6 Ways Living By The Waterfront Can Improve Your Mental And Physical Health By Rachelle Wilber

If you want a change in life, moving to a waterfront community may offer you a great new perspective. Buying a home that’s next to the ocean can have many advantages and improve your physical and mental health in different ways. 

Stress Reduction 

Waterfront living can reduce your stress and help you feel better physically and mentally more of the time. When you’re feeling stressed, the calming maritime scenery and the sounds of ocean waves crashing onto the shore can put you into a better mood almost instantly. The reduction in stress can also be good for your blood pressure and heart health and soothe your body and soul. 

Possibly Less Air Pollution 

You might be exposed to less air pollution if you live next to the ocean. Studies show that air pollution is often higher in valleys because of topography and temperature factors. With less air pollution, you’ll be able to breathe easier and inhale more of the clean oxygen that your mind needs to function at its best. 

Less Crowding Than in Big Cities 

Waterfront communities are often less crowded than big cities. Living in an overcrowded community can expose you more to communicable illnesses that are passed from other people. You may also feel more stressed and combative if you have to contend with large numbers of people in your daily life, and you may avoid these problems by buying a waterfront home instead. 

Chance to Connect More with Nature 

Being around nature offers you one of the best ways to minimise your problems and view life from a broader perspective. When you look out onto the ocean each day from your home, you’ll have the chance to connect with nature more and think about what’s most important in life. As you search for your new home, you can choose from many waterfront homes for sale that can put you in better touch with nature. 

Encourages More Physical Activity 

You may be inspired to get out and exercise more if you live by the ocean, which can help improve your physical fitness and keep your stress levels in check. People often like to jog and ride their bikes next to the sea, and seeing these passersby near your home can encourage you to join in on the activities. You may also be inspired to take up boating if you see boats on the water frequently. 

Cooler in the Summer 

Even though you’ll still likely get plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures if you live by the ocean, you probably won’t have to deal with the heat spikes that you would if you lived farther inland. Excessive heat can cause breathing problems and lead to other serious health conditions. The hotter temperatures can also make you feel more irritable, and living next to the ocean can help you keep your cool with the sea breeze. . With all the different waterfront homes that are on the market, you should have no trouble finding the house that’s the most suitable for you. 

Remember to think of what is best for your mental and physical health, as well as needing to be near your support networks.

Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer based in San Diego, California.

Need to Relax? 5 Unbeatable Ways To Unwind by Dixie Somers.

(image: adobe stock royalty free)

Sometimes life can be overwhelming. Whether it’s an extra project at work, adjusting to a new schedule or city, or trying to start a new exercise routine, your body can become overly stressed. Fortunately, there are many ways to relax yourself, and while some work better than others, there is no shortage of ways to take care of yourself. Here are five unbeatable ways to unwind and get rid of that extra stress. 

Make a List of Today’s Triumphs 

While making a list may seem like the complete opposite of what you’re used to when it comes to unwinding, it’s more therapeutic than you think. Some people even take solace in checking off to-do lists, as it makes them feel accomplished. Taking the time to write down all the things that went right today is a great way to put your mind at ease. Many times, we end up focusing on all the things that went wrong and forget about all the things that went right. 

Having an attitude of gratitude goes a long way for your mental wellbeing. By being grateful for all that you have and all that you’ve done, you cultivate peace in yourself, as well as self-gratitude. These emotions are the exact opposite of tension and uncertainty, and can help rewire your anxieties into something more positive and soothing. 

Consider Colouring 

This suggestion may garner some confusion at first, colouring is in fact a great way to help distract the mind and promote calmness. It allows your creativity to flourish, which recharges the brain. Whether it’s using an adult colouring book or just creating your own style with some coloured pencils, colouring can be a great way to unwind and recharge.  

Even if you’re not the artistic type yourself, there are plenty of ways to enjoy colouring and being creative. There are a plethora of sources online or in craft stores for unwinding by colouring. If you are more artistic, consider taking a painting class, or finding a paint-by-numbers booklet at a hobby store. Whatever your skill level, colouring can be a quiet, peaceful way to relax and enjoy some colour therapy. 

Soak in a Hot Tub 

Hot water has always been a fantastic way to help soothe the body and ease pain. Consider talking to a certified hot tub company if you would like a bigger, more luxurious way to enjoy a hot soak than in your bathtub. 

 Determine the best hot tub to meet your needs, whether it’s indoor or outdoor, and be sure you have enough room for either. Some great features of hot tubs include an audio system, jets, low lighting, cooling systems, and so forth.  

Go for a Walk 

Walks tend to be underrated when it comes to de-stressing. However, they are one of the best and most affordable ways to do so. Simply putting your body in motion and taking in the scenery can do wonders for clearing your mind and making your body feel good. Consider taking walks in different locations to help improve their effect on your mental health. 

If you live somewhere with walking trails, use them. They can take you to places near your home that you never noticed before. Walks in local parks and even shopping districts can be therapeutic as well. Taking the time to slow down and enjoy nature is a must for anyone in life, and is an unbeatable way to relax when you’re under a significant amount of stress. 

Turn on Your Favourite Tunes 

Music is another timeless way to help let the overactive mind escape into a state of soothing calmness. Consider turning on some music and relaxing on the couch. Or, if your schedule is too busy to take time to sit down, consider flipping on your favorite music while you’re working on something. This will help to distract your mind and allow it to unwind. 

The type of music you turn on makes a huge difference in your mood. Easy-listening music, such as instrumentals or classical music, can help to calm your mind and ease into yours. If you’d rather listen to something other than music, there are plenty of apps, online channels, and audio files for ASMR–listen to ocean waves, chirping crickets, or birdsong to keep you at ease. Maybe you want to learn something as you unwind–tuning into an insightful audiobook or a guided meditation can both be amazing ways to keep your mind tuned-in while you’re relaxing.  

When your life gets stressful, having a multitude of ways to unwind and soothe your brain and body is a must. The above are viable methods that you can add to your arsenal to ensure that you can always handle any bouts of stress that life throws at you. Try mixing up your routine every now and then so things feel fresh, relaxing, and keep helping you push on.  

This article was written by freelance writer Dixie Somers, based in the USA.

Tips for Identifying and Overcoming Seasonal Mood Changes by Brian Thomas.

(image: free image)

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that some people experience with the changing of seasons. Usually, it is associated with the transition from fall into winter, but it can also happen during the summer. Either way, there is a noticeable pattern with signs of SAD due to many external factors. Here are some ways you can identify SAD and work to overcome some of the symptoms. 

Spend Time Outdoors 

SAD is thought to be caused by fewer hours of sunlight due to the shift of the planet’s position going into the autumn and winter months. It is also believed to be linked to the production of melatonin, a hormone that we produce when it is dark outside. Not getting enough sunlight can affect your mental and physical health. Therefore, it is important to remember to get outdoors and soak up the sunshine even during the colder months. 

Snow activities, such as snowshoeing, skiing, and sledding are all fun ways to spend time outside in the cold, if you’re in a country where you have snow. Weather permitting, a walk around the neighbourhood is a more manageable daily outdoor activity that you can do with a furry friend or family member.

Not only will you be able to maximise your vitamin D intake, but you will also be able to spend quality time with your walking partner. If you’re finding it difficult to leave the house to get your vitamin D, consider taking a supplement or buying a sun lamp. 

(image: free image)

Increase Exercise 

Exercise can help boost energy levels by producing endorphins, giving you that “runner’s high” feeling and keeping your SAD symptoms at bay. Some of the outdoor activities listed above are also great methods of exercise, but if you can’t get outdoors to get active, have no fear. There are many at-home workout videos on the internet that you can follow along with. Whether it’s yoga, Pilates, or HIIT, find what works for you and get into a routine. 

If getting outside of the house is high on your priority list this time of the year, we hear you. Try taking a tour of a local fitness center or gym that you’ve never been to. You may find that you enjoy being around other people who are as motivated to move as you are. Not every “New Year’s Resolution” has to start on January 1st, you can set goals on your own time.

Seek Professional Advice 

If you feel like you’re experiencing more than just a case of the blues, consider talking to your doctor or therapist about next steps. Medication may not be right for everyone, so it is important to consult with your healthcare professional about what is best for you. These conversations are not always easy to have, but keep in mind that your mental and physical health always come first. 

If addressing your mental health seems intimidating or you don’t have a therapist, consider an online teletherapy service. Over the past few years, virtual appointments have grown in popularity because of their practicality. Many people feel more comfortable in their homes than in an office,which is important for a productive session. 

Get Creative 

Writing and journalling are two ways to get your thoughts onto a page and out of your head. This tip is especially important to consider if you feel like you’re stuck in a creative rut. You can draw, write fiction, or find prompts to follow online.

Gratitude journalling is a great way to reflect on what you are thankful for in your life and is especially relevant with Thanksgiving coming up. This holiday season, consider sending a Thanksgiving card to the people in your life that make you feel grateful. It will make them feel appreciated and you are sure to feel good about it too. 

You can even try a meditation colouring book. In the past, it may have seemed like an activity meant for a younger group. But now, it is gaining popularity because it can be calming and a great way to focus your mind for a while. When you’re finished, you’ll have a piece of art that you created and can hang up wherever you’d like. 

During these cooler and busier fall and winter months, it is important to make time for yourself and your mental health. SAD is not something to be ignored or swept under the rug. If you are looking to read more about mental health, check out our other blog posts! 

Disclaimer: This article is intended for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Consult a medical professional if you are seeking medical care or treatment. 

Brian Thomas is a contributor to Enlightened Digital. He enjoys reading and researching tech and business. When he’s not looking into the latest trends, you can find him out cycling.

Small But Powerful Ways To Improve Your Mental Health.

Photo by Anastasiya Gepp

How many people do you think are currently struggling with their mental health and want to know how to improve it? The answer will probably surprise you; around a quarter of the population have a mental health disorder, and this can either be minor or something that needs serious medical attention. 

That’s a huge number, and it could be that you are one of these people. If that’s the case, it’s crucial to know what you can do to improve your mental health and ensure that you start to feel better. Of course, medication and therapy can be the ideal solutions in some cases, and it’s important to see a medical professional for help no matter what. However, if you can do as much as you can at home to help yourself, things will get a lot better.

Read on for some useful suggestions about some small but powerful ways to improve your mental health.

Take Mental Health Breaks Throughout The Day

If you’re feeling as though you’re struggling with your mental health on any given day, you should be able to take a mental health day. This means staying home and doing what you need to do to feel more positive. This will be down to you, but some people like to go for walks in nature, catch up on sleep, read a book, enjoy a spa day at home, and so much more. 

However, if you can’t take a whole day for any reason (although it’s wise to try if you can), taking a mental health break of anything from ten minutes to a couple of hours is the next best thing. When you are starting to feel overwhelmed, take some time for yourself. Not only can you protect your mental health in this way, but taking breaks when you’re busy can actually make you more productive rather than put you behind because when you get back to what you were doing, you are more focused and feeling healthier. 

Look For The Positives

As much as we all love technology, sometimes it serves as a negative force in our lives. Social media, 24-hour news feeds, online newspapers, and even channels like YouTube, can offer us a glimpse of the bad things that are happening around us, and when you have a mental health disorder, this can make things worse. Even if there are positive things happening, it can be hard to see them through all the negative things. 

However, in order to improve your mental health, it’s important to change things and ignore the negative to see the positive. The easiest way to do this to begin with is with your own life. Stop scrolling through social media if you know it upsets you and makes you angry, and instead focus on the good things all around you. That could be anything, no matter how small. Perhaps you notice a flower blooming. Your coffee might be delicious. Your little one might make you laugh now that you’ve seen ways to help your baby rollover. There are hundreds of tiny but important positive things happening all around you all the time. When you are feeling down, look for them. This will help to make you feel better, but it will also distract you from your feelings, and that will improve your mental health as well. 

Ask For Help When You Need It 

They say that communication is the cornerstone to a healthy relationship, and that is true not only with other people but also with yourself. If you trust your partner or a friend, it might help to talk about some of the problems you’re having and get those concerns out of your brain. This can help make things clearer. It’s important to keep the lines of communication open when you feel safe to do so. Emotional stress can sometimes make other problems worse in your relationships with your spouse and other people.

And if you feel like you can’t talk about your mental health, there are multiple types of therapeutic interventions that might help you work through some of the problems you’re having.

When you start to feel like you can’t handle day-to-day tasks or when you often think bad things about yourself or other people, it might be time to ask for help or talk to someone about what’s been going on.

Exercise Every Day

When you stay active and work out every day, your blood flow improves all over your body. With more oxygen in your body and more blood flow, you feel more energetic, fresh, and mentally alert.

If you work in an office, it’s even more important to exercise and do other physical things. Exercise not only keeps our bodies in good shape, but it also keeps our minds in good shape. You don’t have to pay a lot to join a gym to do that. A simple walk is all you need. The most important thing is to do this every day. 

Exercise is good for your mental health, but it also makes your bones and muscles stronger, which keeps you from getting hurt while working out or running errands. Since being injured can be a terrible thing for your mental health, exercise can help in this way too. 

Expose Yourself To Sunlight (Carefully)

A lack of vitamin D can lead to a number of mental health problems, like Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. When you go outside in the sun, your body releases endorphins, which are also known as “happiness hormones.” These hormones make your brain work better.

So, take a break from your normal routine (which we already know is a good thing to do) and go outside. But make sure you wear sunscreen so you don’t get a sunburn.

Learn To Live In The Present 

When a person stays stuck in the past, they are more likely to have mood swings, depression, and anxiety. Negative self-talk like “Why did people do this to me?” steals a person’s happiness and makes them miss opportunities in the present. Try not to think too much about the future and learn to live in the present. By doing this, we can be much more prepared for anything that might happen in the future, so there is no need to worry about it.

This article was written by a freelance writer.

Non Traditional Therapeutic Services To Try For Anxiety by Brooke Chaplan.

(image: Monstera, Pexels)

If you’re struggling with anxiety, you may be looking for non-traditional therapeutic services to help you cope. Anxiety can be a debilitating condition, making it difficult to function in day-to-day life. While there are many traditional treatments available, such as medication and therapy, sometimes these aren’t enough. If you’re looking for something different, there are a few non-traditional therapeutic services you can try. 

Acupuncture Therapy 

One non-traditional service that has been shown to be effective for anxiety is acupuncture. Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that involves inserting thin needles into the skin at specific points on the body. This is said to help improve the flow of energy and promote healing. 

There is some scientific evidence to support the use of acupuncture for anxiety. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that acupuncture was effective in reducing anxiety symptoms in people with a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). If you’re interested in trying acupuncture, be sure to find a qualified practitioner. It’s important that the needles are inserted correctly to avoid any complications. 

Additionally, if you are depressed, self harming or having self harm thoughts, this may not be an appropriate therapy for you at that time.

Virtual Reality Therapy 

Virtual reality (VR) therapy may be among the newest types to seriously consider. Professionals like AppliedVR are companies that specialize in providing virtual reality therapy for various conditions, including anxiety. Their approach is based on the theory that VR can help to desensitize people to their fears and phobias. 

Numerous studies published in the Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking found that VR exposure therapy was effective in reducing symptoms of a variety of anxiety types. While more research is needed, VR therapy shows promise as a treatment for anxiety and many other conditions. If you’ve tried a list of other treatments that haven’t helped, this could be an opportunity to try something innovative. 

Herbal Supplements 

Certain herbs have been used for centuries to help treat various health conditions including reducing anxiety. It may be worthwhile to meet with a local herbalist to see what is recommended for anxiety, and of course, consult with your doctor before taking any supplements. If you get the green light from your doctor, just be sure to buy quality supplements from a reputable source to avoid any adverse effects. 

While these are not the only non-traditional therapies you can turn to, they are some great ones to begin with. Finding ways to manage anxiety can be a challenge, but it’s important to keep trying different things until you find what works for you. Don’t give up hope and remember that there are many options available. 

This article was written by writer Brooke Chaplan.

How to Address Issues Harming Your Mental Health.

(image: Unsplash)

It is so important to look after your mental health. Many people struggle with their mental health and with illness that feels beyond their control and often they will need medication or therapy to help them. However, there can be other issues that need to be addressed if they are harming your mental health.

Learning to appreciate the issues that you may have overlooked is the first step to success. If any of the following are relevant to you, address them ASAP. you should find that your mental health reaches a far more stable place.

Untreated PTSD

If you have tried fixing a mental health issue without getting to the root cause, the benefits will be restricted. So, finding the right PTSD therapies that get to the bottom of poor mental health could be the greatest decision you make. It will provide significant direct rewards. Working with a therapist and understanding your personal situation is essential if you want to improve it.

Almost everyone has experienced at least one traumatic experience. So, it’s could be likely that mental health issues you experience will have PTSD, or a similar issue, linked to them.

Worries Behind The Wheel

The knowledge that you are in a potentially vulnerable position can be the biggest cause of anxiety. A car that has experienced problems or required frequent trips to the garage could be causing anxiety if you rely on it to get to work and travel independently. There may also be finanical worries for you.. A professional service like Edmunds can help you appraise your current car and upgrade to a better model. This could make you feel more comfortable and reduce anxiety.

Financial Worries

Money problems are the most common source of stress. So, it could be the underlying reason why your mental health continues to hit hurdles. While there is no magic spell to suddenly make the problems fade, you can at least feel a weight is lifting from your shoulders. Good organisational skills are the key. Learn to trim the fat from your ongoing expenses, and you’ll see a big impact.

Not Enough Daylight

Spending more time outside in the fresh air can work wonders for your physical and mental wellness. Experts like Raleigh Bikes can help you find a new hobby that encourages more time outside. The fitness benefits are also supported by enjoying improved air quality. As well as vitamin D, serotonin, and experiencing life. It’s an issue that many people struggle with. Thankfully, you no longer need to!

It’s especially important in the colder months when it gets darker to try and get some exercise to help your wellbeing.

The Wrong Network

Your support network can have an impact on your life, in relation to your mental health. The right people will build you up and guide you through tough times without leading you to poor decisions. Sadly, the wrong friends cause you to make regrettable choices. Likewise, they may pressure you to support them, potentially financially. This could drag you down even when you’re in a good place.

So make sure you look after each aspect of your life and self care, in order to improve your health and overall wellbeing.

This article was written by a freelance writer.

The Anxiety Train: A New Year by Eleanor

(Image: Unsplash)

Hi everyone,

I had been amazed over the summer by how much better I was doing with certain aspects of my anxiety and panic. I had a few panicky moments/ days but I was able to pick myself up and feel better quite quickly after.

At the moment though I can feel myself dipping back into anxious patterns. I had a panic attack in bed a few weeks ago, triggered by certain life stressors. Since then, I wake up flooded with anxiety and not feeling able to face the day/ feel like a doormouse and want to hibernate or hide. Sometimes this happens if I get triggered by something eg life stress or it can happen as the fluctuating rhythms of bipolar disorder. I am usually OK by late afternoon/evening but the mornings can be hard.

Change in seasons with less light, feeling extra pressures can lead my mind to try and protect me from a perceived fear due to past traumas (fear of judgement, fear of feeling exposed). This can mean that seeing people. going out a lot etc can become very difficult- welcome to social anxiety again. However, I know that this will not last forever.

This week, I had a good session with my therapist who advised me to try and take more time in the mornings to write, practise breathing and think about whats going on for me, with the aim of reducing anxiety. I do find this really hard as my default can be to shut down to look after myself (and hide away/sleep)- as my brain (subconscious) perceives a threat somewhere…

I have been through this before and come out the other side- and so I know I will be OK (and ironically, there is no need to panic over it) but its still stressful… and I just wish it wasn’t like this.

I am a person who loves routine and when I get out of a routine or pause, anxiety can flood in too.

I call it the anxiety train because it feels a bit like riding a fast train/ a roller coaster of ups and downs. It doesn’t stop fully but it can suddenly hurtle me and I have to calm myself. Its based on previous behaviour patterns that served me at a time when my brain thought it needed to protect me as a teenager and although I have had years of therapy and take medication, it can sometimes come back.

I will be alright in the end, you’ll see (Mrs Potts- beauty and the beast). I have lots of support but wanted to be honest about where I am.

We are approaching a Jewish New Year, and I pray that I will be blessed with better health and less anxiety coming (as well as good things and health for my loved ones).

Thanks for reading and allowing me to be honest,

Shana tova and only happiness. If you’re struggling, please reach out to someone you trust/love or Samaritans helpline. My DMs are open too,

Eleanor x

Mental Health At Work: First Aid Products Have Surged In Popularity In 2022.

(image: MHFA England)

Awareness days, weeks and months have helped to familiarise people all over the world with the term “Mental Health First Aid”. Now, first aid retailer FirstAid.co.uk reports a 260% uplift in interest for MHFA products on their site, noting that an increase in work-related stress, depression and anxiety cases each year is the most likely driving force.

The retailer has now sold more Mental Health First Aid items this year so far than everyday travel and motoring first aid kits.

Data from the Health and Safety Executive shows that cases of work-related ill health (of which 50% are stress, depression and anxiety) have risen almost 28% since 2015, despite physical injuries being in decline since 2000.

Their data also shows that 820,000 people in Great Britain suffered from work-related stress, depression and anxiety in 2021, compared to 441,000 people who sustained a physical injury at work.

“According to Mental Health First Aid England, one in six people of working age in the UK is experiencing symptoms of mental ill health at any given time.” Says Mike Thakoordin, MHFA Instructor and Suicide First Aid Associate at FirstAid.co.uk“We know that around 81% of employers have increased their focus on employee mental health since the pandemic began, and it is fair to say that awareness days and events are doing their part to sustain that focus. 

“During the first week of Stress Awareness Month in April we had an 85% increase in the number of people visiting our stress-related products compared to 2021, and we’re anticipating a similar surge between Suicide Prevention Day in September and World Mental Health Day in October as individual and business shoppers research items and guidance that can support those who are struggling.”

(image: Unsplash)

While events and awareness days like these play a big part in the ongoing rise in interest around mental health-related products online, it’s the persisting growth in the number of people struggling with poor mental health that is likely the bigger factor at play. Despite several years of employers saying they’re taking mental health more seriously, the reality is that a huge number of people each year still find themselves with too much work, not enough rest, workplace politics issues and concerns over job security – among other things.

“For several years running now, the HSE has reported an increase in the number of people taken ill by work-related stress, depression and anxiety.”  Thakoordin goes on to say. “Poor workplace mental health has knock-on effects in many other areas, and we hope that this increase in people shopping for MHFA materials translates into a greater number of workplaces offering meaningful, consistent support.

“With the 2-day Mental Health First Aid course recently being updated, now is the time to get enrolled and play your part in making workplaces safer from a mental health perspective.”


For information on how to recognise stress in the workplace, and advice on dealing with stress,
visit FirstAid’s Stress In The Workplace page.

This article was written in collaboration with First Aid.co.uk

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

New #ChangetheStory Campaign by Hope Virgo and The Hearts Minds and Genes Coalition shows rise in Eating Disorder Stereotypes.

(image: Change the Story Campaign)

#ChangeTheStory and Anybody and Everybody is a new campaign launched this month by The Hearts Minds and Genes Coalition which is chaired by Multi-Award winning campaigner and Author, Hope Virgo. Hope is a friend of mine who has campaigned for years for help for those with eating disorders and she is a force to be reckoned with and an amazing woman!

Eating disorders are serious, biologically based mental illnesses deserving of equal clinical and research funding to that given to other complex diseases. They want to ensure that no-one with an eating disorder need experience shame or guilt, and everybody should have timely access to specialist services.

Author and Multi-Award winning campaigner, Hope Virgo who chairs the coalition says;“When we think of eating disorders we often immediately think of a white teenage, emaciated girl and fail to realise that eating disorders are so often hidden in plain sight amongst all ages, genders races, ethnicities, body shapes and weights, sexual orientations and socio-economic statuses. The campaign is working to remove the stigma and misunderstanding that surrounds these illnesses, ensuring that nobody should experience shame or guilt for suffering from an eating disorder and to make sure that everybody has prompt access to specialist services.”

(image on Twitter: Change the Story campaign, Hope Virgo and FEAST outside the Houses of Parliament)

Eating disorders are not new illnesses, but there has been a massive rise in cases during the pandemic. Unacceptable delays before treatment means we are also seeing a rise in avoidable chronic long-term illness and loss of life. We need to ensure that we are no longer hiding behind the global pandemic but ensuring that the right support is in place for everyone because no one should be dying of an eating disorder in 2022. They are working to remove the stigma and misunderstanding that surrounds these illnesses, ensuring that nobody should experience shame or guilt for suffering from a biologically based illness and everybody should have timely access to specialist services.

To raise awareness of the campaign they have created a video supported by Instagram. For a long time, people have used Instagram to challenge stereotypes about body size, share their journeys with overcoming body image issues, and celebrate different body types. 

 Renee McGregor, leading Sports and Eating disorder specialist dietitian said;“We need to change the images, narrative and practices presently associated with eating disorders in order to ensure that no further lives are lost to this illness in 2022 or beyond.” 

Suzanne Baker, CarerRepresentative for F.E.A.S.T. (www.feast-ed.org)in the UK, said;“timely access to sustained, specialist treatment is key to recovery from an eating disorder at any age or stage. Currently too many people are not able to access this treatment often due to misconceptions about what an eating disorder ‘looks’ like. There is no one look – eating disorders are serious biologically influenced illnesses and are often hidden in plain sight.

Dr Agnes Ayton, chair of the Eating Disorders Faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: “No one chooses to have an eating disorder. An eating disorder can affect anyone at any age and can be caused by a range of factors including genes, mental or physical health conditions and social pressure. The stigma around having an eating disorder prevents many people from asking for help when they need it. No one should feel embarrassed to ask for help. An eating disorder can have very serious long-term effects on the body, but with treatment, people can fully recover. Raising awareness of this issue is an important first step in helping people to get the help they need. If you think you may have an eating disorder, speak to your GP who can refer you to a specialist counsellor, psychiatrist or psychologist. You can also visit the NHS Choices website to find out what additional support is available, including confidential helplines.”

Gerome Breen, Professor of Psychiatric Genetics at King’s College London says: “Research and its dissemination are essential to dispelling the unhelpful myths and stigma that surround eating disorders and compound their long-lasting and devastating impacts. By understanding more about why and how eating disorders develop we can improve society’s conceptualisation of these conditions and hopefully enable more people to seek and receive the support they need.”

(image on Twitter: Jeremy Hunt MP with Hope Virgo)

You can help by posting a selfie to support this campaign with the hashtag #changethestory.

Watch the video here to discover more about the campaign: