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Along Came Polly..
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The social media and mental health have an odd relationship. I for one am NOT going to shit all over it, because blogging is my bread and butter. Twitter helped me to connect with other anxiety sufferers, Facebook enabled me to set up my own mental health community and instagram indulges my love of dogs looking cute. However, I do acknowledge the dark side, one that I doubt even Lord […]

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Meditation Can Benefit ALS Patients
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Meditation Benefits ALS Patients

An eight-week mindfulness-based meditation program led to improved quality of life and psychological well-being in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), according to new research.

In a randomized, open-label, and controlled clinical trial that included 100 patients, participants who underwent meditation training scored higher on a questionnaire specifically developed to assess quality of life in people with ALS, according to researchers.

They also reported lower levels of anxiety and depression, the study found.

These results remained stable, when not further improved, over a 12-month follow-up.

“There has been very limited investigation on psychological interventions that can promote quality of life in people with ALS,â€� said Dr. Francesco Pagnini, lead author of the study. “I found that very strange, as we are not able to cure the disease, but we all agree that the promotion of quality of life is the current main goal in ALS cases.â€�

“This is the first controlled trial in this field, suggesting that a mindfulness-based intervention can be a very important tool to increase the well-being of people with ALS,â€� he added.

The study was published in the European Journal of Neurology.

Source: Wiley

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What Does An Anxious Person Look Like?
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One of the most common remarks I hear when talking about mental health is, “you don’t look like you have social anxiety.” Or, “but you’re always so happy.” It’s not something I take offence to, because it’s meant with curiosity and I suppose in some ways, a compliment. “Oh wow, you don’t seem crazy at all!”I think they expect me to be rocking in a corner somewhere, clutching a bottle […]

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Let’s Talk About Self Harm
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Let's talk about self harm

My self harm story started when I was just 11 years of age. I didn’t know that I had a Social Anxiety Disorder, I didn’t know that I was suffering with Depression. I was just 11 years old. To me, I was just a weird kid who pretended to be sick every day so I didn’t have to go to school, the kid who was bullied most out of the whole class, the kid who obviously didn’t fit in or know how to function as a real person.

The amount of loneliness I felt at that age was insane and I didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t know any better, I didn’t think life would get any better.

At the time my Grandad was my best friend, I spent every day that I didn’t go to school at his house and even when I did go to school, I’d go straight to his house afterwards. I remember the day I first cut myself like it was earlier today. I remember watching TV with my Grandad, needing the bathroom and while in there, seeing his razor. I’d never even heard of self harm before but for some reason all I wanted to do was cut myself with it. So I did. Two bleeding arms later and I’m wrapping them in toilet tissue and covering it with my sleeves. Back downstairs watching TV and no one ever knew.

It quickly became a drug to me. I hurt myself in the toilets at school. I hurt myself in my bedroom a few times a day. I hurt myself in the shower. I couldn’t stop. It was the only thing that I knew how to do to make myself feel better.

Of course it was only every a temporary, fleeting relief. Sometimes it made me feel calm when I was angry or sad and sometimes it helped me to feel something when all I felt was numb.

I successfully hid my self harm addiction from everyone for 3 years. After a suicide attempt, my family saw my injuries and then everybody knew.

 

The Turning Point

Finding out that I had a Social Anxiety Disorder after my suicide attempt was probably the biggest turning point in my recovery. I finally had an answer to what I was feeling. I wasn’t “just a weird kid who would never fit in”, I had a mental illness that was treatable. Finally, a small flickering ember at the end of my long and sombre tunnel.

It took me until I was 18 to truly feel like I was over my addiction and when I say over it, I mean able to not give into impulses, to not be triggered every time I hurt myself accidentally, to not go back to how it was after every slip up – and trust me there were a few slip ups.

 

Self Harm Myths

It’s unusual that it’s taken me this long to talk about my self harm, even though my whole blog is based on a mental illness that I have and am not ashamed or embarrassed to talk about. I just think there are still so many misconceptions about it that make it harder to talk about.

Myths such as…

It’s only for attention
Only teenagers self harm
People who self harm enjoy pain
Self harm is an “emo thing”
Self harm is a mental illness or only people with mental illnesses self harm
Self harm is a suicide attempt

There are so many things that can be misconceived about self harm. It’s not so black and white. Some people self harm and don’t have a mental illness like I did. Some people can self harm only a few times, it’s not always an addiction.

I’ve known adults to self harm. I’ve self harmed as an adult myself. It’s not just a teenage thing.

I definitely don’t enjoy pain, I actually hate it but pain made me feel alive at a time when I couldn’t feel anything and sometimes it was just punishment to myself for just being me.

Self harm isn’t usually for attention, in fact a lot of people who self harm go to great lengths to cover it up. If someone is going to that extreme for attention though, they need just as much help!

Also “emo” wasn’t even a thing when I started self harming. Self harm has also been around a lot longer than that unfortunately. Lots of different people self injure, sometimes people you would never expect. People of any age, gender, race or religion. It doesn’t just happen in one specific group of people.

Lastly self harm isn’t a suicide attempt. Not everyone who self harms is suicidal. It’s a coping strategy.

 

There is help for self harm

I wish I’d have known about all the help when I was 11 years old but that was 16 years ago and I didn’t have a computer or the internet, so I wasn’t a Google whizz back then. I think it’s much easier to find help now that the internet and all these great organisations are far more accessible.

Here’s just a few of them:

Harmless

LifeSIGNS

The Mix

Self-Injury Support

National Self Harm Network (NSHN)

SelfharmUK

Recover Your Life

 

Recovering from Self Harm

There are lots of different ways to recover from self harm but first is trying to recognise what it is that is actually causing you to self harm, recognising triggers and patterns. It’s difficult to recover from self harm if the reason you’re using it as a coping method in the first place is still occurring. Trying to find different, healthier ways of coping may be a good short term solution. Exercising releases the same kind of chemicals that cutting releases but in a healthier way. Trying to keep your hands busy.

Putting on my headphones and going for a long walk is my favourite way of overcoming a self harm urge. Or punching or screaming into a pillow if things get really bad. There’s always an alternative, I promise.

It’s been nearly 3 years since I got my first self harm tattoo. I had birds on my arms where I used to cut as a teenager, inspired by Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd (my favourite song) and I’m planning on having my legs tattooed as they are much more badly scarred and where I hurt myself as an adult. It helps to look down and them and know how far I have come but it also kills any urge to want to cut, as I wouldn’t want to ruin my beautiful tattoos!

 

Self Harm Tattoo

 

Do you have a self harm story? What has helped you to stop self harming?

 

The post Let’s Talk About Self Harm appeared first on Anxious Lass.

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Getting to know my depression
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i live with depression. sometimes it’s major, sometimes it’s minor and sometimes i can’t tell if i have it at all. but i’ve been clinically diagnosed for over 13 years so i have gotten to know it pretty well. depression presents itself differently in each person. for me, depression feels like a deep, heavy sadness. like a thick fog that slowly rolls in and envelops every part of me. it’s so hard to see my way out and it blocks my vision of a positive future or even a tolerable present. through many years of treatment i have worked hard to understand how i feel when depression comes back and how i can take the best care of myself when i feel sick. a few weeks ago i wrote about getting to know my anxiety. today i am going to talk about getting to know my depression. here are some of my own red flags and what i do to help myself when they come up.

don’t panic. when i feel that first tinge of sadness or when i feel more tired that usual, alarm bells start to go off in my head. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. NOT DEPRESSIONNNNNN!!!!!! for me, depression has been nothing short of devastating. it’s hard not to freak out when i feel it coming on. when i remember how sick i was, the thought of a relapse is absolutely terrifying – especially if i have been having a really good, upbeat streak. i feel my thoughts start to race ahead to the worst case scenario and a panicked feeling grows in my chest. this is a critical moment for me. this is a moment when i do have a choice. i have to stop and take a very deep breath. and then ten more. i talk to myself – sometimes out loud – and tap into my own strength and past experience. the conversation goes something like this: it’s ok to be scared of getting depressed again. it’s natural to feel anxious. you are a survivor. remember how much you have learned. whatever happens next, know that you can handle it.

know my red flags. i have found it necessary to understand what my thoughts and behaviors are like when i start to spiral downwards. this helps me catch myself before i hit the bottom.  my first red flag is catastrophic thinking. nobody understands me. everyone else has it easier than me. i will never get over this.  who cares. it doesn’t matter how hard i try. i’ll never be good enough. once i start thinking or saying things like this, i know that my depression is flaring up. another clue is if my energy is low for several days and i find it hard to complete daily tasks, like cleaning, showering or cooking dinner. when i notice these warning signs, i try to pause and reflect on what might be triggering the thoughts or behaviors. i talk to someone, like my family or my therapist. while it’s tempting to ignore red flags, i have found that it’s super important to acknowledge and explore them. for me, avoiding or denying them only makes depression worse further on down the line.

remember that depression is an illness with symptoms. for a long time, i didn’t think of depression as an illness. it felt more like a personal defect that i needed to try to get over. looking back, i can see that this perspective made the symptoms of my depression feel even more overwhelming. i didn’t view my feelings or experiences as symptoms of an illness. sadness, guilt and isolation loomed large and my panicked reaction magnified their effects. through a lot of reading and conversation, i have come to accept that depression is, in fact, an illness. and for me, one that needs to be treated with both medication and therapy. shifting my perspective has helped me to react with less fear when my symptoms present themselves. they make more sense within the context of depression as a legitimate medical condition. i still feel sad, afraid and lonely, but i am able to recognize those feelings as connected to my illness and as symptoms that i can respond to with self care.

accept that i am in a finite period of depression. one of the hardest features of depression is that it makes you think it will never end. which is what makes the onset so scary. a difficult piece of my work in therapy has been accepting that i have a mental illness and building my ability to tolerate it when it flares up. as much as i wish it would, depression won’t just disappear. and somehow, as counter-intuitive as it seems, allowing myself to feel the depression and accept its presence alleviates some of my suffering. for me, the symptoms don’t last forever. i have made it through depression before and, as gut-wrenching as it was, i can do it again. i tell myself that it is ok to feel sad, or angry, or frustrated. this is a perfect opportunity to…

practice self care. for a long time, i ignored and denied my symptoms. if i felt sad, i hid it. i can’t tell you how many times i cried in my car or in the bathroom stall so nobody else would know. i almost never told others about my depression. if i felt exhausted, i pushed myself harder and if i felt inadequate, i took on even more responsibility. i had a lot of negative coping skills – like drinking, smoking, shopping and over-working. and then one day i crashed. and burned. it took me two years to recover. which is why, today, nothing is more important to me than self care. i had to start from the bottom and rebuild my life in a healthier, more authentic way.

i could write all day on self care so i’ll try to keep it short (for now). for me, self care means being honest about my diagnosis. i don’t lie anymore about having depression or about my dad’s suicide. i honor who i am and what i live with. self care means saying no to others when i am feeling overloaded. it means making time to relax, to exercise, to create and to connect with others. self care is using all my senses to soothe and recharge myself – body, mind and spirit. and i practice coping skills every day, not just when i am at my worst. this is what makes them more effective when i do have an episode of depression – they work because i have been practicing.

know when to ask for help. depression is serious. and for some people, like my dad, depression is fatal. suicidal thoughts are a common symptom of depression. and i know that if and when i have them, they are not to be ignored. if i ever have the thought that i would be better off dead, i know that this is the most serious of red flags.  i tell someone i trust immediately and i reach out for more professional support. i believe that i deserve help in treating my depression and i recognize that i can’t do it on my own. in the past i used a personal safety plan that outlined specific steps i would take in the event of suicidal thoughts – this was a very helpful tool. other red flags that indicate i need to step up my professional help are frequent crying, prolonged withdrawal from family or friends, and lack of desire to go to work. i always keep the national suicide prevention lifeline’s number programmed into my cell phone, so that i have someone to call at any minute of the day or night. while suicidal thoughts don’t mean that suicide is inevitable, it’s so very important to act immediately when they come up.

and finally, i remember that i am not depression. i am not my diagnosis or my mental illness. i am not depression – i have depression. when i am feeling especially blue, this is something i say to myself every day. depression impacts our thinking and makes it difficult to appreciate the whole picture of who we are. remembering that i am not depression puts some of the power back into my hands. i am reminded that i have so much strength, ability and compassion to use in support of myself when depression strikes. while i can’t control my symptoms and while nothing is more difficult for me than experiencing depression, it’s critical for me to remember that i deserve to, and will, feel better. i have become an expert in my own experience. developing awareness, acceptance, self care and support have shifted the way that i cope with depression.

to quote one of my favorite internet memes – i have survived 100% of my worst days. so far i’m doing great.

(check out the full version of the above comic strip at upworthy.com)

The post getting to know my depression appeared first on blue light blue.

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If I Could Write A Letter To My Anxiety, This Is What Id Say
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  You were the friend I didnt want but youd never go away. And as I grew up, you werent something I just grew out of. We grew together and you continue to try and ruin my life.But I wont let you.You play out scenarios that will never come true but try and convince me […]

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Kate Middleton delivers powerful speech about mental health and stigma
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Duchess of Cambridge enjoying a giggle. Image: Getty Images Although we’re making a lot of gains when it comes to the mainstream discussion surrounding mental illness, there’s still a long way to go. Social stigma and common stereotypes are what makes it so important for public figures to speak out about mental health issues particularly […]

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Abdominal Pain: Why Youre Hurting In These 9 Areas Of Your Tummy
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Everyone gets a stomachache now and again. Maybe you’re hungry, or maybe you ate too much, or something didn’t agree with you. Other times, it might be a symptom of a stomach virus, or even a sign of stress and anxiety. Other times, it’s an indication that something might be up with one or more […]

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Novak Djokovic endures Australian Open horror show of paralysis and self-doubt
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This was drama Tennis Australia could not have dialled up in a movie, although they did not want their defending champion leaving in the first week When the 117th best player in the world, Denis Istomin here courtesy of a wildcard put his 15th ace past the six-times champion, Novak Djokovic, in the fourth-set tie-break […]

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