#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.

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!

 

To The Ones I Love, from Me & My Mental Illness

Compared to a lot of others, I wouldn’t say I’ve got a lot of people close to me. But the people that I do have close to me, I treasure very much. My boyfriend, my family and my friends mean the absolute world to me and without them all, I don’t know who or where I’d be.

So, first of all, this post is an apology.

And, I know people often say you shouldn’t apologise for the way you are, but the guilt is often unbearable. I truly am sorry. But, I guess I’m not apologising for who I am, but rather the ramifications of that. I’m snappy, I’m quiet, I’m loud, I’m too opinionated, I’m rude, I’m forgetful, I’m confusing, I’m exhausting, I’m indecisive – I’ve no doubt that I can be hard work to be around. These emotions and reactions aren’t me they’re the result of my mind being under a lot of strain and stress, but I promise I won’t be like this forever.

I’m not only mentally draining, but financially draining also. I don’t often see people talk about their finances when writing about their Mental Health, but it’s something that causes me a lot of stress and I feel through constant worry, stops me from getting ‘better’ in a lot of ways. I don’t currently work and am in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), desperately seeking help to get back to work. As I believe, through such severe anxiety of going to work, I’ve now developed a phobia of it and it just sends me into mental turmoil. I check job sites every single day hoping that ‘perfect’ job will arise. Who am I even kidding here? 

Anyway, I digress. I’m sorry for the financial strain that I’m offloading onto you. I promise that I want nothing more than to go to work and earn myself a living. I want to lead a normal life, and do normal every day things; like going to work. If this ever becomes too much for you, I understand you must leave. I would never want my mental health to start damaging other peoples’ mental health. I would hate myself even more.

Here is my thank you.

Processed with VSCO with a5 presetTo the one I love, you have stuck by me through the hardest time of my life and for that alone, I owe you my life. I know I’m not nearly out of this rut yet but I promise when I am, I will make sure you know just how grateful I am for all that you have dedicated to and done for me. You have made me feel loved when all I ever felt for myself was hatred, you have made me laugh when all I wanted to do was cry, you’ve pulled me through depressive episodes and held my hand through panic attacks that I thought would never end – you have shown me that hope and love exists and that’s been the brightest light in the dark. I cannot express enough, my gratitude for you and all that you’ve done for me. You are everything to me and I love you so much.

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To my Mum, you are an inspiration with the battles you have conquered. You are always there for me through everything I go through, and you get it. That’s something that’s difficult to find and I’m so grateful for it. Thank you for trying your hardest to help me, and for supporting me each and every day. You are my Guardian Angel.

IMG_5586To my Dad, your determination falls second to none and if I carry even half of that, I know that I’ll succeed with happiness one day. You’re always there for a chat and have an open mind to whatever I wish to talk about, thank you so much.

To my family, I often feel some of you have turned a blind eye to what’s been going on with me and I guess I understand. I understand that you don’t quite understand, and that you have your own problems to deal with, I also know that me reaching out is half the battle but burdening you is something I do not wish to do. Regardless of this, thank you for making me smile and laugh through dark times.

To my friends, I’m sorry I’m quiet sometimes but I often need time to myself. Thank you for sticking by my side through my hardest days, that alone means the world to me. I’ve a lot of friends that drifted over the years, but you never did. Thank you for asking how I am, for endless laughs and for being there night and day.

Thank you to you all for being here along the way, you may not quite understand the mental battles I am currently challenged with, but it’s important to me that you’re still here.

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The Anxiety Solution: A Quieter Mind, A Calmer You by Chloe Brotheridge

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I’ll tell you now, I am incredibly guilty of judging a book by it’s cover. And, that was literally what had drawn me to this book at first (shame on me). It is so beautiful, and makes my book shelf look totally gorgeous!

But, oooobviously what brought me to read it (and cheekily ask for a copy from the lovely Chloe herself, thank you!) was the title itself. It’s simple, easy to understand and straight to the point. Perfect for an anxiety sufferer such as myself.

The problem I have found previously with Mental Health related books is that they allow too much dedication to profanities. Sure, the phrases ‘Life’s too short’ and ‘Tomorrow is a new day’ are inspiring, but realistically they’re just not going to help me move forward.

This book is separated into easily digestible chapters which touch on helpful subjects andIMG_7291 self-help tips, that you can bring into your everyday life as slowly or as quickly as you feel comfortable with.

It sections off different parts of your everyday life and delves into where we might be going wrong and how we could turn that around.

Through subjects and topics such as diet, exercise, worrying, schedules, alcohol, self-esteem, mindfulness, meditation and many more, we learn of the affects of seemingly small habits that can cause a much larger butterfly effect on the health of our minds, negatively and positively.

Another great thing that separates this book from a lot of Mental Health related reads is that it provides us with helpful advice, but then also gives us ‘exercises’ to utilise that advice. These exercises are bite size ideas, given throughout the book and are also a part of ‘The Anxiety Solution Toolkit’ in the final chapter, which gives you space to write things down. I find this all incredibly useful, and in my opinion the more something is broken down, the better!

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Chloe is a therapist and also a sufferer herself, so you can trust that these are tried, tested and successful techniques. This meant more to me reading this as I often don’t find a connection with books that are written by those who haven’t suffered themselves, as I find them to be more like ‘textbooks’ than anything else.

Overall, I found this book an effortless and enjoyable read, with giggles and quirks along the way. Chloe becomes your best friend throughout the book, building your trust and reeling you in with each and every word.

From The Anxiety Solution by Chloe Brotheridge

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I would absolutely recommend reading this if you suffer with anxiety, and also reading it and reading it again, which is exactly what I plan to do! And, whilst the book is generally directed at female readers I definitely wouldn’t discourage males to read it.

As well as this book, Chloe has a website with lots of useful resources and links, check out Calmer You here and also have a watch of the video below!

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.