Book Review: ‘Pushing Through The Cracks: In the Darkness of Her Family’s Mental Illness She Found Light’- Emily J. Johnson by Eleanor

(image: Emily J Johnson)

Pushing Through The Cracks: In the Darkness of Her Family’s Mental Illness She Found Light by Emily J. Johnson is an incredible book. It is a story that I don’t believe has ever been written about before in such a way in the mental health space, I have certainly never come across it. Its a true memoir that occurred here in the UK during lockdown.

Emily wrote to me and kindly sent me a free copy of her book. I was hooked from the first page- this is a story of survival against the odds, of how mental illness can rip a family apart but how healing and hope are possible. Of strength through immense difficulty. Of light winning over darkness.

Four years ago, in the UK, Emily, a divorced mother of two, was living her best life with a new partner and blended family of six. But then addiction and mental illness entered her home uninvited, threatening to tear the whole family apart.

With an alcoholic husband and two teenage sons – one a depressed gambler and the other with chronic obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)– Emily is left to cope alone. And when the Covid pandemic hits, Emily, a ‘serial people-pleaser, enabler and born rescuer’, almost breaks too.

This true story delves into the darkest sides of mental illness and addiction with raw, often harrowing honesty. It shines a light on taboo subjects including self-harm, suicidal feelings, gambling, alcoholism, depression, severe OCD and eating disorders, all exacerbated by an unprecedented global pandemic and dwindling support services.

This is a story of remarkable strength, self-realisation and reclamation of a lost identity. This is a story of finding hope, pushing through the cracks in the darkness. It is also a story that touches on the difficulties of accessing UK NHS mental health services at times, especially CAMHS.

I found Emily’s strength through such severe adversity – dealing with a husband and two sons with severe mental illness, whilst carrying on with her own life when mental illness permeated every part, to be so inspiring. Her marriage falls apart, her children are unable to attend work and education, the family embarks on several different recovery journeys- navigating NHS mental health care and all its difficulties. Her sons addictions and acute OCD worsen and add to the pressures for Emily. How does she as a mother fix it all? She realises.. she can’t fix anyone and its not her job too.

The front cover features a dandelion pushing through the cracks of the ground. Emily describes the moment she hits rock bottom but then saw a dandelion poking through- which symbolised hope and light for her,

‘(image: Emily J. Johnson)

‘I pick up my phone and call a crisis support line…I desperately want someone to listen to me, to ease my pain, to hear my stories…(of mental illness at home)

I throw my phone across the path in frustration… something catches my eye, a beautiful yellow dandelion is growing through a crack in the concrete. Its golden yellow petals cut through the greyness of the broken path and it overshadows the filth and discarded cigarette butts around it. Despite its surroundings, it has found ways to push up through that crack, to have life. it is. not complaining or giving up, it’s surviving and it will go on to finish flowering. One day soon, the wind will carry its dainty seeds somewhere else to carry on the cycle of its life.

Just like that dandelion, I have pushed through adversity and survived. …I close my eyes and raise my face to the sunshine… Even in the midst of all this chaos, this darkness, there is warmth and light. There is hope.” (from chapter Dandelion) (Emily J. Johnson)

This is also a book which exposes the difficulties and realities of living with mental illness. I will add a trigger warning- it doesn’t hold back on the reality of mental illness including self harm, addiction, alcoholism, suicidal thoughts etc- so please read with care.

Thank you Emily for letting me read and follow the journey of your family. I hope your husband and sons are able to fully battle their demons and recover or stay in remission.

Pushing Through the Cracks by Emily J. Johnson can be bought from Amazon and good book shops.


(image: Emily J. Johnson)

Where to Start When Battling Addiction by Rachelle Wilber

(image: Unsplash)

Many people might tell you that admitting you have a problem is the first step to battling addiction. Their intentions might be good, but does your journey to sobriety and recovery really start until you decide you want to live better? Knowing where to start when battling addiction is crucial to improving your odds of success.

Your Doctor

Your personal physician probably already suspects or even knows about your addiction, even if you’ve never mentioned it to them. It’s their job to help you with your physical health, and they will have access to more tools you might use than nearly anyone. Your conversations with your doctor are totally confidential, so this is a very safe place to start when battling addiction.

Find a Facility

Not all forms of addiction require going into a rehab facility. However, some might. There are facilities available, such as Awakenings Health and Wellness Centre that are top-notch in helping people dig deeper than the obvious superficial issues. Also, the right rehab center can dramatically improve your odds of getting past any addiction and have a better fighting chance at living a clean life ahead of you.

Friends and Family

This one can be tricky. Friends and family might be some of the people most likely to support you through your addiction battle, but some of them might also be the most judgemental. In fact, some relatives might even be contributors to your addiction. Turn to those you think you can trust.

Employee Benefits

You probably don’t want to tell your actual supervisor that you are battling addiction, but your employee benefits might have a hotline you can call privately. If your health insurance or other benefits include rehab programs or counseling of any kind, it might be at low or even no cost to you.

Spiritual and Religious Advisors

Individuals such as these may not feel qualified to help you with your addiction and recovery, and yet they might also truly want to help you. They might be able to point you in the direction of people and programs who can help you. So, whether it’s a priest, rabbi, or even a yoga teacher you study under, see if they have any referrals or connections you might use.

Help Is Out There

Battling addiction is a journey that can leave you feeling very alone, and overcoming it can only happen if you personally do it. However, even though no one else can get you over your addiction, they can be of tremendous assistance to you while you try to get clean.

How to Battle Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Addiction by Holly

(image: overcoming-drug-addiction-and-mental-health-issues-blog)

What are co occurring mental health disorder and substance abuse?

A co-occurring disorder is when a person is battling some kind of mental health issue alongside substance abuse like drugs and alcohol addiction. Both SUDs and mental health issues share a strong link. In fact, it’s estimated that almost half the individuals suffering from one will develop the other at some time or another. 

It’s not uncommon for substance abuse to fuel a co-occurring disorder and vice-versa. The severity of both can also increase over time. 

The most common mental health issues to co-occur alongside SUD are – 

  • Anxiety Disorders –  Social anxiety and general anxiety share a strong link with marijuana abuse. Almost 19% of people in the US have some kind of anxiety disorder. GAD, social anxiety, and panic disorder can also increase the odds of co-occurring issues.
  • Personal Disorders – In terms of the general population, around 10-15% suffer from personality disorders. When we talk about those suffering from addiction and substance abuse, the rate is an astounding 35-70%. The commonest personality disorders in those battling SUD are – borderline, avoidant personality, paranoia, and antisocial behavior. 
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder – Studies tell us that ADHD comes with an increased risk of developing addiction-related issues during adulthood (mainly 20s and 30s.) There is a positive correlation in symptoms of ADHD like impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and inattention with substance use in adults. 
  • Mood Disorder – Around 30% of people suffering from SUD are likely to suffer from one of the mood disorders such as depression and bipolar.
  • PTSD – According to a survey, people with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder are 4x more likely to develop substance use disorder than those without.

What Causes Co-occurring and Substance Addiction?

It is estimated that over half the people with one disorder will eventually develop the other during their lifetime. While the exact set of reasons that can fuel these two conditions might be long, researchers have found the 3 most prevalent reasons as to why co-occurring disorders may take place.

Overlapping Risk Factors

Many of the risk factors behind SUD and mental health issues are overlapping. Generally, these include environmental factors like exposure to drugs or alcohol at an early age, early childhood trauma, and genetics. All of these factors can make a person more susceptible to developing mental health issues and requiring addiction treatment for drugs such as Cocaine or others.

Self-Medication

Dealing with a mental illness can be difficult. That’s why many people resort to alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms. In medical terms, this is called ‘self-medicating’. However, it’s quite misleading as instead of fixing the problems, it only masks them. What’s more, in the long run, it exacerbates the symptoms and worsens the dependency on drugs/alcohol, making it more difficult to detox from alcohol or drugs, often requiring medically supervised detox.

Drug-Induced Brain Changes

Prolonged drug and substance use can change the brains ‘motivation and reward mechanism’. It can give a false sense of wellness causing one to develop a dependence on drugs beyond control. Eventually, it can lead to mental health issues by affecting the brain and neurotransmitters.

Drugs affect the areas of the brain associated with mood, impulse control, anxiety, and schizophrenia.

How to Battle Co-occurring Mental Health and Substance Use

Residential Treatment 

Residential rehab programs begin with an initial assessment to draw an individual treatment plan. This is followed by detox and several other therapies. The patient has to stay in a structured and highly supervised facility. Common inpatient treatment duration for drug addiction is 30 days. Residential programs put the entire focus on recovery as daily triggers and challenges are removed that often lead to relapses.

Outpatient Healing Programs

Under this program, a patient receives all the treatments and therapies as in residential rehab. However, they are not required to live in the facility. This is good for young teenagers, parents, and people with mild addiction who cannot sacrifice work commitments. 

Detox

This is usually the first step in most addiction treatment programs. Drug detoxification entails medical supervision to get the drugs out of the system. With a clean system, experts can begin further treatment. Generally, therapies and medication cannot begin unless detox is successfully over.

Integrated treatment

Integrated treatment often includes behavioral therapy and counseling as interventions. Rehab centers in Connecticut and other parts of the United States use integrated treatment coupled with medication. Integrated treatment encompasses several therapeutic techniques with proven results in treating substance abuse and mental health issues. Common integrated therapies are –

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy aka CBT aims to understand negative behaviours, thinking patterns, and self-talk that might be causing addiction and other disorders. It then works on changing them.
  • Dialectical behavioural therapy is used for treating borderline personality disorder. It does so by working on negative actions and thoughts like self-harm, suicidal behaviour, and dependence on a substance to cope with daily stressors.
  • Contingency management is often used in upscale addiction treatment centres. It reinforces positive changes by utilising incentives for patients who can exhibit positive behaviours such as staying sober and meeting therapy guidelines.

Medication Treatment

Psychotherapeutic Medications are often integral to treating SUD and co-occurring disorders and are frequently used during alcohol treatment. The commonly prescribed medications include antipsychotics and antidepressants. The latter is used to mostly manage the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Other than that, medications may also be used to lessen the cravings so that relapses don’t happen. 

Buprenorphine, naltrexone, methadone, disulfiram, and acamprosate are the common medications used for treating SUD.

Peer Support Clubs

It’s not uncommon for people with psychiatric issues to become antisocial. The withdrawal from social life exacerbates when you throw drugs and alcohol into the mix. By joining peer support groups/clubs like 12-step, Alcoholics Anonymous, and group counseling – patients can find solace in the presence of other people going through similar battles. 

They can draw inspiration from their stories and also learn some tips to maintain sobriety. Support groups are highly effective in fostering a long-term, sustainable drug-free lifestyle.

Education and Counselling for Families

Sometimes a toxic family environment or dysfunctional relationships may unknowingly be fuelling a person’s addiction. Family counselling educates people how to create a healthy living environment for a family member to support long-term recovery.

image: erson-holding-stop-drugs-sign-blog

Holistic Remedies

Medical science is embracing the effectiveness and importance of holistic/alternative treatment when it comes to treating drug addiction. Many rehab centres are now adopting a holistic treatment model. Common holistic therapies are – massage therapy, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, yoga, reiki, meditation, and music therapy.

In Conclusion

Co-occurring disorders may be a harsh reality in many people’s lives. But, know that if you or your loved one is going through this issue, help is always available.

Holly is a freelance writer who loves to help people who are struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction. Holly knows first-hand what it’s like to deal with substance addiction, and has now been sober for 5 years. Holly is a frequent contributor to many addiction-related blogs and organizations such as the Addiction Treatment Division and Inpatient-Rehab.org.

Tips for Getting Your Loved One Help For Their Addiction: by Emma Sturgis

(image: Pexels)

If you have a loved one struggling with addiction, you know how it can be an arduous task to get them on the right path. It is imperative to try as best as you can to get your loved one or a friend out of the dark path. It takes commitment, endless struggles, and unconditional love to help a loved one out of their drug usage habit. However, it is imperative to know your approach and approach them with care and kindness. Show that you want to help, and don’t be judgmental. Your loved ones could count on your support during this difficult moment. There will always be obstacles that you can overcome together. You can use these few tips to help your loved one recover from addiction.

Expect Challenges

Helping a loved one struggling with addiction can be pretty hard. It can be tough if they are not ready to open up or seek help. Convincing them that they have a problem and should seek help should be a challenge to expect. They may also feel embarrassed discussing their problem and fear negative judgment. Your loved one may lack the will to change or do something about their drug usage. They may also have an underlying issue forcing them to seek salvation in drugs. Your loved one may also have a problem talking to a specialist or a counsellor about their drug problem. Be ready to face such challenges to determine your approach to help the recovering addict to seek help.

Know Your Approach

Your loved one is also human, and drug addiction shouldn’t change your feelings towards them. Please don’t treat them cruelly due to their addiction. It is imperative to note that drug usage is a habit that is an illness, and they need your help. . Approach them with care and keep their best interests at heart. Show them that you’re all about helping them, and drug rehab is not a bad idea for helping them get back on track.

Offer Support and Encouragement

Try and reason with your loved one in a calm and friendly manner. Show that they can count on you and that you care about them. You can only help a recovering addict through immense support and personal intervention. Encourage them to seek help and attend sobriety meetings. Ensure your presence throughout their journey as you handle the setbacks and challenges together, if they would like this.

Don’t give up even when the journey becomes difficult. Stay strong even when your loved one gives you enough reasons to quit or lose hope. Your efforts count in helping them cope with addiction and attempting to pave a successful path to recovery.

Emma Sturgis is a freelance writer.

5 Tips and Tricks to Help You Fight Addiction by Lizzie Weakley

(image: Disha Sheta : Pexels)

When the term addiction is mentioned, most people only think of drug addiction. However, there are also behavioural addictions, including; gambling, sex, exercise, eating, and shopping. When people start developing such behaviour, they never know they can be addicted until it gets too late. Once one is addicted to such behaviour or even drugs, coming back from it takes a while. It may even be years for some. Regardless of what you are addicted to, you may need to follow a particular path to ensure that your recovery is successful once you have decided to quit. Below are some tips that can help you in fighting any addiction.

Find the Right Support System

Addiction recovery is never an easy journey. You may, therefore, require all the help you can get. You can try contacting your family and friends and explain to them your situation. Ensure that those you reach out to for help will never judge you when you relapse. Instead, they will help you get on the recovery path once more.

Change Your Past Friends

When you were mid addiction, you may have found a clique of people who enjoyed the same activity, whether drugs, shopping, or gambling. It is vital to inform them of your new venture. If possible, you may need to stop associating with such people for a while, as they may be the source of your trigger.

Cut Off What Supports the Addiction

When you are a gambler, shopping, or drug addict, one thing that supports your lifestyle is money. You may need to ensure that you cannot have access to such finances. Therefore, you can talk to your bank or even spouse to ensure that the only money you can have access to is those you need for your bills. Having no cash to support your lifestyle may be a significant step towards recovery, but speak to a trained mental health professional about this too.

Join a Self-Help Group

If you are struggling with addiction such as gambling, drugs or sex, you may want to join self help groups. Self-help groups are composed of people who are going through the same journey as you. As such, they understand what you are facing and are there to support you on your road to recovery.

Avoid Triggers

There are those things that may constantly remind you of your addiction. For instance, when trying to recover from sex addiction, it would be wise to get rid of anything triggering. You may also need to avoid hanging out in drug-related areas when you are trying to quit drugs.

Having an addiction is a tricky thing. Luckily, there are people like Awakenings Health and Wellness Centre out there to help you out on your journey. When recovering and having a hard time with your addiction, you may need to check on the above tips to help you stay on course.

Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer.

The Benefits of a Sober Living Home- Recovery from Alcohol or Substance Abuse.

(image: Unsplash)

The journey to recovery from alcohol or substance abuse is a long one and is never a straight line. While rehab and detox are the essential first step in sobriety, they’re just the beginning of the journey that can last for a very long time. Going straight back to your previous life and surroundings can be triggering and jeopardise your progress, leading to relapse. 

This is where a sober living home can be the perfect next step on your journey to recovery. These are interim, transitional steps that give you independence based on structure and support. They are designed to help you rebuild your life skills and relationships away from the temptations of drugs and alcohol. 

  1. Additional Time To Recover

The more time and energy you can devote to your recovery, the more successful you will be in maintaining it for the long term. In a sober living home, you will be in an environment where there are no drugs or alcohol to tempt you and find a support network of staff and other residents with which to share the experience. Giving yourself this additional time to recover could be the difference between success and failure.

  1. 24/7 Support

Most sober homes, including Bridgeway Sober Living, have specialist managers on-site 24/7 to give your support and encouragement during your recovery. They are there to help with issues such as feeling depressed right the way through to helping you find a job. 

A lot of the support staff in the sober living home have personal experience with addiction either through their own experience or that of a friend or loved one. 

  1. Meaningful Relationships

A sober living home can let your form bonds with others that aren’t rooted in alcohol. You’ll have lots of things in common and a shared sense of purpose. Your road to recovery will be anything but lonely. 

  1. Rebuilding Life & Social Skills

The basics of everyday life can be difficult for someone in the grip of addiction. Even dressing, washing, and taking out the trash can be beyond some people. Sober living homes allow you to put a structure back into your everyday life that can rebuild your life skills. You’ll relearn how to look after yourself and your surroundings. 

  1. Regain Your Independence

In rehab, your movements and activity are controlled tightly until you’re discharged. Often, going straight back to your former life can be overwhelming. Sober living homes give you the opportunity to start claiming your independence back gradually. You’ll be expected to go out and find your own job, attend social gatherings and look after yourself, all within the safe space of the sober living home. 

Final thoughts

Sober living homes are becoming a viable choice for many recovering addicts. You can find them in all major cities and highly populated areas. They are very well designed, as far away from the stereotype as you could imagine. As part of a successful recovery, they can be the transitional step you need to complete your recovery. 

This post was written by a freelance writer.

What is the Connection between Mental Health and Addiction by Jennifer at Mandala Healing.

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Everyone has their own mental health. But people who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, or any other substance abuse are more prone to develop mental illness. While on the other hand, individuals who have mental illnesses are also more prone to developing drug, alcohol, or substance addiction. 

People struggling with addiction and mental health problems have complained about the co-occurring disorder. However, it can be tough to identify which one is the primary. A mental health diagnosis, such as clinical depression, can undoubtedly worsen an individual’s problems with addiction. Similarly, a person experiencing addiction may find that their mental health declines as their use grows. 

If these conditions are left untreated, then co-occurring disorders can lead to a nasty cycle of repeated addiction and worsens mental health symptoms. To overcome addiction and mental health issues, professional care is necessary at a rehab center like Florida Addiction Treatment

But before that, it is vital to understand the relationship between addiction and mental health when looking for help for yourself or a loved one. Because both addiction and mental health diagnoses are chronic medical conditions, they can be treated and managed with the right and approachable treatment while they cannot be cured. 

Understanding the Link Between Mental Health and Addiction:

You might wonder if mental illness can cause addiction or if addiction creates the perfect storm leading to mental health problems. However, in most cases, it is rarely clear which one manifested first. 

Addiction to drugs and alcohol or any other substance can occur due to people self medicating if they suffer from any mental health disorder. Self-medicating with addiction in times of crisis may provide temporary relief at first. But it may help you feel more comfortable connecting with your peers or boost your confidence. However, this is part of the danger of the link between mental health and addiction. 

Continued use is hazardous and develops the risk of addiction. What you look at as a remedy to your problem can quickly put you on a brutal cycle of misuse and abuse. 

Long-term use of addiction often produces side-effects such as anxiety and depression. Taking addictive substances alters your brain chemistry, and extended use of it only increases your chances of developing mental illness. 

People coping with these specific mental health conditions are more likely to get addicted to drugs or alcohol (but not in every case)-

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)


Potential Causes of Co-Occurring Disorders:

Addiction and mental health issues can occur because of many factors; however, some potential causes may involve genetics, age, and environmental factors. 

  • Genetics or family history-

Genetics can play a critical part in the evolution of both addiction disorder and mental condition. It has been studied that genes contribute to many health issues.

As genes are passed down from generation to generation, the family history of a disorder is also a strong indicator. Autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder, major depression are all examples of conditions that can be spread through your genes. 

  • Environmental factors-

However, you don’t have to have the genes for a particular disease, which does not mean that you will develop the condition. The environment plays a key role in how their genes are expressed. 

High-stress environments, trauma, physical or sexual abuse can also contribute towards a co-occurring disorder. Looking at your friends and family engage in dangerous behavior like addiction can also play a key factor. People likely to follow the examples of those they are close with. When your close ones behave poorly, you may be more likely to as well. 

  • Age-

Exposure to certain things during teen years can also be an element. Being offered drugs or alcohol at an early age can also contribute to addiction and possibly mental illness. Since at an early age, the brain is still in the developing stage. Developing a mental health illness at an early age may also make you more susceptible to addiction. 

Treatment for Mental Illness and Addiction: 

The best treatment for both disorders is an integrated approach, where both the substance abuse problem and the mental illness are treated together. Whether your mental health or addiction problem came first, long-term recovery depends on getting treatment for both the disorders by the same treatment provider. 

Treatment for mental health may include medication, individual or group counselling, self-care measures, lifestyle change, and peer support.

Addiction treatment may include detoxification, managing withdrawal symptoms, behavioral therapy, and support groups to help maintain sobriety. 

5 Ways you can reduce Anxiety in Every Day Life: Guest blog by Samantha Higgins

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(image: Picuki.com)

Reducing anxiety at the moment in our every day lives is so important.

Having anxiety is something that many people have challenges with. It is estimated that about 1 in 5 adults have an anxiety disorder and that more than that will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life.

The symptoms of anxiety include feeling restless or on edge, being easily irritated, difficulty controlling feelings of worry and having difficulty sleeping, amongst others. 

If you feel that you may be experiencing symptoms of anxiety, there are many things you can do to help reduce and manage those feelings. 

 

1. Look at Lifestyle Choices

A number of different lifestyle behaviours could contribute to your anxiety. Drinking alcohol, taking drugs, eating junk food will all play a big role in how you feel. For example, excessive drinking or the use of drugs can cause a multitude of health problems including liver and kidney damage. It also causes mental illness such as drug and alcohol addictions. You may need further support from a psychiatrist or rehab unit if you are struggling with addiction or mental illness.

On the opposite side, exercising regularly and eating healthy foods are proven to boost your mood, increase the chemicals in your brain that make you feel happy and improve your overall physical health. 

If you want to manage anxiety, consider looking at your current lifestyle choices and if there is anything you have the power to change. Be honest in your assessment but know you have options for assistance.  Making a big lifestyle change is hard but if there is something you know is causing your mental health and anxiety to worsen, it is a good idea to remove that from your life if possible. 

 

2. Talk to Your Family and Friends

Even if you think your family and friends would not understand, you might end up getting some of your most valuable support from them. You should not ever feel you have to hide any of your mental health concerns from them, unless you know that they would react badly.

Try to avoid shutting people out, being secretive about your mental illness or becoming defensive when people ask. 

True friends will listen and care. There is still a stigma to mental illness but it is important to find someone you trust.

 

 3. Set Boundaries

If necessary you can set boundaries for yourself. This could mean letting people know there are certain activities you don’t participate in. It could also mean a limit on how much time you spend with friends and family, in order to practise self care and recuperate. 

Many people who struggle with anxiety disorders find that setting up a schedule for themselves that they are consistent in keeping can greatly reduce feelings of anxiety. It helps them to feel more in control and gives them a structure that feels secure.

Setting boundaries is a way for you to have control over your situation and environment, although these should not be too rigid. There are certain things that can’t be controlled that can increase anxiety. 

 

4. Let Go of Things You Can’t Control

If something is out of your control that is causing your anxiety there are ways that you can cope with these feelings.  One suggestion is to write down how you are feeling to help let those emotions go. The BACP tells us that, “It can help to express this anxiety in a way that you can control. That could be writing down what you feel, or keeping a journal.”

You can also try making a list of things you are grateful for, or use breathing and relaxation techniques. 

If you are still struggling to cope with things out of your control seek help from a professional. 

 

5. Get Professional Help

You could turn to all types of mental health professionals to get help, including GPs (physicians), psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors and therapists. You may be referred for talking therapies, cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness or EMDR therapy for trauma.  They may also recommend medication for you too.

In the UK, you would go via your NHS GP who can refer you on to see a psychiatrist or to IAPT for counselling.  Also check out the Counselling Directory website.

When searching for a good therapist in the USA, Karen Whitehead, who does counseling in Alpharetta, GA tells us that, “Psychologists (PsyD), Licensed Social Workers (LMSW/LCSW), Licensed Professional Counsellors (LPC), and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) can all evaluate and treat mental illness, provide talk therapy, support and feedback, and teach coping strategies such as mindfulness.”

Your counsellor will be able to help you better assess your situation and get to the core of your anxieties. Even if you already know why you get anxious, you can benefit from learning coping skills.

Your counsellor can indeed equip you with tools adapted for your specific needs. You will have feedback on what is and what is not working. You can learn to live with, manage and in many cases, recover from anxiety.

 

You Are Not Alone

Do not ever think you are alone when it comes to your anxiety. Try not to beat yourself up if setbacks occur or you have a bad day.

Talk with your therapist about ways that you can help to further reduce your anxiety. They will be able to help you.

 

This blog was written by freelance writer Samantha Higgins.

We are 4! On Be Ur Own Light’s Fourth Blog Anniversary by Eleanor

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Its Today- 1st March 2020 and Be Ur Own Light is 4 years old! (cue the streamers!)

I still remember starting this blog as an outlet for my fears, thoughts and emotions dealing with my bipolar and anxiety. The blog started as a way to tell my friends and family how I was feeling and has evolved into working with guest bloggers and now brands/ partners on sponsored wellness posts too! Writing the blog and sharing thoughts has been so therapeutic and it has taken me on  a journey that I could not have imagined.

In November 2019, I published my first book Bring me to Light with Trigger Publishing which is the book of my life story with bipolar disorder, anxiety and my life in general (travelling, going to drama school, starting a career as a writer). The blog has also grown so much this year and is currently nominated in the Mental Health Blog Awards for Blogger of the Year, thank you to our nominee!

Additionally, Vuelio awarded us as a Top 10 UK Mental Health Blog for the second year running and interviewed me (Eleanor) about working as a blogger!  Thanks also to Feedspot.com and My Therapy App for listing us in their mental health blog lists too for social anxiety and bipolar!

This year, I have written about World Bipolar Day for the Centre of Mental Health, about my search for EMDR therapy on the NHS, living with depression in winter, about writing my book and new life changes (getting married) and 2020 new year round up with hopes for the future. We also promoted mental health campaigns such as Shout UK text line (founded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry and Meghan),  Christmas 4 CAMHS, Time to Talk Day and Mental Health Awareness Week. Additionally, I spoke in Essex with my Dad about our joint story with bipolar for the Jami Mental Health Awareness Shabbat and we also spoke at Limmud Conference in Birmingham!

This winter I did some interviews for the book which can be seen on the Book tab above and also received some lovely reviews. It was amazing to appear in Happiful Magazine’s bonus wellness Mag this January (edited by campaigner Natasha Devon) and to write for Glamour and Bipolar UK. I also enjoyed being interviewed for the Jewish News and Jewish Chronicle! Hopefully at some point I will do podcasts about it too and more interviews.

From March 2019-2020, the blog has attracted wonderful and talented guest bloggers wanting to spread their messages about mental health and wellness.

We have also worked with the following brands on sponsored and gifted posts and hope to work with many more this next year :  YuLife, Nutra Tea, Essential Olie, Loveitcoverit on mental health apps, I-sopod floatation tanks, Core Wellness Maryland, Wellbeing Escapes Holidays.

My guest bloggers have written about their recovery and living with mental illnesses, as well as advice on how to improve your mental health. There a posts for whether you are going through a divorce, a bereavement, are stressed or have anxiety. We also had posts with people’s first hand experiences of mental illness including a brave post about being a sibling of someone with mental illness and one of living with an eating disorder. Furthermore, Be Ur Own Light has also covered World Mental Health Day and Time to Talk Day this year, featuring personal mental health stories as a way to raise awareness and fight misconceptions.

We have also covered new books coming out, a mental health fashion brand and a song about social anxiety, as well as posts about different therapies to help you.

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Thank you to my amazing guest bloggers (non sponsored) March 2019-2020 for your fantastic content:   

Ashley Smith- How Massage Therapy helps Anxiety Disorders

Emily Bartels- 5 tips for a mental health emergency plan

Dale Vernor- Understanding PTSD by Gender 

Tan at Booknerd Tan- How audio books and walking has helped anxiety

Emma Sturgis- Loving yourself, tips for a body positive life

EM Training Solutions- How to maintain mental health at work

David Morin- On social anxiety and talking to others

Lyle Murphy- How equine therapy can help those with mental health issues

Charlie Waller Memorial Trust- Best of Musicals event

A Time to Change Hypnotherapy-  Hypnotherapy for self esteem

Nu View Treatment Center- The connection between anxiety and substance abuse

Shout UK- Royal family launches mental health text line

Mental Health Foundation – Mental Health Awareness Week  May 2019 Body Image

Emerson Blake- Coping with the stress of becoming a single parent

The Worsley Centre- A guide to therapies and finding the right one for you

Byron Donovan at Grey Matter – How I recovered from depression to form a fashion brand 

Luci Larkin at Wooley and Co Law- How to reduce stress and maintain mental health during a divorce

Nat Juchems- How to keep your loved ones memory alive after bereavement

Emily Ilett- on her book ‘The Girl who Lost her Shadow’

Mark Simmonds- an interview about his book ‘Breakdown and Repair’ with Trigger Publishing

Curtis Dean- 5 facts about music for stress relief

Robert Tropp- How quitting illegal drugs helps anxiety in the long term

Aaron James- the difference between psychotherapy and counselling

Dr Justine Curry- 4 ways to help a friend with bipolar disorder

Christmas 4 CAMHS campaign for children in childrens mental health wards

Ani O- 4 ways to ease the fear of doctors appointments

Katherine Myers- Ways that spending time outdoors can improve your mental health

Anita- 5 ways to lift you out the slump of seasonal depression

Chloe Walker- taking care of your child’s mental health

CBT Toronto- how to deal with social anxiety and depression

Katy- a true story with anorexia and OCD

Vanessa Hill- Life changing habits to bring into the new year

Rachel Leycroft- Expressing social anxiety through songwriting

Shira- Living with a sibling with mental illness: the meaning of normal

Capillus- 10 signs you may have an anxiety disorder

Brooke Chaplan- When therapy isn’t enough 

Jami Mental Health Awareness Shabbat 2020 

Mike Segall- Time to Talk Day- 9 years undiagnosed, my story with bipolar disorder

Jasveer Atwal- Living with PCOS and managing mental health

Leigh Adley at Set Your Mind Free- How CBT helps children with anxiety

Lizzie Weakley- How to heal and move forward when you have an eating disorder

Sofie- Living with an eating disorder

Thank you so much to all of you and I am excited to see what 2020-21 brings for the blog!

Be Ur Own Light continues to be read globally and I love receiving your messages about the blogs and finding new writers too.

Heres to a 2020 of positive mental health, of fighting the stigma against mental illness and creating a positive and supportive community here. 

Happy 4th birthday Be Ur Own Light!  ❤ May this be an enlightening year of growth for us.

 

Love and Light always,

Eleanor    

xxx

How to find a way forward and heal when you have an Eating Disorder: Guest blog by Lizzie Weakley

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(image: Unsplash.com)

Overcoming and managing an eating disorder is often a challenging process. It requires a lot of self-motivation and determination, as well as a healthy and robust support network. However, it will be worth it in the end because you will be able to heal yourself and move forward. Many people may not know where to start when it comes to moving on, but there are many general tips that will apply to most situations. For example, it can be helpful to create new and healthy habits, maintain a positive mindset, and plan for a better future.

Creating New Habits

Many people find it helpful to create new habits after recovering. You should recognise what your triggers are and try to avoid them or learn new coping mechanisms. You might also want to learn more about proper nutrition and how to properly care for your body.

Often, eating disorders can cause negative health effects, and it can be beneficial to adopt a better lifestyle in order to safeguard your future health. You might want to look into working with a nutritionist who will be able to guide you in the right direction. Also, if you feel yourself losing control at any point, you should speak with your doctor right away and potentially consider inpatient eating disorder treatment before things get out of hand.

Maintaining a Positive Mindset

Many people with eating disorders may think negatively about themselves. It is important to avoid this so that you don’t relapse. Instead of dwelling on things you don’t like, if you are able, you might want to focus on your positive attributes. For example, if you enjoy helping others, you might want to consider doing volunteer work. Working with the elderly, under-privileged, and animals can be an excellent way to show you that you have self-worth and purpose, and you will be making a huge difference in the world.

If you are struggling with your mindset and are too unwell to do this, thats OK. Look after yourself and see your medical team.

 

Planning a Better Future

It can be easy to sometimes get caught up in the past and eating disorder thought patterns. However, you might find it helpful to focus more on the present and the future than the past. You could think about all the things you would like to experience and achieve and make a list of attainable goals. Investing in yourself and your future will give you something to look forward to and will motivate you to push forward.

Also, creating a better life for yourself can help to protect you from relapsing because you won’t want to throw away everything you have worked so hard for.

Overall, moving past an eating disorder can take some time. It is important to be kind to yourself and optimistic. Taking the aforementioned tips into consideration and working with professionals, such as a psychiatrist, therapist and nutritionist can help you along the way. They can provide you with beneficial insight that you need to succeed and can help to ensure you are making positive decisions.

 

This guest post was written by freelance writer Lizzie Weakley,