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When your child leaves home

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You knew it was coming. Months of planning went into it. Choosing, visiting, waiting, packing, registering. Leaving.  Leaving. Years really.  You dig deep to find the best you you can - not too clingy, not too distant. Appropriately helpful without being controlling. Cheery, hopeful, upbeat. All goes well right until the end when you hug your goodbye and it all suddenly gets real.  How is this happening? When did he get so tall? So grown up? You feel suddenly small. There’s a warning tug in your gut and your mask crumples. Tears sting at your eyes. You hug a little tighter, just for a moment, just in case… And then he’s gone, a little uncertainly, towards the Welcome Zone. A last look, just to be sure, then you walk back to the car, step in and it’s over. The door closes and it’s suddenly quiet.  The journey home is a hazy memory. Amazing what you can do on auto pilot. You get home and have a conversation that goes something like this:  “How did it go?” “Fine. Well. It went well.” “H…

“My mind is too full to be mindful!”

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Do you struggle to manage your busy life? Do you feel you have to account for your time to your employer, your wife/husband, even your friends? Is it not enough to be good enough: you have to be a passionate, driven worker, going the extra mile, exceeding expectations; or a super-parent providing structured activities for your children, a sparkling home and food that will nourish and delight the family? With friends you may airbrush the reality of your life to present your best self: groomed, bright eyed, happy, successful. It’s exhausting. Social media reassures you that everyone feels the same, but they seem to manage better than you. The current self-help trend  encourages us to practice ‘mindfulness’.
Mindfulness. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Relaxing, calming, de-stressing. Mindfulness might be just the thing.
Most of the people I see experience some degree of anxiety that disrupts their daily lives. They crave a calm mind and whilst mindfulness appears to offer just that, for some th…

The trouble with holidays..

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The Oxford dictionary defines a holiday as "an extended period of leisure and recreation".  For some holidays really are a time to relax and re-charge the batteries, spend time with friends and family. Plans start weeks maybe months ahead - who will be there? What shall we do? What shall we eat?! The anticipation is half the enjoyment.
For others, holidays are a real trial, something to get through without too much damage. 
Family gatherings can be fraught with expectation, haunted by memories of an unhappy upbringing. Party talk reminds us of how lonely or lost we feel while everyone around us seems so happy. Suddenly our lives seem dull, work unrewarding, the future uncertain. 
Feelings we can find a place for while we have the distraction of work, school or day to day living threaten to break through messily when free time looms. Relationships come under strain as we struggle to contain our mixed up feelings. 
Some of us plan to be busy and active to make sure there is no…

“The drugs do work!” cry the headlines. But read the full report and the picture is rather different…

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“Major depressive disorder is one of the most common, burdensome, and costly psychiatric disorders worldwide in adults.”If you read the news recently following the publication of the report on Anti Depressants (Comparative efficacy and acceptability of 21 antidepressant drugs for the acute treatment of adults with major depressive disorder: a systematic review and network meta-analysis), you would be forgiven for thinking this was the final word on the issue. The message was clear: the drugs work and millions more should be taking them. But delve into this thoughtful, measured report and the picture is far less clear.
The writers recommend caution in drawing conclusions due to the “paucity of information reported in the original studies” and “a [possible] bias in conduct, analysis, or reporting of head-to-head trials, driven by commercial interests”. They note that whilst “depressive symptoms tend to spontaneously improve over time” for more persistent depression antidepressants have…