(image: Trigger Publishing)
Nearly a month ago, I started my new job at a big Jewish charity here in London. I work in a small but lovely team in PR and Communications- helping run social media, write and distribute press releases and copywriting. I am enjoying it but its totally different from my other work and I am far less immersed in the mental health world than I was a few months ago. It is a juggling act. Trying to keep up with changes and all that’s occurring though. Hopefully soon I will find time to write articles again for my friends at Metro.co.uk and Happiful.
This has brought its own challenges as I havn’t been blogging here as much either, due to writing my book. My book ‘Bring me to Light’ will be released in the UK on November 5th and the USA shortly after, with Trigger Publishing. The title references going from darkness to light, as I have done with my bipolar and anxiety since I was 16. I have written most of it (50,000 words!) but my very kind editor has extended the deadline for it so I can write everything I need too, whilst also doing my day job and wedding planning (!). I am really excited to see a printed copy and to promote it later this year- the hard work will be worth it I hope. I also hope you enjoy reading it and thank you all for your ongoing support.
So, wedding planning, we are 5 weeks away now until I marry Rob, my fiance. It has come round so fast especially as we have had a year and few month’s engagement, I am counting down the days until I am under the Chuppah (Jewish marriage canopy) and we are officially married in presence of those we love! This week I had my final dress fitting and it was super emotional. I still can’t believe its happening. Rob’s dad is recovering slowly at home but his condition is still serious as he has cancer.
Naturally, you will be wondering- how am I staying sane with my bipolar with everything going on and with Robs dad not being well? Firstly, as we know, stressors can make bipolar worse and trigger episodes. At the moment, my main mood stabiliser Lithium keeps me very grounded and stable. Despite the stress, I am not dipping down into deep depression as I would have done in the past. Yes- there are times when I might feel stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted or tired and just want to sit in my pyjamas watching Made in Chelsea or First Dates. There are also times when I am too tired to cook or do laundry and need support with those. I am lucky to have a very supportive family who look out for me too.
My work colleagues have been super supportive when I have been overwhelmed or anxious and I am finding the flexibility of my work helpful too. I am having less anxious days now I am working too due to exposure therapy and going out a little more (taking the bus and cabs and talking to new people).
For me, I really need self care time, time to switch off and unplug. As we go into Shabbat now is the perfect time to read and be quiet, come off my phone and computer and just be. I really promote looking after you and taking time to sleep and rest for optimum mental health and to feel better again. Sometimes it can help to let others know how you’re feeling too.
I have two weeks to give in my first book manuscript and five til my wedding day. These are dreams I have had for years and I can’t quite believe they’re happening. Staying sane while planning a wedding without a planner can be hard but we have worked as a team. Having a good cry has really helped also at times, when things get too much! But generally happy, wonderful things so not to complain. Everything at once can get a lot for anyone. Life at the moment is hectic but I am pacing myself as much as possible.
Thanks for being there for me and for supporting my work too. I hope we end the stigma against mental health by talking, sharing and explaining.
Be Ur Own Light is supporting the incredible initiative from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Sussex- Shout UK, a new text support line in the UK for people in mental health crisis- anyone who is struggling. They have teamed up with Crisis Text line to reach vulnerable people.
I feel privileged to live in a country where stigma is beginning to fall and where mental health issues are beginning to be understood better. Texting would have helped me as an ill teenager with bipolar!
Shout are looking for volunteers too to man the text lines as crisis counsellors.
Thank you to the Duke and Duchesses for the incredible profile they are giving mental health. #GiveUsAShout
See more here: https://www.giveusashout.org/
(image: Recovery Direct)
When people abuse drugs and alcohol, it is often the sign of a deeper underlying issue. For many people struggling with addiction, the source of their addiction is due to mental illness that often has gone undiagnosed. One of the most common co-occurring disorders seen with substance abuse is anxiety. The following article will outline what defines anxiety, and the connection between anxiety and substance abuse.
What is Anxiety?
In general, anxiety is an important emotion to have. While it may be normal to feel fear, apprehension, and nervousness from time to time, it becomes an issue when people experience these emotions at excessive levels. When anxiety takes over a person’s thought process, it manifests itself into physical symptoms such as the following:
- Increased and constant restlessness
- Increased and uncontrollable feelings of worry
- concentration difficulties
- sleep problems
Anxiety can be grouped into several types of disorders. These can include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, social anxiety disorder, and selective mutism among others. The leading causes of anxiety include work and family stresses, financial worries as well as underlying medical issues. The roots of anxiety can also be traced to past traumatic events that are unresolved.
How Anxiety and Substance Abuse Connect
When people suffer from anxiety, mental and physical symptoms can be very intense and can wear on the body and mind. To get some form of relief, people may turn to substances that stimulate dopamine in the brain to help numb the feelings of discomfort. Self-medicating oneself to take the edge of off anxiety only works in the short-term and can have a rebound effect that makes anxiety worse over time. Without addressing the roots of anxiety, their condition will worsen over time—along with their substance use.
The connection between anxiety and substance abuse can also trace back to the teenage and young adult years. During adolescence, the brain is still developing and forming. If people used drugs as a teenager, it could alter the development of the parts of the brain that govern reasoning and impulse control. Drug and alcohol use early in life can increase the likelihood of anxiety and substance abuse as that person gets older.
Another reason for anxiety disorders and substance abuse connection is because of one’s genetics. Some people may be more predisposed to both anxiety and drug and alcohol dependence through genetic factors shaped by one’s environment.
For those dealing with co-occurring disorders, they must seek specialised help from a dual diagnosis treatment facility specializing in mental health and addiction disorders. The first step in getting help is undergoing medical detoxification. During detox, patients will undergo medication-assisted therapy to help better tolerate the physical and psychological symptoms associated with withdrawal. Additionally, staff will perform physical and mental health evaluations to pinpoint any underlying issues that may impact recovery.
For those suffering from dual diagnosis, treatment will include mental health services in addition to addiction treatment services. Dual diagnosis facilities feature mental health professionals working alongside addiction treatment personnel in creating an individual treatment plan that fits each client’s specific needs.
In addition to therapy, 12-step counselling, life, and coping skills training and other forms of treatment, patients will receive mental health treatment with a focus on ongoing counselling and medication-based therapies that will give them the tools to handle anxiety.
This guest blog was written by Nu View Treatment Center
I have needed to write this blog for a while, where do I begin?
A few weeks ago, my father in law to be was taken to hospital with a rare form of pneumonia, caused by a weak immune system due to his cancer treatment. He was very ill and on oxygen as he couldn’t breathe. Thankfully very strong antibiotics were pumped into him and the infection is going and hes now off the oxygen . However, he is still in hospital on a feeding tube and slowly recovering from a bout of confusion (caused by low sodium levels).
This has been really upsetting and stressful for all involved, but we’ve had an amazing amount of support- with food, prayers, charity donations and hospital visits. Its been hard for me as the hospital is not near my home too.
We now have 2 months to go to the wedding and I am super excited but also worried- we really want my father in law to be there with us and well on the day so praying hard.
I start a new job on Tuesday in PR and Communications but will still write and blog on the side. I am also writing my book currently and am on deadline, so its all go here!
My anxiety levels are high in the mornings at the moment, I had chest pains this morning from stress and I am needing to take time for me and relax when I can. I think its because of everything happening all at once and so much to do for the book, wedding and so much change happening.
I do not like change but sometimes change is vital for us to grow.
I could do with a spa day though and some deep breathing exercises, meditation and general management of life stress. I am juggling a lot- and needing a break really.
How do you manage when life stressors become too much?
Amazing talent from both West End and Broadway and hosted by Tim Rice at the Hammersmith Eventim Apollo!
If you book through me, you get a 15 % discount! Code is ELECTRODEAL
Tickets at http://bestofmusicals.com
A new start-up based in Camden, London has launched an app to help companies improve the wellbeing and mental health of their staff. The company, yulife, launched last year and uses technology to monitor exercise and wellbeing and rewards employees that take part.
Staff members that download the app will have their daily exercise monitored including how many miles they walk or run and how long they meditate for each day. Every individual that takes part receives yucoin, the company’s digital wellbeing currency, which can then be exchanged for rewards.
The more you walk and meditate, the more rewards you get.
yulife have partnered with several household brands including Amazon and ASOS to provide discounts and offers reserved for employees that are proactively improving their health and wellbeing. Other perks including gig tickets, Avios air miles and gift cards.
The role of employee benefits has become significantly more important for organisations and HR in recent years, understanding that individuals are not a means to an end, but processes must be in place to assist with mental health, physical wellbeing, stress and anxiety.
Accordingly, by addressing an employee’s mental health and lifestyle, it should result in better productivity and engagement.
The yulife proposition offers life insurance for your staff at the forefront of their product offering and this ties in neatly with the wellbeing aspect.
yulife work closely with experts to make their app as useful as possible. One of these experts is renowned wellbeing physician and author, Dr Rangan Chatterjee, author of the 4 Pillar Plan, which is at the core of the yulife app.
Dr Chatterjee commented: “yulife looks at the wellbeing of the whole person – physical, mental and also financial. This is exactly the 360-degree view that I have been urging patients to adopt and I’m excited to be working with yulife to help our members to be their best selves.”
This article was by yulife. For more please see: https://www.yulife.com/
(image: Eleanor Segall)
Its that time of year again here in England. The candy- floss pink cherry blossom are on the trees. The sky is a cornflower blue and the sun is streaming down, just waiting for the odd April shower. And I was outside to see it and enjoy it today.
Why is this a victory? Because over the winter I was mildly depressed and hardly leaving home. The lack of light had really got to me and I just wanted to curl up inside with a blanket. Now the days are getting longer and the spring is here, I am thinking about rebirth, waking up anew and starting afresh.
I am writing my book still (cover and title to be revealed) and I will be starting a new job in PR soon. Tonight, Rob and I are going out to celebrate that over dinner. Our wedding is 3 months today 🙂 and coming round fast.
Theres a lot to do, plan for and a lot of change (mostly positive but still a shift). I know that this is not a bad thing however this week I did start feeling overwhelmed. That was because my step grandpa passed away and we had to go to Wales for the funeral, followed by a week of mourning in our home. It was a challenging week, he will be so missed.
Yet what I have learnt from life is that there may be constant intensity or ups and downs, with everything happening at once but we have to learn to try and go with it.
Going with the flow is not something I do well. I get anxious, overwhelmed, tired, stressed, sad like any other human. I hope and I pray and I try to see signs from God and the Universe. Getting fresh air and sun is good for me and you too .
Ultimately I am learning life is a blessing but I need to guard my mental health carefully (and thank goodness for medication and a strong support network)
How are you this Spring?
(image: Yellow Co )
This is my story on how even when things look dark, there might be change just around the corner.
You see, I grew up deep inside the Swedish countryside as an only child. My parents were rather old when they had me, so people often assumed them to be my grandparents.
In school, I was an outcast. Because I had only socialised with adults, I had a hard time bonding with people my own age.
Naturally, this made me socially awkward and anxious in social settings, especially around strangers and large groups.
One time, a friend convinced me to join a party. When I finally showed up, I felt everyone’s eyes on me, like radar-tracking from all directions. I locked myself into the bathroom. Looking at the person in the mirror, I couldn’t help but wonder what was wrong with him.
Later, I learned that my awkwardness and nervousness was much more common than I had first thought. It’s just that everyone hides their chaotic inner under a calm surface (just like I did).
I started studying behavioural science. As it turned out, social anxiety often starts small in life. But when we start avoiding social settings, our anxiety snowballs into a monster.
We can’t overnight break the shackles of social anxiety. But what we CAN do, is take small steps out of what we normally do.
I started doing things slightly out of the ordinary. Instead of looking down the ground, I forced myself to hold eye contact with people I walked by on the street, if only for a split second. After a few weeks, when that felt normal, I tried to hold it a bit longer, and maybe even smile.
My smiles were forced and awkward, and I probably looked like a weirdo. But over time, I could interact with people in a warm and relaxed manner.
Thanks to taking small steps and challenging myself a little every day, I became more confident as the years went by. Not just with other people but in life in general.
7 years ago, I started a blog where I teach people how to stop being nervous. That confirmed to me that I wasn’t lonely. We’re one big nervous family all in this together. So why not help each other?
I recently got the opportunity to leave all my friends and family in Sweden and move to New York City – a place where I knew no one. If I hadn’t had the confidence I have today, I would never have dared to do it.
Challenging my anxiety was my key to living life to the fullest.
But back then, in that Swedish forest, things looked dark. Thinking back to that time taught me a lesson:
Just because things are hard at the moment, doesn’t mean that it will always be that way. Life is ever-changing, and that’s what makes it so exciting.
This blog was written by writer David Morin who used exposure therapy to help his own social anxiety and find recovery.
(image: EM Training Solutions)
This article written by EM Training Solutions introduces some simple yet effective steps you can take in order to ensure your health and wellbeing remain a priority in the workplace.
There’s no ignoring the fact that as adults, we spend the majority of our time and lives at work. It’s where we make friends, earn our income and spend day to day so it’s no surprise that a massive 89% of workers with mental health problems reported an impact on their working life and nearly half of the people surveyed also admitted that they had considered leaving a job role because it negatively impacted their mental health.
These shocking statistics show that there is a clear correlation between mental health and our working lives, making it crucial that we take the necessary steps to maintain our mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Here are some tips on keeping a positive and healthy mental attitude in work:
One of the simplest things you can do to help you remain focused and stress-free in work is to try and be as organised as possible. When you feel on top of your tasks and are working in an organised environment, this make you feel calm and in control.
When you’re in control, you’re much less likely to panic or feel overwhelmed. Keeping your diary up to date with commitments and important reminders will allow for your days to run smoothly. Also try taking small steps such as arriving to work 15 minutes early to give yourself plenty of time to set up for the day ahead, make yourself a hot drink and tidy your email inbox. Having this head start can help you clearly plan out your day and it also gives you a few extra minutes to yourself.
Communication is key in any working environment. Whether it’s voicing your opinion on a situation that is negatively impacting you, or admitting when your workload is too much; speaking up to someone that is able to offer help and support is a great way to deal with any form of stress before it builds up into an even bigger issue. Although this may be daunting, especially if you suffer from anxiety it will bring a great sense of relief once you have got your feelings and thoughts off your chest. Your employer should also respect you for your honesty and will be able to come up with a plan on how to help you.
Practise Self Care
Self care comes in many different forms, and it can be something as little as taking your full lunch break and spending it alone in your favourite coffee shop in order to get some time to yourself. If you suffer from anxiety or depression in general, then recognising your limits and when you need a day off is also incredibly important.
Having a day off work to focus on your mental health is just as valid as having a day off when you have a sickness bug. Both require time to rest and recover and you don’t need to feel guilty for putting yourself and your mental health first.
Constant demands, deadlines and pressure in the workplace can leave us feeling overwhelmed and stressed to say the least. Try your best to be realistic about the work you can cope with and don’t try and take on more than you can handle.
If your boss is giving you ridiculous amounts of work to do in a short space of time, or is asking too much from you then try and speak with them, or if they aren’t approachable book in a chat with a member of the HR team to explain and try to find a solution. You will feel better for being honest and getting the extra support you need.
This article was written by:
EM Training Solutions are a Pearson Vue approved training provider for a number of different compliance and health and safety courses. They boast over 10 years of experience within the industry and specialise in first aid training as well as traffic and fire marshal courses.