Unbroken- The Inspirational Madeleine Black, The Courage Cultivator. How She Learnt To Heal After Sexual Violence.

(image: Madeleine Black)

Trigger warning: discusses sexual violence and mental illness.

I have known about the incredible speaker, author and advocate Madeleine Black for a while, through my Dad Mike. She is an outstanding and powerful advocate of courage after adversity, of hope after despair and of resilience despite intense pain. For me personally, coming from the same community, I feel that Madeleine is a shining light to so many- as sexual violence has historically not been talked about openly.

Please note the rest of the article will discuss Madeleine’s journey with sexual violence and how she was able to move forward.

Used, Beaten but Never Broken.

I remember wishing they would kill me to make it all end.”- Madeleine Black 

It takes courage to speak the unspeakable. But for many years, Madeleine Black felt too afraid and too ashamed to utter a word of what happened to her. Violently attacked at the age of thirteen, her story is one of pain – but also of healing, resilience and forgiveness. Madeleine uses her personal and moving story to show us that it’s not the events in our life that define us, but by how we choose to reclaim our lives after them. How we become unbroken.

Madeleine grew up in Glasgow, Scotland and London into a loving Jewish family. At the age of 13, she went out with a friend in a group to a cafe in London, drank alcohol for the first time (like a normal teenager) and met two male international students that night, acquaintances of her friend. They took advantage of her age and vulnerability. Instead of dropping her home safely as she was drunk and could not consent, they carried her to a nearby flat and violently gang raped her, leaving her with terrible injuries. Her friend was sleeping in the next room. Madeleine talks of seeing herself floating above her body as if she wasn’t really there – dissociation as a trauma response. She was told by one of the men that if she told anyone about the gang rape, they would come and kill her.

Madeleine has said, ‘For many years after that night, my memories of what happened after he held the blade to my throat and threatened my life were fragmented… difficult to piece together. It was too extreme, too violent for me to understand.’

Madeleine struggled with her mental health following this trauma at such a young age. Living in a state of shock and self-loathing, it took her years of struggle to confront the buried memories of that first attack and begin to undo the damage it wrought, as men continued to take advantage of her fragility in the worst possible way. Madeleine was raped three more times before the age of eighteen, experiencing more trauma in her life than most ever will. Due to the aftermath of the trauma she faced, Madeleine used drugs and alcohol to numb the pain and developed phobias and an eating disorder. While she couldn’t remember lots of details of that night, it left her feeling ‘worthless, dirty and contaminated’. She had a suicide attempt by overdose, hoping to end her life and had her stomach pumped. She was then admitted to a childrens psychiatric unit struggling with suicidal depression and self harm.

After a few years, she eventually found the courage to tell her parents what really happened to her. After growing up with burdens no teenager should ever have to shoulder, she found the heart to carry out the best revenge plan of all: leading a fulfilling and happy life. She met her husband, a loving and kind man, who helped her to heal from the traumas she faced with men and they are happily married and have children together, three daughters. Madeleine learnt through this that she is loveable and she is loved.

(image: Forgiveness Project/Madeleine black)

However, piecing her life back together was long and painful. Forgiveness was the key for her to move forward- not to forgive the act of rape- but to understand what led the rapist to do so. It takes a real desire to understand those who have done us so much harm. It is the ultimate act of courage.

Madeleine has said,

‘I want to end the shame, stigma and silence surrounding sexual violence enabling others to find their voice, whatever their story is.  I want people to know that it’s not what happens to us that is important but what we do with it.  I will show how changing my mindset tapped into my resilience and transformed my life, making people question their own thinking and encouraging them to see that there are always choices to make, and if we choose to, we can get past anything that happens to us in life both professionally and in our personal life. I wants to encourage others to live their life courageously too; but ultimately, I want to inspire hope and show people that we are all so much stronger than we think we are.’

(image: Madeleine Black)

Madeleine found that since the attack, she had been burying memories and started to experience flashbacks when her daughter turned 13, the same age as when she was raped. This can be a part of PTSD- post traumatic stress disorder. She learnt that she must let go of her anger and make peace with her past, as her personal journey.

In her debut book Unbroken, Madeleine tells her deeply moving and empowering story, as she discovers that life is about how a person chooses to recover from adversity. We are not defined by what knocks us down – we are defined by how we get back up. She also hosts the Unbroken podcast where she has guests sharing their own stories of hope and courage.

Madeleine is also a TEDX Speaker sharing her journey to end the shame around sexual violence , works with the Global Resilience project and is the Patron for Say Women which helps rape and abuse survivors. She currently also works as a psychotherapist.

(image: Madeleine Black)

I will leave you with Madeleine’s words:

‘I am not my body or the things that were done to me. I am so much more than the sum of one night’

Thank you to Madeleine for giving me a copy of her book Unbroken to read and for all you do. You can get your copy here

Our Blog is 6 Years Old Today!

On the 1st March 2016, I started this blog as a way to provide therapy for myself- as I was going through panic attacks, (caused by trauma due to a hospitalisation for a bipolar manic episode). Since then I have had several years of EMDR trauma therapy and my life changed so much too- I met my husband, we got married and moved to our first home. I also found a career I love after many twists and turns due to mental illness. Life is never plain sailing especially with mental health and I still live with panic attacks/ social anxiety at times but am learning to manage them.

The blog has turned into a book Bring me to Light (with Trigger), writing for Metro.co.uk, Glamour, the Telegraph, Happiful, Rethink Mental Illness, Mind and other incredible organisations, I have partnered with large and small brands, charities, businesses, writers to create content that battles stigma on mental health. We have been awarded as a Top 10 UK blog by Vuelio since 2018 (thank you) and I love to share my story to help others and educate people about bipolar, anxiety, panic disorders, psychosis, mania and mental health in the workplace (amongst other mental health topics!). I have also recorded podcasts – most recently with Dr Rosena Allin Khan MP, shadow minister for mental health, Daniel Rosenberg at SodsPod and was also interviewed by Penny Power OBE with my Dad Mike (who is a mental health speaker).

When I started this blog I had no idea where it would lead and its been the most special, humbling and amazing journey- with so much more to do so watch this space!. I really want to help more people this year and also have a childrens book I would love to get out there to help kids with anxiety.

As always, I want to thank all my contributors and brands (sponsored or not), as well as the digital agencies and freelance writers who provide content too. I hope to keep it going for the next year at least! Let me know what you want to see.

This year heres what we have been talking about (and big thank you to everyone. If it doesnt have a name by it, content has been written by a writer):



How social distancing is affecting social anxiety in the pandemic- Anita Ginsburg

Book Review of the Smart Girls Handbook by Scarlett Clark- me (Eleanor)

Being kind to myself, social anxiety and life in recovery- me (Eleanor)

Self care ideas for positive change in 2021

How to cope with top 4 challenging life events

The Book of Hope launchme

Sending self care packages- a guide to sending gifts

Feel less trapped with these powerful ideas

6 Tips to stay positive and help mental health

Moving to our First Home and mental health- me

How to reach for help and not be ashamed

Whats the connection between mental health and addiction- Jennifer at Mandala Healing

We are a top UK mental health blog 2021- thanks Vuelio- Me

Can you still get health insurance cover if you have a history of mental illness?

The benefits of seeking mental health support and help

The link between debt and mental health

Start Up founders are 50% more likely to suffer from a mental health condition- Daniel Tannenbaum

How can mental health workers cope with the new normal?

Easing the burden of divorce- Brooke Chaplan

Stress and Panic Attacks Part two- Me

How to remain independent and look after your health as you get older

How selfie changed my life and mental health- Kathryn Chapman

The benefits of personal training for your mental health- Life Force Fitness

Recovery from alcohol or substance abuse: benefits of a sober living home

6 Ways Fathers can Assist New Mothers- Jess Levine

Work in progress- healing from trauma to find the light- me

Is stress affecting your skin? heres how to tell

Prioritising mental health on the world stage, Simone biles- me

Why privacy is critical for our mental health

Goal setting for mental health

Moving house? 5 tips to deal with moving stress

4 Ways to make mental health a priority in your life- Emma Sturgis

What you need to know about post Partum Depression- Kara Reynolds

The Midnight Library book review- me

5 interior design ideas to boost wellbeing

Steps to help aging and wellbeing

How to keep your children in mind during a divorce-Brooke Chaplan

Bryony Gordons mental health card collection for Thortful.com

The Inquisitive-a film on mental health and suicide- Kelvin Richards

Being self compassionate when I have anxiety- me

Keeping things stress free when selling an elderly family members home

7 Bipolar disorder facts everyone should know- Ronnie Deno

Recovering from an eating disorder- Kara Masterson

Wellbeing tips and activities for children- collaboration with Twinkl resources

Building trust in a relationship

How sleep patterns affect your mental health

Choosing life and freedom- my therapy journey- me

Dealing with imposter syndrome

Confidence on return to the office

lifestyles and mental health- Anna Witcherley at Head Hacks

Stress and mild anxiety formula- Nu mind wellness

Mental health problems in the pandemic- Webdoctor.ie

Patient transport helps anxious travellers- EMA Patient transport

How to stop signs of traumatic brain injury- Lizzie Weakley

Looking after mental health in a tense office environment

Dealing with anxiety as a mom/mum- Kara Reynolds

5 Self help books for 2022

Winter mental health and anxiety update- me

Tips to fight addiction- Lizzie Weakley

Lockdown, sleep, anxiety and mental health- collaboration with TEMPUR mattresses (ad)

Helping elderly people to live independently

Getting your loved one help for their addiction- Emma Sturgis

How to support your spouse with mental health issues- Kara Reynolds

Battling co occurring mental health and substance addiction- Holly

Festive season- me

Its Okay not to be Okay by Esther Marshall book review- me

The difference between a therapist and life coach- Lizzie Weakley

Managing mental health over christmas/ festive time- me

Reflecting on a new year 2022- me

Surviving trauma makes relationships difficult- self compassion helps- Taylor Blanchard

Window to the womb launches avocado app for perinatal wellbeing

Where to start when battling addiction- Rachelle Wilber

Mental health new year resolutions

Book review- Pushing through the cracks- Emily J Johnson- me

Depression meals when life gets hard- Kara Reynolds

Jami see mental health campaign blog

Recovering from cancer- the mental health aspect- Rachelle Wilber

Outdoor activities to improve your mental health- Elizabeth Howard

Mental health and eating disorder recovery journey- Emily J. Johnson

Fitness and mental health

Interview with Penny Power MBE, Thomas Power and Mike Segall on bipolar disorder

Self love for Valentines Day- with Kalms (ad)

Being debt free and in good mental health for 2022

Mental health medication- fighting the stigma- me

Overcoming alcohol addiction- Rachelle Wilber

Spiritual tips for helping mental health

Risk factors for post partum depression

Wow! Thank you for supporting me and the blog, for continuing to read and share it and to help battle the stigma around not only bipolar disorder and anxiety- but every mental illness.

Love,

Eleanor x

5 Ways a Relationship can Hurt your Mental Health by Miranda Davis

(image: free image)

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.

Sleeping Problems

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. 

Conclusion

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?

Author’s bio:  

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.




Taking care of your child’s mental health: Guest blog by Chloe Walker

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(image: Power of Positivity)

Mental health is extremely important and has a significant impact on a person’s overall health and wellbeing. According to a recent survey by the NHS, one in eight 5 to 19 year olds had at least one mental disorder when assessed. As a parent, you play a crucial role in your child’s mental health. Fortunately, you can help improve your child’s mental health by creating a supportive family environment at home and learning the early warning signs of common mental health disorders, for example. With this in mind, here are some top ways to care for your child’s mental health. 

Develop a good bedtime routine 

Sleep plays a vital role in a child’s mental health. Research shows that there is a strong link between sleep problems and an increased risk of developing certain mental illnesses. In fact, one study found that four-year olds with sleep disorders have a much higher risk of developing symptoms of mental health conditions as six-year olds, when compared with children without sleep problems. Experts at Little Lucy Willow add – “Sleep keeps you calm, your mind alert, and recharges your body to enable you to get up and face each day.” For that reason, you must try and get your child into a good bedtime routine from a young age. Here are some top tips to help your child sleep better:

  • Create an ideal sleeping space by providing a comfortable bed, installing blackout curtains, and minimising any outdoor noise. 
  • Encourage your child not to use electronics like smartphones before bed. 
  • Get your child into a consistent routine where they go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. Try to keep this the same on school days and weekends. 
  • Make sure that your child avoids any caffeine in the afternoon or evenings. 
  • Visit your GP if your child has been experiencing sleep problems for more than two weeks, or if the symptoms are interfering with their daily life. 

Exercise as a family 

Exercise plays an important role in a child’s overall health. Along with the physical benefits, regular exercise can greatly improve mental wellbeing. This is because physical activity releases endorphins in the brain which creates feelings of happiness and alleviates stress and anxiety. According to advice on the NHS website, children should get at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day.

To give you an idea, examples of moderate intensity exercise include walking to school, riding a bicycle, and playground activities. Exercising as a family is an excellent way to encourage your child to be active. It also allows you to spend quality time together as a family and build closer bonds. Playing games in the garden, going for a walk in the park, or going on a bike ride, are all fun ways to exercise together as a family. You could also encourage your child to start playing a team sport they’re interested in, such as football, rugby, or hockey. 

Encourage open communication

You must create a welcoming family environment that is built around trust and understanding. This will help your child feel comfortable telling you about any issues surrounding their mental health. Encourage open communication in your family and make sure you check on your child if you notice any changes in their behaviour i.e. they become distant or their eating habits change.

Remember that children tell people how they are feeling in several ways, not always verbally. A sudden change in behaviour may signal that your child is struggling and needs support. Always listen to your child and empathise with their feelings. Let them know that it’s natural to feel down from time to time and offer support in any way you can.

If you’re still worried about your child’s mental health, then speak with your GP or contact a mental health specialist for further advice. 

Final thoughts 

Mental health illnesses in children are becoming increasingly common and can lead to several serious long-term effects. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for you to care for your child’s mental health. Encouraging healthy habits is a simple yet effective way to improve your child’s mental well-being. This should include exercising regularly, getting enough quality sleep, and following a nutritious diet. Along with this, you should also educate yourself on the symptoms of common mental health conditions in children and create a warm, trusting home environment that encourages open communication. Speak to a medical professional if you need to.

This guest blog was written by professional writer Chloe Walker.

 

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

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

How Horses can help Mental Health issues through Equine Therapy: Guest post by Lyle Murphy

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(image: Unsplash.com)

Modern medicine continues to reveal new complementary treatment methods that enhance the health care solutions we rely on every day. Equine assisted therapy is one of the most exciting and versatile treatment methods available. Research published in medical journals support the use of equine assisted therapy as an essential part of holistic mental health treatment for conditions as varied as autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, and anorexia.

Despite longstanding success in using therapeutic horseback riding and other equine assisted therapy techniques in health care treatment, many people aren’t familiar with the benefits. This information is especially relevant for parents caring for children who have mental health problems. Read on to find out exactly how therapeutic riding can make a huge difference in a patient’s quality of life.

Understanding Equine Assisted Therapy 

Equine assisted therapy actually covers a wide range of activities and therapeutic techniques that leverage the unique dynamics between a patient and a horse. Treatment methods are supervised and directed by a medical professional, differentiated from recreational equine activity through a local ranch or social club.

Horseback riding has been shown to contribute to the development of improved coordination and balance, directly aiding the physical rehabilitation process. Additionally, activities like grooming and feeding can help to improve motor skills and problem solving. More advanced treatments may be performed under the direction of an equine therapy specialist.

Equine Assisted Therapy Treats Several Mental Health Issues 

This list is by no means an exhaustive account of all the medical conditions that can be treated with equine therapy. Instead, it provides a sense of the how broadly the treatment is already being utilized.

Across the country, equine therapy has already been incorporated into mental health treatment plans for adults dealing with:

       

  • Mood and behavioral disorders
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Trauma and grief
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Sex and gambling addictions

Holistic Mental Health Care Through Equine Therapy 

Successful engagement with a horse is a physical, social and emotional challenge. That’s why it’s such an ideal complementary treatment for patients dealing with mental health issues. By working through the demands of horsemanship under the guidance of an experience medical professional, patients are able to work to build better habits and develop strategies for managing their symptoms.

 

Identifying Emotional Triggers 

One of the most important benefits of equine assisted therapy is the relationship between a patient and their horse. Horses are extremely sensitive to human emotions, making it difficult to ride if a person’s emotions are running wild. The plus side is that this sensitivity can also be used to identify emotional triggers and help patients discover the root of their mental health issues.

Building Communication Skills 

Due to their sensitivity to emotion, herd animal social dynamics, and relatively high intelligence, horses are strong communicators. They can also be easily agitated, making it important for patients doing equine assisted therapy to practice keeping their emotions in check. These lessons in self-control help the patient build skills they will likely rely on for the rest of their lives.

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(image: Unsplash.com)

Overcoming Physical Challenges 


Even the act of getting into a saddle requires are certain level of coordination. Unrefined motor skills are a very common symptom of a wide range of mental health problems. As a result, equine assisted therapy puts a focus on refining physical skills.

Gaining Confidence Through Goal Setting 

Ultimately, becoming a good horseback rider requires individuals to master a long list of skills. The step-by-step process of learning to ride also naturally provides a set of goal posts for patients to reach for and overcome. The opportunity to set goals and achieve them is an important part of the emotional development process and a key perk of equine assisted therapy.

Explore More Equine Assisted Therapy Benefits 

Another advantage of equine assisted therapy is that it offers patients an alternative, promoting holistic care. There is a time and place for medication, but  I believe that the current cultural climate pushes for treating most conditions with pills and often fails to take a more holistic approach.

About the Author:
Lyle Murphy is the founder of Alternative to Meds Center, a holistic medication tapering and addiction treatment facility in Sedona, AZ. Lyle has dedicated his life to holistic mental health.

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

Guest Post: On Sexual Abuse by Anonymous Woman

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(image: JPMS Medical blogs)


The writer of this article is an anonymous woman who wanted to speak out to share her story of being sexually abused as a child and teen. She also has mental health issues as a result.

Trigger warning: please read with care 

 

I have been abused twice, both times were at the hands of people I knew and respected, once when I was 8 and once at around age 17/18.

A lot of the memories were lost due to the extent of the trauma, but having EMDR has opened up the box, broken the chain that was firmly fixed around it and let all the memories out.

It has been horrendous, reliving the abuse, the detail of my memory, almost physically feeling I am back, as a child in that bed, remembering the details .  The family friend was a women, who was so trusted by all of us, growing up I adored her, admired her, almost wanted to be her, and now, all of those feelings have vanished replaced by to many emotions to specify one.

When I was a teenager I was abused by a well known Rabbi, thankfully the abuse this man carried out has come out in to the community.

I have written this letter in the hope that more people in the community may feel more able to step forward to talk about this.

If someone would like my e mail address please ask the blog owner for it.  

Dear my abuser (s) 

This letter will never get sent , but I want you to know what impact you had on my life, how those actions which may have only lasted 15 -30 minutes , actions which you probably have forgotten about, shaped the person I have become. 

In a strange way I am grateful for the memories of what you did, as not having the memory, yet knowing that something happened was worse. When the memories savaged my brain, invading my mind with your face, your hands and your body I believed that the shock and horror would never pass, everything I had ever thought of you, all my memories of you changed from seeing you as a positive, supportive influence to a monster who had harmed me in the worst way possible.

Your actions, made me aware from such a young age of my body .For years I knew, that from the age of around 9 my body was an immensely complicated thing in my mind, at such a young age being so aware of my body affected my confidence, self esteem and self love . 

At age 8 you took away the most precious thing, you helped yourself to my innocence, you took away from the person I could have become and began my journey to becoming the person I have been.

That knowledge made me in to a pretty messed up person.

My child is around that age . I look at my child  and see a happy future, a future filled with love and self confidence. The thought of something similar happening to my child  is to painful to contemplate.

By the time I was in my teens, my journey of self destruction was well on its way. I had learned by that time how to hide things, how to keep secrets, how to come across as confident and well adjusted and to this day my public persona and the person I am inside are two very different people. My life, for so many years was about seeking physical pleasure in order to reassure myself that I was a loveable, attractive person, that having sex was the self affirmation I needed to survive, lowering myself, giving my body freely, whilst hating myself for doing it, gave me the tools to breath, to live. Even today, if I do not feel my husband desires me it destroys me for days.

There were so many questions, mostly WHY, and HOW, how could I have let this happen to me twice, and why did it happen twice ( I know now that is was BECAUSE it happened once it happened again ) , how could I have stood as an older teen -when I let the pictures overtake my mind I am screaming silently why, why, why.

It is like being at a movie, a never ending movie, you can not leave the screening, you are on the screen, you try to yell, you try to reach out to the girl in the movie, but she can not hear you, you see her at 8, you see her at 17 you see her life unravelling, and you can not do anything to stop it, you want to beg her to tell, you want to beg her to be strong.

You see the girl grow, you see the way she lived her life, and you understand how the girls journey began, it makes sense to you that the girl ends up with severe mental health issues , you see how mental health issues are worsened by no self esteem, how other tragic events  could tip her over the edge and compel her to seek comfort in the arms of any man who would take her, and you understand her.  

 I understand now that cause and effect would dictate that the reason I ended up in your office, was a direct result of what she did to me at age 8, that she was the one who started the chain of events.

You taught me, you guided me to the mind-set that “the way to get love and care is to do what a man wants”.

My whole self worth was wrapped up in a package labelled, please sleep with me.

I feel so much sadness, sadness for the girl you both violated, sadness that the girl whose body you choose to fulfil your sick desires was mine, sadness that I am constantly questioning everything, why was I there, how could I have let you, why didn’t I tell anyone, when will I be able to go a day, an hour, 10 minutes without one of you pushing your way in to my thoughts.

There is nothing I can do to turn back time, there is no way I can ask you why, or sit with you and show you the movie of my life, the one which you started, I pray that there will come a time I can accept what you both did, I hope with all my heart a day will come when you will not mean anything to me.

All I can do is wait, sit with these constant overwhelming thoughts, trying to untangle them like a necklace with those annoying knots in the chain that are impossible to open, yet I will persevere.

I will continue to pick at the chain until all those knots have gone and you both become dust that is blown away from my mind


If you need support with sexual abuse and you live in the UK please contact:

The Survivors Trust

https://migdalemunah.org.uk/

Safe Line