This guest blog was written by film maker and musician Violette Kay. Her film the Joy thats Mine Alone about life with art and bipolar disorder, can be viewed at :
This guest blog was written by film maker and musician Violette Kay. Her film the Joy thats Mine Alone about life with art and bipolar disorder, can be viewed at :
(image: Eleanor Mandelstam (Segall))
Trigger Warning: sexual assault, details of assault and severe mental illness
Its been a while but I thought I would put type to keyboard and write a blog for more mental health awareness.
Since my book was published, I haven’t written many follow up personal blogs, purely because the launch of my life story into the public domain felt overwhelming and scary. 6 months on, I am used to it being out there but I have been working hard in EMDR trauma therapy to help myself.
See, the truth is that right now the Bipolar Disorder for me is stable and under control on my medicines. I still get side effects- weight gain, dry mouth and thirst, but my mind is generally healthy in terms of the Bipolar- no mania or depression. Anxiety and panic yes but Bipolar, not really at the moment.
Yet, almost lurking unseen after I left hospital in 2014 and began my recovery was the fact I was traumatised by my experiences of going into psychosis (losing touch with reality via delusions, false beliefs) and my experiences when being sectioned. I will just give an overview as the rest is in my book- but this included- being restrained, being attacked by other patients and seeing them self harm, being injected with Haloperidol (an anti psychotic) in front of both male and female nurses in a part of the body I didn’t want, being chased round A and E by security men in genuine fear of my life, dealing with lawyers and going to tribunals while ill, thinking I had been abused by family and was locked up by a criminal gang and fearing my family were against me. My bipolar mind could not cope.
Just before this all happened, I was very vulnerable and was sexually assaulted by a man I knew through friends and all of this trauma stayed with me.
I did what most of us with severe mental illness and assault survivors do- I tried to rebuild my life. I tried to work in schools helping children with special educational needs. I tried to work for a mental health charity as a peer support worker for people like me. I began to blog and write and share as therapy- from charities to national newspapers. Bit by bit, as I wrote out what I has been through, I started to slowly heal. But, the symptoms of the extreme panic remained. I lost jobs because of it. I became depressed. I started dating but I often had to cancel dates- (before I met Rob, my husband who listened to me talk about it all and didn’t bat too much of an eyelid.)
I was in a state of flux, a state of transition. I knew I had trauma still living in my brain and body. I had been physically and sexually assaulted, I had been mentally violated- I had been sectioned twice in a few months and now I was sent home to try and rebuild my life as a 25 year old single woman.
I share this important blog, not to share that I am a victim- because I am not. I want to share that I believe for about 5 years, I have been suffering with some of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). My therapist believes the same.
The panic attacks that grip me with fear before work or the day ahead when I have to leave the house. The fear of going out or travelling at night alone. The fear of being taken advantage of and having to trust men again (thank you to my husband for helping ease this pain). The fear of exploitation, of losing my mind, of not trusting mental health professionals any more.
My panic attacks get triggered by certain events- it could be having to speak about my life or book, or seeing people I don’t feel comfortable with, of feeling exposed, of worrying about others judgement. I am still healing from all I have been through and experienced. The PTSD means that I have to take medication (Propranolol) to function sometimes. It means that I experience flashbacks in my body- I feel gripped with fear, I get chest pain and shallow breathing and I start to cry. I had one the other day at 4am….. thank the lord for meds so I could calm down and sleep.
My therapist is incredible and we have been working since October to process the roots of my trauma and panic disorder. We use a combination of rapid eye processing with talking therapy which helps to tackle each and every trauma- and we are still at the tip of the iceberg. It takes time to process the deep rooted experiences in my brain- we are getting there slowly.
For me, in many ways my future is uncertain. My medicines have long term physical side effects. Motherhood will be more of a challenge due to medication and my mental health- I am still processing the choices I will have to make, which I will write in another blog.
I want to end this blog by saying- if you know someone with anxiety, PTSD, another anxiety disorder or something like bipolar or schizophrenia- Be Kind. You never know what someone has gone through.
The NHS waiting lists for help are too long, services are too underfunded- all my treatment has been private provided by my family due to being stuck on a list for years. I am lucky, not everyone is.
I hope this blog gives some information about my experiences of PTSD since leaving hospital 6 years ago. It is by far the most personal thing I have posted since publishing my book but I hope it helps you feel less alone.
Positivity and Hope are key. Meeting my husband and my therapist changed my life for the better as I slowly rebuild and find an equilibrium again.
When establishing and maintaining a healthy work-life balance, the overarching goal is clear; an individual should not feel as though their professional life is intruding on their personal time or vice versa. However, it’s always easier to explain than it is to physically manage – which is why it’s important to fully understand the implications of a poor work-life balance and the proactive steps we can all take to minimise any negative impact – such as poor mental wellbeing.
Although this challenge is known to many, you may not be fully aware of how prevalent it is across the entire nation. In fact, the Mental Health Foundation has commented that work-related stress costs Britain 10.4 million working days per year!
Now, as you would expect, the emergence of modern technology – such as smartphones – has drastically transformed our professional lives and, as such, it can be difficult to create concrete boundaries. Many of our devices can now take on the features and responsibilities of a larger computer system and so our working lives are available at just the touch of a button. So, how do we assess whether this detracts from our free-time and if this impacts our mental health?
Well, in recent months, this very topic has been investigated by mobile phone insurers, loveitcoverit.
Their research found that an astounding 80% of workers identify their smartphones as a tool for their professional responsibilities, clearly demonstrating that they have surpassed the singular, social use that spurred their beginnings. So, whether it’s to communicate with colleagues, access working documents remotely or utilise organisational platforms, our mobiles have become an integrated part of professionalism on a wide scale. As such, it can be difficult to imagine the two in separation – but is this a good thing?
Overusing our mobile devices can be detrimental to our work-life balance as they create an access channel that is available to us at every hour. So, whilst leading mental health organisations emphasise the need for distancing measures – such as short breaks, time off and established social environment outside of work – our smartphones may act as a reminder of our professional responsibilities. In turn, this can lead to individuals feeling pressure to work outside of their agreed working times and intrude on their personal lives.
Due to the sheer number of smartphone users across the country, this could mean that millions are facing the challenge. In fact, less than half of workers claim to have a ‘healthy’ work-life balance!
Of course, this isn’t to say you should never complete a professional task in your free time, it simply means that you must actively monitor and manage how often this happens. This might seem a menial task, but it’s vital.
If you often find yourself feeling stressed due to your working life, then you could be at risk of developing illnesses such as anxiety or depression.
However, luckily, there are further actions we can take to ensure our balance does not tip!
Setting tangible guidelines
We’re not saying that you must ignore your phone if a professional emergency arises, but it is important to make sure your working correspondence doesn’t intrude on your personal life. So, start with something simple – like enforcing a rule of no work related phone use after six on any weekday and perhaps not at all on the weekends.
Ultimately, it’s your decision to make, so find out what works within your routines and go with it!
Communicate with your employer
No one wants to be seen as a ‘complainer’, but if your work responsibilities are damaging your mental health it is important to speak up. Set up a meeting or informal chat with your manager to discuss how you’re feeling and why you feel that way. From there, you can work in tandem to better the situation and make wider improvements that benefit others too!
Better understand your own situation
There is normally a tangible reason for any feelings of stress or anxiety but it might not be clear at first glance. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break and try to dissect your situation.
If you can understand what is causing your stress, you’re in a wholly better position to try and improve it, whether this is in reorganising your routine and methods or in talking to someone else at work!
Creating a healthy and sustainable work-life balance is imperative for our mental wellbeing, so we all must take the time to figure out how to best achieve it. Remember, the working world existed before smartphones did, so it’s a durable environment, and taking the time to figure out positive and progressive ways of moving forward will never be a waste.
This guest blog was written by loveitcoverit, mobile phone insurers in the UK at www.loveitcoverit.com
(image: Mental Health Blog Awards)
Voting is now open (first round) for the Mental Health Blog Awards 2020 and we have been nominated in the Blogger of the Year Category.
We would love you to vote for us, to recognise all of our hard work- including that of our guest bloggers, in battling mental health stigma.
I started the blog 4 years ago and it is an honour to be nominated.
You can vote for us- listed as Eleanor at Be Your Own Light here and please also vote for others in other categories if you are aware of their work! There are some incredible people nominated.
From Mike Douglas, founder of the awards:
“I am delighted to welcome you to the Mental Health Blog Awards.
I look forward to continuing to celebrate the amazing work, effort, energy, emotion and so much more you all put into raising awareness, supporting, signposting, explaining and comforting in 2020.”
(image: Mental Health Blog Awards)
With love and thanks,
Hope will carry you through. At the moment it feels like fear is taking over at times! Everything is so uncertain with the current global pandemic and routines changing, being unable to source certain freelance work, having to stay indoors a lot, not being able to see friends or family in person. People dying and being hospitalised. Everything is scary. Add to that the fear of death, the fear of the virus whenever I go out and you have…
I was in self isolation a few weeks ago for what could have been mild Covid 19- I had a dry cough, sweats and fatigue. I recovered and am fine and still don’t know if it was Coronavirus or something else.
Then, the UK went into a form of lockdown.
I am not coping perfectly with all this. I’m trying my best to put routine and structure into my days. Some days I am so tired from it all, I need an afternoon nap in order to be more productive. I wake some days feeling anxious about what is to come, it all feels so surreal. One night, I sat and cried as everything felt too much with trying to balance work and life.
But, I wiped my tears, talked it out with family and felt better.
One thing I have started is a project called Corona Cards which sends handmade cards to people feeling lonely or needing cheering up in isolation. I now have 3 other team members (Bex, Donna and Abigail) making cards and its been really enjoyable. We send them by post to UK residents at no cost to them and you can follow us on Twitter @corona_cards and Instagram @coronacards1.
We have sent about 30-35 cards already and you can request them by asking me or messaging our pages. We hope it helps people’s mental health, particularly anyone very low or suicidal.
Crafting and focusing on the project has helped me a lot, I go for a short walk to the postbox to post them and therefore have a purpose to my walks! To know it is helping people also means a lot, and I have had 2 back in return which is lovely.
Thankfully, I can still have sessions with my therapist by Zoom and I have family support too. It is such a strange time in all our lives and it is understandable that anxiety and fear will creep back in. Especially if we have loved ones who are ill or we have existing mental health conditions.
I am thinking of those who are ill, particularly the ones I know about personally and wish them a full recovery.
A wise friend of mine told me this week that it is OK to take time for yourself. To just be, to look after your mental health. She is right.
So right now, despite feeling like I should be constantly working or busy with Pesach cleaning, I will be looking out for self care and I hope you will too. Keep focusing on gratitude.
Wishing all my Jewish friends a happy Pesach and everyone else a good Easter break.
How are you feeling?
For anyone that’s suffering from anxiety, OCD or other mental health conditions, living through a pandemic is not a walk in the park.
A time of crisis is enough to cause panic in anyone. If you’re already struggling with a ‘normal’ day, the added stress means it’s even more difficult to keep your head above water.
But, it might not all be bad news. Using mental health data commissioned by Adzooma, there may be some light at the end of this tunnel.
Why we should care about mental health
COVID-19 is a pandemic, with just under 500,000 people affected around the world as of March 26th 2020.
To put things into perspective, mental health currently affects 676 million people worldwide. It’s not a pandemic, it’s an epidemic.
Mental health isn’t contagious. You don’t contract depression from shaking hands with someone that has it. But it is a crisis that’s often overlooked. In fact, 70-75% of people with mental illness receive no treatment at all, choosing to remain silent. This is particularly true in men, who make up 75% of all suicides. In the UK, men aged 40-49 have the highest suicide rates in the country.
Mental health caused 44% of all sick days
1 in 5 employees have called in sick to avoid work. And no, this wasn’t because they simply didn’t want to go. It’s because their mental health had become too much for them to do their job.
Rather than be honest, 90% of people lied about it, using another reason for their absence.
In 2019, there were 602,000 total cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in the UK. That’s 44% of all health-related sick days.
The cost of this is projected to be between £39.4 billion to £99 billion each year for businesses. If you break this down, it can cost employers £1,300 per employee if they don’t have the mental health support in place for their staff.
“My mental health has impacted my work. It’s caused me to leave jobs, to call out some days when it’s just too much for me to do normal day to day activities. I also have tried to go into work on days where I’m not 100% and my quality of work and productivity have suffered.”
Rhea – Via Adzooma.
69% of people say working at home helps with mental health
Here’s the light at the end of the tunnel. According to research, 69% of people believe that working at home improves their mental health.
Around the world, offices are shutting en-masse, sending entire workforces to complete their jobs from the comfort of their own homes. If there’s ever a time that people needed space to focus on their mental health this would be it.
Its given employees the space they need to recover mentally. Beyond that, it’s showing employers that their business is capable of functioning remotely.
The positive outcome of this is that hopefully after the COVID-19 crisis, we can set up a world where employees aren’t needed in an office every day. A world where employees are free to work at home and care more for their mental health – reducing office-based overheads and the cost of sick days.
Astonishing mental health data
The data on mental health was complied by interviewing employees of a range of digital marketing and technology companies, including Google, Facebook and The Independent. It revealed stark information about the current state of mental health, such as:
Access the full data here.
A push for positive change
One of the best things to come of out the COVID-19 pandemic is people working together.
Communities are being brought closer and we’re showing compassion and offering help in brand new ways. If you’re ever unsure of that, just watch a video of people coming together to applaud everyone who’s working to stop the virus every single night. It’s a wonderful show of camaraderie.
It’s a global crisis and we’re in it together. Now, hopefully, we can carry on this momentum to help with mental health and continue the fight for better mental health support.
With support, we can get better. We can push for positive change to help the crisis. Without support, it will only get worse.
Together, let’s take action and break the silence.
This guest blog was written by Danielle Strouther. She is currently writing lots of words about all kinds of unique subjects at Adzooma and searching for a word she likes more than discombobulated. She has a masters in Film and Television, so can tell people she knows what’s good on Netflix.
(image: Money Under 30)
With the coronavirus outbreak, it is a worrying time for many of us financially. With that in mind, today we would like to share this about debt and mental health:
Worries about money can hugely influence your overall wellbeing. A study conducted in 2019 showed that 9.5 million people in the UK have issues with their mental health, in direct relation to money woes, whilst a staggering 18 million worry about lack of money daily (source:N26).
How mental health impacts your finances
Research conducted by National Debtline indicates that approximately one in four adultswill experience an issue with their mental health within any given year. It is worth noting mental health incompasses a range of conditions and experiences, including:
● Bipolar disorder
It is also worth highlighting that having a mental health issue or condition does not automatically mean you will struggle with finances or debt. However, it may make it harder to deal with. Research indicates that around half of all adults in the UK who are having debt problems also have a mental health issue (source: National Debtline).
It can causes a vicious cycle of problem health and finances
Unfortunately, feelings of stress, anxiety and even depression relating to growing fears about lack of money can lead to a vicious circle. It can impact your finance management abilities in a variety of ways. For example, serious anxiety or depression may cause you to lose energy or avoid your debt entirely. This may lead someone to avoid keeping up to date of their finances.
Problems with mental health could also affect finances if it means that it reaches a serious point where the person is required to take time off work. Depending on their individual circumstances (such as whether they are entitled to sick leave or not) this could mean a sharp reduction in their income. Unfortunately, this might have the unintended impact of making their mental health worse.
Other signs that debt is causing an impact on one’s health mentally include:
● Become overwhelmed or sick at the thought of the debt you are in
● Starting to withdraw completely from family and friends due to debt anxiety
● Symptoms of preexisting mental health conditions such as depression, are worsening
● Struggling to eat properly
● Struggling to sleep
● Regularly underperforming at work
What you can do if you are in debt and struggling with mental health
Do not suffer in silence, there are a number of places you can turn to that are confidential and free. This includes services such as the Samaritans or Mind. There are also debt charities dedicated to providing advice on how to get out of your debt, such as StepChange and National Debtline.
If you are looking to lower or consolidate your debts, you can look at debt management companies, but please note that they make take a fee for using their services
If you need help in the current crisis with getting Universal Credit or other welfare benefits for job loss or want to know more about managing your finances, check out the government and money websites such as MoneySavingExpert by Martin Lewis.
This blog was written by expert and freelance writer Ian Sims.
(image: Readers Digest)
This has to be the strangest time in all our lives. Not being able to leave the house for fear of passing on a deadly virus, all the family working from home, worrying that symptoms are indeed Covid 19.
This outbreak has already infected friends and potentially family. I think I may have had a mild version and have been isolating for at least a week already, and now until the danger passes. Thinking of all my friends who are affected and anyone who has the virus or whose life is being disrupted because of it.
There are good things happening- acts of kindness, communities pulling together, sunshine and flowers and spring blooming. Supermarkets opening for NHS workers and the vulnerable, the homeless being housed in hotels, financial help from the government (although can we please help our self employed workers more?).
I do worry though about the impact the virus will have on those with mental health conditions. My appointment with a psychologist to help me with my PTSD has been postponed and no new date given. I can’t go to see my therapist either but I think will organise a Skype call so that we can continue the EMDR trauma therapy I have been having. Medication supplies are so far unaffected.
I am lucky to live with family at the moment and have the support of my husband, mum and step dad and wider family too. For those living alone, having to buy groceries and navigate this new and scary world alone is terrifying for them. I was heartened to see this week, the Jami appeal for the vulnerable in the Jewish community. Mental illness does not discriminate and with all the pressures at present, suicide remains a real risk. We can combat this through checking in on friends and family regularly and signposting them to emergency support such as the Samaritans or crisis teams.
It is a scary time but we all must pull together and reach out to each other, by video call, phone call, whatsapp message or more and try, from our homes, to look after the vulnerable and our neighbours.
Most importantly, we must look after ourselves and our households and try to stay well.
How are you coping?
Therapy can be very helpful for families, and your family could benefit from therapy, too. Professional counselling is a proven method to help with all kinds of issues impacting families, and any issues plaguing your family could also be addressed.
To help you pinpoint just how therapy could help your family, you should look into the various situations where therapy might be useful. In particular, you should consider these five ways therapy can heal your family.
1. When Having Marital Issues
You can get assistance with all types of marriage issues when you get help from a therapist. If you have entered a new marriage, you can learn how to adjust to the roles that come along with that. If your marriage is on the rocks, you can get assistance, too.
If cheating has become an issue and you need an infidelity therapist, professional help is without a doubt a good idea. Therapy can help you deal with all of the emotions, assist you with any grieving, and provide guidance on how to move forward.
2. Dealing with the Loss of Loved Ones
The loss of loved ones can impact your family to the point where professional help is needed. If your family has lost someone, you can have short-term effects and long-term effects. When your family loses a loved one, you always run the risk of issues developing further. This is especially the case if it was your family member who died.
You will not be the only one to benefit from help. Children can learn to grieve and deal with the new family structure. Parents can learn how to better take on leading a home by themselves, and other family members can sound off and get feedback, too. Often a loss of a loved one requires people to take on new roles and responsibilities. Therapy can help your family if dealing with those situations.
3. Help with Children with Behavioural difficulties
If you have a child or children that are struggling with poor behaviour, you should consider therapy. Not only can bad behaviors be stopped and corrected, but they can also be prevented from impacting your family in the future.
Your children will be assessed by a therapist and reasons for their behaviour can be identified. Then, your family can heal. You all will be able to prevent more poor decisions from taking place, and you will have all kinds of resources to make sure this happens.
4. New Family Dynamics
If you have introduced a new dynamic to your family eg a blended or step family or new sibling or spouse, you might need some professional help. Failure to make sure there is a smooth transition could have horrible consequences for you. You run the risk of family members feeling lost in the new dynamic.
Whether you have a new spouse or a new child, these changes could cause issues for your family. Seek out professional services through therapy to mitigate issues from harming those you love. Your family can morph into the new family you know it is capable of becoming. You all deserve this.
5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Substance abuse and mental health are issues that definitely warrant therapy at times. Both of these issues can ruin your family’s well-being. If you are dealing with substance abuse or mental health matters impacting your family, you do have options for help. Therapy will help you unlock those options.
Did you know that around 20 million Americans deal with addiction issues? And did you know that almost 44 million Americans deal with mental health issues? If you and your family are dealing with either or both of these problems, you are not alone whether you live in the USA or not. You should consider turning to therapy to help your family overcome these issues.
Your Family Can Indeed Heal
If any of the five issues above touch close to home for you, you have a way out. You do not have to let these issues tear apart your family that you love. Your family does not have to hurt so much anymore.
Each of the aforementioned five areas can be assessed, addressed, and improved when problems are there for your family. There is hope for your family with therapy, and your family absolutely can heal.
This blog was written by freelance writer Samantha Higgins.
I do love a good inspirational quote, don’t you? If you follow me on my Eleanor Segall page on Instagram, you will often find my days marked with a life motto, positive affirmation or idea, to get me in a great mindset for the week.
So today I thought, let’s break the mould.. and do it on my blog.
Each Wednesday (or another dedicated day of the week) I will be sharing my inspirational quote of the week, to inspire you, share some wisdom that I am enjoying and hopefully help make you feel less alone with your struggles.
This week, I have been realising again that when life gets stressful, we need to take a step back, get out in nature and be with people we love. As we move towards Spring and Summer, I can’t wait for more sunshine.
I hope that your week is filled with good things,