Being part of a family is one of the most natural things in life. However, sometimes that family isn’t so great for your mental health! It’s an unfortunate truth, but it affects so many people around the globe, even if we don’t talk about it.
The silence involved can make you feel like such an outsider. Sometimes, your family who are supposed to love and cherish you , aren’t quite doing their job, and it’s hard to explain that. So what can you do in a scenario like this?
Build an External Support System
If your family isn’t there for you, you’ll need to build yourself a support system outside of them. Plenty of friends with couches you can crash on, or provide a shoulder to cry on if your parents have made another cruel remark.
For any person out there, having connections outside of blood relations is a good idea. It widens your life in general, providing more viewpoints and experience for you to count on. And knowing there’s a group of friendly, funny, caring people at the end of the phone can make family responsibilities a lot easier to parse in your mind.
Know Your Own Boundaries
Whether you’ve got a grown sibling you’re being made to feel responsible for or your parents have always reacted negatively to your decisions, your life is your own. As such, you may need to start putting up some walls. Commonly known as ‘going no contact’, you grant yourself the ability to move on from a childhood’s worth of trauma and finally make your own way in the world your way.
But if no contact isn’t for you, you can try ‘low contact’ instead. Some people can panic at the thought of cutting ties completely, and there may still be people in your family you want to see on a regular basis (with boundaries).
No One Can Do it All
Even when you feel like you have to, or like you’re letting a loved one down – you didn’t. Remember, you’re only one person with 24 hours in a day, and you can’t be dedicating all that time to caring for someone else. As a parent or as an adult carer, you’re going to need help.
So let people in when they’re available. Whether it’s counting on the support of a place like Prestwick Care when dealing with an elderly relative, or simply asking a sibling to pitch in when you can’t arrange a babysitter, help is there. You just have to reach out, no matter how much courage that might take.
A temporary worry is much better for you than long term stress when it comes to your mental health and wellness.
Being stressed out by family responsibilities happens to us all. But if they’re chronic, reach out. You don’t have to take it all on alone.
Self-awareness is one of the most important things we can have as individuals. How we view ourselves, our relationships with others, and our environment are all critical aspects of how we interact with the world. However, it’s not always easy to recognise which people in our lives might not be so friendly. People who display certain qualities may seem nice on the surface, but underneath can be unkind, self-centered, or even toxic.
They can also be so because they possess certain traits that might make them difficult to get along with. Whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert, a team player, or a loner, you’ll probably encounter someone who doesn’t mesh well with others from time to time. You may wonder, “How does a narcissist react when they can’t control you?” While it’s challenging to pick up on a narcissist or a toxic person immediately, here are some ways to help you identify the warning signs of a toxic person so that you can steer clear of them in the future.
While assertiveness isn’t wrong, too much can cause issues. Assertive people are not afraid to take control of their lives and their surroundings. Instead, they want the power to make decisions and express themselves. They don’t like being treated as though they’re weak or insignificant or any other sort of negative adjective.
They want to feel like the most important person in the room and that people listen to them when they speak. While assertiveness is a positive trait, it can shift into a negative one if expressed too aggressively or excessively. While this is a toxic trait, it doesn’t mean someone is inherently toxic just by having this trait alone.
Too Much Negativity
It can be hard to just unwind if you’re around someone that’s too negative. Everyone has had experience with negative people online, but having to have a relationship with someone negative can raise some alarm bells. When you do share your opinion, many people disagree with you and make your life difficult by leaving nasty comments.
It’s not good to deal with when someone constantly belittles or puts down others around them. This can be done by saying negative things about people behind their backs, making fun of them, or even physically hurting them. If you don’t want to deal with this negativity all day, it may be time for you to stop sharing your opinions.
Lack of Boundaries
One of the most obvious signs of a toxic person is when they start talking about political topics knowing that it’s not appropriate. This may be a sign that they’re looking for validation. If you’re not interested in what they have to say, it’s best to change the subject or walk away from the conversation. They might also feel threatened by you being open-minded and not having opinions on everything they believe in. Toxic people are often judgmental and don’t care about your feelings. They will attack your beliefs without realising how their words can hurt you.
People often associate arrogance with toxic people, but many arrogant people feel entitled. They feel they are owed more than they’ve given, and they can be demanding regarding things like dates, friendships, or relationships. This trait is related to low self-esteem as the person who is arrogant and entitled might also struggle with their sense of self-worth.
Toxic people who are entitled might also be difficult for someone who wants a lot out of life or has yet to find their place in society. In these cases, the narcissist could become frustrated and lash out at those around them because they can’t understand why the other person isn’t either completely submissive or completely indulgent towards them in all circumstances.
Everyone has their reasons for wanting to be defensive; this is completely normal and even acceptable. However, this can be a toxic trait if it occurs too much. Sometimes, light banter can be fun, and someone shouldn’t be defensive then. But even if someone is giving their opinion and someone else becomes defensive, then this could lean towards toxic behaviour. However, this can vary based on the situation.
Lack of Respect
Toxic people tend to consider your needs and expectations an offense or challenge to their self-esteem. They will lash out in anger or manipulate you into believing you’re responsible for them feeling bad. In reality, they cannot provide the respect and attention you need. This can cause frustration and resentment on your part. On the other hand, people willing to listen and respond appropriately will be more willing to meet your needs without criticising or judging them in return.
Constant Behavioral Changes
One of the most common traits is when someone’s behaviour is erratic, unpredictable, and often always changing. They might be jealous, demeaning, or unreliable. Someone who’s toxic will act a certain way towards you one day and completely change their behaviour the next day.
A high ego is usually matched up with a narcissist, but keep in mind that not all toxic people or toxic traits are going to equate to this immediately. However, having too high of ego can indeed be a negative thing. They have an inflated sense of who they are as well as what they can do for you. They might also try to constantly tell you how to live your life and interfere with your decisions. They may always look out for themselves before anyone else in regard to everything from work to relationships.
Toxic people can be hard to spot. They can be easy to find in a friend, colleague, or even a romantic partner. However, if you’re unsure hopefully this article will help you spot a narcissist or toxic individual.
When you are in the midst of getting divorced, you may be surprised at just how much it will drain you emotionally. Whether you have been married only a short period of time or perhaps for decades, knowing you will soon be divorced can be a scary thought that may leave you very depressed, which can result in you making poor decisions as your divorce moves forward. If you want to emerge from your divorce with some emotional health, here are some steps you should take along the way.
Don’t Stay Isolated
As your divorce process moves forward, don’t make the mistake of staying isolated. Instead, stay in touch with your family and friends. If your social network is now cut in half due to your divorce, make new friends by perhaps attending church/synagogue or learning a new hobby- whatever feels right for you.
Don’t Blame Yourself
When couples divorce, it is not unusual for one spouse to blame themselves for the marriage breaking up. Even though there is usually fault to be found on both sides in most divorces, this does not mean you should continually beat yourself up emotionally day after day about your marriage ending. Instead, you need to accept that it happened, plan your future, and try to move forward as best you can. You should reach for support if you need it.
Write Down Your Thoughts
During your divorce, you will be having plenty of meetings with your divorce lawyers and others as well. Needless to say, you may feel a bit drained at the end of the day. If you have plenty of thoughts running through your mind, take some time to write them down in a journal. By having the chance to express your innermost thoughts in this manner, it can be a great way to relieve stress and keep your emotions in balance. Another option would be to talk about your feelings with a therapist when you are ready.
Take Care of Yourself
Last but not least, taking care of yourself physically will play a big role in keeping you feeling ok emotionally. Therefore, you should eat healthily, exercise regularly, and treat yourself to something special now and then, such as dinner at your favourite restaurant, a relaxing vacation, or getting pampered at a day spa. By doing so, you will find many things that were eating away at you will suddenly not seem nearly as important. Self care is vital in the aftermath of a relationship breakdown.
Though you may wonder what the future will hold for you after your divorce is final, looking after yourself and your mental health will pave the way for a new chapter in your life.
Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer, based in the USA.
You sabotage your relationships when things feel too calm.
You panic when your partner goes on a family vacation, believing that they’re leaving you forever.
Perhaps you can’t stand hugs or gentle touch.
Maybe you’ve wondered to yourself: “What in the world is wrong with me?! Am I just not cut out to have close friends or a romantic relationship?”
Actually, that’s not the case! You deserve close relationships– everyone does. If you resonate with these scenarios, though, you may have some unprocessed trauma– and that trauma may be making your relationships feel like a rusty, ungreased wheel.
You’re not alone. Here’s how trauma can blow our relationships off-course, and also, how self-compassion can help to ease that struggle.
Trauma Creates Hypervigilance
Trauma is any incident that overwhelms your ability to cope (abuse, neglect, or surviving a natural disaster, just to name a few examples). These abhorrent experiences cause our brains and bodies to swirl with cortisol, also known as the stress hormone.
After a seriously traumatic event (or relationship or childhood), our cortisol levels don’t always return to baseline. Often, the nervous system creates a new baseline of heightened stress response. In short: you don’t go back to being as calm as you were before the storm. Now, you’re hypervigilant all the time. You’re always stressed, always scanning for the next attack.
Unfortunately, relationships can’t be created without vulnerability, and vulnerability can’t happen if you’re constantly scanning for attack.
You might be hypervigilant in your relationships if:
You feel uncomfortable, fidgety, and unsafe during social situations
You constantly micro-analyse everything other people say to make sure they’re not going to hurt you
You constantly micro-analyse everything you say to make sure you don’t say anything “wrong”
Aversion to Intimacy
Trauma, and the excess cortisol it triggers, also creates an aversion to physical closeness. When we’re stressed (i.e., when our cortisol is on full blast), our nervous systems naturally resist being touched.
Do you find yourself shrinking away from hugs? Do you feel an urge to run away when someone gently touches your arm? That’s likely a trauma response.
Of course, if you’ve experienced assault or physical or sexual abuse, this is a double whammy. Since your trauma came from physical touch, your brain has registered any physical touch as dangerous– on top of your increased baseline level of cortisol. Of course you’d feel sick at the thought of a hug! If this sounds like you, go extra easy on yourself if you struggle with relationships; this struggle isn’t your fault.
So, This Sucks… How in the World Do I Heal?
Yes, it sounds bleak. If this is you, you may feel hopeless. I’m with you; I’ve been there. It’s not hopeless, though. This is healable.
Therapy: Do I Even Have to Say It?
Yes, healing this will probably require trauma-informed therapy. You’ll be surprised at how fast you can begin to shift once you see a therapist who validates your traumatic experiences.
Now That That’s Out of the Way: Self-Compassion Comes Next
I’m 100% serious when I tell you: you deserve to go easy on yourself.
I say this with firmness, and yet, I forget to go easy on myself most days. Regardless, it helps immensely to stop comparing your relationships to other people’s relationships (both friendships and romantic relationships!).
Yes, it may likely take you longer to learn how to develop lasting relationships, both friendly and intimate. It may seem unfair that making and keeping tons of friends, as well as a life partner, comes so easily to some, while you’re struggling to simply text one person back.
Know what? It is unfair. You shouldn’t have gone through the trauma that you went through. What this means, though, is that you can recognize that you face more relational setbacks than someone who didn’t suffer the same trauma as you did. You’re starting further behind with a ball and chain tied to both feet.
Thus: you can stop comparing, and you can stop feeling like you’re “behind” somehow. Always try to recognize even your tiniest victories, even and especially the challenges which seem “easy” to other people.
Relationships make our lives juicy and sparkly, and so, if trauma has impacted your ability to form relationships (I’m with you!), then you’re probably struggling.
Try your best to go easy on yourself. You’ve been through a slog of painful experiences that, unfortunately, can make life on Earth feel like walking straight uphill all the time. Therapy helps. Self-compassion helps.
And yes, I know it’s tiring, but there is help for you out there. Just keep going.
In a relationship, distrust may spread like flames in an inferno if not carefully contained. Trust, from both sides, is the very foundation of a relationship, and if that is broken, it can be very difficult to stay on an even keel. Here, we look at how you can build trust in a relationship and fix it if it is broken.
#1 Be open about how you feel and express your vulnerability
If you require reassurance from your partner, and are in a safe, healthy relationship, express your need for it. Tell them if you are experiencing feelings of insecurity. Engage them in getting to know you, how they make you feel, and how you would like to make them feel as well. Be honest with yourself and with them about your goals, anxieties, and ambitions.
#2 Give your partner the benefit of the doubt and assume their intentions are good
They may not have done it on purpose – people make mistakes all the time, and they may not have meant to upset you. Do not automatically assume that they are trying to upset you; it is acceptable to raise concerns about their motives, but be open to the possibility that they made a minor mistake.
#3 Communicate and talk through your issues
Spend some time each day checking in with one another and talking through any problems that you have. It is easier to deal with problems when they are smaller rather than letting them build into something bigger. Approach it from the ‘I’ rather than the ‘you’.
#4 Recognise that the past may influence how you feel
Consider the following: Is your lack of trust a result of your partner’s actions, your own fears, or a combination of the two? Always be on the lookout for unsolved issues from your previous relationships that may be causing mistrust in the present. If it is something that your partner has done in the past, perhaps cheating, for example, consider talking to an infidelity therapist to help both of you come to terms with the issues and overcome them.
#5 Listen to your partner and their perspective
Take a look from their perspective. Ask them how they feel and how did they perceive this situation? What are their thoughts on the situation? What emotions did it elicit in them? What was their personal reaction to this? Sometimes looking at it from their perspective and considering their feelings can help you to deal with the problem more objectively.
#6 Trust your gut feelings
There is an awful lot to be said about trusting our gut instincts and paying attention to red flags that pop up. If your gut is telling you something is wrong, pay attention and do not let it fester. If you do not deal with it, it will continue to grow and destroy the relationship. There could be a simple explanation, or your feelings might be completely right. Either way, confirmation is always better.
Trust is the very fundamental of a relationship. Without it, there can be no relationship. Work through these tips and you will be able to build the trust that you have.
When your marriage ends in divorce, you will be faced with some tough decisions that will affect you and your children for years to come (including your mental health). These include issues like how much time each parent will spend with the children, how child support payments will be made, and whether you should try to share legal custody of your kids with your ex. However, deciding the logistics of custody is only one part of protecting your children during divorce. Read on for four ways to keep your kids in mind during your divorce.
1. Strengthen Your Communication Skills
Studies show that kids who maintain close relationships with both parents after a divorce are less likely to develop behavioural problems. In addition, they are more likely to do better in school, have positive mental health and lead happier lives. While there’s no way you can guarantee how involved your ex will be in your child’s life, you can work toward keeping lines of communication open. If your family is struggling with these issues or others related to divorce, seek out counselling through community resources. Most importantly, try to remember that you’re not alone in all of it; many families face similar challenges after a divorce.
2. Work With a Child Custody Lawyer
Child custody laws vary from country to country and you may be able to find a local lawyer who specialises in child custody law. A child custody lawyer can represent your interests and work with judges to advocate for what’s best for your children. If you can’t afford a private attorney, check out legal aid resources in your area or government-sponsored websites. You can also reach out to domestic violence groups in your community as they often provide pro bono legal advice for clients in domestic violence shelters.
3. Remind Your Children You Care
As you’re navigating a divorce with children, your main priority is keeping your kids safe and secure. That means keeping them happy, healthy, and loved. Remind your kids regularly that they will always have parents who love them deeply.
If possible in your situation, continue to include your ex in some family activities so they can see how much you love each other as co-parents. Then reassure them again how happy their lives are going to be even though their family has changed.
4. Help Them Trust You
Trusting parents after a divorce is something many kids struggle with. If children don’t trust their parents, they can turn to less trustworthy sources for answers and may even distrust future relationships. Teach your children that the divorce is not their fault, but that it does mean changes are on their way. While you don’t know what the future holds, make an effort to always be open and honest with your kids throughout the whole process.
When it comes to children, parents should always put their best interests first, especially amid divorce proceedings. These four steps will help you protect your children as you navigate your divorce.
This article was written by freelance writer Brooke Chaplan, who is based in the USA.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
The Adverse affects of relationships on mental health
Relationships have the power to affect mental health negatively. If you don’t know how they can affect you, it’ll be hard to lay down a great foundation to ensure you don’t fall victim. Take a step to lay down the rules for a positive relationship.
What if we told you that your relationships have the power to affect mental health? It’s true; your relationship status can affect mental health. But, finding out how relationships affect mental health isn’t a simple mathematical equation. There’s a lot more that has to go into it, and to be honest, it’s complicated.
Relationships Have The Power To Affect Your Mental Health
Fact: We all desire to have real connections through stable, long-term relationships with our “ideal partners.” Whether you meet a potential partner after checking out the best dating sites review or through a mutual friend doesn’t matter. What we think about most is the optimism and the excitement we feel once we click with someone else. We never stop to consider what can affect the mental health of the people in a relationship.
Unfortunately, even the most glamorous relationships come with associated risks and can affect mental health. To affect mental health positively, there have to be some previously laid out rules that lay the groundwork for a great relationship.
Without knowing what these boundaries are and the risks associated with a relationship, we are prone to unknowingly affect our mental health. So, what relationship factors affect mental health negatively? Read on to find out.
Lack Of Sex Can Increase Stress Levels Well, well, this shouldn’t be so surprising. If you’re wondering, “can loneliness affect your mental health?” here’s your answer. When you have an intimate partner within your vicinity, chances are, you will have frequent sex. The bonds created during the act of bonding are so outstanding that they have the power to affect your mental health.
Frequent sex can lead to greater satisfaction with your relationship. If there’s less sex, then other aspects of the relationship are affected too. The less sex you have, the more prone you are to affect mental health.
Stress levels will soar, and you’re more likely to exaggerate aspects such as financial disagreements, responsibilities over chores, and parenting disputes. While there may be other underlying issues, lack of sex and intimacy is an undeniable factor that can affect both partners’ mental health.
Relationship Difficulties Can Cause Anxiety
Whenever couples are having relationship difficulties, there’s bound to be full-blown anxiety. Unfortunately, the converse is also true. Anxiety can lead to marital problems. Surprisingly, some research suggests that marriage can protect you against anxiety. Confusing, right?
Well, it depends on how you look at it. For marital issues to affect mental health negatively to the point that they cause anxiety, there have to be underlying issues that aren’t resolved. Problem-solving in a relationship has to be done in a way that allows both parties to express their feelings to deal with matters conclusively.
Once an issue is dealt with, both parties become anxiety-free and display better mental health. On the other hand, married people have potential “shoulders to cry on,” and this kind of emotional support is a great way to affect mental health positively.
Unless your partner snores and keeps you awake through the night, sleeping next to them can help you fully relax during the night. But it isn’t that simple. If there are conflicts or insecurities in the relationship, you will have a more inadequate sleep because of thinking through issues during the night.
This, in turn, escalates problems such as insomnia or daytime fatigue. As a result, there’s a vicious cycle with leeway to affect the mental health of both parties negatively.
Social Pursuits Affect Mental Health
Many people wonder, “why does quarantine affect mental health?.” Couples in healthy relationships have to socialise. Socialising is a great way to boost mental health positively. Leisure time may include meeting family and friends, visiting their favorite restaurant together, or even spending the weekend sampling the latest nightclubs.
However, since there are limited opportunities to get so involved during quarantine, spending more and more time without socialising with other people can take a toll on the relationship. When couples spend time socialising, there’s more opportunity to improve their mental health positively.
Since humans are social creatures, we feel better when we make connections with others. But, even this shouldn’t be excessive. Too much can result in alcohol dependency and self-destructive behavior, which has the potential to affect mental health negatively.
Toxic Relationships Can Lead To Physiological “Fight Or Flight” Responses
Toxic relationships can lead to physiological responses that may urge you to either run from the stressor or fight it. These are common reactions that stem from mental, physical, or emotional abuse. Regardless of the stressor we face, we condition our minds to respond. These kinds of reactions leave us feeling drained and have the potential to create poor mental health.
Whether we like it or not, relationships can affect mental health either positively or negatively. Their effects are worse if they’re negative. To ensure that relationships don’t have a platform to affect mental health negatively, you have to take the necessary precautions to safeguard yourself against negative repercussions.
What do you think is the COVID effect on mental health? What precautions would you put in place to protect your health?
Miranda Davis is a freelance writer in the relation and psychology area. Miranda is interested in such topics as building healthy relationships between people, love/sex compatibility, and how to find the right balance in life in general. She is currently doing specific research on the topic. Miranda loves cooking and long-distance walking.
Trigger Warning: sexual assault, details of assault and severe mental illness
Its been a while but I thought I would put type to keyboard and write a blog for more mental health awareness.
Since my book was published, I haven’t written many follow up personal blogs, purely because the launch of my life story into the public domain felt overwhelming and scary. 6 months on, I am used to it being out there but I have been working hard in EMDR trauma therapy to help myself.
See, the truth is that right now the Bipolar Disorder for me is stable and under control on my medicines. I still get side effects- weight gain, dry mouth and thirst, but my mind is generally healthy in terms of the Bipolar- no mania or depression. Anxiety and panic yes but Bipolar, not really at the moment.
Yet, almost lurking unseen after I left hospital in 2014 and began my recovery was the fact I was traumatised by my experiences of going into psychosis (losing touch with reality via delusions, false beliefs) and my experiences when being sectioned. I will just give an overview as the rest is in my book- but this included- being restrained, being attacked by other patients and seeing them self harm, being injected with Haloperidol (an anti psychotic) in front of both male and female nurses in a part of the body I didn’t want, being chased round A and E by security men in genuine fear of my life, dealing with lawyers and going to tribunals while ill, thinking I had been abused by family and was locked up by a criminal gang and fearing my family were against me. My bipolar mind could not cope.
Just before this all happened, I was very vulnerable and was sexually assaulted by a man I knew through friends and all of this trauma stayed with me.
I did what most of us with severe mental illness and assault survivors do- I tried to rebuild my life. I tried to work in schools helping children with special educational needs. I tried to work for a mental health charity as a peer support worker for people like me. I began to blog and write and share as therapy- from charities to national newspapers. Bit by bit, as I wrote out what I has been through, I started to slowly heal. But, the symptoms of the extreme panic remained. I lost jobs because of it. I became depressed. I started dating but I often had to cancel dates- (before I met Rob, my husband who listened to me talk about it all and didn’t bat too much of an eyelid.)
I was in a state of flux, a state of transition. I knew I had trauma still living in my brain and body. I had been physically and sexually assaulted, I had been mentally violated- I had been sectioned twice in a few months and now I was sent home to try and rebuild my life as a 25 year old single woman.
I share this important blog, not to share that I am a victim- because I am not. I want to share that I believe for about 5 years, I have been suffering with some of the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). My therapist believes the same.
The panic attacks that grip me with fear before work or the day ahead when I have to leave the house. The fear of going out or travelling at night alone. The fear of being taken advantage of and having to trust men again (thank you to my husband for helping ease this pain). The fear of exploitation, of losing my mind, of not trusting mental health professionals any more.
My panic attacks get triggered by certain events- it could be having to speak about my life or book, or seeing people I don’t feel comfortable with, of feeling exposed, of worrying about others judgement. I am still healing from all I have been through and experienced. The PTSD means that I have to take medication (Propranolol) to function sometimes. It means that I experience flashbacks in my body- I feel gripped with fear, I get chest pain and shallow breathing and I start to cry. I had one the other day at 4am….. thank the lord for meds so I could calm down and sleep.
My therapist is incredible and we have been working since October to process the roots of my trauma and panic disorder. We use a combination of rapid eye processing with talking therapy which helps to tackle each and every trauma- and we are still at the tip of the iceberg. It takes time to process the deep rooted experiences in my brain- we are getting there slowly.
For me, in many ways my future is uncertain. My medicines have long term physical side effects. Motherhood will be more of a challenge due to medication and my mental health- I am still processing the choices I will have to make, which I will write in another blog.
I want to end this blog by saying- if you know someone with anxiety, PTSD, another anxiety disorder or something like bipolar or schizophrenia- Be Kind. You never know what someone has gone through.
The NHS waiting lists for help are too long, services are too underfunded- all my treatment has been private provided by my family due to being stuck on a list for years. I am lucky, not everyone is.
I hope this blog gives some information about my experiences of PTSD since leaving hospital 6 years ago. It is by far the most personal thing I have posted since publishing my book but I hope it helps you feel less alone.
Positivity and Hope are key. Meeting my husband and my therapist changed my life for the better as I slowly rebuild and find an equilibrium again.
Reducing anxiety at the moment in our every day lives is so important.
Having anxiety is something that many people have challenges with. It is estimated that about 1 in 5 adults have an anxiety disorder and that more than that will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life.
The symptoms of anxiety include feeling restless or on edge, being easily irritated, difficulty controlling feelings of worry and having difficulty sleeping, amongst others.
If you feel that you may be experiencing symptoms of anxiety, there are many things you can do to help reduce and manage those feelings.
1. Look at Lifestyle Choices
A number of different lifestyle behaviours could contribute to your anxiety. Drinking alcohol, taking drugs, eating junk food will all play a big role in how you feel. For example, excessive drinking or the use of drugs can cause a multitude of health problems including liver and kidney damage. It also causes mental illness such as drug and alcohol addictions. You may need further support from a psychiatrist or rehab unit if you are struggling with addiction or mental illness.
On the opposite side, exercising regularly and eating healthy foods are proven to boost your mood, increase the chemicals in your brain that make you feel happy and improve your overall physical health.
If you want to manage anxiety, consider looking at your current lifestyle choices and if there is anything you have the power to change. Be honest in your assessment but know you have options for assistance. Making a big lifestyle change is hard but if there is something you know is causing your mental health and anxiety to worsen, it is a good idea to remove that from your life if possible.
2. Talk to Your Family and Friends
Even if you think your family and friends would not understand, you might end up getting some of your most valuable support from them. You should not ever feel you have to hide any of your mental health concerns from them, unless you know that they would react badly.
Try to avoid shutting people out, being secretive about your mental illness or becoming defensive when people ask.
True friends will listen and care. There is still a stigma to mental illness but it is important to find someone you trust.
3. Set Boundaries
If necessary you can set boundaries for yourself. This could mean letting people know there are certain activities you don’t participate in. It could also mean a limit on how much time you spend with friends and family, in order to practise self care and recuperate.
Many people who struggle with anxiety disorders find that setting up a schedule for themselves that they are consistent in keeping can greatly reduce feelings of anxiety. It helps them to feel more in control and gives them a structure that feels secure.
Setting boundaries is a way for you to have control over your situation and environment, although these should not be too rigid. There are certain things that can’t be controlled that can increase anxiety.
4. Let Go of Things You Can’t Control
If something is out of your control that is causing your anxiety there are ways that you can cope with these feelings. One suggestion is to write down how you are feeling to help let those emotions go. The BACP tells us that, “It can help to express this anxiety in a way that you can control. That could be writing down what you feel, or keeping a journal.”
You can also try making a list of things you are grateful for, or use breathing and relaxation techniques.
If you are still struggling to cope with things out of your control seek help from a professional.
5. Get Professional Help
You could turn to all types of mental health professionals to get help, including GPs (physicians), psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors and therapists. You may be referred for talking therapies, cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness or EMDR therapy for trauma. They may also recommend medication for you too.
In the UK, you would go via your NHS GP who can refer you on to see a psychiatrist or to IAPT for counselling. Also check out the Counselling Directory website.
When searching for a good therapist in the USA, Karen Whitehead, who does counseling in Alpharetta, GA tells us that, “Psychologists (PsyD), Licensed Social Workers (LMSW/LCSW), Licensed Professional Counsellors (LPC), and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) can all evaluate and treat mental illness, provide talk therapy, support and feedback, and teach coping strategies such as mindfulness.”
Your counsellor will be able to help you better assess your situation and get to the core of your anxieties. Even if you already know why you get anxious, you can benefit from learning coping skills.
Your counsellor can indeed equip you with tools adapted for your specific needs. You will have feedback on what is and what is not working. You can learn to live with, manage and in many cases, recover from anxiety.
You Are Not Alone
Do not ever think you are alone when it comes to your anxiety. Try not to beat yourself up if setbacks occur or you have a bad day.
Talk with your therapist about ways that you can help to further reduce your anxiety. They will be able to help you.
This blog was written by freelance writer Samantha Higgins.