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: 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.
(image: Kennington Osteopaths)
Post traumatic Stress Disorder, better known as PTSD can occur in a person who has experienced or been a witness to an event that is traumatic enough to affect their lives in a negative way. Witnessing a death, a serious accident, war, abuse, being a victim of a crime, natural disasters and childhood trauma can all be causes of PTSD. Many people only associate PTSD with war and veterans, but the truth is an estimated 3.5 percent of the US population suffers from PTSD.
Research has shown that there are differences in the brain when it comes to how men and women process and deal with PTSD. Science is admittedly behind on truly understanding the gender differences when it comes to PTSD and how it is expressed, but there have been some findings.
Men and women respond to stress differently. Men are more likely to respond with a fight-or-flight response in a stressful situation and women are more likely to use a more calming response known as tend-and-befriend.
This is an emotion-focused coping mechanism. It should be noted that there is so little data that stereotypes should not be formed, however, there is enough data to support differences in the genders.
PTSD in Men
Men are more likely to have PTSD due to combat trauma, trauma from natural disasters and disasters caused by human force, some sort of violence and accidents. Based on studies and research men actually suffer more traumatic life events than women on average, however, only 5-6% of men will experience lifetime PTSD. Lifetime PTSD is less prevalent in men than in women. Double the rate of women will experience lifetime PTSD at 10-12%.
PTSD in Women
Women are at a substantially higher risk for PTSD than men. Biology and psychology play a part in why those differences exist. Women are more likely to experience what is considered “high-impact trauma” at a younger age than men.
Women are more likely to experience sexual abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault that leads to their PTSD. It is sexual trauma that puts women at a higher risk for PTSD than men.
Women who suffer from PTSD will also tend to do so longer in comparison to men; on average 4 years to 1. When it comes to seeking help for PTSD women are more likely to seek support for their illness amongst a group. They tend to look for social support.
Symptoms of PTSD Same in Men and Women
The women and men who have this condition often express similar symptoms. Men may display their symptoms in a more aggressive expression where women have shown to retreat internally and avoid the outside world.
Some of the symptoms of someone suffering from PTSD are:
Re-experiencing nightmares, having flashbacks and frightening thoughts that appear real, avoiding people, places and things that may remind a person of the trauma and avoiding feelings and thoughts to cope with the trauma, signs of heighten anger and anxiety expressed physiologically, being hyper-vigilant against threats, difficulty sleeping, experiencing an onslaught of negative feelings, thoughts and judgments, unreasonable blaming of yourself, excessive guilt and a negative perception of yourself in the world, and disinterest in regular every-day activities.
PTSD and Substance Abuse
According to the U.S. National Library of medicine 50-66 % of people who have PTSD simultaneously suffer from addiction. What begins as a means to cope with the symptoms of PTSD, which are distressing, usually turns into a full-blown addiction.
Substances like drugs and alcohol can decrease anxiety in the moment, escape the pain , distract from negative emotions and increase pleasure in the short term. The coping mechanism of substance abuse affects both women and men. There are dual diagnosis treatment centers for people who are suffering from PTSD and substance abuse.
Post traumatic stress disorder, wherever you live in the world and whatever gender you are, can be hard to cope with. Please seek support if you need it and know you are not alone.
This post was written by Dale, a freelance writer specialising in mental health, based in the USA. He can be found on Twitter https://twitter.com/DaleVernor
I don’t really know where to start with this blog except I have needed to write this one for several weeks. As many of you know, I struggle with an anxiety disorder (alongside/ part of the bipolar) which when triggered can make life quite difficult. This includes things that anyone would find anxiety provoking, such as job interviews.
I have had to dig deep, leave the house and use every ounce of strength to attend face to face job interviews in the past few weeks. This is not an exaggeration. My body floods with adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones) and I feel overwhelmed. All my energy becomes consumed around preparing for the interview, attending the interview or NOT attending the interview because I wake up in a panic not wanting to go out- and having to try and reschedule it. Which just adds more stress as I fear I will lose the chance to interview.
This is really hard for me. There is still such a stigma to mental health issues that disclosing it early on without someone knowing you fully, means you are still less likely to be hired. Having to reschedule an interview also floods me with fear that the employers will think I am just flaky, even if I say I am unwell.
I am very proud of my achievements in the past month. Last week, I went to an interview and did well- travelled alone, was fine throughout. I even got a second interview. However, I woke this morning at 7am in anxiety and am seeing if I can reschedule it.
Essentially, this is one big test of exposure therapy. Reaching outside my comfort zone and going out into the world to use my skills. Its scary and exhausting. But it can also be validating and exhilarating too.
Today I feel a bit of an exhausted, worried mess. However, I refuse to let my panic disorder beat me. Next week, I have some positive things happening too re work.
For anyone else going through this- you aren’t alone. I take medication on time, I have had years of therapy and I still have panic attacks at times and struggle with the debilitating anxiety. I am searching for a new form of therapy (maybe EMDR- rapid eye movement) as I am concerned that my disorder mimics some PTSD symptoms, although that will need to be determined by a psychiatrist . I went through a lot in 2014 when in hospital and just before in a manic state and when I came home after and got back to work. I wonder if this is what is behind the panic.
This is an honest assessment of whats going on. Despite the anxiety attacks, I have been able to see some friends. I am also still writing my book – deadline fast approaching.
Thank you to all my online twitter ‘cheerleader’ friends who sent me so many messages of love and support, of cute animals and inspiring quotes. You helped give me the strength to go to my interview and be ok. And to my friends and family in ‘real life’ too.
If you are also struggling, keep fighting. I am always here for you to talk too.
When it comes to emergency plans, usually we think in a more physical sense, but did you know that mental health emergency plans are important?
Mental health emergencies can be quite stressful, and if you’re in a mental health industry or have any personal concerns about your own health, providing the right help is important. Here, we will outline important tips to help you create a mental health emergency plan that will suffice.
Have a Support system
If you tend to get overwhelmed when an emergency happens, a big way to help reduce the trauma from it is to have a support system. Whoever you are and whereever you work, your own personal triggers and issues are still there. If you’re having issues coping, find a support system- a friend, family member or therapist that can help.
You may want to come up with a plan to help your responses to situations, especially when disaster strikes. If you do have anxiety and depression, do make sure that you have people that can help around you or reach out for help from a doctor or therapist.
Prepare For Emotional Reactions
Another big thing that emergency evacuation plan Melbourne (in Australia) does point out, is you need to make sure that you have the right idea of what might happen. You should know when you have chaotic reactions, and what you struggle with when disaster strikes.
Focus on what will help, what might happen when you do suffer from an incident, and make sure to communicate it to others.
Processing information is quite hard in a stressful situation, such as fear, anxiety, depression, or even a panic attack, and you should make sure that, with the group of people you trust or the medical profession, you do speak about what happens. It’s also important to make sure that you properly communicate to others. While panic attacks and sad emotions do happen, you should know that you probably will be upset about whatever will transpire. But that its OK to feel this way.
Be Prepared to communicate
A large part of a mental health plan is to make sure that you communicate your needs. If you need to, make sure that you explain any mental health needs, such as medication you might need, in an emergency, with loved ones. Its vital to your wellbeing even when stressful to communicate. Letting others know can help them and you prepare for the worst and take action if needed. You aren’t alone.
Keep Contact information on hand
Pharmacies can help you get emergency medication, but making sure that you have the contact information for your provider, any diagnoses, and dosages of medication are important. Make sure to let some people in your support system know, and also keep those phone numbers on hand in case if the emergency lines are overloaded.
Create a Recovery Bag
If you have extra medications, a comfort item, and anything that you can use to help in the case of an emergency or crisis, put it in a small emergency kit, which you can use if you need to attend hospital or appointments. Remember, emergency kits aren’t just for physical health aspects, but also for mental health. You need to make sure you’re prepared both physically and mentally for any issues that might transpire so that you’re not suffering.
Mental health during an emergency often isn’t focused on as much as say other aspects of your health. Depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts don’t always go away, and you need to be prepared for that, and reach out for help so you can recover well.
Creating a plan to try and prevent or reduce this from happening with your medical team will help if a mental health emergency comes about. From there, you can get the help that you need in order to stabilise yourself, look after yourself and recover again.
This blog was written by Emily Bartels, freelance writer with an interest in mental health and wellbeing.
(image : etsy)
Earlier this week, on the 1st March, Be Ur Own Light turned 3 years old! I still remember starting this blog as an outlet for my fears, thoughts and emotions after leaving a job in 2016 due to acute anxiety and panic ( part of my bipolar) . Writing the blog and sharing thoughts has been so therapeutic and it has taken me on a journey that I could not have imagined when I started writing. As many of you know, this blog led to me writing for big media outlets and to my book deal (book hopefully will be out in November) and I am so grateful for the confidence it has given me too- and the chance to connect with people all over the world.
However, this year (as with the past 2), the blog has attracted a horde of talented writers wanting to spread their messages about mental health and wellness. Some have shared their personal stories of hope and recovery, others have given useful tips on health and wellness and we have covered topics as wide ranging as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and addictions to drugs and alcohol. We have talked about pet therapy, writing therapy, mindfulness and yoga, amongst other therapies.
My guest bloggers have written about their recovery from mental illnesses like anorexia and bipolar disorder. National campaigns like the Diana Award also got in touch with us to discuss bullying and LGBT issues too and Jami charity asked us to cover their mental health awareness campaign (which I helped set up). Furthermore, Be Ur Own Light has also covered World Mental Health Day and Time to Talk Day this year, featuring personal mental health stories as a way to raise awareness and fight misconceptions.
Thank you to my amazing guest bloggers March 2018-2019 for your fantastic content:
Donna at Wildwoman Book Club for Self care
Lynn Crilly- Hope with eating disorders (book)
Cordelia Moor- Living with Quiet BPD for Time to Talk Day
Sarah- On Depression for Time to Talk Day
Peter McDonnell- Managing anxiety and psychosis for TTD
Cara Lisette- Recovery from anorexia and bipolar disorder for TTD
David Welham- Depression and Recovery/ Being a parent of children taking exams
Rachelle Wilber- Treatment for PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)
Brandon Christensen- What is mental health stigma?
Charlotte Underwood- Overcoming Adversity/ The Saviour Complex
Ralph Macey- Managing Bipolar in the workplace
Manmohan Singh- Benefits of Yoga
Alex Sabin- Enjoying the Holidays after Addiction
Spela Kranjec- How to Accept Yourself/ My Journey in surviving Anorexia
Jami charity- Mental Health Awareness Shabbat campaign
Brookman- Avoiding a relationship crisis at Christmas
Sarah Cardwell- Womens health awareness
Anti Bullying Week, the Diana Award and Everyones Talking about Jamie
Allen- Recovery from alcoholism and mental illness
Lizzie Weakley- How to combat your eating disorder
Posy and Posy- Flowers for wellness
N- Poem on depression- Copy of my Mask
Dan Brown at My Therapy- Suicide prevention on social media- World MH Day
Lydia- On complex PTSD and recovery
Ashley Smith- how Physiotherapy helps with stress and anxiety
Amy Hutson- How Writing Therapy helps
Christine H- What family therapy is really like
Meera Watts- How Yoga enhances your lifestyle
Dawn Prime- How can Animal and Pet therapy help
Bill Weiss- Mental Health Stigma and Drug addiction
Dr Nancy Irwin- Signs your loved one is abusing drugs
Eve Crabtree- The MIND diet for Dementia
James Kenneth- Overcoming mental health challenges
Ellie Willis- A guide to mood disorders
AXA PPP- is social media bad for our health?
Lori Longoria- How baths and spas help relaxation
Tomas Sanchez- can alcohol raise stress levels and affect mental health
Dr Janina Scarlet- Therapy quest book
Cloe Matheson- tips to reduce stress
Paul Matthews- fitness and how it helps depression
Katie Rose- How to help anxiety and panic attacks
Anonymous- on sexual abuse
Kayla Clough- coping with post partum depression
Kara Masterson- 4 tips to begin the fight against drug addiction
Michelle Hannan- 5 tips to boost your immune system
Kevin Morley- Satori Mind- Tips to boost mindfulness
Sara Whitehouse at Stadia Sports-How sport can help mental health
Amy Boyington- How holistic medicine helps mental health
Thank you so much to all of you and I am excited to see what 2019 brings for the blog!
2018 was a very special year for me and my writing- being published in Metro.co.uk, Glamour, The Telegraph, Happiful magazine, the Jewish News and several other media outlets. I was featured in articles in Cosmopolitan, Elle, Prima, Yahoo News, Prevention magazine and Refinery29 and guest blogged on other mental health blogs too.
This year on the blog I wrote about my life with social anxiety and work anxiety, winter blues and SAD/ depression, I shared my articles about being plus size and a bride and about my recovery from bipolar disorder. Furthermore, I wrote about the Twitter hashtags I started #mydepressionmeans and #myanxietymeans, to help people feel less alone and share their own experiences online.
On the blog I also reviewed the brilliant book ‘Love and Remission‘ by Annie Belasco by Trigger Publishing, about breast cancer and mental health. Triggers mental health books are great and I read so many that I was unable to review due to time constraints including Depression in a Digital Age by Fiona Thomas and books by Paul McGregor and Ruth Fox.
This year we were given the accolade of being a Top 10 UK Mental Health Blog by Vuelio and were a shortlisted finalist in the 2018 UK Blog Awards (Health and Social Care category). I was also invited to the Mind Media Awards which was an incredible experience and this year, we have been nominated for Blogger of the Year in the Mental Health Blog Awards.
Be Ur Own Light continues to be read globally and I love receiving your messages about the blogs and finding new writers too. Blogging makes me happy and I hope it helps so many of you too and you love what we do here.
Heres to a productive, wonderful, fun and exciting year of educating and battling mental health stigma too 🙂
Happy 3rd birthday Be Ur Own Light! ❤ May this be a special year for us
Love and gratitude,
Writer of Hope with Eating Disorders : A Self Help Guide is Lynn Crilly, a trained counsellor and also a carer to her daughter who developed Anorexia and OCD at aged 13.
Conventional treatment didn’t help her daughter and so Lynn did all she could to learn about eating disorders and mental illness, in order to help her daughter recover. She trained in NLP techniques and became a counsellor, slowly assisting her daughter back to health.
Lynn has said,
‘I have experienced and learnt first-hand how hard it is to support a loved-one through to recovery from Anorexia Nervosa and OCD, and the effect living with mental illness can have on not only the sufferer but everyone involved, particularly the rest of the family.
I was keen to go on to give others the benefit and support of my knowledge and experience both personally and as a counsellor. Over the years I have had the privilege of working with some wonderful people and their families, each and every one unique, whilst I have been able to support them through their journeys. I too have learnt from them.’
I found the book very easy to read and incredibly informative. The first edition of Hope with Eating Disorders was published in 2012. Since that time, awareness of eating disorders have grown. Lynns website says about the book,
In this second edition, which maintains Lynn Crilly’s warm, non-judgemental, family-friendly approach, the more recently recognised eating disorders have been included, the range of treatment options – both mainstream and alternative – has been fully reviewed and revised, and the impact of social and technological change has been fully accommodated, with the role of social media for good and ill to the fore. New case histories highlight key issues, and throughout all references to research and stats have been reviewed and updated. Men’s eating disorders are now addressed by contributing author Dr Russell Delderfield. Since originally writing Hope with Eating Disorders, Lynn has experienced seven years of counselling practice and seven years of her own daughter’s recovery from an eating disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, underpinning her realistic insight into what recovery actually is and means.
Hope with Eating Disorders is a practical, supportive guide for anyone helping someone with an eating disorder be they a family member, teacher, sports coach, workplace colleague or friend.
You can find out more about Lynn and buy a copy of her book at www.lynncrilly.com/my-books
Note : Please read with care- Trigger warning (suicidal thoughts)
When a topic of conversation hits the mainstream, it becomes easier to understand and it spawns more conversations. It snowballs.
Right now, we’re living in a time when society is more open than ever about mental health. Issues are not swept under the rug (as much as they used to be, at least), and life-changing conversations are being had. For me, these conversations on Time To Talk day tend to be amongst friends. It feels…easier, to be open with them.
But what about having a discussion with your parents? What is it like to talk about mental health with a mother or father who has struggled, or currently is struggling with their mental health?
It’s tough. I will tell you that now. But it is important.
I know this because my mum has had depression for 12 years. The best way that I can describe her depression, whilst remembering that every experience is unique, is that it is like a cloud. Some days it can be lighter, and almost brighter, though still casting some shade.
Other days it can be dark, foreboding, and cast its shadow over any and all. The darkest time for her, and for our family, was at the beginning of her depression. It was during that time that I nearly lost my mum at 14.
I could almost say that she actually was lost to our family, if only for a while. I lived with a woman who looked like her, and sounded like her. But her words and actions were foreign and strange to me. Her drive and her energy seemed to vanish overnight, and a woman sitting in the dark, who felt like she had nothing to give, took her place.
I remember going to school, walking past her open bedroom door and saying goodbye to her as she lay in bed. At that time, when I asked her if she would be getting up that day, the only response I heard was:
Those conversations were short. They definitely weren’t sweet.
She struggled. I struggled. My brother struggled. My dad struggled. We were desperate for her to get better, and feared that she’d never make it out of the dark. Eventually, with help though, she did. But, while she is now in a better place, there are still highs and lows.
Because I was so young at the time, I never really spoke to my mum about her illness. Life carried on for me, and a new status quo emerged. But over time, we began to talk.
They still weren’t nice conversations, but they were a start. My mum told me how she felt suicidal, as she lay there in bed. At the time, she said it so matter-of-factly that it sounded blasé to my teenage ears. This revelation stung, and I couldn’t understand a simple question. Why?
Why would she want to do this to me? Why would she want to leave her two children without a mother? Why would she want to leave behind a husband who loved, cared for and adored her? These questions swam in my head for years, and I was incredibly angry with her as I saw it as some form of maternal betrayal. I thought she was selfish.
As I’ve gotten older and talked to her even more about this, my views have changed. I realised that my response was selfish. She explained to me that her depression made her feel so worthless, and so useless, that she would in fact be doing us all a favour by leaving our lives.
I’ve also realised that I’m incredibly lucky, because a lot of parents sadly succumb to this insidious disease. This needs to change.
That’s why I’m writing about this today.
That’s why I still talk to my mum about how she’s feeling. That’s why my brother calls me and lets me know when she’s feeling low, which is a common occurrence in winter for a lot of people with depression. As I live far from home, he reminds me that a quick conversation to ask about her day, tell her about mine, and maybe even make her laugh makes all the difference.
If you are, or have been in my situation, I urge you to talk to your mum or dad. I urge you to talk to your friends and family, because it can be a huge burden to carry alone. It’s like I said, when more people talk about something, it becomes easier to understand. When we understand the problem, we can start to treat it.
If you’d like to find out more about having these conversations, you can do so by visiting the Time To Talk website. They have a range of materials that can help you take that first step, and start talking.
This article was written by Sarah, a mental health writer for Time to Talk Day 2019. You can find her at :