Alchemy Health & Healing

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Seasonal Affective Disorder April 11, 2010

At the beginning of this month, those of us living in the south eastern states of Australia were treated to an extra hour of sleep as we said goodbye to daylight savings and began the slide into winter.

It’s not unusual for people to dread the passing of summer and the onset of winter. Warm summer nights spent outdoors are replaced by colder, darker evenings which force people to spend more time indoors. For some people however, disliking winter can be much more than simply missing warm weather and summer activities. Winter can become a severely debilitating and isolating time as they try to manage symptoms associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – but is it depression?

Associate Professor Michael Baigent, Clinical Advisor to beyondblue says SAD is a depressive illness that has a seasonal pattern. It’s characterised by mood disturbances that begin in winter and subside when the season ends. It’s usually diagnosed after the person has had the same symptoms during winter for a couple of years.”The behaviour associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder is quite different from the mood changes a lot of people feel because of the change of season and the disruptions to their summer lifestyle.

With SAD, the depression symptoms are more about ‘slowing down’. People sleep more, eat more and usually crave carbohydrates which leads to weight gain. They’ll have a lot less energy and won’t want to spend time with others. SAD has a cluster of symptoms that makes the person look like they are going into ‘hibernation’,” Dr Baigent says.

The cause of the SAD is believed to be a lack of exposure to light. The pineal gland, located in the middle of the brain responds to darkness by secreting melatonin which regulates daily biorhythms including the sleep/wake cycle. It’s believed that when this is out of balance, SAD can occur.”It’s important for people to get up in the morning and get some exposure to sunlight, ideally before 8am. Dawn and morning light is believed to be integral in regulating our biorhythms. Combining this with exercise is really important”, Dr Baigent says.

Homeopathic medicines may also be of assistance.

Rhus Toxicodendrum – this is a remedy that has a main characteristic of all symptoms being aggravated by cold temperatures and wet, foggy weather, and ameliorated by warmth. Mentally those benefiting from Rhus tox may also exhibit restlessness, and may feel particularly fearful, down or depressed at night.

Aurum Metallicum – this remedy is metallic gold, a substance traditionally associated with the sun – bright, shining, high in the sky, pure and warm. In wintertime, people who may benefit from this remedy may find themselves at the opposite end of this spectrum, feeling dark, sometimes deeply depressed, and as if they are unable to achieve the high expectations they have of themselves. This is a classic remedy for many of the symptoms associated with seasonal affective disorder, and is often prescribed for bouts of depression associated with a lack of sunlight. It may also be helpful for stress, tension and sadness.

Nux Vomica – a remedy for people who are chilly in general and aggravated by drafts or cold air blowing. They don’t mind wet weather, but do need to get warm, which helps them feel better.

Calcarea Carbonica – another remedy for chilly people who feel worse in cold, wet weather and better from warmth. Although chilly, they tend to sweat (especially on their head at night) and both the perspiration as well as other discharges may smell sour.

Whilst these remedies may be available over the counter, they tend to work more effectively when a full case history is taken and the medicines are prescribed by a qualified Homeopath.

If you or someone you know feels they suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder call me to see how homeopathy and counselling can help.




Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? March 27, 2010

As a 5 year old I told people I was going to be a Playboy Bunny when I grew up !!!

It was the early 1970’s and my naive perception of a Playboy Bunny was wearing a leotard, which I wore to ballet class every week, and living in America. I figured if I was a Playboy Bunny I would live in America and I could go to Disneyland everyday !

Often in life we look at other people and admire who they are, what they do, and what they seem to have achieved in life. A young actor may admire Cate Blanchett or Russell Crow, or an aspiring businessperson may admire Sir Richard Branson.  A single person may admire the seemingly happy family next door or an unhappily married person may admire the single person.

Admiration can turn to envy, jealousy and resentment when our perceptions begin to cloud our judgement of who the admired person really is.  We begin to focus on what the other person has and what we don’t, or where they shine and we fail. 

What we are not keeping in mind is the complete story. How many rejections did Cate Blanchett get before she made it big? How many failed businesses did Sir Richard Branson have before Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Music?  We never hear of the arguments behind closed doors that the seemingly perfect family next door have and the married person never knows of the loneliness and longing for a partner that the single person may have. We only have our perceptions of the other person’s life.

Envy, jealousy and resentment are destructive emotions which eat away at your soul.  You end up spending so much time feeling these emotions and directing your anger at others, that you don’t actually achieve anything in your own life.  Rather than focusing on what you don’t have or where you are not ‘good enough’, focus on what you do have, your achievements and where you are succeeding in life and build on that.

Find out what works and do more of it!

In a workshop many years ago, we were asked to write down the personality traits of a person we admired.  Focussing on the person I admired I diligently began to write all her positive attributes.  That was easy !!!  When we had finished the facilitator suggested that these traits were all attributes that we had within us, but hadn’t acknowledged. We can easily see these traits in others, yet find it difficult to recognise them in ourselves.

Look at what it is you admire about the person you feel envious, jealous and resentful towards, use those attributes and achievements as an inspiration and explore ways to incorporate that into your own life.  Spend time developing your own sense of self rather than focussing on your perception of someone else.  Remember that there is a bigger picture to that person’s life that you will never know. 

As the years went on, I grew up and discovered what a Playboy Bunny actually was and found other ways to visit Disneyland, without having to live with Hugh in the Playboy Mansion.

If you or someone you know is focussing on other people’s achievements and feeling “not good enough” call me to see how counselling can help.


Annihilating Your Inner Critic

“you’re fat”

               “you can’t do that”

                                        “you’re hopeless”

                                                               “you’ll never find a partner”

                                                                                                 “you’re stupid”

Familiar?  This is the voice of the Inner Critic !!!

The Inner Critic (also called the Inner Judge or Critical Parent) is that inner voice which “whispers in our ear that we’re not good enough, that nobody will approve of what we’re doing, and that they don’t really like us anyway” (Good, 2000)

Good (2000) suggests that the “inner critic begins as a survival mechanism. When we’re children, part of our parents’ job is to teach us socially acceptable behavior. In doing so, even the best parents inevitably curb our natural instincts. This makes us feel that there must be something innately wrong with us, and it hurts or shames us. In order to avoid future pain, we start telling ourselves what’s wrong with us before others in our world get around to it.

Ever notice that the Inner Critic starts voicing it’s opinions when we are already feeling vulnerable?  Well, how do we overcome the Inner Critic?  Well, for starters, let’s stop giving it the entitlement of capital letters !!!!

 The first step is awareness. Listen to the inner critic and catch it in the act.  Becoming aware of your inner critic you soon become aware of how present it is in your life and how much it seems to run your life.

The second step is to fight back and stop the inner critic in its tracks.  Don’t try to reason with it or prove it wrong.  The inner critic will always win in these situations. 

 Ways to stop the inner critic include getting angry and saying things like:

  • That is not useful
  • That is a lie
  • That is abusive
  • or my favourite … Shut up !!!

     (use profanities if necessary)

Sometimes the inner critic is so persistant that it just won’t listen or we are feeling so vulnerable that we are unable to fight back.

When all else fails (and in reference to my previous newsletter) eat chocolate !!!

Having an inner critic moment myself recently, I went on the search for a recommended chocolate ice cream. I stumbled across Serendipity’s Death by Chocolate ice cream and thought the name appropriate… I will annihilate my inner critic with chocolate ice cream !!!!

The real question here is:

How much longer do you want to live life being controlled by your inner critic?

If you or someone you know is having trouble annihilating or controlling their inner critic contact me…


Good, S (2000) The Inner Critic


Surviving a Life Crisis

Sometimes life can throw us curve balls that can seem too challenging to cope with. And sometimes life can throw us more than one at the same time. So many of us lead extremely busy lives with not much space to deal with these challenges.

Curve balls come in many shapes and sizes:

death of a loved one
divorce or separation
financial crisis
physical illnesses orinjuries
serious challenges in the workplace

Some people say it’s the ‘universe’ trying to tell you something: a wake up call on how precious life is; time to reflect on the important things in life; time to consider making changes in your life…

This is a great mental and spiritual activity to do once the crisis is over, but when you feel the world is against you ~



What you need is someone on your side! Someone who, in your darkest time, you can just be with. No justification of why you are going through that particular time, but someone who will back you up when you momentarily lose touch with your own inner strength. Someone who can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Where do we find such angels or heroes in the world? They come in many forms and those who do step up to fill those shoes may really surprise you in your time of need.

Who in your life currently could you call on to be your angel or hero?

Sometimes the angel or hero is a stranger, not yet known to you. A counsellor, a doctor or a lawyer. But it MUST be someone who is 100% on your side.

Other wonderful things to have to support you include your favourite foods ~ yes the diet has to go out the window during these challenging times. Eat chocolate! drink coffee! and consume massive amounts of pizza! (unless a medical condition says otherwise). Other substances like cigarettes, alcohol and recreational drugs can be used, but in moderation as, remember, you need to be on guard and alert to be able to come up with your next move. Unfortunately, your angel or hero cannot fight the fight or do this for you… you must be alert !

Nice nurturing activities are also a MUST… massages, bubble baths (yes even you guys), long walks in nature and listening to your favourite music. Also added to this list are movies which inspire and motivate you or movies which simply allow you to cry and cry and cry until there are no more tears left.

So I say, bring on life’s curve balls…. life seems disasterous at the time, but it gives you a great opportunity to grow as a person, find out who the angels and heroes are in your life and if nothing else a fantastic opportunity to eat yummy food and take time out from the crazy, busy life we build for ourselves…. enjoy 🙂


PS If you’re looking for a ‘stranger’ angel or hero contact me.