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MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK

13th –  19th MAY 2019

hands-mental-health

ANXIETY

DEPRESSION

ADDICTION

WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH?

Mental health is the psychological and emotional wellbeing of a person.  It affects the way we think, feel and act.

ANXIETY / PANIC ATTACKS

Have you ever been nervous about something and gotten butterflies in your stomach? If you suffer with anxiety it can feel like this constantly but often, it doesn’t stop with the butterflies. Your heart starts racing, you think you’re going to have a heart attack, your body tingles, you think you’re going to pass out or be sick and 9 times out of 10 this actually happens. You’re left feeling absolutely exhausted.

So, what brings it on?

School, work, flying, time of the month, being run down/tired, something that could happen, even if that something could happen 10 years from now and is unlikely to ever happen.

Sometimes it could be nothing, sometimes your excited about something – I vomited all over my best friend’s mum’s bathroom once because I was excited about going out clubbing. I missed a holiday to Italy because I was too scared to get on the plane.

I remember my first ever panic attack (not that I knew it at the time). I was in the school canteen, 5 years old, my friends had all finished their lunch and were going out to play. I wanted to leave too but the dinner lady wouldn’t let me get down from the table until I had finished everything on my plate. The more she was trying to encourage me to finish my food, the more I felt sick and couldn’t eat it, until I got into a right old state.

In secondary school it got worse. What if a teacher would pick me to answer a question? I wouldn’t listen to a word the teacher said because in my head I was thinking, what if the teacher picks me, I’ll go bright red, what if I don’t know the answer. I would worry about going over to a friend’s house for dinner, in case I didn’t like what was being served. I would get myself so worked up and felt so sick that I couldn’t eat it anyway. I worried about anything new, any new experiences, new places, new people. I was worried about my GCSEs. What happens when I have to work? I couldn’t sit in an office, where would I be sick, do offices have bins? And worst of all I worried because WHATS WRONG WITH ME??? Panic attacks still weren’t a thing, I had never heard of them and so I had no idea that this is was what was causing me to be so ill.

I felt sick 24/7. I couldn’t eat. I spent all night with my head over the loo. In the mornings it was hard to leave the house as I would still be being sick and feeling sick. My parents were worried and took me to the doctors but were told there’s nothing wrong with me, I must be making it up. You can imagine how that felt. How can I feel so ill all the time and be told there’s nothing wrong, I thought I was seriously ill. I felt suicidal, I didn’t want to feel sick anymore and I couldn’t see a way out, especially now that the doctors said they couldn’t help. I just wanted it over with. I thought of the ways I would do it but that would give me panic attacks and stopped me from going through with it – panic attacks in a way saved my life J

So how do you get better?

Thankfully, throughout the years, specialists became more aware of anxiety-related issues and I was finally diagnosed. I was offered counselling and hypnotherapy; but the only thing I found that helped was yoga, as it gave me the ability to control my breathing.

Your brain reacts in less than a second to a situation. Without you realising it, a choice has been made on how it thinks you should react. It thinks “I know what to do” and, before you know it, your heart starts racing and you get an anxiety attack. The adrenaline builds-up and you feel like you’re going to pass out or be sick.

The aim is to retrain your brain to behaving in a different way. It takes time but you can get better.

Think of it as your brain being in the middle of a field. One side is a happy, calm place – but with no path. The other is anxiety with a well-trodden path. 

At that moment, your brain will tell you to be anxious as that’s where the well-trodden path lies.

The aim is to start building a pathway to the happy, calm place. The more this path is trodden, the clearer the pathway becomes and the pathway to anxiety will get over grown.  Your brain will eventually stop going there and will instead go down the happy calm path.

Believe me, you can get better, I went from being anxious about everything to flying and travelling ON MY OWN and running my own business.

If you want to know a few of the tips I used, please feel free to message me and I will happily talk you through the techniques I use (yep, I still use them).

DEPRESSION

Have you ever woken up grumpy, can’t be bothered, wish you’d died in your sleep so you didn’t have to face the day, questioning why am I here, what’s the point, no one would notice if I wasn’t around? For those suffering with depression, this is how it can feel all day every day.

Many of those suffering with depression can look happy on the outside, but on the inside feel absolutely hopeless, are full of anxiety and feel judged. This causes a person to feel isolated and alone, scared and generally a feeling of emptiness. All the joys in life disappear, they feel sad, self-loathing, guilt, tired, nothing, bored.

Imagine feeling like this!!! Imagine feeling like this and someone saying to you, mind over matter, what have you got to be sad about, get over it, man up.

Depression isn’t a choice, it’s not something you can just get over, depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, which could be passed on if you have a family history of depression, it could be brought on by a life experience such as a loss of a loved one, abuse, stress at work or school or could be in your home life.

Depression has an impact on your mood, life choices, behaviour, personality and affects millions of people. It can affect our work and family life, it affects both children and adults, men and women, young and old.

If you suffer with depression, know you are not alone, I implore you to talk to someone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

ADDICTION

What do you think classes as being an addict? What does an addict look like to you? Do you think all addicts are jobless, stupid, live on the streets?

So, what does it mean to be an addict?

How often are you on your phone? Do you spend hours on social media? Are you a workaholic? Do you have to have a glass or two of wine every night to help you relax?

How about sugar – are you addicted to chocolate or other sweet treats? Perhaps you are always on the sunbeds topping up your tan? How often do you apply your lipstick/balm?

You can get addicted to anything.  Gaming, cleaning, watching TV, tattoos and piercings. People can be addicted to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, exercise, gambling.

An addict can be fully functional and often people are unaware that a person has an addiction.

An addict is someone who no longer has control over what they are doing, taking, using. Some addictions are often relatively harmless, whereas others can have an impact on you family, friends, work and health and can become a problem.

Addiction becomes a problem when it has an impact on a persons life, health, or the ability to have a normal life.

I’m sure many of you can relate to the above, so why is there still such stigma around addiction???

LET'S TALK ABOUT IT

People need to understand what mental health is really about, break the stigma, recognise the signs and help each other out.

We need to be more understanding. How can we bring this into the work place?

This is not something to be ashamed of. Lets break this cycle. The more we talk about these issues, the more we can learn, the more we can help each other.

We all have different experiences and different types of mental health issues, whether it’s your own, a loved one, a colleague.

I had an evening with a couple of friends recently. One of them had a family member who was self -harming and she was obviously very upset by this and didn’t know how she could help. Turns out, our other friend used to self -harm when she was younger and shared her experience with us. Suggesting ways she could help and also share that she was not alone. A problem shared is a problem halved.

I have another friend who told us they was an alcoholic. Another friend we were with began discussing his experience and the steps he has started to take and what it was like for him. It really helped my friend open up about it, they didn’t feel embarrassed or alone and we ended up talking very openly at length about it and they really helped each other. Share your story and see how others cope.

I have another friend whose loved one suffers from OCD. I have a friend who has an eating disorder…

These experiences have shown to me that everyone has challenges but by talking about them, we can make things better.

So lets work together and start changing things for the better -talk about it……..

What are your experiences, do you have any tips, what do you do to cope? Do you know someone who needs help? How can we help you?

Own it: Acknowledge that feeling, ask for help, let’s help each other!

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