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!

Your health is your wealth. How many times have we heard that saying. Taking care of yourself to make sure you’re healthy for your kids is important but what if you’re kids become sick. As a parent it is not only upsetting but from the parents I talk to they also feel helpless. Christmas can be a very difficult time of the year for a lot of reasons. We miss the ones we love and for those who are sick it very often means spending Christmas away from home.

Valerie Keating and her husband Gary are two people who have never forgotten the seven weeks Valerie spent in hospital before she gave birth to their son Dylan (who is now nine and healthy). They were both so grateful that everything was OK that they promised they would give something back.

So seven years ago they started the annual celebrity ward walk at Crumlin children’s hospital. Valerie told me “I just felt it must be so hard for parents with kids to sit day in day out in hospital with little to entertain them. We had so many celebrity contacts we thought it might be a good idea to get them all together in a children’s hospital to visit the kids and parents and Xmas. Hence the name “Celebrity Ward Walk”.

“The hope is that for a few minutes/hours the kids and their parents might just “forget” about their pain and worry and would enjoy the moments a) looking forward to the celebrities arriving and b) the moments afterwards where they have pictures and happy memories.”

This year is a particularly difficult year for Valerie and Gary though as in January their five year old son Josh was diagnosed with HUS and was very ill in Crumlin.(he is great now Thank God)! For this reason they want to make this the biggest and the best year ever and want to cover every single ward in the hospital.

Every year over 25 celebrities attend. First they all go to the Auditorium for a sing song and then they are split up into groups and go around various wards.

Here are a list of some of the celebrities who attended last year: Brian Ormond (he has never missed a year) and Pippa, Ryan Sheridan, Keith Barry, Bernard Dunne, Ronan Keating, Brendan and Jenny O’Carroll (they have never missed a year), Sile Seoige, Brent Pope, Victoria Smurfit, Shane Byrne, Kathryn Thomas and many more

This year already confirmed are: Brian and Pippa, Brendan and Jenny O’Carroll, Shane Byrne, Dylan McGrath, Nick Munier, Shane O’Donoghue, Glenda Gilson, Lorraine Keane, Rosanna Davison, Lisa Fitzpatrick, Jackie Lavin and about 5 lads from the Leinster team. I am also delighted to be taking part for the first time.

Two years ago Val asked her friend Maresa Cagney at Heinz to sponsor the event – they give Crumlin a very generous donation which goes towards buying the children presents at Christmas. To mark this generous donation we now call the event the “Heinz Celebrity Ward Walk” at Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

Most importantly this is all organised and run on a completely voluntary basis. I’ll be keeping you posted with pics on the day and all the latest news from the celebs on hand!!!

Your health is your wealth. How many times have we heard that saying. Taking care of yourself to make sure you’re healthy for your kids is important but what if you’re kids become sick. As a parent it is not only upsetting but from the parents I talk to they also feel helpless. Christmas can be a very difficult time of the year for a lot of reasons. We miss the ones we love and for those who are sick it very often means spending Christmas away from home.

Valerie Keating and her husband Gary are two people who have never forgotten the seven weeks Valerie spent in hospital before she gave birth to their son Dylan (who is now nine and healthy). They were both so grateful that everything was OK that they promised they would give something back.

So seven years ago they started the annual celebrity ward walk at Crumlin children’s hospital. Valerie told me “I just felt it must be so hard for parents with kids to sit day in day out in hospital with little to entertain them. We had so many celebrity contacts we thought it might be a good idea to get them all together in a children’s hospital to visit the kids and parents and Xmas. Hence the name “Celebrity Ward Walk”.

“The hope is that for a few minutes/hours the kids and their parents might just “forget” about their pain and worry and would enjoy the moments a) looking forward to the celebrities arriving and b) the moments afterwards where they have pictures and happy memories.”

This year is a particularly difficult year for Valerie and Gary though as in January their five year old son Josh was diagnosed with HUS and was very ill in Crumlin.(he is great now Thank God)! For this reason they want to make this the biggest and the best year ever and want to cover every single ward in the hospital.

Every year over 25 celebrities attend. First they all go to the Auditorium for a sing song and then they are split up into groups and go around various wards.

Here are a list of some of the celebrities who attended last year: Brian Ormond (he has never missed a year) and Pippa, Ryan Sheridan, Keith Barry, Bernard Dunne, Ronan Keating, Brendan and Jenny O’Carroll (they have never missed a year), Sile Seoige, Brent Pope, Victoria Smurfit, Shane Byrne, Kathryn Thomas and many more

This year already confirmed are: Brian and Pippa, Brendan and Jenny O’Carroll, Shane Byrne, Dylan McGrath, Nick Munier, Shane O’Donoghue, Glenda Gilson, Lorraine Keane, Rosanna Davison, Lisa Fitzpatrick, Jackie Lavin and about 5 lads from the Leinster team. I am also delighted to be taking part for the first time.

Two years ago Val asked her friend Maresa Cagney at Heinz to sponsor the event – they give Crumlin a very generous donation which goes towards buying the children presents at Christmas. To mark this generous donation we now call the event the “Heinz Celebrity Ward Walk” at Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

Most importantly this is all organised and run on a completely voluntary basis. I’ll be keeping you posted with pics on the day and all the latest news from the celebs on hand!!!

As appears fortnightly in VIP Magazine.

James turned one in September and we had a great day. However as a parent I had a million different emotions flowing through me. I was so excited for this special milestone but I was also sad that my baby was turning into a toddler. Why? Well, we spend most of the first year wishing for the next stage, sitting, crawling, standing etc. I remember spending hours trying to get him to hold a spoon and as soon as he did I was onto the next thing. Read more

As appears fortnightly in VIP Magazine.

James turned one in September and we had a great day. However as a parent I had a million different emotions flowing through me. I was so excited for this special milestone but I was also sad that my baby was turning into a toddler. Why? Well, we spend most of the first year wishing for the next stage, sitting, crawling, standing etc. I remember spending hours trying to get him to hold a spoon and as soon as he did I was onto the next thing. Read more

As appears monthly in VIP.

If one more person asks ‘have you got your baby into a routine yet?’ I think I’ll scream. I’m well aware that a good routine is best for the baby, and you in the long run, but the pressure to be the perfect parent gets a bit much sometimes. I’ve read Gina Fords ‘The Contented little baby book’ and Tracy Hoggs ‘The Baby Whisperer’ and decided to give a combination of both a go. I was so exhausted trying to time everything and make sure I was on schedule that I almost forgot James was a real person.

Now that’s not to say Babies don’t need routine because they do. Everyone thrives on some sort of routine. I relaxed a little and followed the general rules: Feed, change, play, sleep. I’m pretty lucky, as James seemed to settle into his own routine more or less. Read more

As appears monthly in VIP.

If one more person asks ‘have you got your baby into a routine yet?’ I think I’ll scream. I’m well aware that a good routine is best for the baby, and you in the long run, but the pressure to be the perfect parent gets a bit much sometimes. I’ve read Gina Fords ‘The Contented little baby book’ and Tracy Hoggs ‘The Baby Whisperer’ and decided to give a combination of both a go. I was so exhausted trying to time everything and make sure I was on schedule that I almost forgot James was a real person.

Now that’s not to say Babies don’t need routine because they do. Everyone thrives on some sort of routine. I relaxed a little and followed the general rules: Feed, change, play, sleep. I’m pretty lucky, as James seemed to settle into his own routine more or less. Read more

Ssshhh It’s a secret! Daft isn’t it in this day and age. Suffering from the baby blues does not make you a bad Mum, wife, partner or anything else for that matter. It happens to nearly 60/70% of women and no one is 100% sure why it affects some women and not others.

You cry for no reason. You feel anxious and tense and even the simplest tasks can seem difficult. You’re tired all the time and you simply can’t cope. Having a baby can be exciting, nerve wracking, life changing, breath taking, miraculous and the thought of giving birth can be just plain scary. You carry this baby for 9 months and finally he arrives and you’re crying!

Having a baby can be exciting, nerve wracking, life changing, breath taking, miraculous and the thought of giving birth can be just plain scary.

You’re on a rollercoaster and you have no idea when you’re going up or coming back down. The baby blues can happen to any woman at any time. They don’t choose their victims; however, there are some common themes. Personal issues, financial, relationship problems, work concerns, a bad birth experience or an inability to bond with your child are just a few.

We put ourselves under enormous pressure these days. Your body and mind need time to recover after birth and you need to be kind to yourself. Your hormones need to settle and both you and your baby need to adjust to your new life together. Try not to be ‘Supermum’, the cleaning can wait but your baby needs you. Let your friends and family help in any way they can. Simple things like supermarket trips, washing, cooking or even taking the baby for a walk so Mum can have a nap make all the difference.

Having suffered from bouts of depression in the past I knew what signs to watch out for. I was constantly on guard but that didn’t stop the tears flowing. James means the world to me and I love him with every bone in my body. Because of this I felt guilty. I’m a single mum and needed help. With some rest and support and a lot of cuddles from friends and family I’m back on my feet. You need to be honest with yourself and the people around you. It’s important to remember to eat well, get some exercise and get some rest! The days you don’t feel like taking a shower, take that shower, believe me it works. Push yourself a little further than you want to go each day and you’re on the road to recovery. Don’t feel like you’re going mad, you’re not alone.

As everyone’s an individual if the cloud is not lifting you need to ask for help.

Cuidiu(The Irish childbirth Trust) offers great support across the board.
WEB: www.cuidiu.com EMAIL: generalenquiry@cuidiu.com

GENERAL PARENTING WEBSITES, that offer discussion and advice on all different aspects on parenting:
www.rolercoaster.ie, www.magicmums.ie, www.parentline.ie, www.dad.ie,
www.parentplus.ie, and www.mumstobe.ie

 

Ssshhh It’s a secret! Daft isn’t it in this day and age. Suffering from the baby blues does not make you a bad Mum, wife, partner or anything else for that matter. It happens to nearly 60/70% of women and no one is 100% sure why it affects some women and not others.

You cry for no reason. You feel anxious and tense and even the simplest tasks can seem difficult. You’re tired all the time and you simply can’t cope. Having a baby can be exciting, nerve wracking, life changing, breath taking, miraculous and the thought of giving birth can be just plain scary. You carry this baby for 9 months and finally he arrives and you’re crying!

Having a baby can be exciting, nerve wracking, life changing, breath taking, miraculous and the thought of giving birth can be just plain scary.

You’re on a rollercoaster and you have no idea when you’re going up or coming back down. The baby blues can happen to any woman at any time. They don’t choose their victims; however, there are some common themes. Personal issues, financial, relationship problems, work concerns, a bad birth experience or an inability to bond with your child are just a few.

We put ourselves under enormous pressure these days. Your body and mind need time to recover after birth and you need to be kind to yourself. Your hormones need to settle and both you and your baby need to adjust to your new life together. Try not to be ‘Supermum’, the cleaning can wait but your baby needs you. Let your friends and family help in any way they can. Simple things like supermarket trips, washing, cooking or even taking the baby for a walk so Mum can have a nap make all the difference.

Having suffered from bouts of depression in the past I knew what signs to watch out for. I was constantly on guard but that didn’t stop the tears flowing. James means the world to me and I love him with every bone in my body. Because of this I felt guilty. I’m a single mum and needed help. With some rest and support and a lot of cuddles from friends and family I’m back on my feet. You need to be honest with yourself and the people around you. It’s important to remember to eat well, get some exercise and get some rest! The days you don’t feel like taking a shower, take that shower, believe me it works. Push yourself a little further than you want to go each day and you’re on the road to recovery. Don’t feel like you’re going mad, you’re not alone.

As everyone’s an individual if the cloud is not lifting you need to ask for help.

Cuidiu(The Irish childbirth Trust) offers great support across the board.
WEB: www.cuidiu.com EMAIL: generalenquiry@cuidiu.com

GENERAL PARENTING WEBSITES, that offer discussion and advice on all different aspects on parenting:
www.rolercoaster.ie, www.magicmums.ie, www.parentline.ie, www.dad.ie,
www.parentplus.ie, and www.mumstobe.ie