Slipped past me!
Did you know it was happening?
What did you do to mark the day?
Listening to an inspirational talk by a Navy Seal on Spotify recently I learnt a lot. Well eight specific things to be accurate.
I nearly sat on these for my own benefit. Then realised this is something not to keep to myself, so here you go… Continue reading “#Depression – 8 Rules the Navy Seals have to teach all men (and women)”
It’s been month or two now since coming off the antidepressants again … maybe longer, I’m not really sure. It wasn’t an event I have marked on the calendar.
Things have been ‘ok’. Life throws little challenges on a day to day basis and you deal with them. Using the proverbial toolbox to keep things steady, in perspective.
Then the bigger waves come. Some you see over the horizon. Some suddenly build before you. Like the waves of the ocean they can be treacherous, terrifying.
Now I’ve been around a bit and seen a lot. But there is nothing like the feeling of the wheels falling off while all those around you fail to recognise the train wreck unfolding so close to them. Continue reading “Into the storm, again..”
The Breathe2Relax stress management app walks users through breathing exercises that help stabilise mood, control anger and manage anxiety. It specialises in teaching “diaphragmatic breathing” (aka, belly breathing) to beat stress and encourage relaxation.
Ironically although we all breath, an obvious statement, relatively few have taken any notice of how we breath. Save maybe Physical Education lessons where we were left gasping for it.
Over the years I have spent training and developing my physical fitness I have stuck with a great piece of advice i was given in my early twenties… to keep my head up, shoulders back and mouth open – the body will sort the rest out.
While this advice is great when you are six miles into a long march carrying what seems like your body weight on your back at a pace you almost never walk at, it doesn’t answer the subtle situations. Like how to calm yourself before that job interview or first date. How when everyone around you is getting very agitated as they panick in a stressful situation, you can use your breathing to become calm and controlled.
This is where learning things like meditation or yoga come to the fore. By harnessing diaphragmatic breathing you can mentally take control, calm everything down and take on challenging moments better.
TIP: … drinking coffee at those challenging times will do little to keep things calm!
Learn about diaphragmatic breathing here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diaphragmatic_breathing
Read the 23 Ways to fight depression http://www.gq.com.au/success/self+improvement/tips+for+depression+and+anxiety+mental+health,50257article here:
A survey from the US National Institute Of Health linked social media to depression and anxiety. A drip-feed of carefully selected and edited pictures on social media is a recipe for low self-esteem. If you can’t quite face culling your Facebook friends list and deleting Instagram from your phone, set aside a maximum of 30 minutes a day for checking your social accounts. Less is more.
Read the full article here: www.gq.com.au/success/self+improvement/tips+for+depression+and+anxiety+mental+health,50257
Research by homeless charity Shelter reveals thousands of renters across the region have been affected in the last year.
A third of private tenants across Greater Manchester are spiralling into a ‘vicious cycle’ of mental health issues because of the state of their homes, according to a shock report.
Research by homeless charity Shelter reveals thousands of renters across the region have been affected in the last year.
From issues with repairs, damp and mould to threats of eviction, scores of tenants are said to be suffering in silence.
Brenda Young, 70, a lecturer in health and social care, reached breaking point when she was evicted from her home after complaining about damp.
She said: “My marriage broke up and I ended up leaving the family home and being forced to rent with my daughter, granddaughter and my foster child.
“We found a lovely cottage, but realised it had a terrible damp problem. There was black mould in the bathroom.”
Brenda, a grandmother, who has three grown-up children and a foster daughter, said: “Mould kept growing on toys and shoes ended up with fur growing on them.
“It was unliveable and I was really concerned about there being spores in the air that were not good for our health.”
Brenda, from Manchester, said that despite contacting her letting agent and the homeowner – and promises the problem would be sorted – nothing was ever done.
The saga dragged on for months and she had to go to court twice.
Eventually Brenda was served with eviction papers. Meanwhile, she had spiralled into a deep depression.
She said: “I felt responsible for the family and keeping a roof over our heads. I blamed myself for the fact we were homeless and about to end up on the street.
“I kept telling myself I shouldn’t have complained about the damp. I was panicking as I was struggling to find a new home for us.
“I couldn’t sleep or eat. I wandered around aimlessly and couldn’t deal with everyday life.
“I used to work part time and I couldn’t go to work so I lost my job. I felt useless, a complete failure and didn’t know where to turn.
She added: “When I look back on that time, it’s just like a big fog to me. I was chronically depressed and it just felt like all the doors were closing in my face.
“But when I finally spoke to a Shelter adviser, I just broke down and sobbed because she was the first person who had asked how they could help me. It was the beginning of me taking back some control. I think about that call practically every day. All you need is someone to listen.”
Brenda is not alone.
Last month, the M.E.N. reported that 40 per cent of renters across Greater Manchester had experienced poor living conditions in the past 12 months.
Almost a third had reported issues damp or mould, while one in six had suffered or still had faulty electricity.
One in twelve complained of mice, cockroaches or other infestations.
Shelter Manchester manager John Ryan said: “Every day we hear from people who are at their wit’s end because they just can’t cope with their unstable, unliveable or unaffordable housing.
“From families worrying about falling behind on the rent to people struggling with the misery of raising children in a tiny, mouldy flat – people can feel completely overwhelmed.”
Manchester-based GP Dr Brian Perkins said he had seen first-hand the impact of poor housing on patients.
He said: “The high cost and poor quality of housing contribute to both creating and worsening mental health issues for many people in my experience.
“Paying high rents, unhelpful landlords and threat of evictions all add to the risk of increasing anxiety and depression.
“Patients frequently complain to me about their poor quality housing. I’ve seen the damp and mouldy interiors of some patients’ homes, and they are really quite unpleasant and not conducive to a happy family home environment.
“It’s a vicious cycle – when someone’s housing situation is poor, it can create mental health issues which then make it harder to pay the rent, and so the root causes persist.”
Read the full article here: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/property/how-renting-greater-manchester-causing-12942365
Mental health is something we all have to deal with throughout our lives.
That’s whether we come up against mental illness, have to cope with grief, or even just need to get through work-related stress
We all have mental health. It’s something we all have to take care of. It impacts everyone.
So it’s strange, then, that mental health isn’t something we mention in schools.
The most many young people hear about depression – now the leading cause of illness around the world – is a session during a Psychology A Level.
There’s no advice on what to do if you start experiencing mental illness, no words of wisdom on helping those around you, and no lessons dedicated to breaking down the myths and stigma around mental health.
And that’s a serious issue. It’s leaving young people feeling alone and unable to cope. It’s allowing misinformation to spread and cries for help to be ignored.
That’s why Headucation UK has launched a petition to make mental health education compulsory in all UK schools.
They’ve already managed to get 75,000 signatures, but need 100,000 by 3 May (the date was moved up thanks to the snap General Election) to make sure the petition will be considered for debate in parliament.
Adam Shaw, Co-Founder of the Shaw Mind Foundation, who started the campaign, told metro.co.uk that he was moved to create the petition thanks to his own experiences with mental illness, and the lack of support he received.
‘I suffered from the age of five with obsessive compulsive disorder, debilitating anxiety, panic attacks and depression,’ Adam told metro.co.uk.
‘Throughout my childhood, I felt unable to discuss my mental health issues with family, teachers or other mentors – I was left to cope by himself, despite having a very good relationship with my parents and a close network of friends.
‘My mental health issues stayed with me throughout adolescence and I carried them into adulthood.
‘In 2013, at crisis point I found myself stood on a railway bridge. Luckily, I took a step back and sought help from a psychologist, Dr Lauren Callaghan.
‘Together, Dr Lauren Callaghan and I set up The Shaw Mind Foundation, a mental health charity that provides support to anyone who may have lost hope; both the sufferer and those who support them.
‘We decided that instead of solely focusing on providing support, we should also be seeking to prevent the proliferation of mental health amongst our children, many of whom suffer silently, just like I did.’
Adam notes that around three children in every classroom suffer for mental health disorders, and one in five will experience a mental health difficulty before the age of 11 – so no, it’s not just a ‘grownup problem’.
Without treatment, early age mental illness and disorders can have a massive impact on young people’s lives, influencing everything from their hopes for the future to their relationships.
To skim over mental health in schools is to fail to provide adequate support and education for the high number of teenagers self-harming (over the last ten years, the number of young people admitted to hospital due to self-harm has increased by 68%), feeling low and alone, or considering suicide.
Ignoring the issue can have serious outcomes.
It’s also important to remember that mental health education is beneficial to everyone – not just those going through mental illness.
‘Schooling focuses on physical and academic education from a young age, yet virtually neglects mental wellbeing,’ says Adam.
‘By educating young people about mental health and wellbeing in school, we can increase resilience and coping skills, boost awareness of mental health difficulties, and encourage open, honest discussions about mental health
‘This would increase early diagnosis and access to help for young people suffering from mental health problems which will prevent some conditions becoming chronic and severe.
‘The ultimate objective must be to create an environment where mental health is valued alongside academic achievement and physical activity. This is essential for young people and their families, and the whole of society.’
Making mental health education compulsory, and making looking after mental wellbeing as important as academic success and physical fitness, could change the world for the better.
It could help young people feel less alone. It could give them the tools to cope. It could literally save lives.
It’s a huge part of breaking down the stigma and silence around mental health, starting early.
‘I was very secretive about what I was going through growing up, as I didn’t know what was wrong with me,’ says Adam.
‘My life would have been completely different had I been given effective mental health education at primary school. I would have been able to ask for help, and wouldn’t have been so frightened.
‘No child should have to experience that pain and fear. It is essential that we make mental health education compulsory.’
If you’d like to make mental health education compulsory, make sure to sign the Shaw Foundation’s petition before 3 May. We need this.
To sign the petition … https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/176555
It was in the second year of college that my dad became ill with depression.
As the youngest of three brothers, I had been living at home, with my middle brother at university, and my eldest brother living in London. It was so upsetting seeing Dad, who used to be full of energy, warmth and creativity, now spending his days lacking any motivation, depressed and in a very dark place.
Friends and family knew my dad as someone who had a passion for renovating classic cars, diving and filming. It was his passion for filming and diving that was the reason for starting his company in the late 70s, designing some of the first custom underwater camera housings for the likes of the BBC and ITV to film beautiful footage from under the sea.
However, during the 80s, there was a severe global economic recession hitting many businesses in the UK, and Dad’s was no exception. He ended up having to close his company.
I didn’t realise this at the time, but I am sure this must have been very upsetting for Dad, but he soon found another job, and we had many happy years as a family.
I will never know what triggered my dad’s depression, but the stress of moving house in the mid-90s was when things dramatically changed.
Even the simplest things seemed to be impossible for him. As a teenager seeing my dad depressed was incredibly hard, and I would get angry thinking I should be the one lying on the sofa and watching daytime TV.
As a family, we didn’t talk to anyone about my dad’s depression in the hope that he was going to get better, but it didn’t. He tried on a number of occasions to take his life and very sadly in early 1995 my dad killed himself.
My brothers and I tried to be strong for our mum, but we never received any professional help or counselling as a family.
I didn’t know what to do and had so many different emotions running through me from anger, helplessness and shame, but the overwhelming feeling was one of sadness that this amazing man was no longer here.
For me, the best solution was to not deal with it and bury these emotions very deeply away.
My friends at college were shocked but supportive and in particular just knowing that they were there was a real comfort. However, as a group of blokes in our teens, we didn’t know how to talk about our emotions and sadly this is still the case for so many men today.
After leaving university, I had started my first proper job at a large internet company at the turn of the millennium. It was the dot-com boom, full of excitement and opportunity.
I put myself under a lot of pressure in the role, and this was probably the catalyst for me getting ill.
One morning it came to a head when I woke up in my flat in a complete panic and scared. I called my brother, realising that something wasn’t right.
He ended up taking me home to my mum’s. I don’t remember a lot about these few days other than feeling scared, panicked and exhausted.
It wasn’t long before I was sectioned for my safety and ended up in the same mental health unit as my dad. While the hospital had some kind staff, it relied heavily on medication and the only talking you did was to other patients. It wasn’t a great hospital, to be honest, and the funding just wasn’t there.
After a week or so I left the hospital and returned home to Mum’s. I was put on anti-depressants, but I was still feeling very depressed.
I don’t know how long it was exactly, but after some weeks I decided that I had had enough.
One morning I went to the shops and bought some tablets. When I got home, I swallowed them and went to bed.
After lying in bed for a while, I rang my brother again and told him what I had done. Luckily a mutual friend was nearby and able to drive me to A&E.
While I was in the hospital again, my mum realised that I had health insurance from the internet company that I worked for and ended up being referred as a day visitor to the Priory Hospital for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
It was a different world compared to what Dad and I had experienced when we were first ill. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy involved sitting in a room with other people talking about how you felt and trying to challenge your thought processes. Over time it was this talking that made me better.
The stigma associated with mental health means that men are less likely to ask for help, making suicide the biggest killer in men under the age of 45 in the UK.
Female suicide rates are also at their highest in a decade according to the Samaritans.
I have been involved in the Heads Together campaign spearheaded by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry to end the stigma around mental health.
Heads Together bring together a team of charity partners that have achieved great progress in tackling stigma, raising awareness, and providing vital help for people with mental health problems.
The team covers a wide range of mental health issues that are close to The Duke and Duchess and Prince Harry’s passions.
I have certainly found the benefits in the last few months about speaking openly to colleagues, friends and family about my mental health and the positive impact it is having on reducing the stigma.
If these conversations can be replicated across the country, I do believe that we can end the stigma associated with mental health in this country and most importantly dramatically reduce the lives lost to suicide.
For some people, a conversation with a friend, family member or colleague about their mental health can be the cure or at least a start towards feeling better and getting the right help and support.
I ran the Virgin Money London Marathon this year with my good friend John for Heads Together and raised money for the fantastic mental health charity Best Beginnings. John had lost his sister last year to postnatal depression, and it was the tipping point for me on why I needed to speak more publicly about mental health.
Over 39,000 runners were given Heads Together headbands, and it really did feel like the mental health marathon. Finishing the marathon was tough for both of us but we crossed the line together, and it just proves that physical and mental health are equally important.
Duke of Cambridge says dealing with male suicides in his work as an air ambulance pilot helped him understand scale of issue.
The Duke of Cambridge has spoken of his shock at being called out to his first suicide as an air ambulance pilot in a joint interview with his brother, Prince Harry, on tackling masculinity and mental health issues.
Prince William said the “tipping point” for him in understanding how men struggle to deal with mental health problems came with his work with the East Anglian air ambulance.
“My first callout was to a male suicide and I was told there were five suicides or attempted suicides every day in East Anglia alone. When I looked into it I was shocked by how bad this situation is – suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK – which is absolutely appalling.”
He praised grime star Stormzy, sportsmen Rio Ferdinand and Freddie Flintoff, and rapper Professor Green for publicly talking about pressures on their mental health.
The interview with the princes is part of a campaign to encourage better communication about mental health issues. It follows Harry’s revelations that he sought counselling after coming close to a breakdown over the death of his mother and had two years of “total chaos” that led him to process his grief.
The interview, with CALMzine, published by the Campaign Against Living Miserably, was for a special edition before the London Marathon, during which the princes and the Duchess of Cambridge cheered on runners taking part for their mental health campaign, Heads Together, which is the charity of the year for the marathon.
Talking about how men often feel it was a sign of weakness to discuss their mental health, William said: “There may be a time and a place for the stiff upper lip, but not at the expense of your health. The recent interview by Stormzy about his depression was incredibly powerful and will help young men feel that it’s a sign of strength to talk about and look after your mind as well as your body.
He said he hoped subsequent generations would find it more normal to talk about their emotions. “Catherine and I are clear that we want both George and Charlotte to grow up feeling able to talk about their emotions and feelings.”
Harry, who served two tours of Afghanistan with the army and who actively campaigned to raise awareness of mental health issues within the military, believed progress was being made.
“The military is a complex picture as on one hand there is an incredible sense of brotherhood and belonging between you and your mates,” he told the magazine. “You’ll do anything for each other – scrub each other’s boots, drag each other through the mud – anything.
“Yet, on the other hand, this support for each other hasn’t, up to now, included looking after how your buddy is feeling and thinking about things. When you’re serving you look after your physical health, your training, your equipment, but not your head.
“There’s definitely been a misplaced sense of pride has got in the way of the people in the military community talking about their mental health and getting help. It’s changing now and I’m proud that this is part of the Heads Together campaign.
“Hopefully, if men see soldiers talking about mental health, it will give them the confidence to do the same.”
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph published on Monday, the prince reflected on the impact of his mother’s death and the time it took him to process it. “[I thought] it’s only going to make you sad, it’s not going to bring her back,” he said. “So from an emotional side, I was like ‘right, don’t ever let your emotions be part of anything’. So I was a typical 20-, 25-, 28-year-old running around going ‘life is great’, or ‘life is fine’ and that was exactly it.
“And then [I] started to have a few conversations and actually all of a sudden, all of this grief that I have never processed started to come to the forefront and I was like, there is actually a lot of stuff here that I need to deal with.”
On 19 April, four days before the marathon, the duchess hosted runners from Team Heads Together at Kensington Palace to talk about their reasons for running and wish them luck.
William attended the screening of the BBC’s Mind Over Marathon documentary at the BBC Radio Theatre on 18 April, which follows 10 runners affected by mental health issues. The royal trio opened the Global Academy in support of Heads Together on 20 April.
In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14.
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