What It Means To Have An NHS Perinatal Psychiatry Planning Meeting.

(image: Oprah Daily)

Yesterday was the first NHS meeting with the Perinatal (pre conception/birth) Psychiatrist. I didn’t know what to expect from it, though a few weeks ago I had the non NHS meeting with a very good consultant psychiatrist. They were both lovely women who are very good at their jobs- I had had to initially try for a private referral due to NHS waiting lists, but then managed to get an NHS appointment.

I was a bit nervous to see how the NHS would handle it, as they will be who I have care with going forward, so I was pleasantly surprised to be treated with respect and insight and kindness. I know that sounds weird, but those of you who know what my hospital admission in 2014 was like, will know that it wasn’t all plain sailing. Due to lack of insight, decisions happened about me and not always with me and so to feel empowered for me and my husband is very important.

Essentially these meetings now I have been well for a long time, are to plan ahead and discuss psychiatric history, what medications are needed, how it can be managed and what this would mean for a foetus and baby too. Birth carries a strong risk of relapse with the bipolar disorder, including the risk of psychosis and depression and so medication particularly for me needs to be planned carefully. I will need to be monitored once pregnant.

I am on 3 different types of psychiatric medication and also a contraceptive pill. Before we start trying to have children, I will need to have a time of withdrawal from the pill, which could send my hormones all over the place (i used to have PMDD symptoms where I felt very depressed and suicidal on periods so this is a slight concern). Then I may need to taper down one of my medicines (possibly sertraline) with the assistance of the mental health team, to reduce the effect on a baby. As baby will have a time of withdrawal from medications after birth while in hospital- which scares me too that they will be affected temporarily so want to make sure any baby is safe, as do the team I will work with.

The Dr also mentioned I would need to be in hospital for 5 days after birth so my Lithium level can be monitored (too high it can be toxic to humans) and I will need regular blood tests also- which are a source of anxiety, I hate hospitals due to past trauma. There was also a mention of needing to stop Lithium pre Labour and my Lithium levels as a result being quite high from birth too. So this information is good, knowledge is power but its also a bit terrifying to factor this all in.

I am scared but its also…. exciting in a weird way. Despite not yet trying to fall pregnant for a number of reasons so far- (which include possible bipolar relapse and changing meds/ time frames and starting a new job role), I have wanted to be a mother my whole life and I have more challenges than most due to the psychiatric and hormonal changes and how the baby would be. I question whether I am doing the right thing too by trying for a natural pregnancy in future and thats really hard. But egg harvesting and surrogacy is not easy either.. and its like going between a rock and a hard place at times with the best thing to do.

The doctors also mentioned I should visit a mother and baby hospital unit during my pregnancy to see what its like and what support is given- as my worries about it being like a severe psychiatric ward are high. Apparently, its a much calmer, supportive and therapeutic environment. I don’t want to be in hospital but these are the types of things one has to factor in with the bipolar being biological with mood changes.

Rob is endlessly supportive – we are embarking on a somewhat unknown journey – but are now armed with way more information from both psychiatrists and are very thankful to live in the UK.

So, this will be the last update from me on this for a while but knowledge truly is power and I know that with the help of our healthcare system- mental health teams and perinatal psychiatry/ obstetrics, my family, medication, self care etc I should be safeguarded and cared for well.

When the time is right, we pray our miracle will manifest.

Thanks for reading,

Eleanor x

PS shout out to my parents, Rob and family for their constant support.

Bipolar and Perinatal Mental Health: Part One by Eleanor

(image: pinterest)

I havn’t been sure for many months whether I was ready or wanted to share about the many issues I have been grappling with for a number of years. However, writing for me is therapeutic and so I wanted to share about the reality of mood disorders and thinking about starting a family.

To begin with, this is such a personal and complex issue for anyone with what is termed ‘severe mental illness; ie bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychosis. Our illnesses mainly have to be managed on daily medication and for some people with severe mental illness, they may still live with daily symptoms which can cause difficulties for them.

So this article is my personal experience of living with Bipolar 1 disorder and anxiety. To note, I was started on Lithium in 2014 after my last hospitalisation- which has stabilised the bipolar episodes into remission (it does something to the seretonin in the brain). I still live with some anxiety, but the combination of Lithium, Quetaipine (an anti psychotic) and anti depressants has meant that I do not become manic or psychotic and nor do I suffer from severe depression or suicidal depression. I feel more stable and I have engaged in therapy for the trauma I went through, for 2 years. So, thankfully at the moment my illness is very much controlled well and I have support from Rob and my family.

One side effects of my medicines has been weight gain and I aim to lose weight over the next year. This is important to me because it can sometimes impact on fertility and also makes a pregnancy more high risk (physical side effects such as blood clots etc). I will also be 34 in July and so this has become more pressing for me in terms of wanting to try for a baby. However, there are many risks in choosing to do this and going ahead, without speaking to a perinatal psychiatrist or mental health team.

Today, I got my referral letter to the mental health team to discuss planning a pregnancy and am on an NHS waiting list til June. For me, because my type of bipolar can be dangerous with the mania and psychosis- and having had several psychotic episodes in my life to date that have ended me up in hospital- a pregnancy where I carry a baby myself, has to be carefully planned in terms of my medication. For many reasons, I want to stay on my medicines for the entire pregnancy- so that I don’t end up relapsing during or straight after pregnancy (with bipolar there is a greater risk of relapse and post partum depression/psychosis due to the hormonal changes straight after birth).

I have been terrified for a number of years over what to do in order to keep me and a potential baby safe. I have researched surrogacy so I don’t risk making myself unwell, but this comes with a whole host of legal challenges around who is the parent, high financial costs (of treatment and paying expenses for surrogate/agencies) etc and the wait for the right surrogate. Surrogates can also pull out before giving. birth, you have to put your trust in them if you don’t know them- and you are trusting them with something hugely important! We also thought about adoption but with my mental health history and the potential issues that a child in care may be facing, I just didn’t want to put myself through the stress of being scrutinised.

So, please God even if we are blessed with a healthy child- the pregnancy may be as a friend of mine has termed ‘high risk’. This scares me and it scares me about potentially ending up in hospital again, on a mother and baby unit. I want to stay on my mood stabiliser and anti psychotic so the bipolar doesn’t cause this- however, I have decided that as long as I can stay on my medication and have the support of an experienced perinatal psychiatrist and mental health team (as well as my therapist),- plus regular monitoring and scans… and of course a proper plan put in place in case of relapse, this is what I will do (again, no one knows until you start trying for a baby and there can be many hurdles but I am trying to think positively).

I have also been asked whether I am worried about passing bipolar on. This is a worry as it does run in my family- however, I believe the risk of this with one parent is only about 10% (I got unlucky). Sometimes, I sit and question- am I being selfish for wanting to be a mother? And I realise, no I am not selfish. I don’t want my potential child to get bipolar disorder but equally if they do, we will deal with it. We also both want to get tested by Jnetics as we are both Ashkenazi (East European) Jews so may be carriers for certain illnesses.

Some women don’t want to be mothers, but I always have done since I was a little girl and I can’t imagine never having a family with my husband. I want to be the best Mum I can be and reduce my illness risk as much as possible to remain stable and well.

Do I wish things were different and I didn’t have this illness? Yes. but the reality is that I do but that I have been stable for a long time. I know we will make good parents whatever way it happens and I just hope the road ahead won’t be paved with challenges… it is never easy. I write this because its not often talked about… and I know there will be more to come on this subject but I wanted to share- if you yourself are going through something similar, you aren’t alone.

It took a lot to share this because its so personal and I worry about sharing too much- but this blog has been years in the making really! There is never a right time to open up- but maybe now I can allow myself to a bit and release the burden.

People sometimes ask me if I have children (as im mid thirties and married) and my answer is always, I hope to one day soon but leave it in Gods hands.

With love,

Eleanor x

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.

What you need to know about Post Partum Depression (PPD) by Kara Reynolds

(image: Lisa at Pexels)

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a severe medical condition that many mothers experience. It’s a condition that occurs to a mother after she gives birth to a newborn. You might be feeling hopeless as you try to be a mother — maybe your birthing process didn’t go as planned, or perhaps you’re having trouble breastfeeding. 

The symptoms of PPD can last a long time. They’re severe as well, and if left untreated, you could develop something more serious that may pose a danger to you or your child. It’s essential to learn about postpartum depression to know if this is happening to you or even your loved one. 

Know that if you have PPD, it is not your fault. It’s a medical condition that requires treatment if you want to get better. Here’s what you need to know about PPD so you can keep yourself, your loved one and the baby healthy and safe. 

Defining Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is a medical condition associated with extreme feelings of worry, sadness, tiredness and hopelessness that women experience after giving birth. These feelings can last a long time, making it hard for new moms to take care of themselves and the baby. 

This condition can occur any time after childbirth. Even though it usually starts within a few weeks after having a baby, it can begin later, too, even up to a year after birth. It often doesn’t go away on its own and needs professional treatment to get better. 

Although it is common for people to feel sad or empty, it’s not common for it to last as long as it does with PPD. It’s also not an expected part of becoming a mother. PPD affects your behaviour and physical health and gets in the way of day-to-day life.

It’s Not the Same as Baby Blues

More women experience baby blues after childbirth, but this is not the same as postpartum depression. Baby blues have similar symptoms of PPD, but those feelings don’t last nearly as long and usually go away naturally after a few days or a week. PPD symptoms last much longer and the emotions are more intense.

Baby blues are more like mood swings. New mothers have to grapple with being a mum for the first time and everything that goes with it. Of course, they’re going to feel anxious, stressed and upset at times. The sudden hormonal changes can do a lot to a woman’s mind and body, but the hormones eventually level out and women can handle the feelings independently. 

It’s Fairly Common

You are not alone if you suffer from postpartum depression. In fact, about one in eight women will experience PPD in their lifetime. Postpartum depression estimates can vary by state, age and race, and can be as high as one in five women in some parts of the world. 

Additionally, PPD is often higher for first-time mothers. However, it can happen to mothers who have had many kids, and it can reoccur in each pregnancy. Rates may be even higher than estimates because not all women will report or seek help if they think they have postpartum depression. PPD is more common in women who have had a history of depression, too.

It Can Affect Your Child

Postpartum depression can make it more difficult for you to care for yourself and also your baby. If your PPD goes on without treatment: 

  • You might end up skipping your postpartum checkups for you and your baby, which can lead to other health and developmental problems.
  • It may be more challenging to bond with your child, which can affect breastfeeding.
  • Your newborn may not get the medical attention they need.

Getting the proper treatment and recognising that you or a loved one may be suffering from PPD can better the chances of the new baby thriving. 

It Comes with Many Signs and Symptoms

Mothers will often feel overwhelmed when they bring their new babies home. There are regular hormonal changes that occur, and being a mother poses a new lifestyle all in itself. However, there are signs and symptoms that may be leading to PPD. If these occur for more than two weeks, then you need to seek medical attention: 

  • Feeling hopeless, sad and overwhelmed
  • Crying more than normal
  • Having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Feeling like a bad mother or worthless
  • Changing sleep patterns
  • Withdrawing from friends, family and life in general
  • Not having any interest in your newborn
  • Eating too little or too much
  • Having physical pains, like headaches and stomach aches, that won’t go away

New mothers or even mums who have had other children may feel ashamed or embarrassed if they feel depressed (although its OK to feel this way) and may not seek the help they need. You don’t have to suffer, though — reach out to a doctor if you or someone you know experiences these symptoms.

It Can Be Prevented

While PPD is treatable, it can also be somewhat prevented. If you have had depression in the past, you can get counselling before giving birth to discuss your feelings about having a child. 

Two kinds of counselling can work best to prevent PPD for women at an increased risk. The first is cognitive-behavioural therapy, which helps you manage negative thoughts by changing your thoughts and actions. The second is interpersonal therapy, which helps you identify and deal with problems in your life. 

It’s Treatable

There is hope for those who have PPD. The earlier you seek medical help, though, the better off you and your baby will be. Common types of treatment for postpartum depression include therapy, medicines prescribed by your doctor and, in severe cases, electroconvulsive therapy. 

At home, you should rest as much as possible. Additionally, talk to your partner, join a support group and make time to visit with other people.

Take It One Day at a Time

With time and support, you can make it through this season of Post partum depression. You are not alone.

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

6 Ways Fathers can Assist New Mothers- Guest blog by Jess Levine

(image: Unsplash)

A new bundle of joy in the family is indeed a happy addition. While welcoming a new baby is a joyous event, new mothers also have a lot of things to keep in mind. Not to mention, mothers have to make huge adjustments in their routines, schedules, and even hobbies just to make time for the baby. 

New mothers are also recommended to get enough rest. However, with an infant to care for, most mothers would not even have much time for themselves. And that’s where fathers should step up. 

New mothers need both physical assistance and emotional support. Baby care and household chores are part of physical assistance. Emotional support can be done in various ways. But letting new mothers have a day for themselves is more than enough. Caring for a baby could get exhausting, and having a self-care day can help mothers refresh and recharge themselves after a gruelling week.

Fathers, or partners, can always help in both aspects. But aside from simply volunteering to change diapers and give bottled milk, here are some more ways to assist new mothers: 

  1. Have Your Fair Share Of Chores

This is one of the main things that partners can do to help eliminate the stress and burden of new mothers. Most of the time, your wife may not be able to wash the dishes or mop the floors because she needs to attend to the baby. 

So, why not volunteer to do the dishes every night? Or help with the laundry each week during your day off? Helping around the house will definitely lessen the physical stress for new moms. Offering to disinfect or sterilise the baby’s things is also a great idea. The extra time they get can be spent resting or bonding with the baby.

  1. Cook or Order Takeout (takeaway)

Just like household chores, cooking also takes time. Most new moms don’t even have the time to think about meal prep or planning. So, might as well just take things into your own hands! You can volunteer to either prepare breakfast or cook dinner so your partner can get more sleep. If you’re working long hours and there’s not much time for you to prepare dinner at night, then offer to order takeout instead. 

  1. Offer A Spa or Massage Day

New mothers direly need, and would highly appreciate, a self-care day. Sending them off to a spa or massage session would definitely lift up their mood and calm their mind. Doing this at least once a month can help improve their mental and emotional state. Mothers need a break from all that baby care too! But make sure to have someone reliable enough to care for the baby while mom is away. You can volunteer to do it yourself but if you need to take care of work or other errands, then you may hire a nanny or leave the baby with grandparents or a trusted family member for the day.

If it’s not possible for you or your wife to go out to a spa or massage service, then you can book a home service instead. You can also plan and prepare a homemade bubble bath that your wife can soak and relax in!

  1. (image: unsplash).
  2. Avoid Adding More Pressure

New mothers might be overly conscious and anxious that they aren’t doing a great job with the baby and the house. On your part, you must also understand that they cannot fulfill household duties 100% all the time, since they also have a baby to care for. 

So, if you see that the kitchen is not clean, floors are dirty and unswept, and the laundry is already piling up, don’t take it out on her. Instead, ask her which task she may need help with and communicate how you can work together to make sure that basic household duties are still maintained while also caring for the baby.

Appreciate What She Does

New mothers are always overwhelmed, but a simple appreciation will make them feel happier and secured. Many new moms are always thinking that they aren’t doing a good job (even if they are). So, don’t forget to remind them that they are doing great and that you appreciate everything she does for the house and the baby. Most of all, it’s best to remind them that as long as the baby is happy and healthy, then they’re doing more than a good job already.

Encourage Social Interaction

The mental and emotional stress that new mothers feel is sometimes caused by being cooped up in the house for too long. While she can spend more time bonding with the baby and communicating with you, remember that a healthy adult also needs a well-rounded social relationship. 

So, encourage your wife to go out and see her friends over coffee sometimes! Recommend a mom group in your area that she may be interested in, or if your wife thinks she should see a therapist to help with postpartum depression or anxiety, then help her book a session.

A new mother would usually insist on being more hands on with her baby, and this is not a surprise, since it is just part of human nature. However, it does not mean that they don’t need the help and support from others—especially from a partner. 

Assisting a new mother would not take much time, a simple gesture and moment of appreciation can already do wonders. However, it’s important to also help them with physical tasks to ease their stress and burden. Most of all, it’s important to do these things consistently.

Author’s Bio:

Jess Levine is an experienced writer who loves creating articles that can benefit others. She has worked as a freelance writer in the past making informative articles and fascinating stories. She has extensive knowledge in a variety of fields such as healthcare, technology, business, finance, marketing, personal development, and more.

Check out her company here: https://www.spacetobeyou.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ashley Smith- How Massage Therapy helps Anxiety Disorders

Emily Bartels- 5 tips for a mental health emergency plan

Dale Vernor- Understanding PTSD by Gender 

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

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

EM Training Solutions- How to maintain mental health at work

David Morin- On social anxiety and talking to others

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

Charlie Waller Memorial Trust- Best of Musicals event

A Time to Change Hypnotherapy-  Hypnotherapy for self esteem

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

Shout UK- Royal family launches mental health text line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Curtis Dean- 5 facts about music for stress relief

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

Aaron James- the difference between psychotherapy and counselling

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

Christmas 4 CAMHS campaign for children in childrens mental health wards

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

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

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

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

CBT Toronto- how to deal with social anxiety and depression

Katy- a true story with anorexia and OCD

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

Rachel Leycroft- Expressing social anxiety through songwriting

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

Capillus- 10 signs you may have an anxiety disorder

Brooke Chaplan- When therapy isn’t enough 

Jami Mental Health Awareness Shabbat 2020 

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

Jasveer Atwal- Living with PCOS and managing mental health

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

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

Sofie- Living with an eating disorder

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

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

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

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

 

Love and Light always,

Eleanor    

xxx

Mental Health Awareness Week: The Mental Health Foundation: Body Image 13th-19th May 2019

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(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’    .

They continued,

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

 

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

Happy Third Blog Anniversary! : On Our Third Birthday by Eleanor

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(image : etsy)

Earlier this week, on the 1st March, Be Ur Own Light turned 3 years old! I still remember starting this blog as an outlet for my fears, thoughts and emotions after leaving a job in 2016 due to acute anxiety and panic ( part of my bipolar) . Writing the blog and sharing thoughts has been so therapeutic and it has taken me on  a journey that I could not have imagined when I started writing. As many of you know, this blog led to me writing for big media outlets and to my book deal (book hopefully will be out in November) and I am so grateful for the confidence it has given me too- and the chance to connect with people all over the world.

However, this year (as with the past 2), the blog has attracted a horde of talented writers wanting to spread their messages about mental health and wellness. Some have shared their personal stories of hope and recovery, others have given useful tips on health and wellness  and we have covered topics as wide ranging as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and addictions to drugs and alcohol. We have talked about pet therapy, writing therapy, mindfulness and yoga, amongst other therapies.

My guest bloggers have written about their recovery from mental illnesses like anorexia and bipolar disorder. National campaigns like the Diana Award also got in touch with us to discuss bullying and LGBT issues too and Jami charity asked us to cover their mental health awareness campaign (which I helped set up). Furthermore, Be Ur Own Light has also covered World Mental Health Day and Time to Talk Day this year, featuring personal mental health stories as a way to raise awareness and fight misconceptions.

Thank you to my amazing guest bloggers March 2018-2019 for your fantastic content:   

Donna at Wildwoman Book Club for Self care

Lynn Crilly- Hope with eating disorders (book)

Cordelia Moor- Living with Quiet BPD for Time to Talk Day

Sarah- On Depression for Time to Talk Day

Peter McDonnell-  Managing anxiety and psychosis for TTD

Cara Lisette- Recovery from anorexia and bipolar disorder for TTD

David Welham- Depression and Recovery/  Being a parent of children taking exams

Rachelle Wilber- Treatment for PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)

Brandon Christensen- What is mental health stigma?

Charlotte Underwood- Overcoming Adversity/ The Saviour Complex

Ralph Macey- Managing Bipolar in the workplace

Manmohan Singh- Benefits of Yoga

Alex Sabin- Enjoying the Holidays after Addiction

Spela Kranjec- How to Accept Yourself/ My Journey in surviving Anorexia

Jami charity- Mental Health Awareness Shabbat campaign

Brookman- Avoiding a relationship crisis at Christmas

Sarah Cardwell-  Womens health awareness

Anti Bullying Week, the Diana Award and Everyones Talking about Jamie

Allen- Recovery from alcoholism and mental illness

Lizzie Weakley- How to combat your eating disorder

Posy and Posy- Flowers for wellness

N- Poem on depression- Copy of my Mask

Dan Brown at My Therapy- Suicide prevention on social media- World MH Day

Lydia- On complex PTSD and recovery

Ashley Smith- how Physiotherapy helps with stress and anxiety

Amy Hutson- How Writing Therapy helps

Christine H- What family therapy is really like

Meera Watts- How Yoga enhances your lifestyle

Dawn Prime- How can Animal and Pet therapy help

Bill Weiss- Mental Health Stigma and Drug addiction

Dr Nancy Irwin- Signs your loved one is abusing drugs

Eve Crabtree- The MIND diet for Dementia

James Kenneth- Overcoming mental health challenges

Ellie Willis- A guide to mood disorders

AXA PPP- is social media bad for our health?

Lori Longoria- How baths and spas help relaxation

Tomas Sanchez- can alcohol raise stress levels and affect mental health

Dr Janina Scarlet- Therapy quest book

Cloe Matheson- tips to reduce stress

Paul Matthews- fitness and how it helps depression

Katie Rose- How to help anxiety and panic attacks

Anonymous- on sexual abuse

Kayla Clough- coping with post partum depression

Kara Masterson- 4 tips to begin the fight against drug addiction

Michelle Hannan- 5 tips to boost your immune system

Kevin Morley- Satori Mind- Tips to boost mindfulness

Sara Whitehouse at Stadia Sports-How sport can help mental health

Amy Boyington- How holistic medicine helps mental health

 

Thank you so much to all of you and I am excited to see what 2019 brings for the blog!

2018 was a very special year for me and my writing- being published in Metro.co.uk, Glamour, The Telegraph, Happiful magazine, the Jewish News and several other media outlets. I was featured in articles in Cosmopolitan, Elle, Prima, Yahoo News, Prevention magazine and Refinery29 and guest blogged on other mental health blogs too.

This year on the blog I wrote about my life with social anxiety and work anxiety, winter blues and SAD/ depression, I shared my articles about being plus size and a bride and about my recovery from bipolar disorder. Furthermore, I wrote about the Twitter hashtags I started #mydepressionmeans and #myanxietymeans, to help people feel less alone and share their own experiences online.

On the blog I also reviewed the brilliant book ‘Love and Remission‘ by Annie Belasco by Trigger Publishing, about breast cancer and mental health. Triggers mental health books are great and I read so many that I was unable to review due to time constraints including Depression in a Digital Age by Fiona Thomas and books by Paul McGregor and Ruth Fox.

This year we were given the accolade of being a Top 10 UK Mental Health Blog by Vuelio and were a shortlisted finalist in the 2018 UK Blog Awards (Health and Social Care category). I was also invited to the Mind Media Awards which was an incredible experience and this year, we have been nominated for Blogger of the Year in the Mental Health Blog Awards.

Be Ur Own Light continues to be read globally and I love receiving your messages about the blogs and finding new writers too.  Blogging makes me happy and I hope it helps so many of you too and you love what we do here.

Heres to a productive, wonderful, fun and exciting year of educating and battling mental health stigma too 🙂

Happy 3rd birthday Be Ur Own Light!  ❤ May this be a special year for us

Love and gratitude,

Eleanor    

xxx

eleanortwit

 

What’s Family therapy really like? Guest post by Christine H

Family therapy 1
(image: Christine H)

Therapy is growing more and more accepted as a mainstream practice, rather than a scary, stigmatised ordeal. After all, it’s important to take care of mental health, and sometimes, we could all use a little extra help.

However, when it comes to any kind of therapy, it can still be scary. We don’t know what to expect, and we worry that we’ll be forced into something that makes us too uncomfortable. This can especially true in the case of family therapy. Often, family therapy is utilised when one or more family member confronts a serious mental health challenge (such as, for example, bipolar disorder, addiction, or major behavioural issues) that affects the rest of the family.

So, in order to dispel some of the misunderstandings surrounding family therapy, and to perhaps help people become more comfortable with it, here are some important things to know:

 

There May Be a Mix of Alone and Together Time

Contrary to popular belief, family therapy isn’t just going to be your family talking in a circle with a therapist the whole session. Well, maybe sometimes it will be. But other times, “family therapy” refers to a lot of different compilations of relationships within your family. Parents may talk with the counsellor separately, and then a child who has been the primary subject of therapy will talk with the therapist, and then perhaps the counselor will enable a conversation between the child and parents in order to share information that needs to be shared.

Additionally, family therapy is most effective when all family members are utilising therapeutic tools to get what they can out of the experience. For example, often in the case of addiction, support groups are available for both the person struggling with addiction, and for the family members who are affected by it. In these separate group therapies (which you can learn more about here) family members can gain new perspectives which will empower them to return to family therapy with the information they need to make it a productive venture.

 

Information that You Want Confidential Can Be Confidential

During all the mix-match of family therapy modules, many individuals are wary about sharing information with the counselor if they don’t want it to be shared with the whole group. And although this might sound kind of shady, it’s not just about keeping major secrets. Often, it’s about protecting family members’ feelings, or being embarrassed or worried about our own feelings.

Since family systems therapy is ultimately about repairing relationships and empowering healthy communication and cooperation, a counsellor can help individuals identify what information is important to share, and how to go about it in the best way. However, there are some challenges that are best talked out one on one with the therapist, and not in the group as a whole. It’s important for all parties involved to understand that they can still control the information that’s shared, and the way they choose to do it… or not.

 

It’s Not All Talk Therapy

Although sometimes all that’s needed in order to strengthen a family’s power to communicate and cooperate is an outsider guiding the conversation, other times talk therapy can be frustrating for families, as they’ll find themselves going around in the same old circles and arguments that they would on their own. That’s why most counsellors will utilise other techniques and approaches to achieve family goals.

For example, sometimes it’s useful to utilize experiential therapy, which could include anything from a cooperative ropes course, to role playing exercises. You can learn more about those options here.

 

Practicing Outside of Therapy Sessions Is Vital

One common assumption of family therapy is that the work will get done in therapy sessions, and it doesn’t have to change the way things are outside of therapy. Family therapy can only be successful when it creates changes to habits and systems within the family dynamic that aren’t serving individuals as well as they should.

Most of the time, a therapist will give family members assignments and goals that they can do–both by themselves, and as they interact with the rest of the family–in order to improve family relationships. Often, these are small habits in the way that we talk and the way we share duties in and out of the house.

 

This article was written by expert on family therapy Christine H:

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Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in any form. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon. She blogs about marketing here. Follow more of her writing on Twitter @readwritechill.