i thought i could never have a job interview again. and then i did.
i thought i would never be hired again. and then i was.
i thought i couldn’t tell my boss about my mental illness. and then i did.
i thought that i was the only one. and then i wasn’t.
i thought i couldn’t make it through one entire workday. and then i did.
i thought i couldn’t make it through the next one. i did that too.
i thought i couldn’t manage my anxiety and depression while holding down a job. and then i did.
i thought i could never be a trusted colleague again. and then i was.
i thought i could never be creative again. and then it came back.
i thought i could never see my colleagues from before my major episode again. and then i did.
i thought i would be judged. i was supported.
i thought i would be consumed with shame. and then i wasn’t.
i thought my old habits would kick in, that i couldn’t handle stress. and then i coped.
i thought that any setback would bring me down again. i got up. i kept going.
i thought i was out of options. i had choices.
i thought my confidence was gone for good. it was inside all along.
i thought my life was over. i’m still here.
i thought i would fail. i thought that i would fail. i thought that i would fail.
and then i flew.
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week 2017, so I thought it would be a neat idea to tell you about my favourite things that I use to manage my mental health. Some I use for my anxiety, some for my depression and a fair few of them for both.
Sometimes my mental health is worsened when I feel out of control, it’s as if my life is unravelling and I have no idea how to cling on or how to keep it all together. Setting myself a schedule that’s completely manageable, helps me all the time but especially on days where my depression and anxiety is at its worst.
If I don’t set a schedule, my mind turns into jelly and it wobbles ALL OVER the place. I imagine a massive list of things that I can’t get done in a single day and then I don’t want to do anything. So I schedule one to two important tasks a day (this is crucial for me as I also work from home but it also works for housework, self-care, anything you want to get done) and it’s easier for me to do them and when I tick them off it’s a huge achievement.
I think having a routine in place also helps my mental health in more ways than one, it helps me get a better sleep at night and ensures that I eat proper meals and I make time for me!
Spotify is my best friend. I couldn’t live without it. I listen to music first thing in the morning, it helps me get out of bed. Preferably uplifting music that makes me dance my way into the shower and gets me in a good mood. Music is also there for me when I’m anxious, as it can calm me down but I also listen to music when I’m cooking, doing housework, editing my photos, exercising or walking outdoors.
Reading other success stories, tips and even just things I can relate to, often helps me with my own mental health. I love to read blogs and self-help books – here’s a few of my faves at the moment:
The Anxiety Solution: A Quieter Mind, a Calmer You
Life gets a bit much sometimes and having a lot on my plate can be stressful on my mental health, especially if I have a lot to be anxious about. Being a Wedding Photographer means that Summer can be extremely stressful on my anxiety, I get anxious before every wedding, so having lots of them to photograph in a short period of time is draining mentally. It’s times like that, that self-care is majorly important.
My favourite things to do when practising self-care are having a nice hot bath, relaxing to music, eating copious amounts of Dairy Milk Giant Buttons and watching a good box-set under my duvet.
When my mental health is in a bad way or I feel myself slipping back into anxious/negative thoughts, I like to gently remind myself of the things I have managed to accomplish despite all the obstacles that have been in my way. Reflecting on positive things that I’ve done helps to establish a belief that I can do it again, or I can get through anything.
I use a mixture of supplements to give me energy and often improve my mood if need be. My favourite supplement is the Life Extension – Vitamin D3, 1000IU, 250 capsules as I work mostly from home, which means I don’t get a lot of exposure to the sun and, well, living in the UK means I don’t get much of that when I’m out of the house either! Vitamin D supplements just give me that boost of energy that I need to help both my mental health and my chronic illness.
I’ve also recently started taking 5-HTP for my mood and that’s been a really big help, I could feel myself slipping back into a depression and these really helped me crawl back out of it.
When I’m having an anxiety attack or feeling close to one, it’s important to me to have those alternative thoughts ready to counteract any horribly shit thoughts I’m having. Like turning “oh shit, I’m gonna fuck everything up” into “It will be okay, you’ve managed to get through situations like this before, you can do this!” or turning “everyone is staring at me” into “no one is concerned about you, people aren’t looking at you”.
I have a list of goals that I like to tick off, I don’t always set a date for them and bigger goals I like to break down into smaller pieces so they’re easier to achieve. I feel like having something to work towards makes me more productive, gives my life a bit more purpose and stops me from feeling out of control and lost. It also helps me to push through my anxiety in situations that involve reaching my goals.
I have them listed on a Word document, I simply put a strike-through the text when I’ve completed the goal.
Talking about my mental health has helped me in ways I never thought it could. I don’t just mean talking to my friends and family and people who know me in real life but also talking to strangers on the internet, like you lovely sods! It’s been incredible to find a network of people who understand what I’m going through but also it’s been comforting and also eye-opening to hear other people’s perspectives on their mental health.
I definitely recommend talking to people about your mental health. Here’s some resources of mine that may help:
My Facebook Group for people with Anxiety – It’s a closed group so no one outside the group can see your posts.
How To Explain Social Anxiety To Someone Who Doesn’t Have It – My most requested post and now one of my most popular posts.
Walking in the forest, the smell of pine trees, the sounds of the birds, watching the sun dance on the lake, hearing the waves crash… all of those things improve my mental health greatly. It’s amazing how different I feel just spending even a few minutes in nature. I also love stargazing and often take my camera out to capture the stars, that definitely makes me feel something that books, supplements and self-care can’t. My fears feel so much smaller when I look up at the sky and see all of those stars.
Sometimes it’s good to just have a good cry and punch a fucking pillow. The worst thing I’ve ever done for my mental health is bottle everything up and keep it all inside. I ended up worse off than I was before, because it all built up and I ended up having a breakdown. Just get it out. Cry about it, think about it for a bit, tell someone how you feel, anything to get it out there before it becomes a burden you can’t bear.
It’s important to acknowledge what you’re feeling, rather than sweeping it under the carpet.
Photography saved my life in a way. I’d just been diagnosed with a Social Anxiety Disorder, just dropped out of school, couldn’t ever leave the house but photography helped me do things I was too anxious to do before. Slowly, it helped me leave the house, it helped me meet new people and learn conversational skills, it helped put me on the spot and learn how to cope with that, it gave me a job when I had no qualifications. It was my biggest passion and I think that passion gave me enough drive to get through the worst of things.
Not only has my creativity with photography helped me with accomplishing things in life despite my social anxiety, my creativity in general helps me to focus on something I enjoy. I love writing, crafting things for my photo shoots and I also do a little horror photography on the side of my photo business to keep my creative spark alive.
I’ve only just started getting back into this since my recent surgery for Endometriosis but exercise has always been amazing for my mental health. I used to love running in the forest or by the river and now that I live in Somerset, there are lots of country walks for me to go on. It’s not just the natural endorphins that are released when you exercise that I find good for my mental health but also the feeling of being strong and feeling of accomplishment as well.
Social media fucks with my head so much that when I’m particularly delicate, I need to cut down. I have to step away from my phone for a while and just be present, or I end up feeling incredibly low and incredibly anxious. There are lots of reasons why social media makes me feel this way and perhaps you can relate but these are the main reasons for me:
Of course this had to be on the list! Writing my blog has opened up a whole new world for me, in a sense that I get therapeutic value from writing about my mental health on a frequent basis but I also get to talk to lots of people who are going through the same thing. It’s also opened up other doors such as being on the radio for BBC Radio 5 Live, which was a massive challenge for my social anxiety disorder.
For more of the tools I use for my mental health, check out my resources page. Let me know what helps you in the comments!
Manaka Da Munda Lyrics: Jass Manak New Punjabi Song is sung by him with lyrics penned by Jass Manak Itself.
New research finds that mothers often worry, but babies of anxious mothers may also spend more time focusing on threats in their environment.
Using a novel experimental design, Pennsylvania State University scientists used eye-tracking technology to measure how long babies spent looking at happy, neutral, and angry faces. They found that the babies with anxious moms had a harder time looking away from an angry face — which they could view as a threat — than babies whose moms were not anxious.
Researchers believe the study findings, published in in the journal Emotion, could help give clues about which children are at risk for developing anxiety later in life.
“Once we learn more about the pathways to anxiety, we can better predict who’s at risk and hopefully help prevent them from needing treatment later on,” said Dr. Koraly Pérez-Edgar, a professor of psychology.
“Treatment is difficult for the child and parent, it’s expensive and it doesn’t always work. If we can prevent anxiety from developing, that’s a whole lot better. Let’s find out which kids are at the highest risk and intervene.”
Previous research has found that focusing too much on threat could potentially increase anxiety, and some forms of therapy focus on turning attention away from threat as a way to lower anxiety.
“Paying too much attention to threat, even as infants, could possibly set up this cycle. The more you fixate on threat, the more opportunity you have to see the world as a threatening place, which could help lead to more anxiety,” Pérez-Edgar said.
“Additionally, we think that risk factors in biology and potentially mom’s anxiety could also make that more likely.”
To examine the relationship between a mother’s anxiety and her baby’s attention to threat, researchers recruited 98 babies between the ages of four and 24 months.
The research team was led by Pérez-Edgar, and included Drs. Kristin Buss, professor of psychology at Penn State, and Vanessa Lobue, assistant professor of psychology at Rutgers University.
The study methodology included investigators asking babies’ mothers questions about their anxiety levels. Also, the babies themselves were placed in front of a screen that was equipped with an eye tracker, a strip that ran along the bottom of the monitor and followed the movement of the babies’ irises using infrared.
As each baby focused on the screen, their gaze was measured while happy, neutral and angry faces appeared one at a time. Once the baby was focused on a face, a second image was flashed in their peripheral vision to distract them.
“By the time you’re a few months old, a reflex develops where you’ll automatically turn and look if something pops up in your peripheral vision,” Pérez-Edgar said. “This became a conflict for the babies, because they were focused on the face but then had this reflex to turn and look.”
The researchers found that the more anxious a baby’s mother was, the more time her baby spent looking at the angry faces before turning to look at the image in their peripheral vision. This suggests that the babies with anxious moms had a harder time disengaging from a potential threat in their environment.
Additionally, the researchers found that the age of the baby did not matter. The babies with anxious moms spent a longer time looking at the angry face whether they were four or 24 months old, suggesting a potential genetic element.
“It doesn’t seem like the babies are learning to pay more attention to threat from their anxious moms. If that were true, the older babies might have more trouble turning away because they’ve been around their moms longer than the younger babies,” Pérez-Edgar said.
“This seems to suggest that there may be a shared genetic or biological component.”
Pérez-Edgar said the results give powerful clues about where to keep looking to learn more about how anxiety develops in children. In a future study, Pérez-Edgar, Buss, and Lobue will take a closer look at how mothers’ anxiety affects babies over time, instead of at one instance.
Source: Penn State
Almost half of parents whose children were admitted to Children’s National Health System’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) experienced postpartum depressive symptoms, anxiety, and stress when their newborns were discharged from the hospital.
Parents who were the most anxious also were the most depressed, according to research presented during the 2017 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) national conference.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that one in 10 infants born in the United States each year is born preterm, or before 37 weeks’ gestation. Because fetuses undergo dramatic growth in the final weeks of pregnancy, preemies often need help in the NICU with essentials such as breathing, eating, and regulating their body temperature. Some very sick newborns die.
Because their infants’ lives hang in the balance, NICU parents are at particular risk for poor emotional function, including mood disorders, anxiety, and distress.
Researchers led by Children’s National Neonatologist Lamia Soghier, M.D., set out to determine factors closely associated with poor emotional function to identify at-risk parents most in need of mental health support.
The research team enrolled 300 parents and infants in a randomized controlled clinical trial that explored the impact of providing peer-to-peer support to parents after their newborns are discharged from the NICU.
The researchers relied on a 10-item tool to assess depressive symptoms and a 46-question tool to describe the degree of parental stress. They used regression and partial correlation to characterize the relationship between depressive symptoms, stress, gender, and educational status with such factors as the infant’s gestational age at birth, birth weight, and length of stay.
About 58 percent of the infants in the study were male; 58 percent weighed less than 5.6 pounds at birth; and the average length of stay for 54 percent of infants was less than two weeks.
According to the researchers, 89 percent of parents who completed the surveys were mothers; 44 percent were African American; and 45 percent reported having attained at least a college degree. Additionally, 43 percent were first-time parents.
The researchers discovered that about 45 percent of NICU parents had elevated Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) scores.
“The baby’s gender, gestational age at birth and length of NICU stay were associated with the parents having more pronounced depressive symptoms,” Soghier says. “Paradoxically, parents whose newborns were close to full-term at delivery had 6.6-fold increased odds of having elevated CES-D scores compared with parents of preemies born prior to 28 weeks’ gestation. Stress levels were higher in mothers compared with fathers, but older parents had lower levels of stress than younger parents.”
The results presented at the conference are an interim analysis, according to Soghier. She noted the longer-term study continues, exploring the impact of providing peer support for parents after NICU discharge.
Photo: Almost half of parents whose children were admitted to Children’s National Health System’s neonatal intensive care unit experienced postpartum depressive symptoms, anxiety and stress when their newborns were discharged from the hospital. Credit: Children’s National Health System.
Panic attack in super market. How long do panic attacks last One helpful cashier turned a disaster into a joyous occasion. Helen Martin took her daughter, Cordelia, to a Sainsbury’s supermarket in the United Kingdom. This was a really big deal for the 9-year-old. Cordelia suffers from panic attacks and a few years before, while shopping […]
I mentioned in a previous post that I was attempting online dating again and that I might be meeting up with a guy from one of the sites. Well we did end up meeting up, and things have gone really well so far. Iâ€™ll need to write about our first date at some point, actually, as it makes for a funny story, in terms of how mortifyingly/ hilariously (depending on how you look at it) awkward I am. Weâ€™ve been going out for almost two months now, and I now have a boyfriend (!!!) Trust me when I say that no one is more surprised than I am! I was thoroughly convinced that I would never be in a relationship, given my mental health issues, unattractiveness, and low self-esteem. I still canâ€™t really believe it now. This is a very prolonged and elaborate dream that Iâ€™m having. I really donâ€™t want to mess this up, but Iâ€™m worried that all my issues that I mentioned above will inevitably ruin things. He knows all about my social anxiety and history of depression, and has so far been extremely patient and understanding, but it is still a worry. I have zero relationship experience (and not even much experience with friendships), and, as I mentioned before, being in a relationship/ getting close to someone is the area in which my anxiety and low self-esteem are most intense. I am also absolutely dreading meeting his parents (he has already met all of my immediate family, but his parents live up in the Highlands, so it will be some time before I have the opportunity to meet them, if everything continues to go well), even though they seem like lovely people. Everything in a relationship is so new and daunting to me.
While Iâ€™m of course really happy about finally having found someone I really like (and who apparently likes me) enough to be in a relationship, I am having huge issues with cognitive dissonance. For example, I canâ€™t believe him when he says that he really likes me or that he finds me attractive, because most of my previous life experiences have taught me that Iâ€™m unlikeable/ unlovable, and that Iâ€™m hideously unattractive. Therefore according to the sum of my life experience and conditioning, heâ€™s lying. And then I get suspicious and start to worry about what else he might be lying about. Stupid brain. All of this has made me realise that low self-esteem is my biggest issue/ obstacle. Iâ€™m currently reading a book on self-compassion in an attempt to address this. Another thing that Iâ€™m worried about is that I have intense anxiety/ issues around physical intimacy (I find it really difficult to talk about that kind of thing, but will hopefully write about it in more detail at some point, as I imagine itâ€™s quite a common issue in those of us with SA). Even though heâ€™s been super patient and understanding about this so far, I worry that my issues with this will eventually cause his patience to run out. Anywayâ€¦negative rant over.
It feels so great to finally have someone special in my life. I thought that romantic relationships would only ever be something that happened to other people, not to me. Iâ€™ve been so lucky to find someone so caring, patient and understanding when it comes to me and my mental health. I had the courage to be open with him about my issues, and he has accepted me, anxiety and all. I feel like this is someone that I may actually be able to trust and open up to completely. Although there are a lot of things about getting close to someone that make me really anxious, I have become so much more comfortable around him already (probably like a different person compared to how anxious I was on our first date), so I am hopeful that I will continue to improve and wonâ€™t let my anxiety get in the way of this part of my life. Even if things ultimately donâ€™t work out, Iâ€™ve still really enjoyed our time together, and have some new happy memories to add to my collection. Any friendship or relationship that I have in my life is very precious to me. I wonâ€™t take this for granted, and I will certainly cherish this far more than most people.
A population health study of very preterm and very-low-birth-weight individuals finds that these early births are not associated with anxiety and mood disorders later in life.
The finding challenges earlier research that suggested increased risks. The study will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and University of Warwick researchers studied nearly 400 individuals from birth to adulthood. Half of the participants had been born before 32-weeks gestation or at a very low birth weight (less than 3.3 pounds), and the other half had been born at term and normal birth weight.
The research team, led by Drs. Julia Jaekel (UT) and Dieter Wolke (UW), assessed each participant when they were six, eight, and 26 years old using detailed clinical interviews of psychiatric disorders.
“Previous research has reported increased risks for anxiety and mood disorders, but these studies were based on small samples and did not include repeated assessments for over 20 years,” said Jaekel.
Their results? At age six, children were not at an increased risk of any anxiety or mood disorders, but by age eight — after they had entered school — more children had an anxiety disorder.
By 26, there was a tendency to have more mood disorders like depression, but the findings were not meaningfully different between the two groups.
This study is the first investigation of anxiety and mood disorders in childhood and adulthood using clinical diagnoses in a large whole-population study of very preterm and very-low-birth-weight individuals as compared to individuals born at term.
The team also found that having a romantic partner who is supportive is an important factor for good mental health because it helps protect one from developing anxiety or depression.
However, the study found fewer very-preterm-born adults had a romantic partner and were more withdrawn socially.
“Adults without support from romantic partners are at increased risk to develop anxiety and mood disorders,” said Wolke.
“Social support is important to prevent anxiety or mood disorders.”
It is also the largest study that’s been done following very-preterm-born children from childhood to adulthood.
Researchers believe the large sample size and study design provide compelling and reassuring evidence that very-preterm birth is not associated with an increased risk of psychiatric mood and anxiety disorders.
i am posting this picture because i need to see it like this. me how i am right now. today. i’m not sucking it in or covering it up. this is my body. it is what it is.
notice how quickly we start to make a judgement. i do it too. don’t talk to me about weight or pounds. i mean it. don’t tell me that i am fat or not fat. skinny or not skinny. that i am beautiful on the outside. if you think anything about me is beautiful let it be my honesty in writing about this difficult topic.
because i don’t feel beautiful but i do feel honest.
since getting really sick with depression, anxiety and ptsd, my relationship with my body has gone through many changes. superficially my medication caused me to gain almost 30 pounds when all was said and done. my hair fell out for a while and i had terrible breakouts. it truly sucked. but my physical appearance was the last thing on my mind when i was sick. i was almost detached from my body – the source of my illness. on a deep down level i felt that my body had betrayed me by letting me become so unhinged. i couldn’t trust it anymore.
as i began to recover and stabilize i came out of the fog and began to notice myself again. “oh my god,” i thought, “who is this fat version of me?” i’ll be honest – i was totally mortified about my weight gain. it sounds superficial but it is very, painfully true. the change in my appearance made it hard for me to see people again – on top of having to own that i had spent time in a psychiatric hospital and then quit my job, i had to top it all off with 30 extra pounds.
does it sound like i was being hard on myself? i was. and to some degree i still am. it’s common to experience guilt and shame after an episode of severe mental illness – about many aspects of our lives, including how we look. we do the best we can at any given time and self loathing was the best i could do. i wasn’t able to give myself a break or tell myself that how i looked was ok. because it wasn’t ok with me and i felt that i had to work so very extra hard to recover from how bad life got – and how bad it made me look to myself.
i got motivated. i changed my diet completely and restricted carbs and sugar. i started working out all the time, pushing pushing pushing myself to drop the extra pounds. walking running lifting biking. and while i think that exercise and healthy eating are critical to my wellness, i wasn’t doing it entirely for my wellness. i was doing it in large part for my clothing size.
i started to drop weight – 5, 10, 15, 20 pounds. i got so many compliments: “wow you look amazing!” or the ultimate praise: “have you lost weight?” but i still felt fat. when i looked in the mirror i saw my size and it looked no different. even though i came within 5 pounds of my pre-breakdown weight i felt ten times as big. i asked my husband, my mom, my sister, over and over and over again, if i looked ok, bigger, smaller, better, worse. constantly checking to see what they thought. but no reassurance will be good enough if we aren’t prepared to accept it and if we can’t reassure ourselves.
in january i had foot surgery and wasn’t able to walk for six weeks or exercise for three months. the weight came back – 5, 10, 15 pounds. and i lost my resolve to honor my restricted diet. i felt like i was watching myself let go of all the progress i had made. once again putting myself down. once again feeling inadequate. and always feeling overweight. maybe not fat to you but fat to me. my own kind of fat.
i’m sick of caring about this. i’m sick of looking in the mirror and criticizing myself. i’m sick of feeling guilty when i eat something i like. i’m sick of comparing my body to somebody’s else’s body. i want to do better. i want to see myself differently when i look in the mirror.
but i can’t just snap my fingers and become body positive. (i totally wish i could). so i am forced to ask myself why i put so much energy into disliking my body, into criticizing myself. does it go back to losing my dad and the abandonment i felt as a 13 year old girl? it is the impact of the trauma on both my body and my mind, teaching me to distrust my instincts and the world around me? how much of this is cultural – our fixation on the skinny, perfect female body? let’s not forget mental illness – the lies that depression tells me about never being good enough and my anxious focus on what other people think. it’s all of this and more, more more. all tangled up in one messy self conscious knot.
i find it hard to just look in the mirror and tell myself i’m beautiful. it feels fake. like i am glossing over how hard this is for me. so instead i ask myself what my body has done for me. it carried me through a childhood trauma. it has allowed me to travel all over the country and some of the world. it alerted me when i was heading into a mental health crisis and gave me an opportunity to learn how to take better care of myself. today i use my body to cope with difficult symptoms, finding peace in deep breathing and physical movement. my body took me to spain on my bike journey last may – riding 200 miles in honor of the 20th anniversary of my dad’s suicide. these are things i can hold in the balance. things i can appreciate. connect with. feel proud of.
maybe loving my body has more to do with trust than it does with appearance. because right now my reflection lies. maybe it is just this first step, this awkward conversation that doesn’t have a happy ending.
one day i want to be body positive. right now i’m just body.