Showing posts with label Mental Health blogger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mental Health blogger. Show all posts

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, 18 December 2017

Making Waves

2017 was the most fulfilling year of my life. Period. 

I didn't earn any huge sums of money, I didn't invest in property and I didn't buy Bitcoin. 

My year was quite the opposite of the superficial meaning of 'success', actually.

For the first time in my 28 years on this planet I felt part of something. Here's why:

January 2018 will mark 1 year since I created Replenish: Acting on Mental Health,  my Mental Health organisation
I launched Replenish as a response to the lack of ground level and non-clinical mental health support and care that I experienced whilst growing up. The concept of Replenish was my way of creating just that exact kind of support. Replenish is a refuge for those enduring the crippling isolation that our mental health can bestow upon us, making us feel like we're in the barren wilderness.

I started as myself, just me, as it has always been.
Today, I have a team of professionals who work with Replenish to provide their care, advice and support. These are people who share the vision of Replenish. They help and facilitate people to 'act on their mental health'.

To illustrate how Replenish has grown exponentially, and exceeded all my expectations, let us go back to October 10th, World Mental Health Day.

For World Mental Health Day on October 2016 I created a documentary with the help of University of Ulster students looking at how mental health was perceived and understood in the city of Derry.
(Watch Here)

So for 2017 I knew I had to move up the scale and do something a bit bigger and a lot more effective.  And that we did.

We developed an output of speakers, advice and activities in a way that demonstrated how good mental health wellbeing and recovery isn't down to one solution, but many small accumulative actions. Oh, and we also made a short film, 'Unfiltered Water' (Watch Here)

We demonstrated action planning with an Occupational Therapist, a Yoga Session, Nutritional advice, Pharmaceutical information, Complementary Therapies, discussions and panels surrounding workplace mental health and maternal mental health, and the benefits from massage. We proved  how inclusive, uplifting and empowering acting on your mental health can actually be.



Yasmin, Occupational Therapist



Sophie Dechant of Pole Infinity Derry




Michele Jones of Shipquay Townhouse & Spa



Michele explaining her role as a Heartmath Practitioner. 

Michelle Harkin of MacCaffery's Pharmacy


George Hutton, Personal Trainer 


Riadh, The Feel Good Nutritionist

George, Emer and Myself. 'Unfiltered Water'


Megan Robinson of Pearl Healing Corner

Incredible Women, Emma & Natasha 

The Team 


What's your One Word?


Replenish 'Snapchat' Filter


You will see that it doesn't just take one person to make a change, it takes a lot of selfless people to contribute to making big changes and creating a revolution in mental health awareness and culture.

Since World Mental Health Day, October 10th 2017, I was able to take my existing 6 week Workshops and enhance them by incorporating the work of the professionals that you've just seen. They are now an integral part of Replenish and reason why we've been able to make waves, even in our infancy. We've been to Letterkenny, Buncrana, 5 times in Derry, Limavady, Sligo and in 2018 we're going further afield.

2017 saw Replenish deliver workshops in Workplaces and Schools and we are already booked for 2018, and we want you to get involved. Whether it's volunteering, sharing your professional expertise or simply being part of the Replenish movement, we would love to have you.



Speaking at The Villa Rose launch of 'V SPA'

Seasonal Affective Disorder article in The Belfast Telegraph 


The Derry Journal
Launching World Mental Health Day on the Radio

Speaking in Antrim at the Health & Safety Executive of Northern Ireland's 'Build | Health' conference. 


Speaking with the Youth at the Donegal Youth Service for the 'Shape of You' Body and Image Initiative. 


Derry Post


Speaking for the Endometriosis Association of Ireland in Dublin 


Speaking at St Mary's College



So you can imagine the excitement for Replenish 2018.

For now, we want you to know that we are developing a 6 Week 'Steps to Self-Care' programme that is specific to developing a plan that empowers an individual to act on their mental health with accessible, non-clinical and compassionate professionals.





To book the upcoming 'Steps to Self-Care' Workshops beginning in January please go to the  Replenish Wesbite or message me on Replenishyourmind@gmail.com


Thank you for supporting, taking part in, believing in and helping us in making waves in mental health.

To be part of the Replenish Tribes, which are support groups that are continued after the 6 week workshops, you can join here HERE

Friday, 1 December 2017

The Rise of C.B.D oil



You will have heard all of the members of the Replenish team mention the benefits of C.B.D oil at some stage of our workshops, videos, talks, etc.

In the previous  Replenish's 'Steps to Self-Care' post, under the 'Medication: Synthetic and Herbal' section I talked about if I thought "a  client could benefit from a natural aid to promote calm I'd always recommend ‘C.B.D. oil’. I wish I had this oil when I was a teenager rather than the placebo of ‘Kalms’ and ‘Quiet Life’."



So I'm excited to let you know that MacCaffery's Chemist in Derry (and online) are stocked up on C.B.D oil and ready to sell to you with the added perk of working with 'Replenish' and giving you a discount code at check-out online and in-store.





But first, let me sound like a cheesy commercial and tell you why C.B.D oil could change your life like it has changed mine.


So, I live with O.C.D. I'm on medication for it. I have my self-care plan that consists of a mental-health friendly diet, yoga, hobbies, routines. You get the gist. However, despite all of this, I still get bad days, especially if I'm hormonal or stressed. So whilst I allow myself to have the bad days I also take C.B.D oil.

Why do I take C.B.D oil?

As I've said, I still get my bad days.  So why I recommend C.B.D oil is because all humans have what is called our ‘Endogenous Cannabinoid System’  that regulates our mood, sleep, appetite, hormone regulation, pain, and immunity response.
However our lifestyles can cause stresses that interfere with our mood, sleep and all those other important elements of health. So taking CBD oil regulates any imbalances in our already existing cannabinoid system.

So that's why C.B.D oil, in high strengths, is also used by people with conditions that cause chronic pain, whether it be people with Fibromyalgia, Cancer and bone diseases.It has anti-inflammatory benefits and can also be used to treat acne. It’s important to consult with your Doctor or pharmacist about taking C.B.D oil for any of the aforementioned conditions.

Is it legal?

Absolutely. I’d not recommend it otherwise (lol) It’s not legal in all countries, but it is in Ireland. It can be bought in health food shops and in pharmacies such as MacCafferty’s.
It is legal because whilst it’s from the 'Cannabis Stavia L' plant, it does not contain as much THC as marijuana, which is the psychoactive chemical that gives a ‘high’ effect. It's the fact that it's hemp, low in THC and high in CBD, which makes it legal.


How to use it?

The oil can also come in ‘powder’ form that people mix into creams to rub on their bodies. However, it’s commonly bought as an oil. It’s recommended to take a few drops, to begin with, under the tongue for maximum and quicker absorption into the bloodstream.
The C.B.D oil comes in various strengths and prices.

Want to buy it now?

MacCafferty’s Pharmacy stock and sell three different strengths of a reputable brand of C.B.D. They are also offering 10% discount to anyone who quotes ‘Replenish’ at the till or in the coupon box in the online check-out.

Buy it HERE





Have you tried it yet? Let me know in the Replenish Official Facebook Group.
 

Friday, 2 June 2017

Where it began...


I stood there, crying whilst I stared at the frayed laces on my little black-patented shoe…

It was the same every morning before school. I’d spend an hour pulling at my laces to ensure they were the tightest they could be. If my shoes felt ‘just right’, then I believe my day would be good. God forbid if they didn’t. Have I mentioned I’m a redhead? Redhead is synonymous with fiery tempered.

Little did my parents know that their flustered little four-year-old redheaded fuse box was actually showing signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (O.C.D.)


You see? O.C.D isn’t about contamination or cleaning! 

It gets worse. Let me tell you how.

At this young age of four I knew there was something wrong with me before I even knew some words. My innocence was my refuge. I would be singing every moment of the day when I was a child, despite my morning ordeals.

It wasn't until age 21 that I was diagnosed with O.C.D, just after I had graduated with my degree in Drama.
The most liberating day of my life was the day I got my diagnosis. It meant more to me than any degree or qualification could.
I sat on my sofa moments after ripping the letter from its envelope, in the most untidy and riotous way may I add, and cried with relief. ‘So I’m not mad?’ I thought to myself.
‘There’s actually a name and help for these thoughts I have?’


Yup! It’s O.C.D and the World Health Organization will tell you that it’s the TENTH most debilitating disorder in the word.

Yes, you read that right. “O.C.D is in the top ten most debilitating disorders IN THE WORLD.”

‘What?!’

Why was I only hearing about this now? I could have been helped long before I was.

Ah, but you see. That’s stigma for you!

My parents weren’t able to detect that my claims of “I’ve that bad feeling again” as something to be concerned about. They, like the generations before them, didn’t recognize ‘Mental Health’ as something separate and just as important as physical health.

Nobody wanted to acknowledge that they had this ‘bad feeling’ that my young self would often murmur about.

With the history of ‘mental asylums’ and ‘lunacy acts’, it’s no wonder it was something that we all pretended we didn’t have. Even the innocent ‘ringing in the ear’, that we now know as tinnitus, was a sure sign of ‘madness’.

Panic and anxiety were my shadows. Every thing that was bright in my life was soon in overcast with the darkness that loomed by, always at close proximity. As if watching me, and ready to sweep in to consume me, if by chance, I were to enjoy myself. I began to forget what it was to be a child, whilst still a child.

“It’s all in your head” my Mother would say to me, repeating what my Doctor had just said to me seconds before as I sat in a bleak G.P’s office with two sets of bewildered eyes staring at me.

They were right, it was all in my head, and it was festering.

I had stopped singing.

Innocence lost!

As I got older the thoughts came.  Sick, vile, twisted intrusive thoughts would stab my brain every second of the day. I would obsess over why ‘I’, Caroline, would have such disturbing thoughts.

“Maybe you are twisted for thinking this” harked the enemy that resided in my skull.

“Maybe you think like this because you are like this!”
 
Logic didn’t stand a chance in my head.

Panic would claw at my neck, and the thunder would roll in my head.
My mind was like a stampede of wild animals caught in a storm.

My body, frozen with fear, duly responded to danger and prepared my body for flight. Nausea to lighten the body for faster running, pumping heart to carry oxygen to my brain quicker, heightened senses to scan for further danger. Sorry body, it’s my brain lying to you again. My brain fooled my primitive safety mechanisms.  I wasn’t in danger, it was my thoughts that were the threat.

And like Silvia Plath herself said “Is there no way out of the mind”

Nope, there certainly is not. Unless Descartes was spot on, in which case I wish someone would let my brain out of its vat already! Maybe steep it overnight beside the peas. Mushy peas,  mushy brain. Quite fitting!

As I grew up, so too did the complexity and severity of my ill mental health.

Like every teenager I knew, a pro at something; skateboarding, chronic laziness, I was a pro at living a life with anxiety on my back.

I love my rock music since day 1, and enjoyed a little Hennessey or two as I got older…O.K maybe three.

I was wisdom’s soul, in youth’s body.  The frequent storms aged me.  Weather-beaten.  I could have sung you songs of experience!
I got older, the drink and partying became less. Not by choice. Why would a 21 year old choose to give up drink and partying?
I had no other option.  My mental health, that was once an unsteady freight train was now derailing.

My sister had her first child premature, and this stressful time for the family sent me into a spiral of stress-induced, O.C.D laced, anxiety riddled, mental health breakdown.

“I DO EXERCISE, I EAT HEALTHY. I NEED PROFESSIONAL HELP”. I said through gritted teeth at a nonchalant Doctor with an annoying tie, a lazy eye-blinking tempo, and too-tight trousers that even my own disturbed mind couldn’t handle.

Of course I was in my local. The Doctors!

For the second time that week I made a point of going to the Doctors for help for my mental health. My usual Doctor was unavailable and so I had to begin all over again, describing how I do exercise and all the ‘helpful’ things but still weren’t working.

Of course, I left feeling deflated.

I couldn’t get help, anywhere.

Panic had me sliding down my bedroom wall, and crutched down into my habitual fetal  position.  Submissive to my mental health that ruled over me.

Again, I tried.

Subdued, tired and hopeless, I said to my usual Doctor “I need help!”

A few weeks later I had an assessment in ‘Adult Psychological Therapies’.
I broke down. I cried. I vented. I verbalized my most disturbing thoughts. I pleaded for help.

More weeks passed.

Little did I know that the familiar sound of the post-man that morning signified the turning point in my life.

“After consulting with the psychiatrist…

                                                                         …O.C.D…

“…a common disorder…
 
                                            …treatable with medication and therapy…

…your Doctor has been informed…

      …begin on 50mg and up it to 200mg…

                                                  …C.B.T waiting list…”

I held my very own winning lottery ticket.
I held my first glimpse of hope, and it was glorious.


Yes, the waiting C.B.T waiting list was long, yes the medication had some side-effects, and yes I made some lifestyle changes, but I was free.
A medical diagnosis of a mental health disorder and a prescription for a hefty dose of S.S.R.I’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors)- anti-depressants to the common tongue, is not something one would feel joyous about.

For me, it was everything!

It was an answer to every question.
It was a reason for the anxiety and it was a to end every panic attack.
It was the logic to my illogic
It was the stamp of approval on my existence. FIT FOR PURPOSE.

It was a lifeline.

So what did I do with my new found freedom?

I went to Queen's University in Belfast and trained in the therapy that my O.C.D was being treated with, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (C.B.T)
I then went and trained to become an Integrative Mental Health counsellor.

My redheaded spark burst into a flame and I became unapologetic about who I was. I became vocal, honest about my mental health, and I wasn’t holding back.

I created a blog.

Georgiana, the Dutchess of Devonshire in the 17th Century was an unconventional woman of her time. She surprised many by ignoring social etiquette, defied authority and was her unapologetic self.  I found instant similarities.










                                         With an ode to my fiery temper, I became The Red Dutchess.



And so I took to social media, ready to conquer the unchartered territory of mental health awareness.

Whilst I would have modelled and did some quite lavish modelling jobs, I knew that people would assume that my life was carefree and easy.
People were surprised to watch my first 'Mental Health Monday' You Tube video and find out that I had dealt with mental health issues since I was four years of age.


So when I shared my experience on You Tube I showed people exactly how easy it was for someone to have misconceptions about mental health issues. The general assumption is that mental health has a certain 'look'; someone who looks how they feel.
The shock surrounding my disclosure brought people to empathise with me, to disclose their personal struggles with me, and telling me how my honesty made them feel less alone now that they knew someone who described exactly how they felt.

I couldn't believe the sense of relief I sensed off people, never mind myself.
I knew there was potential in this method and way of de-stigmatizing mental health through social media.


So I started to do more and more specified mental health You Tube videos, posts and help. Then the idea of Replenish was born.

Replenish is my mental health wellbeing programme that invites people to learn about mental health issues such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (O.C.D), Anxiety and Depression through creative therapeutic techniques, in an non-clinical and relaxed environment.
I've developed Replenish in response to the lack of awareness and stigma surrounding mental health, and a alternative to intimidating therapy processes.


We live in a westernized flow of discontent, and it’s hard to break free of that restricted style of living. We restrict ourselves from being our authentic selves, for fear of being marginalized and we deprive ourselves of gaining insight to ourselves.
What we can do is replenish our way of living by re-evaluating and re-appreciating our lives with a different perspective and understanding. Therefore, Replenish is aimed at bringing people to regenerate their outlook and approach to life by learning  understand that the drive for ‘happiness’ is unattainable as it’s as temporary as a fit of anger. Happiness, like trends, come and goes. It’s contentment that we seek, and contentment comes from looking around you with gratitude.

My gratitude comes from the hidden motive of my mental health illness. All along, its torture was its lesson and I’m bringing that lesson with me and sharing it with every single person I meet.

There have been numerous cycles of Replenish workshops that have already happened and there are demands for the workshops to be held in Sligo, Dublin and even as far as Cork and Wales.
Replenish is a new way for our society to understand mental health, to not be afraid of it and to educate the masses on how they can help themselves AND others by becoming informed.

Mental Health awareness is my passion, and I won't stop until it is acknowledged that it's O.K to have a mental health issue and there is always hope to be held, even if it is a diagnosis. 

Today? I'm the person my four year old self needed. I'm damn proud to be her.



More information on joining a Replenish workshop:

Book Online -- Replenish




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