emma hogg, psychotherapist, lifestyle strategy, a life i choose

What does it mean to be psychologically well?

A quirky young YouTuber called me a couple of weeks ago to ask if he could interview me about mental health. He was keen to speak about what it actually means to be psychologically well.

I liked his curiosity. The concept of psychological wellness has been confused since it became a concept in the first place. Becoming popularised by the Western medical model which emphasises disease, psychological wellness was introduced to us as “mental illness” – a state of sickness that’s beyond our control and must be managed with medication.

With this completely disempowering message, it’s no surprise to me that most people won’t even consider therapy because they fear being associated with disease and powerlessness!

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daenerys, wallpapertvs, what does your favourite fictional character say about you

What does your favourite fictional character say about you?

A few days ago, a client and I got talking about Game of Thrones. It’s not an unusual topic for us. Lily* absolutely adores the show, and thanks to her suggestion that I watch it, I’ve become pretty obsessed with it myself.

As we speak about possible future plot lines, I notice that her eyes repeatedly light up when she mentions Daenerys Targaryen.

“You like Daenerys a lot, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I do. I think she’s my favourite character.”

“What do you like about her?”

“Well…” She sits back in the sofa, looking thoughtful. “Do you remember the first time we met Daenerys?”

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The Intelligence of our Emotions

“Breathing is painful because my chest is so heavy and tight. It hurts!” she cries, holding onto her chest. “I’m so tired. I’m so tired.”

Most of us can relate to my client’s experience. Sadness and worry that stays with us for weeks. That nagging feeling that something’s not right and an overwhelming urge to no longer feel this way.

“It feels like there’s a weight in my chest.”

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Can you recover from an eating disorder?

Like a lot of teenagers, when I was 13 years old, I had difficulty processing my emotions. Some experiences had left me very emotionally raw, and I didn’t have the life experience to know how to process them and cope. 

Overall, I experienced a lot of disgust and shame. At a time when so many changes are occurring physically, I projected those awful feelings onto my body. I felt fat and ugly. I would watch women on MTV and wish that my body could look like theirs.

I tried to diet to get rid of these horrible feelings. I thought that if my weight would go away these awful emotions would as well. After months of grabbing my tummy and wishing it would disappear, my self-loathing grew so huge that I decided I had to find a way to make myself smaller. 

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To those who have experienced the impact of trauma

Hi!

Last Saturday I sat my final exam for my post-graduate diploma in Gestalt Psychotherapy. I did well and after 12 years of working towards this goal, I am officially a Gestalt Psychotherapist!

For part of the exam, I had to give a presentation on any topic I wanted. I chose trauma. I feel it’s important that more people are aware of what happens to our bodies during moments of trauma and what impact this has on our psychological, physiological and social lives. I also wanted to explain some of the most important supportive factors that we use in therapy with our traumatised clients.

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