Tuesday, 24 November 2015


For ninety minutes or so each night, we dream. All of us… almost every night… and the symbols and imagery in our dreams are a kind of universal language. Our guide to some of the more common dream themes - and what  they might signify!

Water is thought to symbolise emotions. Is the water murky, turbulent, dangerous, peaceful or calm? Whatever it's like, the chances are your emotions are feeling that way too. Time to think about your feelings and make sure all is well...

Dreaming of a house can represent the mind… if the house is orderly, attractive and clean, all is well; if the house is untidy, dirty or falling down, it may signify that some areas of your mental wellbeing have been neglected. Think about what the problem may be… and make a start on putting it right!

Dreams of falling may signify a strong sense that some aspect of your life is out of control… the fear this causes surfaces only in your dreams, but if you can identify the source you can try to put it right.

A dream of flying high can be exciting and awesome… and often reflects a surge of confidence and determination to achieve our goals. Harness that feeling in your waking hours, too!

Dreams of being chased can be terrifying, but are very common. It is thought that the trigger for such dreams is not linked to the fear of being hunted down, but of what is actually chasing us… trying to work out what we might be running from in our everyday waking life is the key to sorting dreams like this.

A dream or nightmare of being trapped in some way can symbolise an area of our waking life where we are in a situation that seems impossible to escape from, or are faced with a choice that is very hard to make.

Fabulous artwork by talented reader Rebecca… many thanks!

Cathy says:
Yikes… I used to have lots of terrifying falling nightmares as a small child… but now I hardly ever remember my dreams! Do YOU have vivid dreams? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 23 November 2015


Reader Irmina was a finalist in the 2015 My Best Friend Rocks competition… which may just make her a bit of an expert on friendships! Read her insights on friendship…

Irmina says:
Friendship… such an easy word with just ten letters… but there is so much more to it! It's always a great feeling to know that there is someone who will always have your back, someone who will be there for you through thick and thin, through hard times and happy ones. I'll tell you about my friendships… I was born in India and had lots of friends there, but when I was just four I moved to London, not even knowing English. I made many new friends.

My first friend was called Ameerah, but there were many more. By Year Three, I was often chosen to take new pupils around the school and by Year Six I had so many friends I felt very confident and happy. My best friends at that point were Patricia and Brigita, but then came secondary school and all my friends were split up and went to different schools. This was a difficult time. I spent a lot of time with Brigita at that point and neglected Ameerah, but when Brigita and I quarrelled Ameerah was there for me.

When I saw the 2015 My Best Friend Rocks comp on Cathy's website, I made a poster and entered with Ameerah, and we were in the top five final pairs. We didn't win the overall award but it was wonderful to be there and be a part of all those girls embracing and celebrating all of our friendships. Amazing! Friendship is never easy, though, Ameerah and I do fall out sometimes, and we go through times when we are upset with each other. It happens! Sometimes, if a friendship isn't running smoothly I think I would be better off alone, but I know I need my friends! No matter what happens, with friendship there is always hope!

I wanted to share something interesting with you. Remember those friends I had back in India? They still remember me after ten years… and I had forgotten them! Even long ago friendships can be revived, and you can never have too many friends! Friendship is not easy - it comes with millions of happiness and some bumps along the way,but that's fine because it's how we get closer as friends. I think a true friend is someone who sees the pain in your eyes while everyone else can only see your smile!

Cathy says:
Awwww… wise words indeed! Do YOU have a best friend who means the world to you, or do you prefer to be part of a big group? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 22 November 2015


Reader Rosa writes about painful it can be to watch one of the people you love most in the world suffer from an eating disorder…

Rosa says:
My sister Jo is fifteen and I haven't seen her for three months. She is in hospital being treated for anorexia and the special unit she is staying in is almost 100 miles away, so although my mum and dad go to see her every weekend, I don't. And Mum says she wouldn't want me to see Jo at the moment, because she is so ill. I write to her, but she hasn't replied, and that hurts… I'm thirteen and all my life Jo has been my hero, and now she's so far away and she doesn't seem to remember me at all.

I hate her illness. Anorexia took my beautiful sister and ruined her, turned her into a person none of us even knew anymore. We tried to help but she was so clever and tricked us to go on hurting herself. Jo was very beautiful and always slim, and I didn't notice at first how obsessed she was getting with her size. I only know because I read her diary from last year, which makes me a bad person but I don't care because it had lots of entries about how how some boy had told her she could lose a few lbs and about how upset she was to have to buy a pair of size 10 jeans instead of an 8. She stopped eating and wrote about how she looked in the mirror and saw this huge, obese person looking back. When I found the diary I showed Mum, and that is how we found out really because up until then she had done a great job of covering it all up. Jo was so angry, though, and things haven't been the same for us since, but Mum says that one day when she's better she will thank me. I wish I believed that.

I suppose I wanted to write about Jo because it is very hard to be the little sister of someone who is trying to starve themselves to death. People say it is a sickness and I understand that, but Jo's sickness has destroyed everyone in the family. I hate it so much. I want my sister back. I want her happy and healthy and beautiful, not the skeleton girl she is now. She thinks she looks great, but she really doesn't.  Sometimes she looks like a little child, but a very sick one, and sometimes she's more like an old lady. In the middle of the night, I lie awake and think of her and wonder if she ever thinks of me, or if I am just the little sister with puppy fat she has left behind. Selfish, I know. Like I said, anorexia is destroying us all.

The powerful illustration for this feature was drawn by reader Courtney. Many thanks.

Names have been changed to protect identities.

If you want to talk to someone about an eating disorder, call Beat Youthline on 0345 634 7650.

Cathy says:
A heartbreaking post about how eating disorders can harm a whole family, not just the person with the illness. Sending love and support to Rosa and Jo and their family. Have YOU or someone you know struggled with eating issues? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more...

Saturday, 21 November 2015


Readers talk about their fave winter boots… how cool are they? 

Kym says:
I LOVE wearing DMs. Dr Marten boots were originally created by a doctor who injured his foot while on leave from Word War II, so they are very sturdy and comfortable and now come in a variety of designs. The newest collection have prints of the artwork of 18th century painter William Hogarth! Over the last few years I have started wearing DMs every day - I even bought a pair just to wear for school. They are expensive but they outlast most shoes - a friend of mine had a pair that lasted eighteen years!

Stacey says:
These are my current favourite boots… they are stunning Adidas x Jeremy Scott tall boy hi-tops, and were supposed to be £189 but I got them for a bargain £50! I fell in love with them the minute I saw them - they are as unique as I am! They also remind me of the Back To The Future movies! I love all things 80s retro and that's exactly what these bad boys screamed at me. They are the comfiest boots ever and have already had many adventures… they've seen multiple bands including Reel Big Fish last month and are brilliant for skanking the night away. I get quite a few odd looks when I'm wearing them, but that's OK 'cos I know the boots are different and awesome, just like me!

Violet says:
These are my second pair of New Rock boots - they're ankle height and have flame patterns on the toe and heel and metal accents on the sole. They were given to me by a friend last year… she got them from a charity shop for £25 - they're usually around £80 - because an eyelet on the inside sole is missing. They were a size too small for her and she wanted them to go to someone who would appreciate them, which I certainly do! They are actually a size too big for me, but that's nothing thick socks can't sort out. I love my boots because they look amazing and give a punky edge to whatever I'm wearing - that's a good thing! They're also pretty comfortable considering they're a little big and weigh as much as a small house due to all the metal details. I wear these boots all year 'round… who said boots were just for winter?

Cathy says:
Wow… three very different but equally awesome pairs of boots! I love! If I had to pick, I'd probably go for the Hogarth DMs… which ones would YOU choose? If these don't grab you, what style would you go for instead? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Friday, 20 November 2015


Reader Beth shares her enthusiasm for the martial art of Ju Jitsu… could it be the perfect hobby for you too?

Beth says:
A hobby that I greatly enjoy is Ju Jitsu. Ju Jitsu is about learning self defence and it also teaches you fighting moves - it's also lots of fun! Over the past few months that I've been learning, I go to the dojo (the 'place of training') every Saturday and each time I go I learn something new. I wear a gi - a two piece white suit with loose trousers, a wraparound jacket and a cloth belt - and our dojo has a sort of uniform of two black stripes on the trouser legs. The belt is a different colour depending on what level you are at and there's a specific way to tie it which can actually take a LOT of practice! It's important to wear the uniform the correct way as this shows respect to the dojo.

When you start Ju Jitsu you begin with a red belt, and the highest belt you can achieve is the black belt. I am now learning different moves called the 'back strangle' and the 'front strangle' and also the 'hip throw'. This can be scary when you hit the mat! It's important to get the moves right so that you are protected when you fall, and you need to learn your right and left break-falls too. You have to practice these all the time as these moves help you to avoid injury. I look forward to Ju Jitsu every week, from practicing and perfecting to the sheer enjoyment of it!

I have Autism and for me, Ju Jitsu is a brilliant way to release built up emotions and build new social skills. I have a great teacher who is always encouraging, even when your move isn't perfect. His comments always show the positive side of what you are doing. In Ju Jitsu, your teacher is called 'Sensei' and helps you to develop your skills. This was never a hobby I imagined taking up but I absolutely love it and wish I had discovered it sooner. It's great to know that you can defend yourself, get fit and have fun while doing all of those things!

Cathy says:
I am ALMOST tempted… one day, maybe! Beth makes Ju Jitsu sound amazing, and her enthusiasm is definitely catching! Have YOU ever tried a martial art? Or do you have another hobby you'd like to tell us more about? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


It's problem page time again on DREAMCATCHER and reader Evie has a heartbreaking question for Honey Tanberry… will you agree with her response?

Evie says:
I don't think you can help with this because I'm not sure anyone can, but I need to tell someone or I will go mad. My brother has just left home, and he is only fifteen and I am worried sick about him. He has gone to live with a friend's family because the rows at home have been too extreme, the last time he threw a chair at a glass door because he was so angry and my dad threatened to throw him out. My brother said he would save him the trouble and went, and he has been away for a week now and I am scared because who will look out for him now? The trouble is because my brother is smoking, and not just cigarettes, and my dad is very strict and is so, so upset. They just keep clashing. Mum says to give my brother a chance to calm down but I am scared he will get into more trouble now he isn't living with us. I have nightmares about it, that the police will come to our door and tell us he has died. Dad won't talk about it and Mum keeps telling me to be patient, but I'm worried sick.

Honey says:
First of all, if you're not in touch with your brother I suggest trying to get a message to him. If you could meet up I think you'd feel more reassured that he's OK and stop imagining the worst. His friends' family are giving him a safe place to stay and it does sound as though he will come home again soon… if some kind of truce can be arranged between him and your dad. A family mediator, a social worker or even a trusted teacher may be able to help with this. I suspect your dad is shocked and scared at your brother's behaviour, but his anger is pushing your brother away… you all need help and support to get through this difficult time. Talk to a trusted teacher and explain what's happening - you need some support, too. Speaking out may help provide the back up your family needs right now and help work a way towards some kind of compromise. You're right, there are no easy answers, but I think your family clearly care very much and that is a strong base to build on for putting the pieces back together. Stay strong and good luck.

Cathy says:
Honey is right, there may not be any instant answers here, but Evie needs to get some support for herself and her family. Family splits like this one can be scary, but they are often temporary… and Evie's mum may be right that having some cooling down time is what is needed most. COMMENT BELOW to add your advice, or send your own problem in through the email link on www.cathycassidy.com and mark it DREAMCATCHER PROBLEM.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015


Why do people bully - and how can we make sure we're not victims? Readers share their best advice on staying out of the firing line…

Corrine says:
I think that bullies target people they think are weak or vulnerable in some way. I know I was picked on for a few months when I started a new primary school two years ago, but once I made good friends the teasing faded away. I have seen the same pattern at secondary school. If I have to be around people I know to be bullies, I try to act confident, even if it is just an act, and most of the time they leave me alone.

Beth says:
I was bullied by some boys from our street for a while, when I first got glasses. It really bugged me, because I don't see myself as a victim and I could see the boys were just trying to make themselves look big. One day I'd had enough and yelled a few things back at them, calling them cowards for picking on someone so much younger… they laughed it off, but they haven't bothered me again.

Tania says:
A true bully doesn't need an excuse, they just get a kick from making people feel bad. Bullies targeted my friend because she had what they thought was a posh accent - in fact, it was just a southern accent, not posh at all. We went straight to the teachers and the bullying stopped, but those kids are still in our school so we hang around in a group whenever we can, bullies are cowards and unlikely to pick on a group of kids.

Lucy says:
Some boys in my class were teasing me about my new braces, and someone told my brother who is two years older. He cornered the bullies and told them that if they didn't leave me alone he'd make their lives a misery. Instant result… no more bullies.

Mairi says:
Sometimes, standing up to a bully works but not always. I've had a situation where it just made things worse and things got physical. Be careful… bullies are bad news, and talking to a teacher is the safest and fastest way of dealing with them.

Kathryn says:
I had to change schools because of a bullying situation and I was terrified it would happen in my new school. I went to counselling for six months and my counsellor helped me to rebuild my self-esteem and confidence. It was little things too, like having a confident posture and way of walking, and learning how not to react so easily to teasing. I learned to laugh at myself but also to be assertive and learn when things were going too far. I would say it has changed my life. I wish I had known these things when I was thirteen.

Jade says:
I have been lucky not to be bullied, but I would say that speaking out is the best way to stop a bullying situation. Some bullies might leave you alone if you ignore them or stand up to them, but what if they just move on to find new victims? Unless you speak out the cycle of bullying won't stop.

Picture posed by reader Emily - thank you for the fab and atmospheric picture!

Cathy says:

Some very interesting advice here. I agree with Jade, Mairi and Tania that telling an adult is often the fastest way to stop a bully, but having good self-confidence, as described by Kathryn, is also important.  How would YOU advise readers to avoid being bullied? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!