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Coping with grief or loss.

Anyone who has lost a loved one or someone who was very dear to them will be familiar with the natural response and intensity of grief.

I lost my dad in April of this year when he very sadly lost his brave 7 year battle with cancer. I admired the strong man that he was as he persevered with radiotherapy, medication, chemotherapy and blood transfusions, all of which involved countless hospital visits accompanied by my mum without him so much as complaining.

He put up a good fight. I guess he felt he had a lot to live for, after all he was happily married, had a lovely home and was very loved by family and friends.

As a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, I knew that I needed to accept my reality. My reality at that time was that my dad was dying and I acknowledged that the conditions were extremely difficult. Anyone who has watched someone they love die of cancer or any other terminal condition will understand the heartbreak and the feelings of being ineffective, indeed complete hopelessness as you watch them suffer and waste away.  I felt like everyone was trying to “act normally” on the outside whilst inside we could all feel our heavy hearts shattering.

So when he did pass away after a couple of very intense and difficult weeks, my initial reaction was one of relief. It was over …. phew… the pain, the suffering, the heartbreak of watching him suffer from so many ailments and of course the heavy burden it took on my immediate family as we cared for and supported him.

Unfortunately we can get stuck if we don’t accept our reality. The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These stages are part of the framework that makes up our journey in learning to live with the person we’ve lost.

For me, well I have experienced a different kind of grief losing my dad than any previous experience. It felt like a huge, forceful wave that came out of nowhere and battered me to the shore leaving me feeling mesmerised, shocked and incredibly sad.

There is no right or wrong way to feel and it’s helpful to accept “it is what it is”. However, I can’t help but feel that loosing a very close family member is a completely different type of grief.

This time I allowed myself to love so dearly and it was for much longer as naturally we shared my lifespan together. I appreciate him for the loyal family man that he was. He was stable, generous, kind and a considerate soul.   

He provided for, loved and protected me and in return he received a huge chunk of my heart. 

The only people who think there’s a time limit for grief, have never lost a piece of their heart. Take all the time you need.

If you are suffering with any kind of grief or loss and need someone who can listen attentively and help you work through your feelings, please do get in contact with me.


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Am I worthy of love and belonging?

Question: Am I worthy of love and belonging?

How would you answer this question?

Does that depend on whether you are in a loving relationship, being loved by friends and family, or being valued and appreciated for who you are and what you do.

All of these share one characteristic, they are part of your outer world and all it can do is mirror your inner state of being in love back to you.

Whatever you are on the inside is always reflected in your reality, in the people and situations that are part of your journey.

I spent most of my twenties and thirties analysing my disastrous love life. On the inside I suffered with anxiety, shame, low self worth and an ingrained belief that I was a failure (now and then resulting in very mild depression). My reality taught me some very difficult life lessons.

Fed up, lonely, disappointed and at my wits end, I hit rock bottom back in 2012. I needed help, so armed with sheer determination and courage along with a profound realisation that I was creating this reality (blaming others ran its course until this point), I decided to face my shadow self and seek out Avy Joseph as he was recommended to me by my flatmate for improving self worth.

So there we have it, I was introduced to a pioneering form of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy called Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT for short). It took just 6 counselling sessions to change 3 irrational beliefs that I had been carrying around for approx. 15 years +

Some of the insights I now have and will share with you.

  • You and I are worthy of love and belonging 
  • We would prefer not to be negatively judged by others but if we are we can accept ourselves regardless
  • There are always going to be girls/guys out there who are prettier/more handsome than you and I
  • Be yourself and be authentic. You are who you are.
  • We are human beings. Therefore, we are unique individuals with strengths, weaknesses and a constellation of traits and abilities.  

Sometimes we need to hit rock bottom before we are motivated to change. It can be slightly scary facing your shadow self and seek help but it’s the most effective and transformational thing you could possibly do to change your reality for the better.

If you want to gain some useful insight by having counselling, then seek out a CBT therapist like myself and take the first step.

You can contact me by phone, email or Skype for a free confidential consultation about your own circumstances.

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Worried, feeling worthless & wondering how your life will turn out!?

According to a survey carried out by the Independent a year ago, here are the top 10 things people worry about:

10. I seem to be generally unhappy

9. Paying rent/mortgage

8. Worried about my physique

7. Wrinkles or ageing appearance

6. Job security

5. Financial/credit card debts

4. My diet

3. Low energy levels

2. Worried about my savings/ financial future

1. Getting old in general

So it looks like we all seem to value youth/agility, looking/feeling good along with financial security.

The good news for me right now, is that I can genuinely say I am not worried about any of those things.

I look after my health, my parents taught me the value of money so I try to avoid debt and I have spent a vast amount of money on improving my mind by investing in counselling and completing 3 years counselling training in CBT/REBT.

Hmm… This is all working out rather well…

However, saying that….  Things aren’t black and white and with my 40th birthday approaching soon, I really do have to take into consideration this milestone may trigger off at least 3 of the 10 things listed above!

If my memory serves me correctly, my 30th birthday triggered off the following unhelpful irrational thoughts:

Oh my god how awful, I am single.

I have no boyfriend, no-one loves me

No children to love me when i’m old and lonely

No house of my own as I am still renting and can’t get on the property ladder until I meet my man

Without all these things, I am worthless

In hindsight, this wasn’t helpful!  Telling myself that I am worthless!??

10 years later, I would hope I am not only older but also wiser. I now know I am worthy just because I exist and I don’t rate myself based on my achievements.

I may not have a few of the things I had hoped for but my healthy rational mind will support me whatever happens.

Sometimes you got to stop worrying, wondering and doubting. Have faith that things will work out. Maybe not how you planned. But how they were meant to be.


I’m based in West Monkton, Taunton. You can contact me by telephone, email or we can work together by Skype (dianeknight_CBT)


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REM is not just a band. REM = Sleep!

Did you grow up listening to REM in the 80’s like I did and not have a clue what REM meant? We didn’t have google back then and to be honest I was only interested in the songs and learning the lyrics so I could sing along (badly).

REM stands for Rapid eye Movement, which occurs after the first 4 stages of sleep.  It happens approximately 70 minutes after falling asleep and follows in approx. cycles of 90 minutes, with each cycle including a larger proportion of REM sleep.

During a night of sleep, one usually experiences about four or five periods of REM sleep.

Sleeping at the right times and for the right duration help train the body to recognise when to step up serotonin production. We all need serotonin, this is the neurotransmitter responsible for the mood we are in and has links to the prevention of anxiety and depression.

Rapid Eye Movement is essential for processing our thoughts and experiences we have had that day. If you wake up remembering you have had some weird lucid dreams then you know you have reached REM. You can look up your dreams on to try and make sense of them as they tend to carry a meaning!

Interestingly enough did you know a newborn baby spends more than 80% of total sleep time in REM.  I wonder what they dream about?

Substances that affect the functioning of the central nervous system to inhibit REM sleep include 2 standard alcoholic drinks, cannabis, sleeping tablets such as valium and any type of antidepressant. They all have a detrimental effect on getting the essential REM sleep we need in order to solve the emotional content of your problems.

So we go to the doctors who tend to prescribe antidepressants for anxiety and depression, numb our feelings by drinking alcohol when we feel stressed or take sleeping tablets for insomnia.

I’m wondering how helpful these methods are when they actually interrupt the sleep pattern so we don’t gain the benefits of reaching the stage of deep sleep, which is REM?

Whilst I appreciate peoples circumstances and environment can play an important factor, here are my top tips for reaching REM and improving your memory, problem solving skills and emotional & physical health.

1. Sleep hygiene is crucial. Ideally you need a nice comfortable bed, a dark room with no blue lights from electronics or wifi, a good routine when it comes to bedtime and try and wind down before you go to bed.  A thriller or a discussion which heightens bodily arousal would best be avoided.

2. Peace and quiet. The longer you sleep without interruptions the better, you will experience longer periods of REM sleep if you can get a good nights sleep. How about investing in some good earplugs, blocking out your partners snoring or the cats fighting outside.

3.  Avoid committing to a late night and an early start, what you really need is to give yourself an opportunity for an early night or a lie in.

5. Hot or cold environmental temperatures can reduce the proportion of REM sleep so its worth investing in a decent duvet or a quiet fan to regulate your body heat.

6. If you do wake up and struggle to get back to sleep, take a break and have a cuppa then head back to bed to try and catch up. If you can go back into a deep sleep then you will benefit immensely.

And if all that doesn’t help, another option for you is you to raise your serotonin levels before you go to sleep and that means exercise, whether it’s running, swimming, dancing or anything else that comes to mind.

The choice is yours!

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How am I going to cope?

We have the answers inside of us but when we are feeling down and lost we don’t always have the capacity to look for the answers or maybe we would prefer to shut ourselves away from the world until we feel stronger as we can’t cope with seeing people.

Some may worry about coping with loneliness in the future, uncertainty such as the perceived threat of loosing a loved one or being abandoned.   How will I manage alone and isolated?

Worry, worry, worry.  What if thoughts circulating around in your mind. Loosing out on precious sleep when you are already exhausted, drained and irritable.

Anxiety is an unhelpful emotion in this context as you are so preoccupied with unanswered questions and negative thoughts your mind isn’t clear enough to be able to access the answers or to take positive action.

It’s not surprising that fear and anxiety is so prevalent and it all feels so gloomy.

This year there have been numerous plane crashes, terrorists attacks and government cut backs.

It’s very difficult for people and some struggle to cope which then leads to mental health problems.  As a precaution, be careful which newspapers you read and how much news you absorb as the media tends to be negatively biased.

ISIS seem determined to provoke fear and separatism by launching terror attacks on innocent people. They are getting so much media coverage. I wonder if this is helpful?

However, we do need to keep things in perspective. Be brave, reach out to those who are suffering loneliness or grief. We are human beings. There is positively as humanity has surfaced once again as we come together during this time of grief.

We can cope, we have coped and we will cope.

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I MUST do well. It’s a recipe for disaster.

I hope I pass my driving test. I really want my partner to love me forever. I really hope my guests enjoy the meal I’ve spent all day preparing.

If we didn’t have hopes and desires in life, what sort of world would we live in. Quite a depressing one i’m sure as the future would seem so bleak without any hope, sense of achievement or dreams for what the future may bring. Desires are healthy and useful.

But what happens when we are more rigid in our thinking by demanding of ourselves that we MUST do well and win the approval of others.

We become more self conscious and we compare ourselves to others. We may work extra hard and longer hours to impress the boss. We may fear negative judgement about our clothes, level of education, achievements and popularity.

Suddenly we find we need to be the perfect all-rounder and want to do and be everything!

All this worry can lead to a meltdown or a mid life crisis. It’s no wonder you see so much evidence of mental health becoming a publicised topic with an emphasis on mindfulness to reduce high levels of anxiety.

What happens when you get a cooking bowl out and mix a heaped tablespoon of desire with a heaped tablespoon of pressure along with all the ingredients for the ideal outcome and cook it for 30 mins at 200c with the judgement I MUST do well. Well, in my own experience, it’s a recipe for disaster!

What you are making here is a rigid, inflexible demand telling yourself “I MUST do well”.

If you find yourself worrying about all these things, you may need some assistance.

1.  Adopt a more realistic accepting stance by questioning the truth in that statement. Is it true that you MUST do well? How about you would prefer to do well but it doesn’t mean you MUST do well.

2. If you tell yourself how awful it is when you don’t do as well as you MUST, what impact does this have on you and achieving your goal?

3. Nobody is perfect and nobody has a perfect life.  We are all imperfect and there is no shame in admitting that.

4. Be compassionate to yourself, talk to yourself in a kind caring way. We don’t need to give ourselves a hard time if we don’t do as well as we would have hoped for.

5. Just do your best. You are good enough exactly as you are!

I hope these tips help you next time you catch yourself overreacting, I’m here if you need any further help or assistance.   Counselling in the Taunton Deane area.

Tel : 07967 753 460

Skype: dianeknight_CBT

Email: [email protected]

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Tis the season to be merry

Tis the season to be merry for some, but what if you approach Christmas filled with dread.

As the nights draw in and the temperature drops we all need to prepare ourselves for the last season of the year. The trees shed their leaves to prepare for the winds whilst parents find themselves shedding the contents of their wallets to prepare for Christmas Day.

Here are some top tips for having a merry Christmas:

1. Instead of fretting about making the perfect dinner and worrying about everyone liking it, have a “oh so what attitude” this year. It’s about being together sharing the meal. If the sprouts are a little soggy or the turkey is slightly overcooked then have a quiet chuckle to yourself about it as I doubt anyone else has noticed or cares that much.

2. Enjoy the odd glass of sherry, some vino with the meal or extra brandy cream with the Christmas pudding but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to spend Boxing Day beating yourself up.
Remember too much drink can lead to family arguments, especially at christmas time.

3. Reflect on the year and think about what you would like to do in 2016. However, be mindful of spiralling too far into a negative thought pattern concentrating on what you “don’t have”.
My favourite saying to overcome this is “I have everything I need”.

4. If you feel a sense of separation from friends, your partner or family then find comfort in other ways. You may find your neighbour is really lonely and could do with a friendly face and a mince pie.

5. Remember Christmas is for kids, however if you spend more than you can afford you will need to find the extra money in 2016 from somewhere!
Plan a budget you can afford and stick to it. Boundaries and discipline are important life skills if you want to avoid regretting your actions later.

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