Post Partum Depression – looking for a way out!

Recently I wrote a blog post about depression, and how depression can actually be seen as a positive process to go through, and to come out of the other end stronger.
To follow on from this, I have recently devoured a number of Elif Şafak’s fantastic books. In her work ‘Black Milk’, she chronicled her journey through post partum depression. The way she described coming through it in the end is an absolute reflection of the statements I was making in my previous blog. As she says: “I think I needed to live through this depression to better reassemble the pieces.”
Looking back on her depression, Elif now sees that she purposefully, though subconsciously at the time, invited depression into her life.
“The end to my post partum depression came more of its own accord, with the completion of some inner cycle. Only when the time was right, when I was “right”, did I get out of that dark, airless rabbit hole. Just as a day takes twenty four hours and a week takes seven days, just as a butterfly knows when to leave its cocoon and a seed knows when to spring into flower, just as we go through stages of development, just as everything and everyone in this universe has a “use by” date, so does post partum depression.”
Elif goes on to say:
“Every woman requires a varying amount of time to complete the cycle. For some it takes weeks, for others more than a year. But no matter how complex or dizzying it seems to be, every labyrinth has a way out.
All you have to do is walk toward it.”
If you are struggling through any kind of depression, the Thrive Programme will give you the skills and resources necessary to reach that way out and step through it energetically, positively, psychologically stronger, and without a backward glance!

Can depression EVER be a good thing? – Hell YES!

On a wet and miserable Tuesday morning at the end of March, when the local electricity board once again failed to cope with providing power due to a smattering of the damp stuff (actually it turned out to be a nationwide power outage that lasted all day – but that’s another story), I picked up a book.
I love (proper, pages and everything) books, but do confess these days to getting distracted by the tentacles of social media a tad too much, which means my office library can look a little neglected at times. So the positive side of a power cut during the working day is that I pick up books. This particular one was a book I refer to often during my Thrive sessions – The Importance of Suffering by James Davies.
Now, I have been accused in the past (by those who neither know me, nor have taken the time to meet and talk with me) of being a happy, clappy sort who peddles false positives while putting my hands over my ears and shouting LALALA very loud so as to not see the negativity of what is going on around me.
Not a bit of it!
Rather, I advocate that emotional suffering in certain situations is a vital process in understanding, assessing and putting into context and perspective. The amount of time and effort it takes is usually directly related with how affected you are on a personal level by the issue in hand.
Grief is a clear cut example of this. In terms of ‘evolutionary psychology’ the mind can work, in time, to heal the pain of loss.
Depression is another. Depression gets a bad press. Someone ‘gets’ depression – it’s seen as the end of the world. Cue lots of caring looks… mental disorders are so misunderstood….pop these anti depressants….mask the suffering….take a month of work….
The sufferer is caught up in a cycle of negativity and fear and collusion that this ‘thing’ is going to be with him for the rest of his life.
I prefer to take a much more positive stance on depression. As James Davies cites in his book, “Depression works because it forces upon us a period of ‘introversion’ or ‘hibernation’, during which we retreat from society to confront the reasons for our suffering, and to assess what life changes we need to make in order to put things right.”
He goes on to quote psychiatrist Neil Burton who summarised:
“Just as physical pain has evolved to signal injury and prevent further injury, so depression may have evolved to remove us from distressing, damaging or futile situations. The time and space and solitude that depression affords prevents us from making rash decisions, enables us to see the bigger picture and – in the context of being a social animal – to reassess our social relationships, think about those who are significant to us, and relate to them more meaningfully and with greater understanding and compassion.” (Burton 2009:117)
So, if you are strong in mind and managing your thinking well, then a bout of depression following a traumatic event can actually be an entirely natural, therapeutic, positive process to go through.
Unfortunately modern society does not always seem to want us to follow the course of natural, evolutionary psychology. It is cheaper (for governments) and more profitable (for the pharmaceuticals) and an all round easier quick fix (for us) to medicalise depression to such an extent that it has taken on this cloak of a terrifying beast snarling at anyone that crosses its path. We fear that we may be genetically disposed to depression if we watch our parents go through it. We worry that if we get it, then it will be with us for the rest of our lives. For some it may even define us – ‘My name is X and I am a depressive!’ Pills in pretty colours with fancy names help to ‘keep us on an even keel’, anaesthetise the pain, prevent us from confronting and challenging the ugly truth of our feelings. As James Davies claims:
“Powerful curative institutions now intervene, but with clinical interventions more likely to diagnose and stigmatise our descent, rather than legitimise it as a potentially necessary human experience.”
The reason why the Thrive Programme is SO effective in helping sufferers of depression deal with their ‘illness’ is because it teaches them the mental skills to bring themselves out of it, and promotes a deeper psychological understanding that aids the creation of greater mental resilience – resilience that can comfortably cope with the lows as well as enjoying and recharging on the highs. (And I must stress here once again that the Thrive Programme is totally evidence based. If it cannot be proven, it does not get included!)
Depression can affect anyone and everyone. Often some of the most gifted and brilliant academics the world over can be prone to depression, usually because they are, by their very nature, obsessive thinkers. As Rob Kelly states in the Thrive Programme workbook, “Obsessing tends to focus all attention on a problem, reinforcing all the negatives, keeping people absorbed in their worries and in fact, increasing the feelings of being out of control.”
Rob goes on the explain how depressed people are always looking for reasons to validate their state of mind (eg my girlfriend’s just dumped me!). There is a relief in the validation because having a reason gives them a sense of control. What it does not do, though, is give them a sense of strength (resilience) in terms of pulling themselves out of depression. Rather it brings them to a dead end, at which their control over confirming and reinforcing their depressed state is matched only by their sense of powerlessness in making any changes.
Depression may seem the deepest, darkest hole you have ever tripped into. The reality is, as Thrive consultants have witnessed again and again, depression is actually one of the easiest problems to overcome.
Just six weekly sessions with me on Skype or in my beachside clinic, will equip you with the knowledge and skills to dump depression and never look back. I can’t guarantee that you won’t have miserable times in the future. I can’t prevent shit happening in your life – because it can and will. But I can give you the skills to get through them all in one piece, and continue to be the person who want to be, and know you can be – a real Thriver!

© Kate Ashley-Norman April 2015.


Depression – overcome and Thrive!

DEPRESSION affects on average one in every five people during the course of our lives. That’s 20% of us – at one stage or another – who will go through this debilitating mental journey.

Some will come out the other end relatively unscathed. But many will dip in and out of depression at various points throughout their lives, never feeling completely free of its heavy, bleak yoke.

Every single person who goes through depression will have a unique perspective. The symptoms (see list) is merely an initial guide to what doctors look for when diagnosing depression.

J.K.Rowling described it as follows: “Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced. It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts, but it is a healthy feeling. It is a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different.”

Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation, also described depression: “A human being can survive, as long as he or she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.”

Rob Kelly, of The Thrive Programme, says: “Basically, depression is a combination of feeling low, unhappy and negative, but also about feeling powerless to do anything about it. As well as being ‘external’ [having an external locus of control], people with depression tend to brood and obsess.”

The sense of hopelessness is a recurring theme. An over-riding sense of powerlessness contributes significantly to feelings of depression – Mirowsky and Ross (1990) determined that depression was associated with not feeling in control of either good or bad outcomes, or of both.

But what is it that can make one person depressed, while another simply feels a bit sad, or is going through ‘the blues’?

As winter sets in, a lot of you reading this may be starting to experience the onset of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Others among you may have come through the euphoria of childbirth, just to be coming out the other end into Post Natal Depression.

Possibly you have recently (or even not so recently, but its effects are still resonant) gone through a major trauma in your life, and are still reeling from Post Traumatic Syndrome.

Or you may simply have found yourself in a deep, black hole with neither the strength, nor the will, to climb back out of it.

Whatever form your depression takes, its grip is tight.

Maybe you are one of the millions now reliant on the deadening and souless relief of anti-depressants, or are self medicating with alcohol, cigarettes, food or drugs, feeding a self loathing that merely exacerbates your depression.

So if I were to say to you that depression is actually one of the easiest problems for a person to overcome, would this give you a glimmer of hope, a light at the end of the very long, dark tunnel? Possibly not yet.

Maybe you’re not ready to believe that now. But when you are, I want you to remember this – DEPRESSION IS ACTUALLY ONE OF THE EASIEST PROBLEMS FOR A PERSON TO OVERCOME!

Depression is not about what happens ‘to’ you, but about the way you think and feel about it. And once you are on a negative, obsessive, powerless cycle it is very hard to break it. You end up going round and round in circles looking for a reason for your depression, then finding that thing that validates it.

Which in turn contributes to the depression as you feel increasingly powerless to do anything about it.

The most important step anyone can take in overcoming depression is realising that you can do something about it. As soon as you feel a greater sense of power in a situation, you put in the effort.

If you feel powerless, you stop putting in the effort. Once you have got to the point where you WANT to do something to alleviate your depression, the Thrive programme equips you with the knowledge, insights and techniques to understand and subsequently overcome feelings and symptoms of depression.

Symptoms of depression:

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in daily life
  • Loss of appetite – weight gain/loss
  • Disturbed sleep patterns – insomnia or oversleeping
  • Anger & irritability
  • Loss of energy
  • Self loathing, lack of self esteem
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Reduced/loss of sex drive
  • Unexplained aches & pains

Facts about depression

In 2011, 47.7 million prescriptions for antidepressants were dispensed through the NHS, costing the British taxpayer over a quarter of a billion pounds. (NHS Report 2012)

Antidepressant usage has more than tripled in the US since 1986, reaching a staggering 235 million prescriptions in 2010. (Mojtabai,R. & Olfson,M. 2011).

The Success of Thrive

Dear Kate, I would just like to thank you very much for introducing me to Thrive. I find it has really helped me and currently I am possibly one of my busiest and possibly my happiest in my life.

I can’t really explain what has happened to me, I have the same issues as before, the same things happen to me as before, I still need a moan and a groan about life and circumstances at times but you know what?

It doesn’t matter anymore! I’m still stressed but in a far more positive way, I’m building a business that is really looking like a huge success story and sometimes I cannot believe how far I have come with it.

Things that used to scare me greatly still scare me but I can deal with it and move on with it….and I’m busy and I’m stressed and I don’t have time to do everything I want but you know, it’s ok!

The biggest thing that I find used to be a problem for me was how much I care what people think. Do you know what a relief it is and how much more time I have to be myself now I don’t care what people think! What a heavy weight off my shoulders!!!

I have changed my thinking, changed my approach to things and it has helped me in every aspect of my life.

As for my confidence with my business it has just unlocked the door to believing in myself and building something amazing. Thank you Kate for your guidance and inspiration.

The Thrive Programme

The Thrive Programme can help people overcome stress and anxiety once and for all. (To see evidence of this, watch some of the video testimonials on

How can Thrive help?

The Thrive programme is a psychological training programme which equips people with the self awareness and working knowledge of the mind to help them flourish in their lives. There is no intervention with Thrive – no therapy, no analysis – rather it empowers people to strive for better health and happiness by building and strengthening themselves psychologically.

Key words for Thrive are resilience, bounce-back-ability, empowerment, and, crucially, evidence based. Thrive is not fairies at the bottom of the garden, wave a magic wand type of programme.

It is comprised of cold, hard scientific facts written in a highly understandable, easy to relate to format which requires commitment and effort.

We know that people live in a harsh reality sometimes – the key is not wanting to change something we have no power to change, but rather managing the way you think about it in a way that is powerful and positive.

How can I work with Thrive in Turkey?

6 x 1:1 private sessions either face to face at our Didim beachside clinic, or via Skype/Facetime (or a combination of the two), or a week’s residential course at our beachside clinic.

Free consultation

Kate Ashley-Norman ATPC is a fully accredited Thrive Consultant, supported by what we refer to as Thrive HQ, back in the UK (

She splits her time between her busy beachside clinic in Didim on the Aegean coast of Turkey, and Peterborough in the UK.  For a free and confidential consultation on any issues that may be troubling you, contact her via one of the following:

Contact Kate:


Mobile/Whatsapp: 00 90 544 3298466 / 00 44 7904 345354


Let Your Cup Brimmeth Over!

Has anyone ever seen Didim so busy this early on in April before? I can honestly say that I have never started a summer season as shattered as I have been these last few weeks – and the season has not even officially started yet!
But it is a good ‘shattered’. It is a ‘shattered’ that is full of positive energy, excitement for what the future will bring, and ensuring every cloud is fitted with the best silver lining available.
It is very easy to talk Didim down. It is very easy to look at everything from a negative standpoint. In fact, the more negative you are, the more you will only see the negative. Even when something positive happens, it will only be the negative connotations that you pick up on.
Negative thinking is a self perpetuating behaviour. When something bad happens, negative thinkers are almost beside themselves with (miserable) joy as the negative consequences just reinforce their negative prophesising.
(Crikey, I am in danger of bringing myself down just writing all this!).
I am sure you have all got ‘friends’ you would rather avoid – the ones that suck any joy, energy, passion, hope and excitement out of life. They may initially be quite amusing in a wry, cynical way… for about five minutes. Anything longer than this has me walking out the door without a backward glance.
Conversely, people choose to think negatively because it actually gives them a sense of control over their lives. They think bad things will happen. Bad things happen (because life does have a habit of throwing the brown stuff at us sometimes!). Hence their predictions about their life being so hard come true. They were right to be negative all along! Thinking in this way makes their lives more predictable (if somewhat miserable) and they feel slightly better being in control.
So why is that so wrong? Surely it is better that they ‘feel’ in control… better than feeling ‘out of control’, surely?
Unfortunately that sense of control is merely an illusion. We all know things can go wrong, but expecting the worst does not help you to build up resilience. It is our ability to ‘bounce back’, to apply resilience in the face of adversity that makes us strong thriving, in control, individuals.
The research paper by Hebert (1996) states:
“Researchers have explained resilience in terms of hardiness, and proposed that hardy individuals have a strong commitment to self, are willing to take action and to deal with problems, have a positive attitude toward their environment, have a strong sense of purpose, and develop a strong internal locus of control which enables them to see life’s obstacles as challenges that can be overcome.”
Negative thinking enables people to psychologically protect themselves against potential failure or rejection. If they believe nothing good will happen, then they will not be disappointed.
What you might not realise is that negative thinking is a choice, not a trait. It simply takes a bit of constant applied effort to choose to think more positively, and there are some really effective techniques that can be applied to help achieve this.
I have always seen my own life as a glass neither half full nor half empty, but as positively overflowing with possibilities. Things go wrong. Work, relationships, life in general does not always go the way I want it too. But at every blip (and there can be several a day) I choose to take a positive stance.
It is not that I am in control of what is happening to me, rather that I am more in control of how I think about things that are happening around me. This helps me to deal more effectively with external factors which are beyond my control, and therefore have a much stronger, deeper and more resilient handle on those things that affect me closely.
I am managing my thinking in a positive, helpful and resilient way.
So many of the conditions that we treat with medication are a direct result of the way we think, the way we mismanage our thinking – depression, fatigue syndromes such as ME and CFS, debilitating fears, phobias and anxieties, problems with addictions, obesity… all these life limiting (ie they limit the way in which you lead your life) are exacerbated by negative, paranoid, obsessive, catastrophic, perfectionist styles of thinking (to name but a few).
You CAN learn to think differently, more positively. Realising that is the first step to getting back on track to a full, and happy, life.

Good Grief

Four years ago today, on Saturday 16th January 2010, at about 6 o’clock in the morning, my father lost his battle with cancer. Being pancreatic cancer – pretty much the worse you can get – his battle was short but definitely not sweet. Not even bitter sweet. It was harsh, ruthless, and left us all reeling.

Four years … and it still feels like yesterday. And that is why I wanted to write a little bit about grief today.

We will, all of us, at some stage in our lives, experience the death of someone we love – whether it is a parent or grandparent, husband or wife, close friend or (and I do not want to even imagine the devastation of this) a child.

Most schools of psychology say that it takes about two years (on average) to ‘get over’ the death of someone you love. In their book ‘On Grief and Grieving’ , Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler, write about the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, saying – “They were never meant to tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response, as there is no typical loss. Our grief is as individual as our lives.”

The first few weeks and months are filled with many conflicting emotions. You cannot believe they are no longer there. You miss them. You may well dream about them (on a couple of occasions I have heard my father’s voice in my dreams – more poignant than seeing an image of him). You cry, or you may find that you can’t cry. You feel unbalanced. Certain places, sights, smells, become evocative of that departed person.

Death makes us vulnerable, and in our vulnerability all these different emotions are breaking through the surface like a pan of boiling milk flooding the top of a cooker.

There are those that make a point of ‘holding in’ their emotions, keeping a stiff upper lip. Others hang onto those emotions as a way of hanging onto the person who has gone, as though feeling better would mean letting go of that person and moving in – something they just cannot yet imagine doing.

Remember, the human psyche goes through grief because it is a natural therapeutic process. During the weeks and months after death it is vital to feel the pain, the sadness, the anger, because only by feeling it can we put process it properly and put it into some kind of perspective.

In the research paper ‘The Undoing Effects of Positive Emotions’ (Fredrickson, Mancuso, Branigan & Tugade, 2000), it states: “Negative emotions can be viewed as evolved adaptations that aided our ancestors’ survival in life threatening situations.” So while fear may have saved the caveman’s life when fleeing from a flesh eating dinosaur by heightening his cardiovascular reactivity, redistributing blood flow to the relevant skeletal muscles, so do the tears, the anger, the sense of loss, the utter bewilderment of grief, so do all these emotions play their own part in psycho-physiologically healing the pain of the actual loss.

Four, five, ten years on that pain should have receded. My father, for example, is still in my thoughts every day, but I no longer cry for him every day. I get on with my life, my work, my family, and am even perfectly happy and at peace with his death. However there are many people for whom the grieving process is still a heavy burden. They are still struggling with putting their loss into perspective.

The Thrive programme is an excellent way of helping people through their grieving process, particularly if it is several years on and still having a major impact on the quality of their lives. By teaching people how to manage their thoughts better, how to put things into perspective, how to look inside themselves for that strength and resilience, then significant losses can be no less painful, but certainly more bearable.

I shall be taking myself off somewhere later today to have a good cry and remember my dad. I give myself permission to wallow for a bit. That is a perfectly understandable and appropriate thing to do on such a day. Anniversaries like this are there for us to remember, to feel gratitude, to look back with perspective. I shall be very happy to wallow in a bit of misery and grief for a while, and shall feel sufficiently refreshed as a result to get back into my life again afterwards.

The Phobia of all Phobias!

Warning: If you suffer from emetophobia you may want to skip over the next paragraph as it may cause you undue stress. But do persist in reading to the end  – it may just make a huge difference to your future happiness!

Vomiting, being sick,  puking, chundering, spewing, throwing up, chucking up, heaving, gagging …

These are terms for vomiting that I pulled from the top of my head, though I am sure there are many more if I put the request for some out on Facebook. For most of us there is an almost comical element to the act of being sick. But, almost unbelievably, for about three million mainly, but by no means exclusively, women in the UK (so goodness knows how many worldwide) the mere mention of vomit would induce intensely negative reactions which were seriously life inhibiting.

Emetophobia – also known as a fear of vomiting – tends to be a secret phobia. Those who suffer tend not to tell anyone about it, normally out of anxiety or embarrassment. And it can also be probably the worse phobia you could possibly have. If you have a fear of flying, you can avoid travelling on a plane. If you have a fear of dogs, you simply don’t get a dog (and avoid Altinkum’s streets!)

But emetophobia seeps into every single area of your life. You avoid alcohol because the last thing you want is the churning stomach of a hangover. You are scrupulously clean and avoid anyone who may be sick, because the last thing you want to catch is any vomit inducing bug. You are sensitive to the slightest twinge and gurgle of your stomach, frantically worried that something may lead to you being sick. You avoid going to certain places or doing certain activities simply because you are afraid of being caught out in an unfamiliar place. You develop obsessive compulsive tendencies as this reassures you that you are doing your utmost to guarantee a vomit free environment. You may even be morbidly afraid of dying, and spiralling into depression because you are so convinced that the slightest retch is a sign of worse to come.

Emetophobia can even be masked by a myriad of other phobias – each endeavouring to enable you to maintain a high degree of control over your environment to avoid any situation that could make you sick.

The chances are that every single person who reads this article probably knows someone who suffers to a greater or lesser degree from emetophobia – they just don’t know it. Three million people in the UK alone is a significant number of people who are living severely limited lives purely and simply because they are not managing their thinking well.

And that is what it is all about – managing your thinking.

The good news is, that every phobia, no matter how severe, how debilitating, how well entrenched over the years, can be overcome simply by managing your thinking better. Just like building muscle tone, it takes time, it takes patience and practice. But once it all clicks into place the feeling of liberation and release is fantastic.

If you are suffering from this hugely debilitating imposition on your life, contact me on In just six sessions of Thrive (no hypnotherapy involved at all!) you will gain a much deeper understanding of WHY you have these feelings, and what YOU can do to rid yourself of them, once and for all. Sessions are also available both on Skype, or as a week long residential course here in Turkey.