Ordinary People Helping Ordinary People in Extraordinary circumstances!

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Blue Monday – Debunking the Myth??

I have heard about Blue Monday before and to be totally honest I have never paid much attention to it at all for a few reasons. Firstly, I just don’t understand how we are all meant to be feeling the same way on this one specific Monday and secondly as I have aged I have found each Winter more and more depressing, so by January I am generally blue all week, not just on the Monday. So, I thought I would do a little research into where this saying has come from, who it has come from and why are we OK agreeing with Blue Monday really being a thing??

This year Blue Monday falls on the 16th of January. Now before we all set our alarms for the worst day of our year I will just give you a basic description of what I found online to be the cause for Blue Monday. Apparently it happens because of an overindulgence over the festive period, a feeling of guilt that we haven’t stuck to our new year’s resolutions already and a lot of
us have unpaid credit card bills from trying to buy gifts etc (or in our current climate just trying to keep our families warm and fed). This was just a general search, there could be more reasons, but after I read about not sticking to new years resolutions I wondered why it wasn’t called the Blue 2nd of January, but that’s probably my lack of will power talking.

Here is where my research really started to both interest and annoy me at the same time. I never recalled there being a Blue Monday when I was a child, I thought possibly my parents has sheltered me from this horrible Monday. It turns out that the term was only released in 2005 in what I can only say in my opinion was nothing but a PR stunt by a well known travel company!

A psychologist coined the phrase the year earlier in 2004 when he was asked to come up with a “scientific formula” for the January blues. I think what annoyed me the most is that nothing was mentioned about the lack of daylight and so our vitamin D levels by January can be rather depleted and many people suffer with things like seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D) and this could well be contributing to why people feel a bit lower at this time of year. Anyway, personal annoyance put to the side, there really isn’t such a thing as Blue Monday in terms of scientific proof.

So, now that we have found out where this phrase has come from but a lot of people will still be feeling a little blue, whether it be a Monday or any other day of the week I thought I would write up a short list of suggestions of things we could try. I will include things I will never try, things I already love and things I am not completely opposed to trying because we are all so different,
some of these suggestions might just not be for you and that’s absolutely fine.

  • Call a friend. It could be someone you haven’t spoken to for ages or someone you talk to every day, heating a comforting voice can make a difference.
  • Meditate. Even just sit and concentrate on your breath for a little while to slow things down. Sometimes we can get more agitated and down when we aren’t breathing properly so just slow down, 5 or 10 mins is enough or take as long as you need.
  • Physical activity. This one divides people. Some people love to get moving and some people when they see that phrase think they have to run 5 miles, seriously physical activity could be something like get up and cook your favourite meal from scratch, go for a short walk with the dog if you have one, or with a friend that has one, do the ironing. When I say physical activity this by no means implies getting to the gym and sweating for an hour or two, I would be a hypocrite to suggest this, the last gym I was in I was in high school, and even then I was unhappy.
  • Set realistic resolutions. This means that we can avoid the guilt of not sticking to the big ones that we have made. So if you like to have 5 sweets or chocolates after your dinner as a treat, can we cut it down by one a day? If the long term goal (this is mine) is to really get on top of tidying the house , start by making the bed every morning. It’s more about the mindset than the resolution, stop giving yourself things to feel guilty about.
  • Get creative. This could be drawing, planting new colourful things in the garden, It could be buying a cheap bunch of flowers and arranging them beautifully in a vase to enjoy in our room. Why not try a new meal? Be creative in the kitchen, even chopping veg differently can make an everyday meal just feel different.
  • Eat well. We have all had months of overeating, sweets and chocolates are everywhere, give your body a treat and give it a vitamin boost it probably needs by now.
  • Make the most of natural light. Even on a dull day we can take 10 mins to just be outside, it really does make a difference. If you are not able to be outside, open some windows for a little while and breathe in some fresh air. Trust me it does make a
  • Change your environment. Change the bed sheets, move the furniture, go visit a friend or a relative. There are so many ways we can change our environment. I could write a whole blog just about that, but our minds need things to change now and again.
  • If you have been diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder why not invest in a proper S.A.D lamp?
  • Quit a bad habit. I am not even going to give any suggestions here because we all know what we would like to change or quit, why not just try reducing it a little?
  • Learn something new. Nobody is too old or too young to learn something new. Even listen to an information packed audiobook while you go about your day, it’s surprising how much the mind can absorb even when we think we aren’t paying full attention.

These are all important questions. I must admit when my depression was really bad I had a compulsive spending habit II would go
to work and every day come home with at least one new item of clothing. I now have enough clothes to last me well into my 80’s as long as I don’t gain any weight or grow any taller which I’m sure won’t happen, so my money wise and attainable resolution this year will be to get rid of what I no longer need or use, declutter my space and only buy essential items (which isn’t easy for a compulsive spender).

I hope some of these tips help a little. And also the knowledge that Blue Monday is nothing to be feared, it’s not even really a thing alleviates some pressure. Have a fantastic week. I’ll be back soon with some more of my dorky research.


(Hope you enjoy our volunteers humorous take on Blue Monday…. 🙂 )

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Food Waste, Guilt and Mental Health

Hi guys, it’s our final day of healthy eating week and today we are going to take a look at food waste. We are now realising that in a lot of areas we need to start to reduce our waste and food is no exception. So as I have done all this week I will give a few suggestions to how we can reduce food waste and then I will go on to how food waste affects our mental health. I must admit I found researching this the most interesting.

I am a huge fan of reducing food waste, I waste very little but we are all different and what is most important is that everyone takes a look at what they can do individually to suit their own lifestyle and circumstances. So as I’ve done before I’m just going to write a little bullet point list with some ideas for you to try or not to try – its up to you.

● Avoid bulk buying
● Store food properly
● Use leftovers
● Create a meal schedule
● Preserve your food
● Buy the ugly fruit and veg
● Understand food labelling
● Make sure fridge is the right temperature
● Make shopping lists
● Freeze leftovers
● Measure your portions
● Freeze acceptable dairy products
● Freeze acceptable fruit and veg
● Use stale bread as breadcrumbs
● Make stock or broth out of older veg, this can be frozen
● Pack a lunch, it could be last night’s leftovers
● Log your food waste to see where changes need to be made

I’m sure there are more ways that you can reduce food waste but this was just a basic list I compiled to give you some ideas. Now, my favourite part, how does this affect our mental health?

I found this part of my research interesting because a lot of the psychology around food waste is related to guilt. Guilt leads to shame and neither are good for our mental health. A lot of people worry that if they were to waste too much food they would be characterised as lazy, excessive or greedy and careless. There is also guilt that if we do not always have access to food for our family or loved ones that we may seem like we do not care about them enough, so we buy more than we need, but then have to waste it. I cannot count the amount of times I’ve heard someone
say it’s better to have too much than too little.

Financial worries also come into play. Especially in today’s climate. Fuel prices are so high and everything else is going up in price so we feel a need to bulk buy and make the trip worth it so to write a list of what we need for the week or month makes money sense. Also keep a list of the
things that you regularly throw away and make a note to buy less to waste life. In a world that feels like it’s out of control, this one little step could really help our mental health, because we are taking control of the things we can.

My last point to make about food waste is that we need to look at our history. For years waste and wealth have been symbiotic. If you could afford to throw away food you were rich and the poor had to beg for scraps. Even until recently some people would never wear clothes that were handed down or from a charity shop, because we didn’t want to be viewed as poor. Thankfully now things are changing and we are starting to see that we can at least make a start to reducing the waste in our lives, not only for the planet but our own mental health as well because remember, you matter. Stay safe everyone. Been great doing all this research and sharing what I have found with you. M

ManyThanks again to our resident foodie – M.

“Still I rise” Maya Angelou

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How could I possibly add anything or take anything away from this wonderful piece shared time and again, and which resonates even more strongly during this most difficult time the human race is facing. Needs no explanation.


Death of What??

This blog comes tinged with a bit of sadness today due to having suddenly lost a family member.  It is always a shock to take this in, no matter how long we have been expecting it – but for us we only ended up with 3 weeks – so we are still trying to process this as a family.

Death of a loved one can and does bring very mixed, confusing emotions.  If it is a young person, most people feel that it is unfair and they have been cheated ; if it is death of an older one – there always seems to be that feeling that it was still too soon – no matter what their age.  Yes, death is an age old enemy. For those with faith in something else it can be a sustaining power, but nevertheless the sting of death is powerful for everyone.

However, this recent experience has got me to thinking of individuals I have interviewed who have undergone the cruelest of trauma in their life.  They they often speak of the grief of losing hope,  and, the death of all their hopes and dreams.    This can often be as painful as the sting from losing a loved one in death for example – and is often much misunderstood.

They are often told that they  shouldn’t feel like that  – after all…… we still have life!  But, it really depends on what kind of life we are living and what we have been robbed of.  This could be hopes of a future with another person,  seeing our children grow up strong, healthy and happy, having good health,  strong physical and mental health, a good job, a decent house and so it goes on ……  All of these things are only natural desires in all of us – and yet some have to deal with situations in life that bring them to their knees and hating life itself.  This can lead to suicidal feelings – so please – never underestimate these feelings. .

If we know of anyone who is feeling like this – its good to remember the old saying “there but for the grace of God, go I”.  We could all be suddenly in a situation we cannot cope with and struggling to find out how we actually got there!  So if we have a friend or family member struggling, don’t just dismiss them and think that “everyone goes through these things – we all just have to man up and get on with life.”   We live in a world that needs more understanding and compassion, not less!!    Reach out to those suffering and share what we can with them – it makes the world a far better place, not only for others – but for ourselves too!!

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Suicide video at “Choose Life” Conference

I was recently asked to speak for 10 minutes at the “Choose Life” conference held in Kirkcaldy.  I was very humbled by many of the speakers and the work they are continuing to do, day in, day out!  It really is amazing to see individuals turn their trauma into something that helps other people.  And it is not done with ease – it is done often through a lot of pain and suffering.  But, it often get right to the heart of matters because it is coming from a place of experience.  Many of the organizations provide support at the most crucial moments in a person’s life – so is invaluable!!

We used the video on “Suicide of a Family Member”  and it certainly held the audience in suspense as they listened to 5 minutes of painful raw emotions, but also a message of courage from Jackie Easton of Curly Star Dream Foundation .  She has used the trauma of losing her daughter to set up a service which supports other families facing suicide of a family member.

This photo was taken at the conference while the video was being shown.

Curly Star Presentation film copy


For many people suicide is a word they don’t even want to utter, but it is a sad fact of daily life.  Statistics show there were 6,581 suicides in the Uk and Republic of Ireland in 2014 showing that many families and friends will be affected.  Even if you feel this is not something you have had to deal with, please share the information about the video whenever you can – because you might not even know which one of your friends or family who may need it.



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Gearing Up for our Launch – April 18th!

Before I go into the launch of our first 3 videos in April, I thought I’d share with you a little of where I visited in December as I haven’t done that yet.  It was touch and go as to whether we could actually get there, due to one thing and another – but finally we did.  Steve, my husband, had always wanted to get some lessons from a real flamenco guitar  maestro and in December that’s exactly what we did!  The rest and relaxation were just what we needed – and it reminded us also that we are still individuals, and that even if we are going through difficult times, it is essential to try to recharge our batteries.   We visited Malaga and all the other little villages and towns along the Costa Del Sol.  My favourite part was the weather as it was 25 degrees C – no one could complain at that!  Here goes:


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Up in Mijas – seems to be a favourite haunt for many visitors.




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Many people come from all over the world to see the lights in Malaga – we can see why!


The weather in Marbella was very obliging.  Steve, myself and our sister in law, Tina.

The weather in Marbella was very obliging. Steve, myself and our sister in law, Tina.


And finally - Steve and I enjoying a boat trip.  Apparently we look like  70's rockers here :)

And finally – Steve and I enjoying a boat trip. Apparently we look like 70’s rockers here 🙂









So that seems to be  the relaxation over for another few months as we gear up for the launch of the videos.  Just to refresh your memory the subjects of the 3 videos are:

“Suicide of a family Member”


“Rare Genetic Disorders in children – Kabuki Syndrome”

As you can imagine, all families affected by any of the above go through very traumatic experiences trying to cope with the actual event, and the ensuing ripples that always surround these very painful situations.

The videos really highlight the ins and outs of these situations and could be extremely helpful to someone who is suffering – so please, please, please, share all information you can in the lead up to the launch and during the launch, as this is really a pilot project.  Hopefully we will get a good response from this, and it will convince funders to look favourably on the project and help us financially to be able to get out there and create many more and ultimately help families in a way that would never have been possible before social media.

We have a few really good high profile individuals who are keen to support families in Trauma, including Johnny Benjamin from the channel 4 documentary “Stranger on the Bridge” and the Twitter campaign “Find Mike” after a stranger stopped him from committing suicide on a bridge; Claire Baker MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife and also Margaret Hannah, Director of Public Health in Fife.

We have been able to get in a little help with the marketing of the  initial pilot from the social enterprise “Along Came Kirsty” who are based in Dundee and have been really excellent to work with so far.  I’ll keep you updated but was keen to use a local company that has the same type of social values as our own.

As we get closer to the launch – I will try to keep you informed as to what we are up to, but meantime – please share, share, and share again – and if you have any suggestions  on how to help us – by all means – get in touch !!!!





















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New Year – New Families



Finally, I have managed to get back to writing my blog and will give you an update of where we are now and future plans for the new year.  I’ll keep it brief – as I know how hard it is to read all the information we are bombarded with every day, especially if you are going through tough times!!  So this should be short and sweet – I hope:)

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During 2015 we managed to secure a tailored made office for ourselves down at Fife renewables innovation centre (the offices previously earmarked for the energy sector businesses – which sadly took a downturn).  We gladly received excellent conditioned furniture and board table from Havelock Europa plc who, fotuitously, were moving premises at the time and happily contributed to charities and non-profit organisations.   Their loss was our gain.  Glad to see larger businesses sharing with non-profits.  Thank you!!  Rent still being paid by myself – so hopefully funding should be on the horizon in next few months – eek!





We were thrilled to be able to launch Families in Trauma at the end of October and enjoyed a good turn out and excellent publicity from our local newspapers .  Margaret Hannah,  recently appointed Director of Public Health in Fife kindly joined us at the end of a very busy day to find out more about Families in Trauma and also to share her insights into new ways of connecting and helping families who may need crucial support.





ScottishEnterprise through Business Gateway have contributed a small fee to help with our pilot project which should be ready to launch at the end of January.  Along came Kirsty is the social enterprise who will be helping us with the initial pilot using our first 3 videos, covering suicide of family member,  kabuki syndrome, and  stillbirth initially , to test the results and hopefully be able to start heightening the profile of Families in Trauma.  We believe this is a sorely needed service and are really keen to get everyone involved in sharing the information, to help as many people as possible. Please do this whenever you can with any of FIT’s posts you feel will be helpful.

The initial test period for the pilot will be 30 days (as we can access the video platform we require for a 30 day free trial initially:)  )  So as soon as we have the results, we will share them with you.

Meanwhile please share, share and share again – you never know who you will be helping!!

sands logo              chooselife







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“Stay in the Day”

Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed that many of the people I’ve spoken to seem to be suffering with depression or anxiety.    Now it’s easy to get a medical dictionary definition of what depression is but that often doesn’t seem to help much at all. It seems, that if we have a shared experience – and we feel we can talk to others – it can be a really helpful tool as the sufferer does not feel quite so alone. In all the different areas of trauma, it seems that humans really need to “connect” with others.

Here are some of the expressions I’ve read or heard recently in personal conversations about depression:

“It’s like drowning, except you can see everyone around you breathing.”

“You feel like you are moving in slow motion.”

“You can see everyone else getting on with their lives, yet somehow or other, you’re not a part of it – it’s like you are in a bubble.”

“Everything seems hopeless.”

“Its like you have lost all interest in everything – nothing motivates you any more”.

So it’s not difficult to see why depression and anxiety are major problems when they hit!   In fact, one in 4 people will experience some type of mental health problem over the course of a year.

Most people know the usual advice given by health professionals and try to put some of it into practise. The tried and tested methods often work – but it can sometimes take us a while to get there. However sharing our experience with others, talking to trusted friends, keeping a diary, reading as much as you can about your own illness can all help – but one thing i found which was extremely helpful was to “stay in the day”!!!

What does this really mean though??   When our mind’s are racing, we cant sleep for our thoughts, its painful to remember things, we feel panic when we think about doing anything – its extremely important to rein our minds in  (just as a thoroughbred horse needs to be reined in to train it), we need to do the same with our minds. Its one of the most important things I learned along my own journey.

Tomorrow will always take care of itself – the past is done and gone – but we must live in this day – here and now!  Take little steps – do not let your mind race ahead to next week, month, or year as it is impossible to  know what these will bring.

So if you feel you may be suffering depression or anxiety, try to find out as much as you can to help yourself – and try this one tip “stay in the day”!!


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First Interview for Families in Trauma – Kabuki Syndrome


If you were like me when you first saw this title – “what is Kabuki syndrome”, then you are like most of us.  We go about our lives not aware of the difficulties that some families face on a daily basis and its only when you encounter someone who is dealing with a rare condition – do we start to notice.  This is why it is imperative that we all share information like this, for the sake of the families who have a daily battle. So if you can share this,  please do as it will help to raise awareness and generate more understanding and support.

I first met the family who have a lovely little daughter who has Kabuki syndrome a month or so ago whilst out at an exhibition which included Families in Trauma.  The father approached me and humbly said, “I’m not sure if this is what you mean by trauma – but it has been a trauma for our family”.  That is exactly what we mean!!

So what is Kabuki syndrome??  I’ve done a little research and obviously filmed the family involved, and it is a very rare genetic syndrome which affects around 1 in 32,000 children.  It affects many parts of the body and is characterized by distinctive facial features .  People with Kabuki syndrome have developmental delay and intellectual disability that range from mild to severe. Affected individuals may also have seizures, an unusually small head size  or weak muscle tone . Some have eye problems such as rapid, involuntary eye movements  or eyes that do not look in the same direction.

A wide variety of other health problems occur in some people with Kabuki syndrome. Among the most commonly reported are heart abnormalities so as you can imagine, along with all of the above, comes the risk of sudden death at any time .

This is the reality for all families who live with this daily – can you imagine how hard that must be for all involved?

As I mentioned we have filmed a lovely family from Kirkcaldy, Fife who willingly shared their story in the hope that it might help others – and it was extremely moving and inspiring.  The video will become available on our website in October.  Please watch out for this and share with anyone you can.

If you would like to contact me or make any comments on this post, please feel free to do so.