Making anti-depressants part of a holistic recovery

Making anti-depressants part of a holistic recovery

Throughout my life, my mental health has gone up and down dramatically. At my worst, I had issues with substance abuse, self-harm and suicidal idealisation. On more than one occasion I almost followed through. Eventually I went to a doctor and was put on some antidepressants.

They saved my life. However, despite being great at keeping me alive, they were certainly not ideal. Regardless of the type I tried, I faced the same issues: nausea, headaches, lack of appetite, an inability to drive and lethargy.

After a few months of living in ambiguity, I realised what was happening and I didn’t like it. Life felt bland and muted—a side effect some people feel on anti-depressant medication, which can impact them for both the short and long term.

There had to be another way. So upon a friend’s advice, I started seeing a psychologist for regular therapy sessions (great idea) and stopped antidepressants cold turkey (horrible idea).

Thankfully I was now receiving expert help. My psychologist was able to recognise my problems and help me move towards recovery. She also worked me through the transition off medication and initiated other forms of therapy. Medication became a backup to be used if my mental state falls significantly.

Under the guidance of a GP, taking anti-depressants can be a helpful tool in recovery, but they should always be part of a holistic approach to your health. Here are seven strategies you can implement right now:

Sport and Exercise
Exercise releases positive hormones, gets the blood pumping and makes you feel good. In addition, the social aspect of a sport cannot be understated, as the friends and comradery gained can last a lifetime.

This has been the best form of therapy for me and I couldn’t recommend it more. Poetry, free writing, fiction or a simple diary, the choice is yours. Through writing, you can privately express everything, honing the words until they perfectly reflect how you feel.


Reading is one of the best forms of mindful distraction. Reading forces you to focus on the present moment, which, for the duration of the read, is in a fictional universe. Focused attention to the present moment has tremendous benefits for mental health and the escapism aspects of fiction cannot be understated.

Good diet

You are what you eat, literally. Your brain is just another organ of the body and as such it is vital that it is being properly maintained. A good diet that has a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats combined with lots of water will ensure that your hardware is well maintained and working properly.

More and more people are turning to a daily meditation practice to help calm a troubled mind. There are endless methods, books and apps available, but the key here is to develop and maintain a habit. Personally I have found that mindfulness meditation focusing on the breath, mala beads or a mantra to be particularly beneficial.

Humans are social animals; we thrive on friendships and connection. Where at all possible, make the choice to hang out with your friends, even if for only a small amount of time. If there is somebody in whom you can confide, talk with them, you will be surprised what opening up to people can do.

Goal Setting

Setting and chasing goals can be amazing, choose something that you want to accomplish and begin to work towards it. This is what life is all about, striving to achieve something. If you define your goals and display them prominently they can provide a source of drive and motivation. Just make sure they follow the SMART principle. 

Professional help

Professional help cannot be understated. A psychologist or counsellor is somebody who has trained and has experience helping people with similar issues to what you are feeling. Feel free to try a few different ones before settling; you need to ensure a good fit.

Zachary Phillips is a survivor of suicide and a mental health advocate. You can view his blog here. His book Under ‘The Influence – Reclaiming My Childhood’ is out now.

Do you struggle with feelings of isolation and lethargy? Would you like support to enter holistic recovery ? Contact Colleen 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how she can best help you or press book now on the online diary.

Meet Joy, the new chat-bot that tracks your mental health


Earlier this year we did a countdown of the best mindfulness apps on the market. Now a new app, or technically a ‘chat-bot’, is on the scene, and it’s got everyone’s attention.

Named Joy, the bot is downloaded as an extension to your Facebook Messenger, enabling you to communication with the app like you would a friend. Not only does Joy track your mood, it also assesses how you are feeling, monitors your daily activities and suggests meditation and self-care techniques to benefit your health. Think of it as a built in best friend, who asks you about the nitty-gritty details of your life once a day.



It’s important to note that Joy is still in the beginning stages. While the app gives you weekly reports on your mood and can ‘chat’ with you, it can’t yet understand everything you say. Created for people who aren’t seeing a professional therapist or counsellor, or who don’t regularly monitor their mental health, in the future it will encourage users to seek professional support.

This new take on self-care and suicide prevention has received attention from numerous outlets, such as The Mighty and Hello Giggles. According to Venture Beat, app creator Danny Freed created the bot after he lost a friend to suicide.

“My goal is not to replace therapists but rather to get more people who are in need to see a trained professional,” he said. “Right now, it’s pretty simple, but in the future, it could connect you with a trained human therapist or even perform basic reminders and routine check-ins automatically”.

You can find out more by visiting online. Due to an onslaught of traffic its servers have struggled, so visit Joy on Twitter as well.

Do you feel stressed, anxious and/or depressed? Do you need some support monitoring your mental heath? Then here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how she can best help you, or press book now to book on the online diary.

How to Find the Right Counsellor For You: 6 Questions to Ask Yourself


Seeking professional support is a huge step for anyone. If you’ve looked for a counsellor before, you know how difficult it is to even book an appointment, let alone see the therapist. As challenging as this process can be though, counselling is a safe and constructive method for finding support as you go through any number of issues.

When you look for a therapist, the names, qualifications and therapy techniques can all get a bit confusing, and this can make it really difficult to find the best professional to help you. Often, you don’t really know if the counsellor is best suited to you until you meet them. Here are six questions to ask yourself that will show you if you’ve found the right therapist for you.

  1. Do I feel safe?

You should feel safe and secure when you see a counsellor. Ask yourself: do I feel relaxed in their presence? Do I feel judged or misunderstood by them? You can choose to see a therapist of a certain gender, speciality or background in order to achieve this, and can assess how secure you feel once you meet them.

  1. Do I feel understood?

You will mesh better with a counsellor who speaks like you, understands your colloquialisms, and frames their words in a way that makes sense. Don’t feel compelled to understand professional jargon, the best counsellor for you will understand how you tick, and will speak to you like an equal.

  1. Do I leave feeling empowered?

Counselling sessions can be challenging, and when you’ve discussed certain issues it makes sense that you will feel emotionally exhausted. However, a session should always leave you feeling empowered, like you’ve accomplished something, or have found the tools to achieve something new in your life. If you leave feeling belittled and dehumanised, they’re probably not the right counsellor for you.

  1. Do I feel pressure to come back?

Seeking professional help is a long-term process, and once you’ve found the right counsellor, you will establish a routine of how often and when you see them. That being said, if you feel as though the counsellor gives you no option but to come back, they are not helping you. A healthy professional relationship has open communication, and a good counsellor will give you the option of reassessing if and when you want to return in the first few sessions.

  1. Do I see a difference in my life?

It will take approximately six sessions to gather if you really connect with your counsellor. In that time, you should begin to see some changes in your behaviour and thought patterns. It is not a counsellor’s responsibility to ‘fix’ you, but to help you find the tools to experience change and wellness. If you are not seeing this development in your life, ask yourself: is the counsellor helping me, and am I completely participating in the process?

  1. Do they listen to me?

A good counsellor won’t tell you what to do. They may give advice, but their aim is to help you find answers yourself. If a counsellor talks more than they listen, if they seem uncomfortable in your silence, or if they put words in your mouth without your feedback, they may not be the right one for you.

Do you need a safe place to discuss your wellbeing? Would you like to see a counsellor? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

Check Out This Great New Website for the LBGTI Community


It can be difficult to find specific and compassionate advice for the LBGTI (Lesbian, Bi, Gay, Trans, Intersex) community, especially around drugs, alcohol and sex. If you’re a part of it, the difficulty of finding a comprehensive and understanding resource is very real. And if you have a friend or a family member who needs support, finding them a great website, let alone a counsellor who can help them out, can be as difficult as moving a mountain. The good news is that this last week VAC just launched the terrific website Touchbase, which is completely dedicated to informing and supporting LBGTI people of all ages. We’re really excited about Touchbase at Watersedge, and wanted to share some details about it with you.


With details about drugs ranging from alcohol to Viagra and GHB, Touchbase gives you comprehensive coverage of what substances contain, how they affect you in the moment, and the long-term consequences of their use. Giving some insight to safe use of substances, and how to avoid mixing them, it also details how use of each substance affects people living with HIV.


People who are LBGTI are at a higher risk of suicide (Beyond Blue), so the need for specific and honest details around mental health for this community is fundamentally needed. On Touchbase, you are given details ranging from the affects of drugs on the brain, coping strategies to take care of yourself if you’re feeling ‘shaky’ and how to find help and support.


While we often shy away from it, the sexual health of anyone is integral to a person’s overall health and wellbeing. Touchbase is straight up in addressing these issues, tackling HIV, STD’s, the facts around safe sex, risk prevention and how sex and drugs mix.


Aside from informing you with details about substances, mental health and sex, Touchbase also provides you with a ‘Toolkit’ so you can implement them in your everyday life. We’re talking self-assessments to measure your substance use, tools to help you party safely, details about treatment, and how to reduce use of alcohol and drugs. This is a great section when you need to take another step and actively practice self care in your own life, or want to help a friend out.


While this area of Touchbase is still in development, the opportunity to share your own story with the LBGTI community is available so other people can be inspired by your honesty and journey. Once this area is developed, you will also be able to find stories on there from like-minded teens and adults. Not only is this a healing tool for both the storytellers and readers, it is also integral in the overall wellbeing of the LBGTI community, minimising isolation and raising awareness.

Are you a member of the LBGTI community, in a same sex relationship, or want to support a friend seeking help? Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how she can best help you, or press book now to book on the online diary.

The 34 Best Bloggers Who Advocate for Mental Health and Wellness

The-34-Best-Bloggers-Who-Advocate-for-Mental-Health-and-WellnessWatersedgeCounselling has just been named one of the Top 34 Best Blogs on the Internet Who Advocate and Inform People About Mental Health and Wellness. We are so excited to have been recognised by Australian Counselling, and are thrilled our weekly blog posts are not only reaching people, but also making an impact.

To peruse the list, you can visit Australian Counselling here.

To celebrate, we want to ask you a question.

What do you want to see more of on WatersedgeCounselling?

Whether you are a fan of infographics, relationship centred pieces, wellness based blogs ,or drug and alcohol education themed posts; we want to know what most interests you.

Let us know by commenting below. Thank you for being a part of the Watersedge journey and reading our work every week. We look forward to bringing you more thoughtful and useful content in the future.

~ Colleen and the Watersedge Team

Do you want to learn how to take better care of your mental health? Would you like to discuss how to create a lifestyle of wellness?  Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary.

Why Be Present?

It is normal for our minds to wander. Whether we are in conversation, at work, or doing day-to-day activities, we have a tendency to think about the past or the future. When we do this, we are more prone to anxiety and depression. By practicing Mindfulness and being present in every situation, science has shown that we will be happier.

When does your mind wander, and what do you think about? Next time you find yourself thinking ahead, take a moment and live in the present. This infographic by Presence Training tells us more about the benefits of being present and how we can do this in our own lives. Take a look and let us know how you stay mindful every day.

Presence-infographic-Being-PresentDo you feel stressed, anxious and/or depressed? Are you looking for creative ways to relax and enjoy life? Then here’s what you need to do: contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434331243 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how she can best help you, or press book now to book on the online diary.

Why Exercise Really Makes You Happier

Do you struggle to be active? Maye you’re just exhausted after a long day at work and have no energy to go outside for a walk? If you find yourself feeling down, exercise may just be what you need to make you happier and give you greater satisfaction. In this infographic by Happify, we are shown that even 20 minutes of exercise can significantly impact our mood.

When we are active, our endorphins go up so we feel good, stress-related hormones like cortisol are reduced and it helps treat anxiety and depression.

So how do we get motivated to exercise?

If you struggle to get active, don’t complicate things. 30-60 minutes of exercise 3 to 5 days a week has been shown to improve mental health. But even small or shorter amounts of exercise will benefit you! Go for a walk, do Tai Chi or yoga, or focus on your strength. For an even bigger boost head outdoors and you will feel more energised and motivated.

If you need other people around to keep you motivated, join a sports team or exercise group. And if you get distracted or bored, don’t stress- simply listen to music or watch a movie! Exercise doesn’t have to be difficult, and it really does make us happier. So choose something you are interested in and give it a try. Remember, even the smallest amount of activity is good for your mental health and can make you happier.


Do you want to be happier? Do you desire to be daring, be original and be you? Sign up for our free ‘Go 30 days Alcohol Free’ Challenge here and step into 2015 with new confidence. Contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you or press book now to book in our online diary.

Your 10 Tips For Good Mental Health

Hello. How are you today?

It is a familiar greeting that I hear almost every time I communicate with another person, be it friend or stranger. We use this greeting when we meet with friends, on the phone, at the supermarket, even on the doorstep when that ‘random' person comes knocking to sell you their product, I use it myself. It seems we need some standard form of introduction for further conversation or interaction.

My question is how often do you respond with the truth? For the majority of us, acknowledging that you are not okay is difficult to do, even when we have been offered the opportunity to do so! If you have been brave enough to tell that girl at the checkout about the migraine you can't get rid of and how exhausted you feel, that you can't stop crying and have even had thoughts of suicide…..well, you soon notice the glazed look on her face and the ‘have a nice day' as she moves on to the next person! Now, I am not saying that this is always the case, in fact as our communities become more aware of the prevalence of poor mental health, employers are making sure that their employees are trained to respond appropriately, however we have a long way to go and often it feels ‘safer' to respond with the standard form of etiquette of  ‘I'm fine, thankyou.'

Many of us go about our daily lives ‘pretending' you are okay. If you identify with that, I encourage you to seek out the help you need. As social beings, we all need the encouragement, reassurance and comfort of friends. This is one of the essentials for good mental health. If you do not have that support or you recognise that they do not have the expertise that you need to recover good mental health, I encourage you to seek out the appropriate health professional – talk to your doctor or a Professional Counsellor about what you are experiencing.

You can also take positive steps towards recovering good mental health by taking responsibility for your own self care. These 10 tips, sourced from provide the essentials for self-care:

positive steps for good mental health

If you are not okay and need the support of a Counselling Professional  contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or go to to book an appointment.

5 D’s to De-Stress

What_are_you_thinking__by_captivatedimagesMy least favourite time of the day is when I wake up in the morning. I always set my alarm the night before to ensure that I wake up with enough time to prepare for the day ahead. Inevitably, I convince my self that I can ‘crib' another half hour in bed before I finally crawl out and go to the kitchen. I make my breakfast (always tea and 2 pieces of toast), turn the morning news on T.V. and sit in my arm-chair to eat my breakfast and attend to my social media status updates. Next task is to shower and dress, feed the animals, make my lunch, hop in my car, go through a drive-through coffee for my daily take-away, park the car and walk a block to my office in the CBD.

This ‘typical morning in the life of Colleen Morris' is most often enacted automatically and unconsciously, just as your own typical morning is likely to be. Our brain is a highly efficient organ that is capable of  performing  many familiar tasks repeatedly without having to rely on a conscious reminder.  The brain then has the space to take in new information even as we are enacting familiar tasks, so that we can be focused and adaptive.

Recently, with the death of my father, I noticed that my usual normal routine was interrupted. Instead of moving through the motions of my routine quickly and efficiently, I went first to my arm-chair, switched on the T.V. and sat…not thinking anything, not doing anything, just sitting. With the stress that the experience of bereavement brings, my ‘poly-vagal nervous  system' was interrupted so that I was having a ‘freeze' response.  Neural pathways were triggered in my unconscious mind, giving expression to real thoughts and feelings that live in my body and brain that I  don't have words for. The freeze response is a reflexive, adaptive response to feelings of sadness and loss that served to put me into a dissociative state, raising my pain threshold.

Experiences of trauma and heightened stress events can literally ‘derail' your brain in such a way that it becomes stuck and unable to do the task of emotional regulation. When this happens, a person may find themselves reacting to environmental and relational stimuli, often unconsciously, with the same heightened response, that creates ongoing emotional distress.  A person will automatically look for a strategy that they believe, will calm them. Often the strategies that a person applies appear to work in the short-term but have long-term risks: alcohol and drugs, gambling, cutting and pornography are just a few of the ways a person tries to de-stress. These behaviours are also addictive and produce other negative impacts.

If you identify with this, here are 5 D's to De-stress:

1. Drink water.

This is the quickest way to calm down your poly-vagal nervous system  that has been activated by the trigger event.

2. Deep Breathing.

Deep breathing slows down your heart rate which will have a calming effect. If you associate your trauma with the mouth or you have asthma, try humming as an alternative.

3. Delay

Saying to yourself, “I am going to (addictive behaviour) in an hour” may delay long enough for your symptoms to settle, so that you do not need it.

4. Distract

Dancing to some happy music, jogging on the spot, ringing a friend, or cooking are all examples of the distract tactic.

5. Do something Different

Focusing on doing something different immediately turns your mind to focus on this new task or experience.

If you are experiencing trauma or heightened stress and would like further support you can contact Colleen on 0434337245 or go to her online diary at


3 Reasons People Don’t Ask For Help

My father loved to help people but he rarely asked for help himself.

In spite of deteriorating strength in the latter years of his life, my father steadfastly refused the help of others, often evoking a deal of distress and frustration for other family members. I frequently referred to my father’s behaviour as ‘stubbornness’ however I also knew that beneath this insistence on doing things without the help of others, there was a desperate need to be in control and an overwhelming fear of what letting go of control might mean for him. He lived his entire life that way however there was a physical and emotional cost that, had he been able to ask for help, may have had a less debilitating impact upon him as he aged.

Captivated Images;Girl & spider webIt is my experience that many people find it difficult to ask for help, even when they are not coping well. Can you identify with that experience? The beliefs you hold about yourself and who you are in relationship to others, will inform much of your behaviour including your willingness to ask for help.

Here are 3 reasons why people don’t ask for help and the underlying beliefs that might support each reason.


 1. I Don’t Need Help

Who Am I in Relationship To Others?

  • I am strong
  • I am right
  • I am independent
  • I cannot rely upon anyone else to do the job the way I want it to be done

The truth is that even the strongest among us can feel stressed, overwhelmed, time poor and fatigued. At times such as this, the failure to ask for help creates inner resentment, frustration and anger that, unattended to, is redirected to the people closest to you.

Consider this:

  • What is the emotional cost to you by not asking for the help you need?
  • What is it you fear when asking for help?
  • What would be the benefits to you and others, if you asked for help sometimes?

2. I Should Be Able To Do It Without Help

Who Am I in Relationship To Others?

  • I should be strong
  • I should be competent
  • I should be in control
  • I should be independent

‘Shoulds’ betray the false belief that you are only acceptable to others when you behave in a way that meets the expectation of others. Underneath those ‘shoulds’ you might be feeling inadequate, incompetent, indecisive, scared and isolated. The fear that you will be exposed and consequently embarrassed and/or rejected prevents you from asking for the help you need.

Consider this:

  • What is the physical and emotional cost when I comply with my ‘shoulds’?
  • Whose voice is it that keeps insisting I ‘should’ – is it a parent or some other significant person past or present?
  • What would it be like if you were able to find the help you need to cope with daily life and all that life requests of you?
  • What do you find most challenging about asking for help?

3.  Others Should Know That I Need Help

Who Am I in Relationship To Others?

  • I expect others to understand my feelings
  • I expect others to anticipate my needs
  • I expect others to take their responsibility to help seriously

Between what you expect of others and what others actually do for you, there lies a vast gap. You may be feeling tired, resentful, and easily irritated and undervalued.

The ‘expectations’ we have of others are seldom met unless we first have a conversation and find common agreement on those same expectations. It is my experience that people often fail to communicate their expectations well, believing that others ‘should know’.

Consider this:

  • What is the physical and emotional cost to me when I expect others to meet my needs yet never ask?
  • Why should others know what I expect – are they mind readers?
  • What do I find most challenging about asking people for help as opposed to expecting them to mind read?

Asking for help is:

  1. a sign of strength not weakness
  2. An acknowledgement of the resources that others (partner, family members, friends, wider community) possess and the contribution they can make to your own health and wellbeing.
  3. an opportunity for personal growth
  4. necessary for a healthy relationship
  5. a form of inclusion and encouragement to others

Is one or more of these reasons for not asking for help, familiar to you? Why not challenge yourself to ask for some help this week? It may be a matter of picking up your phone and contacting that friend or ringing a particular help-line. It may mean doing some research online to access the resource you need. It may simply mean sitting down with your partner or family member over a coffee and telling them what it is you need help with. It may also mean finding the professional help you need. I encourage you today to take the first step towards asking for help. The oft quoted phrase ‘No man is an island’ is so true for all of us, we need each other’s help but first of all, you have to ask.

If you experiencing difficulty and need help, direction and support  then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.