In a recent study by the OECD (organisation for economic cooperation and development) Ireland were ranked in the top 10 in the ‘better life index’ study. The Better Life Index allows citizens to compare well-being across 36 countries based on 11 dimensions in the areas of material living conditions and quality of life. This is great news for a number of reasons but I do wonder about our honesty as a nation when we’re asked questions. We have a habit of saying ‘yes we’re grand’ when really we’re not!!

As far as communication goes, we are great talkers but not when it comes to serious topics or subjects that involve real feelings. After the celtic tiger, we’re beginning to understand that material wealth doesn’t equal happiness. There’s no denying that it helps and eases the worry of not having enough for the bills but we need to look deeper. A perfect example of this is depression.

It’s great that we’re beginning to talk more about depression and mental health but I also feel that it’s scary that so many people still feel hopeless and helpless.

I often hear people say ‘just pick up the phone’, ‘’talk to someone, ‘tell them how you feel’. But picking up the phone can feel as difficult as carrying the Empire State building on your shoulders.

Every time you try it seems to get heavier and push you down. The fear is almost too much to deal with. It’s an internal battle and it’s constant. You fight back but get nowhere so in time you just decide to give up.

Recovering from depression is very hard and staying well is a constant battle. This all sounds very negative but it’s simply reality.

We need to teach our kids to accept themselves for who they are. It sounds corny but it’s true. As adults, many of us can’t even speak honestly and openly to each other so what chance do our kids have? There is no shame in falling as long as you get back up again and there is no shame in asking for help because you deserve to get better; everyone does.

Each one of us is an individual and, more importantly, unique. That means that there’s no point comparing yourself to your neighbour, friend, cousin or anyone else for that matter as they’re not you.

We all have our own unique individuality and we all hold the ability to be great. Self-belief and confidence are tools we need to teach our kids and teenagers so they can move forward with courage to grab every opportunity or indeed cope with rejection or failure which will happen to all of us in our lifetime. Some of the most successful people have fallen on hard times.

We need to wake up from the delusion of proving ourselves to others. You are not what you own and these days you are not defined by what you owe. Get rid of people that drag you down and make you feel bad.

I’ve stayed in far too many unhealthy friendships through fear and believe me it’s not worth it. We’re afraid to tell our friends we can’t go out on Saturday night as we can’t afford it anymore. If they are your friends they’ll understand and help you if needs be. Real friendship is someone who worries about your feelings, someone who’ll answer the phone at 3AM and is never jealous, only proud.

Our teenagers need encouragement and hope during such difficult times. Encourage them to be the best that they can be and let them know that’s good enough. We all run around living for tomorrow and planning for next week and very few of us live in the moment. We miss so many great normal things that happen because of this. A smile from a stranger, a door opened in kindness, the laughter of our children.

Until we understand our happiness is right here, right now we’ll never find it. We’ll simply keep searching for that one thing more we think will make us happy. Our ability to be happy is inside us. We don’t realise this because no one ever told us. We grew up outdoing each other, comparing each other and talking about each other. It’s time to just say stop.

Our levels of depression and suicide are alarming and screaming at us. Every single one of us can do something about it so please try. Until we break our bad habits how on earth can we expect our kids to?

The study from the OECD is very positive for the Irish as long as we’re being honest with ourselves.

ENDS

Having A Baby is an incredibly special time in a woman’s life. During pregnancy our bodies go through so many changes. As a woman there is nothing more empowering than giving birth. It truly is a miracle. It was amazing to think that I was growing a tiny little human inside of me. For nine months I focused on staying healthy, eating right and exercising. I looked after myself during my pregnancy better than any other time in my life. My pregnancy, labour and birth went well and to be honest I never gave much thought to bringing the baby home other than all the necessary bits and bobs I needed. I certainly never thought about my emotional wellbeing until I wasn’t well.

I expected a movie like experience post birth. I was waiting for an overwhelming rush of love to engulf me and literally sweep me off my feet, once the epidural had worn off of course! The truth is I felt quite numb. It took a while to sink in that this little person was my responsiblity and I became quite nervous. He was so tiny that I was even afraid to bath and change him initially. I coped quite well though in the beginning as I had great support around me. I managed to eventually succeed with breastfeeding and the love I felt for James was simply unconditional. I’d sit and stare at this perfect little boy and I knew I had been blessed. However a couple of months after that I began to feel loanly and isolated. I cried all the time and couldn’t even change a nappy. I’m a single Mum and I put enormous pressure on myself. I went back to work far too early. I was exhausted, worried, anxious and became very sad. I mourned for my old life and felt incredibly guilty about this. Having suffered from depression before I knew I needed help. I went to see a doctor and my road to recovery began. I was very anti-medication but came to understand that James needed me to be present and I also wanted to get better for James. I changed my diet and began to exercise but most importantly I also began counselling which has been and continues to be the most important part of my recovery.

What I’ve learnt, is that when you become a parent there is a huge period of adjustment. We put so much pressure on ourselves and each other these days and are constantly bombarded with images and happy stories from celebrities who pop back into shape and both look and feel great. I did lots of shoots and put on a brave face but underneath it all I felt scared and sad. Through counselling I began to understand my fears and deal with my issues. The right kind of therapy and talking about your feelings has a huge part to play in the fight against depression of any kind. Holding it all inside is like waiting for a time bomb to go off. It causes stress, illness and affects your relationships with your friends and family. Early intervention with PND means that you will get better quickly.  Up to 60% of women will suffer from some form of babyblues or PND during the first 6 months. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed off. It does not make you a bad Mum but you need to take care of yourself as well. When we have a baby our focus and attention shifts from us and our bump solely to the baby. We’ve gone from taking care of ourselves so well to completely ignoring our own needs. Throw in a lack of sleep, piles of washing, cooking and cleaning into the equation and it’s no wonder we feel the way we do.

Here are my top tips to help combat PND

  • Try to get as much rest as possible. Sleep when the baby sleeps or ask someone to take the baby for a walk while you nap
  • Try to have at least a 10 minute walk every day with the baby
  • Taking baby steps is the key eg. Take a shower. I know this can be hard when you’re tired but it will do wonders for how you’re feeling.
  • Keep a diary of how you feel and try and write down 10 positive things that happen each day no matter how small e.g. changed a nappy or fed the baby. When you start to see what you are doing you will stop focusing on what you’re not doing
  • Eat well. A good breakfast is essential. Cut out fried, fatty and sugary foods.
  • Join a local mum and baby group so you can ask questions and learn from other mums. (www.meetmums.ie for listings in your area) It’s also great to get out and about.
  • Talk, talk, talk… tell someone friend/partner if you’re not feeling well or go online and talk to other mums (www.rollercoaster.ie) and ask questions
  • Trust in yourself ‘mum knows best’ and know that you will return to the ‘real you’ soon
  • Talk to your GP about your options and if necessary find a good counsellor
  • As women we need to support each other more and try to be a bit more open and honest. If you feel your friend needs help try and talk to her

 

In a recent study by the OECD (organisation for economic cooperation and development) Ireland were ranked in the top 10 in the ‘better life index’ study. The Better Life Index allows citizens to compare well-being across 36 countries based on 11 dimensions in the areas of material living conditions and quality of life. This is great news for a number of reasons but I do wonder about our honesty as a nation when we’re asked questions. We have a habit of saying ‘yes we’re grand’ when really we’re not!!

As far as communication goes, we are great talkers but not when it comes to serious topics or subjects that involve real feelings. After the celtic tiger, we’re beginning to understand that material wealth doesn’t equal happiness. There’s no denying that it helps and eases the worry of not having enough for the bills but we need to look deeper. A perfect example of this is depression.

It’s great that we’re beginning to talk more about depression and mental health but I also feel that it’s scary that so many people still feel hopeless and helpless.

I often hear people say ‘just pick up the phone’, ‘’talk to someone, ‘tell them how you feel’. But picking up the phone can feel as difficult as carrying the Empire State building on your shoulders.

Every time you try it seems to get heavier and push you down. The fear is almost too much to deal with. It’s an internal battle and it’s constant. You fight back but get nowhere so in time you just decide to give up.

Recovering from depression is very hard and staying well is a constant battle. This all sounds very negative but it’s simply reality.

We need to teach our kids to accept themselves for who they are. It sounds corny but it’s true. As adults, many of us can’t even speak honestly and openly to each other so what chance do our kids have? There is no shame in falling as long as you get back up again and there is no shame in asking for help because you deserve to get better; everyone does.

Each one of us is an individual and, more importantly, unique. That means that there’s no point comparing yourself to your neighbour, friend, cousin or anyone else for that matter as they’re not you.

We all have our own unique individuality and we all hold the ability to be great. Self-belief and confidence are tools we need to teach our kids and teenagers so they can move forward with courage to grab every opportunity or indeed cope with rejection or failure which will happen to all of us in our lifetime. Some of the most successful people have fallen on hard times.

We need to wake up from the delusion of proving ourselves to others. You are not what you own and these days you are not defined by what you owe. Get rid of people that drag you down and make you feel bad.

I’ve stayed in far too many unhealthy friendships through fear and believe me it’s not worth it. We’re afraid to tell our friends we can’t go out on Saturday night as we can’t afford it anymore. If they are your friends they’ll understand and help you if needs be. Real friendship is someone who worries about your feelings, someone who’ll answer the phone at 3AM and is never jealous, only proud.

Our teenagers need encouragement and hope during such difficult times. Encourage them to be the best that they can be and let them know that’s good enough. We all run around living for tomorrow and planning for next week and very few of us live in the moment. We miss so many great normal things that happen because of this. A smile from a stranger, a door opened in kindness, the laughter of our children.

Until we understand our happiness is right here, right now we’ll never find it. We’ll simply keep searching for that one thing more we think will make us happy. Our ability to be happy is inside us. We don’t realise this because no one ever told us. We grew up outdoing each other, comparing each other and talking about each other. It’s time to just say stop.

Our levels of depression and suicide are alarming and screaming at us. Every single one of us can do something about it so please try. Until we break our bad habits how on earth can we expect our kids to?

The study from the OECD is very positive for the Irish as long as we’re being honest with ourselves.

ENDS

Model Alison Canavan tells Alison O’Riordan of the crippling depression that seized her just as she had the world at her feet…

Read the full article

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/beauty-alison-opens-up-on-descent-into-living-hell-2800108.html

Having A Baby is an incredibly special time in a woman’s life. During pregnancy our bodies go through so many changes. As a woman there is nothing more empowering than giving birth. It truly is a miracle. It was amazing to think that I was growing a tiny little human inside of me. For nine months I focused on staying healthy, eating right and exercising. I looked after myself during my pregnancy better than any other time in my life. My pregnancy, labour and birth went well and to be honest I never gave much thought to bringing the baby home other than all the necessary bits and bobs I needed. I certainly never thought about my emotional wellbeing until I wasn’t well.

I expected a movie like experience post birth. I was waiting for an overwhelming rush of love to engulf me and literally sweep me off my feet, once the epidural had worn off of course! The truth is I felt quite numb. It took a while to sink in that this little person was my responsiblity and I became quite nervous. He was so tiny that I was even afraid to bath and change him initially. I coped quite well though in the beginning as I had great support around me. I managed to eventually succeed with breastfeeding and the love I felt for James was simply unconditional. I’d sit and stare at this perfect little boy and I knew I had been blessed. However a couple of months after that I began to feel loanly and isolated. I cried all the time and couldn’t even change a nappy. I’m a single Mum and I put enormous pressure on myself. I went back to work far too early. I was exhausted, worried, anxious and became very sad. I mourned for my old life and felt incredibly guilty about this. Having suffered from depression before I knew I needed help. I went to see a doctor and my road to recovery began. I was very anti-medication but came to understand that James needed me to be present and I also wanted to get better for James. I changed my diet and began to exercise but most importantly I also began counselling which has been and continues to be the most important part of my recovery.

What I’ve learnt, is that when you become a parent there is a huge period of adjustment. We put so much pressure on ourselves and each other these days and are constantly bombarded with images and happy stories from celebrities who pop back into shape and both look and feel great. I did lots of shoots and put on a brave face but underneath it all I felt scared and sad. Through counselling I began to understand my fears and deal with my issues. The right kind of therapy and talking about your feelings has a huge part to play in the fight against depression of any kind. Holding it all inside is like waiting for a time bomb to go off. It causes stress, illness and affects your relationships with your friends and family. Early intervention with PND means that you will get better quickly.  Up to 60% of women will suffer from some form of babyblues or PND during the first 6 months. There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed off. It does not make you a bad Mum but you need to take care of yourself as well. When we have a baby our focus and attention shifts from us and our bump solely to the baby. We’ve gone from taking care of ourselves so well to completely ignoring our own needs. Throw in a lack of sleep, piles of washing, cooking and cleaning into the equation and it’s no wonder we feel the way we do.

Here are my top tips to help combat PND

  • Try to get as much rest as possible. Sleep when the baby sleeps or ask someone to take the baby for a walk while you nap
  • Try to have at least a 10 minute walk every day with the baby
  • Taking baby steps is the key eg. Take a shower. I know this can be hard when you’re tired but it will do wonders for how you’re feeling.
  • Keep a diary of how you feel and try and write down 10 positive things that happen each day no matter how small e.g. changed a nappy or fed the baby. When you start to see what you are doing you will stop focusing on what you’re not doing
  • Eat well. A good breakfast is essential. Cut out fried, fatty and sugary foods.
  • Join a local mum and baby group so you can ask questions and learn from other mums. (www.meetmums.ie for listings in your area) It’s also great to get out and about.
  • Talk, talk, talk… tell someone friend/partner if you’re not feeling well or go online and talk to other mums (www.rollercoaster.ie) and ask questions
  • Trust in yourself ‘mum knows best’ and know that you will return to the ‘real you’ soon
  • Talk to your GP about your options and if necessary find a good counsellor
  • As women we need to support each other more and try to be a bit more open and honest. If you feel your friend needs help try and talk to her

 

AS PRINTED TODAY DECEMBER 21ST IN THE EVENING HERALD

CHRISTMAS…That single word conjures up a lot of different emotions. For some it means food, fun, family and all good things beginning with the letter F. But for some it means failure and feeling foolish.
By this I mean that it’s a time that almost forces us to look at ourselves. If we’ve had a bad year or lost loved ones, through grieving we can feel like we have or we are failing people and if we’ve made mistakes that can’t be fixed we feel foolish.
I’m a glass half full person but I’m also no stranger to dark days. We can never become complacent about our mental health and Christmas is a time where each and every one of us has a responsibility to look out for one another.
I’m not talking about the fluffy cloud nonsense of air kissing and asking how someone is but more about actually taking time to think about others and watch for serious signs of sadness, loneliness, for someone who may drops hints and needs help. It’s incredibly hard dealing with depression with loved ones around. That said the feeling of loneliness and isolation even when surrounded by those you love pales in comparison to having those feelings and actually being alone.
Having suffered depression I know how easy it can be to forget when you haven’t suffered for a while. You want to forget about those feelings of low self-worth and pain. When you’re happy and can’t physically see someone’s pain it can be difficult to feel it. When you pass a car crash on the road it’s upsetting and you feel a pang in your heart and stomach. That pain is exactly how someone feels with depression all the time. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. If you broke your arm would you walk around with it hanging off?
Mental illness needs to be normalised and treated like any other physical illness. It breaks my heart to read of high suicide numbers in this country . As a nation we find it very hard to talk about real feelings. I suppose it makes us vulnerable and that’s the last thing any of us need at the moment but in truth talking about these things normalises them.
Depression is a lack of expression.
Generations of being told to move on and let things go or ‘don’t mention that in front of your mother now or she’ll get upset’ has done nothing but add to the dangerous levels of mental health problems in Ireland today. I’m not saying we need ask people personal and hard hitting questions when we meet them in the supermarket.
It’s not about extremes but more about simplifying things for people. We need to give them real tangible information about depression, and real achievable goals to help overcome it.
Trying not to overmedicate especially in children is also important. Antidepressants helped me through a necessary short period but hard work and intense therapy did far more.
I talked about fears that had been buried since childhood. I cried from a place so deep within my body I heaved in pain. I never knew that place existed before. I woke up days later lighter and with a genuine feeling of contentment that I’m not sure I’ve ever felt before.
I had everything external even materialistic you might say but I was missing the most important part of any journey through life- true happiness. This comes from within. No one or nothing can give this to you. You can’t buy it or give birth to it. You can’t swap it, trade it, lie for it or blackmail someone for it.
It’s about finding peace with who you are and knowing that although you’re not perfect you’re doing your best.
Giving birth to my son was the best day of my life. He makes me the happiest person on earth but he made me realise what happiness is through watching him learn about everything we take for granted. We need to look at what we have rather than focusing on what we don’t have. We also need to get back to being a community, showing strength in numbers, loving our neighbours and take care of those less fortunate.
It sounds corny but there’s just some things that will never change with time!