By Grainne McCool @GrainneMcCool
CELEBRITY stylist and life coach Brenda Shankey admitted she has suffered “depression, anxiety and panic attacks,” – as she released her new audio book ‘Be Fabulous: Have it ALL’ which she is plugging as “the ultimate survival guide for today’s modern woman.”
Shankey and her husband are well known for their high profile Belfast hairdressing business, but more recently Brenda has launched herself in to becoming a ‘mindfulness’ advocate – mindfulness being the therapeutic art of being focussed on the present moment.
While she may have found a new sense of peace, no one who turned up to her book launch at St Mary’s College, Derry, on Monday, could have predicted just how open she was going to be about her own struggles – and the journey she has been on to create the book.
I’ve suffered depression, anxiety, panic attacks. I’ve had a burnout, Shankey said.
She readily admits to throwing herself into her work and dealing with her anxiety by over working.
Shankey used her work to escape her problems – issues that could not be eradicated by wealth and high-society shindigs.
Shankey said having the “million pound house, the Porsche and the parties in London with all the celebs,” wasn’t enough – and that a material life didn’t bring her the thing she yearned most – happiness.
The stylist realised she wasn’t content within herself. In her search for self-fulfilment, she turned to meditation and mindfulness.
What I learned from this (mindfulness) is that you are 100 per cent in control of your life. Just you.
“No-one else is responsible – but you’ve got a choice. The choices which you make are exactly where you’re going in life.
“You just have to sit still for a few moments each day and you learn to make the right choices. Good things will happen – but this is all up to you.”
As a small business woman and trying to inspire young people myself, I had hoped I might just pick up a few tips at Shankey’s book launch.
I had never envisaged myself leaving the launch feeling positive, and having learned rather a lot in a very short space of time. But that’s exactly how I felt.
Hearing about how much mindfulness had impacted Shankey’s life – a life we had all thought perfect before today – really stayed with me.
She gave a very honest account of her own experiences. She emphasised how important our mental health is today in this bustling world, where we always seem to be busy.
I admit to being ignorant of mindfulness. I had, like most, heard about it, read about it, but genuinely did not understand what it really meant.
Shankey went on to say that no-one teaches us mindfulness. It’s something we already know but forget to focus on due to the hectic nature of our lives.
“Mindfulness is simply living in the present moment; accepting life as it is right here right now and being the best that you can be,” she said.
Shankey said we all experience bad times and for her, those bad times were the best thing.
When I hit the wall and I couldn’t take the mental torture any more, I had to look at me. I was the only person who could fix me. So I had to learn who I was, she said.
She advised people to take the opportunity each day and carry out “one random act of kindness” in a move to becoming a better society bit-by-bit.
I left the launch believing that being positive about oneself and one’s life can go a very long way.
Taking time every day for ‘me’ will help in many ways, I now believe. And clearing my mind of all the negativity will aid me in being a more productive person every single day.
If her advice in the book, is anything like her words on the day of her launch, I’d say give ‘Be Fabulous: Have it all’, a try.
Life really is down to us ourselves and we all have one thing in common. We only get one shot at this life.
As Shankey said “You only have one life – make it amazing.” So the new amazing me starts right here, right now.
Shankey’s book can be bought here at Brenda Shankey or via CDbaby.com or mindcool.com
The book comes in 14 chapters covering morning meditation, evening meditation, talking to yourself positively, coping with hardships and managing stress.