Suzanne Leighton [BSc. (UCT), MSc. (WITS), PMP (USA)] is a complementary therapist who uses massage combined with counselling in her private practice. She has a special interest in mental health and uses her skills in large group dynamics to raise awareness and reduce the mystery and stigma surrounding the difficult subjects of depression, mania, suicide, bipolar disorder, post-natal depression and emotional and mental instability. She endeavours to create a space where people can find a way forward that is cost-effective, constructive, sustainable and fun.
She combines logic from her engineering degree with people skills gleaned on construction sites, organisational abilities from her masters in project management and compassion garnered from complementary training. While working as an engineer she became professionally trained in aromatherapy, reflexology and yoga and made the switch to complementary health when her daughters were born in the early 90s. She was registered as a professional engineer and project manager and is now registered with the Allied Health Professionals Council.
Her interest in mental health came out of trying to make sense of her father’s suicide and her own bouts of mania. She feels she has succeeded in harnessing the energy that was previously trapped in an illness called mania and has come to understand it as one of her assets. She enjoys sharing the story of her journey by means of extensive writing (published in various respected magazines), broadcasting and facilitating workshops, with the aim of giving others hope and practical guidelines.
Art, writing, massage and yoga
A lot of people classified mentally unstable are often extremely sensitive and intellegent who battle to operate in the hard, harsh world. They often carry the thinking of the future.
Art, poetry and living creatively. Shifting the mental illness paradigm. Changing your perspective to turn a curse into an asset.
Chairing large group facilitated conversation and community building. Yoga. Conscious co-creation.
Bipolar disorder is not a curse if you can learn how to manage it. If you can constructively channel the energy previously trapped in the illness it can become your greatest asset. I believe I have done this and, to give hope to others, I speak about in my DVD called 'ON THE EDGE OF MADNESS - Living well with bipolar." I have been hospitalised 3 times for bipolar mania but despite what the doctors told me I knew I wasn't just a statistic and if there was a cure I was going to find it. When I gave up the notion of cure and aimed for management and appropriate behaviour, I found a way of being in the world that served me. it wasn't easy to train myself out of all my bad habits and self saboutaging behaviour but I surrounded myself with wise people who could give me feedback and helpful ideas to overcome my blind spots. My way won't work for everyone but in my practice I help clients to find the way forward that works for them, it usually entails a multi-pronged approach.
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