(image: Trigger Publishing)
Nearly a month ago, I started my new job at a big Jewish charity here in London. I work in a small but lovely team in PR and Communications- helping run social media, write and distribute press releases and copywriting. I am enjoying it but its totally different from my other work and I am far less immersed in the mental health world than I was a few months ago. It is a juggling act. Trying to keep up with changes and all that’s occurring though. Hopefully soon I will find time to write articles again for my friends at Metro.co.uk and Happiful.
This has brought its own challenges as I havn’t been blogging here as much either, due to writing my book. My book ‘Bring me to Light’ will be released in the UK on November 5th and the USA shortly after, with Trigger Publishing. The title references going from darkness to light, as I have done with my bipolar and anxiety since I was 16. I have written most of it (50,000 words!) but my very kind editor has extended the deadline for it so I can write everything I need too, whilst also doing my day job and wedding planning (!). I am really excited to see a printed copy and to promote it later this year- the hard work will be worth it I hope. I also hope you enjoy reading it and thank you all for your ongoing support.
So, wedding planning, we are 5 weeks away now until I marry Rob, my fiance. It has come round so fast especially as we have had a year and few month’s engagement, I am counting down the days until I am under the Chuppah (Jewish marriage canopy) and we are officially married in presence of those we love! This week I had my final dress fitting and it was super emotional. I still can’t believe its happening. Rob’s dad is recovering slowly at home but his condition is still serious as he has cancer.
Naturally, you will be wondering- how am I staying sane with my bipolar with everything going on and with Robs dad not being well? Firstly, as we know, stressors can make bipolar worse and trigger episodes. At the moment, my main mood stabiliser Lithium keeps me very grounded and stable. Despite the stress, I am not dipping down into deep depression as I would have done in the past. Yes- there are times when I might feel stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted or tired and just want to sit in my pyjamas watching Made in Chelsea or First Dates. There are also times when I am too tired to cook or do laundry and need support with those. I am lucky to have a very supportive family who look out for me too.
My work colleagues have been super supportive when I have been overwhelmed or anxious and I am finding the flexibility of my work helpful too. I am having less anxious days now I am working too due to exposure therapy and going out a little more (taking the bus and cabs and talking to new people).
For me, I really need self care time, time to switch off and unplug. As we go into Shabbat now is the perfect time to read and be quiet, come off my phone and computer and just be. I really promote looking after you and taking time to sleep and rest for optimum mental health and to feel better again. Sometimes it can help to let others know how you’re feeling too.
I have two weeks to give in my first book manuscript and five til my wedding day. These are dreams I have had for years and I can’t quite believe they’re happening. Staying sane while planning a wedding without a planner can be hard but we have worked as a team. Having a good cry has really helped also at times, when things get too much! But generally happy, wonderful things so not to complain. Everything at once can get a lot for anyone. Life at the moment is hectic but I am pacing myself as much as possible.
Thanks for being there for me and for supporting my work too. I hope we end the stigma against mental health by talking, sharing and explaining.
(image: Mental Health Foundation)
This week, starting today is the Mental Health Awareness Week by the UK charity the Mental Health Foundation. Its theme is looking at Body Image, how we think and feel about our bodies.
Mental Health Foundation say ‘Body Image can affect us all at any age- during this week we are publishing new research and campaigning for change’ .
‘Last year we found that 30% of all adults have felt so stressed by body image and appearance that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. That’s almost 1 in every 3 people.
Body image issues can affect all of us at any age and directly impact our mental health.
However there is still a lack of much-needed research and understanding around this.
As part of Mental Health Awareness Week:
- We will be publishing the results of a UK-wide survey on body image and mental health.
- We will look at body image issues across a lifetime – including how it affects children and young people, adults and people in later life.
- We will also highlight how people can experience body image issues differently, including people of different ages, genders, ethnicities and sexualities.
- We will use our research to continue campaigning for positive change and publish practical tools to help improve the nation’s relationship with their bodies.’
- The good news is that we can tackle body image through what children are taught in schools, by the way we talk about our bodies on a daily basis and through policy change by governments across the UK.’
For more on how you can get involved see : https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week
Be Ur Own Light is supporting the incredible initiative from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Sussex- Shout UK, a new text support line in the UK for people in mental health crisis- anyone who is struggling. They have teamed up with Crisis Text line to reach vulnerable people.
I feel privileged to live in a country where stigma is beginning to fall and where mental health issues are beginning to be understood better. Texting would have helped me as an ill teenager with bipolar!
Shout are looking for volunteers too to man the text lines as crisis counsellors.
Thank you to the Duke and Duchesses for the incredible profile they are giving mental health. #GiveUsAShout
See more here: https://www.giveusashout.org/
(image: Recovery Direct)
When people abuse drugs and alcohol, it is often the sign of a deeper underlying issue. For many people struggling with addiction, the source of their addiction is due to mental illness that often has gone undiagnosed. One of the most common co-occurring disorders seen with substance abuse is anxiety. The following article will outline what defines anxiety, and the connection between anxiety and substance abuse.
What is Anxiety?
In general, anxiety is an important emotion to have. While it may be normal to feel fear, apprehension, and nervousness from time to time, it becomes an issue when people experience these emotions at excessive levels. When anxiety takes over a person’s thought process, it manifests itself into physical symptoms such as the following:
- Increased and constant restlessness
- Increased and uncontrollable feelings of worry
- concentration difficulties
- sleep problems
Anxiety can be grouped into several types of disorders. These can include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, social anxiety disorder, and selective mutism among others. The leading causes of anxiety include work and family stresses, financial worries as well as underlying medical issues. The roots of anxiety can also be traced to past traumatic events that are unresolved.
How Anxiety and Substance Abuse Connect
When people suffer from anxiety, mental and physical symptoms can be very intense and can wear on the body and mind. To get some form of relief, people may turn to substances that stimulate dopamine in the brain to help numb the feelings of discomfort. Self-medicating oneself to take the edge of off anxiety only works in the short-term and can have a rebound effect that makes anxiety worse over time. Without addressing the roots of anxiety, their condition will worsen over time—along with their substance use.
The connection between anxiety and substance abuse can also trace back to the teenage and young adult years. During adolescence, the brain is still developing and forming. If people used drugs as a teenager, it could alter the development of the parts of the brain that govern reasoning and impulse control. Drug and alcohol use early in life can increase the likelihood of anxiety and substance abuse as that person gets older.
Another reason for anxiety disorders and substance abuse connection is because of one’s genetics. Some people may be more predisposed to both anxiety and drug and alcohol dependence through genetic factors shaped by one’s environment.
For those dealing with co-occurring disorders, they must seek specialised help from a dual diagnosis treatment facility specializing in mental health and addiction disorders. The first step in getting help is undergoing medical detoxification. During detox, patients will undergo medication-assisted therapy to help better tolerate the physical and psychological symptoms associated with withdrawal. Additionally, staff will perform physical and mental health evaluations to pinpoint any underlying issues that may impact recovery.
For those suffering from dual diagnosis, treatment will include mental health services in addition to addiction treatment services. Dual diagnosis facilities feature mental health professionals working alongside addiction treatment personnel in creating an individual treatment plan that fits each client’s specific needs.
In addition to therapy, 12-step counselling, life, and coping skills training and other forms of treatment, patients will receive mental health treatment with a focus on ongoing counselling and medication-based therapies that will give them the tools to handle anxiety.
This guest blog was written by Nu View Treatment Center
(image: Eleanor Segall)
Its that time of year again here in England. The candy- floss pink cherry blossom are on the trees. The sky is a cornflower blue and the sun is streaming down, just waiting for the odd April shower. And I was outside to see it and enjoy it today.
Why is this a victory? Because over the winter I was mildly depressed and hardly leaving home. The lack of light had really got to me and I just wanted to curl up inside with a blanket. Now the days are getting longer and the spring is here, I am thinking about rebirth, waking up anew and starting afresh.
I am writing my book still (cover and title to be revealed) and I will be starting a new job in PR soon. Tonight, Rob and I are going out to celebrate that over dinner. Our wedding is 3 months today 🙂 and coming round fast.
Theres a lot to do, plan for and a lot of change (mostly positive but still a shift). I know that this is not a bad thing however this week I did start feeling overwhelmed. That was because my step grandpa passed away and we had to go to Wales for the funeral, followed by a week of mourning in our home. It was a challenging week, he will be so missed.
Yet what I have learnt from life is that there may be constant intensity or ups and downs, with everything happening at once but we have to learn to try and go with it.
Going with the flow is not something I do well. I get anxious, overwhelmed, tired, stressed, sad like any other human. I hope and I pray and I try to see signs from God and the Universe. Getting fresh air and sun is good for me and you too .
Ultimately I am learning life is a blessing but I need to guard my mental health carefully (and thank goodness for medication and a strong support network)
How are you this Spring?
Modern medicine continues to reveal new complementary treatment methods that enhance the health care solutions we rely on every day. Equine assisted therapy is one of the most exciting and versatile treatment methods available. Research published in medical journals support the use of equine assisted therapy as an essential part of holistic mental health treatment for conditions as varied as autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, and anorexia.
Despite longstanding success in using therapeutic horseback riding and other equine assisted therapy techniques in health care treatment, many people aren’t familiar with the benefits. This information is especially relevant for parents caring for children who have mental health problems. Read on to find out exactly how therapeutic riding can make a huge difference in a patient’s quality of life.
Understanding Equine Assisted Therapy
Equine assisted therapy actually covers a wide range of activities and therapeutic techniques that leverage the unique dynamics between a patient and a horse. Treatment methods are supervised and directed by a medical professional, differentiated from recreational equine activity through a local ranch or social club.
Horseback riding has been shown to contribute to the development of improved coordination and balance, directly aiding the physical rehabilitation process. Additionally, activities like grooming and feeding can help to improve motor skills and problem solving. More advanced treatments may be performed under the direction of an equine therapy specialist.
Equine Assisted Therapy Treats Several Mental Health Issues
This list is by no means an exhaustive account of all the medical conditions that can be treated with equine therapy. Instead, it provides a sense of the how broadly the treatment is already being utilized.
Across the country, equine therapy has already been incorporated into mental health treatment plans for adults dealing with:
- Mood and behavioral disorders
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Trauma and grief
- Bipolar disorder
- Sex and gambling addictions
Holistic Mental Health Care Through Equine Therapy
Successful engagement with a horse is a physical, social and emotional challenge. That’s why it’s such an ideal complementary treatment for patients dealing with mental health issues. By working through the demands of horsemanship under the guidance of an experience medical professional, patients are able to work to build better habits and develop strategies for managing their symptoms.
Identifying Emotional Triggers
One of the most important benefits of equine assisted therapy is the relationship between a patient and their horse. Horses are extremely sensitive to human emotions, making it difficult to ride if a person’s emotions are running wild. The plus side is that this sensitivity can also be used to identify emotional triggers and help patients discover the root of their mental health issues.
Building Communication Skills
Due to their sensitivity to emotion, herd animal social dynamics, and relatively high intelligence, horses are strong communicators. They can also be easily agitated, making it important for patients doing equine assisted therapy to practice keeping their emotions in check. These lessons in self-control help the patient build skills they will likely rely on for the rest of their lives.
Overcoming Physical Challenges
Even the act of getting into a saddle requires are certain level of coordination. Unrefined motor skills are a very common symptom of a wide range of mental health problems. As a result, equine assisted therapy puts a focus on refining physical skills.
Gaining Confidence Through Goal Setting
Ultimately, becoming a good horseback rider requires individuals to master a long list of skills. The step-by-step process of learning to ride also naturally provides a set of goal posts for patients to reach for and overcome. The opportunity to set goals and achieve them is an important part of the emotional development process and a key perk of equine assisted therapy.
Explore More Equine Assisted Therapy Benefits
Another advantage of equine assisted therapy is that it offers patients an alternative, promoting holistic care. There is a time and place for medication, but I believe that the current cultural climate pushes for treating most conditions with pills and often fails to take a more holistic approach.
About the Author:
Lyle Murphy is the founder of Alternative to Meds Center, a holistic medication tapering and addiction treatment facility in Sedona, AZ. Lyle has dedicated his life to holistic mental health.
(image: EM Training Solutions)
This article written by EM Training Solutions introduces some simple yet effective steps you can take in order to ensure your health and wellbeing remain a priority in the workplace.
There’s no ignoring the fact that as adults, we spend the majority of our time and lives at work. It’s where we make friends, earn our income and spend day to day so it’s no surprise that a massive 89% of workers with mental health problems reported an impact on their working life and nearly half of the people surveyed also admitted that they had considered leaving a job role because it negatively impacted their mental health.
These shocking statistics show that there is a clear correlation between mental health and our working lives, making it crucial that we take the necessary steps to maintain our mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Here are some tips on keeping a positive and healthy mental attitude in work:
One of the simplest things you can do to help you remain focused and stress-free in work is to try and be as organised as possible. When you feel on top of your tasks and are working in an organised environment, this make you feel calm and in control.
When you’re in control, you’re much less likely to panic or feel overwhelmed. Keeping your diary up to date with commitments and important reminders will allow for your days to run smoothly. Also try taking small steps such as arriving to work 15 minutes early to give yourself plenty of time to set up for the day ahead, make yourself a hot drink and tidy your email inbox. Having this head start can help you clearly plan out your day and it also gives you a few extra minutes to yourself.
Communication is key in any working environment. Whether it’s voicing your opinion on a situation that is negatively impacting you, or admitting when your workload is too much; speaking up to someone that is able to offer help and support is a great way to deal with any form of stress before it builds up into an even bigger issue. Although this may be daunting, especially if you suffer from anxiety it will bring a great sense of relief once you have got your feelings and thoughts off your chest. Your employer should also respect you for your honesty and will be able to come up with a plan on how to help you.
Practise Self Care
Self care comes in many different forms, and it can be something as little as taking your full lunch break and spending it alone in your favourite coffee shop in order to get some time to yourself. If you suffer from anxiety or depression in general, then recognising your limits and when you need a day off is also incredibly important.
Having a day off work to focus on your mental health is just as valid as having a day off when you have a sickness bug. Both require time to rest and recover and you don’t need to feel guilty for putting yourself and your mental health first.
Constant demands, deadlines and pressure in the workplace can leave us feeling overwhelmed and stressed to say the least. Try your best to be realistic about the work you can cope with and don’t try and take on more than you can handle.
If your boss is giving you ridiculous amounts of work to do in a short space of time, or is asking too much from you then try and speak with them, or if they aren’t approachable book in a chat with a member of the HR team to explain and try to find a solution. You will feel better for being honest and getting the extra support you need.
This article was written by:
EM Training Solutions are a Pearson Vue approved training provider for a number of different compliance and health and safety courses. They boast over 10 years of experience within the industry and specialise in first aid training as well as traffic and fire marshal courses.
Tomorrow, join in and learn what you can about bipolar disorder.
As many of you know, I have bipolar 1 disorder and when not on medication, have episodes of high mood- mania/ psychosis and low mood- severe depression. Thankfully I am in recovery but it affects so many people and is thought to run in families.
Remember you are not alone.
Bipolar UK- https://www.bipolaruk.org/
Bipolar in USA: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/bipolar-disorder
(image: Emma Sturgis)
Starting to live a body-positive life all begins with you, the individual. It can be challenging with so much pressure from society trying to dictate our lives. It becomes easier when you block out all negative forces and decide to start loving yourself and your body no matter what others have to say.
Loving yourself no matter what will increase your happiness and your overall peace in life. Here are four tips to help you down the body-positive life and feel total peace of mind about your body and physical appearance.
Work on Self-love
A significant number of girls have been through the trauma associated with body shaming, especially in high school. Some have taken the weight of the shame to our adult life where we lose our confidence and tend not to love ourselves as we should.
Many women and girls suffer from poor body image for years, or even through their entire life. The first step into living a body-positive life is by loving yourself first. We all come in different shapes and sizes, and no one is perfect. You just have to own your flaws and flaunt your strengths.
This can often be easier said than done, especially with years of social conditioning. You can achieve self-love through daily practices that make you feel your best physically and emotionally. Tell yourself every day that you appreciate your body and all it does for you.
Eat Instinctively and Respectfully
You don’t have to starve yourself to fit into that wedding dress within an unrealistic time-frame. Diets don’t work and neither does overfeeding any time you are stressed, sad or angry. Stop for a moment and ask yourself what your body desires to look great.
If you feel that you are struggling to keep an eating routine and your mental health is worsening, accept the problem and seek inpatient eating disorder treatment. under a psychiatry team or your local doctor.
Change Your Perspective on Exercising
Most of us quit taking exercise and going to the gym because we hate working out. Exercise can be fun when we redirect the focus from it being a weight loss challenge to treating your body correctly and healthily.
You don’t have to attach any pressure or targets to your daily workout routines. Do exercises that are fun to you and even make it a social event with your friends. Once you start viewing exercise as healthy for your body , you will begin to love it. You will enjoy exercising because of how it makes you feel, endorphins from it will make us feel happy. You may even feel proud after a work out!
Pamper Your Body
After all the stress and pressure that your body endures, it deserves to be pampered and treated right. Get some good fitting outfits, wear the best lotions, go for therapeutic massages and take frequent hot tub baths. Fall in love with every curve while you look straight into the mirror.
This will allow you to connect with your body instead of feeling detached and negative toward it. You can make these things part of each day. Carve out some time from your busy schedule to pamper yourself, even if it includes simply putting on your favorite perfume. It will give you a simple confidence boost to carry through your day. Always take time for yourself and don’t let your daily tasks take priority over caring for your physical and mental health.
Once you change your mindset, the journey to living a body-positive life will be so much easier. You don’t have to lose 20 pounds to start loving yourself and your body. You are much more than your physical body.
Knowing your worth is a gift to yourself and your body. Eventually, it helps you rediscover your true self. You will be able to go forward in the world with confidence and give your amazing gifts and what you have to offer, to the universe.
This blog was written by freelance writer Emma Sturgis from the USA