Just the other day I turned to my husband after a particularly chaotic day and said “It’s no wonder so many people are addicted to drugs and alcohol. People are more stressed, more anxious and more broken than ever before. And instead of turning to therapy and breaking the stereotype of mental health, and taking the time to heal from broken marriages, or dealing with childhood pain and loss, they are turning to the bottle.”

Even Russel Brand’s words ring true to just how backward this world seems to be and how easily we seem to self-medicate or ignore the root of our problems. How easy it is for these feelings of low self-worth, deep-rooted pain, regret, guilt, anxiety, fear and uncertainty, to lead to isolation and cycles of self-sabotage.

I have become a huge advocate for mental and emotional health over the years and feel passionate about creating spaces and platforms where these issues are spoken about openly, and without judgement. As someone who has suffered from severe bouts of anxiety over the years, I realise how debilitating this condition can be, and more so how without the right help, without the right tools, it can be a downward spiral into a very dark place. And that’s just the tip of the ice-berg. I know there are so many women out there who are dealing with far worse, far more chronic cases of anxiety and depression, who feel trapped by it, suffocated by it. And for the most part it comes from a place of not feeling heard or understood, of not having someone listen to their story. Like really listen.

Shannon Pluke, a certified psychological counsellor who I have featured on the blog before is even more passionate about these topics than I am. So passionate in fact that it has led her to launch her passion project, The Open Table. And I can’t tell you how wonderful this concept is!

The Open Table is a concept that was derived from my dedication to psychological counselling and the love of food. Life so far has taken me on many a twist and turn and have just about experienced the whole gamut of life in equally tough and joyful measures. I simply have too many experiences not to share. And sharing similar topics with each other around a table with some good food – well who wouldn’t want

The Open Table is a new concept that invites women to share any problems, issues and challenges they are experiencing. The idea is to create a welcoming, progressive space for women to discuss their difficulties around a table of good food guided by a qualified therapist.

Groups consist of no less than 3 and not more than 5. Smaller groups allow for more time expended with each woman. Arrival time is at 6.30pm where canapés will be served.

I have been on the receiving end of Shanon’s food and hospitality and there is no doubt this woman is gifted with both her ability to empathise with people in their darkest moments, as well as heal them with good wholesome food. All in the sanctuary of her beautiful home.

I think its incredible how these two things are so interconnected, food and emotional inner-healing. If you think about how bad food can effect us emotionally, it’s no surprise that good food, with its healing properties has the ability to effect our emotional state in a positive way too. I love how Shannon has combined these two great loves and offers women a space where they feel, nurtured, nourished, loved, accepted and more than anything, heard!

I think what also sets this apart from your usual therapy set-up, is that it’s more interactive and less isolating. Obviously everything is kept highly confidential, but with different topics covered at every session, it allows connections to be made, thoughts and feeling to be shared and solutions bounced off each other in a safe space. I think we can become so focussed on ourselves, our situation, that it may become hard to see from another person’s perspective. Perhaps someone has gone through something very similar to you. Perhaps someone has come out of the very same situation that you are in right now. Imagine the insight and encouragement that could flow from time spent together, time learning and time reflecting.

So if you are experiencing anxiety or depression, or dealing with the breakdown of your marriage and are picking up the pieces after a messy divorce, perhaps this is something that might appeal to you. Maybe this is the start of your journey towards finding yourself again, discovering your self-worth, getting to grips with your anxiety and above all, your journey to a mentally healthier and happier you.

Since I began my studies in Psychology, hardly a day has gone by without me researching or reading something or other on the topic. I am fascinated by how the mind functions and connects with the emotions. Even more so when I see how lives can be changed through journeying with people, offering deep empathy and imparting good solid wisdom. I’ve witnessed the hardships and suffering of people who chose to turn their lives around and now lead a fulfilling existence. In fact, I was one of them.” SHANNON PLUKE

The Open Table invites you to enjoy meaningful discussion on your selected topic which offers a plate of good food (according to your dietary requirements). On departure, you will receive a goodie bag including further guidance on the topic, a small treat, recommended reading and some words of wisdom to read each day.”

The Open Table offers this safe space where firstly confidentiality is key. My discovery of group therapy is that it’s medicine for the soul; but I wanted to step this up by offering a relaxed space where discussion takes place around food and perhaps a good glass of wine. This is a chance to speak the heart in return for receiving solid guidance and being heard by people who are keen to listen.”

• Divorce & Separation: (2nd, 9th & 16th March 2020)
• Depression & Anxiety: (4th, 11th & 18th March 2020)
• Self-esteem & Empowerment: (1st, 8th & 15th April 2020)

If this is something that speaks to you, I cannot encourage you enough, to reach out. You can WhatsApp Shannon on 0827885758 or visit her website by clicking here. The first step may be the hardest, but it could be the best thing you’ve ever done.

Hi I’m Leigh! Did you enjoy reading this post? I really hope so and would love you to stick around a little longer! Please feel free to browse my blog for other articles or to keep up with all the latest news and to be the first to hear about some great competitions, come and find me me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also email me directly at leeloobaggins@hotmail.com or simply subscribe below and never worry about missing out!