#MentalMovement / General Election: A Guide to Mental Health in the Manifestos

June 8th is fast approaching and people are fiercely campaigning to encourage young people to vote to help shape their future. There’s no doubt changes need to be made and I urge you to read through each manifesto and decide with your own views, who you wish to vote for.

As Mental Health is a subject close to me, I have focused on how each party intends to tackle the issues at present.

The passages below are direct quotes from a few of the manifestos.

Check out the full article here.

22 May / The ‘Work’ Thing

So would you believe, I have two job interviews coming up(?!). They’re both part-time, one in an admin/receptionist role and the other as a care assistant in a dementia/elderly home.

The idea of work is still absolutely terrifying, my heart is beating and my breath is short, as I’m writing this. (Here’s where a lot of my anxiety about work has come from.)

I have been offered a ‘work coach’ through the job centre as I’ve recently started claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and have an assessment with him on 31st May, this is to talk about what I think my needs are and the help that I want.

Obviously I’m really torn as this has all come at once, but I’ve a good feeling about the admin job in particular. That is a huge step in itself, because I do apply for jobs and wholeheartedly so, but if/when I get an interview I panic because it makes it that much more real. I panicked at first, but after a few days to think it over, I think I’m feeling better.

The place itself offers ‘chakra puncture’ for anxiety which is a good sign I guess?

The reason I’m so afraid of going back to work is because I’m scared of getting overwhelmed. I don’t adjust to new situations very well emotionally and often find my emotions ‘crash’ when I push myself too much, so I need a lot of down time to rest my mind. I really don’t want that to happen and then I just end up crying at work all the time and get too physically anxious to go to work again. (My physical symptoms of anxiety often include vomiting, numb limbs, shortness of breath and uncontrollable crying.)

I’m not sure how to help myself though. I am on a waiting list for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) but God knows how long that will be before it starts.

I’ve really no idea how this is going to pan out because I find my moods and decision making very sporadic and I could change my mind about a lot of things at any given moment. But, we shall see how it goes – I’m trying to think positive!

If anybody has any advice on returning to work and handling overwhelming emotions, please drop me a message!

Note to self:

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Quick Tips: The Power of the To-Do List for Motivation

Depression is a real motivation sucker and can leave you feeling incredibly empty and hopeless. One way I have found to combat this is by writing and following to-do lists. It seems fairly trivial but trust me, ticking those boxes off is very rewarding!

Here’s my to-do list for today which I have completed;

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I wrote this list before I went to bed last night, so I knew I had a list to complete when I woke up. This encouraged me to get up and out of bed, instead of the usual staying in bed until it’s frowned upon.

As you can see, some of my to-do’s are very simple day to day tasks, so never think that anything is too small – if you feel accomplished doing it, then write it down and get it done!

The feeling of satisfaction I get after completing a list is a very positive one and a reminder that I can get up and see the day, no matter how hard my mind tells me I can’t. This is a perfect bridge to setting yourself up for a good day. Give it a go, you could be pleasantly surprised!

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Mental Health Week / It Doesn’t End For Everybody

I have been blown away by the support for Mental Health Awareness Week online. It warms my heart to see so many people that genuinely care and want to raise awareness for this cause. It’s so important to battle stigmas, help those who are suffering, both openly and in silence, and to help those that don’t quite understand the importance of mental health yet.

However and like my title says, this week doesn’t end for everybody.

When I wake up tomorrow morning around 10am, I’ll still need to persuade myself to get out of bed. I’ll still look at myself in the mirror whilst brushing my teeth and think, ‘What’s the point?’. I’ll still take myself to the kitchen and avoid making breakfast because I just can’t be bothered. And, I’ll still return to my bed as soon as possible, seeking comfort & isolation in my metaphorical, mental fort.

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It’s like this for many, and I will never stop my efforts to help others suffering with their mental health, and you shouldn’t either. Too many people suffer in silence and hide it from those around them due to shame or embarrassment.

Your mental health is nothing to be embarrassed of; you should be proud of the battles you’ve fought and the strength you have built. You are a warrior, wear that badge with pride.

“You don’t have to be positive all the time. It’s perfectly okay to feel sad, angry, annoyed, frustrated, scared or anxious.” – Lori Deschene 

I urge you to reach out to people, ask how old friends are, offer your support to those who seem unhappy and make that extra effort with those who seem to be isolating themselves. You will never truly know what someone is going through, and as for mental illness, a lot of the time you’re unlikely to spot it. The best way we can combat this is by offering our support to those around us. We can talk about mental health online to let people know that we care & understand and continue to raise awareness.

Please if you’re suffering and don’t now what to do, just talk about it. It’ll help more than you know.

11 May / Learning to Handle Overwhelming Emotions

Overwhelm [o·ver·whelm] – verb
Overwhelm is defined as to completely overcome or take over. An example of overwhelm is for a teacher to assign students five lengthy papers due on the same day.
Source: http://www.yourdictionary.com/overwhelm

Being told you suffer with a specific mental illness or disorder is not conclusive of your symptoms or emotions. I am learning about my mental health each and every day, we are all different and unique in our own minds.

IMG_7531Yesterday I had a really great day. It was a beautiful day, and although I didn’t get up until gone 11am, I felt very productive. I sunbathed (& got sunburnt), meditated, stretched, listened to a TedTalk, went to the post office, did some chores for my Mum, wrote a blog post I’d been putting off for a while, and showered. These seem like normal every day tasks, right? But they’re not for me.

My usual day consists of; getting up late morning, eating my breakfast downstairs with my Dad, going back to bed and either sitting on my laptop or watching a movie/TV, I will then nap around 3pm until my boyfriend comes home, we will eat dinner downstairs with my parents, then go back to bed and watch TV until I go to sleep around 1-2am – all the meanwhile keeping a close eye on social media.

So, whilst yesterday was great and I felt very positive, I suddenly clicked last night that I’d feel crappy today because of it – and I was right. I had to drag myself out of bed today after waking up feeling very sick and anxious.

And, that’s because I’d overwhelmed myself with positive emotions and gotten carried away with the productive feeling.

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I need ‘down time’ whenever I experience something out of the ordain. For example; I am unable to spend an entire day socialising, without needing quiet time in the evening purely for the fact I am not used to socialising. I am also not used to feeling positive or productive for extended periods of time (a day is extensive).

My personal goal with this realisation is that I must take things slowly. Mentally I always seem to be in a hurry, which I think is largely due to my anxiety struggles. So, I must learn to take a step back, take a deep breath, be mindful of a new situation or emotion I’m not used to feeling, and not jump straight in as it were. This way I will be able to take in a situation easier and also analyse how it is affecting me.

I have a job interview on 26th May for a job as a receptionist/administrator, 3 days a week and full 9 hour days.

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I’m very anxious about it and it’s constantly circling my mind, as to whether or not I will be able to handle this drastic change in my usual life if I got the job. Three days a week to the average person may seem a dream, but to me it’s terrifying. Especially as the days are so long. Ideally I think I need to start getting up earlier and trying to tackle my tiredness, maybe that will help me.

I’m going out tonight for my boyfriend’s Nan’s birthday. We’re just going over to her house with the rest of his family and to have some fish & chips. It will be good to get out, socialise and also exercise my mind to unusual situations.

Product Review: Aromatherapy with Stress No More & FitAir

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week Stress No More are offering 20% off all Aroma Diffusers with the code AROMA20 – don’t miss out. (Offer ends 14/05/17.)

I was lucky enough to receive a FitAir Eden Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser with FitAir Aromatherapy Oils with Carved Wood Storage Box from the lovely Stress No More to try for myself – so, thank you very much!

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If you’ve read previous posts from my blog you may know that aromatherapy is something I rate highly with management of my anxiety and stress levels. After purchasing a diffuser starter kit last year, I fell in love. I could hardly wait to get into bed each night, put together a new blend of oils and relax.

After getting in touch with Stress No More, who have been very supportive of me, they recommended trying this set of oils and diffuser (which they use in their office!) and I was delighted at the opportunity. Anything to do with essential oils and you can count me in!

First impressions with these products; the diffuser is compact, simplistic and portable. Unlike a lot of diffusers, you are able to charge this one (providing up to 50 hours with each charge) and put it where you like. It actually fits in my handbag, which is great! I’ve always wanted to take my other diffuser away on holidays but it just takes up too much suitcase space!

The size takes nothing away from the effectiveness of the product itself, as rather than diffusing with water, you diffuse the oils alone. So, you literally screw a bottle inside the diffuser and you’re away. You can use a standard 10ml oil, but they also provide you with an empty bottle to make your own blends. 10/10 for convenience!

The technicality of the product is great. It comes with different intensities and you use these depending on the size of the room that you’re in. You can also set a timer for up to 1, 2 or 4 hours, so if you’re going to bed you don’t have to worry about turning it off or wasting any of your oils. If you enjoy convenience and are looking for a high quality product, I would 100% recommend this diffuser.

The oils themselves are 100% Pure and you can buy them individually as well as the set. As well as diffusing, you can use them for massage with a carrier oil or pop a few drops in your bath.

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In the box you receive the following 6 oils (as quoted on each bottle);

  • Energise & Revitalise; an energising mix of citrus and uplifting pure essential oils. Containing Lemon, Scotch Pine, Rosemary and Lime.
  • Strength & Harmony; combining clearing Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Pine, Peppermint and Tea Tree to banish Winter blues.
  • Sensual & Arousing; combining the juicy aroma of Sweet Oranges, sensuous Ylang Ylang, Patchouli and sweet floral Palma Rosa.
  • Focus & Concentration; to help keep you on top form and a great companion during exams or when working. Combining Rosemary, Basil, Peppermint and Pine.
  • Relax & Mindfulness; to leave you feeling relaxed. Containing relaxing Lavender & Marjoram, balancing Bergamot (FCF) and calming Petitgrain.
  • Invigorate & Inspire; to kick start your day. Containing uplifting Orange & Lemon oils, comforting Mandarin, stimulating Pine and reviving spearmint.

Both products are rated 5 Stars on the website and I can see why. They’re convenient, simple to use and great for aromatherapy beginners. If you don’t want to get caught up in which oil does what, and what oil blends best with another, this set of oils is definitely the way to go.

Overall, I’m very pleased with these products and they work brilliantly together. I enjoy being able to carry this around with me and use it when I wish!


Find out more about Essential Oils – #MentalMovement / How Essential Oils Could Improve Your Mental Health

Check out my product review of The Beurer TL60 Right Light for Stress No More – #MentalMovement / The Beurer TL60 Bright Light: How Light Therapy Changed My Mornings

 

 

Mental Health Month: 5 Ways That You Can Get Involved

There are many ways you can get involved with Mental Health Awareness Week & Month, and please don’t think just because you don’t suffer with Mental Illness it means you shouldn’t get involved!

  • Hashtags

    There are various hashtags floating around on Twitter/Instagram etc. Make sure every time you Tweet anything related to MH you use the tags! (#MHAW #MHAW2017 #MentalHealthMonth #MentalHealthWeek …)

  • Twitter Chats

    If you’ve never joined in with a Twitter Chat fear not, they’re pretty simple! All you do is follow the specific hashtag (make sure you click the ‘latest’ tab!), answer the questions and respond to others using the hashtag in your Tweets! I will be hosting #LetsChatMH tomorrow night at 7.30pm GMT. 

    You can also join the following that are related to MH:

    Wednesdays @ 8pm GMT – #MHChat
    Thursdays @ 8.30pm GMT – #TalkMH
    Sundays @ 8pm GMT – #PosiMH

    If you’re interested in getting involved in more chats, have a look at the list I compiled here!

  • Reading & Sharing Blog Posts

    For some people there’s nothing more settling or helpful than a good, honest post from someone who suffers with their own Mental Health. I encourage you to read others’ posts related to their MH as this will help better your knowledge of MH as a whole, and don’t forget sharing is caring!

  • Use That Retweet/Share Button

    If you see something particularly powerful or that could be helpful to others suffering, why not share it?! It takes maximum of 10 seconds of your time and could really help someone. If you follow the hashtags you’ll be sure to find something interesting!

  • Offer Support

    If you see someone reaching out for help, don’t ignore it! You never know if that’s their final cry for help. Offer your support, and always say you’re there to talk if they need you. The power of talking to someone who wants to help you and understand is hugely underrated.

I’m going to try and get involved with Mental Health Week & Month in any way I can so if you’ve got any good ideas or suggestions throw them my way, and I hope to see you at tomorrow’s Twitter chat!

 

28 April / An Update On Me

I haven’t blogged about myself much because I’m feeling a bit on the fence with everything really. Generally, I just feel lost and my mind is so blank.

I had an assessment for counselling on Wednesday and I have been put on a waiting list for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) of which I am very grateful for. But, since I’ve had it twice before and didn’t find it very useful, I’m also a little disappointed.

We discussed how I’ve been feeling and what my general ‘goals’ are. I hate that question, I just want to live a normal life, with normal emotions and not hate myself. Please?

I also spoke about how I’d seen a Psychiatrist in January who came to the conclusion I was suffering with Generalised Anxiety (it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or diagnosis to realise that). I’d actually had the referral because my Dr suspected I could be suffering with Bipolar Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder due to my constant mood changes, impulsivity and general confusion in myself (amongst a lot of other ‘symptoms’). But the psychiatrist kind of shut me down.

For one we met in a local activity centre with no waiting room, so my Mum ended up sat in with me which made me feel uncomfortable. He also only asked me a few questions about my childhood and concluded I was ‘normal’. Whatever that is.

The problem is, I have real ‘identity’ issues and I struggle with things like knowing my likes and dislikes. I find myself doing laps in my mind thinking about the things I do in my life. Like, do I do that because she does it? Do I really like it? Am I watching this because they do? Am I actually enjoying it? Blah, blah, blah… These things sound trivial but I’ve always been like it, even with life choices.

I touched on 7 different A Levels in college, trying to figure out if I actually enjoyed the subjects I chose. I actually did Business Studies AS Level twice (two years of studying) and failed both times – I’ve still no idea whether I enjoyed it or if I just liked the idea of business. Career wise I have since been a Letting Agent and a Fitness Instructor and given up on both.

I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing or what I want. I really want some help with this but I’ve no idea where to turn?

Film Review: Disney Pixar’s Inside Out

Inside Out is a Disney Pixar movie based inside the mind of an 11 year old girl named Riley, rated 8.2/10 by IMDb.

The movie begins with an introduction of five emotions that are physical characters inside of Riley’s mind; Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust.

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They navigate Riley’s mind and reactions through a control panel in a space age looking ‘headquarters’. Memories are created that form in the shape of glass balls, colour coded by emotion. These balls are then fed through a big tube into Riley’s mind from headquarters.

giphy (2)We are then introduced to the ‘islands’ of Riley’s mind, these are created by ‘core memories’ which look similar to memories, but glow brightly. The islands build up Riley’s personality; Honesty Island, Hockey Island, Family Island, Friendship Island and Goofball Island.

The storyline itself surrounds Riley’s big move to a new city from Minnesota with her Parents and the emotional challenges this can cause a young girl to have. Whilst Joy seems to be the dominant emotion at the beginning, trying very hard to keep Riley happy, the trail of events invite the rest to the forefront of Riley’s mind. giphy (3)

After an accident happens with Joy and Sadness, they are both, along with the core memories, sucked through the tube that takes memories into Riley’s mind. This causes the islands to be ‘down’ and Riley’s reactions to be turbulent with just Anger, Fear and Disgust left at headquarters.

With no clear route back to headquarters for Joy & Sadness and challenging events happening in Riley’s life left, right and centre, the islands begin to fall and are forgotten.

Joy and Sadness traipse through Riley’s mind experiencing their own challenges, but eventually make it back to headquarters along with the help of Riley’s imaginary friend from her childhood, Bing Bong, who they find amongst her memories.

Joy and Sadness get back just as Riley is running away from home. And, instead of Joy taking control of things she lets Sadness take the reins for once, telling her “Riley needs you.”

Once Sadness takes hold of the controls, Riley returns home. Joy passes the core memories to Sadness who puts them back where they belong. With Sadness’s touch they turn blue, encouraging Riley to feel sadness for these memories and tell her parents that she misses home.

Sadness pulls Joy to the control panel and they press a button together whilst Riley hugs her parents. This creates a new core memory which is coloured both happy and sad, bringing back all the islands. With this new experience new islands form and they expand their control panel to allow all the emotions to take control at the same time.

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I found this ending to be very profound for a children’s’ movie, but it really made me think. Instead of living for one emotion at a time or trying to feel Joy 24/7, it encourages you to allow all of your emotions to be felt to have a healthy mind and reasonable reactions. This allowed Riley’s mind to expand and form more ‘islands’, building on her personality and wisdom. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and the message it conveyed and I hope that children understand the moral of the story.

Walking For Your Mental Health

Even as a qualified fitness instructor, I find the idea of strenuous exercise quite daunting. I’ve fallen off the wagon and been quite lazy over the last few months, especially since I quit working at the gym. Gathering motivation when you’re depressed is very difficult unfortunately.

However, I try my best to keep my fitness up with something I genuinely enjoy, and that’s walking. Walking is probably one of the most underrated forms of exercise in the fitness world as it’s deemed ‘not enough’. But, this post is to tell you that it absolutely is enough and you 100% will receive great benefits from regular brisk walking.

The physical benefits of walking can include;

  • Reduced risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease
  • Increased cardiac & pulmonary fitness
  • Encouraged weight loss and reduction of body fat
  • Increased bone strength
  • Increased muscle endurance
  • Boosted immune system

The mental benefits of walking can include;

  • Improved mood with the release of endorphins
  • Reduction of stress & anxiety
  • Improved self-confidence
  • Improved memory
  • Increased relaxation
  • Helps to control addiction

I enjoy walking for a lot of these reasons but for a few personal reasons too. As I’m not working at the moment I find it very difficult to separate my days, so it all ends up a big blur at times. So, it’s very important for me to get outside as part of a daily routine.

I also genuinely just love being outside in nature. The smell of fresh air is far too underrated and I could happily sit outside for hours with the sun on my face taking big, deep breaths. I find it so relaxing and it really helps me to feel at peace.

Walking ticks a lot of boxes for me and that’s why I love it so much. I’m very lucky to live in Cornwall as I’m surrounded by lots of beautiful places and the coastline is all around me, so there’s always lots to explore.

If you’re struggling with your MH and haven’t allowed your body some exercise, I would definitely recommend giving regular walking a go! Find advice from the NHS on starting out walking here.

Here’s a walk I went on yesterday evening – beautiful!