From a flat in Tower Hamlets, to the House of Lords; Aneeta Prem is KindaProud of her achievements to date, but plans to keep going until #FGM is eradicated

It feels significant to share Aneeta’s inspirational story today; the day that a woman who mutilated her three-year-old daughter has become the first person in the UK to be found guilty of female genital mutilation (FGM). Aneeta knows only too well that this barbaric practice is more common than we wish to imagine. She needs our support to #EndFGM in our generation. Here’s her #EmergingProud story…

From a humble childhood in Bethnal Green, Aneeta was inspired to start her work due to hearing about the tragic death of one of her former students who disappeared due to having been forced into marriage.

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Aneeta was born and raised within the sound of the London’s Bow Bells. Aneeta’s family originates from Himachal Pradesh, ‘The Land of the Gods.’ She is an Author and the Founder  of Freedom Charity. She was the first qualified female Black Belt karate instructor in the UK. Aneeta is also a Magistrate, chairing adult, family and youth courts, and the youth panel chair for London.

Aneeta  is best known for her work fighting injustices such as Forced Marriage, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Slavery and other forms of torture and oppression worldwide.

6th Feb international day of zero tolerance for FGM

By buying a £2  #RedTriangle badge you can show your solidarity to rause awareness of this heinous crime and  #EndFGM within our generation.

Aneeta has been instrumental in changing government policy.  She has  given evidence as an expert to  Select Committees. She was  instrumental in ensuring on 16th June 2014 that Forced Marriage was made a criminal offence.

Aneeta’s passion is educating children to stop these cultural patterns of abuse that need to end. She has written two books for this purpose;

“But It’s Not Fair”, a novel authored by Aneeta, is aimed at tackling the issue of Forced Marriage. Through Freedom charity Aneeta has donated over 65,000 copies of her novel to school children throughout the UK. The book draws on her experience supporting many child victims of forced marriage and dishonour-based crimes.

Her second novel, “Cut Flowers”, addresses the little spoken about issues surrounding FGM (female genital mutilation).

By buying a £2  #RedTriangle badge you can show your solidarity to rause awareness of this heinous crime and  #EndFGM within our generation.

About Cut Flowers:

ANEETA SAYS, EDUCATION IS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT. THROUGH EDUCATION, WE CAN CHANGE THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF POTENTIAL PERPETRATORS. THROUGH EDUCATION, WE CAN END DISHONOUR ABUSE, FORCE

Through education, Teachers, potential victims and best friends can learn how to spot the signs and prevent this happening. Aneeta encourages us to keep the most vulnerable safe, regardless of faith or tradition, she quite rightly says;

 “This is something we are all responsible for.”

 So what can I do to help?

6th Feb international day of zero tolerance for FGM

By buying a £2  #RedTriangle badge you can show your solidarity to rause awareness of this heinous crime and  #EndFGM within our generation.

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Caroline’s journey through PTSD and homelessness has made her grateful to be alive

Sometimes a single traumatic incident can shape our future forever. Caroline from California, US knows that because of her experiences she has found her passion and purpose.

As Caroline so rightly says, to stop the mental health epidemic we see today we have to break the silence and talk about how we are feeling. Sometimes this can mean breaking family patterns, so that our future generations can find it easier to talk about the things that society has taught us to stay silent about. Here Caroline reflects on the time in her childhood that she feels put her on the path of mental health advocacy that she walks today…

 

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Looking back on how the events transpired, I realize that my heart has been affected by this event all along.  It is not shame that drives me to be a mental health advocate, however, but the realization that shame and guilt can keep this story silent.  The silence of this epidemic is what is affecting so many suffering on a daily basis. We can no longer be silent.

I was 11 years old at the time, and I remember it as clearly as if I was still sitting there listening to the tears and admission.  When I was young our family moved from Germany and things were difficult to adjust to in California.  For my Mom, it was even more difficult as she struggled with learning English.  She learned early on the basic English language, but still found it difficult to explain her thoughts and feelings.

When I was growing up, I was told to learn English instead of German. I was usually the person to explain to my Mom what other people were trying to explain to her in English. We had also left part of our family in Germany, and this also caused my Mom a lot of grief.

I was in middle school at the time, and it was a weekend. My parents were having difficulty getting along.  Around every six months there was contact from our family by telephone.  Family from both sides would contact us.  I couldn’t be certain if they were asking to come over and live with us, or they might have been asking for financial assistance.  All I know is the grief was so strong that my Mom would drop everything we were doing, and the house would become a complete disaster zone for about a week.  When this grief came up every six months, so would her drinking problem.

This particular weekend it was quiet, and my Mom had approached me in my bedroom.  She said she had to talk with me about something and tears were already running down her face.  She kept saying she was sorry, but I did not know why.  I was too young at the time to realize the phone calls were causing her grief.  Her apologies went on for about five to ten minutes, and I kept asking her what was wrong.  I asked my Mom if I had done anything to cause her to cry so much.  I somehow began to feel responsible for my Mom’s distress.  My Mom tried to tell me that I hadn’t done anything wrong, but nevertheless I felt the guilt start to hit me hard as I listened to her crying.

We sat on the bed until I could get her to talk to me further.  I held her close with my arm wrapped around her, and I started to cry as well.  I begged her to tell me what was bothering her so much.  When I kept getting her only response of “I am sorry”,  I began to realize that she was apologizing for something.  She finally admitted sitting on the bed with me that she wanted to end her life.

I was only 11 years old at the time, and this was devastating to me.

All I could think of was; what I had done wrong for her to say this? She’d said it was not my fault, but I couldn’t stop crying and pleading with her not leave us.  There was myself and our whole family in that little house.  Whilst the two of us were sitting there in my bedroom, I just kept holding her tight.  I held her hand as she cried and leaned on me. I asked her to tell me why she felt like this, but she would not answer completely. I felt her pain throughout that morning as she asked me not to tell the rest of the family. I was not sure I could keep her secret as this was distressing me so much.

My only concern was how could I help her.  I felt like it was my fault, and that I had done something wrong.  I wanted to call my Dad, but she had made me promise not to say anything.  I knew in my heart that if I told my Dad that it may be possible he would call an ambulance and she might be taken away. All I could think of was that I may lose my Mom forever.  So, I hesitated to tell anyone what she told me.  After what seemed like an eternity, my Mom finally stopped crying.  I could tell she was still upset though, and I made her promise not to hurt herself.  I told her that I loved her and did not want her to leave us.  Through her tears she said she was sorry, and that she felt so bad.  All I could do was say that I was glad she had told me, so I could then tell her how much I loved her.

I honestly do not remember what happened for the rest of that day.  All I could think of was the fact that I needed to keep a close eye on my Mom just in case she tried to do something.  I was only 11 years old, but all I could think of that day was that I needed to be on standby to protect her.  I was exhausted, and I still totally felt like it was my fault she felt this way. When my Mom came to me I realized at the time she trusted me.

After that morning with her, I felt that it was my duty to keep her safe.  I took on the responsibility of being the adult; only I knew the horrible secret of the pain she was holding.  I couldn’t put the pieces together of the grieving and ptsd she felt at the time, but I knew that the pain was huge and heavy on her soul.

The depression, anxiety and sometimes fear I witnessed in her at that time became clearer to me after I left the house as an adult.

Her reaching out to me for help that morning changed our relationship.  It explained the pain I saw in her eyes on a daily basis.  The grief she was feeling over leaving her family lasted a lifetime.

I knew the family phone calls were causing a lot of stress.  I knew she longed to go home.  The subject came up whenever anyone asked if she missed her hometown.  My Mom always said that she did miss being home.  But she never took the opportunity to say she missed her family too.   As I got older, I saw her anxiety still bothering her, and much later I was able to understand that she was suffering from PTSD.  She had only been a teenager herself during WWII, when she’d had to walk through the destroyed villages of Germany trying to find safety with her family.  My Mom had also mentioned that she’d been harassed by a family member, and I think there was more to that than she ever admitted.  It was the grief of losing her family that was eating away at her when I was growing up.

I honestly believe her cry for help came just in time.  Even though that day caused me to grow up a lot faster than a kid should, I am glad my Mom reached out and we made it through together.

Looking back at it now, if she had not asked me for help she would have missed so much more in life.  She would have missed marriages, family, and grandkids.  I am grateful she reached out, and even though she did not share her deepest reasons at the time, I knew she  did not really want to leave us.

Now that I am so much older, I hold dearly those moments in time where I could hug her.  The moments that she laughed with me, and made coffee and toast in the afternoon.  The soccer games we used to watch together.  My Mom cheering for her favourite English soccer team in the living room.  The joy she held for my brother too.  The moments she was Grand mom to my daughter and son, even for a short time.  I would have lost those moments had she taken her own life when I was 11 years old.  Her touch, kisses and her smell of 4711 perfume that will stay with me forever.

I miss her dearly now.  Over 25 years later she passed due to a cancer related illness.  I am grateful she felt she could lean on me in my teens, and every day I had with her after ‘that day’ was a gift.  Although growing up after that event had changed our relationship, I would not trade it for anything in the world.  I felt I was given a second chance to be with my Mom.  This second chance gave us so many years together for which I am grateful.

In the past year I started writing about my own experience of being injured, and then having PTSD kick in hard.  This journey started in February 2014 and resulted in me actually being unable to work or stay focused.  Through a series of bad decisions, I ended up homeless for the next year.  It took a while before the symptoms subsided in 2015, but not everyone is so fortunate.  It also took another year and a half to regain my self-confidence.  I started writing about my experience in 2018.   In just reaching out to others I have learned so much.   In the process of learning, I ended up becoming a Mental Health Advocate online.

I am trying to focus on setting up a non-profit to raise awareness for Veterans and First Responders around suicide prevention and rough sleepers (homelessness).  I never expected to be able to reach out to so many, but because of my experience with PTSD and homelessness, I have found my passion and purpose.  I am in service to others in the effort to make positive changes for those suffering in silence.  The suicide rate is an epidemic across the world, and working in this field I feel will raise much needed awareness.

I cannot go back and erase my injury, PTSD, or rough sleeper experience, but I can work to make changes that will positively affect someone else’s life.  No one should suffer alone in silence, and with resources we can reach out to those suffering with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more.  It is important to me to leave a positive impact, and I feel my journey has taught me more compassion and left me humbled to be alive.

For those of you who are on your journey, I can tell you it is so worth it to step forward.  There are more people who love you and care for you than you realize.  In honour of my Mum that suffered, and anyone suffering now, I am reaching out.  Make that decision to take your life back.  There are great things ahead on your journey for you to experience.  It can and will get better.  Stay blessed and stay connected.  You are loved more than you know.

If you are searching for the sign, we love you – here is the sign.  Step into the light.

Caroline Cook

Mental Health Advocate

Follow Caroline on Twitter here

Do you have a story like Caroline’s to share For Kelly’s KindaProud book:  #EmergingProud through Suicide? 

Please contact Kelly at:  info@kellymichellewalsh.com

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Shanon is Kinda Proud that she has learned to accept her experiences enough to integrate and heal

Shanon from Wisconsin, USA, recognises that she needed to feel safe in order to begin her painful journey to healing. It’s little recognised, but so common for experiencers of childhood trauma to adapt to a life living in dissociated survival mode. The FREEZE RESPONSE can help us to ‘get on with life’, but until the trauma is faced and processed, we live, as Shanon so beautifully describes, in a ‘disconnected’ state of being.

We are so grateful to Shanon for sharing her story here so powerfully authentically, in order to help others who may be facing similar struggles…

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As an adult survivor of Childhood Sexual Abuse and incest, I have found through my recovery that I have very little memory of my childhood, and when I take a big picture look at the entirety of my life to this point – that there is no sense of continuity.

I often tell people that I have lived three lives. In my first life, I was a child who was terrified and alone. Unsure how to grieve the loss of my mother because my father never spoke of her, sexually abused by my grandfather for the majority of my childhood, emotionally abused and neglected by my father, and taught by my family that I was not worthy of protection or love. Multiple times I spoke up about my abuse as a child, my family did ‘damage control’ rather than save me.

When I was 14 my father and I became homeless, living with a relative. At this time, I reached out to my mom’s parent who lived in a different state to see if they would help me. Soon after that, I asked my father to give them legal custody of me which he eventually did, but only after protesting his loss of welfare benefits when I left. My moving was the beginning of an eight-year estrangement from my father.

Shortly after I arrived at my new home, my grandma on my mother’s side became the first person to do anything about my abuse. I don’t remember what prompted my sudden disclosure after nearly two years of no abuse and subsequent silence, but within a year my abuser was arrested, charged, and taken to trial – and my family got one final swing at me. I soon found out that my father was a sworn witness for the defense, followed by one final grab at control by my grandfather who killed himself on the second day of the trial, which happened to be the day I was scheduled to testify. All of this reinforced my feelings and perceptions of betrayal, shame, and self-blame. The people I loved most didn’t love me back.

After this traumatic ending, I flew home and celebrated my 16th birthday five days later and went on with life.

Unable to handle my rebellious outbursts in the weeks that followed, my legal guardianship was transferred again. Within two months of the trial, my grandparents signed me over to another relative thousands of miles away. Off I went.

Through my childhood I had three different legal guardians, I went to four high schools, and I lived in 5 different states before meeting my first husband and getting married and pregnant. I don’t ever remember a time I felt safe, secure, or stable. My second life began after the birth of my first child, when I was 18. After my young marriage ended, I found myself a single mother with no choice but to get my act together, get to work, and provide a home, food, and protection for my child. I was determined to make sure my child’s life was nothing like mine. So, I transitioned comfortably into a completely dissociated survival mode. My childhood traumas never crossed my mind, minus the occasional fleeting moment. I had no time for break downs or big emotions. I spent the next 20 or so years in a dissociated and isolating bubble of controlled interactions.

The hardest part of recovery for me is reconciling this section of my life and accepting how I managed to talk about my childhood in passing but never feel it. How I pushed family that does love me and is on my side away to protect myself because of fear and deep-seated beliefs about how family can hurt me – thus robbing myself of decades of memories. How was I so disconnected?

Over the course of this middle part of my life as a survivor I did find myself in a therapist’s office a couple times, but it never stuck. Good thing I kept trying. The third life I have lived, is the life I am living now. A life after abuse, with full awareness of how it feels and how it is affecting me in my daily life.

Now, I am remarried and have a second child. A couple years ago, as my life began to calm down and become safe and stable; once I found someone who accepted me and allowed me to be who I am, I realized I had no idea who that was. Couple that sudden realization with some external life stressors and bam! Delayed Onset PTSD was triggered. Suddenly life was full of flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, body memories, angry outbursts, nightmares, insomnia, panic attacks, anxiety, and depression as the tidal waves of post-traumatic stress swept over me. Over the last two years, I have been in intensive therapy, shouldering up to the realities of my childhood, learning how to recognize and manage the symptoms of PTSD, and rewiring all the negative things I believe about myself and the world.

Through talk therapy, goals, self-care practices, coping techniques and EMDR therapy I am regaining control of my life again, and lessening the grip that my childhood has on me.

EMDR therapy has been a life changing experience for me. It continues to help me reconnect to my body, develop new awareness, process big emotions, and learn to trust myself and my ability to persevere.

I am not fully ‘healed’, and sometimes I wonder if I ever will be. I’ve been in therapy for two years and I don’t see an end date in sight at this point; I believe that some of the wounds left by childhood sexual abuse don’t go away, we just learn to integrate that part of us into who we are and figure out how to manage.

I sometimes feel like it will always take a little bit extra from me when it comes to certain high stress situations, I believe some emotional obstacles may always trip me up no matter how good I get at feeling and processing my feelings. And I think accepting all of this is key to healing.

“The best way out is always through.” Robert Frost

Healing happens every day, it has no end date – it is a choice we make every day as trauma survivors struggling with ‘reactional’ mental distress.

Every day I chose to heal.

“Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” ~Wayne Dyer

Here are the links to two poems that I have written on my blog (there are many more):
This links to my collection of poetry on my blog.
To follow Shanon’s fabulously insightful blog go to:

Does Shanon’s story resonate with your own experience? 

Would you like to share your story for our KindaProud book, #EmergingProud through Trauma and Abuse? 

Please contact Mandy to find out how by contacting her at: ambrieleve@gmail.com

 

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Jeannet from Cambridge, UK, is KindaProud of what her journey through NOTEs has taught her

Jeannet, a Social Worker from Cambridge in the UK has had a multitude of NOTEs experiences. In this brave account, Jeannet explains how these, often inexplicable by logic experiences, have changed her forever. Like so many Experiencers recount, they have taken away her ‘existential angst’ and the common fear of death. We are so grateful to Jeannet for #EmergingProud once again to tell us more about her extensive ‘non- ordinary’ journey…

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It is the night of 30 December, 1998. I am lying on the floor of a side-room in the star shaped church of a Santo Daime community in the Amazon rainforest. I am lost in terror, beyond words, whimpering. This is the first of two NOTEs, 20 years apart, which involved a sense of possession by what felt like a dark ‘entity’, wanting to take me over.

This is what I wrote after the experience, which occurred during an Ayahuasca ceremony:

“I started shaking badly […] so I went to lie down. I got terrified. It felt like an entity was trying to take over my body. It came in different ways, contorting my face and body. I mostly remember it like octopus-like tentacles, engulfing me. After some time, it got to my heart. It felt like it was trying to take my soul away. […] Inwardly I seemed to be told I should accept it, take it into myself. I was scared to, but said ‘I accept, for the love of God’, and for a while kept repeating ‘I accept’. At some point, I felt I needed to see what it was/look behind it. I really tried, and to hold love in my heart and remember everything is Light and terrors are fear of the light, but I couldn’t do it. This thing felt different […]. For a while I felt like it was strangling me, and I had a sharp pain in my heart. […] I started choking […]. There was […] a period when I felt myself sinking, going from rapid shallow breathing (like a bird that’s dying) to not breathing at all, every so often remembering to breathe again with a gasp. I wanted to go to the Light, and caught glimpses of it, but I couldn’t let myself go, as I felt this thing was trying to get back in, and so I couldn’t leave myself unguarded.”

Gradually the experience dissipated. As it was happening, I wondered if this was a split off part of myself, some part of my Shadow (as Carl Jung talks of it) that I should try to integrate, or if it was something bad with an independent existence that I should fight. I didn’t know. This thing felt external and evil, or at least very toxic/dangerous – like it would kill me to get my body.

Afterwards people told me I was facing my worst fears as often happens with Ayahuasca. They reminded me it’s part of a process, a death/rebirth struggle. I would get to a better place …

But how did I get here in the first place? I’d had an uneventful childhood. I did have a serious operation as a three-year-old which I can’t remember, but which I think has left me with a fear of fully being present in my body. I was a shy and awkward only child, often retreating into books. I remember the inner crisis I felt when reading a book about Taoism in our loft, which in one swoop destroyed the image of the Christian God I had been taught. Later in my teens I wondered if I should just kill myself – if there wasn’t more than material reality, I didn’t want to live!

I had some experiences early on which may have been small NOTEs – there was for instance a powerful dream which may have warned me of my father’s death (I didn’t know he was ill), and later heard a voice inside my head that wasn’t mine asking me if I could cope if he died. The first time the answer that welled up in me was ‘no’. The second time, 6 months later, it was ‘yes’.  My father died within the year. I shelved those experiences, as they didn’t ‘fit’ with the materialist view of reality I grew up with.

There followed many years of longing to know there was ‘more’. There were periods of searching (reading, meditation, attending groups, etc.), and periods of feeling numb to it all. Once during a meditation I saw the lower half of my body as a dragon, which scared me and stopped me meditating for a long time.

I went through a range of life experiences – work, marriage and divorce, a complex, inappropriate relationship, bulimia, years of therapy, training as a counsellor and eventually training to be a social worker.

Then, in the summer of ’97, I tried Holotropic Breathwork (HB; Stan Grof) and had my first experience of full-blown NOTEs, including inner visions, a powerful heart opening and kundalini energy flowing through my body. I trained as an HB facilitator and experimented with psychedelics (or entheogens – substances which open you up to the transcendent). The main substances that expanded me inside were Ayahuasca and Psilocybin. Both of these, together with changes in perception at times when Kundalini was active, have completely changed my view of who we are as human beings. I now know we are infinitely more than most of us in Western cultures think we are!

Those words in ’98 that I would get to a better place came true. Some months later, in a mushroom journey, I had a NOTE that is hard to put into words. I experienced myself as a disembodied consciousness in a field of Consciousness, Love, Wisdom and infinite Compassion. I was part of it yet distinct, like a refraction in a crystal.  I saw that there is nothing that is not that Light. I also found, to my surprise, that we are all completely known and deeply loved.

This experience has changed me forever. It’s taken away my ‘existential angst’ and the fear I had of death. The message I was given was that we are all this Light and we should reflect it back to one another, so we can come to know it in ourselves. This is now the touch-stone in my life.

That was the end of this phase of inner work, although over the following 20 years there were periods that Kundalini energy was spontaneously activated in me, perhaps triggered by challenging life events. These episodes, usually lasting 1-2 months, also gave rise to NOTEs, some terrifying and some blissful, mostly during the night.

In the last 2-3 years I have felt called to seek out further settings in which to experience NOTEs. I have done an Ayahuasca ceremony and a series of Holotropic Breathwork sessions. I would always hit on inner terror but couldn’t quite see what it was. Then came my most recent HB session…

Suddenly, there was the entity I had faced in Mapia. I felt terrified, but without thinking said “Okay, show yourself!”. I felt it enter my body and I had to fight my fear to not block it. Bit by bit it took me over until it reached my heart, causing sharp pain, and then my throat. I felt strangled and started wheezing badly. Finally, it took the whole of me. I was no longer thinking and just lived the experience as it took over my body. I felt my face contort into (what felt like) a daemonic expression as my eyes rolled back and my voice sounded unrecognizable. I heard myself growling loudly. Gradually my terror turned to deep grief. Eventually the experience dissipated, and I came back to the room to listen to the music.

I don’t fully understand what happened in that session, but I now trust more fully that (in a safe setting!) it is helpful to let a process run its course, even if you don’t understand it and can’t control what is happening. I have not felt anything ‘bad’ has lingered from it. I have felt more grounded and present in my body, and I have felt released from the sense, which had remained since that first experience, that there was something dangerous out there I couldn’t see.

Perhaps the question of whether something like that ‘entity’ is real or not cannot be answered – it was real for me. If it did have a degree of independent existence, it was also inextricably connected to me. We have both changed through this NOTE – maybe it’s fair to say we have both been set free … 

Jeannet’s conclusions from her experiences of things perhaps being unanswerable seems to be a great guide to what helps us get through these ‘not- so- anomolous’ experiences… Sitting with uncertainty, not trying to analyse them, and trusting and accepting the process.

This is no easy task, but perhaps freedom comes when we learn to stop fighting and accept the darkness as an integral part of our human wholeness?

For more information on Holotropic Breathwork events in the UK: www.holotropicuk.co.uk.
For more information on the Holotropic Breathwork facilitator training programme: www.holotropic.com.

If you have a personal NOTE story that you’d like to share forNicole’s KindaProud book, #EmergingProud through NOTEs

Please contact us here 

 

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It’s International #EmergingProud Day on 12th May and YOU’re Invited! 

notes launch 2019

LIVE ONLINE PARTICIPATORY EVENT

*CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP! 

It’s our 3rd International #EmergingProud Day on 12th May 2019; JOIN US LIVE! 

Join us for an online party to celebrate, NOT ONLY INTERNATIONAL #EMERGING PROUD DAY, but also the release of our first book in the Kinda Proud Pocket Books of Hope series; #Emerging Proud through NOTEs, spearheaded by the inspirational Dr Nicole Gruel. We are soooooo excited!

I’ll give you a whistle-stop tour of our Kinda Proud Pocket Books of HOPE series; from how the idea was birthed, bringing the focus to the current day, and a sneak preview of the content of this first edition! You’ll get to hear from Nicole about her story and why she’s so passionate about spearheading this book as our official NOTEs Rep.

There will be special guests joining us and sharing their NOTE stories, how these experiences transformed their lives, and how they found their way to doing what they love in the world.

An International Open Dialogue Trainer will be joining us especially to facilitate a sharing circle discussion with experiencers  on the topic of;

 ‘Embracing the gifts of crisis; emerging out of the darkness’  

And of course, you’ll be able to interact with us and the other online participants via the live comment feed from anywhere in the world, and maybe even be called in to join us on camera with your Q’s!

*CLICK HERE TO GRAB YOUR SEAT WITH US 

Gather your friends, your community and create the party atmosphere with us…or just settle back on your sofa and watch from the comfort of your own home.

Wear something all the colours of the #Emerging Proud rainbow, bring your party poppers and an open mind and heart ❤

Evidence shows us the transformative power of story-sharing. Join us to find out why.

NOTEs experiencers are at the forefront of humanity’s evolution; together we can be the change we wish to see in the world. 

We very much look forward to seeing you LIVE to celebrate the 3rd International #Emerging Proud day in style! 

Katie x 

*ALL PROCEEDS RAISED from this event and from ongoing book sales will go to provide free books to hospital wards, and mental health facilities and libraries throughout the UK and Internationally, in order to inject much–needed HOPE and inspiration for experiencers during their most difficult times. YOUR DONATIONS MATTER, please give whatever you can afford. 

*CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP AND JOIN US LIVE ON 12th MAY! 

If you’d like to go all -out and arrange a full day #Emerging Proud event, please CLICK HERE to access FREE resources and guidance. 

 

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Our Kinda Proud book series officially launches to re- frame ‘Blue Monday’

Today is ‘Blue Monday’, which has been characterized as the most depressing day of the year in the Northern hemisphere due to the number of dark and wet days… we aim to re- frame this time as an opportunity for new beginnings. It was through ‘going within’ our own dark times that Sean and I were able to find our own light; our life purpose and what we now offer in the world…

I am ‘beyond thrilled!’ to introduce you to our Kinda Proud Ambassador Sean; together we will be offering YOU the opportunity to write your own autobiographies through #Emerging Proud Press. Here’s Sean to explain…

PRESS RELEASE

21.1.19

From Break-Down to Break-Through

New publishing partnership forms to create a ‘KindaProud Pocket Books of Transformation’ series, aiming to bring a new perspective to mental health, acceptance and recovery.

An exciting new publishing partnership between a human rights activist and an independent publisher will see the launch of a new ‘KindaProud Pocket Books of Hope’ series this year, designed to illustrate how ‘re-thinking mental distress can act as a potential catalyst for positive change.’

Blue Monday (January 21st) is widely cited as the most depressing day of the year, yet Katie Mottram and Sean Patrick are keen for people to see such days as an opportunity to re-frame their negative thinking and turn it into an opportunity for transformation. “Depression is an indicator that something in our life needs to change. It gives us the opportunity to ‘emerge’ as our true selves, someone we are proud to be,” explains Katie.

Katie, an author and human rights activist, and Sean, owner of publishing company That Guy’s House, have joined forces to launch the KindaProud Pocket Books of Hope series, a collection of inspiring personal stories designed to decrease stigma, improve wellbeing and influence the saving of lives through providing a more compassionate and positive conceptual framework for emotional distress.

The series publications launch on the 12th May 2019, starting with the release of #Emerging Proud through NOTES (Non- Ordinary Transcendent Experiences). Further books will be published throughout the year including, #Emerging Proud through disordered eating, body image and low-self-esteem, #Emerging Proud through Suicide and #Emerging Proud through trauma and abuse.

Each Pocket Book of Transformation has its own KindaProud Rep leading the campaign; a Peer who has personal experience of the theme of that specific book in which they tell their own story and encourage others to join them in doing the same.

“KindaProud empowers passionate Peers to tell their stories and be validated in doing so by a growing community that values authenticity, vulnerability and reduces stigma and shame. This helps build confidence and connection. Our project is empowering Peers to bravely speak out, proudly owning their story, and letting their voices be heard, in many cases for the first time.” explains Katie.

Katie and Sean’s long-term goal is to use all proceeds from book sales to provide free books to hospital wards and mental health facilities throughout the UK and Internationally, in order to inject much needed hope for people during their most difficult times. And although having never met in person, with Katie living in Norfolk and Sean in Liverpool, they regularly meet to discuss the project online. “The online world can be a cold and lonely place, with lots of negativity and hate, but it is important to acknowledge that social media can help people make valuable connections and can support recovery. It’s all about perspective and how we choose to use it,” explains Sean.

The underlying motivation for the new book series comes from the personal experience of both Sean and Katie, who have battled with mental health issues and recovery in the past.

Katie’s Story

Katie’s younger years were troubled, with her mother making two serious suicide attempts, including just after her birth and again when she was 17 years old. Katie lacked confidence and found herself battling with a heavy sense of ‘searching for more’. She embarked on a career in mental health in part to try and understand her mother’s experience, but this process purely acted as a mask for her own emotional baggage. After relocating to Spain to ‘start again’, Katie spiralled into depression and also attempted suicide in 2008. She returned to the UK the following year and took up yoga, meditation and self-development work, keen to avoid being medicated. Several years later, she experienced a spontaneous spiritual awakening during a meditation, at which point her life changed and she felt a revived sense of purpose and life mission.

As part of her recovery process, Katie went on to publish her memoir; Mend the Gap in 2014 and in 2016 set up the international human rights campaign; #Emerging Proud, allowing people all over the world to tell their transformation stories of having ‘emerged proud’ through a crisis. She also started to interview people about their ‘breakdown to breakthrough’ journeys, leading her to make and release a film on the subject in 2017, across 14 countries. Furthermore, the 12th May is now International #Emerging Proud Day around the world, helping to celebrate this perspective and to raise awareness.

Sean’s Story

Unlike Katie, Sean Patrick was a typical Millennial/ Gen Y, living life on the ‘ordinary’ path; going from High School to College to University to first job in the city. However, feelings of anxiety and depression became present in his 20s, with social anxiety leading on to more serious depression. “Like many people I didn’t know where I fitted into the world and despite having the things I was ‘supposed to’ I felt unhappy, anxious and unfulfilled.  I felt like I was on a treadmill and scared by the world,” explains Sean.

Sean’s ‘crisis point’ hit when he started to experience severe panic attacks at 22 years old. He had no option to but admit he had ‘mental health’ issues and begin to focus on fixing it. He started by reading books, gaining better understanding of his own mind and ultimately to a more spiritual outlook on life through daily meditation and adopting spiritual beliefs. After accepting an expat job in Hong Kong and spending half a year away from his ‘ordinary life’, he had the chance to recalibrate, explore meditation and mindfulness and let go of damaging old patterns and beliefs.

On returning home, Sean set up a blog called That Guy Who Loves The Universe and began to share ideas about spirituality and positive mental health with his following which grew to over 15K. He began to speak at conferences and wellness events all over the world and released an Amazon bestseller in July 2016. In 2017, Sean developed his own wellness company, That Guy’s House, with a main focus on wellness books and mental health projects.

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After being introduced to Katie and finding out more about her #Emerging Proud campaign, Sean knew that bringing their skills together to launch the KindaProud series of books would be the perfect collaboration.

“The KindaProud Pocket Book of Transformation series is our way of helping to reduce the stigma associated with mental health and to reframe mental illness as a portal into self- actualisation – it is only labelled as an illness due to what we have been conditioned to believe in Western culture.  By sharing personal stories from a truly inspirational group of people, we hope many others will feel more able to speak out about how they are feeling and to start making positive steps towards fulfilment, acceptance and where needed, recovery,” explains Katie.

ENDS

Press Enquiries:

For further information, or to speak with Katie or Sean, please contact Jenna Owen on

01603 743 363 or email jenna@mediajems.co.uk

Will you be #Emerging Proud and shining your light with us? 

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Ari Snaevarsson, from Virginia, US, is Kinda Proud of his journey from bodybuilding to body-loving

A common misunderstanding is that disordered eating only affects women, but the pressures to ‘look’ or ‘perform’ a certain way are just as likely to affect men. We are so grateful to Ari for sharing his difficult journey with us in order to raise awareness around this issue, and to give hope to other boys or men who might be in a similar situation and in need of support…

ari snaevarsson

From bodybuilding to body-loving: My struggle through, and recovery from, Binge-Eating Disorder

TW: Numbers, ED behaviors

When I was 17, I competed in my first bodybuilding show.  I worked my way down to a pretty low energy intake pretty early on in the process, and for the last 5-6 weeks of prep, (which was an 18 week ordeal), my life had become completely consumed by restriction and over- exercising.  I was eating only “clean” foods at certain hours, a schedule I wouldn’t let anything else get in the way of (including friends and family). I was doing way too much cardio, I was using absurd amounts of stimulants to muster up just enough energy to not pass out in class, I obsessed over my weigh-ins and letting numbers on a scale turn into emotional events, and I had successfully isolated myself completely.

My sex drive, energy, and mood for the last 5 weeks were all in the tank.  To put it one way, I was not a pleasant person to be around.  But the worst part was the hunger.  It was like nothing I’d ever experienced, and yet the thought of “letting” myself eat was almost equally disgusting to me.  In class, I would scroll through pictures of “food porn” and write lists of foods I’d binge on and in what order after the show.

I used to watch classmates eating and become sincerely angry.  I would sometimes, after a long and emotional day, sneak into the pantry and “pig out” on literally one squeeze of honey, which would freak me out and cause me to compensate with an impromptu cardio session.

THE SHOW AND THE AFTERMATH

Immediately after stepping off stage at my show, I began eating.  It started with some “fit pizzas” one of the booths at the venue was offering.  We then hit a Hardee’s, where I got one of the “monster” double quarter pounder burgers, cheesy fries, and a large soda.  On the way back to the hotel, I distinctly remember virtually inhaling these cheesy fries and beginning to feel the most unnerving of sensations: my stomach was pleading for me to stop while my brain was yelling at me to keep eating.  The mismatch between my biological satiety cues and brain-derived reward and taste demands was a scary feeling to have, as I was constantly unsure of which excruciating sensation to respond to.

Back at the hotel, I began binge-eating all the foods I had stocked up on for this purpose.  This included Oreos, Reese’s pieces, a half-gallon of chocolate milk, marshmallow peeps, peanut butter, protein bars, Fiber One brownies, moon pies, Gatorade, and more.  As I continued to shovel this food into my mouth, my fullness turned into unbearable physical pain.  I was incredibly nauseous and tried to sleep it off.  But about two hours of sleep later, I was up and immediately began craving these foods again, so what did I do? Eat. And eat. And keep eating.

The night carried on like this: eating until I was in too much pain to keep going, trying to sleep, waking up to keep eating, etc.  By the time the morning rolled around, I was binge eating all of the free breakfast I could get.  We then stopped at a pizza place before heading back home, where I proceeded to eat an entire pan pizza.  This pattern persisted for a week straight.  I was more depressed than I’d ever been at any point in my life prior.

HOW LOOKING AT MYSELF IN A HOTEL MIRROR CHANGED MY ENTIRE LIFE

Exactly one week after the show, I was getting out of the shower and saw myself in the full-length mirror in the bathroom.  Though I had been taking “progress photos” of myself habitually since starting prep, and therefore had technically seen myself shirtless quite a few times after starting this binge, this was the first time I really saw myself and how “bad” I’d let things get.  I had devoted 18 weeks of my life to extreme obsession centered around getting as lean as humanly possible, which involved cutting off friends and alienating family, letting myself fall into deep pits of depression, abusing stimulants, hours and hours and hours of cardio, and constant restriction.  And so seeing myself literally right back to where I was when I started was difficult to swallow.

I distinctly remember this moment, almost six years ago now, as I started sobbing profusely and could think of nothing to do other than go to bed and hope the pain could go away.  I felt trapped and alone and like I’d never be able to express these worries to anyone. 

MY RECOVERY

My recovery was not a formal, nor linear, process.  In fact, I competed one more time, 3 years later, and went through a similar ordeal.  But over time I was able to get to the point where I’m at now: no longer valuing myself based on how much I weigh, how much food I ate today, or even how well my workout went. 

Since I hadn’t even understood that what I went through was an eating disorder, the approaches I used that got me to this point were hardly the typical “ED recovery” techniques.  Nonetheless, I learned that some general principles and practices were essential for my growth towards true intuitive eating and unconditional love of my body.  These included a period of fundamental self-discovery, mindfulness meditation, learning to mindfully eat, improving my ability to see the bigger picture, focusing more on self- compassion than ‘self-improvement’, and some other various elements (all of which guided the instructions I give in my book on ED recovery, 100 Days of Food Freedom).

And so that is why I’m here, writing this story.  Whilst the diet industry grows more and more, and cons people who just want to love the bodies they’re in out of their money and out of their sense of security, there is a void in the nutrition field that needs to be filled.  Food freedom means not defining ourselves by how “good” we did today in terms of diet or exercise, and it means not letting the scale control our lives.  More accurately, food freedom involves loving the eating experience, separating our thoughts and emotions from our actions and beliefs, and ultimately treating our bodies with the respect they deserve.

Ari Snaevarsson is a nutrition coach who works primarily with clients who suffer from disordered eating patterns. He also works as a counselor, dietetic technician, and on-call facilities manager at a residential eating disorder treatment center. In both capacities, he helps clients develop positive relationships with food and their bodies. His book, 100 Days of Food Freedom: A Day-by-Day Journey to Self-Discover, Freedom from Dieting, and Recovery From Your Eating Disorder, outlines a simple, day-by-day process to recovery from one’s eating disorder.

Links:

Ari’s website: www.100doff.com

Follow him on Instagram: @100daysoffoodfreedom

and Facebook: www.facebook.com/100doff/

Does Ari’s story resonate with your own experience? 

Would you like to share your story for Amy’s KindaProud book, #EmergingProud through disordered eating, body image and low self-esteem? 

Please contact Amy to find out how by contacting her at: info@soul-shine.org.uk

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