Royal family launches Shout UK- a Mental health crisis text line: Guest blog

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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

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The Connection Between Anxiety and Substance Abuse: Guest blog by Nu View Treatment Center

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(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
  •    Irritability
  •    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.

 

Getting Help

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

Understanding PTSD by Gender: Guest blog by Dale Vernor

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(image: Kennington Osteopaths)

Post traumatic Stress Disorder, better known as PTSD can occur in a person who has experienced or been a witness to an event that is traumatic enough to affect their lives in a negative way. Witnessing a death, a serious accident, war, abuse, being a victim of a crime, natural disasters and childhood trauma can all be causes of PTSD. Many people only associate PTSD with war and veterans, but the truth is an estimated 3.5 percent of the US population suffers from PTSD.

Research has shown that there are differences in the brain when it comes to how men and women process and deal with PTSD. Science is admittedly behind on truly understanding the gender differences when it comes to PTSD and how it is expressed, but there have been some findings.

Men and women respond to stress differently. Men are more likely to respond with a fight-or-flight response in a stressful situation and women are more likely to use a more calming response known as tend-and-befriend.

This is an emotion-focused coping mechanism. It should be noted that there is so little data that stereotypes should not be formed, however, there is enough data to support differences in the genders.

PTSD in Men

Men are more likely to have PTSD due to combat trauma, trauma from natural disasters and disasters caused by human force, some sort of violence and accidents. Based on studies and research men actually suffer more traumatic life events than women on average, however, only 5-6% of men will experience lifetime PTSD. Lifetime PTSD is less prevalent in men than in women. Double the rate of women will experience lifetime PTSD at 10-12%.

PTSD in Women

Women are at a substantially higher risk for PTSD than men. Biology and psychology play a part in why those differences exist. Women are more likely to experience what is considered “high-impact trauma” at a younger age than men.

Women are more likely to experience sexual abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault that leads to their PTSD. It is sexual trauma that puts women at a higher risk for PTSD than men.

Women who suffer from PTSD will also tend to do so longer in comparison to men; on average 4 years to 1. When it comes to seeking help for PTSD women are more likely to seek support for their illness amongst a group. They tend to look for social support.

Symptoms of PTSD Same in Men and Women

The women and men who have this condition often express similar symptoms. Men may display their symptoms in a more aggressive expression where women have shown to retreat internally and avoid the outside world.

Some of the symptoms of someone suffering from PTSD are:

Re-experiencing nightmares, having flashbacks and frightening thoughts that appear real, avoiding people, places and things that may remind a person of the trauma and avoiding feelings and thoughts to cope with the trauma, signs of heighten anger and anxiety expressed physiologically, being hyper-vigilant against threats, difficulty sleeping, experiencing an onslaught of negative feelings, thoughts and judgments, unreasonable blaming of yourself, excessive guilt and a negative perception of yourself in the world, and disinterest in regular every-day activities.

PTSD and Substance Abuse

According to the U.S. National Library of medicine 50-66 % of people who have PTSD simultaneously suffer from addiction. What begins as a means to cope with the symptoms of PTSD, which are distressing, usually turns into a full-blown addiction.

Substances like drugs and alcohol can decrease anxiety in the moment, escape the pain , distract from negative emotions and increase pleasure in the short term. The coping mechanism of substance abuse affects both women and men. There are dual diagnosis treatment centers for people who are suffering from PTSD and substance abuse.

Post traumatic stress disorder, wherever you live in the world and whatever gender you are, can be hard to cope with. Please seek support if you need it and know you are not alone.

This post was written by Dale, a freelance writer specialising in mental health, based in the USA.  He can be found on Twitter https://twitter.com/DaleVernor

#MyDepressionMeans: How my hashtag inspired others fighting depression : Jewish News Article extract by our founder Eleanor Segall

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On 17 December, I was sitting at home thinking about my depression. I have bipolar disorder, which is well controlled on medication; however, often in the winter I am prone to depression, partly owing to the lack of light. This means things start to feel hopeless and I have less energy. Symptoms of depression affect everyone differently. I had started feeling low and my job is not the most social, so I felt a little isolated.

I’ve been active on Twitter for a while, posting about mental health, bipolar, anxiety and sharing my story with the world via Metro and other newspapers, to battle the stigma. I had a brainwave – why not start a hashtag that can help others share their own experiences of depression? There had to be lots of us out there, feeling the same way and feeling like they needed to talk.

Seeing as waiting list times for therapy are growing longer and longer, I decided to see if others wanted to share what their depression means to them. So, the hashtag #MyDepressionMeans was born.

I shared this message:

‘I’ve been struggling with depression lately but I know how supportive the twitter community is. Thought we could use the hashtag #MyDepressionMeans and share experiences to help everyone feel less alone. #MyDepressionMeans I get up later than normal and feel hopeless. Please Retweet’

To drum up support for the hashtag, I messaged my fellow mental health campaigners and charities to see if they would get behind it.

Amazingly, charities Rethink Mental Illness, the Mental Health Foundation, the Shaw Mind Foundation and mental health publisher Trigger Publishing all got behind it and retweeted to their thousands of followers asking people to share their own experiences.

People from all over the world began sharing their symptoms of depression and what it meant for them. I am amazed that my tweet has been liked nearly 400 times and retweeted over 150 times, with around 450 responses of people sharing about their mental health.

It was important to me that when sharing this, it was done in a safe space. You can never predict if Twitter trolls will hijack the thread, but amazingly there was so much love, support and understanding.

There was an outpouring of hundreds of people, most whom I had never met, sharing about their illness, some of whom had never done so before.

What touched me the most was a video recorded by a woman who was sharing about her depression for the first time – and who was empowered to keep on sharing, owing to the phenomenal response.

By creating the hashtag, I had something people could share. This is down to the incredible mental health community and unique online support network.

 

Read the rest at: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/mydepressionmeans-how-my-hashtag-inspired-others-fighting-depression/

Top Tips for avoiding a Christmas Relationships Crisis: Guest blog by Brookman

 

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(image: Ebay)

Christmas is meant to be a joyous time of the year and an opportunity to spend quality time with friends and family, but unfortunately, it can also be one of the most stressful. For some, the biggest worry they will encounter is whether they’ve overcooked the turkey, but for others, far deeper problems are magnified around this time in terms of finances, family tensions and even relationship breakdowns or divorce.

Avoiding the Subject?

For many, the easiest solution at the time is just to put the problem to the back of their mind and focus on the present. In fact, in a survey of 1016 married individuals conducted by Brookman International Divorce Solicitors, 64% of respondents revealed they have put off a major decision because they felt it was ‘not the right time’ to deal with it. One third felt that the New Year was a good time to make a fresh start or major life decision, with ending a relationship or asking for divorce being the most popular major decisions to withhold. Whilst this may seem a temporary solution, avoiding the problem only prolongs the suffering and could lead to a frosty atmosphere over the festive period.

Worrying thoughts at any time of year can cause stress, but they can be particularly troublesome at Christmas, when you’re having to juggle shopping for presents, go to events and balance the interests of lots of different people. The people closest to you will notice the changes in your behaviour, even if they don’t actually know what the underlying cause is.

Left for too long, this build up of stress and tension could reach breaking point and lead to heated arguments and upset. It could even put your mental health at risk. No one wants an explosive argument over the Christmas dinner, so, here’s a few tips to help avoid a Christmas Crisis.

 

  1. Talk to someone – Speaking to someone close to you about your worries is a great place to start, even if you don’t feel ready to address the person causing the stress directly. Be sure it’s someone you can trust and who will be honest with you. When it comes to a big decision, you don’t want someone beating around the bush, or telling the world about it either!
  2. Nip it in the bud – Whatever the problem is, talk to your partner about it as soon as you feel able to. Whilst the discussion might be difficult, you will feel an immense sense of relief once you have got the issue off your chest. It may be that your partner feels the same way, or has a solution which could result in a better outcome for both of you. Until you speak about it, you simply won’t know.
  3. Focus on yourself – it may seem selfish, but ultimately, you have to make decisions based on your own happiness. If you are constantly making compromises to make others happy, then you’ll always be in conflict. A Christmas full of atmosphere, tension and cold shoulders is no fun for anyone, and actually tackling the problem outright, even if it means a major change is on the horizon, can make the transition far easier for everyone to manage.
  4. Forgive yourself – Decisions which are one-sided can often leave the perpetrator feeling an immense sense of guilt, but it is important to be kind and forgiving to yourself. Sometimes people don’t agree, have different perspectives, or reach a different stage of their lives where priorities change. Understanding that life is a journey and that we all have our own paths to take can help to put the current situation into perspective.

 

Following these key steps will help you to deal with difficult decisions quickly, effectively and with the best intentions.

In the Brookman survey, 74% of people said they felt instant relief once they had made a decision, be that dealing with the core issue, or simply booking an appointment to get some advice. The important part is taking steps to address the situation so that you don’t feel like it is spiralling out of control.

Whether you decide to end a relationship or not, make sure you make informed decisions that are right for you.

This guest post was written by Brookman International Divorce Solicitors.

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The Saviour Complex: Guest blog by Charlotte Underwood

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(image: picturequotes.com)


For so many years, I was told that I have this so-called saviour complex. I never knew the actual definition of this, because, like most things, it’s all down to perspective. To me, the saviour complex is the desire and compulsion to help others at little regard for the cost that it comes with.

This, in my case, means I am attracted, like a cosmic magnet almost, towards people that need helping or that I feel I can ‘fix’ – though this is never my intention, as no one needs to be fixed.

The cost has always been at my own expense, it’s been my own mental health and wellbeing but for a decade, I didn’t mind. I would always rather suffer so another can succeed.

I believe it falls back to my overwhelming urge to constantly help people, being the textbook people pleaser I am. I just want to do good and make everyone else happy, and never myself.

I used to laugh when people would tell me that I had this saviour complex, it just sounded silly to me. I would think that I liked who I liked and I just didn’t care what ‘ailment’ they had. Chemistry is not about biology, they are two very separate things, understand?

I saw my ability to look past the cover as a strength. I could look past anything that may be an ‘issue’ because honestly it never bothered me as long as they were a good person. For this, I still believe it is a strength, though empathy is not the problem here.

It wasn’t until I was around 19 and I had left a particularly hard relationship, I was reminiscing over the last four years or so of my life. I thought about the people I had dated and of whom were my closest friends.

Like a lightbulb, I could see the pattern, each person needed someone to talk to, to listen to them and that may have been a huge part to my attraction towards them.

It is possible that my compulsion to help people had warped into a sense of a ‘turn on’, though not in a sexual way. It could be that I felt like I could relate to those who were hurting, like wounded animals helping each other survive, there is romance in that I think.

However, I believe that maybe everyone needs saving a little, isn’t that what love is?

It’s not about fixing each other or changing who you are. It’s about having a person who you can talk to about anything, who will lift you up and help you past that finish line, even if you fall flat on the ground.

Maybe the ‘saviour complex’ isn’t about wanting to become a saint, it could just be that you have an understanding of a person’s needs and you are willing to help them through their trials, I don’t think that is a bad thing at all.

So yes, maybe I do have this ‘saviour complex’ and an extensive history of relationships and friendships with people who needed help in a variety of ways. I like to support people and make them smile, to feel loved and wanted because everyone needs that. I would like to think that I cannot fix people but for the brief time that I spent with said persons, they healed a little bit.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to save people or to give them freedom but what we need to remember is not to forget ourselves.

I feel that natural empaths are the ones known to have the ‘saviour complex’ and empaths, like myself, are often guilty of not giving ourselves respect, love and care.

So by all means, do good in this world, it really needs it but be sure to remember to look after number one, that’s you.

Charlotte Underwood is a writer, author and mental health blogger. Check out her work here: https://charlotteunderwoodauthor.com/

Dealing with Loss: Losing Grandma

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(image of Lady of Shalott Roses : Pinterest)

This blog post is really hard for me to write.

Many of you know, that my beloved Grandma passed away last week after a long battle with Parkinsons disease and dementia. Both are horrible conditions and it was very difficult to see her suffering.

I am happy that she is free from the severe symptoms she experienced. Grandma was bedbound for over a year and her mind was taken over by the dementia too.

I have such wonderful memories of my Grandma- she was kind, caring, loving, beautiful, glamourous, with a huge heart. She gave so much love to her friends and family and to us grandchildren. She believed in us, motivated us and was a second mother.

I know part of her will always lie within me.

We are Jewish and have just come out of the week of mourning. This is called shiva and friends and family come to support the family.

It was very helpful but I still can’t believe shes not here any more. Grandma was a light in my world and I will always, always miss her. The only comfort is that she is at peace and has relief from suffering.

The above picture is of the Lady of Shalott rose. The poem by Tennyson-  The Lady of Shalott- was one of my Grandmas favourites that we read to her in hospital. I am named after my Grandmas Mum, Rose. Our family found these Lady of Shalott roses at Kenwood, when they got up from their week of mourning during a walk there- a special and comforting sign.

I will love my Grandma always and I know she will be there with me on my wedding day next year. I take comfort from the fact she knew I was happy and settled and my last conversation with her was about my engagement.

We are still grieving for her. It takes time. We are trying to be there for my Grandpa too- they were married for 66 years.

Grandma- I will love you always and forever. You will be in my heart and never forgotten.