Learning to Accept and Embrace Having Schizoaffective Disorder This Mental Health Awareness Week by James Lindsay

(image: Mental Health Foundation)

I do often wonder how long I had schizoaffective disorder before my diagnosis, but I guess I will never know. Back in 2016, I had my first experience of displaying symptoms of Schizophrenia (such as delusions), when I suffered from my first psychotic episode.

Before that, I had not really heard of any of these medical terms. I used to wrongly associate schizophrenic people with characters from the film ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. I thought they were lost causes who needed constant care, I didn’t think they could be functioning members of society like everyone else, and I feel bad that I used to think that. But I had a lack of education and personal experience.

In late 2019, I suffered from a relapse and had another experience with psychosis (which can be defined as losing touch with reality with delusions and/or hallucinations).. In early 2020 I was finally diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder. For those who are unsure, this condition is where symptoms of both psychotic and mood disorders are present together during one episode. ‘Schizo‘ refers to psychotic symptoms and ‘affective’ refers to mood symptoms. It is often described as a cross between Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia, as it includes symptoms from both of those conditions.

For me, it is currently something I am able to keep at bay, mainly thanks to my medication but also through being self-aware and looking after my mental wellbeing. I take Quetiapine (200mg slow release) every single day and I am more than happy with that. I have my tablet in the evening, which then helps me fall asleep without much struggle.

Without my meds, I can tell you now that I would be in all sorts of trouble. Every now and then I might forget to take it until just before bed, which means I need much longer to fall asleep because it takes a couple of hours to kick in.

That is ok though, as long as it’s not every night. But I know for a fact that without the medication, I am much more likely to start having delusions (irrational thoughts) and have an episode. Both my 2016 and 2019 episodes happened because my sleep was terrible and at times non-existent. I used to take sleep for granted, which is easy for anyone to do, but if you don’t let the brain repair itself it can lead to all sorts of problems. Just remember that psychosis can happen to absolutely anyone, I would not wish it on my worst enemy.

I am learning new things about my Schizoaffective Disorder all the time. I have joined a few Facebook groups which are supportive communities full of people with (or supporting those with) the same condition, such as this one which has nearly 18k members. For example I discovered through this group that some people who take meds before dinner (e.g. 4/5pm), find themselves waking up around 3am when they’ve worn off. They realised taking them an hour or so after dinner can give them a better sleep.

I have read books by authors with mental illness and they really help normalise it and give me peace of mind. I recently read ‘The Stranger on the Bridge’ by Jonny Benjamin (who is also Schizoaffective) and this gave me so much comfort. When you read a story that has parallels to yours, it gives you so much more hope and confidence that you can overcome your own adversities. Podcasts are a great source of help too and there are plenty out there that cover all kinds of mental illnesses.

I am also fortunate that my job gives me more opportunities to enhance my understanding of the disorder. I am proud to work for Hertfordshire Mind Network (my local mental health charity) as Fundraising & Marketing Officer, who are really supportive and always ask if there is anything they can do to help with my condition. I would advise anyone with mental illness to make your employer aware, because that’s the first step to them being able to support you and make any adjustments you might need.

I think ever since I changed my attitude to being schizoaffective, I have been able to befriend it and realise it’s not my enemy, but part of who I am. I used to feel embarrassed and was maybe even in denial at first. When I had the shame, I was never in the right mindset to go out and learn what this illness actually is, what is it doing to me, what should I look out for, what are my triggers/warning signs, what help can I get from other people.

The reality is – millions of people are schizoaffective and they are some of the best people you can encounter. They are incredible for living through it every day and I am proud to be one of them.

I hope you found my post useful and big thank you to the wonderful Eleanor Segall for the opportunity to contribute to her fantastic blog! If you’d like to connect over mental health you can find me here –

(image: James Lindsay)

@JamesLindsay23– Twitter

What To Do When You Feel Alone: by Eleanor

(image: QuoteFancy)


As I started opening this page to write this blog post, on youtube, the Jessie J live concert I was listening to flicked on to one of my favourites of hers, ‘Who You Are’.

The lyrics:

‘Don’t lose who you are

In the blur of the stars

Seeing is deceiving

Dreaming is believing

its Ok not to be OK

Sometimes its hard to follow your heart

Tears don’t mean you’re losing

Everybody’s bruising

Just stay true to who you are.’ (Jessie J)

I wanted to write a post on what to do when you feel alone. This sums it up- self care and staying true to yourself.

  1. Its ok to cry. Let the emotion out, feel the grief/fear/sadness/anger. Allow it to be present and wash over you. Crying can be healing.

2. Seek support from a loved one, someone you trust or a helpline like Samaritans. You are never truly alone even if you don’t have a supportive family or friends- though it is harder.

3. Write out your feelings on paper in a journal or talk about them with a therapist if you can access one.

4. Do a little activity to make you feel a bit happier– talk to a friend, sing, paint, write, do sport- whatever your thing is- do it.

5. Find a support group- Mind run good ones or a local charity to you.

6. Remember – these emotions, these feelings will pass like clouds eventually. This too shall pass. make sure you keep speaking, sharing and healing yourself.

7. If you are feeling very depressed or at crisis point, call a helpline or go to your GP.

8. Make sure you eat, drink and look after yourself. If this isnt possible- see point 7.

Sometimes we can all feel alone or lonely in the world. Its a part of being human. But taking small steps towards looking after ourselves and our mental health can be really helpful.

What helps you?

Eleanor x

What It’s Like To Go Through Severe Depression as a Bipolar Episode: Looking Back by Eleanor

(image of Eleanors book Bring me to Light: Eleanor Segall/ Trigger and Welbeck publishing)

TRIGGER WARNING- DISCUSSES SUICIDAL IDEATION, SELF HARM AND BIPOLAR DISORDER. PLEASE READ WITH CARE

This weekend, I went home to my mums to celebrate the Jewish festival of Pesach (Passover) and have some quiet, family time. It was wonderful and because our religious laws mean we don’t use the internet, our phone on our festivals, it meant I had time for digital detoxing and switching off. But with that silence, came space. To think and reflect.

Something you may not know about me is that as well as being a writer, throughout the years I have been a prolific diary (journal) writer. The act of putting pen to paper and type to keyboard has always been therapeutic for me in my darkest moments. I found a diary I had written in 2013, when I was living with depression, suicidal ideation and self harm thoughts and actions.

The journal was covered in butterflies- always my symbol of hope. I don’t want to trigger anyone so I will say this carefully- essentially, I was so unwell that for me, my symptoms were: sleeping until the afternoon with a slight break for a meal or tablets, not socialising, finding it hard to wash due to increased anxiety and lethargy, feeling like I didn’t want to wake up the next day and wanting to harm myself in various ways- but being so frightened by these thoughts (because i knew they weren’t really Eleanor) that i had to vocalise them to my family and psychiatrist to keep myself safe. Thats what I did and its why I am still here today, in recovery.

I lived with this depression for about 6 months- my psychiatrist was encouraging me to try Lithium to stablise the bipolar but I wasn’t ready and wanted to see if Quetaipine could halt that. As we know, I became hospitalised for mania soon after in 2014 which led me to recovery and writing my book Bring me to Light.

When you live with an illness like bipolar disorder, you can sometimes forget the nuances of all the details of how you were when you were unwell. For me, I always felt that I handled the depressive episodes ‘better’ than the mania- just because I was able to keep myself as safe as possible by telling my family and doctor and changing medication. My psychiatrist had to come out to see me at home with a nurse as I was so unwell and I wrote out how I felt for him to know.

So many people live with terrible episodes of depression so this blog is just looking back and giving you some knowledge of how it manifested for me. Essentially, depression is a slowing down of the mind towards inactivity, darkness, misery, anxiety, agitation and it is often triggered due to changes in hormones and brain chemistry (if you have a family history its more likely to happen). Depression is not just low mood. Its paralysing. Its not wanting to be in the world and being in so much emotional pain. You may think of ways to harm yourself and you may dream of not being in the world. Or you may be ‘high functioning’. I somehow managed to go to friends weddings during this time despite spending the other days in bed til 5pm- I have no idea how- anti depressants and support helped greatly. However, my depression was dark and invasive.


Now, I had forgotten a lot of these finer details. For me, I never truly wanted to die- I wanted the uncontrollable bipolar to go! The suicidal ideation was my bipolar brain chemistry but also an expression of not coping with life and the bipolar moods I had been given- I was 24 and I couldn’t enjoy life- i was wracked with anxiety too. My mental health was fragile and unstable and it is no way to live- but what saved me, was being hospitalised and finding medication and therapy that has helped me to live in remission (thank God) for 7 years now.

I can say now that my brain chemistry is balanced and even if i ever get sad or frustrated, I don’t have those awful thoughts and if they ever come up, I can deal with them. I have such a supportive partner and family- my family and psychiatrist saved me as well as me trying to save myself- I frightened myself with my thoughts and I had some semblance of being able to keep myself going, which is not possible for everyone. It helped that my Dad has bipolar and could really understand what was going on for me too- he understood exactly how I was feeling but he knew it was the illness and not Ellie. I feel so lucky for that because not everyone has this. My mum, step dad and sister and wider family also were so supportive and never blamed me for being unwell. That helped too. My faith also has helped me dearly,

(Me at 25 when I was going through depression. This photo was a selfie taken when I was dressed up to go to a friends wedding and my sister had done my make up. There were no photos with messy hair or red eyes and tears. I never looked this good when I was in bed til 5pm most days in my PJs).

If youve got this far thank you for reading. My mission is to help others with these conditions feel less alone, through sharing my own experiences. I have been careful not to reveal what certain thoughts were here so I don’t trigger anyone.

If you live with depression and a host of other issues, you can recover again. Hold on. You will not feel like this forever and you can find a level of happiness and stability again. Reach for help, someone you trust, a help line, a psychiatrist and don’t give up.

5 Risk Factors For Post Partum Depression.

(image: Fat Camera via Unsplash).

During the 2020 COVID season, UK health experts stated that new mothers were twice likely to experience postpartum depression. The report further stated that women with babies younger than six months were the most at risk of developing this mental health condition.

While 47.5% of women may seem on the high side, it is a reality some people have faced in their motherhood experience. While science is still at a loss for the exact cause of postpartum depression, the medical fraternity believes risk factors exist.

  1. Stress associated with new baby care

Without a doubt, baby care is a demanding responsibility. It can take a toll on your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, women who are unable to properly manage all these three elements may increase their risks of post partum depression. Feeding, diaper/nappy changes, and constant monitoring can take all your time.

This is why experienced parents believe it is necessary to adopt certain measures to ensure you do not push yourself to the backburner. One of these measures is to sleep when your baby naps. So, how long does it take to sleep train your baby? This question is an issue many new parents struggle with as they streamline their babies’ sleeping patterns.

  1. Preexisting mental health condition

Usually, a female with a preexisting mental health condition is believed to be at a higher risk of postpartum depression. Psychologists believe that the issue of brain chemical imbalances may significantly influence a person’s vulnerability. While the discussion on postnatal and postpartum depression continues to rage on, you may find it helpful to know the subtle difference. Postnatal depression is usually the mental health condition associated with a woman’s depressive mood in the first six weeks after birth. However, postpartum depression (PPD) refers to the period exceeding that.

According to a mayoclinic.org study, women with bipolar conditions may have a higher risk of PPD. Individuals in this category experience more depressive symptoms if the condition is left unmanaged. Additionally, a person with a history of Schizophrenia or Bipolar, may also have an increased chance of experiencing postpartum depression. Usually, women without a prior diagnosis of any preexisting mental health condition can have difficulty understanding why they have PPD.

  1. Family history 

A 2019 report by postpartumdepression.org claims a possible genetic and hereditary disposition to PPD. Although some medical circles believe the findings are inconclusive, there is a strong belief that this mental health condition can run in families. For example, if your mother experienced postpartum depression in her reproductive years, you may have inherited genes that put you at a higher risk. Indeed, this is not the kind of news people want to hear, but it is vital to be armed with this crucial piece of information.

It is worth noting that since specific genes run within biological families, the discussion of genetically inherited PPD cannot be a mere claim. PPD researchers claim that certain genetic alterations during pregnancy could indicate whether a woman would experience postpartum depression. Additionally, these researchers believe that the chances of it happening to a first-time mother may be higher than another who has had multiple births.

  1. A drastic change in image perceptions 

In many instances, women experience weight gain and other image alterations during pregnancy and after childbirth. While some women can bounce back to their former selves within weeks of birth, most take longer. For the latter group, the drastic change in physical appearance can affect their self-confidence and self-esteem. Unfortunately, the inability to embrace these physical body changes could contribute to postpartum depression.

A preemptive measure may be to embrace the fact that a changed appearance is a part of the pregnancy and childbirth journey. If you find that too hard to believe, you may find it helpful to be patient in the ‘waiting period.’ This is the phase when women’s bodies gradually return to the pre-pregnant state. If you can psych yourself up in this period, you can reduce your chances of developing an image-induced PPD.

  1. Absence of social support after birth

Contrary to public perception, single mothers are not the most at risk of absent support. Undoubtedly, the absence of a partner may double up the burden of baby care. However, this issue cuts across both divides. Whether you have a partner or not, the absence of a support group from family or friends can increase your risk of postpartum depression.

Post partum depression can be a difficult struggle, but it is one that can be overcome with support. Reach for help from your doctor or psychiatrist, friends and family and support groups/ other mums too. You may decide to take anti depressants or engage in therapy to help. There are also helplines and charities out there to help new mums with mental health issues, including PPD. You are not alone!


This article was written by a freelance writer and contains affiliate links.

Mental Health Chat With Penny Power OBE and Thomas Power of Business Is Personal with Myself and my Dad Mike Segall. Our Journey With Bipolar Disorder and Anxiety.


Yesterday, 9th Feb, my dad Mike and I were honoured to be interviewed by his friends of many years, Penny Power OBE and Thomas Power of Business is Personal- live on Linkedin, Youtube and Facebook.

They asked us to come on their weekly show to talk about our hereditary journey with bipolar disorder and anxiety and shed light on all things mental health.

It was a real pleasure to talk all about our lives and how my Dad was diagnosed with bipolar just 4 years before me.

Trigger warning: discusses suicidal ideation and psychosis.


Thanks Penny and Thomas! We hope it battles stigma around this much misunderstood illness. Watch here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fghp8RNTvX0

Try These Simple Depression Meals When Life Gets Hard by Kara Reynolds

(image: Unsplash)

Being an adult is exhausting.  We’re expected to work, build a career, keep a house, feed ourselves, socialize…the list goes on and on.  When you have kids, that list doesn’t get any shorter — instead, it expands to include keeping small humans alive, healthy, entertained and happy.  Becoming a mom is supposed to be one of the most magical parts of your life, but what they don’t tell you is that it can also be the hardest. Mom life is hard. There’s no point in sugar-coating it.

When that massive list of things that you’re expected to do becomes overwhelming, here are some simple depression meals that can help you eat healthily and keep everyone fed without putting in too much effort or relying on takeout. 

Nutrients That Impact Depression Symptoms

Depression is one of those things that we tend to only talk about in reference to other people, but it’s more common than you might think.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO). around 5% of the global population suffers from depression or around 280 million people. There are a lot of different ways to manage your depression symptoms, all of which should be overseen by a medical professional, but there are some small changes that you can make at home that might have a positive impact.  This includes changing the foods that you eat.

Research has shown that some specific nutrients might help manage depression symptoms include; 

  • Amino acids like tryptophan (found in turkey and chocolate)
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids (found in oily fish)
  • Selenium
  • Iron
  • Iodine

Switching your diet around to ensure that you’re including these nutrients can help make the job of managing your depression symptoms a little easier. Here are some of my favourite depression meals for those nights when nothing else seems to be helping but you’ve still got a house of little humans to feed.

Charcuterie 

If you were a kid in the 90s, you probably grew up having Lunchables for lunch during the week. They were quick, easy and had most of the nutrients a growing kid might need to get through the day — if you were content to subsist on crackers, deli meat and sometimes cheese. Okay, so they weren’t the healthiest option, but if you make them fancy, put them on a plank of wood and call them charcuterie, they’re one of my favourite depression meals. 

The nice thing about charcuterie is that there is no wrong way to do it.  Pick your favourite meats, crackers, dips, fruits and veggies, and arrange them on a plate or tray.  Then pick and choose what you want to eat. It’s simple, it’s fun, and it’s a great way to make sure that everyone is getting fed when all you have the energy to do is assemble things on a plate.

Fish

Fish might seem like a lot of hassle, but it doesn’t have to be.  It’s also a great option for depression meals because it tends to be high in magnesium which is another nutrient that can help with managing depression symptoms. 

This simple sheet pan haddock bake is a great way to get your nutrients without making a  big mess in the kitchen.   It’s 5 ingredients — haddock, crackers, butter, garlic salt and lemon — and five steps — and one of those steps is preheating the oven and I’m not even sure that counts. If you’re not a fan of haddock, swap it out for your favourite fish. 

Stir Fry

Stir fry is easily one of my favorite meals.  It’s easy, it’s cheap, it’s fast, and you can make it with whatever you have in the kitchen.  Start by picking your protein. Then, pick your stir fry veggies — these can be fresh, canned or frozen. Fry them up in the oil of your choice, top with your sauce, and serve over rice. 

The key to a good stir fry, regardless of your chosen ingredients, is the sauce.  My go-to stir fry sauce only requires a handful of ingredients, most of which you probably already have in your kitchen.: 

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar.

Mix and pour, and you’ve got the tastiest stir fry sauce this side of your favourite Chinese restaurant. 

Peanut Butter & Jelly (Jam)

It sounds basic, but that’s because it is.  Peanut butter — and other nut butters, if you have a peanut allergy in the house — are full of healthy proteins and other nutrients that will help you feel full longer.  Pair it with some natural fruit preserves and your favourite whole wheat or multigrain bread and you’ve got a halfway healthy meal that takes almost no time or effort to prepare. 

You can always spice up your PB&J if you have more spoons.  If you’ve got more of a sweet tooth you can add sliced bananas, honey, or even marshmallow fluff.  The possibilities are endless. 

Be Kind To Yourself

As long as you’re eating, it doesn’t really matter what you eat for dinner — but making healthier choices can help to make you feel better in the long run.  Try a couple of my favourite depression meals and see if they make it into your regular meal schedule.

Above all else, be kind to yourself. 


This article was written by Kara Reynolds, editor at Momish.

Reflecting on a New Year 2022: Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful by Eleanor

(image: Neon Filter)

When I was a child, growing up in Hertfordshire, my biggest dream (other than being a wife and mummy one day, because yes even then I dreamt of that) was to be an actress in the West End. I could think of nothing more exciting than standing on a stage, performing and I wanted to go to drama school from age 11. I went in the end at age 23 to do my masters degree at Royal Central in London, after doing a 3 year degree featuring Drama at Goldsmiths. I was so excited to have achieved a dream of mine, even though for many reasons I decided not to act professionally.

However, sometimes, long held dreams, things that are part of the core of our being, of our inner identity, can be a little harder to achieve. Sometimes, we find ourselves on the less travelled path, we feel different from our friends and family because our lives, for whatever reason, are different. We have to consider our health in a unique way. We have to try and surrender our fears to the universe and hope that everything will work out OK.

When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 16, I was still a child and I didn’t know what it would feel like to be an adult, needing a cocktail of medication daily in order to have stable brain chemistry. And how this medication might affect my body and mind- and considering children in the future as a woman with bipolar and all that brings- discussions with psychiatrists, difficult decisions to be made, do I carry my own baby, what will make things safer for me?

As I look ahead to 2022, I know that our dreams are there to be fulfilled. I know that I must trust and have faith that whatever happens, whatever 2022 brings to us, I will always have hope and I know my husband will too.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2022 – may all our dreams manifest for the good.

Eleanor x

How to Support Your Spouse with Mental Health Issues: by Kara Reynolds.

(image: Pexels)

Providing support to anyone with a mental health issue is challenging, to say the least. But when that person is your spouse, the situation is even more complicated. At worst, it’s confusing and overwhelming. At best, you might be walking on eggshells. However, being there for your partner during this difficult time will ultimately bring you closer together.

Here are a few ways to support your spouse so you both can emerge from this stronger than you were before. 

1. Help Them Help Themselves 

In the United States, nearly half of those with clinical-level mental health issues don’t seek help. Instead, they try to handle their illness on their own or simply give up hope, both of which can quickly send them into a downward spiral. 

Therefore, if you notice potential symptoms of a mental illness in your spouse, it’s important to encourage them to seek help. Work together to find a therapist, counsellor or physician (doctor) who can provide medical advice or guidance. 

2. Understand the Diagnosis

Once they see a professional and receive a diagnosis, read up on their condition. Maybe you’ve noticed some of the accompanying symptoms but failed to attribute them to their mental illness. Now that you’re more aware, you can stay calm and avoid feeling triggered or attacked when these symptoms show up in everyday life. 

On the other hand, if your partner hasn’t visibly shown signs of depression, anxiety or other issues, you might have been unaware of their suffering. Understanding their diagnosis will help you notice symptoms in the future so they don’t have to go it alone any longer. 

3. Implement Support Tactics

Now that you know what to look for, you might notice more mental health flare-ups, so what should you do when things start going south? Implement support tactics specific to their condition. 

For instance, if your spouse is dealing with depression, you might notice they’ve neglected to wash the dishes or do the laundry. In this situation, consider offering to complete these chores yourself or suggest doing them together.

4. Be a Good Listener

Sometimes, your loved one will want to talk about their experiences or past trauma that may have prompted their mental illness. When they express interest in discussing things, create a safe space for them by being a good listener. 

Pay attention to every detail in an effort to better understand their perceptions and beliefs. Let them talk it out without worrying about how to respond. Then, when you do react, try to do so not from a place of judgment, but of empathy and compassion. Validate their feelings to help them accept their emotions and move on.

5. Be Patient 

It may be difficult to hear, but certain mental illnesses can ebb and flow for years without reaching a resolution. There’s no magic timeframe for recovery.. Therefore, it’s best to let go of idealised timetables and take things day by day. 

This is when love becomes a choice and your commitment to one another carries you through — for better or worse. Instead of running away, resolve to stay steadfast and patient. Instead of holding their illness against them and growing bitter, choose to see it as yet another challenge you can overcome together. No matter how long it takes, you’ll be there to give them support, encouragement and affection. 

6. Practice Self Care

If you’ve ever been on an aeroplane, you know the flight attendant recommends putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others. After all, you can’t assist others if you don’t take care of yourself first. The same is true in your marriage — and every other relationship, for that matter. Therefore, it’s incredibly important that you practice self care and take care of your own mental health before trying to help your spouse with their issues. 

Take time to be alone each day. Revisit an old hobby or pick up a new one like knitting or journaling. Mind-body exercises and autoregulation techniques can also relieve stress and help you tune into sensations you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. Engaging in these activities will help you stay healthy and better support your spouse during this difficult time. 

7. Keep the Love Alive

Mental health issues and the symptoms that accompany them can become all-consuming. However, it’s important to focus on your relationship apart from this conflict to keep your bond strong and the love alive. 

Spend quality time together, go on dates and continue to communicate openly. Do things that bring you both joy and focus on enjoying each other’s company. Doing so will remind you why you fell in love in the first place and give you more reason to fight for your spouse’s mental health and your relationship as a whole. 

Communication Is Key 

After some time, you and your spouse may begin to resent the patient-caretake dynamic. When these sentiments arise, communication is key. Talking about your feelings will help you understand one another better and may put you on a level playing field again. Once you realise that it’s you two against the world — and not against each other — you can take on mental illness together and emerge on the other side stronger than ever.

This article was written by freelance writer Kara Reynolds, Editor in Chief at Momish.

Winter Mental Health and Anxiety Update by Eleanor

Hi everyone,

I have spent a number of months avoiding and not taking action on one of the main issues that has. been happening in my life.

As you know, I have spent many years living in the shadow of having bipolar disorder and panic disorder (social anxiety and panic attacks) and possibly also PTSD symptoms from my last hospitalisation.. that I didn’t realise that my panic disorder is essentially agoraphobia too. (Oh got to love my overly anxious nervous system and imagination that creates panic!),.

Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed. You fear an actual or anticipated situation, such as using public transportation, being in open or enclosed spaces, standing in line, or being in a crowd.

For me, this means that I can struggle to leave home alone at times, socialise, go out on public transport, go out to eat, go into a shop, travel anywhere alone including walking and that I panic and avoid and retreat from situations.. When I am going through a period of low mood, the agoraphobia/panic disorder can worsen.

I am managing my panic attacks through therapy and speaking to my therapist works. However, being indoors all the time through Covid and changing my working patterns to working from home meant that my agoraphobia got heightened. I didn’t want to be around crowds because I could get Covid. I didn’t want to go on public transport in a mask- because I might get Covid. I didn’;t go in a shop because people were there- but once vaccinated, this hasn’t changed. Really this was masking deeper anxiety and fear of the world in general- feeling uncertain after a job loss and starting a new career and feeling intensely self conscious too about weight gain on my medication.

Today on facebook, I had a memory from 12 years ago (when I was 21) which informed me that I had been on a night out at Ministry of Sound nightclub in London for a gig and I was also coordinating London Booze for Jews ( a Jewish student bar crawl) – despite the fact I didn’t drink. I have always been social but nights out in bars and clubs are just not my thing these days at the grand old age of 33 (grandma alert).

I know my panic is not the whole of me. In the past I have completed a degree and masters at drama school, travelled to India, Israel, places all over Europe and volunteered in Ghana for 7 weeks. Despite my anxiety, I run two small businesses, have managed to release a book, written for well known publications and achieved many of my dreams. I also met my wonderful husband and am not only proud to be a wife, but an auntie (and hopefully one day a mother too).

I am still Ellie and still the person I was inside before trauma hit.

Despite all of the amazing things above, I have been struggling with getting out of my 4 walls. So this is a diary entry to say: I will get better and get out the flat more. I will try and expose myself to feared situations. Above all, I will be kind to myself and take slow steady steps. I will lose the weight too!

All friends/fam are welcome to try and coax me out and help too!

A Guide to Life Insurance for those with Depression and Anxiety.

(image: Pexels)


According to research from mental health charity MIND, 1 in 6 adults suffer from depression or anxiety in any given week in England¹. 

The prevalence of mental health conditions in the UK is on the increase, not helped by the physiological and financial pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, this also means awareness is growing.

When it comes to life insurance, insurers now better understand the need to provide financial protection for those with less than perfect mental health. 

If you need to arrange life insurance to protect your loved ones’, but you suffer from depression or anxiety, you may wonder how this will affect your application. 

If so, continue reading as UK life insurance broker Reassured explain all in this 2021 guide…

What is life insurance?

Life insurance is simply an insurance policy that pays out a cash lump sum to your family should you pass away whilst the cover is in place.

The proceeds can be used to cover mortgage/rental payments, provide an inheritance, as well as meet family living costs. If you have dependents who rely on your income, then life insurance ensures that they would be financially secure if you were not around to provide. 

You pay a monthly fee, known as the premium, in order to benefit from the cover protection. Premiums start from approximately 20p a day for £200,000 of cover (or sum assured).

Can depression or anxiety affect your life insurance application?

Yes, if you have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety then this can affect your life insurance application. But do not worry, this does not mean you cannot secure cover or that you will definitely pay a higher premium.

The challenge is that you may need to answer some questions about your condition before your application is accepted. Your responses to these questions will help the insurer better understand your individual circumstances and provide you with a suitable quote.

If the insurer thinks you are more likely to make a claim on your policy due to your depression or anxiety, then they may increase the cost of your monthly premium to mitigate this perceived risk. 

Questions you may be asked include:

  • When were you diagnosed?
  • What treatment are you receiving?
  • What are the severity and frequency of your symptoms?
  • Have there been any instances of self-harm, attempted suicide or hospitalisation?

The only exception to this is over 50s plans. If you are aged 50-85 you can take out an over 50s plan; these policies guarantee acceptance and do not ask any medical questions during the application.

However, whereas standard cover (such as level term and decreasing term) can pay out up to £1,000,000, an over 50s plans maximum is £25,000. As a result they are commonly used to cover rising funeral costs and/or provide an inheritance (not cover larger debts such as a mortgage).

Does depression or anxiety affect the cover itself?

No, if you have been diagnosed with having depression or anxiety before taking out a life insurance policy, then this will not affect the cover itself.

Your policy will be the same as for anyone else who takes out the policy – the only difference being that you may pay a loading on your premium due to your condition. 

What will stop me from getting life insurance?

It is very unlikely that you will be declined life insurance due to depression or anxiety alone.

When sourcing quotes, you will also need to provide the insurers with other information about yourself such as your age, health, weight and smoking status.

These factors are more likely to impact your life insurance options than your mental health condition. Nonetheless, you may be declined life insurance if your depression or anxiety is deemed too high risk. For example, your diagnosis is recent or you’ve self harmed/been suicidal on more than one occasion.  

As someone with depression or anxiety, you may struggle with the process of applying for life insurance and therefore, put off getting a quote. This is understandable as you will need to discuss the details of your condition with a person you do not know. 

However, it is important to understand that insurers are very familiar with assessing applications for people with a mental health condition.

Once your life insurance is in place, you can have peace of mind that your family are financially protected if you are no longer around to provide.

How to get the cheapest premiums 

If you suffer from a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety, it is really important to compare multiple quotes before securing cover.

Every insurer will assess your application differently and therefore premiums will vary in cost, so shopping around will ensure you can get the best available price.

You can do the research yourself, use a comparison website or enlist the help of a specialist FCA-regulated broker.

Whichever method you choose to compare quotes, rest assured the vast majority of those suffering from a mental health condition can in fact secure affordable life insurance.

In fact, the most influential factor affecting the price of premiums is likely to be your age – so why not seize the day and secure your loved ones financial future?

Sources:

¹ https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/statistics-and-facts-about-mental-health/how-common-are-mental-health-problems/#:~:text=1 in 4 people will,week in England [2]

This article was written by a freelance writer.