Month: September 2017

Can I be Me now?

Recently I watched the Whitney Houston documentary ‘Can I be me?’, which was written and directed by Nick Broomfield telling the story of Whitney’s extraordinary life and tragic death.

During the programme some of her long term friends and family recalled that she used to regularly say ‘Can I be me’?  I immediately recognised that wish within my own addiction clients, sometimes so deep that they don’t even know that it’s within them; to be themselves, to recognise themselves, to be their true and full selves without anxiety, confusion or co-dependancy. The dream to be AUTHENTIC and understand what it’s like to be ourselves is within us all.

Whitney was kept away from recording her favourite types of music; Rhythm and Blues and Gospel, because it was ‘deemed to be too black’ for the general American audiences. She toured and toured and toured and due to exhaustion and her addiction to Cocaine and other drugs her voice suffered, her physical health suffered and her emotional health was on it’s knees.

‘Can I be me’ she would say but sadly people didn’t want her to be herself. She was loved and lorded by millions of fans around the world but she was a meal ticket for so many around her. She paid a lot of people’s wages and she was praised and cajoled and manipulated to keep going by people all around her. Her body guard from that time said ‘ When you are making money for people they don’t want you to stop and go to rehab’.

In a filmed interview she said ‘Fame doesn’t make you happy, you have to find the happiness within yourself’. But she never really did. She spent her whole life doubting herself and never found the acceptance she needed to truly be herself and find freedom. So she became everything everyone else wanted her to be, her mother, father, husband, management…the list goes on.

Smoking weed from being a teenager upscaled to the monster that is Cocaine and, as with all users of Cocaine, she found the highs became short-lived followed by intense depression, edginess and a craving for more. Typically she didn’t eat or sleep properly. She lost a great deal of weight and became gaunt and unreliable and suffered severely from anxiety.

When asked, in an interview towards the end of her life, to name the biggest devil from: Cocaine, pills and Marijuana she responded ‘That would be me’. And later in the same interview:  ‘I knew the light was there. I was just trying to get back to it.’

It is a great sadness that in the later years of her life Whitney Houston did not have the support she needed to break the link to her addictions. She didn’t have the opportunity to work through her emotional issues, her childhood long held issues that tainted her adult life and career. Whitney never found the people that could truly help her and empower her to become herself, in all of her beauty and glory. She was never the person she wanted to be because she knew that would not be accepted by those that were around her. She never really got to be herself. To her question ‘Can I be me’? The answer was ‘NO’.

So many people that are sensitive to this world and the Creatives amongst us turn to an addiction to help mask the separation they feel from themselves and  their own spirits. Ironically they are actually seeking that which they are ultimately destroying.

Nature is Medicine

In 1982 Japan launched a national programme called Shinrin-yoku (time around trees). It had been scientifically proven that ‘Forest Bathing’ , as it became known, and breathing in clean fresh air, away from technology and work and modern life improves people’s health.

Research had identified that trees emit oils (phytoncides) as protection from germs and insects. It was discovered that these oils also help our human immune systems.  Nature and forests have also been proven to lower our blood pressure and reduce stress hormones, reducing depression and boosting our energy.

Trees and Nature help us feel calmer, more positive and improve our overall well-being. We can clear our minds and drink in the energy that Nature offers, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the light, the shade, the beauty of it all. All of our senses are used when we are out in ‘the Green’, as I call it. We cannot help but feel better, calmer, more relaxed yet more energised by our time in the fresh air.

Further studies confirmed this phenomenon 2 years later during an experiment in a small hospital in Pennsylvania. Scientist Roger Ulrich noticed some surgery patients recovered in a room with a view of leafy trees, while others recovered in an identical room, except its windows faced a brick wall. Ulrich decided to test whether the view made any difference in the outcome for patients. He looked back at records of surgery over a period of 10 years and the results proved enlightening.

The results showed that patients with the tree view were able to leave the hospital earlier than those with a wall view, the study revealed. Patients with trees in sight also requested significantly less pain medication and reported fewer problems to nurses than wall-view patients. Contact with nature, even as limited as a view through a window, enhanced recovery from illness.

Many more researchers have learned about the restorative effects of nature since Ulrich’s landmark study appeared in 1984. Studies repeatedly have shown that contact with nature can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, relieve stress and bring mental clarity and sharpness.

“We know that exposure to natural environments has clearly beneficial physiological effects,” says Portland psychologist Thomas Joseph Doherty.

“By losing that connection, we lose some of our ability to restore ourselves,” Doherty says.

As an Addiction Specialist Hypnotherapist and Counsellor I saw that this is powerful information. To optimise the healing that takes place during my ‘Break The Links’, Addiction programme, I have built in walking and talking therapy out in Nature. I use all of my skills as a therapist to address any issues outstanding but out in ‘the green’ where the buzz is gained in a natural way. It’s powerful therapy but it doesn’t feel like therapy, it feels like freedom and offers a real energy and mood boost while we work to get to a place of strength and self belief to succeed in dropping that addiction.

A beautiful short film about the powers of Nature to heal us:

Forest Bathing from Joseph fletcher on Vimeo.