I’ve always been intrigued by what lay beyond the veil, in that other realm, where spirits dwell. Where the dead can reach through the gossamer barrier and communicate with the living. Ghosts. Spirits, Spectres. Call them what you will. Some don’t believe. Others think that what we perceive to be ghosts are just parallel lives being replayed in a different space time continuum, very Interstellar like.
As a child I was curious. I wanted to know all I could about ghosts. I loved crystals, tarot cards, palm reading, anything that could behold magic and connect me with what scientifically shouldn’t exist but does.
I am a fan of science and a believer that all things can be explained logically. But sometimes, just sometimes there are things that have no explanation. There are stories that make no sense. Premonitions and odd coincidences. My father’s side of the family have a fair few ghost stories that I recount from time to time. Each of them chilling and wonderful and powerful enough to make you believe that there is more to the world that what meets the eye. My great x 5 Grandmother saw her Granddaughter’s gauzy figure the night before she drowned in a stream, my Aunty saw her father in a photo taken after he died. Try as you might to use logic and fact, you can’t explain these things away.
Every year on my birthday I get a massage. I really need to get them more often as my neck grows stiff from constantly hunching over my computer, no matter how much yoga I do. I love my annual massage. I love laying down and being kneaded to a pulp.
A friend recommended a massage therapist to me. You should go and see Cendrine at Sublimity, she said, she’s lovely and very French. When I heard French I was immediately reminded of a French director I had at drama school. She was a feisty redhead who screamed at us “Vit! Vit! Aller! She was fantastic, but not very calming. But when my friend added that Cendrine was also a clairvoyant who offered spiritual consultations I knew had to go and see her!
As soon as she opened the door to her home studio I knew she was nothing like my feisty French teacher, perhaps that is because Cendrine is Belgian French, not French French. An air of calm washed over me as she said hello, her very presence made me feel grounded and peaceful.
After an amazing 75 minute massage Cendrine somehow managed to rid my body of all of it’s tension. I felt so relaxed and peaceful, almost zen like, that I felt like crying, but I didn’t. I’ve gotten pretty good and holding in tears.
It was time for the spiritual consultation. I really had no expectations. I didn’t really know what to expect or what to ask. I was pretty open to anything that came up. Cendrine explained that she may see visions of my past lives and also communicate with my spirit guides; beings assigned to us before birth to nudge and direct us through our life path.
I lay down on the treatment table while Cendrine placed crystals on my chakra points. I love crystals so I enjoyed the ritual. She went into a slight trance as she checked my energy flow. After a white she told me that my energy was blocked around my pelvis. I wasn’t surprised considering the issues I have with my uterus! She used a pendulum to improve the energy flow (sceptics be damned! Since then I’ve had much less cramping during menstruation!) She also noted that I had a lot of heat behind my eyes, as if there are a lot of tears trapped behind them. Interesting considering I had just suppressed some! She had a vision of me holding a tiny baby and crying. Well, that pretty much sums up the last few years of my life!
Once my flow was sorted Cendrine returned to her trance for a few moments before a vision appeared. I watched as she saw a scene from one of my past lives. It was as if she was watching a film with her eyes closed.
In my past life, I was a man, and a writer. I was sitting at a desk writing on parchment by candle light. I needed to write down the truth. I needed to share the truth with the world before it was too late. In my past life I died trying to share this truth with the world. But as I lay dying, all of my spirit guides came to my sides and bathed me in love. I did not die alone.
Some people may find that grim, but I loved it. I found it reassuring and comforting. Not only did I die knowing that my spirit guides were there for me but I died with a mission unfinished: I need to share my truths with the world via the pen. That sounds like some unfinished business I can help with!
Cendrine also told me about one of my spirit guides. He was a man, tall and thin with grey hair, I immediately imagined him to look a lot like the new channel one weather man. He told me to write from my soul, not just my mind. Interesting advice considering I’d been trying to force myself to write a certain way, thinking too much about rules and failing to just let the works flow from my soul.
After the consultation I was intrigued. It was like I’d opened a can of worms and needed to know more! How does one get a gift like this? How young does it start?
For Cendrine it started early. She was able to see from a very young age. As a young child she grew up in an old house in Belgium, a house which was haunted. She recalls odd things happening there, her sister sleep walking with scissors in hand, things moving about, emotional issues, illness. All of which stopped as soon as the family moved house. As a child with the gift of sight, she remembers wanted the spirits to go away, trying to quiet them from her mind. This only led to serious migraines, which were not cured until she was encouraged to use her sight again years later.
As a teenager Cendrine recalls a trip to an old castle that was terrifying. She can still feel the remnants of the dark spirit in her mind. The sound it made in her head. “The place had an awful history, bad things had happened there.” And she could feel, that more bad things would happen there unless something was done to rid the place of dark spirits.
So what are dark spirits? Spirits who have died in an unhappy way, who linger on to cause trouble. It is possible to come in contact with dark spirits just by visiting a place where they linger. Cendrine has had clients who have picked things up from visits to other countries, old ruins and castles. “Sometimes they come in and I can see that there is something dark attached to them.” After looking deeper, she can usually see what it is and where it came from and then tell it to leave, it is not needed here any more.
So who would benefit from a spiritual consultation? Honestly everyone who is open to it. Whether you want to try to communicate with past loved ones, try to see if an illness has a spiritual cause, build your relationship with your spirit guides, or hear about your past lives it is all very enlightening. I personally am hooked! Now I want to know all about my spirit guides and the messages they have for me!
Cendrine also runs group meditation sessions and group channellings. The next one is to be held is Mystic Monday Mornings at The Southern Cross bar on May 4th. Individual sessions from 10am. Group session 1pm – 2pm.
For more info on her services check out Sublimity.
I was in the doctor’s office. He was an older man, possibly nearing retirement. He wasn’t my usual doctor. No, my usual doctor was off on paternity leave, so here I was sitting in the office of a stranger, in a new medical centre. He began this check-up by asking me the basic questions. Do you smoke? No. Do you drink? Not enough. Are you on any medication? Yes, I replied, calmly and confidently naming the medication I am on for my mental illness.
Perhaps he was offended at how little guilt I’d shown about my need to be medicated. Perhaps he thought I’d answered the question too matter-of–factly. Perhaps it was that I’d smiled as I answered, with no hint of shame. Whatever the reason, he promptly started to grill me on my choice to take medication, as if it was somehow cheating. How long have you been on it? Have you tried coming off it? Have you tried exercising more instead? How’s your diet? Don’t you want to come off it? Do you intend to be on this medication for the rest of your life?
What was I to say? Should I calmly explain to him my entire mental health history in the next 15 minutes? Or do I kindly tell him to shut the fuck up and get down to why I’m really here?
Growing up, I had a hunch that I was a little odd. As a child I worried a lot. I would lie in bed at night, my heart beating furiously in my chest, unable to sleep. Unable to stop the twisting, fearful thoughts in my tiny head. I was afraid of anything and everything that was unknown and unpreventable. What if my parents die in a car crash one day? What would happen to me? Who would I live with? And would whomever I was sent to life with let me take my dog? What if they didn’t? Where would she go? Would she get sent to a dog food factory? And if so, did that mean the dog food I fed her each night was also made from the dogs of orphaned children? Like I said, I was a little odd and I worried a lot.
As I got older the worrying continued but it took on an even darker tone. This was around the time that Michael Jackson was on trial for the supposed molestation of children, so my concerned thoughts headed down the road of sexuality. What kind of person molested children? Do you just wake up one day and decide that is what you do? Could that happen to me? Could I become a sexual molester? I imagined having to confess my sins to my parents, I imagined their disappointed faces as I told them that I, their own daughter had become a sick child molesting monster. Deep down I knew that I was not in fact said monster, but I felt like I had to confess even these fears, that simply having them made me guilty.
From the age of 10 I was addicted to confessing my sins to my mother, who had somehow become my personal catholic priest. Every night I’d come clean to her, telling her of all my impure thoughts from the day. I looked at a girl’s vagina in the changing room at swimming. When Mr Bruce was talking at assembly I imagined him naked, then imagined him having sex, then I imagined having sex with him. On it went. Out it would all come and my mother would listen and smile then simply say, it’s okay, you’re allowed to have your own thoughts. I would sigh, feeling cleansed and absolved of my sins. For a few minutes. Then the thoughts would start up again and the guilt and fear would start up again with them.
I didn’t realise this for years, but what I had was a serious case of anxiety disorder. I didn’t actually figure out that out until I was 23. Up until the ripe old age of 23 I followed my snarled, nasty fearful thoughts down the rabbit hole and let them eat me up. I went through bouts of depression when it all got too much. When I was 14 I stopped talking. Simply because I was so anxious about saying something stupid that after a while I actually couldn’t open my mouth and speak anymore. At 15 I desperately wanted to get an afterschool job but I was too afraid that I would come across a problem that I couldn’t solve and I’d end up looking stupid. At 16 there was sex and the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy. Broken condoms and STDs. And AIDS. There was the slim, but all be it possible chance that I could get AIDS from my first and only lover (who was also a virgin, or was he??). Would I know if a condom had broken? What if there was only a tiny hole?
I had AIDS for two years. I lived in constant state of fear that secretly I had AIDS and I was already dying. When I finally found the courage to get a test done, at the pleading requests of my friends who were sick of hearing me harp on about my impending death, it became clear that I did not in fact have AIDS. I was fine. I had just spent the last two years worrying, about nothing.
The next on my list was cancer. I had cancer. I was sure. In my neck. There was a lump. It was tragic. I was dying. Now you’d think if you found a lump in your neck you’d get it checked out by the doctor right? Not me. Nope. I didn’t need a doctor to tell me what I already knew. I was dying. That was a fact.
Eventually after another few years lived in sweaty night fits, crying about the children I’d never have, I got my neck lump checked. “It’s nothing.” Said my doctor. “Just muscle tissue”. The second doctor agreed. Nothing? NOTHING?!
By 21 the panic attacks started. A sinking dizzy feeling, followed my instant sweats and shortness of breath. They’d happen anywhere. At work, at the gym, before an audition, before a pap smear, anywhere. I’d drink a lot to numb the fear. It helped but it also made me have more drunken sex, resulting more fear and anxiety over newly transmitted STDs and AIDS.
Also at 21 I met my current partner. Blissful, newfound love, coupled with debilitating bouts of panic stricken anxiety about, anything and everything. Do I like him more than he likes me? Does he like me more than I like him? What if I can’t have kids, will he leave me? Oh god! What if I can’t have kids!?
It wasn’t until 23 that I finally snapped. My poor mind and heart had had enough. Enough they said to me in unison one day when all of a sudden they sent me a message clear as a bell. Something is very wrong. But what? No answer. They wouldn’t tell me but the panic remained. Something was wrong. Dread filled me. I was consumed by a thick heavy anxiety, the worst panic attack I’d ever experienced. And it lasted a month.
I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t work. I lost around 10kgs and cried constantly. All I knew was that something was wrong. I was afraid. And I didn’t know how to fix it. I was afraid of what I’d do to myself because I just wanted this fear to end. I wanted to go to a funny farm. The idea of going somewhere to be fixed was very appealing. I went to my GP who frowned and nodded and mentioned the possibility of medication. No. I shook my head profusely. I’d heard bad things about medication. The stories from the Prozac popping 90s had put me off psychotropic drugs completely. He referred me to a psychologist instead. It was expensive. My parents offered to pay, though they didn’t understand. Neither did I.
My psychologist was a friendly woman with brown curly hair and a love of cats. I met with her multiple times a week. She’d ask me questions about my family, my childhood. At the time I had no knowledge that I was a little odd as a child. I also didn’t realise that I’d had anxiety problems all my life and problems with hypochondria. I also didn’t compute that my dull office job that had driven me to tears daily for over a year had probably contributed to this final and serious bout of anxiety and depression.
After a month of regular sessions she concluded that I would indeed need medication. In cases this acute, she said softly, we recommend medication as a way to break the initial cycle of anxious obsessive thoughts. By this stage I was willing to try anything.
So this is how I came to be medicated. It took a few weeks but over time the anxiety faded. I realised too that I hadn’t actually been very well to start with. I’d been mentally unwell for so many years that I hardly knew what it was like to be well. It took a while but I was lucky and the medication I was put on was perfect for me. I had no side effects and only got better. Life as I knew it had changed. I was finally well. Finally free.
I have at times come off my medication, like when I was pregnant, but after falling ill again I’d always go back on it. I’ve discovered I am not well when I am not on medication. I have an illness that requires medicine. Much like people with high blood pressure or asthma need medication, so do those with mental illness. They shouldn’t be made to feel bad about it, or like they are weak for needing to be medicated.
Pills aren’t the be all and end all. I still need to look after myself. If I don’t eat well, sleep well and exercise regularly, I start to feel miserable, but then, don’t most people?
No, I didn’t tell the know-it-all doctor all of this. Nor should I have had to. Being medicated is a choice that no one should make you feel ashamed of. It takes a lot of courage for someone with a mental illness to even seek help let alone accept that medication may be the right choice for them. To have that questioned, by a medical professional even, is one hell of a slap in the face.
In response to his questions, I simply smiled and said ‘I have two sons.’ That I decided, pretty much summed up my opinion the matter. No mother of sons should be made to come off her medication. She has enough to deal with as it is!
Though what if I hadn’t been so confident in my choice to medicate? What if I’d been mentally ill at the time and willing to trust completely the opinions of a supposed professional? Well I could potentially be very sick again right now. Doctors need to stop treating their patients like idiots.
In my experience, it’s not the mentally ill people on medication you need to worry about, it’s the ones who aren’t medicated that you need to watch out for!
Got some things left unsaid? Things left eating at your soul that you just want to get rid of? We went to 'In Good Company's' event on Thursday night and I tell you what - it was cathartic.
First you write a letter to the person that has been breaking your heart/pissing you off/fucking with your mojo - that's step number one. Then step number two is to write an apology from that person to yourself and step number three is to write an acceptance letter from yourself saying that you forgive them for being a wanker. Then you shred the shit out of your letters #awesome.
And you know what? At the end of this experience I felt lighter and I felt way better. It was cool.
"True Love Will Find You In The End is a light-hearted writing workshop in which participants will be given the opportunity to write letters to individuals of their choice. Upon finishing their letter participants must ceremoniously shred their writing. As such, the workshop is intended as a relational/performance piece. The act of writing and shredding gives an opportunity for participants to either confront or expel memories from their past. Letters can be written to old friends, lovers, crushes, colleagues, family members, celebrities or whomever the participant wishes to concentrate their sentiment and energy on." - The Date Club Collective,
The energy in the room was pretty exciting. You could literally see people's shoulders relax as they let go of all that negative energy! I was also pretty surprised about who I wrote to......
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Lisette Prendé and Mariana Collette are BFFs. They met on their first day of high school and have been making each other laugh ever since.