I have written here before but I am so excited to say that the Book of Hope, which features my essay ‘Of Hope and Sunflowers’ and put together by my friends Jonny Benjamin MBE and Britt Pfluger is out now! Happy Publication Day!
It is such an honour to be in a book with so many incredible people in their own fields talking about overcoming their own adversity and mental health issues.
As I write, the book is currently 16th in the bestsellers chart for all books on Amazon.
Hugely thankful to Jonny and Britt for including me in such a great project.
I really wanted to write today because the sun is shining, apple blossom is on the trees and Spring is finally here! I always feel more hopeful and happy once Spring is here but living with bipolar disorder and an anxiety disorder can mean that some days are harder than others.
This week, I have really struggled with low mood and social anxiety. I’m an optimistic person and sometimes I pack too much into my days and end up having a panic attack because I can’t cope. This is what happened to me yesterday when I decided it would be a great idea to pack in too much, including going across London and delivering many Body Shop orders to my customers and friends. My social anxiety was so high (I think largely due to being in lockdown) , I just wanted to hide and I ended up sleeping to escape my feelings and feeling super low. I am lucky that I understand what to do when this happens and I have a husband and family who support me too. I am still in therapy for my panic disorder and it has improved a lot but there are times when it gets triggered like this week.
I have also found that I am worrying more about what people think of me- if I have said the right or wrong thing or upset anyone. Its so silly but due to past rejection I get scared and those fears bubble to the surface.
On Friday, I had a really productive therapy session. There are a lot of worries about the future that I still hold and being able to unpack them in therapy is really useful for me. I am doing EMDR trauma therapy but a lot of it is talking out and facing those triggers one by one. I have a very good relationship with my therapist and having a session often calms my mind.
In positive news, last week I became an aunt to a beautiful baby girl, Cara Harriet who is the sweetest little baby. She is a joy and light in all our lives and I feel so lucky to have a little niece! My sister and brother in law are amazing 🙂
And in other good news, in April, my essay in the Book of Hope by Jonny Benjamin MBE and Britt Pfluger will be published alongside many others I look up to (Dame Kelly Holmes and my friend Hope Virgo). So there are good things as well as bad!
I am doing a lot better- I dont rapid cycle, I havn’t had an episode of mania or hypomania since 2014. My brain seems to like Lithium and Quetaipine (a mood stabiliser and anti psychotic). I have to learn to be kind to myself and practise self care, because my social anxiety is a fear response from the past.
Being kind to myself is of utmost importance. Heres a list of what I do when I am having a bad day: take a nap, have a bubble bath, read a book, hug the guineapigs and Rob, talk to Rob, a friend or family member, put on a face mask, cry, breathe and listen to calming music, watch a good TV show (I have been watching First Dates Teens), book in a therapy session, eat something nice, put some make up on, wash my hair, wear an uplifting perfume.
We have a lot of mental health awareness in the modern day. Barely a week goes by without it being mentioned that mental health is important, and that it’s “OK not to be OK”. By now, for sure, we’re all quite aware of mental health. What might be needed more from this point on is mental health understanding, because while people and organisations are more than ready to acknowledge the existence of conditions like depression, fewer are forthcoming with any practical help.
One of the problems that we have right now is that mental health issues were ignored and mocked for so long that – now we have some acceptance of their impact – a lot of people don’t have the language to deal with them. Well-meaning people might say “depression is an illness, just like X”, and not really understand that it can be seen as an unhelpful statement. It would be helpful for people with depression if the following facts were widely known.
A good day with depression doesn’t mean the problem is gone
A lot of the language used around mental illness, and particularly depression, portrays it as a steady, relentless grind – and it sure feels like that most of the time. As a result, when someone who has been suffering opens up, has a laugh and is “more like their old self”, their loved ones might see light at the end of the tunnel. Depression is a complicated condition, unfortunately, and even that brief spell of happiness might trigger a period of guilt, which deepens a depressive episode. This complication is part of what makes it so insidious.
“Looking on the bright side” isn’t a productive strategy
It’s easy to understand why people try to talk around someone dealing with depression by pointing to all the positives in life. It would seem like a productive strategy, because if they see a bright side, they will surely feel better. Right? Unfortunately not. While there are plenty of useful tips for dealing with depression, this is not one of them. Reminding people of how life is good and could be worse is more likely to make them feel like, on top of all the bad things they are feeling, they’re also ungrateful. It doesn’t help.
Depression doesn’t come from any single source
Some people believe that depression is a response to negative life situations. Others argue that it is a result of underproduction of serotonin in the brain. Both sides are right, and both are also wrong; depression isn’t solely chemically-driven, nor is it purely down to circumstances, and this means that you can’t fight it with medication alone. At the same time, it may not be possible to fight it without medication. Finding the right combination to beat depression (or at least sideline it) isn’t an overnight thing, but it is achievable.
The best advice you can give someone with depression is that, in time, things will get better and that’s all you want for them. Acknowledge that it will take time, and that you’ll be there for them, but don’t ever try to argue them out of it.
As many of you know, last year I began working as a consultant (and now manager) for the Body Shop at Home. This was after leaving a job due to severe panic attacks that left me not able to attend work or leave the house daily (related to past trauma) . I eventually lost that job, as I had to leave so many ‘normal’ workplaces that weren’t able to accommodate me.
My confidence was on the floor. I lost my job, we lost the flat we were going to buy and then in March, we went into lockdown.
I have had to face many dark times throughout my life, as I am sure you have. However, in the darkest of times I have learnt one important thing- resilience. Resilience is something that helps me when I am on the floor, sobbing my eyes out from a panic attack (or in the past when I felt low and suicidal). Resilience got me through my GCSES, A levels and University. Resilience (and medication) somehow got me through being sectioned in 2014 for my bipolar and having to recover to live again.
I am not perfect but I know what it is like to have no confidence, no self esteem, to be highly anxious or severely depressed and for each day to be a struggle. To feel like you are wading through treacle or for every fibre of your being to be stressed with anxiety.
When I talk to people about my Body Shop journey and the opportunities that it has brought me and my manager Sarah (who also lives with mental illness), people not only can’t believe it but they also tell me:
‘I can’t do what you do, you have so many supportive friends.’
‘I can’t do what you do, I feel really low in confidence and low on time’.
While it is true I do have wonderful friends and a good network, I still had to build my group, build my business and build my team from nothing. From scratch. I had to familiarise myself with the products, learn what they do and their ingredients. I had to make contact with new people and find new customers via my network. I had to sell to friends and family….which I was petrified of doing.
I thought I couldn’t sell a product as I had never worked in retail. My anxiety and confidence was really low and it took a lot to go live and share the products, play games like bingo and go live in the group.
But people got behind me and because they did, my confidence began to grow. I realised I loved what I was doing. I was good at it. I could help others and work from home with flexible hours. I could rebuild again.
But what I want to ask you is:
Why can’t you do what I do, if you want to do it?
Why can’t you say yes to an exciting opportunity- and have support from me and a great team? Why can’t you devote an hour in your day to your Body Shop business?
All it takes is a yes, a leap of faith and slowly building confidence. There is no pressure, coming from a background of mental illness, I want to empower and support others (not count sick days). I want to uplift and help, in the spirit of my manager Sarah who is wonderful too.
If you want to change your life and start on a new journey, drop me a message and reach out.
It is no secret that life has been tough for many people lately. Having to deal with circumstances that are out of your control can be especially hard to handle. But, in the most difficult times, it is more important than ever to focus on a brighter future. Spending so much time at home may have got you thinking about your plans for the future and how you want your life to look in years to come. Considering what you want from life can be so helpful and give you a focus to aim for. Having a focus can be particularly helpful in challenging times, such as the current situation.
Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of yourself now is an investment in your future and the bedrock for everything else in your life. Looking after your health now can reap huge benefits for the future. Having good health will enable you to live life to the full and experience it fully.
Being out of your usual routine can make it harder to remember to look after yourself and to stick with good habits. Self-care is essential for good mental health, so you may find it helpful to try and stick with a routine and incorporate healthy habits into your day.
Take Care of Your Finances
Money worries are an issue that many people experience. Finding ways to improve your financial situation can help you to feel positive about the future. Taking control of your finances now will help you to plan for the future with confidence. If thinking about retirement is something that worries you, then researching ways to alleviate these concerns now could be beneficial. You may want to consider a Reverse Mortgage for Seniors or setting aside more money now to prepare for the future. Preparing your finances now will help you to gain the peace of mind to live your retirement to the full.
Focus on Your Goals
Everyone likes to have things to look forward to, so setting yourself goals for the future is an excellent way to stay focused and enthusiastic about life beyond this challenging time. It is essential that your goals are things that make you happy and don’t put you under an unhealthy amount of pressure. Overcommitting yourself to goals that you don’t feel comfortable with can be a source of anxiety and worry, which could impact your mental health. Instead, it is far better to consider goals that you will enjoy working towards and will bring you a real sense of achievement.
Reconnect with Yourself
When planning for the future, it is vital to make sure that your plans are yours, and not a result of other people’s expectations. Making plans for your future should be about reconnecting with what you want from your life and fulfilling your own ambitions. Checking in with yourself to make sure that you are planning a future that works for you and not just for others is essential to helping you to live authentically.
If you need to talk to someone about your mental health call Samaritans 116 123
Your mental health is precious, and you’ve got to look after it as much as you can. We know sometimes this isn’t the easiest thing in the world as there are so many things that are beyond your control. We also know that even when things are okay, sometimes it’s still difficult to control the way that we feel. But, that’s why we’ve written this article, so that you’ve got some ideas as to the things that you can do to better your mental health. Keep reading if you would like to find out more.
Try To Relieve Whatever Stress You’re Holding
The first thing that we’re going to recommend is that you try to relieve whatever stress you are holding onto. We know that this isn’t easy, and we’re not saying it is, but it’s something that you’ve got to do if you want to recover. Your mental health is not going to benefit if you are constantly stressed. But, the only way that you are going to be able to relieve stress is if you know what is causing it. It’s for this reason that you’re going to have to think yourself or speak to a therapist and figure out what is causing most of the stress. From there, you can work out the best way to destress and take control, and this should ultimately end up improving your mental health.
Hypnosis Might Be Worth A Try
Have you ever given much thought to trying hypnosis? Professional hypnosis involves interaction with you and the therapist to heal mental health issues going on in your life. For example, you can get hypnosis downloads that will help you to do whatever it is you’re aiming for. Hypnosis will involve your consent and its worth a try- Your mental health is worth it. Search for a recommended therapist.
Try Taking Up A New Hobby
The final thing that we are going to suggest is taking up a new hobby. Your mental health will always be worse if you are not distracting yourself from negative thoughts. You’re going to get too deep into things and you may spiral into anxiety or depression. Instead of doing this, find something that you enjoy doing, thats a positive focus. It can be a sport, or a game, reading, watching TV, completing some arts and crafts, whatever you want to do as long as it takes your mind off of your thoughts for a little while. Become immersed in whatever you are doing, and leave the rest of the world behind for a while.
We hope that you have found this article helpful, and now see some of the things that you can do to better your mental health . Something on this list should help, and if it doesn’t, there are also plenty of other things that can be done as well. Make an appointment to see your GP or therapist if your mental health worsens and take care of yourself- self care is vital.
We all think we know what anxiety looks like. It looks like hyperventilating, sweating, and a worried look on someone’s face. But the truth is anxiety looks like a lot of different things to different people, and there are some secret signs of anxiety too.
While you can’t mask all of the physical signs like hair loss, increased or decreased appetite; a lot of anxiety is dealt with in secret.
Even if you don’t personally have anxiety, it is important that you can spot the signs of anxiety in your loved ones. It will help you to help them.
There are some common, yet not totally obvious signs that someone (or yourself) is suffering. It is important that you let them know that there are options for support. Sometimes a good conversation and regular therapy can help. Other times medication and rehabilitation like The Banyans might be the answer.
Some headaches are caused by dehydration, and others are caused by stress. A stress headache usually happens because someone is holding their jaw clenched tightly, which causes tension in the neck, shoulders and up to the head. The clenched jaw may last through the night, and this will cause headaches.
Note that stress and anxiety cause an inflammation reaction in the body. This, in turn, will cause eczema to flare up. Another issue is that when people are anxious or worried, they tend to sweat more. The sweat will act as an irritant and increase the impact that eczema is having on the body.
If you, or someone you care about, are often talking about how poorly they are sleeping, there is a good chance there is something deeper going on. Most often mental health fluctuations will cause a person to sleep more than usual or not at all. Insomnia, nightmares, sleepwalking, disturbed sleep are all common signs of anxiety and stress.
Coughs, colds, aches, pains, and generally feeling run down are signs of anxiety too. Stress has an awful impact on your immune system. It promotes and overproduction of the hormones that regulate your immune system. This affects the ability of your body to produce white blood cells to fight infection. The weakened immune system means you are more susceptible to illness.
Stress and anxiety will also impact your mood. It will make it more difficult for you to regulate your emotions. People who are feeling stress are usually irritable and can have mood swings too. Difficulty concentrating can also be a symptom as well as an issue caused by stress and anxiety. Decision making and memory are impacted too.
If any of these things sound familiar to your then it is time to take steps to reduce your stress and anxiety levels or have a chat with a friend who is exhibiting signs.
Make sure you look after yourself and speak to a doctor if you are concerned about your health.
The Adverse affects of relationships on mental health
Relationships have the power to affect mental health negatively. If you don’t know how they can affect you, it’ll be hard to lay down a great foundation to ensure you don’t fall victim. Take a step to lay down the rules for a positive relationship.
What if we told you that your relationships have the power to affect mental health? It’s true; your relationship status can affect mental health. But, finding out how relationships affect mental health isn’t a simple mathematical equation. There’s a lot more that has to go into it, and to be honest, it’s complicated.
Relationships Have The Power To Affect Your Mental Health
Fact: We all desire to have real connections through stable, long-term relationships with our “ideal partners.” Whether you meet a potential partner after checking out the best dating sites review or through a mutual friend doesn’t matter. What we think about most is the optimism and the excitement we feel once we click with someone else. We never stop to consider what can affect the mental health of the people in a relationship.
Unfortunately, even the most glamorous relationships come with associated risks and can affect mental health. To affect mental health positively, there have to be some previously laid out rules that lay the groundwork for a great relationship.
Without knowing what these boundaries are and the risks associated with a relationship, we are prone to unknowingly affect our mental health. So, what relationship factors affect mental health negatively? Read on to find out.
Lack Of Sex Can Increase Stress Levels Well, well, this shouldn’t be so surprising. If you’re wondering, “can loneliness affect your mental health?” here’s your answer. When you have an intimate partner within your vicinity, chances are, you will have frequent sex. The bonds created during the act of bonding are so outstanding that they have the power to affect your mental health.
Frequent sex can lead to greater satisfaction with your relationship. If there’s less sex, then other aspects of the relationship are affected too. The less sex you have, the more prone you are to affect mental health.
Stress levels will soar, and you’re more likely to exaggerate aspects such as financial disagreements, responsibilities over chores, and parenting disputes. While there may be other underlying issues, lack of sex and intimacy is an undeniable factor that can affect both partners’ mental health.
Relationship Difficulties Can Cause Anxiety
Whenever couples are having relationship difficulties, there’s bound to be full-blown anxiety. Unfortunately, the converse is also true. Anxiety can lead to marital problems. Surprisingly, some research suggests that marriage can protect you against anxiety. Confusing, right?
Well, it depends on how you look at it. For marital issues to affect mental health negatively to the point that they cause anxiety, there have to be underlying issues that aren’t resolved. Problem-solving in a relationship has to be done in a way that allows both parties to express their feelings to deal with matters conclusively.
Once an issue is dealt with, both parties become anxiety-free and display better mental health. On the other hand, married people have potential “shoulders to cry on,” and this kind of emotional support is a great way to affect mental health positively.
Unless your partner snores and keeps you awake through the night, sleeping next to them can help you fully relax during the night. But it isn’t that simple. If there are conflicts or insecurities in the relationship, you will have a more inadequate sleep because of thinking through issues during the night.
This, in turn, escalates problems such as insomnia or daytime fatigue. As a result, there’s a vicious cycle with leeway to affect the mental health of both parties negatively.
Social Pursuits Affect Mental Health
Many people wonder, “why does quarantine affect mental health?.” Couples in healthy relationships have to socialise. Socialising is a great way to boost mental health positively. Leisure time may include meeting family and friends, visiting their favorite restaurant together, or even spending the weekend sampling the latest nightclubs.
However, since there are limited opportunities to get so involved during quarantine, spending more and more time without socialising with other people can take a toll on the relationship. When couples spend time socialising, there’s more opportunity to improve their mental health positively.
Since humans are social creatures, we feel better when we make connections with others. But, even this shouldn’t be excessive. Too much can result in alcohol dependency and self-destructive behavior, which has the potential to affect mental health negatively.
Toxic Relationships Can Lead To Physiological “Fight Or Flight” Responses
Toxic relationships can lead to physiological responses that may urge you to either run from the stressor or fight it. These are common reactions that stem from mental, physical, or emotional abuse. Regardless of the stressor we face, we condition our minds to respond. These kinds of reactions leave us feeling drained and have the potential to create poor mental health.
Whether we like it or not, relationships can affect mental health either positively or negatively. Their effects are worse if they’re negative. To ensure that relationships don’t have a platform to affect mental health negatively, you have to take the necessary precautions to safeguard yourself against negative repercussions.
What do you think is the COVID effect on mental health? What precautions would you put in place to protect your health?
Miranda Davis is a freelance writer in the relation and psychology area. Miranda is interested in such topics as building healthy relationships between people, love/sex compatibility, and how to find the right balance in life in general. She is currently doing specific research on the topic. Miranda loves cooking and long-distance walking.
For many women, menopause can be both a blessing and a curse. Although it signals the end of menstruation, it also means that a woman is no longer reproductive and that the aging process has well and truly begun.
Menopause starts when a woman’s ovaries no longer release eggs, causing their monthly periods to stop. If you have not had a period for 12 months, this probably means you are going through menopause.
About menopausal anxiety and panic attacks
Menopause can give rise to anxiety and panic attacks, and the symptoms can manifest in a variety of ways. Often, you will feel your heart racing, and you will start to sweat. You may also feel a quickness of breath. In addition, there may be some tingling or numbness in your fingers. You could also feel dizzy, although you won’t pass out during an anxiety attack due to the high levels of adrenaline – you will just have to wait for the episode to come to an end.
Experts have advised that you can overcome anxiety and panic by focusing your attention on something else, such as a sound or a smell.
While some of these symptoms may be unavoidable, you can reduce their effect by taking good care of yourself. Consider the following tips.
Eat nutritious foods that won’t trigger your symptoms
Make sure you eat lots of green vegetables, dairy products, and foods rich in calcium and vitamin D. Meanwhile, you should avoid spicy and sugary foods and anything that contains caffeine or alcohol. One helpful tip is to compile a list of any foods that seem to trigger your menopausal symptoms.
Maintain a regular exercise schedule while keeping yourself hydrated
Another adverse side effect of menopause is weight gain, although you can offset this by exercising regularly. The benefits of physical activities include:
A boost to your energy levels and metabolism
Healthier bones and joints
A reduction in stress
Exercise can also help you fight off anxiety and depression. This is due to the endorphins released by your brain during a physical workout.
Meanwhile, make sure you drink at least 8 to 12 glasses of water every day, as this will reduce your skin and vaginal dryness. Moreover, this simple lifestyle change can also reduce any bloated feelings you may be experiencing due to hormonal changes. As an added bonus, drinking lots of water can also improve your metabolism.
Take sugar in moderation
Foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can cause depression and poor bone density. They can also cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate, which can make you feel tired and irritable.
Go out on a regular basis
Staying indoors for too long is not good for your mental health and may even aggravate your menopausal symptoms. As well as the benefit of absorbing vitamin D from the sun, an outdoor stroll can also reduce your stress levels.
Ensure you eat regular meals
Skipping meals is not a permanent weight loss solution and can exacerbate your menopausal symptoms. It is much better to eat your meals at regular intervals, as this will help you avoid any metabolism problems.
Although menopause is an unavoidable inconvenience, you don’t have to let it bother you. In fact, if you adopt the natural methods outlined above, you will be able to live life to the full without having to worry about the annoying symptoms.
This article was written by LadyCare Menopause Ltd.
I don’t really know where to start! I have been keeping this secret for almost two years.
Nearly 2 years ago, my friends, mental health campaigner/author Jonny Benjamin MBE and author and editor Britt Pfluger, approached me to be a part of their second book entitled ‘The Book of Hope: 101 Voices on Overcoming Adversity‘ (published with Bluebird/ Pan Macmillan in April 2021!).
They asked me to write a piece on how I found hope and recovery after being unwell and my (ongoing) journey with bipolar disorder that I wrote about in my own book Bring me to Light.
I won’t give too much away about the piece I wrote, but it does include my Dad’s story too and talks about life after being sectioned for a manic episode in 2014. It talks about hope, healing, recovery and living with mental illness. It talks about being afraid of the future, but finding light in the darkness.
Heres what Macmillan say about the book which is available for pre order on Bluebird Pan Macmillan website and Amazon. It also contains anecodotes from famous faces including Lemn Sissay, Zoella (Zoe Sugg), Joe Wicks and Dame Kelly Holmes.
There is always hope, even when we cannot seem to seek it within ourselves.
”The Book of Hope is an anthology of 101 key voices in the field of mental health, who share not only their experiences with anxiety, psychosis, panic attacks and more, but also what helps them when they are feeling low. Compiled by award-winning activist Jonny Benjamin and author Britt Pflüger, the inspirational contributors in this book range from the likes of Lemn Sissay, Frank Turner and Zoe Sugg, to Elizabeth Day, Hussain Manawer and Joe Wicks; from authors, poets and musicians to charity workers, activists and psychiatrists.
Jonny Benjamin is known for his book and documentary film, The Stranger on the Bridge, which fought to end stigma around talking about mental health, suicidal thoughts and schizoaffective disorder. When his campaign to find the man who prevented him from taking his own life went viral, Jonny was one of a wave of new figures lifting the lid on mental health struggles. In this book, he brings together a range of voices to speak to the spectrum of our experiences of mental health and the power of speaking up and seeking help.”
It is a real honour and privilege to be a part of this project. A dream come true and I am so thankful to be able to share my story on this platform with truly important voices! We all have mental health and our voices deserve to be amplified.
The Book of Hope is available to pre order now and published in 2021.