The Truth About Mental Health and Pills

When Freud published his ground breaking work on mental health over a century ago, mental health treatment moved from the dark ages of asylums to recovery. But over the past 30-40 years, mental health treatment has been pushed aside and relegated to something only people with money can afford.


In 1986, people diagnosed with depression were sent to therapy. Less than half of those diagnosed with depression were given some form of medication. The go to treatment for depression was therapy.

Now, almost 40 years later, you are more likely to be prescribed a medication for depression. Four times as likely.

Being referred to therapy is rare.

The reason for this was the marketing of the SSRI and SNRI drugs such as Prozac.


In the marketing speak of the pharmaceutical companies you had to take pills. With the lack of ways of examining the brains of living people it was easy to insert the idea that depression was caused by a “chemical imbalance” in the brain.

In our modern culture people prefer instant fixes. When we get a cold, we buy a cold and flu tablet to help us get over it quickly. When we have depression, instead of taking the time to find the root cause and treat it, so we are less likely to get depression again, we head for the quick fix of a medication.

These days, the idea of a “chemical imbalance” is widely believed to be the truth.


The fact is, there is no “chemical imbalance” causing depression. Depression is caused by unresolved issues.

The belief that a tablet will “change” your brain where therapy won’t is widespread.

The truth is, therapy does change your brain and those changes will occur without harming your brain.

The truth is, the SSRIs and SNRIs damage the brain when used long term. What was only intended to be used for a short period of a few months maximum is now used year after year after year.

I see a lot of people who want to get off these drugs that they have been on for years. We can try and we can hope the damage done to their brains is repairable. The sad truth is increasing evidence shows long term use of these drugs causes damage. Like tobacco in past decades, there has been no court case to set a legal precedent to establish the damage caused. But like tobacco, that day will come.


Here are some facts:
• Researchers can find no evidence of chemical imbalances in the brains of depressed people.
• Multiple research studies have failed to find any evidence of chemical imbalances in the brains of depressed people.
• Some people can be helped by these drugs, but so can people given placebos. Actually there is no significant difference in the effectiveness of the drugs compared to placebos.
• Exercise helps significantly more people with depression than drugs.

Here are some other facts:
• researchers discovered an overwhelmingly strong link between childhood trauma and depression in adulthood in the 1980s
• A stronger link to suicidality and childhood trauma was also discovered
• These findings have been replicated in multiple research studies.


The facts demonstrate:
• Bipolar disorder is caused by emotional dysregulation that occurs as a result of childhood trauma.
• If you have childhood trauma you are 3 times more likely to develop schizophrenia than those without a trauma history. Increase the number of traumatic events and the likelihood increases exponentially.
• If you have autism you are more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia due to misinterpretation of your autism symptoms.
• People with schizophrenia have multiple traumas that make emotional regulation, the organising of thoughts and connecting with reality incredibly difficult.


Research has shown children living in traumatic environments are constantly in fight-flight-freeze mode. Their bodies respond by releasing cortisol and adrenaline into their systems. These effects are frequent and can last for hours.

The brains of these children are activated by the fight-flight-freeze mode. This happens so often their brains are primed to react quickly to danger and take longer to go back to normal.

These defence systems in the body fire again and again and again.

The child is flooded with emotions like fear, anger, shame, guilt and sadness. This flooding of emotions prevents the parts of the brain that plan and control emotions from developing fully.

The protective lining on brain cells does not form properly. Research has shown that even DNA is altered. If this happens severely enough genes in the DNA can be switched off.

There is often no adult available to help that child calm down and regulate. As the child grows they may well use cigarettes, alcohol or drugs to soothe themselves.


If you have childhood trauma you are:
• 2 times more likely to smoke
• 5 times more likely to use illegal drugs
• 7.5 times more likely to abuse alcohol
• 10 times more likely to inject drugs
• 30% more likely to be sedentary
• 60% more likely to be severely obese.

You can see where this is going. If you smoke, take drugs, abuse alcohol, are obese and sedentary or any one of those things you are at higher risk of 7 of the leading causes of death. That is heart disease, cancer, lung diseases, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and suicide.


Therapy by a trained therapist works to heal the psychological injuries and to help you learn the skills necessary to cope with the stress of life and be able to regulate your emotions.

It may be that you might need pills for short periods of time during crisis periods, but the real healing will come from properly targeted therapy.

Research has shown that DNA recovers with therapy. This does not happen with pills where the DNA damage remains.

Other research has shown that after therapy 80% of people who took pills will suffer another depressive episode compared to 30% of people who received therapy.


I am a trauma trained therapist with over a decade of experience treating trauma. If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your trauma, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here:

Losing Someone Is and Isn’t Like Losing My Phone

Have you ever lost something important, like your purse or phone, and raced back to find it, only to have it never be found again?

What was that like to experience that?

Most people asked that question will say they felt panic and disbelief. Panic at how they would manage without it and disbelief that it could be lost.

Then they started to berate themselves at losing it.

Up came the “if only I had been more careful”. “If only I had checked to make sure I had it at such and such a place.”

Many people report feeling sick at the thought of losing this item. They may feel disoriented and very vulnerable. Then they start to wonder what will happen. How will they manage without their phone, credit cards, money.

We form attachments to objects and people

When we lose things we are often devastated. We have a strong attachment to the things we own, particularly those that matter to us.

It is similar with people we are attached to. The people who matter in our lives.

Neurologically that attachment can be seen in the brain. We have neuronal pathways in our brains that allow us to experience what others are feeling. When we see another person performing an activity our mirror neurons respond. When we see another person hurt themselves we can understand their pain. More recently neuroscientists have identified the role of mirror neurons in human attachment. The attachments we form with the people we are closest to.

What’s it like losing someone you love?

If you can imagine being so upset at the loss of a phone or purse, what would it be like to lose the person you love deeply?

Many words come to mind:

Devastated, deprived, destitute, stripped, bereft, bereaved.

These words are synonyms of each other.

Other synonyms are disbelief, disorientation, vulnerable.

Similar reactions to losing your phone but much more extreme.

When I was looking for synonyms for bereaved I not only came across the above words, but I also came across other phrases.

One “to be robbed” was a surprise. But when I thought about it I realised it made sense. This important person in your life is gone. You search for them. You don’t believe you could possibly have lost them. You berate yourself for being so careless. You start on the what ifs and progress to the how will I manage?

You search, even hunt for the person, for evidence of their continued existence. You feel disbelief. You bargain to keep them here. You start on the what ifs. You are anxious, fearful, sad, disbelieving, terrified and feeling guilty.

You have a strong sense of how unfair this all is. You may even think you don’t deserve this. Worse, you may feel that is your lot in life, to have everyone leave you.

Putting off the inevitable until it catches you

Although death is inevitable, we all push that knowledge aside and don’t think about it. We don’t think about our own death and we don’t think about the death of those we love. So unless we know someone is dying, we don’t prepare for that time.

Despite your strongest desire to not be here, here you are.

Life is suddenly hard. So, so hard.

You are struggling and experiencing many things: Here is a list of some of the things you may be experiencing:

• Insomnia
• Physical exhaustion
• Loss of time
• Confusion
• Sadness
• Anger
• Clumsiness
• Sleeping all the time
• Anxiety
• Nightmares
• Intense dreams
• Loss of appetite
• Loss of interest
• Feeling like you don’t belong
• Eating everything
• Frustration
• Sense of unreality
• Loneliness
• Memory loss
• Physical sensations including chest pain and stomach pain
• Unable to concentrate
• Difficult to focus on reading
• Short attention span
• Restlessness
• Hypersensitivity to anything and everything
• Phantom aches and pains
• Interpersonal challenges
• Feeling that nothing has meaning
• Feeling that everything has meaning
• Inability to cry
• Inability to stop crying, you may even cry so much you gag or vomit.
• Numbness
• Mood swings
• Everyday tasks seem confusing
• Dark sense of humour
• Screaming in the car, out walking, in your bedroom, in the shower.
• Crying silently
• Feeling different from everyone else
• Feeling short tempered
• Unable to complete tasks, such as shopping, putting things away. You may find you walk away in the middle of doing something.
• Feeling immense love for everything around you.

The list is extensive. And this is only some of the list. What you may be experiencing may not even be on the list. That doesn’t make it abnormal, it just means I haven’t listed it.

Grief involves your entire body

It is important to know that grief is a full body experience.

There are good reasons why you are tired.

There are good reasons why your stamina seems to have evaporated.

There are valid reasons for your lack of focus and that you find even simple tasks impossible to do.

Your brain is trying to make sense of an event that doesn’t make sense. It is trying to dismantle neural pathways and build new ones. This is in addition all the usual daily requirements of your brain. No wonder then that it has trouble functioning.

Your body is trying to hold the impossible reality of this even within itself. That doesn’t leave a lot of capacity for normal daily tasks of living.

All of you is working hard to just get through each day.

You don’t “get over” grief

Remember that there is no getting over grief. You will most likely reach a point where you can learn to live with what has happened but you will not get over it.

Closure is a word that is used a lot but is something that does not happen. You may find a sense of “meaning” in what has happened, but you will never reach closure.

Remember that grief is often described as love after death. It is so true.

Grief is hard

Grief is really hard. It will impact you physically, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually.

There are no stages in death. These 5 stages devised by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross were used to describe the process of a person dying, not the experience of those who are left behind. It was never intended to be a description of anything else but dying.

Death is the end of a person’s life. However, the relationship we have with the person still continues.

Grief is inevitable

Grief is inevitable. We will all die and we will all lose someone we love.

Grief is part of the way our brains work. It is a function of our brains to form strong connections to the people we love. It is also part of the function of our brains to grieve.

Importantly, it is also part of the function of our brains to heal.

It is said that healing begins when we reach a point of understanding our loss was not something we wanted or deserved. It is just something we have.

When we can understand and accept that then we can start to grieve.

Trust your brain

I always tell people to trust what their brains are doing and to be kind to themselves. I remind them they are the one who needs support and understanding and to allow time for that.

I remind them that at the funeral they are not required to flit around being sociable and attending to the needs of others.

You are required to cry if you need to. To remove yourself from the company of others if that is what you need. To allow yourself to be looked after if you need it. To walk away from attending to the needs of others, unless they are your children. You will attend to your children’s needs and then your own, always your own. To not have unrealistic expectations of how much you can achieve. To accept that you are doing your best.

It’s your right to grieve

These words by Thich Nhat Hanh (How to live when a loved one dies) are a lovely affirmation of your right to grieve.

“When we lose a loved one, our heart is filled with a deep suffering that we cannot express. But we can express our pain in tears. We can cry. When you cry, you feel better.

“Men can cry too. I wanted to cry when I saw someone else crying. It is human nature to cry. To be able to cry brings comfort, relief and healing.

“if you want to cry, please cry.

And know that I will cry with you.

The tears you shed will heal us both

Your tears are mine.”

Prolonged Grief

It is vital to remember that you are hard-wired to heal from grief. However, the wound can become infected and you may need more specialist assistance from a therapist trained in working with Prolonged Grief Disorder.

Getting Help

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief, please contact me on 0409396608 or

I am also trained in working with Prolonged Grief Disorder and can help you if that is your experience in grief.

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here:

Are you frightened by silence?

For many people silence is unpleasant.

You may be someone who, when there is a quiet lull in the conversation, rushes to fill the silence with sound.

In the silence you can hear sounds you try to ignore. In particular you can hear your body talking to you. You can hear your intuition urgently telling you to listen.

Silence is intense, deep and powerful.

If you don’t want to hear what your body has to tell you.

If you are frightened of what your intuition is trying to impart to you.

If the idea of confronting the you that you hear in the silence fills you with fear.

Then silence is scary.

In the silence you hear the parts of you that you find frightening.

In the silence you meet the real you.

In the movie Never Ending Story Atreyu encounters a mirror that shows who he is inside. It is said that many have encountered this mirror and run away screaming. Atreyu sees the mirror and realises he is the boy Bastian who is reading the story. He is terrified.

Atreyu and Bastian stand their ground and continue, realising the knowledge they now hold is not terrifying at all.

Many people, confronted by their real selves, run. It takes strength to stay and face your true self.

Blocking out the real self

Many people are so terrified of the self they find in the silence that they fill their lives with sound. These are the people who constantly have to have music playing. Who can’t even go on a bush picnic without loud music. Who are lost without music drowning out their self within.

But if you stop and listen to the silence you will discover immense strength and power in it. You will experience the great weight and quality of silence.

You will discover that all sound emanates from silence and returns to it. It is in silence that sound is able to exist.

Allowing the silence

If you allow silence in, you will discover a place where your mind is calmed and your body rejuvenated.

Try sitting in silence. Early in the morning is a good time to do this. Just sit still and listen.

Allow yourself to relax into the silence and sit with the discomfort of thoughts and feelings you usually try to avoid.

Allow yourself to notice the thoughts are there without engaging with them. You will usually find that allowing the discomfort is never as terrifying as you imagined it might be.

Allow yourself to experience the self you try to ignore.

Allow yourself to feel the vastness and potency of silence.

Allow the silence to cleanse you

In silence, in connection to self, you find a vast well of creativity.

Memories in the silence

If the silence awakens terrifying memories, then you can be helped by seeing a trauma trained counsellor.

Do be sure the counsellor you see is trauma trained. Many claim to be able to work with trauma but have no understanding of it.

I am trauma trained and follow the Blue Knot Foundation guidelines in treating trauma.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your terrifying thoughts, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here:

Is There Meaning In Loss?

Victor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author, and Holocaust survivor, wrote that we human beings are meaning making. He wrote this after witnessing people dying in the concentration camps.

When you think about it, it is true.

Making Meaning Is Difficult

That said, Making meaning out of the death of a loved one is really difficult. So many losses feel meaningless and unfair.

I see many people who struggle with this.

My Role In Your Grief Journey

My role as a counsellor is not to “fix” your grief and give you meaning for it.

My role as your counsellor is to walk alongside you as you experience the intense pain and confusion of your loss. To be present while you deal with the desperate fight/flight response in your body.

My role is to be a witness to your story and help you feel empowered to share it with others if you wish to do so. Your story is important but often the opportunities for your story to be heard are few.

I can also help you express the parts of your story that cannot be told in words by giving you the opportunity to use art and movement.

Handling The Questions

I can help you as your struggle with the many questions you have.

Working with you in your grief is a privilege. It is a time of tenderness, sadness and poignancy.

Why I Care

I have experienced personally how hard it is to grieve in a society that seeks to shut down grief.

As a nurse I witnessed the pain of grieving families and felt frustrated at the ways their grief was shut down by others.

My desire is to give you the support I wish I had received.

I hate the fact you may have been shut down and told you are mad, or need medications because you are still in pain.

How I Want To Help You

I want to sit with you and tell you that you are perfectly normal.

I want to tell you that you can cry as much as you need to.

I want you to find a place of sanctuary where you can experience you grief and find a way to hold your hurt, heal and grow.

I want to remind you to have compassion for yourself. The journey is hard and you need to cut yourself some slack as you negotiate this new reality.

I want you to learn to honour your feelings and honour your needs.

I want to teach you how to use your self compassion to move through your deep suffering without giving in to despair or self blame.

I want to teach you how you can use touch to soothe yourself when things are overwhelming.

My Own Experiences

Over the years I have learned to share, when appropriate, my own experiences. I am not ashamed at how hard it has been to grieve. I am proud of the way I survived and grew through the experience. I am proud of the way I continue to manage that grief.

I may tell you, if it seems appropriate, that I have been there too and have experienced that disorientation. I too have thought I was going mad. I too have found no one to support me.

Being Present For You

I don’t have good answers for you. I can’t tell you why your loved one died.

However I can be present for you. I can provide a space of care and safety where you can share your pain and be supported. A space where you can feel life isn’t as crazy as you thought.

Finding Meaning … Or Not

As for the search for meaning. I don’t think the meaning is necessarily about finding meaning in the death of your loved one. I think the meaning is often in you finding the meaning of that loss in your life.

The meaning you may find in the loss of your loved one is very personal. It may also take time to find. I have seen people who decided to try a new venture because they realise life is too precious to waste time in being frightened to try new things. That is the meaning they found in their loved one’s death.

This person you loved. The one who is now gone. They existed. They were part of your life. An important part of your life. They laughed and cried. You looked into their face. You heard their voice. You have so many memories of them, all with emotions attached. Now all you have are memories that appear to be fading.

Being Prepared Never Happens

Rarely is someone’s death something you are ready for.

There are always questions, what ifs, if onlys.

You are in pain and you can’t see an end to it.

I Give You Permission

You have permission to be affected by this death. You have permission to be sad. You have permission to be angry. You have permission to find that every time you remember this person there is now pain attached to that memory. You have permission to feel overwhelmed and unable to cope.

You are allowed to grieve as long as you need. You also have permission to decide one day you are going to move on to a different stage in your life. You are going to change your relationship with your grief.

You do reach a point where you realise that it is important to honour the person you have lost and to honour what their presence in your life was. Part of that honouring is acknowledging how much it hurt to lose them. Another harder part is imagining a future that they are not in.


Let me tell you the story of Amber*.

Amber told me that she realised one day that the love she felt for her loved one was forever, not just while they were both on this earth together. That she will always be able to love her lost loved one.

Amber was able to look at the future and think about what her lost loved one might have wanted for her for the future, whether they were in it or not.

Once she realised this, she was able to feel okay to remember. To see the memories as precious moments to smile about and remember fondly.

Strolling To The “Finish Line”

It is possible to find meaning, but not immediately. Grief is not a rush to reach that finish line, but instead a series of steps, halting at first, that may gain momentum as time goes on or may always be slow and hesitant.

Finding meaning is something that may come later, much later when the acute pain of grief has begun to settle. And if you are never aware of finding that meaning. That is okay too. Not everyone does.

Remember, everyone grieves differently.

*not her real name – in fact any identifying information including possibly gender has been removed to protect their confidentiality

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with finding meaning in your loss or more importantly with your grief journey, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here:

I want to feel stronger and feel better about myself

You had a childhood much like others seemed to have. Maybe you were bullied. Maybe your father was impossible to please. Maybe you always seemed to be the one singled out when someone needed blaming for things that went wrong. Maybe you never felt understood.

There was nothing obvious about your childhood.

But you have grown up and there are people you find yourself unable to set boundaries with and you don’t understand why.

Here are some of the people you may be struggling with.

The manipulator

You know the one. Ultra friendly but they always talk talked negatively about another person you barely know. They may say one things in this relentless narrative that is true, so that must mean everything else they say is true as well, right?

So you believe her and avoid the person she is targeting. Maybe you tell others about what a horrible person they are.

Then you discover the woman was telling you lies. You discover the other person is actually a lovely person who hasn’t done anything they’ve been accused of doing.

You feel so ashamed.

You still feel ashamed at how easily you believed the lies.

It reminds you that you have lived your life believing lies told to you by other people.

Your mother telling you that you were useless.

The bullies at school.

The bullies in adulthood.

You feel so ashamed at your fawning behaviour.

But this behaviour was how you learned to survive as a child.

Forgive yourself for not knowing better at the time.

The power grabber

You are with a friend. She is a very dominating person and she wants both of you to do something you are not comfortable with. You don’t feel confident enough to say no. You go along with what she has said. You are not happy with what you have done.

You feel ashamed.

You gave away your power and did not stand up for your values.

As a child other people could do things, but not you.

You learned that you had no power and no right to say no.

Forgive yourself for giving away your power.

Going along with the bullying

You are at work and a workmate is being bullied. You have the opportunity to defend them, but you are afraid, so you remain quiet and say nothing.

Later the workmate is diagnosed with a trauma related condition due to the bullying.

You feel ashamed and weak for not supporting the person.

Forgive yourself for past behaviours.

What you do to survive

You learned in your childhood how to survive.

You learned behaviours such as:

• Fawning

• Going along with the bullies

• Not defending your friends

• Sacrificing your values and participating in behaviour you felt was wrong

• Not setting boundaries

Those behaviours helped you to survive.

Forgive yourself for the survival patterns and traits you picked up while enduring the difficult and unfair moments of childhood.

Forgive yourself for being who you needed to be to survive.

Do these behaviours trouble you?

Do you want to change them?

I am trained in working with these behaviours.

I know how to help you break the patterns of the past.

I am committed to walking alongside you as you learn new, more fulfilling ways of being.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you feel stronger, set boundaries and feel better about yourself, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here:

Grief: How to cope with the bad days.

Losing someone you love is devastating. Even if the loss was anticipated it doesn’t lessen the shock of what has happened.

My world has stopped

You go outside and there is the world going on as if nothing has happened. All you want to do is scream at it to stop. Don’t these people realise you have just lost someone you love? That your world has stopped?

After that you are likely to be surrounded by support. People want to comfort, provide meals, come to the funeral. But over time, that tapers off and other people get on with their lives.

Bad days continue

During the aftermath of your loved one’s death you will have good days. Days when you feel light hearted and can laugh.

But there will be other days when you don’t feel so light hearted. You may even experience a storm of emotions around your grief.

These bad days can occur for many years.

What to do if you dread these days

Some people accept that there will be bad days. But other people dread these bad days.

Some of the bad days are ones you can expect, such as birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, special days.

For those days you can prepare for in advance. You may decide to do something special to mark the day.

Not all bad days are ones you have warning about. Those days happen when you don’t expect them, or want them.

Making a hug box

When I run grief groups one of the activities we do is to prepare a hug box.

The idea of the box is to have to hand items you can use to give yourself comfort and hug on those bad days.

The box is a gift of self-love. Its intention is to give you a feeling of comfort and self love when you bring it out.

What is in a hug box?

You can put anything in a hug box that is special and brings you comfort.

Some of the things people have put in the box are:
• Candles
• Bath oils
• Art supplies
• Soft toys
• Lists of special things to do.

What are hug box lists?

There are many lists that you can put in your hug box.

You may want to list
• A playlist of special songs you find uplifting.
• Friends you can reach out to for support
• Ideas to get out and moving such as gardening, taking a walk, dancing around the house.
• Things that make you feel good such as funny movies, inspiring books, comfort food, people to see, activities to do.
• Ways to get out into nature.
• Places you can go.
• Words or affirmations that you find helpful. Some ideas are “it’s ok to feel sad”, “you can get through this”.

What other things can you do?

• You can keep a gratitude journal. Listing 10 things a day you are grateful for. On the bad days you can read back over the journal to remind yourself about the good things that have happened.
• You can participate in a grief group in person or online. This provides you with a support network who can give you understanding and support on those bad days.
• You can reach out for help from a counsellor.

Practical solutions

It is never easy grieving for someone you have loved, but a little planning with practical things you can do is an important way to survive the bad days.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief and surviving the bad days, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here: