Vivian McKibbon

Vivian McKibbon

Hello my lovelies. My name is Vivian McKinnon. I was once an addict.

Although I don’t like labels, I have no shame in saying this because my past has become my educator, my mentor, my reason for being and doing better and for helping other people do the same.

It has led me on a journey of self-discovery and improvement. I am now an award-winning speaker, author, entrepreneur, therapist, addiction recovery specialist and owner of Hydro-ease; Northern Ireland’s only dedicated floatation and trauma therapy centre.

It’s a sanctuary, a healing place where people in physical and mental pain come to restore, rebalance and rejuvenate far removed from life’s stressors.

Life was not always as good as it is today.

I was brought up in Roslin, Midlothian in Scotland to a mum of Irish descent; my father a Scottish coal miner.

At eight-months-old, I fell down 30 concrete stairs in a baby walker. My mum wanted me to be a boy. She lived and later died from mental health and alcohol problems because of her own violent and abusive past, multiple miscarriages and the death of a son.

For much of the time I was scared of her, the screaming, shouting, erratic and unpredictable behaviour. Our ‘family secret’ left me vulnerable to suffering every type of abuse you can imagine.

Not at the hands of my parents but with strangers and in relationships. In 1999, when I was 28-years old I woke up in an Edinburgh Hospital in intensive care, my body and mind having decided enough was enough.

You see, I was eight when I discovered alcohol. I had easy access to it. When I was 13, my mum gave me carry-outs, by 14 there was cannabis, at 15, I ran away from home, got pregnant at 17 and was married and became a mum at 18.

The reality of my early years, through adolescence and into womanhood was a haze of alcohol, drugs, parties, relationships, dance music, black eyes, abuse, violence, abuse and more violence.

By my late 20s, my lifestyle had become so heavy and overbearing, it led to that ‘near death’ experience with the pressure becoming so much I was put on life support.

I had a choice to make, keep going as I was and die or change my life for the better.

It was a chance encounter with floatation therapy that really made the difference. It sounds strange but it simply involves floating in 25cms of body temperature water and half a tonne of Epsom Salt.

It allowed my body and mind to rest, recharge and reconnect to my authentic self in a gravity free environment. It was the first intervention that managed to turn my inner critic off.

I knew instantly I could help other people with this, especially people with addiction and mental health issues and I visualised this whole plan to have my own floatation centre. Hydro-ease opened its doors on September 29th, 2015.

I now combine floatation with wellness therapies helping people with emotional and psychological trauma, anxiety, fears, phobias, PTSD, injury, depression, grief, guilt, addictions, whatever it is in life they need to overcome.

Using the latest developments in neuro-science, through techniques such as havening (touch therapy) or brains spotting, my brand of change work is quick and effective with permanent outcomes.

I like to work with the whole person and the root cause rather than the symptoms of the personal experience. Wellness for me is about life and living.

That’s why I am unapologetic about the addictions that drowned me, the drugs it took a long time to admit to or being hospitalised when my body gave in and gave up.

I’m not sorry because it has made me the person I am today. I proudly acknowledge my experiences. Those years are almost like my badge of honour.

I give thanks for my wonderfully flawed, lovingly polished skeletons who I’ve now promoted. They no longer live in the closet but stand proudly beside me, helping me to inspire and motivate others.

I know I am not my story. I have the ability to choose the life I lead, to create new pathways, to build new relationships, to live my best life despite the hand of cards I was dealt with in early life.

It is a journey that has led me to work with many brilliant people including Dr Gabor Mate; a world leading expert on childhood trauma and addiction. Hosting a webinar with him, was one of the proudest moments of my life.

It’s my purpose to help other people recover from the pain of the past and to reach their potential; the fullest expression of themselves.
And it’s in speaking out and contributing to articles like this that gives other people permission to do the same. That is my story. Warts and all.

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