Sue’s warrior seeds are in full bloom

Sue from Worcester emerges proud with her journey from buried seed to blossoming warrior…

Sue Irwin

The Warrior Awakens

On the 6th November 2017, I celebrated my unofficial 4th birthday, which might sound a little strange, since I turned 56 in January 2018. But you see, four years ago on that day, the warrior which had lain dormant inside me for so many years, woke up, and it was an anniversary worthy of celebration.

Being a keen gardener, I like to compare that warrior to a seed, a seed which had over the years, been bruised and beaten and denied the sustenance it needed to grow. At times it had gasped for breath, and searched desperately for water so that it might at least remain intact, but the environment around it was often barren, and yet somehow it managed to survive all those years in the wilderness.  That brave and resilient seed had waited patiently as it held on to hope, held on to a dream that one day, given the right conditions and with the right help, it might awaken and begin to spread its roots, start to grow and produce colourful flowers.

Of course, a seed doesn’t just turn into a beautiful flower overnight, and most cannot begin to grow without help. This is where a gardener is necessary, to nurture the seed, so that it will blossom and flourish. The gardener must pay attention to its needs, plant it in the right soil, water it and ensure that it is fed – basically love and care for that seed until it has spread its roots and is able to love and care for itself. A gardener must also have the courage to take risks, to perhaps place the young seedling outside, away from the warmth and comfort of the greenhouse, despite the risk of a frosty night or insects which may destroy it.

Over the years, I had existed and survived by looking outside of myself, too frightened to delve into what lay beneath my skin. I had grown up in an ordinary family, the youngest of three siblings. I’d attended ordinary state schools, gained average grades in exams. I travelled and lived for a while in a few other countries. I gained a degree in European languages, found employment and got married. I gave birth to two beautiful and unique daughters. At the age of 35 I became pregnant with my third child and to the outside world (and to me) my life appeared straightforward.

But, I had a secret, a secret that I had managed to hide since childhood, and a secret that I shared with only one other person. The consequences of sharing this secret with anyone else would be devastating (or so I was led to believe) and whenever I contemplated it, sheer terror would engulf me and I would feel overwhelmed. So much so, that I remained silent – or rather, I was silenced, and so I buried that secret deep within me, in the hope that it would over time disappear. But it was not to be, and I wonder sometimes, how I ever thought it would disappear.

The birth of my son in December 1996, proved to be the moment when this secret reared its ugly head and shortly after his birth, I found myself in need of support to manage my distress. Believing that I could trust in the expertise of professionals, I turned to statutory mental health services for help. I was immediately prescribed medication for my symptoms and so began a journey that was to last 17 long and at times desperate years. By the time my son was about to celebrate his 17th birthday I had become one of those infamous revolving-door patients – I was simply a set of numbers from the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. I had slowly become dependent on doctors, nurses, locked wards, cocktails of medication and ECT and believed that this was the only way to keep me alive and existing. I began to self-harm by cutting and burning myself, I abused alcohol and smoked cannabis. I attempted to take my own life on more than one occasion, and I’m sad and ashamed to say that at one point I wanted to take my own children’s lives as well as my own. Unfortunately, throughout all those years, I never felt safe enough nor was I able to find someone who I trusted enough to disclose the horrifying nature and cause of my distress. Finding words to express what had happened to me, how I was feeling and what I was experiencing felt an impossible task and so I was communicating to others in what seemed like a foreign tongue.

By November 2013, my spirit felt completely broken, I felt disempowered, dehumanised, re-traumatised, hopeless, isolated, ashamed, terrified, guilty and angry, but most of all I felt desperate. I believed the time had come to leave this world for good and I put together a solid plan to end my life – I chose the method I would use and a comforting place where I would spend my final moments. I did my best to write a meaningful letter to each of my children in an effort to explain my actions.  I organised my finances so that my family would not have to worry about the cost of funeral expenses and I wrote a will.

But that warrior, that seed – essentially the essence of me – would not allow me to carry out my plan.

On the 6th November 2013, it was decided that I should come off, overnight, the cocktail of psychiatric medications I had been taking for 17 years, and my world was turned upside down. Whilst this rather brutal decision was made for me and I had no choice in the matter, it proved to be a momentous turning point in my life. Little did I know it at the time, but the moment had arrived where I would now have to search for a gardener and the right environment where that seed could be nurtured.

Four years later, it turns out that the head gardener was me, and although I feel exhausted, I am grateful that I am still here to tell the tale. I remain medication free, I parted company with statutory mental health services three years ago, and I am now slowly managing to confront and deal with the damaging effects of that toxic secret.

A friend recently wrote out a list of characteristics that she saw in me and if I’m honest, I was shocked and a little embarrassed when I read it. But whilst I am no superwoman or saint by any stretch of the imagination, I am able to recognise that the warrior within me has enormous inner strength, courage, passion and determination.

I have gradually found ways to nurture that seed within me over the last four years and am allowing it to spread its roots, to grow and to flourish and it’s taking every ounce of courage and strength that I possess. But I haven’t done it alone, there have been “other gardeners” (my children, my friends, my work colleagues, my peers and my therapists), whose courage, strength and love for me have enabled me in one way or another to feel safe, in control and a valuable member of the human race.

However there is one more gardener who I must not forget to mention – without her courage, strength and love I would not be here today, writing this piece. That other gardener is the little Sue who kept that seed alive with her bravery, sheer stubbornness and outright bloody-mindedness, and managed to survive the horrors she was subjected to.

Finally, I thought you might like to know how  marked I this day – the child in me went for a walk in the local woods and splashed through some muddy footpaths, kicked my way through the fallen leaves (mindful of the small animals that may be hibernating in them) whilst singing some of my favourite songs. There was also time for a messy play hour. The teenager in me hoped to get a small tattoo (perhaps a seedling) to mark the occasion, but this has yet to be fulfilled. And the adult in me to spent some time with my family and friends, eating, talking and laughing together.

We welcome you Sue, (little and adult), to the Emerging Proud family ❤

We will hear from Sue again soon as she invites us to learn more about why she ended up chosing to leave the mental health system again, this time from her job as a Peer Support Worker…

Flowers of tomorrow








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Delving deeper with Shannon Sondrol in an interview about her journey

Last week Shannon shared her emergence journey through crisis and diagnosis of psychosis, to her life now as a spiritual mentor. Her story was so resonant with so many I wanted to delve a bit deeper into the detail with her; here she shares so beautifully vulnerably what led her to her passion today…

Shannon Sondrol is a Spiritual Coach, Healer & Intuitive. She is a certified Mind, Body, Spirit Practitioner through Sunlight Alliance/Sunny Dawn Johnston.
She uses her spiritual gifts and clairvoyant abilities to help others in their healing and spiritual reconnection process. She specializes in working with Highly Sensitive People as well as people going through the spiritual awakening process.
She developed this work, her workshops and online programs after her own healing process, classes and certification programs and has taken the knowledge and insight she has received in order to teach others and guide people along their own inner healing journey and spiritual path.
Thank you for your bravery Shannon, in walking the warrior path and shining your light to illuminate the way for others ❤



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The #Emerging Proud 2018 Art competition is launched; make your vote now!

Which piece of art do you feel best depicts this year’s campaign message?

‘Mental distress can be a possible catalyst for positive transformation’ 

The winning Artist will have their image take pride of place on the 2018 #Emerging Proud commemorative print!


Voting closes Monday 23rd April, so spread the word and vote quick! 


Voting closes Monday 23rd April, so spread the word and vote quick! 

This clever little video accompanies Ivy’s entry:

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Video message from NYC #EmergingProud event organisers!


Meet Katrina and Tee; hosts of your New York #Emerging Proud 2018 event! ❤

We’re so excited about the beautiful art, music, and poetry that will be shared at our #TRANSCENDENCE Spiritual Emergence Showcase & #EmergingProudNYC event! Come out May 12, 12-4pm for a film, discussion, art and music showcase, and immersive Kirtan experience with The Love Tribe – Kirtan! Tickets are by donation. #spiritualemergenceshowcase #staycurious #emergingproud #art#music #unity #love #community


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Interview with Dr Mick Collins about his newly released book; The Visionary Spirit

In this interview Mick talks about his new book The Visionary Spirit: Awakening to the Imaginal Realm in the Transformocene Age.
A key message in the book is that humanity is being challenged to find a deeper response to the toxic legacy of the Anthropocene, which is marked by an accumulation of nuclear waste, plastic and concrete particles, as well as other degradations. It is clear that our ways of living are increasingly unsustainable and we are negatively impacting the natural world, due to our ecological, economic and consumer behaviours etc. Consequently, the global crisis is also our spiritual crisis, which means that we have to co-create new ways of living, where we honour our interconnected relationship to all life.
In The Visionary Spirit Mick proposes that the Transformocene Age will emerge through our co-creative efforts to live more consciously and more deeply, where our attitudes, awareness and actions are invested in wholeness. It means that each of us can participate and contribute to an improved future through holistic living. In the book, Mick reveals how the imaginal realm helps us connect to a greater depth of renewal, which can inspire individual and collective transformation.  Enjoy!

Dr Mick Collins worked for 12 years as an NHS occupational therapist in acute mental health settings and in a psychological therapies team. He spent 10 years as a lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, UEA, before retiring in 2015. Mick’s research and writing is focused on the links between spiritually transformative experiences and our collective adaptive potential to tackle the global crisis. Mick’s first book The Unselfish Spirit: Human Evolution in a Time of Global Crisis won the 2014 Scientific and Medical Network book prize. He was ‘author in profile’ at the 2014 Hostry Festival, and was interviewed about his book at the 2015 International Hay Festival for Literature. In 2016 he was interviewed about his work on Conscious TV. Mick’s new book The Visionary Spirit: Awakening to the Imaginal Realm in the Transformocene Age was published in March 2018. Mick’s current interests are aimed at helping organisations engage their transformative potential.
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Count down to International #Emerging Proud day 2018

International #Emerging Proud day 2018 is 4 weeks today! 

12th May 2018 Banner

All events are being organised and hosted by Volunteers, and are FREE or by contribution to attend…

Event info and contacts so far:


Norwich Click here for more info

London: Click here for more info


New York: Click here for more info

San Francisco: contact Michelle for more info:

Minnesota: contact Heather for more info:

New Jersey: contact Ivy for more info:

Canada: contact Dan for more info:

Brazil: contact Ligia for more info:

Australia: Click here and contact Brooke for details

Hungary: contact Adriana for more info:

Finland: Click here for more info 

Iceland: contact Hrannar for more info:

Press release:

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Please feel free to share and adapt the press release to your own events. If you’d like to organise a conversation in your area, CLICK HERE for more details; the more voices can be heard, the more we can influence vital change together.

A HUGE thank you to all of the amazing volunteers who are dedicating their time, energy and personal stories in support of the campaign…

In solidarity for the paradigm shift, Katie ❤


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Shannon Sondrol emerges proud from mental health crisis to spiritual mentor

Having gone through an intense spritual emergence process, initially misdiagnosed as psychosis, Shannon is now “on a soul mission to illuminate the spiritual perspective of mental health”…we share that soul mission! Here Shannon shares her resonant but unique story of how she worked her way through spiritual emergence, completely transformed!

I’m delighted to be interviewing Shannon very soon, about her awakening journey, current work, and her plans to take part in #Emerging Proud day in Minnesota! ❤

Shannon Sondrol

Nine years ago, at the age of 28, I had the intense experience of spiritual emergence which presented itself initially as a mental health crisis. It was a frightening experience which sent me into extreme fear and panic. I experienced 4 days of really intense communication from the non physical realm and it felt as if I woke up in a completely different reality. I could not make sense of what was happening but I did know that the many voices I heard, other people were not hearing. Along with hearing voices, I was also seeing gray colored “people” & spirits. However, at the time I did not understand this new reality at all or understand that what I was seeing and hearing was of the non physical. I don’t know how to emphasize just how terrifying that experience was during those first days of trying to make sense of what I was hearing and what I was seeing. On day 3 of this experience, I ran outside and yelled “Just end it! Just take me out!” I was truly convinced I was being stalked as I constantly felt people “the spirits” all around me although I couldn’t always see them, they were communicating things to me that were full of fear as well as private details about my life that no one else knew.

On day 4 of the intense communication, I experienced a full blown panic attack brought on by extreme fear and very little sleep. After being taken to the ER and telling the doctor there just a fraction of what I was experiencing, I was admitted into the psychiatric ward at the U of MN hospital with the diagnosis of “psychosis”. After a few days of heavy doses of medication, my connection to the other realm completely shut down. At the time, this seemed like a huge blessing because the communication and voices I was hearing completely stopped. I was in the hospital for 10 full days and was released with 5 different medications including 2 to help me sleep at night. During the next month, due to being highly sensitive and being on several strong anti-psychotic medications, I became completely numb to all feeling and emotions. For the next 6 months, I continued taking the medications on a daily basis which sent me into a period of deep depression. This was the darkest time of my life. At the time, I felt my only option was to obey the doctor’s orders, stay heavily medicated and follow their protocol for this type of experience.

My personal healing journey began 6 months later, at the age of 29, when my chiropractor pulled me aside after a treatment and told me that he could see I was losing much of my life force due to the medications. He urged me to dictate my own path and said that he would help me ween off the medications if I was ready to do so. I was so ready! He truly was a divine messenger for me, helping to guide me during this difficult time. I got off all the medications I was on within a month and my intuition returned so strong that I could not ignore the new path it was nudging me toward. Leaving my old life behind and starting anew, a few months later I was introduced to the healing power of touch during my massage therapy training. Over the course of the next 6 years, I was on what I now call a “spiritual healing journey”. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was beginning to receive nudges and messages from the spiritual realm through my intuition and I was beginning to follow them without question. This was the beginning of my clairvoyance reopening after being completely shut down from the medications. During this time, I also turned to holistic medicine. I worked with a gifted naturopath doctor, befriended a passionate spiritual coach and found a spiritual community that spoke divine truth that resonated so deeply within me. Their support led me to develop and discover my natural healing gifts including energy healing and the ability to gracefully strengthen my connection to the spiritual realm.

I want to highlight that when the connection reopened, it occurred very slowly at first and it was no longer a frightening experience, but more of a curious exploration. It was now received as clear knowing (claircognizant), clear feeling (clairsentience), as well as insights and messages from the spiritual realm guiding me along this new found path. My healing journey took place over the course of the next 6 years with a lot of time and energy dedicated to spiritual growth and teachings. I know now that the personal healing journey I embarked on, truly allowed me to move from a place of disempowerment and inner struggle to full empowerment and deep inner peace.

The work is not done, however. I am currently on an endeavor to get the information and knowledge that I gained along my healing journey as well as my personal experience of crisis out to others, so that I may offer support and help them understand what they are going through. I am incorporating everything I’ve learned from my own spiritual healing journey as well the training I’ve received, to teach classes and offer one-on-one spiritual coaching. I am very passionate about helping others uncover the spiritual truth of a mental health crisis as well as the hidden gifts behind high sensitivity. There is much to do here as I move forward in getting this information and knowledge out to the people who need it, and empowering people to dictate their own path and reclaim their power and truth!

Shannon Sondrol is a Spiritual Coach, Healer & Intuitive. She is a certified Mind, Body, Spirit Practitioner through Sunlight Alliance/Sunny Dawn Johnston.
She uses her spiritual gifts and clairvoyant abilities to help others in their healing and spiritual reconnection process. She specializes in working with Highly Sensitive People as well as people going through the spiritual awakening process.
She developed this work, her workshops and online programs after her own healing process, classes and certification programs and has taken the knowledge and insight she has received in order to teach others and guide people along their own inner healing journey and spiritual path.
Thank you for your bravery Shannon, in shining your light to illuminate the path for others ❤



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