23 September 2013
I am Ellie Donnelly BA MSc and I am, joyfully, the Co-founder and Lead Therapist for Daisy Retreat. This is my story in a nutshell. I am in my early forties and I undertook my clinical training in Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy with University College London, at the Middlesex Hospital in 1998. Since then, in addition to my own private practice, I have held senior positions at the Priory, the Capio Nightingale and the Cygnet Hospitals in London, England.
I have a bipolar disorder, as generations of my family before me, so I have lived with depression since October 1971. I had my first severe episode in 1986. Since then, depression came in colossal waves, bringing with it the salty stigma of mental illness.
I was terrified I’d be found out as bad, crazy, mad, lazy and unlovable. I was certain I was all of these things. In my twenties I feared I’d be seen as a rogue therapist; someone unfit to teach others. I understood, in great detail, the effects of the illness and how to deal with the symptoms but I could not accept my illness. So I could function but I couldn’t accept myself and thrive. My depression was a wild flower, no matter which chemicals I used to destroy it, it kept coming back and it was stealing nutrients from the front garden I was trying so terribly hard to make perfect.
The beauty is that this illness of the mind, and all the suffering it brings, has, in many ways informed my nature and served me well. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has given me tried and tested systems to survive, and my survival, at times, required a grave battle. Deeper healing began when I withdrew from my inner and outer conflicts and that takes more than logic to occur. Mindfulness increases my capacity to let things be and to sometimes surrender.by