Relationships

Supporting Someone Who’s Depressed

Depression is categorised as a mood disorder which causes persistent feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in life. It affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. If you are someone who suffers from depression then I am sure you are aware what a difficult illness it can be to live with. Many times I have heard clients with the diagnosis wish it were something visible, like a broken bone. Then those around them would better understand their needs.

If you know someone who is depressed it can be difficult to know what to do. Especially if you have never felt that way. The first step is trying to understand how they are feeling. Below is a video that captures what it can be like to live with depression.

It can be incredibly difficult to offer support to someone who doesn’t feel like it will help or like they deserve it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, here are some ways you can offer support:

  • Listen without judgement. If the person who’s depressed lists all the reasons they feel down don’t counteract with reasons they should feel better. Often they already don’t understand why they feel the way they do. By telling them all the reasons they should feel better is not really hearing how they are experiencing things.
  • Be patient. Tell them you are there any time they need you. If they don’t take you up on the offer understand that they are not doing that to hurt you.
  • Offer support in any way. Offer lifts, collect shopping or even do odd jobs around their house. Depression causes almost a complete lack of motivation which means lots of things don’t get done.
  • Understand that this isn’t a choice. If those suffering could wave a magic wand and feel better, they would. However, even knowing the many factors the can cause depression doesn’t solve the problem.
  • Don’t give up.
  • Don’t say you know what it’s like if you don’t. 
  • Try not to push or get angry. Recommend that they talk to their GP or go see a counsellor but realise they need to make the decision for themselves.
  • Get support for yourself. If you are in a relationship or are a carer for someone with depression it can be draining for you to be around them. Find a way to support yourself and make sure you find a way to find joy in your life.

What anyone in this situation needs to know is that they are cared for. Do that anyway you can and you can help be the silver lining that gives this person hope.

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” – Laurell K. Hamilton

— If reading this has made you realise that you may be depressed or are ready to get help then contact myself or a therapist in your area. —

An (Almost) Free Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and with it can come the pressure to spend a lot of money. The costs add up very quickly if you feel the need to conform to typical Valentine’s Day purchases. You may be expected to buy flowers, chocolates, and go out for dinner. On average people spend at least €100 on this one day! Usually unaware of how much both florists, shops and restaurants mark up their prices.

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If you want to do something nice for that special someone but are already feeling stressed about how much it will cost. It’s important to remember that doing something nice for your significant other doesn’t have to cost a lot. If you want to take this day to enjoy being a couple then all that matters is spending time together. Keeping that in mind I have outlined a day long itinerary, or a menu of sorts. That way you have the option to pick and choose whatever you feel suits you best. With the goal being getting to spend time and not cash.

Wake-up rested (free): If possible give yourselves permission to sleep in. The effects of getting a good night’s sleep are huge, from better mood to overall well-being. You don’t want to start off the day irritable and crabby, whether you live under the same roof or not decide to begin slowly. Remember, today is not about feeling pressured but feeling content.

Brunch (€10): Grab a few things to make something yummy you’ll both enjoy. A few quid spent on eggs, bread, orange juice or their favourite coffee is really all you need. To make it feel special it just needs to look special. Clear off the table, set it, add some folded napkins and viola! Special Valentine’s Day brunch at the ready.Country-kitchen-table

Fun and Games (free): Stress or the familiarity of routine gets in the way and couples can forget to have fun together. Take a few hours and play board games, card games or ask each other fun and random questions. Have music that you love playing in the background instead of the television or Netflix and keep the social media sharing to a minimum. Being present to each other means you have to keep the distractions at bay.

Head outside (free – €10, if you want coffee or hot cocoa): Although it’s the middle of February, walking hand in hand in the chilly weather can be fun and romantic. Grab something warm to sip on and go explore! Check out a park, or take a hike somewhere you’ve never been. If you cannot imagine spending time outside then just leave the house and head to a museum, an art gallery or pop into a pool hall and play some games (this may cost you, but only a few a few €).  None of these have a high price tag as many museums and galleries are free.photo-1417962779624-1790ed01e8d5

Dinner (€20 – 30): Heading out for dinner on Valentine’s Day is really where you can end up spending a fortune. Instead of being surrounded by strangers, enjoy the comfort of your home. Then you can say goodbye to set menus and the already mentioned markups. Why not have a romantic picnic on the floor? Or in a  fort? Lay down a blanket, some pillows, light a few candles and string some fairy lights. Remember if it looks special it will feel special! If you don’t feel like cooking or you are worried about your talent in the kitchen. Mix and matching from your favourite take-away will still be a small percentage of what you would be paying to eat out.

Gift Giving (Max €5): If you feel like spending the whole day together is not gift enough. There are things you can give that don’t break the bank and unlike flowers won’t need to be thrown out in a week. You don’t need to push yourself to spend more than you have. Here are some lovely gifts that prove it really is the thought that counts. Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 19.13.40

  • Write a poem.
  • Make a list of all the little things you love about them.
  • Print and frame photos of the two of you together.
  • Make a slideshow put to their favourite music.
  • Bring back the mixed tape (or mixed thumb drive).

If you were to do everything mentioned above the entire day would only cost €55! As you can see you don’t need to do something big and extravagant. The days we consider special are most often the ones filled with fun experiences. If you want to make this Valentine’s Day (or any day) memorable, show the person you love that all that matters is the connection you share. At the end of the day that is something that cannot be purchased.

“I want to be in a relationship where you telling me you love me is just a ceremonious validation of what you already show me.” – Steve Maraboli

The Human Connection

Last week I had the opportunity to take part in the World’s Biggest Eye Contact Experiment here in Dublin. The goal was to get people to ponder the human connection and where it has gone.

Although advertised as making eye contact for 1 minute there were no timers and no one was counting down the seconds. It was more about being present and experiencing what it is like to sit across from a stranger and connecting. It’s rare we sit in silence staring so deeply into the eyes of someone we do not know. It’s rare we do that with those we are familiar with.

Eye contact removes the ego, you can’t hide or pretend to be someone you aren’t. When we have walls up the thought of someone seeing the real us and accepting that seems terrifying. But fear wasn’t what I sensed that day. The energy that surrounded those participating was palpable, it was calming and incredibly grounded. There was an openness to the experience which lead uneasy bystanders to take part, leaving looking noticeably different.

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Although at the top of one of busiest pedestrian streets in Dublin, a relaxing presence seemed to surround the area. The activity of the world around us faded away, leaving a warm and friendly atmosphere. There were smiles, hugs and tears exchanged.

When everything else fades away all we have is connection. Connection to each other and connection to ourselves. You don’t need to wait for something like this to come your way. You can start connecting more fully today by putting down the phone, meeting in person, getting out in nature, starting a conversation with a stranger or looking yourself in the eye and telling yourself it will all be okay.

This experience once again reminded me of why we are all here. We are here to love and we can’t do that without connection.

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – Mother Teresa

Don’t Bite

There are times in our lives when we are surrounded by people we feel connected to. Over the years these relationships can change. The ones that affect us most are usually the ones within our family. In most cases, no matter what whey will always be in our lives. However, not everyone feels safe within the family environment.

The same issues can arise within our friend groups, work or any situation that involves interactions with others. Above all else you should feel safe and grounded. If you have begun to recognise there are certain people that make you feel very ungrounded or uneasy I invite you to trust that feeling. Begin working towards what you need to feel better in yourself when you are around this type of energy.

Bridging Gaps Between People, Processes, + Data.

What can you do?

  • It’s important that you acknowledge these feelings and if you can, try to understand what they are connected too.
  • Before meeting with these people take a few slow deep breaths and envision a bright light emanating from your heart or stomach. With every inhale and exhale it gets brighter and surrounds you.
  • This light will project from the things they say or the things they don’t.
  • Don’t spend too much time in their presence.
  • Stick to your boundaries. Only give them the amount of time you can without leaving you overly effected.
  • Don’t bite the hook. Without trying there are many people who know exactly how to draw us in. Allow them to fish all day without you biting and that will help stop the cycle of reactions.

You will being to realise that in most of these interactions it is both parties that causes the cycle to continue. You can only control you. Stop allowing them to have the power and choose to feel grounded and centred in yourself.

“Standing up for yourself doesn’t always involve verbal confrontation. Sometimes it’s about not wasting energy on people who are negative.” Sherry Argov

Draining Energies

Have you ever spent time with a friend or acquaintance and felt exhausted after a visit? Some people in our lives can make us feel energised, while others can make us feel drained. It’s the people that drain us that we need to be weary of.

I have heard the term ‘energy vampire’ in the past. Although a good description of what it feels like to be in the presence of someone like this, it’s not entirely fair. Mainly because a vampires goal is to suck the life from you, for the most part the individuals that drain us are not doing this on purpose. In many cases they are completely unaware. Which is why you need to watch yourself around them.

It’s often this lack of awareness that causes the drain. If you aren’t aware of your own process (journey/struggle/ability to make sense of why you’re here) then you may get stuck in a ‘poor me’ cycle. Where instead of learning the lessons the universe keeps throwing at you, you complain that the same things continue to happen. Often insisting that everything needs to change but not starting with yourself.

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For those of us that are caregivers this type of person can very easily pull us in. They are looking for an outside source to rescue them, while the carer, in turn is looking for someone to rescue.

Are you being drained? Here are some things to note.

  • They are taking more than they are giving: if you feel drained that means the energy is going only one way. Healthy friendships and relationships are a two way street.
  • Some people love to be the victim: there are times in our lives when we are going to be miserable. Grieving, feeling sad/angry/fed-up are all normal parts of life. However, anything can become a pattern, that includes wallowing and feeling victimised. Some people begin to feel they only get attention when being the victim, you don’t have to be a part of that cycle.
  • You choose to give your power away: you have to decide what treatment is okay, that includes how much of yourself you give to others. Boundaries are important in all relationships.

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If you have a friend who’s feeling like a drain these days and just needs extra support than make sure you’ve protected yourself. Follow the steps above and imagine there’s a strong force field that surrounds you before you spend time with them. Imagine it keeps you grounded and protected.

If until this point you had never noticed how you felt around others then start checking in. When you’re with your best friend, partner or work colleagues, take a few slow deep breaths and notice how you feel in your body. You are more than a well of energy for others to take advantage of. The more tuned in you are with yourself the better you will know where there are imbalances in your life.

“You cannot expect to live a positive life if you hang with negative people.” – Joel Osteen

Do Good, Feel Good

Giving back to the world around you can make you feel better in yourself. It also has added health benefits like lower blood pressure and a longer life. When you aren’t feeling happy in yourself it can be difficult to be motivated to do something for others. Why not do something that you enjoy with the added bonus of helping?

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Foster an animal – If you love animals but maybe don’t feel ready for the commitment of a full time pet, try fostering. Here in Dublin the SPCA is always looking for foster parents for their animals. You get to see what it’s like to have a pet, without feeling obligated to keep it forever.

Volunteer at a charity shop – If you have some spare time or have been out of work and want to ease yourself back into that life, this is a great start. Usually the hours are relatively short and you will also be helping a great cause.

Run for charity – There are tons of fun runs all over the world that need money raised. If you already like to run you are doing something you love while also contributing to the greater good.

Turn hobbies into fundraisers – Maybe you love to bake or have a knack for making decorations. You could set up a table one day and decide that all money raised goes to help a cause you are passionate about.

There are so many benefits to giving and it’s something that is incredibly easy to do. Especially once you realise you don’t even have to go out of your way to do it.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” – Anne Frank

10 Lessons learned from a 3 year old

I have a beautiful god-daughter who I think is one of the smartest, sweetest, most beautiful kids on the planet.  After minding her I have a further appreciation of sleep and for all parents out there. Kids are wonderful teachers as they can see a world filled with joy and opportunities. I think we could all benefit from having such beliefs.

Below are some things I have learned from her and other children, they are all adding light to an often dark and cynical world.

  1. The world is an amazing place. With fresh eyes we can appreciate so much more around us. Helicopters and airplanes are a marvel. Our imagination is an incredible tool that we rarely use for good. Every morning is a gift and we should all wake up as excited as a child because it means a new day full of possibility.
  2. We rarely check our needs, also known as the: ‘Do you need to wee?’ principle. Kids can get so wrapped up in playing, laughing or watching cartoons that accidents can happen. As you spend your day rushing around do you ever stop and notice your needs or how you’re feeling?  Take a second and close your eyes. Take a slow deep breath through your nose, down into you belly, then slowly exhale through your mouth. Do that a few times then ask yourself: How am I feeling? What do I need? Take note and follow through if you can.
  3. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. This kid only had a few mouthfuls of ice cream then stopped. I repeat, ice cream. Her body told her she was full so she stopped eating. We can get very detached from ourselves, our bodies and what they need. You can change that by trying to eat mindfully (pause between bites and appreciate flavours) then wait at least 10-20 minutes before getting a second helping.
  4. Sometimes a hug and a kiss can make it all better. Life can be difficult at any age. Even more so when we feel alone. A hug won’t make your problems disappear but it can make them feel more manageable. Feeling connected to someone else makes the hard times easier to bear and makes us feel safe. The small child in all of us needs to feel like it will all be okay.
  5. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. From a young age being independent makes us feel strong, capable and in control. But there are times when we can’t do it alone. Try to quiet the judge in your mind, you aren’t weak for needing/wanting help, you’re human.
  6. Bubbles are amazing. No need to elaborate.
  7. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. We want to instil in children that there is nothing wrong with getting it wrong; you will learn and grow. As we get older we forget about that. So many strive for ‘perfection’ feeling that every mis-step is a failure, that we are failures. That simply is not the case. Mistakes are an opportunity for growth. Grieve if you need to, show yourself some compassion then move forward with new knowledge.
  8. Make time to rest when you’re exhausted. Give yourself permission to slow down. Sometimes we all need a nap.
  9. Sharing can be difficult. When we’re young we are taught how important it is to share. As adults with jobs and families we have to once again learn that lesson. Sharing our space and time isn’t easy and we can sometimes feel as though we are stretched too thin. That’s when we refer back to #5 and #8, share with someone your vulnerability and your need for naps.
  10. Love and be loved. Of all the lessons we will ever learn this is of the utmost importance. I believe this is the reason we are here, to learn how to love and how to be loved. Children epitomise this as they love without condition and judgement. They do not question why others love them, they just know it to be true. I think they’re onto something.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” -Lao Tzu

‘Tis The Season

Happy Holidays to all of you out there! I hope it is being spent slowing down and enjoying the year you’ve had; without pressure to change or needing to judge.

This time of year we often want to focus on others. If you feel like that’s how you want to spend your time, I recommend reading this great article from TinyBuddha.com. It’s all about how to make others feel special.

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Enjoy this time away from the busyness of life and please try to slow down! It’s rare Western society gives such permission, take it.

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”  – Charles Dickens

Relationships

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The subject of relationships often pops up with clients, it often pops up in life. When it comes to romantic relationships things can get complicated very fast. There have been studies done that compare falling in love to being on drugs. It’s no wonder that after the falling has happened some people sit back and wonder how they got to where they are.

If you are presently at a relationship cross roads, take some time and sit with your feelings. Don’t sit with how you used to feel but how you feel now. Far too many people end up staying in unhappy relationships holding onto the past. They focus on how different they were or how different he/she was. Unfortunately that’s not the reality, how is the relationship today?

Ground yourself in the present and ask yourself what makes any relationship good. Does yours have these qualities? Here are a few ideas of what to look for:

  • We share some secrets.
  • We know about each other’s dreams and expectations.
  • Our first date is fresh in my mind.
  • I feel I come home to my partner whenever we meet up.
  • We disagree, we talk, we negotiate, we compromise.
  • Sex is pretty good most of the time.
  • We see conflict is a healthy component in our relationship. It tells us there are things to discuss, not things to drive us apart.
  • I love her/him for what they are, not for what I want.
  • He/She is my best friend.

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How do you feel about yourself in the relationship? The Self can often get lost in the love for another, which isn’t healthy. You should both have a part of your lives that is separate, it gives space for growth and exploration. If you want to read up on what is healthy and what isn’t, check out more here.

Every now and then checking in on how you feel about your relationship is important. It’s better if you don’t wait until it seems as though things are falling apart.

I know how scary it can be to imagine a life without your partner in it. But wouldn’t it be scarier to look back and see you spent so long unhappy? Open a dialogue with yourself, then open one with your partner.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” – Stephen Chbosky

How to be supportive

Whether someone has received bad news, feels they did bad on an exam, is just feeling low or recently lost someone. It can be difficult to know what to say. Many of us want to ease their struggle so will say things like: ‘I’m sure it’ll be grand.’ ‘I imagine it’s not as bad as you think.’ ‘They’re in a better place.’

The problem with all three of those is that you aren’t really hearing what is being said and supporting the person who has shared it. A lot of the time there is nothing that can be said to make the other person feel better.

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What they need is support.  They need to know that in whatever they are feeling they are not alone.

The comic in this post was originally aimed at those with depression. However, I feel like it can be used as a great example of what we all need every now and then. Notice the person giving the support doesn’t say anything in hopes to make the other feel better. They are just there and that can be enough.

The next time someone tells you they are sad, mad, embarrassed or experiencing any of the possible combinations of human emotion. Before you decide what to say, ask them what they need and give them that. Being supportive is about helping the other person to feel better. It’s not about knowing what to say.

“Love would never leave us alone” – Bob Marley