Showing posts with label Acting on Mental Health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Acting on Mental Health. Show all posts

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

How Taking a Psychobiotic Has Changed My Social Life...

I’m alway curious about the latest research and findings regarding how our gut affects our brain, more specifically, our mental health. So I’m always asking questions to Paul, the pharmacist of Inish Pharmacy. Recently he mentioned ‘Zenflore’ to me. Zenflore is a psychobiotic.But first, let us get our heads around the Brain-Gut axis.





Understanding the Gut-Brain Connection


We feel our emotions in our stomach. We get feelings of nausea when we’re scared and ‘butterflies’ when we’re nervous. It’s also makes sense why people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) have flare-ups when they’re stressed or under pressure. Anxiety and Depression affect our stomach, and our stomach health can affect our mental health. They’re inextricably linked. However, this doesn’t always mean your mental health is the sole reason to why you may have stomach/digestive issues; there are other reasons why you may have digestive issues. Harvard Medical School state that “the gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion. Anger, anxiety, sadness, elation — all of these feelings (and others) can trigger symptoms in the gut."





What are Psychobiotics and how can they help my mental health?

Psycho- relating to  mind; mental; psychological

Biotic’-relating to or resulting from living organisms (in our gut in this case).




You’ll be familiar with those advertisements for Yakult or Actimel and their association with ‘good bacteria’. Psychobiotics are probiotics and prebiotics that can improve your mental  health by changing the mixture of bacteria in your gut.500-100- species of bacteria live in the gut and are collectively known as ‘microbiome’.Our brains are subsequently affected by these species of bacteria, and the quantity of ‘Good Bacteria Vs. Bad Bacteria’ can considerably shift our moods, feelings of anxiety, thoughts and feelings. Nowadays, with the amount of processed foods and herbicides, we’re all likely dealing with some kind of microbiome distress and feeling it in our moods.

Introducing Zenflore




Last month Paul sent me two bottles of  the psychobiotic, Zenflore. I gave a bottle to my friend. I gave them to this particular friend because he has quite a demanding job and I wanted a first hand account from someone who deals with stressful situations to see if he felt that the Zenflore helped mitigated the symptoms of stress. Since he has started taking Zenflore he has claimed that he feels more equipped to deal with the onset of pressure and feels he can go to the gym more often after work because there were times he felt he didn't have the energy to do anything after work.

Zenflore is a psychobiotic developed by PrecisionBiotics in “partnership with scientists and clinicians from one of the world’s leading centres of research on the gut-brain axis.”Zenflore claims that “modern life can be busy and often means feeling stressed.Combining this unique culture with specially selected vitamins, Zenflore provides a complete solution to help support a healthy mind and combat stress related fatigue.”

My experience of Zenflore

It’s been two days since I’ve run out of Zenflore, and I don’t know if I’m imagining it or it’s genuine, but I have that old familiar heaviness in my stomach again, my mood is a bit subdued and I could sleep on string…



Alongside taking Zenflore I also take
-Vitamin D,
-Vitamin B complex
-Magnesium  





I also take my usual mental health medication.

For the last few weeks I’ve had motivation that I’ve never had before. I’ve been feeling more ambitious and doing much more work. Usually, I have to be careful with the amount of work I take on because my mental health condition can be easily triggered when I’ve overwhelmed. For once I can fulfill my ambition and get productive without feeling like I’m about to fall apart. I was even out at the weekend and even stayed out until closing. If you know me personally you’ll know that I turned from a partier into someone who couldn’t even deal with late nights never mind drinking.I couldn’t believe the energy I had and the mental energy I had to talk, to socialise and to actually just enjoy being out dancing without yawning every second and watching my phone to see if it was time to leave.On Saturday night I didn’t want to leave. A first in many, many years.So, whether it’s a combination of all my vitamins and supplements AND the Zenflore or not, I know the Zenflore is definitely doing something.
I'll be starting to take it again.
I don't recommend things to my clients unless I've tried them.

I sincerely believe you'll notice a significant change in your mental health, and feelings of anxiety in your gut, when you begin taking Zenflore

You can get in touch with Inish Pharmacy on their website if you’ve any questions to ask Paul.

-Inish Pharmacy (You can even talk to Paul on a Live Chat on the Website)

-Read more about Zenflore


* This post has not been sponsored or in any way affiliated with Zenflore 

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The importance of being Emotionally Intelligent

I could portray a 'perfect' life. It's the social norm as of late, but I choose not to. I choose to be authentic.
There are things I could change about myself physically; My insecurities and flaws. But I choose not to. 
To be authentic, or at least endeavouring to be, means accepting yourself for the organic version of yourself in all its entirety without the sharp needle of ego, injecting you with notions that you too should be everything like those girls and guys parading a pseudo-idyllic life on social media. Their minds are as confined, changeable and flippant as the very boxes in which those euphoric scenes appear.  It's like a game of human tetris; you only fit in if you meet the criteria: Abs, Plastic Surgery, some kind of diet/protein product in hand, airbrushed, probably unfulfilled and chronically unhappy. Now, don't get me wrong. I do enjoy seeing what people wear, makeup and beautiful art and photography. However, I do think there is a distinct difference between content that is led by the want to share experiences, work and beauty and content that is led by ego for status, an X amount of 'Likes' and validation. 



Point is, anybody could feign this 'lifestyle'. Congratulations to those who choose to embrace their oftentimes not-so-easy-reality, you've unlocked the 'Emotional Intelligence' level. Game over for players who thought they could learn the 'cheats' and get ahead. Life isn't a game, there is no winner. 


I believe it take a great degree of emotional intelligence to not conform to an unrealistic lifestyle as well as being responsible with what you show on social media, especially to our impressionable youth. It's because of our youth and their naivety that we should be cautious about what we turn into 'trends' and 'normative' human behaviour. So, since there is a huge amount of irresponsibility, I only feel it's my responsibility to highlight the importance of living as real as we humans ought to, and that's with humility, control of ego and with a good conscience. Not to mention that choosing to be vulnerable and to show your true self is in fact liberating. 

So back to
Emotional Intelligence

The components of 'Emotional Intelligence' as given by Daniel Goleman is:

-Self-Awareness
-Moral Compass
-Intuition
-Empathy
-Self-Management

If we work on cultivating these aspects that are the definition of Emotional Intelligence then we can become better humans and create a better society. And it's possible because if you become aware of your inclination to 'think' a certain way then that's you becoming aware of your thinking styles and knowing which are helpful and unhelpful. For Example, I would have the tendency to 'Catastrophize', and so my 'meta-thinking', which basically means 'thinking about your thinking' allows me to work on developing another habit of thinking. I know this isn't easy, but it's possible. It's called neuroplasticity. It's where the brain physically "shapes itself according to repeated experiences"- Daniel Goldman 

This is important because it can prevent you from getting caught up in unhelpful cyclical behaviours that you may always find yourself in, but never really know why. 
 The more you become aware of your own thinking and feeling then the more empathetic you become towards other people. The more empathetic you become, the more compassionate and calm you become. You see? Developing your emotional intelligence equips you to be a better human. When you're more compassionate you think twice about what influence you have over others, especially our young people. You choose to do what's good for others instead of you and your ego. 


You'll find that people who have been through the wars with their mental health and tragic or negative life events are often the most empathetic people who care so much for others.

Being in the mental health field both as a blogger and a professional you would think  you'd find the most wholesome people, but it's is actually the opposite. Just like any other career or area there is competition. And to practice what I preach and remain authentic I'll tell you the truth; It's very frustrating.

However, whenever people do compete with me I've already outdone them from that very moment. How? Well because I don't reciprocate, because for me there is no competition. I'm in mental health because I was born with a mental health disorder and my own suffering has impassioned me to help wherever I can. Not to mention over a decade of training and experience.



To compete is to be led by ego and to need constant recognition, to support and collaborate is to be led by compassion and empathy for the people around you.

You can have self-satisfaction without seeking validation on social media. You are enough, just as you have always been enough in your most imperfect, authentic state. 

Having Emotional Intelligence helps to immunise you from being absorbed by this inane culture, a culture that only survive on ego and money. If you starve it, then we become a much healthier, compassionate and authentic culture. 


Monday, 15 January 2018

Just Another Manic Monday...

 Today is Monday! 'Blue Monday' apparently?!
Like, who actually comes up with these 'trends'? Well, to answer my own question, and hopefully yours, Blue Monday was actually part of a marketing plan from a 'Travel Company' as an incentive to encourage people to book holidays.  Relatively smart marketing yes, but a disregard for those of us who already struggle through tough, tarnished weeks upon weeks of mental torture.What about our hashtags and formulas?! Have you one for my O.C.D? Or my friend's P.T.S.D?
  This pseudoscience was argued to have been discovered through using a "scientific formula"...



"The formula uses many factors, including: weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action. (By some fella Arnall in 2006).


Let me introduce you to Natasha, Counsellor, Mother, Mental Health Warrior and part of the Replenish Tribe. 
Natasha speaks candidly about her struggle with her mental health and how she manages through all those days that nobody has a hashtag or marketing strategy for.


What Natasha has to say to you...

When I am having a 'bad day' (don't you just love that label by the way? How I wish it was confined to one day - I'd skip off to bed that evening, safe in the knowledge that tomorrow everything would be ok again), which sometimes turns into days & worst case scenario a week or longer, my confidence plummets.

When I DO find the courage to look in the mirror I mostly don't recognise the woman looking back at me. Where did my vibrant, assertive, funny, confident self go? The girl who loved concerts, nights out in the City, travel?
On the bad days those things mostly fill me with fear. How will I get out of a concert in a venue I'm not familiar with, if I need to? People on nights out who have consumed too much alcohol peak my anxiety as they can be unpredictable, argumentative, aggressive. Travel means airports, security, confined spaces. 

I can only manage it with people I feel 'safe' with.
When I feel low & anxious I feel worthless, like I have nothing interesting to say to my friends, family, colleagues. Especially colleagues & customers, people who know me the least.
The paranoia is relentless, persistent and exhausting. The internal dialogue usually goes something like 'they think I'm boring/stupid, they wish I'd hurry up, they think I'm weird because I don't go on work nights out or drink, I'm the only one who makes mistakes' and on and on the list is endless.
When I'm having a 'bad day' I see no point in anything, there's no colour, everything is messy & dis-organised. I just want to stay in bed. I feel like I am merely going through the motions, functioning at the lowest level necessary, existing. NOT living.
That is what anxiety does to you. It robs you of your personality, robs you of your confidence and robs you of your identity.
My own experience caused me to feel as if my emotions and feelings had disappeared. I could not feel the highs of love that I used to feel, the intense happiness & excitement of seeing my favourite band, I couldn't grieve the loss of both my Aunts. Emotionless! This is exactly how I feel on a 'bad day'. Nothing anyone could do or say could make me happy. I feel numb and detached and there are times when I think I might never smile again.
My only thought can be HOPE. Recovering from the way I feel on those 'bad days'. I can tell those of you who feel like this that your emotions do come back in recovery. Your confidence and personality gradually return in little strips, building up in layers, until eventually you feel like the person you were before you became ill.
It takes commitment & tenacity. It takes speaking up, confiding in your 'tribe', being honest with yourself and with them. Totally honest! If you can't say it out loud, technology is your friend - put it in a text, just start the conversation.
Everyone's self-care is different. For me it's taking quiet time out, detaching, re-charging. My work is busy, both physically & mentally demanding, so quiet time is vital for me. I like to spend time with people who are close in my circle, people I feel safe with. Movies, pamper time, naps, meditation - these are all things I enjoy and I make time to incorporate them into my life. It's absolutely vital for me.
I read a lot about anxiety & obsessive thoughts.
Meeting Caroline has been an absolutely pivotal part in my recovery. Finally I felt like I could speak about how I was feeling, without fear. It was absolutely liberating. I drove home exhilarated after my first group session - I WAS NOT ALONE!

One thing I've read & utilise now on the daily is this :
'Never say yes when you mean no, and never say no when you means yes'
Simple but effective. Try it.
I was a people pleaser even to my detriment on most occasions, but now I realise I also need to please myself.
I often think to myself 'who am I kidding?'. I rarely stop thinking. I wonder about my internal dialogue. Would I speak to other people the way I speak to myself? Would I allow other people to speak to me the way I speak to myself? Absolutely not! Why then do I re-enforce the negative automatic thoughts? Example: 'You're useless/ugly/incapable/a laughing stock.....the list is endless'.
I've started challenging these thoughts when I have them and try to list facts to support the thoughts. The majority of the time they are unsupported.
I often feel tired of being tired. Obsessional thoughts are exhausting. Sometimes I just don't lend the energy to it. I concentrate on getting tasks done and nothing else. The more you learn to accept and let go, the more your body will respond to a new way of thinking.
I am the most impatient person, this I know. With everything in my life, not just wanting to be well. Recovery, I am told, will come in time. There is no time limit or magic cure. Everybody is different and some people will recover more quickly than others. Medication and therapy which works for one person might be totally ineffective for you - as I've discovered. Yes, it's frustrating - please trust me, just be patient and your body will take care of itself in its own time.
Remember this: you deserve to BE WELL. If you are struggling to be taken seriously by health professionals then be aware that you can take an advocate with you to help speak with you. I took Caroline with me to get the ball rolling. It started my journey towards reclaiming good mental health & has given me confidence to speak up to my GP since.
 Go easy on yourself x 



     



Remember

You do not have to be alone as you deal with your mental health. Replenish is developed by people with mental health issues who are compassionate about helping others who are similar to us.

Get in touch with us on:
or find out where your local 'Replenish Tribe' is.

Replenishyourmind@gmail.com


What the media doesn't tell us is how to manage those Blue Mondays after they've created a unnecessary hype.

However, it's a hype that does bring more global awareness to mental health.
See what we had to say in our YOUTUBE video/Podcast here: 

Monday, 1 January 2018

My Victories of 2017



Saturday 4th February

I woke up in Dublin on my Birthday. We spent the day exploring our favourite parts of Dublin. My boyfriend and I went to the beautiful Italian restaurant, ‘Il Posto’  for dinner. This is where we went for our first date, 3 years prior. We intended to ‘go out’ after dinner, but our mutual love for all things cosy and comfortable led us straight back to our hotel. I turned 28. 

My mind feels decades older. Mental Health illness will do that do you. 

Friday 3rd March

For the first time, I visited Edinburgh. We stayed in a quirky Airbnb. In those freezing days in March I saw the iconic architecture of a city that proudly cherishes both its past and future.

As an old soul, and that ancient mind of mine, you could see why I found the archaic ascending path to Edinburgh castle absolutely captivating. I walked through the dark passageways as if I was cautiously navigating the through the mind of Robert Lewis Stevenson himself, unaware if the shadows of the people who passed were like that of Dr Jekyll, or more a sinister Mr Hyde; reminding me of the duality of my own mind. I had tea in quaint tea rooms, bought authentic Tartan scarves, visited The Writers' Museum, and celebrated the 1st Birthday of my boyfriend’s Niece.  




Thursday 14th April

For Easter I went to Tegernsee in Germany, just an hour from where my boyfriend lives in Bavaria. We stayed in a Spa/Boutique hotel which was very quaint. We walked around the town which seemed to still be in hibernation, but we loved it nonetheless. I find a strange comfort in stillness, it brings calm to an otherwise un-still mind.

April 20th- 28th

Within these dates I did a makeup demonstration in Debenhams for Lancome, launched my mental health organisation ‘Replenish’ , did two mental health talks, did session 1 of 6 of the first Replenish ‘Tackling Anxiety’ workshops and had my little dog of 17 years euthanized. 


The Day he Left...
Whenever I would play piano or put on any classical music my dog, Rico would always sit in a trance. He loved music. The day he died he was on the sofa as the vet injected him with what would be his end. Pavarotti played on the radio. After he (Rico, not Pavarotti) had been wrapped up in his favourite blanket and given to the vet for cremation I closed the door, entered the living room again where he had just been alive, 10 mins earlier, and suddenly from the radio came a triumphant ‘Hallelujah’. It was as if Rico, my best friend since I was 11 until I was 28, was telling me that he was happy he was no longer in pain. Despite the devastation I was experiencing,I felt content. 
The following week I continued on with the rest of the Replenish workshops. 


For the following weeks I did numerous mental health talks, workshops and felt completely and utterly in awe of the response and demand of Replenish. I felt I was serving my purpose in this life. There’s nothing like that feeling of fulfillment. Nothing at all. 








Saturday 27th May

A dream came true this day. 
For years, since I can remember, I have been listening to Guns ‘n’ Roses. They soothed me as I would slide down my bedroom wall in the midst of a panic attack, and became the soundtrack to the best summers of my life. So, I hoped, for equal amount of years of listening to them, that they would reunite despite having broken up long before I was born. 

On that Saturday, I saw them reunited and play in Slane. I paid over €300 to stand right under the guitar riffs of Slash and the swaying hair of Axl Rose. I went on my own. Like, I didn’t know of anyone else who would pay that money. I didn’t know anyone on that same level as me. So, I stood, on my own, completely immersed in the dream that was now a reality. I was paying homage to my ultimate therapist. The therapist who was there long before anyone else was. 

 I’ll never forget that day for as long as I live. Some of the best moments are spent alone, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 



Sunday 18th June

I was in Bombachsee, Germany in the lake and ‘Supping’ (Stand Up Paddling). Germany, in its reliable nature, gives the most beautiful summers. The Sun almost melts away my mental health 'errors', like a brand new anti-virus on a backed-up computer with corrupted files. 



Tuesday 27th June


By this time Replenish was on its third cycle of workshops in Derry and just started its first cycle of ‘Tackling Anxiety & Depression’ in Letterkenny, Donegal. From here I would gain the greatest of friends who would come to be integral to the success of Replenish. It was like realising that the isolated island that you'd be on all your life was actually full of people, just like you. Glorious!

Tuesday 13th July

For two weeks I went to the Portuguese sun. Had a dose of the anti-virus again, you could say.  I spent every second restoring my levels of Vitamin D and letting the Sun doctor my mental health. Eating well, swimming in the waves that inspired the birth of Replenish and lying on the sand, a lifestyle I hope to cultivate on a more permanent basis.  A paradise of sorts. 










Thursday 27th July

I held the first session of the Replenish workshops in Sligo. I travelled to Sligo every week, some days a little anxious than others simply for no reason at all; to be expected of course when living with an somewhat unstable mind.  In the Sligo workshops I gained what I can only describe as a sisterhood. A sisterhood I’m very, very grateful for and in constant awe of. 


Monday 21st August

Replenish was in full throttle and I had given over 10 talks to schools, workplaces, events and this Monday marked the day Replenish had its first meeting with a company that it would later result in a fruition of collaboration. I could hardly recognise myself. I was exceeding my own expectations, surprising myself with strength I didn't even know I had and becoming more and more unapologetic about my authenticity. Replenish too, at this point, surpassed all my objectives, targets and expectations. 









Saturday 9th September


I was standing at a podium in Dublin speaking at the Endometriosis Association of Ireland. I didn’t consider this as another ‘talk’. It was so much more. It was a divine privilege to be invited to speak to women, dealing with a crippling condition, from a mental health standpoint.  
I was also preparing for the biggest event in the Mental Health Calendar, World Mental Health Day (October 10th).  Among having University Students, private clients, workshops running in Derry and Sligo, I went to Madrid. Naturally! 
You see, being in a long-distance relationships means committing to meeting up. For Stephen and I, we meet every three or four weeks either at home in Derry, Germany or somewhere we’ve never been. So I was making sure I was still making time for my relationship. Stephen was working in Madrid that weekend, so I met him there and sat under the Madrid sun and worked on Replenish’s first ‘World Mental Health Day’.  I enjoyed the sites of Madrid too of course when work got somewhat all-consuming. Regular breaks are needed to keep the stress levels at a minimum. Pre-existing mental health issues and stress are a poisonous mix.


When I arrived back to Ireland I began filming for our short film ‘Unfiltered Water’ that would be screened on the day of our World Mental Health Day event.










Tuesday 10th October

We had an event where many professionals came together to give talks, presentations and advice on how mental health can be managed. We had Yasmin our Occupational Therapist, Riadh our Nutritionist, Michelle our Pharmacist. We then had Counsellor Natasha, Financial expert Emma and Trainee Mental Health Nurse, Dee on a very interesting panel. We also enjoyed Yoga with Sophie, Exercise with George, Complementary Therapy with Megan and Massage with Foshie.


Tuesday 17th October 

I started the Replenish workshops in Limavady on Tuesday evening. The following day I was in Antrim giving a talk to a hall full of business owners in the construction industry on Mental Health in the Workplace. That evening I was back in Derry beginning the 5th cycle of Derry workshops. These workshops were different this time because they now involved ALL of the professionals who were involved in the Replenish 'World Mental Health Day'.

Wednesday 8th November 

By now I had just come back from my 4th trip of the year to Germany and was straight into giving another talk for the Donegal Youth Service on 'Body Image Initiative'. I used to work with youth in my previous jobs and so it's always a territory I feel natural in, and of course honoured. 

Friday 24th November

I was on my way to Dublin to meet my boyfriend who'd be flying in from Germany. This would be the last time I'd see him before he'd come home for three weeks on December 19th. During this weekend we explored Dublin in a different way, this time through the eyes of Jame Joyce. We then enjoyed a vintage cinematic experience in the beautiful Stella theatre in Rathmines. Of course, I met The Makeup Fairy, who'd become a good friend. Finding friendship in people who you'd think would never want a friendship with you soothes all the insecurities of the inner 12 year old who always thought she was incompatible with everyone because she was a little peculiar. 


December 

As you can imagine December lived up to its reputation of overindulging, dinners, sweets, open fires, presents and visits. I had a lovely December. Minimal stress.It marked the 8th month since I had become vegetarian. I had the most beautiful vegetarian Christmas dinner too, in case you were wondering. On the evening before New Year's Eve I felt that old familiar pang of fear, leeching anxiety and drowning mood. Why? Well, I don't know. Like I said, mental health illness will do that to you, simply remind you that it's there, watching. 

I allowed myself to feel like this. Not fighting it and not judging myself for feeling like that takes the emphasis and importance off it; less attention. When you consciously refuse to give something attention and focus on something else, it eventually pipes down. I got up, even though I wanted to lie in a heap, drove to my friend Natasha to have my brows done and came away yes, with beautiful brows, but also a lifted mood, invigorated feelings and concentrated gratefulness for having a my tribe; A tribe that I wouldn't know unless I had 'acted' on my mental health. 

****





January 1 2018

And now I sit, in present time. Nothing has changed much since we welcomed in 2018 with close friends.  I don't believe in a 'New Year, New Me'. I believe in a New Year a more mentally strong me, a more emotionally intelligent me, a stronger me. I wouldn't change who I am, I've worked too hard on becoming who I am. However, I do want to tell you that I will embark on 2018 with a little bit more appetite for victories. 

So, why do I consider my 2017 victorious when there will be people reading these dates and thinking "what is so 'victorious' about all of this?"

So here's why:

I did ALL of 2017 whilst living with a mental health disorder.
Those days started with me taking my usual three tablets along with a few vitamins for what the 'World Health Organisation' considers the "tenth most debilitating disorder in the world."

During the dark days, the days where I didn't want to get out of bed, or when my hormones made my O.C.D spike and more unbearable than usual, I still made my dream a reality. 

I felt fulfilled in my work, my friends and my entire existence.
I disciplined myself. Exercised, ate well, took time to myself regularly, introverted, became more unapologetic in my authenticity. I grew in all aspects of mind.  I acted on my mental health, the tagline of 'Replenish'. 

I also took a lot of self-care. A LOT! If I didn't then I wouldn't be able to work in the way I wanted to. 


If you read all those diary extracts again, but this time imagined yourself doing all that I've done with a huge stone in your shoe whilst doing it, then you'll have a new found appreciation for the lives I, and others in similar situations, live despite the mental pain we endure. 


In my work in Replenish I endeavour to become an example of how mental health doesn’t define or acts as an obstacle.The people within Replenish are my tribe because they do walk their daily lives with that same stone in their shoe. Somedays it wears us down more than other days, but we keep going because it's  exactly those kind of harsh days that condition us to become more compassionate about the people we want to work with. It drives us to go into 2018 with a great force to break the mental health stigma. We don't come from a place of business, but from a place of passion and that has made all the difference.


Act on your Mental Health in 2018 with Replenish and join 'Steps to Self-Care' Workshops

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