How Selfie Changed my Life and Mental Health: by Photographer Kathryn Chapman


(image of Face to Face – a mental health photoshoot : Kathryn Chapman photography)

In my early twenties, after suffering years of severe depression and anxiety, I attempted suicide and ended up in hospital. Life was completely unbearable, ending my life felt like the only option. I existed in an excruciating, disassociated, confusing, numbed-out-tuned-in agony. Sometimes I’d feel incandescent rage and injustice, other times overwhelming sadness and often infinite emptiness.


I didn’t know who I was, I hated myself and my inner critic was rampant. I had no idea how to love myself or even what that meant. I embarked on 25 years in and out of talking therapy but achieved nothing and I was left drained, hopeless and utterly tired of talking.


In 2015 my mental health hit a massive low, I was knocked off my bike and the fragility of life hit me like a tonne of bricks. But it didn’t make me more positive, it made me more whats the point?


A subsequent psych assessment revealed clinical depression, severe anxiety and ‘off the scale’ PTSD. What was reflected back was a massive shock and once I’d got my head round it, promised I’d do things differently. My way. One thing at a time.


I started with my drinking and buried trauma began to surface. It was in this space I finally started to get a handle on what was going on –  it helped enormously but didn’t stop the cycle of depression and ferocity of my inner critic. But the mirror held up during the psych assessment had planted a seed.


A couple of years later, I had an idea for a self-portrait shoot. It persisted in my head for months before I realised it wouldn’t go away until I’d created it. It was a test – I wanted to see if everything was as bad as it felt, to hold up a mirror to myself, to look myself in the eye and face myself fully. So I sat with my most difficult emotions and photographed what was there.


I hadn’t thought about how I might react to the images, what I’d think, how I’d feel or what they might teach me. But there, looking back was a woman in agony, desperate for care and love, and the only person who could do that for her was me. It was a moving and very powerful moment.

Amongst the pain and hurt, I saw vulnerability, courage, resilience and strength – here I was, in all my beautiful mess. This was the first time that I saw and fully accepted myself, the first time I gifted myself kindness, patience and gentleness. I couldn’t deny what was staring back at me and I experienced a deep compassion for myself that has remained ever since.


It was the catalyst I needed to prioritise self-care and to feed my soul. I realigned with my spiritual needs and discovered a way to quieten my inner critic. I looked after myself holistically and it came easily, because not doing it wasn’t an option. The images had changed what I thought about myself, what I said to myself, what I saw in myself. It was transformative.


Six months later (after intending never, ever to share any of the images) I posted this picture. I got so much love and support, it was amazing. 


Not long after another surprising thing happened – I found my life purpose. I developed everything I’d discovered into a therapeutic programme and named it Face to Face®. I hold up a mirror so clients may see their own potential for lasting self-compassion and happiness, helping them come home to all that they are, to see they’re enough, they’re not to blame, that they matter.


To see themselves better.


Looking back, I realise that however close I came, I never gave up hope. I never gave up thinking there must be something or someone that would make the difference I needed. The something that made the most difference was my shoot and the someone that helped turn my most significant corner was me. I was my own light.
Our answers are within us, sometimes we just need someone to walk next to us for a while, to join us on our journey and reflect back our strength while we navigate the storms.


Keep searching, be your own priority. Trust who you are and what you need. And most of all have hope, because without hope we have nothing.


Kathryn is a portrait photographer, creator of Face to Face®, Freedom Shoots and the Inner Critic Tool. She is fascinated at how we perceive ourselves and uses therapeutic photography to challenge self-belief, offering a different perspective. She helps to understand what it means to be human – vulnerable, complex, creative, beautifully flawed, perfectly imperfect and astonishingly brave.


www.kathrynchapman.co.uk

@kathrychapmanphotography@facetofacephotos

How to remain Independent and look after your Mental health as you grow Older.

As we grow older, we’ll physically feel ourselves slowing down and gradually taking our time with various daily activities and tasks. As such, it can be tempting to ask for help, hire a care worker, or even move into a nursing home for extra support. However, staying independent – if you are able, is a good way to look after your mental health and a sense of dignity. Some people would prefer not to ask for help or move into a care home, preferring to just stay in their own house and live out the rest of their days in peace and happiness.

So in this post, we’re going to take a look at a few tips to help you remain independent as you grow older.

(image: Unsplash)

Keep your brain busy

Staying physically active is extremely important, but we also can’t neglect the importance of your mental health. You can do this by playing cards with friends and family members, watching game shows, doing puzzles, or even playing video games.

In fact, video games can be a great way to both stays social and also keep your brain active. There are many creative video games that you can play with friends and family members, making it both a social activity and an activity to keep your brain active.

Avoid the temptation of nursing homes

A lot of people think that nursing homes are a good option because they can get assistance when they need it. They can remain independent for everything else, but they’ll get a bit more help when it comes to medical conditions or seeing a physician. Unfortunately, when senior care goes wrong, it can lead to devastating consequences and might create further problems that will negatively affect your lifestyle. However, some homes can be very positive.- so it is trial and error!

If you do require some assistance, then it might be beneficial to look at home carers instead. However, if there’s no other option and you require full-time assistance, then make sure you look for a reputable care home that looks after its residents.

Always remain social

Try and continue your regular social activities if possible. This can mean going to a place of worship, visiting friends, seeing family members, or even taking a walk to the local shops to have a conversation with people. There are loads of opportunities for seniors to remain social, and most of it starts from leaving the house instead of staying stuck indoors. If you need assistance getting around, then it can help to seek out mobility aids to assist you while still offering independence.

But if you do plan to move around and go out, make sure you’re always thinking about your safety first. Mobility aids can be important, but you should also think about a personal emergency response system and learning how to use smartphones so that you can stay in touch with friends and family members. This can help you remain independent, but also keep you safe should something happen.

This article is written by a freelance writer

Stress and Panic Attacks Part Two- My Mental Health.

(image: https://society6.com/product/its-okay-not-to-be-okay1048684_print)

Hi friends,

8 weeks ago when I last wrote, we were about to move into our new home. We have now been settled in and been there 5 weeks. It is so exciting and we have been overwhelmed with love. Moving though is a big life change and has triggered my mental illness again.

Lurking under the surface is my Bipolar/ PTSD anxiety disorder. If I do a lot and am more active, I can’t cope. I always try and do more than I am able and then end up crashing into panic- insomnia, racing anxious thoughts mainly and having to cancel plans. Social anxiety becomes heightened. Last week, I went to my mother in laws in Essex three times and also went to a family wedding (which was so special!). Both were lovely, but on Saturday night, my anxiety was triggered, thinking about going back home and socialising the next day- and my body and mind said Enough. This is too much.

Being on your own when you’re anxious and can’t sleep (but everyone else is) is one of the worst places to be. I actually posted an Instagram message at 6am about how I was feeling because I didn’t want to wake anyone up. People were really kind. I slept for maybe 2 hours and felt teary and emotional on Sunday, but had support from Rob and my family too.

The past few days my anxiety has been unleashed and remains high. I am writing this from my Mums house today as I didn’t want to be on my own again working in our flat . I have booked a session in with my therapist too because I am waking up feeling panicked. Its like my body and brain are trying to protect me from something, an old fight or flight response. I keep having regular panic attacks where I shut down, cry and hide in bed. Speaking to my therapist I know will help me process and clear the triggers behind whats going on.

Living with this is debilitating- but I will not be beaten. I will keep doing all I can to improve my low mood and anxiety, to keep going despite any setbacks and to try to heal my mind and soul so I can feel more confident and happier again.

Thanks for reading, I send love to anyone struggling

Eleanor

x

Feeling Lost? Ease the burden by Handling your Divorce and your Mental Health: by Brooke Chaplan

(image: online)

Events in 2020 put a great deal of pressure on relationships and many marriages didn’t survive. If yours is folding or has already collapsed, do your best to treat yourself and your former spouse as fairly as possible. Focus on the safety and security of all, and make sure to give children the most caring and logical structure possible.

Prioritise Safety First

If either adult in the relationship is abusive in any form, including physically, financially, sexually, or emotionally, the first step must be to get them out of the house. Even if they continue to choose that behaviour, getting them out of the space where your children live will reduce the risk of further damage. Additionally, counselling for all parties should be sought.

The abuser may resist therapy. Talk to a family law specialist about supervised visits if they refuse to seek counselling.

If you can create an abuse-free space as a couple, you have a chance of handling your divorce as fairly as possible. Divorces can be emotionally draining for everyone involved, so it is important to control the situation in order to prevent potential problems in the future.

Be Smart About the Money

Too often, angry people set out to financially sabotage their ex. Ultimately this serves nobody, especially if you have dependent children in the household. To get to a better place in your mind and heart about this, you and your spouse may need to sit down and put together a budget for two households.

If you can’t make the numbers work on paper, you may need to make a different choice. For example, perhaps you could move into separate rooms and continue to maintain one household for a time. This isn’t ideal, but it can make it possible to avoid conflict while you make financial adjustments. It can also prevent the spread of your family’s environmental impact. Of course, you should not agree to any ideas that you are not comfortable with. Reaching an agreement that you are satisfied with will help make it easier to move on emotionally.

Stay Friendly

It’s hard not to resent your spouse as you work through the divorce process. This unfriendliness can force your loved ones to take sides. If you need to vent with a friend or talk to a therapist, do so. Having someone to talk to during your divorce can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed. However, forcing family and friends to take sides in your battle will probably not be healthy for any of you in the long run.

Divorce can be the toughest decision you’ll ever make. However, it can also be one of the best choices for you and your children. Be smart and do your best to keep your and your children’s best interests in mind.

This blog was written by Brooke Chaplan, freelance writer and regular contributor

How can Mental Health Workers Cope with the ‘New Normal’

(image: Unsplash)

Mental health workers have continued to take care of their patients even in the midst of the recent Covid-19 quarantines and lockdowns. However, there is no doubt that the pandemic has made their job a little more difficult; longer working hours, the threat of infection and redeployments have all placed enormous pressure on working conditions. In addition, due to the nature of their work, many mental health staff are worried about infecting their family members.   

How has Covid-19 affected mental health care?

If you are a mental health worker, you may be worried about how the pandemic will affect the way in which your patients can continue to receive high-quality care. For example, staffing levels may be reduced due to Covid-19 restrictions, sickness or self-isolation requirements. Meanwhile, community support is being cut back, which only makes failed discharges more likely.  

There may also be a fear that you or your patients may unintentionally transmit Covid-19 to other people despite taking every health precaution possible.      

What would you do if a patient exhibited signs of the disease?

Often, mental health patients are unable to understand their condition. Moreover, many healthcare facilities are not even providing the most basic protection (PPE) to staff.   

How can managers and supervisors promote their staff’s well-being?

  • By providing accurate and timely updates
  • By rotating staff so they alternate between very stressful and less stressful duties
  • By buddying-up new recruits with experienced staff 
  • By making sure that every team member takes regular breaks

Coping mechanisms

As a key worker, maintaining your emotional well-being is of paramount importance. According to this article, people working in the mental healthcare sector are often anxious about:

  • The safety of their patients
  • The possibility of infecting others or getting infected themselves
  • The financial impact of the pandemic

One survey has revealed that many nurses are suffering both mentally and physically. 

Stress is an everyday aspect of the job, even without the current Covid-19 crisis. The important thing is to effectively manage your stress as well as your psychosocial and physical status. 

Despite the heavy workload, stress and isolation from your family and loved ones, you need to remain resilient during the ‘new normal’. Days off are essential in order to recharge your batteries, so you should never feel guilty about taking them. Also, make sure you take your assigned work breaks. 

Furthermore, there are various coping techniques that can help. For example:

  • Always stay hydrated
  • Eat healthily
  • Make sure you get enough sleep
  • Maintain social contact, even if it is virtual 

It is also a good idea to stick to tried-and-tested coping strategies, including:

  • Deep breathing
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Regular exercise
  • Being mindful
  • Talking to someone (a family member, co-worker or friend) 

However, it is important that you try to avoid these unhealthy coping practices:

  • Drinking
  • Taking recreational drugs
  • Smoking

Turn off social media

Social media can be a valuable tool for obtaining and sharing information. When it comes to your mental health, it is also a useful outlet for letting off steam. 

However, the negativity that often permeates social networks can also heighten your anxiety so you need to make sure you:

  • Mute any words or phrases that can trigger negative emotions
  • Unfollow or ‘snooze’ offending hashtags, users or groups
  • Set boundaries with regard to the time you spend on social media 

Rumours or speculation can often trigger anxiety. However, accessing accurate and up-to-date information about the virus is the best way of counteracting this problem.   

Conclusion

Although mental health nurses may not be considered to be frontline workers, they still face the same risks. In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic has made their job even more difficult due to staff shortages and the reduction in community support. There have also been issues with the supply of PPE. Bearing all these issues in mind, it is essential that staff take care of their physical and mental well-being. There are various coping strategies that can help, including getting enough food and sleep, maintaining regular social contact and exercising as often as possible.   

This article was written by a freelance writer.

Start up Founders 50% more likely to suffer from a Mental Health Condition by Daniel Tannenbaum

(image: John schnobrich- Unsplash)

A recent article in Forbes highlights that entrepreneurs and startup founders are 50% more likely to have a mental health condition than an average employee or member of the public. 

Running a startup is very stressful and there is a lot on the line, including your name, reputation and finances. The article highlighted that being an entrepreneur can lead to ‘self-doubt, imposter syndrome, loneliness and burnout.’

In a survey conducted, it showed that only 25% of startup CEOs have some kind of executive coach or therapist to help them overcome their daily anxieties and stresses – suggesting more support is needed to help those entrepreneurs manage the stress of running a high-risk venture.

Mental wellbeing is an important factor for any startup founder, Forbes continues. The levels of stress and anxiety can shape one’s creativity, productivity and ingenuity. Taking care and managing your stress will preserve your talent and innovation and help you to become the best leader possible.”

Daniel Tannenbaum, co-founder of startup news site TechRound and a partner at short term lender Pheabs, explains:

“Startup founders and entrepreneurs are often taking on a huge risk financially, with hopes that they can raise enough money, grow a large company or exit for huge sums.”

“In the short-term, this means taking a financial pay cut, working significantly more hours with the hope that their proposition becomes established and successful.”

“But the process can be incredibly stressful. For example, a lot of startups do not really make money until they exit or are bought out, so regardless of how many hours you work in the first few weeks, months or years, your financial position does not necessarily change. Bear in mind, that you might be missing crucial time with your family, loved ones or you are not fully present in the room because you ‘cannot switch off.’”

“Running a startup is a huge financial risk and there is always going to be someone better funded and getting more PR. So don’t sweat, just do it for enjoyment.”

“Meanwhile, it can be soul destroying to see other competitors in your space or people you know getting massive PR, large funding rounds or sales – and you can really start to doubt yourself and feel like you’ve hit a wall. It becomes a horrendous spiral of jealousy, anxiety and doubt, whilst you have been underpaid and overworked for too long.”

“More than 50% of startups fail, yet it doesn’t stop people creating them, and new businesses being created daily.”

“But I think before you get into a startup, it is important to manage your expectations and understand your vision.” explains Tannenbaum

“You might need to look at this like, ‘I am going to work hard for 3 to 4 years and then reassess if it does not work out.’”

“And also, you just have to do it for enjoyment,” he concludes. “After all, running a startup means that you are calling the shots, not having a boss and being able to hire who you want. So if you can enjoy the everyday part of running a business and a startup, that’s great, and if you happen to make a lot of money, well even better!” 

Daniel Tannenbaum is the co founder of start up news site Techround

The Link Between Debt & Mental Health

  • There is a correlation between debt problems and poor mental health
  • Over half of the UK adult population were in debt in 2020
  • In addition to mortgages, there is an increasing volume of people with personal debt including overdrafts, credit cards and loans

Debt Problem in the UK

It is no secret that the events of the coronavirus pandemic hit the economy hard. By the end of the 2020/2021 financial year, the public sector net debt was around £2,142 billion, equating to around £32,000 per person in the United Kingdom. 

When breaking this down at an individual level, research from money.co.uk revealed that 63% of the UK adult population (around 27 million) were in debt in 2020. 

According to data from December 2020, the average debt for UK males was £11,581; even higher than the average debt for women which was £7,016.

Around 9 million people across the UK reported personal debt anywhere between £2k – £10k whilst nearly a fifth of respondents revealed that their debt was in excess of £10K.

What Type of Debt Do Britons Have Most of?

Of this 27 million in debt, around 5 million owe more than £10k in credit and loans. According to the poll, the most common form of debt was credit card debt  – 38% of respondents reported that they had a balance payable.

The average credit card debt was just under £3k and men, on average, owed £300 more than women.

As well as credit card debt, a large proportion of the population have a mortgage debt, with the average UK mortgage debt of 2020 equating to £137,934. 

Causes of Personal Debt

When we think about debt, it is easy to think about excessive or extravagant spending. However 40% of those polled said that their personal debt was a result of normal living expenses. A further 19% and 18% claimed it was due to holidays and luxury items, respectively.

63% of 16-64 year olds living in the UK entered 2021 with a form of personal debt, excluding mortgages. These include bank overdrafts, credit cards and personal or payday loans.

Cause & Effect of Mental Health and Debt

There is a clear correlation between mental health and debt though what is less clear is the cause and the effect. Reports suggest that one in two adults with debts have a mental health problem. Additionally, one in four people with a mental health problem is also in debt.

It has been widely reported that people with mental health problems are also likely to be in financial trouble, for a range of reasons including cognitive issues, inability to work or lack of ability to track finances. The statistics suggest around one in five people with mental health problems are in problem debt. Similarly, people with mental health problems are over three times more likely to be in this kind of financial trouble than people without mental health problems.

Debt’s Negative Impact on Mental Health

However, what comes first? Those who find themselves in debt are more likely to suffer a negative impact on their mental health. According to a 2010 study by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, around half of UK adults in problem debt are also suffering from poor mental health. This label encompasses everything from diagnosed mental health disorders to cases of anxiety and low moods.

A wealth of research suggests that those in debt have higher rates of mental health problems than those who are free of debts. This includes anxiety, depression and even thoughts of suicide. Other common problems as a result of this are digestive problems, headaches, weight gain and disrupted sleep.

Where You Can Get Help

There are many resources available to help those struggling with their mental health as a result of financial problems. Shelter, the Debt Support Trust and Citizens Advice Bureau all offer a free advice service. National Debtline also offers free impartial advice to help get you out of debt, with the option of remaining anonymous.

Mind Charity can help people improve their mental health by offering specific practical tips on money management. Additionally, Step Change is a charity set up to help those in financial problems manage their finances and create a comprehensive debt management plan or individual voluntary arrangement.

The Benefits of Seeking Mental Health Support and Help.


(image: Pinterest)

When it comes to our mental health, it can feel like a good idea to keep our feelings in. However, talking about your thoughts and worries is extremely powerful. Seeking the right advice, whether it be from a friend or a professional, can help you achieve better mental wellbeing. For those who worry about speaking up about their issues, here are five reasons why you should. 

Find the best solution

Whatever you are dealing with, speaking to an expert or a friend may help you find the best solution. There is no use in being left in the dark and not working on it. The issue may never be resolved if you avoid talking about it. 

For instance, you may have been in a recent accident on the road and worry about who to talk to to get the help and compensation you need. It will be best to seek advice from your local car accident attorneys to ensure you can overcome the issue and find the best solution. 

Peace of mind

Those dealing with feelings of stress or anxiety can benefit from seeking the right advice to know that they are not alone. There are millions of people worldwide that deal with these emotions. Although you may feel alone, seeking advice will help you understand you are not and can be supported.

Speaking up to a friend or expert can give you peace of mind and continue with life with less weight on your shoulders.

 

Save you time

You may need advice for financial reasons or legal issues from an expert. Instead of trying to resolve the issue yourself, you can ask an expert to deal with the issue of concern for you. You will get the best result and save you time.

Life can be too short to waste time. Thus, always seek advice when you are spending too long trying to resolve an issue. 

Build up confidence

Seeking advice can also make you more confident to confide in friends or experts in the field in the future. If you are someone who often tries to deal with issues alone and feels stressed, or doesn’t find an ideal solution, then start asking for help. You will save time and reduce stress whilst building up the confidence to ask for help on a more regular basis.

Improve your wellbeing

Whatever you are asking for advice on, from finances to mental wellbeing, you will be able to improve yourself. You may feel happier or acquire knowledge that you did not know before. Thus, you can feel happier and better informed. 

Even if the advice you receive leaves you with one small tip, that one tip could help you resolve the issue if it is recurring. Or, you can offer advice to someone else and help them when they require assistance. 

The next time you question whether it is worth asking for advice, think back to these tips and reassure yourself.

Samaritans Helpline: 116 123 (UK)

This article was written by a freelance writer .

Can You Still Get Health Insurance Cover if You Have a History of Mental Illness?

If you have had a mental health problem, you may find it challenging to get suitable health insurance cover. 

Reports show that 1 in 4 in England will experience some sort of mental health problem each year, while in 2017 mental health was also revealed as the most common cause of claim in the UK for income protection policies.

While mental health conditions may be slightly harder to pin down when compared to physical health conditions, health insurers are becoming more and more aware of the need for cover for those with mental illnesses.

However, for those with existing mental health issues, you may experience a few challenges along the way to finding a cover that’s best suited to your needs. Below is a list with some of the limitations you may face when applying for health insurance with a history of mental illness.

You May Struggle to Find Insurance That Covers Your Existing Health Conditions

While the reason you’re wanting to take out health insurance may be related to your mental illness, you may find that certain insurers won’t cover you for pre-existing medical conditions – these pre-existing medical conditions also including the problems you experience with your mental health. 

Either this or they may also put restrictions in place regarding the times they’ll cover your mental health problems and the times they will not. 

You May be Assessed as “High-Risk” 

If you have a pre-existing mental illness, insurers may deem you to be a “high-risk” customer. This means that the insurance company believes that by insuring you they’ll be more likely to have to pay out for a claim.

When considered as a “high-risk” customer, the insurance company may refuse to cover you, or charge you a higher premium – either way adding to the hurdles of finding insurance cover when you have a history of mental illness. These issues can come up even if you have had issues with your mental illness in the past and are now recovered from them.

The Cost of Insurance Could Go up if Your Mental Illness Prevents You From Working

If your mental illness prevents you from working, you may not be able to get the chance to explain this in the insurance application process. Insurers may simply ask you if you are employed or unemployed, with the choice of “unemployed” sometimes increasing the cost of your premium. Rather than applying with an insurer directly, you may benefit from using a price comparison site or use an insurance broker to help you get a number of viable cover options, the best pricing and value for money.

Things to Consider When Applying for Health Insurance With a History of Mental Illness

Getting health insurance that best meets your needs when having a history of mental illness can be tricky. Once size will simply not fit all for those with such a history. Therefore, it’s important to have a checklist of things to consider when exploring your cover options, only giving time to those who meet your criteria. 

Below is a list of some of the top things to consider when applying for health insurance with a history of mental illness:

  • Will any personal medications you take for your mental illness be covered in the plan? 
  • Does the policy include therapy sessions, and if so what is the cost limit for sessions?
  • Will the policy offer guided online therapy and self-help services to help me manage my mental health? 
  • Do I get in-patient mental health treatment included in my policy? 

Before reaching out to insurers, it’s best to draw up a list like this to pinpoint exactly what you need from a health insurance plan, as this will help to filter your search when finding cover that’s the most appropriate for you and your healthcare needs.  

We are a Top 10 UK Mental Health Blog 2021- Thanks Vuelio!

It is such an honour to be included as a Top 10 UK Mental Health Blog by Vuelio for the 4th year running! Vuelio is a social media company that compiles lists yearly based on data .

It feels truly wonderful for our blog to be recognised at No 7 and also to see my friends Anneli Roberts and Cara Lisette on their too with their blogs!

Well done everyone.

Thank you Holly and all at Vuelio!