The past few months: Mental health and Covid.


(image: istock)


Hi everyone,

I havn’t written a blog for a bit just because my start to the year was completely crazy.

Firstly, my dear Grandpa who was 94 passed away in January. Grandpa has been my guiding light, friend, surrogate parent and more. He was an incredible man and I will miss him terribly. Then, the next week, my family and I unfortunately contracted Covid 19 and tested positive.

Thankfully, we were all able to manage the horrible symptoms at home. I spent 2 weeks sleeping, aching, dry cough, no appetite, had chills and fever, headache and such fatigue all I wanted to do was sleep…. it was like a super powered flu and I was so scared as being only 32, I am unvaccinated. Covid was just awful and my Mum had nausea too and loss of taste and smell but she has pulled through.

With immense gratitude, we have all recovered.

I found that having Covid and it being so debilitating that I really lost my confidence in myself and my work as I was off for a few weeks. Slowly but surely this is coming back.

Having Covid made me realise how much I appreciate my life and how thankful I am that my symptoms (and Mums and others in my family) did not become more severe.

I will always miss Grandpa, but I hope we can continue on his legacy.

Love,

Eleanor x

Developing a Newfound Confidence in Yourself this Festive Season.


(image: Pexels)


It’s okay to need to spend some time renewing your confidence now and then. Confidence is often seen as a brick wall that stands the test of time once it’s built, but often, it’s more like a flame, one that must be fed, and felt with quality fuel, in order to keep going. Even the strongest and most audacious people on Earth can be knocked back by life, and they regularly are. This is humbling, because it shows that no matter how good things are, we can always find struggle. However, this also shows an opposite and no less important truth, that no matter how bad things are, we can always improve and come to love ourselves again, building that confidence necessary to moving forward.

This is the essential principle shown by the famous symbol of the yin-yang, the white has a little black in it, and the black a little white. So – if confidence is more of a fire to be kindled than a wall to be built, how can we re-fuel it? Let’s consider that, below:

Finding New Opportunities

It can be worthwhile to find new opportunities in life, even if they’re self-directed, and even if they come straight after an intense experience such as a life setback, trauma, bereavement or a divorce settlement. Taking stock of what your new situation means, how you can use it to your benefit, and what exactly it is that you want can help you move forward with confidence, resilience and a patience that not everyone has. The primary thought to keep in mind is this – new opportunities are always there. You just have to dig for them.

Going For Gold

Going for gold is important, once you have your opportunities or ideals prioritised. It might be that you invest completely in a new hobby or practice, or that you do something you’ve always wanted- a dream, travelling to a new place or something you’d never do normally such as getting a new tattoo. Going for gold- making things a reality , can also help you feel expansive, generating your purpose from one day to the next. No matter if this is getting back in the dating scene, trying to go for a new job, or finally enjoying your freedom, don’t forget to go for gold.

Being Unapologetic

It’s important to be unapologetic about who you are. Why is this? Well, what do you have to apologise for? Your sense of style? Your sexual orientation? Your dreams and desires? Absolutely not, and actually, you should take complete and total pride in these things. This is what makes you, even if, as an individual, you are more than these designated labels. Being unapologetic helps you realize that you have dignity too, and that you’re worth expressing it. Having that mindset can help you curate your best attitude, which may or may not help you become a better, less bitter and more empathetic person. We all need to learn this lesson in life. It’s good to learn it now.

We hope you can develop that newfound confidence in yourself you truly deserve.


This article was written by a freelance writer

Life is Finite: How to Deal with this and our Mental Health.


(image: thefreshexchange.com)


Humans are probably the only species on the planet that know that life is finite. Practically every other creature that ever existed did so in a state of blissful ignorance. The end of life wasn’t some dark, horrible certainty that needed pushing to the back of the mind. It just didn’t exist psychologically. 

We have no such luxury. As thinking beings, we have to confront this issue, one way or another, and somehow try to make peace with it. It’s not easy. 

Over the years, you can see some of the strategies people used to try to do this. One method was believing in the afterlife and in the soul – somewhere that you’d go once your physical body finally gave up. For many people, this is a core tenet of faith. For others, it is not. The idea that we could somehow pass away into nothingness seems like a tragedy.

Aging is currently a big issue in our society. The number of people over the age of 65 is the highest that it has ever been. And it is going to continue to grow as the population changes. Fewer people are having babies, and more people are living into their seventies, eighties, and nineties. It’s a big difference compared to just a few decades ago. 

In this context, we are all having to learn how to deal with our finite lives. But what’s the best way to do it? 

Get Comfortable With It 

Nobody likes the idea that we’re here for a small amount of time. We have these unlimited imaginations. And yet, we’re confined to these Earthly bodies.

One piece of advice is to try to find ways to become comfortable with the fact that life doesn’t go on forever. It seems taboo to even talk about it, especially when there are people around us approaching the end of their lives. But it is critical that we address the issue internally. Unless we can somehow make peace with it, we’ll never find peace in ourselves. We will always have this gnawing feeling at the back of our minds that the whole show will come to an end. That’s no way to live. 

Talk To Somebody About It

Sometimes, chatting to somebody you trust can help you come to terms with the facts of life. If you don’t have anybody in your life who fits the bill, then there are plenty of helplines available including Samaritans or you could talk to your GP or a therapist/ psychologist if it is beginning to impact on your day to day living and mental wellbeing . 

In many cases, just getting the words out can help tremendously. Speaking your mind to a sympathetic person is a great way to come to terms with reality. 

Prepare For It

The finitude of life can also be scary for another reason – the fact that we aren’t always prepared for the end of it. We can spend weekends worrying about what will happen to our loved ones when we are gone. 

We can’t go on living forever. But we can make financial arrangements to ensure that people who depend on us are taken care of in the future.

Setting up a policy to provide a lump sum to your relatives and dependents is relatively straightforward. And getting free gifts with life insurance is always a bonus. 

Complete Your Goals

Having the discipline to complete your life goals is a real skill and one that relatively few people ever manage to master. Ideally, you don’t want to get to the end of your life only to look back on it and regret that you didn’t live it the way that you wanted. You need to feel like you completed your goals – or at least took control and moved towards them. 

Sometimes taking the plunge and just getting on with things that you’ve left on the back burner is the best way to cope with the fact that life is limited. When you pursue that which is truly important to you, a lot of the worries and concerns disappear. You know that you’re making the best possible use of your time – and you’re grateful for it. 

Appreciate What You Have

Yes, the facts of life can be tough to accept. But it is also worth appreciating the fact that you’re here in the first place – a very unlikely event when you consider all the people who could have been born throughout history. That’s some consolation when you think about it. There is always goodness and hope in life- make the most of it.

This article was written by a freelance writer.

Taking Care of Your Own Mental Health When a Loved One Passes Away.

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If you have ever experienced the serious illness or passing away of somebody close to you, you will know that this is a seriously difficult time for your own mental health. When we lose a family member, friend or partner, the grief process is long and arduous. When somebody dies in our community, we sometimes focus on taking care of others, trying to help them through the tough time without thinking much about our own wellbeing. Similarly, death brings up all sorts of logistical obstacles such as funeral arrangements, will-reading and sifting through the person’s belongings. 

Even if the person who has passed was sick for a while, elderly, being given live in care or other assisted living arrangements, death still comes as a shock. If you have experienced this, you will know that this is a highly overwhelming time both practically and emotionally. So how can you take care of your own mental wellbeing when this happens?

Grieving is a time to look inward, as well as outward to the future. In this blog, you will find some common mental health troubles that are experienced during grief, and how best to work through them.

The Mind and Body Connection

Many people believe that mental health issues are completely separate to physical health problems or side effects. However, science disagrees. It is clinically proven that mental illness and trauma can manifest themselves in our physical bodies. It is important to remember that if you are experiencing grief, although this is seen as a purely emotional thing to happen, you could experience physical symptoms too. This is totally normal, and it is important to recognise when these things happen so you can best cope with these changes. 

The Shock of Absence

One of the things that makes us feel the rawest and most difficult emotions is the sheer shock of losing a loved one. One minute they are alive in the world, the next they have moved on. The shock of the absence of this person can have seriously detrimental effects on your mental health, which can also bleed out into physical symptoms. Some of these effects might be:

  • Loss of sleep. Sometimes when we are in emotional shock, despite wanting to sleep, we can’t seem to let our mind relax enough to fall into slumber. 
  • Excessive sleep. On the other hand, some people’s bodies react in the opposite way, by sleeping through the day as a way of escaping reality. 
  • Wildly varying emotions. You may experience a feeling like you can’t control your emotions or find stability within them. This is normal. Your body can’t feel full-strength emotions constantly, so it’s totally normal to have varied emotions at this time. 
  • Picking up the phone to contact the person, or referring to them as if they are still alive by accident. This is very common, and can make you very upset when reality hits. When you are so used to a person being in your life, your brain is wired to consider them alive and well, and so it will take a long time to readjust to the new reality. When these moments occur, try not to get angry with yourself, but instead try your best to accept it as a process of adjustment. 
  • Not eating or overeating. If you have an emotional connection to food, you may find that you lean on your eating habits as a coping mechanism. This could be eating less than usual, or relying on food for comfort. People will tell you that this is unhealthy, you can’t expect to be perfect when you are dealing with trauma like this. As long as you don’t take these comfort habits to a dangerous extreme, these can be relied upon through the grief process. If you feel this getting out of hand, you can use eating disorder helplines and therapy programs. 
  • Feeling joyless. When something bad happens, we usually defer back to the things that make us happiest. Our kids, our best friends, favourite movies, pets, yummy snacks… You name it, we seek it out when we feel blue. But losing a loved one can cause us to lose joy, even for the things that make our hearts happy most of the time. This can last a while. 
  • Having intense, vivid dreams. When somebody we love dies, it makes sense that they are on our mind most of the time in the beginning stages of coping without them. When we dream, it is our brain’s way of leaking all the information and emotions that it has processed during the day; when we experience something traumatic or particularly intense, our brains sometimes can’t fully process it all at once. Hence, you are likely to have some intense dreams about the person – or even lots of crazy dreams about other things!
(image: Pexels)

Coping With These Effects

The above are only a small number of the wide range of emotions and physical sensations that can come with grief. So what can you do about it? Here are some solutions to the feelings you are experiencing, to try to make the transitional stages of grief easier. Although this time will always be hard, there are ways to alleviate some of the stress you are feeling. 

  1. Seek Grief Counselling 

If you have never been to see a therapist before or find the prospect daunting, this is to be expected. After all, counselling or talking therapy requires you to be vulnerable in front of someone who will be, at first, a total stranger. However, grief counselling will allow you to express your emotions without judgement – but even more than that, the therapist will give you tools with which to manage your stress and sadness. These can be breathing exercises, ways of staying connected to the person, techniques to help you sleep better and routine-based activities to keep you ticking over. You can get one-on-one counselling or group therapy sessions with others experiencing similar loss. 

  1. Hold your loved ones close. 

Grief sometimes propels people into a state of isolation. After all, it feels like nobody can be feeling what you feel, so some people react to this by shutting others out. If this is a tendency you are familiar with, make sure you work actively to combat it. Your desire to lock others away from your emotions is stopping you from getting the support you need. Start by reaching out to one – just one – person in your life who you trust. From there, you can gradually build a support network. 

  1. Try to spark joy, even if it doesn’t work. 

Even if you feel joyless, the search for joy should be constant. Try new ways of sparking tiny moments of happiness, even if it fades away in a split second. This could be through sex, food, seeing friends, playing video games, going for walks alone, or watching your favourite films. You can’t expect all the bad feelings to disappear, but you could be distracted from them just for a moment, giving your brain and body some much-needed relief.

4. Try talking to the person, if you want to. 

Many people shy away from this for fear that they might look “crazy”. But there’s nothing “crazy” about wanting to feel connected to a person you have lost. If speaking to them helps, then try doing it. There is no shame in maintaining a spiritual connection. 

Grief is a horrible thing to feel, and no amount of fun activities or therapy will totally eradicate those feelings. However, with time, persistence and kindness to yourself, you can learn to cope better with the aftermath of losing someone close to you. 


This article was written by a freelance writer

Bereavement, PIP, Promotion and Panic by Eleanor

 

 

Hi lovely readers,

So much has been going on that its been a little overwhelming so I didn’t feel able to sit here and type out my feelings. But today, I feel like I can share so here goes.

My dear father in law passed away from brain cancer at the age of just 67 last month. This was expected, after a two year battle, rounds of surgery and chemo and radiotherapy and being told they could do no more treatment as he had two aggressive tumours and they couldn’t operate further. However, it was still immensely painful when it happened (although we were all with him at a nursing home) and we had the funeral and week of mourning (shiva) as per Jewish tradition. I moved in to my in laws home that week to be there to support my husband, brother in law and mother in law.

We will all miss him terribly- a truly wonderful man and it was a privilege to know him.

Despite this sadness in our family, some positive news has followed. I had applied and been awarded a disability benefit called PIP (Personal independence payment) and been awarded it due to my bipolar disorder and panic attacks impacting on my mental health and ability to work outside the home. This greatly helps our situation and means I can work alongside it too in my role at the Body Shop from home and around my writing (my book Bring me to Light is available here) . We also found out that Rob is being taken off furlough and returning to work on the 1st September- he has been furloughed for 6 months and this was a huge relief for us, as you can imagine.

Additionally, a few weeks ago I got promoted to Area Manager of my Body Shop team, team Hope. This means I manage a team of consultants/ manager in training and help them to develop their businesses too. I feel incredibly lucky to do a job that I love from home and be so supported by my manager Sarah and all my wonderful team mates too. I truly love this job and hope to make it my full time career eventually. The products are so good for self care too.

Now on to my mental health. My anxiety has returned with a vengeance these past few weeks. One night I was up til 5am with panic and insomnia (feeling tearful, restless and pumped with adrenaline) so took some prescribed anxiety medication. I also use a lavender pillow mist which helps me to sleep better too. I have had to cancel and reschedule things. I am not good with change and my anxiety is being triggered. I have a wonderful therapist and so I will definitely book in another session with her soon because I can feel myself dipping a little.

The guineapigs are adorable and good for cuddles and I have had a lot of support from friends and family, so thank you for that, and from Rob too.

How is everyone?

Eleanor xx

 
Infographic by Mindful Urgent Care