Suzanne Leighton

Complementary Therapist, special interest in bipolar disorder, Allied Health Professions Council, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa

About Suzanne

Bio

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.

Languages

English

Areas of Expertise

Mental Heath

An idea worth spreading

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.

I'm passionate about

Art, writing, massage and yoga

Talk to me about

Art, poetry and living creatively. Shifting the mental illness paradigm. Changing your perspective to turn a curse into an asset.

People don't know I'm good at

Chairing large group facilitated conversation and community building. Yoga. Conscious co-creation.

My TED story

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.

Comments & conversations

Noface
Suzanne Leighton
Posted over 3 years ago
Is there a cure for bipolar disorder? Will we ever overcome the stigma?
There's a lot of merit in sharing ideas and what works. Luckily for us complementary theraists, neuroscience is proving to the world what we know but didn't have sceinticfic proof before. Some people have been enchanted by medication but talking and sharing can show that's there's another way. That is why I also run awareness workshops with a short presentation of my complementary approach to shift the thinking and then I use facilitated conversation to get the audience to connect with each other. My DVD also helps share my thinking. In the workshops, I bring together my two areas of interest that most people think of with horror – public speaking and mental illness. The results are very rewarding, as people finally feel understood and not so alone. Although it’s difficult (and I get told it won’t work!!) I do it with mixed audiences which is far more beneficial. e.g. with students, teachers and parents; doctors, patients, staff and families and in corporate all employees together (these w/s include stress management). I’ve been trained in big group dynamics but I still find it hard to get people to invite me do it because they can’t envisage it working. Anyway I’ve been doing it on a voluntary basis at the hospitals, schools and in the community a lot, so many important people have seen it work - to their amazement. I’m doing some training of this method at a nurses’ conference soon and feel pleased that that proposal was accepted. Slowly, slowly, if it works, people do eventually realize. I’ve been doing this for 22 years! I have spoken at many conferences and once did a presentation at the brain science department at the University of Cape Town. I’d love to travel with my workshops if there’s ever an opportunity for that. I haven’t heard of many other people doing it this way. It sometimes feels very slow but over the many years I notice that chage is increasing which is good news. Suzanne
Noface
Suzanne Leighton
Posted over 3 years ago
Is there a cure for bipolar disorder? Will we ever overcome the stigma?
Hi James you can be proud of what you do in self disclosing, especially to groups. The more we talk the less of a mystery it becomes. By talking and showing people that we manage our lives they can have hope by seeing there is a way forward. That is why I made my DVD about bipolar disorder and run awareness workshops. Well done and keep going, Suzanne (suzl@mweb.co.za)
Noface
Suzanne Leighton
Posted over 3 years ago
JD Schramm: Break the silence for suicide attempt survivors
I have found that without integrating the full self there isn't much chance of staying level – i.e. addesss all parts -physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. I have a very strong rhythm, incorporating all these, in my life but don’t force it on anyone, I rather assist them to come to something that works for them. It is important to do what’s appropriate and that is difference for everyone. The Bipolar dragon sunk its teeth deep into my flesh and my being, threatening to destroy my life and, he would have, if I hadn’t come to understand him, be vigilant of him and finally befriend him. Today I harness his power and channel it as one of my greatest assets. It wasn’t an easy journey because I was alone in my thinking but now I can share that it can be done by finding the way that works for you. If I can do it, so can others. I talk about what worked for me in my DVD "ON THE EDGE OF MADNESS - Living well with Bipolar". Ask for a description or order form at integratingpolarities@gmail.com I’ve been trained in large group dynamics and I enjoy doing talks and workshops to increase understanding and shift thinking, There’s a lot to do and a desperate need - the old accepted way is very deeply ingrained. Conversations give people a chance to be heard, not always easy in our own families and work. Thank you for starting this conversation. best wishes, Suzanne