This blog was started by a young woman in the UK who has lived with bipolar disorder for 13 years as well as anxiety disorders. Diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder (a mood disorder) at 16, and now in her twenties, she blog about what has helped her in recovery and to help others too.
I have got to know Dr Janina Scarlet, psychologist as I have written more across the media. Janina writes about therapy and mental health in an approachable and meaningful way. She also loves superheroes and fantasy and incorporates them into her work!
This week for Mental Health Awareness Week, I spoke to her as she launches her new book ‘Therapy Quest’.
(image: The Book Publicist/ Dr Janina Scarlet)
What is your new book Therapy Quest about?
Therapy Quest is an interactive fantasy book in which YOU (the reader) are the main character. You are transported to a magical world of Here and are the Chosen One to stop an evil sorceress, Mallena, from destroying the world. Only you don’t feel like a hero. Not at all. Your anxieties and insecurities nearly lead you to abandon your quest altogether. However, if you decide to partner up with some new friends, such as a vampire with an eating disorder, and an Ogre who struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder, you just might be able to become a hero after all.
The book is written in a game-like format, which allows you to make choices along the way. Each choice you make will change the rest of your journey and can either allow you to earn or lose points. Some choices can kill your friends or your character, so you have to be careful.
Each time you make a choice, you will also learn a mental health skill, and you will need all the skills you can learn along the way to help you in your final battle.
What was your inspiration for writing it?
I knew I wanted to write a fantasy book with self-help elements in it, in which the reader could learn these skills through the characters they were reading about. My editor, Andrew McAleer, had the brilliant idea of having a similar format to “Choose Your Own Adventure” fighting fantasy books. This sounded like a very interesting challenge to me, and I am extremely honoured to have been able to work on it.
Could you explain a bit about what Superhero Therapy is and how it works in the book?
Superhero Therapy refers to incorporating elements of popular culture, such as fantasy and science fiction books, movies, TV shows, as well as video games, comic books (Superhero or otherwise) into evidence-based (research-supported) therapy to help clients to become their own version of a superhero in real life (IRL).
In Therapy Quest, the reader is the Chosen One, the Hero of their own journey even if they question their ability to do so. Through learning skills such as mindfulness, self-compassion, acceptance, and following their own core values, the readers are invited to take their own superhero journey and develop their own superhero skills, which can be utilized in their every day life as well.
Who could you recommend the book to?
I would recommend this book to anyone age 12 and up who might enjoy fantasy books and would like to learn skills to manage depression, anxiety, trauma, or other mental health struggles.
Dr Janina Scarlet is a clinical psychologist and the author of Therapy Quest, a revolutionary self-help book which combines therapy with an interactive fantasy quest.
Today my article for Mental Health Awareness Week (by the mental health foundation) went live on the Metro.co.uk website. I worked with the Foundation, Samaritans, Young Minds and Time to Change to discuss their initiatives to help break stigma against mental illness and do something active in our communities.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, The event run by the Mental Health Foundation, has been running for 18 years. ‘Admitting it was shameful and embarrassing’ – what it’s really like to have kleptomania This year’s theme for Mental Health Week is: ‘Stress: Are We Coping?’.
Tackling stress, The Mental Health Foundation says, can go a long way to prevent anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide, and it has commissioned the biggest ever survey into stress-related issues in the UK.
The survey, of 6,000 people across the UK, found some startling findings: in the last year almost three-quarters of people have at some point felt so stressed they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
It revealed that 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope, and that 83% of 18- to 24 year-olds said this, compared to 65% of people aged 55 and over.
Mental Health Foundation director Isabella Goldie says: ‘Millions of us around the UK are experiencing high levels of stress and it is damaging our health. ‘Stress is one of the great public health challenges of our time, but it still isn’t being taken as seriously as physical health concerns.’
Talking and breaking the stigma that surrounds mental illness is also hugely important So how are charities working to break down this stigma? We spoke to a number of them to find out.
The Mental Health Foundation
It is hoped that Mental Health Awareness Week will educate on stress and mental health, and start to open the conversation on coping methods and support, such as therapies, support networks and medication. The foundation is running the Green Ribbon scheme, a charity pin that can be bought. Worn during Mental Health Awareness Week, It allows people to show support for good mental health for all, with all proceeds going to support the work of the foundation. Actor David Harewood posted a photo on Instagram about the campaign as he is an ambassador.
He says: ‘This year I am supporting MHAW. I am putting my face to the campaign and making a BBC documentary on the subject because 30 years ago I had a breakdown myself.
‘I am not sure why it has taken so long for me to go public with it, but, to be honest, I’ve been so busy over the past seven to eight years I haven’t really had the time. ‘Ever since I did last year, I have been astonished by the number of people who have come to me with their own experiences of mental health, encouraged by my frank admission.’
The Foundation wants the green ribbon to be the international symbol for mental health awareness. It is encouraging family and friends or colleagues to get together and have a chat about mental health over a curry. There are quiz ideas and competitions to keep your guests engaged and to raise money for the Foundations work in mental health. To learn more, visit mentalhealth.org.uk.
To read more about the other charities and see the full article click the link below.
With research increasingly demonstrating the correlation between prolonged stress and a shorter lifespan, we would all like to avoid the spectres of stress and anxiety. But since chances are the vast majority of us have been confronted with both at some point and will be again in the future, what does it take to manage pressure yourself – or even better, to build a lifestyle which doesn’t allow stress a look in?
Check out our 5 simple tips to get started on your journey to calm.
Avoid triggering substances or habits
We hear it all the time, but it’s true: the things you fuel your body with significantly affect how you feel. Particularly if you’ve been diagnosed with a gut condition such as IBS (which has been shown to worsen in times of stress), you’ll want to ensure your diet is full of colourful, digestible wholefoods. In times of stress, a salad is often the last thing most of us want to reach for – but even if your current best move is reducing your caffeine intake, that is a step in the right direction.
If you’re currently using other substances to self-medicate during or after a long day – we’re talking nicotine (a stimulant) and alcohol (a depressant) – then let this be the push you need to give up those bad habits.
Anticipate and respond
Particularly for perfectionists and people who experience social anxiety, stress is unavoidable in daily life. Although easier said than done, try to embrace this inevitability as best you can – as our fears often lose their power if we are prepared for them to manifest. When you are in the midst of responding to stress directly, keep these coping mechanisms in mind:
Exercise – put those fight-or-flight hormones to good use and have a workout while restoring yourself to calm. This doesn’t have to be an hour-long run at peak intensity: it can be as simple as walking around your office block when you need a workload break.
Breathe – if you’re delayed in a waiting room or have just received challenging news, don’t panic. Sit or stand somewhere comfortable, close your eyes, visualise a serene place in your mind, slowly breathe in and out, and relax to the sound of your exhalations until your heartbeat slows and you can figure out your next step.
Even for those of us who believe we need no more than 5 hours of sleep per night, humans just aren’t built to withstand such short stints of shut-eye on a regular basis.
The proper functioning of both body and mind rely on essential processes that occur during sleep, including the renewal of skin cells and the retention of information in the hippocampus – the main memory-processing section of the brain. Since these processes can only be completed in a state of sleep, it’s best to take your zzz’s seriously.
But since stress may be the exact thing keeping you up at night, here are some rituals to build into your bedtime routine:
Stop work at least an hour before bed
Have a warm bath or shower at night
Put some lavender oil on your pillow
Read (a book, rather than a screen!) before you turn off the light
In the dark, focus on relaxing every separate limb and muscle of your body before going to sleep.
John Donne was right: no man is an island. Bottling up your stress and trying to manage alone may work in the short-term, but not forever. To avoid building up pressure that leads to breakdowns, consider chatting to a counsellor or a grounded friend about how you’re feeling, or join a club or society which will allow you to talk with like-minded people who may struggle with similar problems. If you are internet savvy, even online discussion boards and forums can be a safe place to air your woes.
Prioritise and identify
Are you staring down a hectic month of appointments, task-juggling, and trying to perfectly fulfil a different role for everyone in your life? Compartmentalise to deal with the mayhem.
What do you need to prepare for your next move? Tackle your tasks individually and avoid thinking about your myriad other tasks until you are finished working on each one. Stress often peaks when we consider all our problems or tasks in their monstrous sum, whereas they are much more manageable taken alone.
If you struggle through every month, you need to identify what causes your stress. No one can do everything, and you may find that you have overcommitted to tasks. What can you say No to? At times like this, it’s worth remembering that you are the only person in control of your life: so put your wellbeing first.
Dark times can come. When you reach your darkest days, the ones in which your thoughts are controlling you and you can barely do anything, you should try and keep yourself busy, if this is possible. Its not always possible for people who are unwell- but distractions and exercise are always helpful, especially if they benefit your overall health.
These are the top 3 reasons why taking exercise could help you if you’re suffering from depression:
1: Engage your mind and keep it busy
Last year was one of the worst periods of my life: I broke up with my girlfriend, changed my job and lost one of my best friends. I was that sad and my mind was not properly functioning, all my thoughts were invading me all day and I was barely able to do anything.
One day, I went for a 5 mile run, because it was sunny, right after work. During this time, no negative thought hit me. That was when I opened my eyes: if you don’t dwell on depressive thoughts, then you will be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I decided to get a gym membership and I started working out for an hour after work. It has really helped me manage my depression. I am happy right now: my life is busy, but I have plenty of energy every day and less dark clouds.
Keep active and you should hopefully see the benefit!
2: Your lifestyle can affect your mental health
One of my friends who had depression loved junk food. He was constantly sad and depressed. He also did hardly any exercise. I encouraged him to exercise more and go to the gym if possible. The exercise helped him feel more positive and like he was taking good steps back to wellness. 3. Help Your Self Esteem and Do it for you
Many people told me that they were embarrassed to do exercise and particularly going to the gym as they felt “ugly, insecure, overweight and not fit” and so on. The best advice I can give is: get yourself some good fitness clothing you feel comfortable in. This might sound a bit weird, but properly fitting exercise wear can boost confidence and promote positive mental health.
Its also important to note that you aren’t the only one feeling this way and most people feel the same about themselves. Take that leap today.
When you are approaching fitness, whether if it’s in the gym or outside, or even at home, you must not forget about why you are doing it, why it’s important for you and how this could help you with your mindset.
Gentle exercise includes swimming, walking and yoga. There is something for everyone.
Try and see over the wall and remember: after the storm, the sun will rise again. Keep it up!
Paul Matthews is a freelance business writer in Manchester, who has headed up several campaigns. His aim is to better inform business owners and professionals on the hidden dangers of the workplace. You can often find him mountain biking or at the local library.
I havn’t written here for several weeks, because I have felt a little bit like Dorothy and Toto the dog at the start of the Wizard of Oz film, when they are caught in the hurricane.
Sometimes life sweeps you up in its path and can get very busy. This for me at the moment is not a bad thing. My boyfriend- now fiance and I got engaged about 2 weeks ago. If you didnt know (WordPress followers) he proposed to me at the Shard here in London, overlooking the sunset over the river Thames and Tower Bridge/ Tower of London. It was super romantic and very very special. We are both so excited.
However, in the community we come from, we have had to organise an engagement party and ceremony quite quickly and do all the admin that comes with coordinating families. My parents are divorced and my Mum has remarried which means we have more family than normal too.
So, getting 200 emails in just a week and a half was not easy but we did it! We also got our families together for a meal and went to visit grandparents too. As well as organising other plans. Its been a lovely yet overwhelming time and so grateful for everyones love and kindness.
Sometimes I literally have to take myself away from planning so I can cope. I was doing a lot of it myself but decided for my health (and bank balance) that I need to get back to work properly- and do what I love, writing.
(image :Michelle Cruz/ AZ quotes)
When I feel overwhelm I just tell my support network and take a breather. Its the only way. Self care is hugely important.
I will also be writing an article for Metro on stress and insomnia during engagement period. Thankfully I am sleeping a lot better now but in the first few days after we announced our engagement, I struggled to sleep due to adrenaline overload.
I have also enjoyed the summer like sun here in London and being in nature at the weekend (we had a bank holiday- day off work).
Sometimes life does feel like a whirlwind- whether that is positive or negative. What is important is to ride out the storm and take time for you. This is what I am learning….
My name is Kate and just over 2 years ago I had my first panic attack. It was without a doubt, the scariest moment in my life and to think I’m at the point where now I can somewhat control my anxiety, feels like a miracle. Anxiety is not something that you can “just get over” which I’ve often heard those who don’t suffer from it, say. (So don’t worry if you’re struggling!) Though I’m a lot more stable now, I still experience mild anxiety every now and again. This post will tell you how I managed to tame my anxiety and help prevent my panic attacks.
#1 Stop Drinking Alcohol
Whether you agree alcohol is the reason for your panic attacks or not, it’s a proven cause to why people suffer from anxiety. Sadly for me, alcohol is the number one cause of why I would experience panic attacks and get myself into such an unstable state. As a result, I will no longer drink even a drop of alcohol and since, I haven’t experienced a panic attack. This is not the same for everyone- some people don’t drink but still experience high panic. It’s not that I don’t want to drink alcohol or that I don’t enjoy myself when I am drinking because I really do. However, the aftermath of it all just isn’t worth it.
In spite of that, it doesn’t mean I haven’t felt anxious since stopping drinking because I have and it’s still an ongoing battle. I’ve quite simply stopped having major panic attacks.
What Happens When I Drink Alcohol?
When I drink alcohol I end up going to bed with a racing mind (how on earth I end up sleeping I have no idea) and wake up in the early hours of the morning with major heart palpitations and breathlessness. It makes me feel like I’m about to die. Due to being tired from waking up early, I always feel extremely frustrated that my body has woken me up. No doubt that makes my anxiety worse and stops me from relaxing and calming down. So, what do I do?
Solution: Talk To Someone
Instead of going on my phone and surfing the internet to try and distract myself, I’m lucky enough to be able to wake my dad and sit and talk to him. I find that it helps me get back to sleep so much quicker than staring at a bright screen which actually makes me feel more awake. After all, it’s unlikely you want to be awake at 4 AM watching YouTube or scrolling through Instagram, instead of sleeping. By closing my eyes, yet having someone there to talk to, I’m able to slowly drift off back to sleep and thankfully not wake up again until the morning. It takes me an hour or two to fall back asleep but compared to trying to cope alone, it’s a lot shorter. Try it – it might just work for you.
Don’t have someone at home to talk to? Perhaps you live alone and I assume for sufferers in an empty home it will feel a million times worse. Maybe it is time to take out your phone but instead of staring at the screen, call someone, even if its a helpline. That way you can lie with your eyes closed making you more likely to fall asleep and still be able to talk to someone for help.
#2Breathe Using Your Stomach
It may sound slightly strange but after having the ambulance out to me on several occasions, I’ve learn that it’s my breathing that plays a huge part in being able to calm down or not. Breathing quickly and inhaling small amounts of air at a time can cause you to hyperventilate. Stop. Sit back and assess your situation. Think about how you’re breathing:
Are you breathing quickly? Are you breathing in through your nose? When I’m feeling breathless, instead of trying to take lots of little breaths that cause my chest and shoulders to move quickly, I take big, deeper breaths that’ll push my stomach out.
By concentrating on feeling my stomach move, I can focus my attention elsewhere from my racing heart and help me calm down. Use the below ‘calm breathing’ technique from Anxieties for more help:
Take a long, slow breath in through your nose, first filling your lower lungs, then your upper lungs. (You should feel your stomach push out slightly before your chest starts feeling full of air.)
Hold your breath to the count of “three.”
Exhale slowly, while you relax the muscles in your face, jaw, shoulders and stomach.
Remember: Listen to your body and analyse what you’re doing. Are your teeth clenched? How are you sitting? Give your body a little shake to relax yourself and even close your eyes if you wish and practice your breathing.
(image: Kate Rose/ internet)
#3 Thought Journal
I think one of the main things that has helped me to conquer my anxiety was analysing the potential cause and the feelings I had, during the panic attacks. Sometimes it was going to bed with too much on my mind, sometimes eating too late. Even from doing absolutely nothing and other times from being rushed off my feet. It’s hard when there are so many different factors that can trigger panic attacks but trying to figure out what that cause is can help you to overcome your negative feelings.
Write them down. Making a note of the time you had your panic attack, what you were doing before, perhaps the foods you ate that day and so on, will help you to figure out if there is a pattern. Over time I began to learn that the main cause of mine was from alcohol and going to bed when I still had things to do. Ensuring I made time for cleaning my room, making my dinner for work and sorting my outfit for the following day, meant I could go to bed without worrying. I wouldn’t feel rushed and I gave myself peace of mind to improve my sleep which is so important for coping with anxiety.
#4 Do Some Exercise
One of the key factors in helping me beat my anxiety was a lifestyle change that involved getting active and eating healthy. By going to a fitness class or doing a home workout, I was able to relieve all of my built up stress and found trying to get to sleep or relax, a lot easier. I started by going the gym 2-3 days a week and currently go 3-4 times a week. I also realised that since getting a FitBit back in July 2017, it’s helped push past my panic attacks even further, by distracting me from feeling anxious with fun fitness challenges with my friends and family. What’s great with having a FitBit is, even if you don’t have friends or family who have one, there’s a whole community you can get involved with.
Not Interested In Exercise?
If you’re not into doing full-on fitness classes, why not aim to do a certain number of steps a day? My goal is 8,000 and find that whilst working 7AM to 4PM Monday to Friday, this is pretty achievable as long as I go for a stroll at dinner and again in the evenings. Doing this every day is keeping both me and my brain active and it’s these small changes that have helped me to channel my anxious thoughts, elsewhere. Here are some more tips on exercising to beat anxiety.
#5 Don’t Feel Ashamed
No matter how hard it is, you must not feel like a failure. Anxiety can affect anyone and everyone and when you least expect it. Before my panic attacks I was out partying all of the time, drinking copious amounts of alcohol and not having a care in the world. As unfortunate as they were, having panic attacks helped to show me that my body needed to be taken care of. Yet, for the troubles I have gone through, I wish I knew that sooner. I realised that during the time my anxiety was at its worst, I had an extremely negative approach to everything and often found myself using negative words a lot.
Solution: Take a time out to evaluate your attitude. As much as you may think you’re world is coming to an end, I found changing my mindset to try and think of even the worst times in a positive way, made me channel a stronger side to myself. This has been a major contributor to helping me get over my panic attacks. Replace words and phrases like “bad”, “I can’t”, “never” and “not now”, with “good”, “I can”, “always” and “yes”. You never know what good could come from it.
Alternatively, The Calm Clinic suggest something similar to a thoughts journal: a positivity journal. Fill it with positive things that have happened to you that day. Aim for at least 10 things so that no matter how bad the day may seem, you always have 10 great things to reflect back on.
Here’s their example:
Examples of good entries:
The barista gave me my coffee for free today because I was nice to her.
My boss complimented me on the project I finished.
I received a phone call from an old friend just because she wanted to catch up.
Examples of the types of entries you should avoid:
I woke up.
My mum didn’t call me which is good because I didn’t want to hear from her.
I didn’t screw anything up too badly.
Remember: If this seems too much of a chore to do, stop. Put the pen down and try something else instead, like yoga, listening to music or an audio book or reading a book yourself. If you feel pressure to write in the journal, it may make your anxiety worse. Yet by trying different methods of coping with anxiety you can find what works for you.
Why Medication Isn’t Always Right For You
I ended up being consumed by my anxiety and fears and feeling like the only way to get through it was to take medication. The doctors weren’t keen on prescribing me with any tablets at the time and I didn’t really want to take them anyway. Though, after a while I felt it all became too much. Me and my boyfriend went to Holland & Barrett to buy some calming pills.
I don’t want to promote the tablets I took in this post because I only used them once or twice. I think that trying to control my anxiety without medicine was a better solution for me and although was a challenge, made me feel strong and as though I was capable of anything. For others, taking medicine may work best for them and it really is down to the individual.
No matter how you deal with anxiety, just remember not to give up. I felt like my world was collapsing and I was so scared. Though with perseverance and time, I can now say I’m coping well with my anxiety, though the battle is still on.
This article is by Katie Rose, Lifestyle Blogger at ok Kate
ok Kate is a lifestyle blog about my life as a “normal”, young adult and the steps I’m taking to try and change my life from being boring and rather basic, to make the most of the world around me.
The writer of this article is an anonymous woman who wanted to speak out to share her story of being sexually abused as a child and teen. She also has mental health issues as a result.
Trigger warning: please read with care
I have been abused twice, both times were at the hands of people I knew and respected, once when I was 8 and once at around age 17/18.
A lot of the memories were lost due to the extent of the trauma, but having EMDR has opened up the box, broken the chain that was firmly fixed around it and let all the memories out.
It has been horrendous, reliving the abuse, the detail of my memory, almost physically feeling I am back, as a child in that bed, remembering the details . The family friend was a women, who was so trusted by all of us, growing up I adored her, admired her, almost wanted to be her, and now, all of those feelings have vanished replaced by to many emotions to specify one.
When I was a teenager I was abused by a well known Rabbi, thankfully the abuse this man carried out has come out in to the community.
I have written this letter in the hope that more people in the community may feel more able to step forward to talk about this.
If someone would like my e mail address please ask the blog owner for it.
Dear my abuser (s)
This letter will never get sent , but I want you to know what impact you had on my life, how those actions which may have only lasted 15 -30 minutes , actions which you probably have forgotten about, shaped the person I have become.
In a strange way I am grateful for the memories of what you did, as not having the memory, yet knowing that something happened was worse. When the memories savaged my brain, invading my mind with your face, your hands and your body I believed that the shock and horror would never pass, everything I had ever thought of you, all my memories of you changed from seeing you as a positive, supportive influence to a monster who had harmed me in the worst way possible.
Your actions, made me aware from such a young age of my body .For years I knew, that from the age of around 9 my body was an immensely complicated thing in my mind, at such a young age being so aware of my body affected my confidence, self esteem and self love .
At age 8 you took away the most precious thing, you helped yourself to my innocence, you took away from the person I could have become and began my journey to becoming the person I have been.
That knowledge made me in to a pretty messed up person.
My child is around that age . I look at my child and see a happy future, a future filled with love and self confidence. The thought of something similar happening to my child is to painful to contemplate.
By the time I was in my teens, my journey of self destruction was well on its way. I had learned by that time how to hide things, how to keep secrets, how to come across as confident and well adjusted and to this day my public persona and the person I am inside are two very different people. My life, for so many years was about seeking physical pleasure in order to reassure myself that I was a loveable, attractive person, that having sex was the self affirmation I needed to survive, lowering myself, giving my body freely, whilst hating myself for doing it, gave me the tools to breath, to live. Even today, if I do not feel my husband desires me it destroys me for days.
There were so many questions, mostly WHY, and HOW, how could I have let this happen to me twice, and why did it happen twice ( I know now that is was BECAUSE it happened once it happened again ) , how could I have stood as an older teen -when I let the pictures overtake my mind I am screaming silently why, why, why.
It is like being at a movie, a never ending movie, you can not leave the screening, you are on the screen, you try to yell, you try to reach out to the girl in the movie, but she can not hear you, you see her at 8, you see her at 17 you see her life unravelling, and you can not do anything to stop it, you want to beg her to tell, you want to beg her to be strong.
You see the girl grow, you see the way she lived her life, and you understand how the girls journey began, it makes sense to you that the girl ends up with severe mental health issues , you see how mental health issues are worsened by no self esteem, how other tragic events could tip her over the edge and compel her to seek comfort in the arms of any man who would take her, and you understand her.
I understand now that cause and effect would dictate that the reason I ended up in your office, was a direct result of what she did to me at age 8, that she was the one who started the chain of events.
You taught me, you guided me to the mind-set that “the way to get love and care is to do what a man wants”.
My whole self worth was wrapped up in a package labelled, please sleep with me.
I feel so much sadness, sadness for the girl you both violated, sadness that the girl whose body you choose to fulfil your sick desires was mine, sadness that I am constantly questioning everything, why was I there, how could I have let you, why didn’t I tell anyone, when will I be able to go a day, an hour, 10 minutes without one of you pushing your way in to my thoughts.
There is nothing I can do to turn back time, there is no way I can ask you why, or sit with you and show you the movie of my life, the one which you started, I pray that there will come a time I can accept what you both did, I hope with all my heart a day will come when you will not mean anything to me.
All I can do is wait, sit with these constant overwhelming thoughts, trying to untangle them like a necklace with those annoying knots in the chain that are impossible to open, yet I will persevere.
I will continue to pick at the chain until all those knots have gone and you both become dust that is blown away from my mind
If you need support with sexual abuse and you live in the UK please contact:
I am writing this post because I wanted to talk about something that I experience frequently, night time anxiety and panic.
I know these aren’t rational. Its often to do with a social event trigger, having to be around lots of people or if I have a work event and it feels too overwhelming. I fear being judged or crowds of people. These days, I tend to keep busy during the day and I know I am anxious if I am procrastinating about going to bed. As thats when the anxiety kicks in, my chest feels tight, I feel hot or clammy and my negative thoughts race.
Consciously, I know the fear of the triggered event is not real. However, subconsciously my body goes into fight or flight mode, pumps me with adrenaline and worry so I cannot sleep. My thoughts start racing and the only relief I can get when I am really heightened is to cancel the feared situation or tell myself I may cancel it in the morning.
Which is not always good. For me, its so important to have exposure to the triggers to lessen my anxiety. Some nights though, this is impossible.
People should also know that I and other anxiety sufferers don’t want to cancel our plans and don’t want to feel like this. I don’t want to be flooded with adrenaline and other horrible anxiety symptoms and left feeling so exhausted and alone.
Its worst at night when everyone is in bed asleep too because there is no one to talk to at that time. Sometimes, I try meditation or talking to myself kindly (‘its Ok nothing bad will happen you are safe’). Often, I am able to eventually get to sleep.
However, when I wake in the morning, the anxiety is still there and often at its height about ten minutes after I wake, leaving me feeling depleted, shaky, vulnerable and unable to face the day,
Most days I am OK, but if something new comes up that triggers me I am sucked back into the anxiety spiral. I have had extensive therapy and take medication but am starting to think Ill need anxiety meds for my night time anxiety.
Anyone else have this? Its so debilitating at times. I am still trying to find the answer that works for me. You are not alone.
After having a baby, there are many women who find themselves suffering from postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can cause feelings of sadness, lethargy, anxiety, and hopelessness. It’s important to do everything that you can to treat the symptoms of postpartum depression as much as you can so that you can build an amazing bond with your baby and rest assured that you are being the best mother that you can possibly be. The following guide walks you through a few ways you can handle postpartum depression effectively.
(image: Kayla Clough)
Talk About the Way That You Are Feeling
There are many women who feel ashamed of the way that they are feeling and try to hide it from their friends and family. This is not a good idea because it can lead to isolation and cause the sadness and feelings of hopelessness to become exasperated. It’s best to be upfront and honest with your friends and family about the way that you are feeling so that they can help you battle the feelings as much as possible.
Take a Break from Time to Time
Being a new mother can be overwhelming. There is so much to do, and it often feels as though everything you do is not good enough. Take a break from time to time to unwind and allow your emotions to reset. Taking a long bath or simply enjoying a cup of tea alone on the porch while reading a great book can help you to be able to feel less anxious and allow your body and mind time to relax so that you can go back to caring for your baby with less stress.
Get Plenty of Sleep
When you are not getting enough sleep, it can be hard to regulate your emotions. It’s best to get as much sleep as you can when you have a little one. Take naps when they take naps and realize that the house, laundry, and the dishes can all be taken care of during the day. You can lay your baby down next to while you fold clothes or carry them against your chest in a carrier while you wash dishes or clean the house.
Get Up and Move
After having a baby many women feel lethargic and do not realize that they need to get up and move around to make themselves feel better. Getting regular exercise has been shown to lift moods and can help you to lose some of the weight that you may have put on during your pregnancy. It’s important to realize that the better you feel about yourself, the better mother you can be with your little one.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Professional Help
There are times when overcoming postpartum depression on your own is too difficult to do. You can seek professional help from a psychiatrist to get advice and medication to help treat the symptoms that you are experiencing. Being able to be less stressed, anxious, and sad can help you to be able to live a more fulfilling life.
Postpartum depression does usually go away over time. If you have suffered from postpartum depression before, there is a good chance that you will suffer from it with future pregnancies. Be sure to properly prepare for the situation so that you can treat it from the start so that you do not have to suffer from the feelings associated with postpartum depression for any longer than you have to.
Kayla Clough is the email specialist at OurStart. Kayla is a recent graduate of Eastern University in PA, USA where she majored in Marketing and Human Resources. Kayla loves all things fashion, her golden retriever Max, and coffee. When she is not working, you can find her binge watching Sex in the City and baking her latest find on Pinterest.
The ‘Beast from the East’ put homelessness under the spotlight in February and March as rough sleepers faced freezing conditions. But a more persistent problem among homeless people, which is little talked about, is the prevalence of mental health issues. As someone with bipolar disorder, who has never been homeless, I wanted to investigate what support there is out there for homeless people with mental health conditions.
Anyone can be affected by homelessness, regardless of age, race or sex. Among homeless people, 44% have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, according to Homeless Link. Homeless link points out that homelessness is a stressful, lonely, traumatic experience, which has a major impact on mental health.
In summarising some of its research into homelessness and mental health, Crisis says: ‘Serious mental health issues, such as schizophrenia, bipolar and post traumatic stress disorder are more common among homeless people. ‘Suicide rates are nine times higher, demonstrating the very real need of effective support’
Homeless people with mental health issues, particularly rough sleepers, often have less access to mental health professionals due to their lack of address or their complex needs. Being homeless is extremely overwhelming. Treatment may be the last thing on the mind of a homeless person with a mental health condition when they are focused on finding a way to get food and a place to sleep. The prevalence of drug and alcohol addictions is an added problem.
According to Crisis: ‘Homeless people are more vulnerable to alcohol and drug use. ‘Multiple diagnosis of substance and mental health issues can be a barrier. Rates of alcohol and drug use are four times higher than in the general population.’
Understandably, addiction can get worse when someone is homeless, due to the stress. St Mungo’s is charity that has conducted research into this area and affected change in legislation. Its investigation ‘Stop the Scandal’, looks at mental health and rough sleeping. The charity called for a national strategy to end rough sleeping and changes to the law.
Following St Mungo’s campaign, in 2017 the government backed the Homelessness Reduction Act. This legislation, which came into force on 3 April, is designed to prevent people becoming homeless and to give councils more power to tackle the issue. The government also committed to halve rough sleeping by 2022.
St Mungo’s is leading the way on this. It said: ‘Our experience is that homeless people are treated poorly and often labelled and judged. ‘People see drink or drugs behind rough sleeping, but rarely think about mental health. ‘Mental ill-health can affect anyone, but people sleeping rough face adverse weather conditions, fear and isolation’.