10 Signs that you may have an Anxiety Disorder: Guest post by Capillus

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(image: Psych Central)

You might feel like a worrier—someone who is unable to let the little things slide, who becomes agitated by small shifts in your schedule, who is kept up at night at the thought of something you said earlier in the day. We all feel worry now and then, but there are people who have an inclination to feel concern and apprehension more than others. If you’re someone who often finds yourself feeling uneasy, fearful, stressed-out, and tense, you might have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Worrying over the Small Things 

Are the most basic daily tasks—brushing your teeth, taking out the garbage, commuting to work—stressing you out on a regular basis? Do you find that your usual routine is becoming burdensome, making you feel short of breath and unable to focus elsewhere? If so, it’s likely that you’re undergoing some form of GAD. This is a common symptom of GAD, in that people will become overwhelmed by activities that once were normal, leading them to feel stressed and burdened in the face of small tasks.   

Insomnia and Sleep Issues 

Whether it’s due to obsessive cyclical thinking or worrying about things that might have happened earlier in the day, there are many people who are kept awake, either unable to sleep at all or regularly disturbed from their sleep during the night. Insomnia can be brought on by various factors, either by an inability to quell your mind prior to going to sleep or increased cortisol levels, which will leave your body in its “fight or flight” mode even at night. 

Daily Fatigue 

Often as a result of insomnia or poor sleep, daily fatigue can be another symptom found in people with GAD. Without enough rest in the evening, the body and mind will feel sluggish during the day, leaving you exhausted and unable to focus.

Other factors can lead to such fatigue, but they might be wrapped up in other factors of anxiety, whether you are using stimulants such as coffee or alcohol to mentally balance yourself during the day or you are stress-eating unhealthy food as a reaction to increases in overall anxiety. 

Upset Stomach and Indigestion

GAD manifests itself in many different symptoms, and some of the most common ones are physical. A common side effect people have when struggling with GAD is stomach distress, including indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, ulcers, and more. Anxiety itself can lead to stomach issues, but, as said above, other lifestyle decisions made while struggling with anxiety can further exacerbate digestion issues, including poor diet, increased alcohol consumption, poor sleep, etc.

Difficulty Concentrating

A common side effect found in people dealing with GAD is the inability to focus during the day. Laboured by concerns, fears, and fatigue, those with GAD will sometimes find it difficult to completely focus on a task without being derailed by some other worrying quality or event. 

General Agitation and Discomfort

Quick to become aggravated by general unease and things not going your way? Do you feel ill when attempting to talk in public or in under-populated social scenarios? Are shifts in your daily routine cause for unease and panic? These can all be signs of GAD, as the mind becomes easily perturbed by occurrences and situations it might not expect or want. It’s a struggle to deal with such responses, and it can be difficult to break yourself out of such negative cyclical thinking under such circumstances, but you should do your best to be aware of when such thinking crops up. 

Muscle Pain and Discomfort 

One side effect of anxiety often not discussed is that of physical pain. Whether it’s muscle tension, tension headaches, hand tremors, chest tightness, or feeling as if you’re unable to breathe, anxiety can lead to detrimental physical responses that might be cause for concern. 

Hair Loss and Thinning 

Along with other physical effects that anxiety can bring about, one of the more common ones is an effect on hair. GAD can lead to hair becoming thin, brittle, and falling out, both on the head and around the body. For some people already struggling with genetic hair loss, anxiety can lead to hair loss and thinning becoming increasingly worse. Thankfully, there are treatment methods available to facilitate hair regrowth, so you shouldn’t be too worried if you notice the first signs of thinning. 

Panic Attacks

You’re likely to know a panic attack if you’ve ever experienced one. Brought about by an intense feeling of fear, unease, and physical symptoms, panic attacks can be a debilitating response to extreme anxiety. The level of response will depend on the person and the level of anxiety, but they are serious reactions to the feeling of a perceived threat. Please reach for medical support from a doctor, if you need it.

Self-Deprecation

If you are regularly feeling down on yourself, feeling as if you cannot meet the standards of perfection or do not match the image you have of yourself, you might be struggling with anxiety. GAD can often leave people obsessed with a self-described definition of who they should be, and anything beneath that can be a never-ending cause of compounding insecurity. If you feel as if you don’t look good enough, aren’t performing as well as you should, or are unsure of your general abilities at work, school, or elsewhere, these underlying feelings might be brought on by anxiety. 

While some of these signs can be symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, it is important to remember that we shouldn’t self-diagnose ourselves with general mood disorders. If you’re concerned that you might have GAD, you should meet and discuss these symptoms with your primary care physician (in the UK, GP) or a therapist—someone who can provide you with a diagnosis and thus help you alleviate said symptoms for the betterment of your mental health.  

 

This unsponsored guest blog was written by Capillus at www.capillus.com , a hair loss treatment brand with medical expertise.

 

‘The Meaning of Normal’: Living with a sibling with mental illness : Guest post by Shira

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(image: Thought Clothing)

It hasn’t been normal for so long that sometimes I forget what normal should feel like. When I try to think about it, it feels like a glimpse into someone else’s life, and I am an invasive stranger, trying to reach something that doesn’t belong to me.

What is normal?

Sometimes I think I remember it.

Sometimes I think that normal is that time when I was six and you were three and we didn’t fight. When we played hand in hand like every other child, and our entire world was pink and purple, and the most important thing to us was that our dolls had shiny blonde hair.

And we would play every game under the sun, from barbies to dollhouse to the convoluted imaginary ones that only we knew the rules to, and even then did we ever really know the rules?

I was a witch and you were the princess. We were both witches. We were both princesses. I stole your magic time machine but you found another one, and our living room became the entire universe as we ran through it, believing wholly in the pictures we created, the way that only children can.

But did we ever really exist like that? Were we ever those idyllic children, the children that every parent wishes to have?

Maybe our normal is all the times when I was ten and you were seven and we would push and shove and slap. You were my younger sister who could do no wrong and I was the older one, always blamed for both our shares of misdemeanours.

“You should know better!” They would shout

“But she started it!” I would pout.

“It’s not true!” your bottom lip would stick out.

I think we all know that I probably did start it.

We would fight and yell and cry and shout, never giving in, never admitting that we were wrong. Because we weren’t wrong. We were both right, all the time, every time, and the other was always painfully mistaken. And we roared and yelled and scratched each other, but knew only to cry when a parent was looking. And if nobody was looking, well then nobody would see if we punched back just one more time.

But were we ever really like this? Two demonic screaming children who were never silent and never content with just each other? Were we really the children that every parent dreads to have?

Maybe our normal is the way we grew apart as we grew older. When I was 15 and you were 12 and I would pretend not to know you as I walked past you in school. And maybe our normal is the way we would come home from the same school at the same time separately, both of us walking different routes from the bus because being seen with one another would be unacceptable. Maybe that’s what all teenagers do. Maybe that really was our normal.

Maybe our normal was what came next.

Maybe the years we didn’t talk to each other was what we were always heading towards. Because one day we would put down the dolls, and one day we would run out of things to fight about and we would just…exist.

One next to the other.

Sitting in silence.

Neither speaking.

Neither bothering to reach out first.

Because now I’m 18 and you’re 15 and I don’t remember the last time I spoke to you. The house is thick with anger, so thick that it poisons every interaction, and I couldn’t even tell you what I’m angry about. Because the sister I played with, the sister I happily fought with but would jump on anyone else who dared fight with her is in pain. So much palpable pain, and for the first time I couldn’t just make it go away.

Was I angry with you?

Yes.

Was I angry with myself?

Yes.

And so I let this become our normal. A normal where two siblings exist side by side, but don’t even know how to speak without offending. Where everything I say hurts you and everything you say angers me.

So we made this our new normal.

And I don’t care.

I don’t care.

I don’t.

I care.

And now I’m 20 and you’re 17 and I’m 3000 miles away. But this is our normal now. We don’t speak. We can’t speak. But it doesn’t even matter because there’s nothing to speak about anymore. How can I ask how you are when I already know the answer, and I know it’s not an answer I want to hear. How can you ask how I am when you’re too focused on making it through your own day without worrying about mine?

And anyway, it’s been a long time since we told each other how our day was. Not since I was 14 and you were 11 and we would awkwardly walk home from the bus stop together, backpacks moving up and down and up and down as we compared notes about school, neither of us loving it, neither of us willing to admit that out loud.

But we are not those children anymore, and we don’t have any shared experiences to talk about anymore.

I wonder if you miss me like I miss you. I wonder if you count down the days to my birthday too, hoping that we will both make it past 17 and 20, willing time to hurry up even though maybe all I really want to do is turn back the clock.

And then you are 18, and it’s been 18 years since I sat by your tiny cradle in the hospital and cried when we left, maybe because I wanted another chocolate bar from the hospital vending machine, or maybe because secretly I don’t want to leave my baby sister in a cold hospital far far away.

But now you are 18 and I’ve still left you in a hospital far away and it’s still just as hard to leave you there as it was all those years ago. But a 21 year old can’t lie down on the floor and have a tantrum so I keep going and keep going and this is our normal now.

A normal where you’re there and I’m here. A normal where we won’t speak for months on end but then I text you and tell you I miss you and now you answer me too, and I think you miss me too. A normal where we joke and laugh at stupid posts we see on Instagram,  tentatively, both of us till remembering when you were 14 and I was 17 and we ripped each other apart with words until neither of us said anything at all. Is this our normal now?

What is normal?

I looked it up for you.

 

NORMAL:

  • Conforming to a standard, usual, typical, or expected

 

But who gets to decide what that standard is? How do we know when something that once wasn’t normal now is, and if what was once normal is now anything but? Do we decide that? Or do others who stand by and watch get to decide that for us?

I’m sure someone could tell you the scientific answer. I’m sure there is a video out there with a detailed and meticulous answer laid out for us to study.

I’m sure somebody could tell us the answer. Maybe we haven’t even been normal, maybe we always were.

Maybe the imaginary games of our childhood were always meant to turn into imagined grievances causing real rifts. Maybe we were meant to grow apart and then come back together again, a little rougher but a little kinder. Maybe none of it was normal, or maybe all of it was.

Sometimes I wish I could change all of it. If I hadn’t said what I said that one day, or if I hadn’t slammed my door that one time, or if you hadn’t called me that name under your breath, things would all be different now.

But sometimes I know I can change none of it. And maybe that’s ok. Maybe if we hadn’t played all those games as children, if we had never walked down the road together from school, if I had never sent the texts you eventually answered, things would all be different now.

Normal isn’t for us to decide, it isn’t for me to determine. All I know is our normal is all we have, and I wouldn’t change us for the world.

About:

Shira is a writer living in Israel, drawing on every day life experiences. Her sibling lives with a diagnosed mental illness and she has bravely shared their story here.

 

 

 

Expressing Social Anxiety through Songwriting: Alive: Guest blog by Rachel Leycroft

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(image: Rachel Leycroft)

Rachel experienced severe social anxiety in many forms for the majority of her life. Like many others, she felt it was crucial to hide this at all costs, despite the paralysing pain it often caused. Her therapeutic form of expression was always through songwriting, & she wrote “Alive” at 19-years-old while in college.

It was a time when she went to extremes to uphold an image of fearless confidence, regardless of the toll it took on her well-being. Rachel didn’t realize how many others suffered from similar experiences until a number of years later. With this realisation, she started a project called #lovethroughlyrics where she shares her songs in hopes of reminding others that they are not alone in their struggles.

“Alive” is a metaphorical view of the wish to escape social anxiety. In the song, Rachel relates social anxiety to the feeling of being weighted down and asks to give up aspects of herself that are not being represented with authenticity. Ultimately, she asks to give enough away to free herself & escape the burdensome fear of others’ judgments. “Falling into the horizon” represents the weights of our insecurities being lifted; it’s a moment that lights our souls alive, reminding us that our authentic selves are timeless. They have always been within us, but are often masked by our fears and our desire to be accepted.

Rachel hopes to encourage others to reconnect with their true selves again, no matter how many years they have been hidden. Her greatest wish is to evoke compassion toward ourselves & one another by giving mental health a voice through music.

You can read the lyrics to “Alive” below & listen to the song (original & acoustic) on any music platform by going here: https://fanlink.to/rachelleycroft_alive-acoustic 

Rachel would be happy to connect with you via Instagram as well: https://www.instagram.com/rachelleycroft/

 

5 Ways Essential Oils can help your Mental Health and Wellness. By Essential Olie

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Essential oils have made incredible strides in popularity over the last decade. There are hundreds of people that swear by essential oils as a cure for almost any ailment. That might not be quite accurate, but essential oils do have definite benefits.

One of the benefits of doTERRA essential oils that has some of the most research is with mental health. Because scent is so strongly tied to emotion it makes sense that essential oils would be able to help with your emotional state. Especially if you are using the correct oil and method of inhaling the scent.

Finding the oil that works best for you can be a process but it will certainly smell great. There are a lot of different ways that essential oils can help with mental health difficulties. These are five of the most notable ways essential oils can help your mental health and overall wellness. 

 

1. Diffusing

Probably the most common way to inhale essential oils is by using a diffuser. A diffuser works when you put a couple of drops of your chosen oil into a diffuser filled with water. The mix of water and oil turns into a vapor that fills your home with a pleasant scent that can help alter your mood.

The diffuser is especially a great method if you are trying to affect your mental health. Because scents are so tightly tied to emotion, surrounding yourself with a pleasing scent can turn your entire mood around. That includes making you calmer or happier on a bad mental health day. 

Great oils to use in your diffuser for a bad mental health day are lemon, grapefruit, bergamot, jasmine, and lavender. Lavender is also a great choice if you want to sleep or need to destress. Finding the oil that makes the most difference for you might take some time but the natural benefits of essential oils are definitely worth the time.

 

2. Massages

A massage in itself is a great way to help you manage mental health issues. It is not a cure-all but it is certainly helpful and a great resource. Adding essential oils to a massage help increase the health benefits and works double on your mental well-being. 

It has been found that massages do help some people with depression and anxiety. Because a massage is great for releasing toxins and helping you relax it is a natural way to lessen stress and depression. Making it an aromatherapy massage and letting your massage therapist rub oils into your skin that make you feel happier is a wonderful way to improve your mental health.

There are even studies done that show aromatherapy massages can have great benefits for people struggling with their mental health. Allowing your body the healing effects of a massage can help with both your physical and mental health. Adding in the natural benefits of essential oils to help the massage along only helps you feel better faster and for longer.

 

3. Carrier Oils

Something a lot of people do not realize is how powerful essential oils can be. They are a concentrate that, while natural, can still be harmful if not used properly. Putting essential oils on your skin without a carrier oil can result in reactions and even burns if you are not careful.

Luckily, carrier oils are wonderful and have benefits of their own. Coconut oil is a prime example of carrier oil that allows you to get the most out of your chosen essential oil. You can use the mix of coconut oil and essential oils as a lotion so your skin can absorb the mood-lifting benefits or as a hair product so the calming scent stays with you all day.

Jojoba oil and St. Johns Wort are also excellent carrier oils. Jojoba oil is very similar to coconut oil in its uses and benefits. St. Johns Wort can actually make certain oils digestible if you feel an oil would be more effective ingested. You should always make sure oil is safe to ingest and talk to a doctor before you start trying to take essential oils orally.

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4. Spa Day

Giving yourself the time you need to relax and destress is a wonderful thing to allow yourself. It is very common for people to feel they are not allowed mental health days or that they do not have an excuse to be so stressed. Everyone needs a break some days and allowing yourself that break can be of great benefit to your overall wellbeing.

Letting yourself have a small spa day is a great way to relax and also incorporate essential oils into your self-care routine. Putting a few drops of a calming oil into your bath or a diffuser in your bathroom will help you calm down and give you all the benefits of using essential oils. Even just lighting a candle with some essential oils in it before bed is a good way to relax and get better sleep.

Incorporating essential oils into your self-care routine or adding them to a spa day is a great way to make sure you are soaking up all the benefits essential oils provide. Especially the calming and stress relieving oils will be helpful to you during a mental health day or a spa day. Letting yourself enjoy the calming benefits of essential oils while you give yourself a break is a wonderful thing to do for your mental health and overall wellness.

 

5. On Fabric

Putting oils on fabrics is especially helpful for children. It can also work for adults who need help sleeping or who prefer their clothes to smell a certain way. Putting a few drops of oil onto a fabric allow that piece of fabric to provide the healing benefits of the essential oil while smelling great for quite a while.

Many parents find putting a few drops of a calming oil on their child’s favorite stuffed animal is a good way to help them stay calm and have a better sleep. The same applies to adults who put a little bit of oil on their pillowcase or bath towels. Even a few drops of oil in your laundry can provide a great smell with mental health benefits.

Office workers might find it helpful to have a calming oil on their desk chair or oil to help them concentrate. Students might prefer an oil dotted on their hoodie or scarf to sooth them during tests and classes. Putting a little bit of oil on fabric to allow the soothing health benefits to stay with you all day is a great way to soothe children and adults alike.

Essential oils are an amazing natural way to improve your mental and overall health. They have been proven to have calming benefits as well as mood-altering benefits. Using them as a resource to benefit your mental health is a natural way to make yourself feel better.

Important to note:

You should remember that essential oils are not medicine and should not be the only way you are trying to fix your mental health. Talking to a doctor or therapist is always a good place to start while using essential oils to help. There are a number of ways you can use essential oils to benefit your mental health as well as just your overall state of wellbeing.

Using a diffuser for your home, massages for your body, oils for your skin, and fabric for when you are not in your home will allow you to incorporate beneficial essential oils into every part of your life. 

Remember to give yourself a break and your brain a chance to recuperate so you can always be functioning at your best. Those are just a few of the amazing ways essential oils can help with your mental health and overall wellness.

 

 

This sponsored content was written for you. Learn more about Essential Olie- essentialolie.com.au

The Top 5 Apps to Support Mental Wellbeing for 2020: by loveitcoverit

(image: Unsplash)

With Brew Monday upon us, the pursuit to get the public talking is as prevalent as ever. The event itself, hosted by the Samaritans charity group, encourages individuals to come together for a coffee morning at work, at home, or in any other place that they can think of. The session offers a safe space to freely and confidently talk about what is bothering us, what we are feeling and perhaps explore why we feel that way – stamping out the notion of Blue Monday entirely.

In recent years, an epidemic of loneliness and social isolation has grown unthinkably. Research conducted by the British Red Cross staggeringly found that over 9 million people always, or often, feel lonely. Now, to put that into context, the population of London currently sits at approximately 8.8 million – so this is not something that can be ignored!

However, it’s not difficult to understand that some individuals would prefer to stay silent and not communicate the struggles that they are facing to a family member, friend, or professional. Our mental wellbeing is delicate, and we often worry about public perception. So, if you’re looking for help but don’t feel ready to directly speak with someone, here are the top 5 apps to support your mental wellbeing for 2020.

 

  • What’s Up 

What’s Up – not to be confused with WhatsApp – is an innovative platform that allows individuals to receive Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) from the comfort of their own home. 

The application offers resources and online forums that prompt individuals to work through whatever they are struggling with – whether this is depression, anxiety, loneliness or something they can’t quite put their finger on. 

A key feature that makes What’s Up (and any behavioural therapy method) so valuable is the identification of negative behaviours and thoughts. In doing so, the CBT method allows people to re-educate themselves on how to think and behave so that they can better their own minds and carry the learnt practices forward.

 

  • MeeTwo

Unsurprisingly, smartphones in relation to children or young adults have always been a controversial subject. It’s been found that the main concerns for parents when allowing their child to have access to a smartphone rests on the risk of them talking to strangers or becoming victims of cyberbullying

However, it’s important to reflect that smartphones can also offer a great level of support for young people’s mental wellbeing – and with young adults being found as more likely to suffer from loneliness than any other age demographic, the conversation is more pertinent than ever.

For instance, MeeTwo is a safely monitored application that is completely tailored toward teenagers. The platform provides young people with support from peers and professionals as well as providing educational and interactive resources to assist in their self-help journey. An element of the application that is particularly noteworthy is the in-app links that direct individuals to UK charities and helplines. So, if a user’s struggle needs a different avenue of support, they know exactly where to turn!

 

  • Headspace

In our busy lives, it can be difficult to find time to just pause. The days can sometimes fly by without us feeling like we’ve had a chance to reflect on our successes, failures or everyday struggles and it’s almost like we’re being pulled along by some external force. As a result, we often feel out of control and exhausted. 

Headspace is an app that brilliantly helps combat these feelings, bringing us fully into the present moment and helping achieve mindfulness! To do so, the application introduces a range of meditation practices. 

This can seem daunting, especially if you’ve never tried meditation previously, but Headspace offers different guides for different experience levels so that you are always in control!

 

  • TalkLife 

Even if you don’t want to talk with someone face-to-face, you may still want to talk. That’s why TalkLife is such an incredible application. 

Once downloaded, you have access to a community that is ready to listen in a safe and anonymous environment – allowing you to form social connections that you may feel are missing from your life. To ensure safety, TalkLife is monitored with real-time safeguarding.

It’s important to recognise that the conversations had on the platform are between peers and not professionals, so if you are seeking medical advice or professional therapeutic support you will need to get in touch with a qualified medical practitioner.

 

  • Spotify

If you don’t want to talk, then it’s sometimes good to listen. Spotify offers a whole host of incredible podcasts that tackle various mental health issues – perhaps putting something into words that you can’t. 

If you’re looking for a podcast to begin with, Mentally Yours is fantastic. Each week the hosts are joined by a mystery guest and together they talk about the weird and out-of-place thoughts that pass through their minds. 

Mental health struggles can be scary. We too often try to hide them, ignore them or deny them – but the world is evolving and as is our understanding. So, it’s time to be brave and give yourself the support that you deserve.

 

This sponsored post was written for you by loveitcoverit,  one of the UK’s largest mobile phone and gadget insurers, having helped over 1 million customers get comprehensive cover.

Life Changing Habits to Bring into the New Year: Guest blog By Vanessa Hill

(image: http://gandlblog.com/17-inspirational-new-years-quotes-for-2020/)

The start of 2020 is a special time. Not only are we lucky enough to be able to start a new year, but we also have the privilege of beginning a new decade. We have the opportunity to define the next ten years of our lives, which means we should probably be starting it off on the right foot by developing good habits. Here are three life-changing habits that you can start doing right now to ensure you have a great decade.

Eat Healthy Foods 

The first habit you need to bring into the new year with you is making your health a priority, and one of the easiest ways to do this is by maintaining a healthy diet. Your diet plays a huge role in how you feel mentally and physically. It’s where your body sources it’s energy from, so when you put good things in your body you feel good. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to completely give up your favourite guilty pleasures. Try thinking of things you can incorporate into your diet rather than thinking of things you want to get rid of. Commit to eating more leafy greens rather than swearing off chocolate. Choose to eat whole grain rather than avoiding carbs.

If you’re not entirely sure where to start, you can always sign up for healthy eating program that shows you exactly how to transform your eating habits. Even if losing weight isn’t your goal, you’ll find that making healthier choices with your nutrition will leave you feeling better, and give you the energy to take on the year.

Please note to speak to a doctor before you start any new eating program and take care if you are struggling with your mental health alongside. 

Develop a consistent sleep routine

Sleep is an underrated body function that too many of us take for granted. Our bodies use this time to repair damages, replenish our energy, and restore us to a functioning state. Lack of sleep negatively affects every part of your body. If you’re tired of struggling with brain fog, lack of energy, and irritability, then developing a good sleeping pattern is the place to start.

Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day– even on the weekends. This may be a bit tricky if you’re younger and you find yourself spending your weekend nights out on the town, if you travel a lot, or if you have young children. But once you come up with a schedule that works, try to stick to this as closely as you can. You’ll find that your days are more bearable and you might even get deeper sleep at night. Don’t be afraid to consult a sleep specialist if you’re having trouble getting a good night’s rest. They’ll be able to help you get the best sleep possible, which will turn into you living the best year possible. 

Practice Gratitude

While people are eager to think of the things they want to change at the beginning of the year, it’s important to show your appreciation for the things that you do have and for where you are right now. You can show gratitude on a macro-scale, where you’re thankful for your friends and family, for your amazing job, or the events that you’re lucky enough to experience. On a micro-scale, you can be thankful that you had enough money for coffee today, for example.

Either way, taking the time to notice and appreciate the things that are going well around you will give you a positive outlook on life, and it will remind you of all the reasons you have to smile. You have so much to be thankful for, you should regularly remind yourself of that.

About the Author

Vanessa is a content writer who’s passionate about spreading knowledge and joy to the world. When she’s not writing, she enjoys exploring the streets in a foreign country where she can immerse herself in different cultures.

My Mind is my Prison: A true story with Anorexia and OCD: Guest post by author Katy

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(image: book by Katy M)

Hey, my name is Katy – thanks for publishing my blog Be Ur Own Light!

The reason I am here is I have recently released a book about my own experiences through OCD, Anorexia and Anxiety and I want to help people out there who are suffering the same illnesses.

I felt very much alone is my illness and I want to help people who are feeling the same as I once did.

So, here’s my story. (Trigger warning, discusses mental illness, eating disorders)

When I was younger, I knew I didn’t think how other kids thought. I was paranoid all the time, constantly worrying, doing rituals to somehow counter act my bad thoughts (as I called them). The subjects I worried about changed all the time – from someone I love dying to fixating on a pain in my body and thinking the worst. After several years of this, I eventually told someone and got help when I was in my teen years. It was then where I was diagnosed with OCD (intrusive thoughts and paranoia).

Although I received help, my intrusive thoughts didn’t miraculously just disappear (they never have), and my OCD started to fixate on food. Little did I know that in time I would develop an eating disorder because of this, which would ruin me and my life.

When my eating disorder first started, I remember everything was getting on top of me. There were a lot of personal things happening in my life. I felt like I was drowning, and there was no way out, I started to feel like I had no control over anything. However, exercise and food were something I could control; no one could dictate that part of my life. I would do anything to exercise and eat as little as I could throughout the day.

A lot was happening, and when things got too much or seemed out of my control, I jogged off my thoughts, I wanted to forget everything and focus on becoming fitter. My exercise became more and more and my eating became less and less. I felt so lost and it got worse, I was spiralling out of control.

I remember after a while work was not helping, I couldn’t focus on anything, let alone conversations with people. It was worse even trying to socialise with my friends and family, as all my mind could think was “don’t eat that, don’t give in, don’t be weak”. Everything felt like a blur. How did eating suddenly feel like a sin? I didn’t understand. And that was my life for at least 5 years.

People always ask how did you get better, how did you ‘defeat’ this illness? It’s hard to say really but there was a time in my life where a lot of change happened, when certain people were no longer in my life and it felt like a weight had been lifted oddly enough. But there comes a time in your life when you think enough is enough, and I had that, I had a realisation. I had lost friends, hurt myself, and I was slowly disintegrating.

I was exhausted and drained that I couldn’t continue anymore, this illness took so many years of my life, so I was going to take my life back.

Of course, it’s easier said than done, in fact it was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I would be here forever if I described each day to you. But in time I did it. I gained a healthy weight and could eat again.

To help me, I read a ridiculous amount of self-help books, did worksheet after worksheet, went to my doctor to get weighed monthly and went to see a private therapist. This helped in ways I didn’t think it would.

I opened up about things I never thought I could; it’s amazing what you can tell someone who has no idea who you are or what you’ve gone through.  And I wrote. Journal after journal after journal. I could let it all out, the things I felt and did daily, the things I kept in just poured out onto those pages. I learnt that in order to heal, you must be honest.

Finally, there was Yoga, in which I am extremely grateful for, as it showed me what my body can do and how I should appreciate my body. Everyone’s body is remarkable and can-do remarkable things. Someone once told me that your body is the most complex, amazing and intelligent machine you will ever own. And they were right.

During my journey there were a few people in life that helped me massively. Certain members of my family, close friends and my fiancé – who I met whilst I was going through all of this. They were my rock. When I crumbled into a million pieces, they were there to pick up the pieces with me. When I felt like I was drowning they pulled me out.

Now, I can go out for meals and finally enjoy them. I love to cook and be in the kitchen now, and I actually eat what I make. I don’t over work myself to the point I want to pass out, I can do activities like walking for miles and boxing without the fear that I might break. I have my life back again. The basic thing I learnt from this is, food is fuel, if we do not eat, we cannot survive. Food is meant to be celebrated and enjoyed.

I look back and see all the challenges I have faced so far have made me a stronger person. I want to turn my wounds into wisdom. I want to help others who are going through what I have, which is why I wrote my book. Nobody should suffer alone or in silence. If I can use my experience for anything it will be to help.

Here’s the link to my book  

I hope this helps you in your own journey.

Much love,

Katy. x

2020: New Year Round Up by Eleanor

 

(image: Prevention.com)

New year posts are always hard to write aren’t they? We start the year in a midst of optimism about goals and achievements and working towards our dream/s. But it can so easily get derailed as life gets overwhelming or busy. However, this post is to say ‘do not give up!’ (to me and to you).

2019 was an amazing, busy, emotional, whirlwind of a year for me. I started the year engaged and half way through wedding planning. In March, my step grandpa sadly passed away at the age of 96. Then, my father in law has stage 3 brain cancer and earlier this year was hospitalised for pneumonia (due to chemotherapy weakening the immune system), which then rapidly became sepsis (poisoning) which can be life threatening. We didn’t know if he would make the wedding and at one point we didn’t know if he would make it through the night.  There was a lot of praying, a lot of fear, a lot of emotion. That was April.

Thankfully, he survived and recovered over months at home. But he is still unwell- we are just lucky he is still here and he made our wedding too.

In May, I started a new job in PR and Communications and met the best colleagues ever. I also spent the year writing my book ‘Bring me to Light’ with Trigger editors Stephanie and Katie. I submitted the manuscript 2 weeks before our wedding.

In late June, I was bridesmaid for my best friends wedding and it was wonderful.

In July, I married my best friend in front of loved ones (including father in law), we moved in together and we went on honeymoon to Sicily, Italy in August to a beautiful place and made good memories. In September, Rob’s cousin got married and that was a lovely family wedding.

In October, I left my new job for personal reasons- although I loved it. The stress of the year, the changes of life had got to my mental health. I am currently working freelance as a writer but applying for jobs too.

Sometime in October/ November, I started EMDR trauma therapy with a wonderful therapist and I hope it continues to help me.

In November, my book was published and sent out to the world and I did some press for it, although I experienced heightened anxiety with it coming out which affected me for a while. Good friends got married too at this time.

In December, I went to Limmud Festival (a conference) with my Dad for our first talk about it and managed to speak, despite my anxiety.

Now, its 2020.

I have some goals for this year. Mainly to be happy, healthy and confident and to give to other people.

This year I would like:

To publish my children’s stories

-To seek out amazing opportunities to promote my book

-To work as a writer and in social media. I would also love the opportunity to work in schools again part time to develop my skills in early years. For me to be financially independent is something I would love again.

-Manage my panic attacks through therapeutic techniques.

-To raise more mental health awareness

-To be more healthy and look after my body

-To be kind and give to others more.

 

Here’s to a new year of health, happiness and prosperity. How was your 2019/ new year?

Eleanor x

 

Winter Cosiness: A very happy Festive Season to you!

(image: Pinterest)

Thank you for supporting Be Ur Own Light blog and our mental health mission this year. We wish you all- from Rob and I, a wonderful festive season- whether you celebrate Christmas or Chanukah (like us), whether you get together with family and friends for magical, cosy nights, good TV and a glass of wine, I hope you enjoy it!

We will be spending time with family and friends, lighting our menorahs and eating doughnuts. This year we will be visiting my in laws, which should be lovely.

If you need help because you are struggling with your mental health, the Samaritans line is always open for free,non judgemental listening: 116 123 is the UK number.

Wishing you all a wonderful break, a cosy, happy, safe and peaceful one,

Love.

Eleanor x

 

How to Deal With Social Anxiety, Social Phobia and Depression: Guest post by CBT Toronto

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(image: the Funny Beaver)

Millions of people around the world suffer from social anxiety, social phobia, and depression. Unfortunately, due to the stigma that is still associated with mental illness around the world, many people try to hide their problems and suffer in silence. Left untreated, social anxiety, social phobia, and depression can lead to isolation, physical health problems, and even suicide. 

Fortunately, there are many treatment modalities available,. This can help sufferers obtain the support and relief that they need and deserve. Here, we will focus on some simple yet effective ways that you, or someone that you love, can alleviate social anxiety, social phobia, and depressive symptoms with tact, integrity, and verve.

 

Risks of Having Social Anxiety Disorder and Depression

Certain individuals may be genetically predisposed to social anxiety disorders or clinical depression, as well as seasonal affective disorder, chronic stress, anger, and generalized anxiety disorder. However, other non-genetic factors may influence whether or not a person develops a social anxiety disorder or depression in their lifetime.

For instance, if you are currently dealing with substance abuse issues, such as excess consumption of alcohol or narcotics, then you may be at an increased risk of developing a social anxiety disorder or chronic depression. Unfortunately, many people will turn to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to numb their pain. This puts their bodies at risk of developing a tolerance or resistance to such illicit substances; which can lead those individuals down a path of destruction.

If you are having trouble communicating with others, whether at home or work or are having trouble being productive in your day-to-day life, then you may be suffering from a cognitive impairment or mental health disorder. If you notice that you are not responding to the treatment that your doctor or mental health care professional has prescribed, whether it be cognitive behavioural therapy, psychotherapy, or medication. 

If so, please speak to your doctor, as they may need to adjust your treatment or try a new treatment method. Suicidal ideation is also a serious red flag, and if you have suddenly developed severe thoughts of harming yourself, please seek immediate medical attention.  

What Prevents Social Anxiety Disorder Patients From Accessing Mental Health Care?

Many people who suffer from social anxiety ,blame themselves for their issues. As such, they may refuse to seek outside help to address and rectify their health problems. Furthermore, many people who suffer from SAD are actually unaware that such a condition exists, or may not know who to turn to in order to receive the necessary treatment. 

In fact, it can be argued that many doctors, and most of the general public, are unaware of SAD or how to best tackle the matter. As such, there may be very little help available to those who suffer from the disorder; whether it be medical, moral, or emotional.

 

Does Social Phobia Run in Families?

There have been studies conducted indicating that a person’s risk of developing a social phobia disorder may be elevated if someone in their family has or had the same issue. Moreover, the correlation vs causation interplay between psychiatric and serotonin disorders is also something that many medical experts in the field are aware of. 

That is, while most agree that there is a marked connection between SAD, depression, and serotonin, medical experts are uncertain about which comes first in terms of driving said correlation between the disorders.

 

How to Deal With Social Anxiety Disorder

SAD can often be overcome by getting moral support from friends and family. The key is to interact with loved ones in a respectful and supportive environment so that the person can overcome their problem. Also, it should be noted that many people who suffer from chronic depression do not actually understand why they feel the way they do. 

In other words, many of the feelings or behaviours that they exhibit are automatic and deeply ingrained into their thought process and psyche. It is the responsibility of their loved ones to care and support them by sympathizing with their condition and helping them process their emotions in a safe and healthy manner.

In addition, many studies have found that patients with SAD who undergo cognitive behaviour therapy report a significant improvement in their anxious or depressive symptoms. In some cases, patients may be treated with a combination of cognitive behaviour therapy and medications. This could include Busperione, Remeron, Paxil, Celexa, Trintalex, or other medicines that are commonly used to help those who suffer from anxiety or depressive disorders.

Also, if your symptoms are relatively minor, then there are techniques that you can implement yourself to obtain near-immediate relief. For instance, if you find yourself in a situation that elevates your stress and anxiety levels, then you can practice deep-breathing exercises before the situation escalates.  

If you suffer from social anxiety, then you should try to slowly cultivate your social connections. Doing so can not only help you eventually overcome your social anxiety but may also help alleviate feelings of depression that often result from social isolation. This is known as exposure therapy and can be helpful.

There are other ways to help deal with anxiety and depression. For instance, studies have found that listening to music that you enjoy releases hormones that help promote relaxation. Exercise has many mental as well as physical health benefits. The release of oxytocin and endorphins can help counteract the release of cortisol and other harmful hormones that can exacerbate anxiety and depression.  A healthy and balanced diet can help rectify certain hormonal balances and nutritional deficiencies that can cause lethargy, depression, irritability, and anxiety in some people.

Most importantly get help from a GP doctor or therapist if things are getting too much. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.

This guest post is by CBT Toronto, based in Canada.

If you would like to learn more about social anxiety treatments in Toronto or would like to obtain social anxiety treatments in Toronto, then please visit our website or give us a call at 416-817-8925. We specialize in PTSD, OCD, BDD, depression, couples therapy, and anxiety disorders.