Interview regarding Michaela's involvement with Mental Health Ireland.
In one paragraph how would you describe yourself?
I am Danish but living in Ireland since 1978. I love positive psychology, the study of what makes us well and happy and helps us to find meaning in life. I am very accepting of every type of person as I think everyone has an interesting piece of the truth that I/we can learn from. I am a good listener but sometimes I forget to listen to my own feelings and thoughts perhaps for fear of rejection as I am a very outspoken person and would not be able to hide what I discovered about myself. I am committed and loyal in my work and friendships. I've a spiritual awareness since my teens which has carried me through a lot of life's challenges but I have also developed a more creative side to my personality in later years.
How would your friends describe you?
Friendly, great interest in people and very honest. Compassionate and lovable. A good worker. Can be too timid or too busy organising others. Comforting voice. Academically gifted as I have recently completed a degree in applied social care as a mature student and am applying to do a masters in positive psychology. Adventurous.
What are your passions in life?
I love connecting with nature, working with photographs that I take and writing something meaningful. I love making positive psychology DVDs. I make a newsletter for Wicklow Mental Health Association. I love pondering on how much God loves us because I think it is so easy to forget. I would like to spread the awareness of how loved each person is as an individual but also of how powerful each one of us is in making a difference in the world by thinking and acting positively. I've recently built a website www.gratitude.ie which highlights the attitudes and skills that we can acquire to be well and happy. I also love singing in the church choir, cycling, writing and connecting with family and friends.
What car do you drive?
The community I live in share a Belingo Citroen and a Fiat Punto.
Where was your last holiday destination?
Denmark where I connected with my dad, sister and brothers and their families as well as taking a lot of lovely photos of spring time that I can use in my work.
What was the last restaurant you ate in and would you return?
The Wicklow Heather in Laragh. Yes, I would return because it is such a lovely setting and they use a lot of organic local produces.
Last book you read?
Tony Humphries new book 'The compassionate intention of illness', I think a lot of illness is telling us about something unresolved in our personality which we need to look at. Mental health comes into everything.
Any advice on how to deal with the stress of living in Ireland today?
Make sure you do something you enjoy even if it means less money. Make sure you take time out to connect with other people who respect and care for you. Become involved with helping others rather than worrying about yourself. Also, trusting in the providence of the Creator helps us not to panic, there is always a way. There is always an answer.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Consider what you really, really, really want and go about pursuing it.
And the worst?
'Snap out of it.'
Have you a 'bug-bear' in life?
I find it unacceptable to blame other people for one's own situation. Yes, it could have been their doing but I still choose what I do now. My life is my own and I am responsible for how I use it. I find it almost impossible to listen to somebody who keeps talking about what other people 'shouldn't have done' and 'never do'. We have so much power to do good and feel good by how we choose to think and speak about ourselves and others. I would like to empower people to tap into their creativity, altruism and self-compassion.
Why did you get involved in your local Mental Health Association?
Since my mum had a mental break-down when I was 15 and struggled with mental problems for the rest of her life I have been pondering how to deal with such problems and how to be healthy within myself. I feel for people with mental illnesses, many people have had some traumatic experiences in their childhood without the support they needed to move on. Charlie Burke, the chairman of Wicklow Mental Health Health Association invited me to the Companions social club and later to be part of the committe. Prevention is a big part of Mental Health Ireland's policy and that is where I feel I can contribute because there are so many skills that could be taught early in life which could help us not get into such negative frames of mind.
Who would you like to see as Minister for Health and why?
Tony Bates or Tony Humphries, I know they are not running, but I think they have a compassionate and practical attitude to mental health. When your mental health is good everything else falls into place, you can handle anything.
Have you any ideas on how to recruit and retain volunteers for local MHAs?
By inviting people to contribute according to their talents. Most people like doing something for others if they can but they need someone to ask them. I think we also need to have places like cafes and arts classes that bring everyone together.
You win 2 million on the lottery next week, what would you do?
I would make it my job to research what would be a most suitable project to put that money into. Possibly get a place where my community could set up a retreat and seminar centre in a beautiful surrounding facilitating people to come there for a break from their stressful lives.