'Learning and returning to Love'
This is a brief overview of my life so far and may trigger emotions if you are still sensitive to topics such as alcohol addiction; drugs or suicidal tendencies/ victim of a loved one committing suicide. Help is behind these links when you click on them. So please do read at another time if guided back.
My birth Mum left before I became 2 years old, so my Dad and me moved in with my Nanna. My Dad worked full time and thankfully his older sister took early retirement at 57 years old to become my main care giver. She had never married or had any children of her own. My Aunt was a devoted Sunday School Teacher, who only lived about a 15 minute walk away from my house in a high rise flat, which had the most epic views of the Castlereagh Hills in Belfast. The housing estate I lived in was perfectly positioned between the countryside and an 18 hole golf course, which blessed my childhood friends and I with many wonderful adventures, including getting chased by the golf greenkeeper!
I started to help care for my Nanna who had alzheimers when 8 years old, becoming sleep deprived, which affected my school life. My Dad done the best he could but struggled with his own mental health problems and became redundant from work. He spent alot of his time up in the attic working on his railway model. At times my Dad taught me many lovely things like swimming, gardening, bought me a cat and he loved drawing and music so much. We had a piano, an organ, two keyboards and a microphone in the early days. He loved God, but I think had suffered in early childhood during WWII, then serving in the RAF and the Army. So just loving God was perhaps not enough, he had to love himself too. Unfortunately, over time, my Dad lost interest in life.
I was not equipped mentally to watch my Dad give up, so I enjoyed escaping to nature, which of course now I am aware of, is because it helped me feel at peace when homelife could sometimes, quite frankly, be just pure nuts.
Even though nature was all around, living in a housing estate as an almost teenager, brought other ways to escape, such as drugs and alcohol. We never received any drug education in school at the time, so it was just normal for many of us. I took my first drug when I was 11 years old and at 14 worked part time in a nightclub. I learned the hard way that drugs and alcohol do not mix well.
So for me, back then, I preferred drugs rather than alcohol. I will admit I thought I had some brilliant times at both underground and mainstream raves on drugs, although the raids could be a bit scary! I now look back and know it was the friends who I was with who made it enjoyable, not necessarily the drugs. I do not under any circumstances condone the use of them. I was young and very niave.
I remember how music and dancing really lifted my vibe, plus everyone at raves became so open. I know it's such a cliche, but I really felt 'peace, love and happiness man.' We hugged each other so much, watching sunsets and sunrises with each other; something that just never happened at home. I very fortunately never took a 'bad trip', until the drug dealers started to get greedy and mix the drugs, so they were not pure. At the same time, Heroin came on the scene around 1990, slap bang into a wee town called Ballymena (where a certain famous actor is from!). I remember the first-time heroin was offered to me when I was 15 years old, at a rave, for just a pound! - I am forever super grateful that I somehow said no at the time, a few others did not, and I heard eventually had ended up either dead or with serious addiction issues.
At 21, my cousin, who was like a brother to me committed suicide. He stuck a gun in his mouth and blew his head off. He was only 22 years old.
This affected me and my whole family massively and I eventually had suicidal thoughts myself. I went on anti-depressants.
At 29, two family members' (Father & Son) died, and this made me think about my life and what I was doing with it. I had put others first for so long.
At 18 my Nanna passed. I only got 2 out of 3 A-levels which was not bad considering I did not study. I had done pretty well in my GCSEs, also not studying, but I was then told by a teacher I should give up on the thought of university and any ideas of being a teacher myself, and so I did. I do not think this was his intention, but my self-esteem had plummeted in childhood and because he was a teacher, I believed him. I gave up on my dream of teaching little children for a while.
So in 2005, just before my 30th, I left my Belfast childhood home, making sure social care support was in place for my Dad, and moved to Scotland, Edinburgh. I then changed career from I.T to a Teaching Assistant, returning to college.
For several years I worked a few jobs to support my Dad back home financially whilst studying.
I immediately fell in love with Bonnie Scotland and met some truly wonderful pals. I found a fantastic church who happened to have a soul nourishing hill- walking group; we climbed a munro once every month. And so, I found my true joy in nature again, I didn't need the drugs, but past traumas were soon to surface again. When I received the call that my Dad had been arrested, at around 75 years old, and heard how he then tried to kill himself, my whole world came crumbling down. I took leave from work and returned home. When I felt I could do no more I came back to Scotland and continued to work and study, but the impact on me was so great that my mental health declined.
“While you are walking, smile and be in the here and now, and you will transform that place into paradise.”
In 2010, I came in contact online with 'my first love' (at around 6 years old!), who still lived in my housing estate and only a two minute walk from my childhood home where my Dad lived. We had not seen eachother in about 20 years. So I finally returned home in 2011, just in time, as my Father's dementia was worsening. My depression, anxiety/ panic attacks and insomnia meant I had resorted to quite high strength medication. I hid alot of this from my partner because I was scared of being rejected. I began having a few drinks each evening to cope with looking after my Dad - I was not aware of other alternative methods, such as meditation. My relationship did not work and so I moved back in full time with my Dad. My alcohol consumption increased.
Despite these challenges, for several years I worked full-time in two special needs settings; studied part-time for a degree and worked at the weekends looking after a young adult with Autism. A community I worked in introduced me to Rudolf Steiner, but I was hurting so much on the inside that I was living my life in survival mode. and so did not really pursue his philosophy at the time.
My Dad's attempted suicide brought me on a journey to be on 5 types of medication for chronic anxiety, chronic depression, insomnia and extra medication for the side effects. I was getting what I thought were flashbacks to childhood and it was extremely difficult to bear. I tried a couple of different counsellors but found myself no better.
I stopped all medication in 2015 as I knew it just wasn't for me and in 2016 I felt I had no choice but to bring my Dad to a care home. I was again extremely sleep deprived caring for him and he was incontinent. I felt an enormous amount of guilt. I started up big walks again in nature with my friends but was still drinking too much.
I do not recommend stopping meds unless you speak to your GP first. I made a big mistake of not tapering off properly and so had electric shocks through my head everyday for at least a month!
My on-going learning has saved my sanity at times, with latter courses more focused on my personal growth:
BA Child & Youth Studies (level 6)
Children's Learning & Development (SNVQ level 3)
Forest School Leader 3 Trained
ITC Outdoors First Aid & Paediatric First Aid
Numerous CPD & in-house courses such as: SQA Autism in Children & Young People; SQA Counselling; Learning Disability Awareness; Autism & Structured Play; Positive Behaviour Support; Epilepsy; Manual Handling; Infection Control; Food Hygiene; Suicide Awareness
Safeguarding Children & Safeguarding Adults with Special Needs
MAPA & Team Teach training
IOSH Managing Safely
Diploma in Mindfulness
Diploma in Children's Writing (current)
Introduction to Ayurveda
Reiki Level 1 & Level 2.
Rahanni Celestial Healing, levels 1 & 2 (Teacher)
The last time I seen my Dad he called me very hateful names, which still haunt me at times. He passed from dementia and COPD in 2017. I also had just met my birth Mum in 2017 and she passed shortly after. I learned she suffered her whole life with mental health issues including anxiety and OCD. She was on strong diazepam long term, having never discovered meditation, breathwork, spiritual practices and natural remedies. I felt huge empathy for both of them. My birth Mum had also given up on life. I also met 3 half sisters from her first marriage and 2 of them wanted to build a relationship. This was a blessing.
I felt called to move to England in 2018 for a fresh start, leaving some family members whom I care deeply about.
I have always loved Jesus; believed in God; been a deep thinker; highly sensitive and found aspects of Buddhism, Hinduism and the Islamic faith as a way to go deeper into 'knowing thyself'. This has massively helped my anxiety, my depression has mostly lifted and I rarely have panic attacks, despite coming off all the meds.
As someone who was always on the go, never thinking I was good enough, I am practicing to REST more, to just 'be'. After all, we are called human beings not human doings however, knowing when to stop can be tricky!
During the first lockdown on furlough, I was doing my second successful 'one year no beer' of trying to prove to myself I was not an alcoholic, a habit I had developed while caring for my Dad. I developed a morning routine of getting up at 5am. I was doing two hour meditations, re-reading tons of books with a new awareness, listening to binaural beats and positive affirmations, hugging trees, grounding, learning about essential oils, exploring Ayurveda and more! - I then began to feel a strong desire to share what I discovered which may help others. Hence, I created this website and then after losing my position from a preschool (due to covid) my playgroup followed, 'Wee Nature Spirits' (WNS).
Little people have often found 'Louise' tricky to say and so over the years it turned into Lulu. My besties called me Lu.
I've always loved being around children. Wee humans, as well as pets can also support our mental health and help us to stay in the present moment. My cat Tiggy is a blessing in my life.
I am starting to truly believe we all have the answers within and the power to heal ourselves. It is wonderful to find other nature spirits out there also working for the greater good, hoping to support others on their path when they wobble, and we all wobble at times. By daily discipline of practicing stillness, slowing my breath and listening to, I believe, God/ Source/ Universe, helps me to stay balanced.
One of the best pieces of advice given to me by another Aunt, whose time on Earth was coming to an end, was to 'take each day as it comes'.
Thank you so much for walking with me on my journey of learning and returning to love,
Deepest Gratitude & Magical Lightbeams,
Starting my playgroup (on two credit cards!) has been the best thing I have ever done and the families who visit each week or each month, have shown me in so many ways what love is. I have found acceptance and non-judgement and it is my families who have inspired me to share more of my life here, in the hope to reach someone who is perhaps struggling with the issues I have experienced. Much of my passion of wanting to help others comes from going through these phases. In the past, I have worked with several beautiful souls who work in childcare but were too fearful to admit they needed help for fear of being judged by some parents. This is not what Jesus was about, Jesus was about empathy, not judgement.
Even in my moments of doubt and fear of running a small start up on my own, during the pandemic, my playgroup families and my friends have been there for me. I am becoming a better person each day because of them and believe I have found a way to serve others whilst continuing my healing journey at the same time. I am extremely grateful to God for guiding me to this purpose. We all go through phases of caring for loved ones and putting them first alot of the time but we need to love ourselves also, something I have found very difficult to overcome. I'm truly sorry for any hurt I've caused anyone in the past because of this.
ps I am not a trained psychologist, and it is always a good idea to seek professional support. For this reason, I created a mental health & suicide resource section listing various wonderful organisations for adults, young people and children. This is part of my life story and I do not condone the use of drugs (they are illegal!) or alcohol recklessly. I've made many unhealthy choices in this lifetime but am working on choosing healthier ones.