimes though it seems to drip by slowly.  The most fascinating times is when two people are sharing this time and both experience two completely different things.  Two separate things that were learnt from this time, both just as important and relevant as each other. 

So for this blog I have enlisted the help of Ayse. Ayse is a solution focused therapist from London specialising in domestic abuse recovery.

The reason being is quite simply because I made Ayse wait that 6 minutes.

I didn’t know it at the time, I wasn’t timing it (she was) but to me that 6 minutes didn’t feel that long.  For me 6 minutes was something else, and for us that 6 minutes gets referred back to time and time again. 

Ayse, what was it that made you stay silent and wait for me to reply to your question in that day?

When I initially called you to book in our first session you said, ‘What’s the point? No one ever listens to me. People make up their own minds like I don’t have a voice’. I wanted to support you in finding your voice. I wanted you to know that you matter. 

For me It didn’t feel that long to me, to be honest it literally seemed like 1 or 2 minutes because I couldn’t think of what to say.  I remember having a million different answers in my head, so it wasn’t really not knowing what to say, but not knowing how to say it.  I was desperate to respond with ‘I don’t know.’

Ayse, did you know that when I look back now I have so much respect for you waiting that length of time, just sitting there waiting for me to answer.

What difference did it make you having been giving time to think without being rushed?

This is a good question, to be given the time to think, and allowed to answer in my own time meant I was able to process my own thoughts.  At the time my thoughts were so jumbled it was always easy to respond with ‘I don’t know’ or ‘it doesn’t matter’ because to me that was simply how it felt.  However, sitting there being given the time on that day planted the seed, which has then slowly grown into trust.

What difference did those 6 minutes make to you and your practice?

It taught me patience!! I am not the most patient person but it was not about me. It was about you. My practice has changed significantly since then. I invite clients to ‘think’ and not have the assumption that they have the answers, they just need the space to think. 

I had spent so long not being able to answer with the words that I had wanted to, being able to have that opportunity was scary.  I couldn’t understand why it was important for someone to want to know what it was I wanted to say.  Let alone what I was thinking and feeling.  I had gotten used to saying what other people wanted to hear.  This was unknown territory to me.  This initial conversation was an eye opener that’s for sure.

So what was it that sparked this long wait?  What was it that I was asked?

The question was a follow up question. My initial question was, ‘What are your best hopes?” It took a few minutes for you to answer, but you did. The actual question I asked that resulted in me waiting six minutes was, “Imagine your best hopes were met, what difference might that make to you?” You rolled your eyes a few times and changed your seating position. Not because you were upset by the question but because you allowed yourself time to think of the answer. I had no idea what was going on in your head but I could see you were working hard. I was not going to interrupt your thought. Then there was a eureka moment. You hesitated by shared your thoughts with me. You described what life would might look like for you once you met your best hopes.

Best hopes, this was the hardest question ever, although now this is one my favourite questions to be asked, because I always have best hopes, in every day.  Out of every conversation, out of every situation.  Sometimes even if that is just to be heard.

Now writing this, looking back it is easier to reflect on that moment.  This is because I am so much further along in my own journey.  Over a year further along.  There have been many moments when I have sat in silence following being asked questions, for a multitude of reasons.  The feeling of being allowed to have a voice, an opinion is one thing.  The understanding that it your voice is wanted, and respected, and liked is something different altogether.

There are many more people who cannot be heard.  Or feel that being heard is not important.  Part of this is being able to learn that you are important, and your voice is important.  In many different aspects.

Being heard by yourself is just as valuable as being heard by others.  This is something that Ayse has helped me with on may occasions.  Hearing yourself, and what you are telling yourself that you need.  That little voice in your head.  You know the one, the one that tells you that you need a break, that you need to take it easy for the day.  That you just need to slow down or take some time out.  When you need to remember the things that ground you, the breathing, the colouring, the crafts, the writing.  Voicing the times that you have managed to do things that you are proud of.  Even if it is going into a coffee shop and ordering a coffee, making that phone call which you know will be answered by a total stranger.  Small steps lead onto greater leaps at some point when you are ready. 

If you have never experienced a period of time where you aren’t able to be heard, or to speak out.  Try for a short time, take 6 minutes; and watch the world go by.  Listening to your own voice in your head with all the things that you are wanting to say, but not able to speak them.  Feel the frustrations, the torment, just for that short moment, so that next time you are speaking with someone, and you notice that they are finding it hard to figure out the words you may understand and some of the frustrations they are experiencing.

Ayse is taking this one very large step further, and is staying silent for much longer. In order to feel what it is like to be a victim of domestic abuse, this may only give her a snippet of what it is like but it is an experience every time she does this. (she has no idea I am writing this by the way guys) Ayse spends her days listening to others, listening to how other people experience days, weeks, months where they spend their lives not being able to have a voice, or be heard. So for a day or two Ayse goes quiet, and listens to the conversation around her, not being able to speak, watching the world carry on around her, and not being able to do anything about it; let alone have a say in what is happening around her. I mentioned above about you trying it for 6 minutes. This year Ayse is being silent for the 6th and 7th September, all monies raised will be going to the charity Family Based Solutions to keep supporting families where they are recovering from domestic abuse. The donation page can be found here Two Days Silence – Online Social Fundraising Donation Platform | Givey and if you want to learn more about Family Based Solutions then check out their website here Child to parent abuse adolescent Parent support groups (familybasedsolutions.org.uk)

Just as an added note, if you’re wondering how long 6 minutes is, if you read at an average pace, this blog post should take you about 6 minutes to read.

A little something to think about.

Letters of Hope – To My Fighting Butterfly.

To my butterfly who is fighting,

I see you fighting. When you wake up in the morning wash those dried tears from the night before.

I see you fighting. As you prepare yourself for the day ahead, gathering every ounce of energy you have just to get yourself ready to face the world.

I see you fighting. When you smile through the heartache, push through that headache, and force that meal down just to get you through the hours.

I see you fighting. As you courageously walk away from the conversations that are bringing back memories that continue to haunt you both through the night and day, so not to draw attention to yourself.

I see you fighting. As you bravely stand there and bare your soul in the bid to become that little bit stronger, that little bit tougher, that little bit happier within yourself.

I see you fighting. With every letter, email, or phone call you receive telling you that despite everything, this nightmare just isn’t over yet. That there is yet another hurdle to jump over, there is yet another end date in sight.

I see you fighting. Day after day to cling on, to whatever you can to be sure that whatever the day throws at you, you always have hope. Hope that it can and will get better. Hope that there will be a day in the future when clinging on won’t be so exhausting. Hope that your smile will return soon and this time it will be for good.

I see you fighting. When you finally sit down on your bed and take off your mask. When you can relax your shoulders and allow the muscles to relax a little bit more. The fight to remain strong enough to get through the day has finally been won.

I hear you fighting. Speaking the truth, though your voice is shaking, the fear is there yet you fight on. The strength you show to get yourself heard despite having a world against you is immense. You are winning.

I see you fighting. At the end of the day when you close your door and the tears a finally free to fall. I am with you when you when they just won’t stop. There to hold you, to stop you falling, to keep you feeling safe. To hear your thoughts and let you know that you are doing so good. The fight your are putting up is a hard one but you really are the best person for it, you are winning, and when you don’t think you are, that is when you’re furthest ahead.

So, to my fighting butterfly, I send you this. Your wings are getting stronger with every battle, when they feel heavy it’s ok to rest them. The time will come when all the fighting will mean you’re ready to fly high, to show the world the beauty in those wings. Never give up fighting because you always have someone right beside you, seeing your strength, hearing your worries, holding on to hope with you.

I believe in you,

Butterflies With Rainbows.

Believe in yourself and have hope.

Control.

What does this word mean to you? 

To be geeky about this specific word it has multiple meanings, why? Well as a noun it can mean that someone or something has the power to influence or direct the direction of events or even behaviour.  It can also mean to have a ‘control’ level to measure something against.  As a verb the word ‘control’ can be used to describe the behaviour of an individual in the supervising or running of something, or managing a situation. 

What else can it mean though? 

With personal experiences that we all have, one word can take on several different meanings based on memories, or events that have happened.  When I began writing this I had one thing in mind, but I wanted to see what the actual definitions were.  I was actually surprised when researching (yes I actually do research when I write these out) that every definition of the word ‘control’ was written in a positive light.  All the examples were of senior managers being in their roles, or large events taking place, organisers having to organise multiple things at the same time. 

Is it possible that ‘control’ is only used for good?  Now we all know that isn’t true.  There are many historical tales of dictatorship who have overused their power of control to the disadvantage of others.  So why do all the definitions depict positives?  

It was only when I started to look deeper and search for personal definitions of control I found what I feel is the truth.  What people really feel is the true meaning of control, how it can affect individuals, groups, families, and communities.  As I said, I had one type of ‘control’ in mind, this is due to experience, but I’m aware there are many others.  My own journey of control has changed, evolved.  The biggest thing being is I can now say the word, write it down, and talk about it.  

So what was it about that one single word that created a ripple effect through my entire world and for a long period of time effectively left me with no control at all? 

There was a time (and still occasionally now) when I could never say no.  I would find it impossible to explain that I wouldn’t have time to do something, or that I needed some help.  It was just something that couldn’t be done.  In my head, at the time it was something that shouldn’t be said or done.  I had always been surrounded by people who told me that I needed to do as I was told.  That no was never an option, and that asking for help was pathetic and weak.  So that was my mindset, I didn’t know any different.  To me that was the right thing to do and the only way to react, so I never thought much of it. 

At some point this completely took over, and me being the person who couldn’t say no, became the person who was afraid to say no.  The person who couldn’t make a decision for the fear of it being wrong.  I was a shell, a shadow of the person I once was and I hadn’t noticed.  I had become this person who was so focused on pleasing one individual all the time I had forgotten about everyone else, including myself.  I had become so tired with having to remember everything, that I wasn’t even noticing that the very things in front of me were getting damaged.  Family, friends, work, everything was becoming different.  

Now this wasn’t a quick process, this was a slow, painfully long journey.  It took a really long time and many tears, conversations with friends, even some arguments with them before I realised that this was also a form of control.  It took much longer before I eventually believed them too.  Up until that point I had only ever heard of the term Coercive Control in training or on awareness posters. It wasn’t something I had ever thought I would see, or experience.  At the time I didn’t see it, or believe it.  To this day I still sometimes think it was all a horrid nightmare, or someone else’s life, until reality hits. 

So what is it about this sort of control that makes it go unnoticed for so long? And why doesn’t it show up so easily under the definitions for the word? 

It isn’t instant, it is one of those things that chips away at someone piece by piece.  Slowly eroding away your character, your personality until you are no longer aware of who you’re staring at in the reflection of the mirror anymore.  The voice of doubt and criticism moves in and through this drip feeding it grows up, intertwining itself into your thought processes, disabling any possibility of being able to escape from it.  Igniting the anxiety and fear that we all have at time to time, leaving it burning at all times of day and night.  This leaving a different person to effectively control your thoughts, emotions, actions, feelings, beliefs, and ultimately, life.

Why isn’t this there in the forefront of definitions of control? Why are the impressive definitions always put first?  Well, lets be honest here.  Who wants to read or hear about all the negatives when you can learn about the successes of being in control?  There are positives, in moderation.  One lesson I have been learning is that not all control is bad.  Having to manage and control your own actions, thoughts and behaviours is a huge strength.  There are always going to be some elements of management and control in situations that you need to be able to take hold of.  This doesn’t need to be seen in a negative light, it is hard, and is very much like a yoyo at times.  One minute will be absolutely textbook, calm and impressive looking, the next minute it is like everything that has been learnt has been vacuumed out of my head, my voice has gone and the only two letters I can muster is OK.  Guess what?  That’s OK.

I can’t help but wonder though, if from the very beginning the knowledge was there, the understanding was there, and awareness was there, would I have experienced what I had?  But then would I be asking the questions I am now?  Welcome to the rollercoaster of recovery! 

Sugar coating everything so it always looks ‘normal’ doesn’t benefit anyone.  Only teaching the positives can blindsight so many individuals, however making it hard to find the alternative information can also be hard.  If you don’t know you’re experiencing coercive control, and you don’t know it is a form of domestic abuse you wouldn’t know to seek advice from the correct places.  You wouldn’t know where to look, what to be describing, because it is ‘your normal’ so why would you? 

Do you think there should be more awareness around coercive control, and the effect this has not only on other adults, but families, relationships, friendships, and life in general?  If there was more information around, and it was more accessible, not just to those who are aware this is classed as domestic abuse do you think there would be more people coming forward, more people willing to talk? 

Lastly, if you know something just ‘isn’t right’ but you aren’t sure what it is. Why would you search on a domestic abuse website for the definition of Coercive Control? That feeling of it ‘not being right’ can sometimes be the first inkling, so what can we do about it?

I have been slowly working at coming to terms of all that I have experienced, I can not say that if I could turn back time I would do things differently, because if I did I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t have the experiences to share, I wouldn’t have the motivation to help and support those around me. I wouldn’t even know if this site would exist. I am not glad to have gone through all I have, but it is part of my journey and it is what I make of it now. There is support out there, and if anyone has questions, comments, or anything I am happy to respond. My contact me page has all my details on.

Mothers Love

Sometimes we question ourselves as a parent, that’s ok.  Why we do this could be for a number of reasons, each just as important as the other.  Every one of us has a story, has an experience, has a tale to tell.  Here is one part of one story.  One snippet in a big world.  The moral of the story?  Have a read and see if you can find it.  It may well be different for everyone. 

You are an amazing little human being.  Lifting the mood in any room you bound into, with that smile, big brown eyes and long eyelashes that every female is instantly jealous of from the moment they meet you. 

However, I’m your mummy and I’m finding it the hardest job of all.  I shouldn’t do, it should be easy, it should all come so naturally, so where is it? Where is this mother’s instinct? 

Was it ever there?  From the moment you were born and whisked away to the intensive care unit the dread set it.  Was I ever going to actually be your mummy? That whole week of doubt followed, the guilt of visiting you, of holding you, of leaving you, that when the day came that I was able to bring you home the joy was overtaken by every other emotion possible. 

Fear that I couldn’t love you, worry that you’d get sick, guilt that you’d feel left out, and panic that I just wasn’t going to be good enough. All of them stacking themselves on top of each other like a huge game of Jenga, as soon as one hurdle was beaten it just jumped to the top making the stack even higher.

“Sometimes it ends in hugs and tears, sometimes it ends in laughter and smiles.”

@butterflieswithrainbows

You were and still are my rainbow, I was never going to let that stack of negativity win though.  You started to grow, you became so infectious with love and laughter that despite that stack of blocks your smile and giggles were breaking through it.  Against all the odds, a season ticket in a hospital bed, and teaching me what worry really felt like you continued to not only grow, but you thrived.  You loved, you shared love and you cared.  

Then just like you were whisked away at the very beginning, you were gone again.  Only this time I didn’t know where you were.  Not to begin with.  I knew you were sad, and I couldn’t do anything about it.  I had to learn to trust the people who were looking after you to do it ‘right’ because after all you were still mine.  It hurt, so much more than the first time.  

I had spent the first two years of your life fighting to be your mum, begging to look after you, to read to you, to play games with you, and every fight I had lost.  You were this small baby who never spoke, but always smiled for me.  Who wouldn’t walk but always hugged.  Who loved a bottle and dummy, despite my best efforts to get you off them.  In the space on one day, you were gone. 

The silence was deafening, the endless echoes and emptiness around me resonated through every night.  It never got easier, over time the tears stopped, but the pain remained.  Can you imagine hurting every night and not being able to stop it?  This did come to an end, sort of.  After 444 nights the time came when I was allowed to be that mum again, and read that story, tuck the blankets in and give that kiss goodnight.

Happily ever after right? 

Wrong.

The baby that was whisked away all those days ago was no more.  I now had a child, who looked completely different.  Who spoke all of a sudden.  Who walked around, who asked questions, who had an opinion, who had likes and dislikes.  This child didn’t have the bottles and dummies that they left with, there was no more rocking them to sleep.  There weren’t even anymore nappies!  How was it possible for someone to change so much in 444 days?

How can I be a mum to a stranger? How do I do this? Can I do this?  Should I be doing this? What if I can’t do this? 

These were only a few of the questions that swamped my head and still do.  You see I got this little human being back after so long it was like being handed a rather large new baby. Only without the sleepless nights and 2 hourly feeds. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.  I didn’t know how to start a conversation with you, to spark laughter, to brighten that smile with you.  I knew I had to learn, and I had to learn fast.

Learning all about you from strangers is one the weirdest things ever.  To admit I didn’t know what time you go to bed, or wake up is enough to torment me emotionally, when the truth is I hadn’t been there to learn them so of course I wouldn’t know these things.  To admit I needed to be taught all the ‘mum’ information just so I could meet your basics needs is embarrassing.  To admit defeat when I just can’t calm you down, when I can’t stop your tears from falling, when the only thing I can do is cry with you, hold you and hope someone tells me what to do. 

Yet there are times when I see you for the amazing child you now are.  Seeing all the new things you’ve learnt, and I now get to enjoy for the first time.  Watching you ride your trike, seeing your confidence grow as you learn to jump and climb.  Enjoying your smiles and laughter as we make a mess trying to bake cookies and cupcakes.  For the first time I’ve been able to read you stories, play games with you, and enjoy your company. There have been so many happy moments with you, proud moments, not to mention surprising moments.  These moments will stay with me, these moments are what will make me your mummy.  

One day I won’t have to try quite so hard, plan for so long, or ask for quite so much help. I’m not sure when that day will be.  In the meantime, we continue to take each little thing together.  Sometimes it ends in hugs and tears, sometimes it ends in laughter and smiles. There may be more times I need to ask for help, but that mother’s love is there, it always has been.  In amongst the chaos every mum has that mother’s instinct, with some hope and some belief it shows through.  The more you feed it the more it’ll grow, the key is to feed it with the right things.  What do you feed your Hope with? 

“I was allowed to be that mum again, and read that story, tuck the blankets in and give that kiss goodnight.”

@butterflieswithrainbows

Getting your child back from foster care is just as traumatic (in my opinion) as losing them into the system.  Listening to them asking to go ‘home’ when they are already home is heart-breaking, only you can’t show that.  You need to keep that strong face, that calm exterior which accepts that is ok.  You cover it all up by giving another big hug and kiss and simply saying ‘I love you so much’ in the hope that one day it’ll be believed. The day will come, the days do get better and brighter. The day will come when you can hear the word ‘mummy’ and you can respond without second guessing yourself, without stopping before you respond because you forget that it is you who mummy is.  Hold on to every little piece of hope and watch it grow along with your little ones. 

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Letters of Hope – To The Mum Who Feels Like She’s Just Lost It All.

Remembering that sudden feeling of emptiness and loss, and knowing that families are still experiencing this now is horrid. There is so much I know now that I wish I had known at that time to get me through those first few weeks. It wouldn’t have made it hurt less, but knowing someone else knew what it felt like may have made a massive difference.

Dear the mum that feels she has just lost everything.

I am here for you. You are not on your own now, and you will never be on your own. I understand that you may feel like the whole world is against you at the moment. That no one is listening to you, and no one understands you. I hear your tears as they fall down your cheeks and soak into your pillow, as you lay there wondering what the point is in every passing minute. All I am asking of you at the moment though is to just keep breathing.

If you can do that, you are already managing something truly amazing. You are already keeping yourself going and preparing yourself for the journey ahead. The one you have not started to think about. Or maybe you have. The one where you have your goal in sight, when what you lost is ready to come back to you. For you to feel complete again, to feel stronger than you ever have before. It is possible, just keep breathing ok.

I know that the thought of moving, or having anything to drink is just too much at the moment, but what strength could you muster up if you don’t do these things? If you lay there and think about this for just a couple of minutes while we breathe together.

Do you think you can carry on reading? Just for a little bit longer? There are some things that I want to share with you. The fight you have ahead of you is going to be hard, but you can do this. You have it in you, I believe that whole heartedly. Why? Because I never thought I could do it, then I realised that there was someone that believed in me. Having someone beside you every step of the way will give you guidance, strength and help you hold onto hope. Every step you take, and they won’t always be forwards, sometimes they are backwards, or they can even be to the side of that is what helps at the time, will be a step. That is what will be important. Even on the days like today, always take a step if you can, they will get easier. You don’t have to walk this path alone.

How do you feel now you have had a cry? Did it help? When you wipe those tears which keep falling, remember to never hide them. It’s ok to cry, they aren’t a sign of weakness, but everyone overflows sometimes with emotions. It really is better to let them fall and wipe them, than flood yourself with them instead. You don’t have to cry on your own.

Every moment you have from now on that fills you with a small amount of happiness, that makes you smile, that gives you hope (and these moments will happen). These are going to be what you will need to remember, to fuel the coming days or weeks. That hope, it’ll grow the more you feed it, the more light you shine on it. As you get stronger you won’t have to remind yourself as often. You aren’t alone.

Have you managed to continue with those breaths? If so, I’m so proud of you, if not, I’m proud of you for trying. It can be tough to regulate those lungs when upset can’t it.

Any ideas for what you’re going to do now? I’m grabbing some water, you want to grab one too? Great.

No matter what, one step, one minute, one day, you are strong and I believe in you. The world may feel like it’s crumbled, but maybe you’ve outgrown the world you had and are now creating a new one.

Always with you

Butterflies with Rainbows

Meeting with Compassionate Counselling UK, The wonderful Heather.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Heather.  We had an amazing conversation about her role as a counsellor.  Heather is the first person I have spoken to who has a professional qualification and is running a page to help spread some hope and inspire others.  As you will see we had some common interests and discovered a shared love of books! 
Heather has an amazing page full of useful information and can also direct you to her professional services if needed.  All of her details are available over on her page Compassionate_counselling_uk on Instagram.
Heather specialises in counselling which is person-centred, so it is focused all on you, and she goes on to explain more about this as we spoke.   Hope you enjoy reading our little chat, and please feel free to pop on over to her page to check out the content she is sharing. 

Hi, and welcome.  I think I explained previously why I was writing these blogs; did you have any questions before hand?

No, I don’t think so, I’m just grateful for the opportunity:)

I am grateful that you have given me your time, so thank you.

I have a few questions which I would like to ask, but it’s really just a bit of a chat, to get to know you, how you came about starting your page, and what your hopes are for the future is that ok?

Yes of course.

So, I know from your about me post you are a person-centred counsellor. How did you come about going into this field? What was it that drew you to this?

Well, I have always struggled with anxiety and during school my mental health gradually got worse. I was bullied a lot and lost a few close family members suddenly so it all took its toll I suppose you could say. I was diagnosed with depression and panic disorder and I used to self-harm, so I have been through a lot over the years. I have also seen a fair few counsellors in that time, and I didn’t feel the right connection with them, and I didn’t feel supported to be perfectly honest. So, I wanted to go into counselling to help and support people who are struggling, because I have been there too, and I know how much of a difference feeling listened to and supported can make. I wanted to be there for people and give them a different experience than I had.

The focus is on the working relationship between client and counsellor in person centred counselling, this is one of the main reasons why I decided to train in this field. Being able to be there and work with the client to help them to help themselves is very rewarding.

I like that you were able to take your own experience, despite it not being the most positive and turn it round to promote your own strengths.

As a result, you are where you are today, and that is amazing.

Thank you, I just wanted to be able to be that support for other people.

How long have you been a counsellor for?

I did 7 years of training, which included both a psychology degree and 2 counselling diplomas. I qualified fully in 2019 but I have been a volunteer counsellor whilst I have been training for the past 3 years now. I decided to try to set up my own private practice earlier this year.

I also used to be a volunteer counsellor for ChildLine which I loved.

That is a long training programme, and a lot of commitment. It definitely shows your passion for the role.

Yes, I am deeply passionate about counselling and raising awareness of mental health.

What was it that made you decide to start up your Instagram page?

Well, I had been thinking about it for a while as I was thinking about starting up my own private practice. Since I had a lot of free time during lockdown (as lots of people did!) I decided, with some encouragement from my sister, to do it and set up my Instagram page.

I wanted to promote mental health awareness, show people that it is ok to not be ok and that there is hope out there. As well as promote my private practice.

Your sister sounds like a good support.

Yes, she is, I do have a lot of support around me.

“Being able to be there and work with the client to help them to help themselves is very rewarding.”

@Compassionate_Counselling_UK

Since you have had your page going, have your views, or practices changed in anyway?

My practice is constantly developing and growing I would say, rather than changing. It is important to keep learning and keep developing yourself as a person as well as a counsellor.

I have learnt a lot from other counsellors and mental health pages on here, there are so many!

Yes, there are, it is amazing how many pages there are with experiences, and knowledge here.

Have there been any standout moments for you in your career that you can share?

I have been fortunate to work with lots of different people who have had a wide range of mental health problems but mostly I have worked with people suffering from anxiety. I had a client previously who was a single parent and was suffering with anxiety due to a past abusive relationship. I worked with her for a good few months, but her progress was inspiring, she was inspiring!

Hearing success stories is soooo nice.

I will never forget working with her, she wanted the support, she wanted to change, and she did it for herself and her child and she “found herself again”.

That is amazing,

Yes, I was so grateful to be a part of her journey.

I was going to ask what is it that keeps you motivated, but I feel like that is probably your answer.

Yes, definitely my clients are my motivation. I just want to be able to continue to support people through counselling for as long as I can.

That’s a rather good motivation.

I think so too 🙂

If you have the motivation to keep going, and you enjoy it then that’s an amazing recipe for success.

“I want to spread more awareness of mental health and the message that there is always hope.”

@Compassionate_Counselling_UK

So, with your work, keeping your page up to date and active, how do you keep yourself balanced? After all it is all important, and so is your own mental health. So, what do you do to keep yourself grounded?

Oh, good question! For me, yoga really helps to keep my mind clear and focused. It helps me to destress.

I also try to get outside when I can for walks in nature, it helps even more when the sun is out, but as we know in the UK that isn’t always the case 🙂

I am also a book lover! Reading helps my mental health a lot actually, I love the escapism they bring.

Getting outside is great when we can.

oohhhh what are you reading at the moment?

I have just finished reading a book called “The Golden Sea” which is book 2 of a series called The Mapmaking Magicians by Emma Sterner-Radley. I am currently reading “Inhibited” which is a complex fantasy by Cerynn McCain.

I am a very eclectic reader.

ooohhh I’ve not read those; I may need to do some research. (when i have finished my course)
I love reading and writing so I read literally anything.

Me too, my bookshelves are jam packed with books I still need to read, but i am always buying more!

Same here, I have an e-reader, but it is not the same as an actual book.

Oh no I completely agree! Although I do read some books on my phone through apple books, nothing beats the real thing 🙂

lol definitely. Literally the sofa, blanket, book, I am sorted. My kids can leave me there for hours.

I just need to get them to read, I have one reader so far. I guess it’s better than none.

You can do it! It is just a question of finding the right book! 🙂

Yes, I agree

“I want to show people that it is ok to not be ok and that there is hope out there.”

@Compassionate_Counselling_UK

I have a final couple of questions for you if that ok, then I will let you get on with your day.

Unfortunately, they are not about books or reading.

That can be for our next conversation.

What a great idea!

What are your best hopes for your page and even your having your own practice? For the future

My hopes are to be able to reach more people who are in need of counselling and mental health support. I want to spread more awareness of mental health and the message that there is always hope. I would also like my page to keep growing and for people to enjoy my posts.

I would like to keep learning, growing, and developing myself and my practice as well.

I love that, it is hard to get the support, and the fact that you want to be able to provide that support and make it reachable is amazing.

Literally would like nothing more.

And finally,

what key message would you want all the readers to hold on too?

That there is always hope and support out there, it is just about holding on and finding it. You are loved, you are cared about, you are not alone ❤️

I love that. Thank you.

I do not have any other questions for you.

you are freeeeeeeeeeeee.

Thank you so much for inviting me for this chat.

Amazing.

I think a book talk definitely needs to happen!

And yes, a book talk most definitely has to be arranged.

Thank you so much x.

So, a massive thank you to Heather for sharing some inside information on herself and showing us the importance of having some down time, and also that we all have a story.  Our own story doesn’t have to define us, it can build us and give us strength to help others and develop us in ways that at times we not imagine.  Watch out for some joint book reviews, as I have a feeling, they may be coming this way soon, now we have discovered a shared love of books, I can’t help but wonder what the vast array of genres spread across our bookshelves, I am very much looking forward to that conversation.  Don’t forget Compassionate_counselling_uk is only on Instagram, you can click on the link anywhere in this post or from my page.  Thank you for reading.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Meet Kate, AKA Creature_of_Kindness.

On the 7th April I had the amazing pleasure of talking with Kate.  Kate is the face and voice behind Creature_of_kindness on Instagram.  We got talking about lots of different things, including managing our own mental health, while juggling studies and work.  Kate has a passion for helping, and to spread kindness to all.  As well as managing this page using her own experiences, she also has been studying law and working.  I was so impressed at how Kate finds time for it all, plus finding time to have a chat with me, but she did and here is how it went.

First things first, when did you start your page? and how did you decide the name for it?

I started on the 13th of January this year. The name was probably the hardest part, especially to find something that’s not already in use. Creature of kindness just popped into my head and because my ethos being the page was really to spread a bit of kindness it just felt right.

I love the name, and that it feels right means it encourages motivation as well.

Thank you!

What was it that made you decide to start your page?

Honestly, it was quite spontaneous. I’d been thinking about doing something to keep me occupied during the third lockdown and it was actually my boyfriend that suggested making an Instagram page to share some of my experiences and lessons I’ve learned. After a few days of thinking about it I just decided to go for it. I guess it was kind of a gut feeling telling me to just go for it.

That is amazing.  Your page has grown a lot since January, what is it that keeps you motivated?

“I’d love to continue to make posts and build my page so that I can reach more people and spread some love and kindness.”

@Creature_of_Kindness

The growth of the page has been so unexpected and I’m so grateful for all the support and positive feedback I’ve received for it. I have connected with some amazing people and pages on here and getting to know their stories has been incredible. I also find it quite therapeutic for me to share some of my experiences and thoughts and if it helps even one person or I can make someone smile then it makes it all worth it.  Meeting with others and getting to know their stories has been a highlight for me as well, I have to admit.

Other than the sharing of experiences, what have you been pleased to see with your page? is there anything that stands out to you?

I love seeing so many people dedicated to ending the stigma around mental health and promoting a world where everyone is kinder to themselves and others. Especially during lockdown after what has been an incredibly tough year for everyone, it’s restored some of my faith in the world.

It is so nice to see, and you are playing a massive part in that as well with your input too.

Thank you, and likewise with your page!

Thank you.  So, with the concept of your page being about promoting positive mental health, how do you manage on days which are difficult? we all have them after all,

I have found that deep breathing and grounding techniques work really well for me when I’m feeling particularly stressed or anxious. I’ve also been working hard on shifting my mindset and looking at things in a more realistic and helpful way, instead of listening to my anxious or negative thoughts. I also try and be proactive about my mental health and set myself up on the good days, so I’m better equipped to handle the bad ones.

That is really useful, and great that you have learnt what helps you.  What are your best hopes for your page in the future? where would you like to see it going in the future?

Honestly when I started the page I never even imagined getting this far! I’d love to continue to make posts and build my page so that I can reach more people and spread some love and kindness. I’d love to collaborate more with other creators too.

That sounds like a great hope. collaborating with others is brilliant to help build stronger messages and spread awareness I find. how about you?

Yes definitely! Especially teaming up with someone who has a different experience or maybe knows more about a particular subject than me so we can share knowledge.

Definitely, sharing knowledge and experiences is so valuable.  I was wondering, is your page your full-time role?

I’ve actually been doing it alongside university, but I finished uni last week so I’m going to have a bit more time to spend on it until I go back to work.

oh yes, I remember you said you were studying.

So, I’ve just finished studying law and my hope is to go into criminal law (a bit of a contrast from this page which may surprise people.

That sounds sooooooo interesting.  Thank you so much for talking with me,

Lovely, thanks so much! I really appreciate you writing this about my page.

It has been so nice getting to know you, and more about your page. I am excited to write this up.

“I love seeing so many people dedicated to ending the stigma around mental health and promoting a world where everyone is kinder to themselves and others”

@Creature_of_kindness

So Kate has a page full of inspiration, hope, and empowerment.  You can take a look at her account here on Creature_of_kindness.  You will find some self-care tips, along with some helpful words on mental wellbeing.  I am so excited for the future of this page, and what posts are to come.  I hope that you can all gain some strength from this page as I have done.

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Meeting with ‘a_ray_of_positivity’

I had the amazing pleasure of meeting with the person behind a_ray_of_positivity the other week.  She is a teacher, of the little cute reception children.  Definitely not something that I could so but how amazing is she?  In amongst all the time keeping little hands and minds occupied and educated a_ray_of_positivity is on a mission to create a space to help others through mental difficulties with her amazing words of wisdom and quotes.  We spoke about a variety of subjects, and how having recently surpassed 1K followers how a_ray_of_positivity will continue her journey and what the future holds.  Read on for more of what we spoke about.

Thank you for taking some time in your busy day to have a chat with me.

 Ah that’s ok.

An amazing way to celebrate hitting 1k followers.

Thank you.

So I have some questions, but in general it is a bit of a chat about how your page came about, and things is that ok?

Yes of course.

Then I will get it written up, and will send you a copy before it goes live on my blog site.

That sounds amazing.

“pay it forward – share positivity and kindness with others around them to make the world a much more positive place”

@a_ray_of_positivity

First of all, can you tell me about your page. When did you start it? and how did you come about the name for it?

I started it previously during May in lockdown last year as I decided to raise money for mind, and run and walk to start with 100 miles and then a week in up it to 200 miles- I ran 41 miles and Walked 159 and raised over £1000 🙂

That is an amazing achievement.

Thank you so much 🙂 I had been thinking for a while to start a positivity page but didn’t know how to go about it- a few of my friend refer to me as a ray of sunshine. and so, having read a card from a friend saying exactly that I started it in February:)

First using other quotes I’d found online and then after I found that a few people shared it and it had taken time with making it pretty for my page… my best friend said you are always sending me positive quotes and sharing them why not do your own and use your thoughts and so I did 🙂

I like that. Listening to what your friends are saying are your strengths.

Excuse the essay 🙂

I love essays, so don’t worry about it

And so, from that I created a logo that I placed on each post that I had taken the time to write myself :)You will see on my page where it started to be me 🙂

I took a look, they are lovely quotes, and I think it is nice when they become more unique and personal to the person who is running the page.

  Thank you ☺️ that means a lot- I had a wobble about two weeks ago when I became quite vulnerable on here as I felt why would people want to listen to my thoughts and feelings you know and actually that’s when people became more aware and engaged with my page.

I would definitely agree- I think being honest and showing vulnerability allows people to relate to what you are posting and feel like their feelings at that time are also valid 🙂

I have battled depression and anxiety on and off since I was a teenager so wanted to try and create a page to be honest and open and allow people to relate to my thoughts- which they seem to which is amazing.

The wanting to create a safe place for others is a theme I am finding in speaking to others who have pages. I think it is an immensely powerful thing and instils a lot of hope when they can see the progress in others.

It’s really helped me mentally too ☺️

The reason for me wanting to create a safe space to direct and encourage people to look at accounts is for similar reasons. True experiences, real stories of hope, and encouragement are sometimes more valuable that people realise.

I totally agree- I think it’s a lot about having empathy and understanding for others who have been through similar things, that they aren’t alone- and during lockdown I feel like that’s been a very common theme for myself included.

I was going to ask why this page is important to you, but I think you have answered that. Is there anything you wish to add for the importance of keeping your page active?

It’s also for me to raise awareness that whatever you are feeling is ok to feel- not everyone is ok and not everyone is struggling you know 🙂

That is true, I also think it’s hard for people to admit they are struggling,

“I’m not just writing for me- you know, I’m writing for all the people who are struggling to express how they are feeling- but my post may well be the catalyst to help them to speak out.”

@a_ray_of_positivity

Ultimately, I’m just a woman sharing my thoughts and feelings and hoping that people can relate to me -you know.

I would like to think many people would say you were more than “just a woman”.

 Thank you that means a lot- I’m also very good at not taking compliments.

Is anyone?

Right now I’m in a very good headspace but I have battled in and off for years and special quotes have helped me throughout- ones that I’ve found or ones that I have been sent- and if my friends themselves are going through a hard time the first thing I will do is find a quit to help them get through the day and if a quote I have written can be that light- the ray as you will to get them through

It means the world just to know that people are ultimately relating to what I have to say and that I am helping people by what I am writing, for example being able to have a place on your blog 💛

Likewise.  This is the reason I am using my blog, to allow people behind the images to have space to be related too.

Yeah no I totally get that- it’s such a fantastic thing to be doing and I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me and hear what I have to say.

Thank you.

While you have been keeping your page going would you say that keeps you motivated? Even through the difficult days?

Knowing that I can make someone’s day better with the things that I post- that means everything- I’m not just writing for me- you know, I’m writing for all the people who are struggling to express how they are feeling- but my post may well be the catalyst to help them to speak out.

Sometimes it’s just something small to make you think- but I always try and write how I was feeling below to help others to know what made me choose to post what I have posted.  If that makes sense.

Yes that makes sense, I think it is a brilliant way to put it all into context and a spark of realism into what people are reading.

Thank you so much- sometimes I think I waffle too much, but I guess through that my followers get to know what makes me tick a bit more,

Waffling?? have you read my blogs??? Now that’s waffling!

Yes, they are beautiful written with how you feel in that moment 🙂

I over analyse myself constantly.

The fact that you recognise that you do that is a brilliant strength, the important thing is knowing what the next step is in managing it?

We are too harsh on ourselves at times, it’s how we react to that harshness that’s important.

Yes, definitely I think I’ve taken from my page- is that is ok to just be me- with no airs and graces- most of the time I am very bubbly and upbeat- but sometimes I do just need some time to myself and it’s realising that no the depression is not coming back but that I just need some time for myself 🙂

Definitely, and important lesson for all.

Talking of taking things from your page. What would you say are your best hopes for the future of your page?

Just to continue to help people with who are battling with mental health- who through reading my posts know that they can get through it and be all the stronger and more empathetic to others as they do, and like my favourite film- “pay it forward” share positivity and kindness with others around them to make the world a much more positive place xx

If that makes sense.

Yes, that does make sense.  Paying it forward is a great concept to go by.  I hope that it is something that you can continue to get across on your page.

I don’t think I have any other questions for you.  Congratulations again on hitting 1K followers, I see you’ve flown past that now.  I am sure it won’t be long before you hit another milestone and continue to spread your beautiful positive quote to many more followers.

Thank you so much! I know it’s madness. But so lovely.

‘Paying it forward’ what an amazing saying.  It is something that I have heard before but never really considered in on a non-physical level before.  Sure, I have heard of paying it forward when it comes to helping out the person in front of me in the supermarket when they need a hand, or paying it forward to help someone out when they need something practically doing for them.  Paying it forward with support and kindness.  It makes sense, being kind and supportive to others, passing that same level of kindness on that you would expect, one day if you needed it, someone would give back to you.  All of the quotes on a_ray_of_positivity Instagram page are written by herself, so head over and get a glimpse into the wonderful work that has gone into this page.  To take some time out and allow yourself to just think, and who knows, maybe just one or two of them may open that opportunity to reach out and ‘pay it forward’ to someone you know.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Interview with Talking Matters Most

On the 24th February I had the pleasure of virtually meeting with Hanna.  She runs her page @TalkingMattersMost on Instagram.  Hanna is from South Wales and started her page in 2020,  she keeps this up to date posting messages to promote positive mental health, promoting positive wellbeing, and with over a thousand followers now is keen to continue to share her positive message across her platform.

We met and had a lovely conversation covering the history of her page, and how it came about.  Including future hopes and dreams.  We even got talking about current thoughts and feelings about being in lockdown across the UK, and how that feels.  Here is how our conversation went.

I think I explained to you the other day about my website and the blog posts I am writing after talking to people behind the accounts on here. I think this is such an important thing, and people have a wealth of knowledge, and such important stories behind their pages.

I agree, I think it’s fantastic what you’re doing.

Thank you

So the first question I have, is quite broad.  Can you tell me how your page came about? How it started? and why it started?

I decided to start the page after many conversations with my friends and colleagues. Everyone I was speaking to was struggling with their mental health during lockdown-as was I- so it gave me the idea. My outlook has changed drastically over the past few months too and it’s important to me to try and stay positive- the account helps me do this whilst (hopefully) inspiring a little positivity in others too.

The name came about because it’s exactly how I was feeling at the time, talking to people about what’s on my mind seems to help me the most. And after speaking to others, it seemed to help them too.

That makes a lot of sense. I agree with the name choice. It is a very true statement as well.

When you say your outlook has changed, in what way?

I think my outlook has changed because of the way life has changed since last March, think I’ve gained a lot of perspective- what really matters and what I really need in my life.

love that, looking at it all with a different positive perspective rather than a restrictive perspective.

What keeps you motivated to keep your page active?

What keeps me motivated is the fact that people are following, commenting, and liking what I post, I suppose as long as people continue to engage with my content, I can see the value in carrying on.

Definitely. That is a great motivation isn’t it.

That leads quite nicely onto my next question. What are your best hopes for your page in the future? Where would you like to see it going?

To be completely honest, I haven’t thought about it- I’m sorry if that’s not the type of answer you were after, for now, I would like to just keep posting content that people like. If there’s an opportunity to grow it into something else, then I’ll likely pursue that.

I think that’s perfectly fine. Not everyone thinks about these things.

I think reading your answer the fact that you want to keep posting content that people like, is a hope.

And that’s pretty amazing.

I am really glad that you have managed to make something positive come out of this lockdown period. Even though you and the people around you were finding things hard, you had the courage to do something about it. That is so inspiring.  Is there anything you want to ask me?

We all may be in the same storm, but that doesn’t mean we are sailing the same wave.

Is this something you’re hoping to do more full time?

I work part time, but with events that I have experienced outside of work over the past few years I have decided to put it into words and start my blog.  Everyone has a story, the passion behind the content people share, which is what makes me interested in knowing why others have their pages, and why people do what they do.  What is it that inspires people to keep going, to keep motivated?

Everyone is different, and we all look for inspiration, and by talking to others, posting blogs on different profiles, telling these stories, I am hoping to create this safe place where people can read the blog click on the link to your page and see your posts.

Everyone does have a story, but I think it can be dangerous to think like that sometimes- don’t let that undermine what you managed to achieve.

I hope this will encourage others to avoid the negative posts which are sooooooo easy to come across online.

Some people are of the mindset that someone’s always worse off…which is true but in a sense both get hurt. Does that make sense?

Exactly. we might all be in the same storm. but our boats aren’t on the same wave.

Spot on.

@talkingmattersmost shared some amazing insight with how everyone does have their own story.  Knowing our own story, learning from our story, and using our story to inspire others is a powerful tool.  @talkingmatttersmost was developed out of listening and recognising what the people around one person needed.  The courage, tenacity, and bravery for one person to take the steps to react to those needs, to encourage conversations and create something to meet the needs of others in such a difficult time is inspirational.  People like Hanna are who will continue to spread the kindness, and message of hope.  To keep the faith in human nature going, that there are kind people who will listen, encourage others to talk when you need too, and empower other to do the same.  As we discussed, there are times when we all may be in the same storm, but that doesn’t mean we are sailing the same wave.  Everyone will experience it differently.  All we can do is be kind, listen, and remember that talking matters the most.

Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

My Interview With Khadijah

On the 18th February I had the pleasure of chatting with Khadijah.  She keeps her Instagram page @journalwithkhadijah up to date with some great content.  Promoting positive mental health, general wellbeing, and there are even some delicious recipes on there.

I invited Khadijah to have a conversation with me because of the broadness of information she shares.  To begin to learn and listen to others who are promoting for positive mental health and positive wellbeing.

Khadijah is from Toronto in Canada, and her page @journalwithkhadijah was started in December 2020.

Here is how the conversation went, it was an amazing chat, and I loved (virtually) meeting her.

Thank you for agreeing to do this. I am very excited to write about other people who are spreading a positive word.

It’s such a great idea and lovely way to spread a positive message.

I kind of want you to let me know more about you, and your page.  Starting with, what inspired you to start your page?

Well, I’ve always been really passionate about mental health especially because a lot of people close to me have struggled with issues of their own. I feel like I started to get good at understanding mental health issues and the importance of bringing awareness to it- obviously, I still have so much to learn!! But I created the account as a way of advocating for general wellness and keeping me accountable for taking care of myself.

Usually, I post what I feel like I need to hear in the moment. And I feel like this account just helps me stay on track of taking care of myself.

I love that, keeping you accountable for taking care of yourself. 

That is so important.

So, with the experiences you have with those that have been close to you, has it changed your perceptions, and your views on how mental health is perceived on social media platforms?

Yes, for sure- it has made me so much more understanding and compassionate with these kinds of issues and I feel like social media & the constant conversation around mental health has helped me understand how to help my loved ones.

I hear you on that one.

Yeah, for sure! Social media is such a powerful tool for this.

So, with your page at the moment, and what you are currently doing with it, what are your best hopes for the future, with mental health perceptions and social media

Well, I hope to inspire my audience to be able to be comfortable discussing mental health/depression/anxiety. I really want to normalize things like “having a bad mental health day” for example…

The need to normalise a bad mental health day would be amazing wouldn’t it?

Also, in my country there are not a lot of resources for mental health to help people who are struggling. I really want to help out with that in some sort of way- even if it’s just using my little corner of the internet.

What are resources like there?

Here there are lots of helplines, but they are no good because it’s not trained professionals on the phone. Also access to therapy can be kind of expensive, especially for students who can’t afford it. Overall mental health resources lack a lot of funding and attention from the government/society. But it is slowly getting better as the awareness & movement increases.

So online is easy access.

In the past I’ve called helplines for my friends & they don’t really provide any advice for people who are struggling. Rather, it’s there for people in extreme crisis but there is nothing to stop people from reaching this crisis, If that makes sense.

That makes so much sense. It is similar here. A crisis line will tell you unless you are going to do some serious damage then they can’t help you.  It is a shame, because the help and intervention needs to be earlier.

Yes, exactly which is so frustrating.

So, can I ask, what keeps you motivated? what keeps you positing content, and not giving up?

Honestly, there are some days where I feel down and I might be having a bad mental health day so that’s when I create my content because I always post the things I need to hear in that moment.

Also I don’t really create my content for followers or attentions, I create it for the small amount of people that do need it and need a little boost throughout the day and that’s the thought that keeps me going with this

Posting what you need to hear.

Yeah, exactly and I think that’s what Keeps my content authentic.

It is authentic, that’s what I love about it.

Aww thank you so much 🙂

I think if it is true from the heart, it speaks volumes.

Some of the most powerful things that I have taken from this conversation that I feel are such valuable lessons to learn and share with others are “Keeping me accountable for taking care of myself” This is such a key message, to be able to recognise what will be helpful, beneficial to others but also keeping yourself grounded and in check as well. 

On speaking with Khadijah, it is clear that it doesn’t take someone with heaps of qualifications in mental health, or self-care to be able to spread the message of hope.  To share some kindness and show compassion to those around you at difficult times.  As Khadijah explained in Canada the helplines are useful for those in extreme crisis, but what about those who aren’t there.  By doing her little bit to provide encouraging words, tips and tricks that she finds helpful and useful to her followers’ people are able to develop the tools they already have, to try and manage, and hopefully prevent that crisis escalating. 

“need to normalise a bad mental health day”

 Having the hope to normalise a bad mental health day, is something that resonates a lot with me.  There remains a lot of stigma related to mental health, and needing to take a day to slow down, rest, recharge yourself.  Despite it being recognised that at times it is just needed, yet it still seems to a grey area in many places.

If you want to go along to check out @journalwithKhadijah on Instagram just click on the link.  I am sure she would love to see you over there.

This has been lovely, Come back soon to see who I am speaking to next!

“keeping me accountable for taking care of myself”

@JournalwithKhadijah
Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com