World Mental Health Awareness Day 2017 – male depression

Well it wouldn’t be a mental health awareness blog without some more mental health awareness would it ūüėä

Today is mental awareness awareness day or 10th October 2017 to the rest of you. This day is used to help raise awareness of a multitude of areas connected to mental health. It isn’t a day to start pointing the finger at people and calling them names!!

At some point you or someone you know will suffer from a mental health illness. Whether it is stress, depression, anxiety or something much more. We all need to to work together to tackle the stigma. Mental health illness does not make you weak or inferior. It doesn’t just affect women a lot of men suffer in silence afraid of what others may think. Guys if real men wear pink then even realer men reveal their emotions! Go on let out a cry if you need too and talk to someone about it!

I am using today to raise awareness of men’s suffering. Why should they suffer? What makes them different from women? Well to be honest I can’t personally speak for every man out there and clearly I’m not one but I suspect it comes down to gender stereotyping. Men are expected to be all macho and never reveal their emotions – well perhaps dodgy humour is permitted in some circumstances. However, generally the ‘man of the house’ is to be the bread winner, the one who chairs his household like a godfather. Everyone comes to him with their problems and he has all the answers. Well the truth is men you’re not so dissimilar to us women. We’re ‘expected’ to know the answers (think childcare etc), were suppose to keep the house together (housework).

We shouldn’t conform to any gender stereotyping we should just be who we want to be. Some women are more dominant in their family and the men more care givers. Nothing wrong with this!!!

Men you can cry, laugh and shout out loud. You are allowed to have breakdowns although we’d prefer it that you seek help before that happens. You can feel insecure about your body (by the way the ideal man in most women’s eyes isn’t some 6ft body builder, most of us like a man with the six pack in the fridge). You can feel down in the dumps, stressed etc just talk to someone. Communication is key to getting better. You wouldn’t leave a broken foot unseen so don’t try to stick a plaster over your mind and assume it will heal by itself.

I’m obviously no mental health expert or therapist but I encourage people to just talk to their peers. I can guarantee you are not the only one in your friendship circle to be suffering in silence.

Possible triggers (no particular order):

  • Marriage / relationship breakdown
  • Domestic violence
  • Abuse
  • Bullying / harassment
  • Redundancy
  • Illness
  • Bereavement
  • Self esteem / body issues
  • Change in family (new baby, marriage)
  • Parents divorcing
  • Alcohol or something balance abuse

Nothing above is any different for a man or woman to suffer depression it’s just men don’t talk about it.

Us women are great talkers (ok not all of us), we have a natter with our girlies and generally try to put the world to rights over a cuppa tea. Men you tend to kick a ball around or have a pint or two but not generally talk feelings it’s more shop talk (sex, that woman’s boobs, tv, sport etc). Now correct me if I’m wrong but it’s rare that’s I’ve known men to have a heart to heart with the lads about their marriage breakdown, girlfriend troubles, erectile dysfunction, grief etc. You seem to pop those issues on a shelf to gather dust and let it get worse and worse. Why? I would really like for you to reach out to me and explain why. Is it because you are deeply private individuals or is there more to it. Is it more to do with gender stereotyping that men shouldn’t talk about these things? In today’s society I believe men and women are equal to talk about their feelings. It’s natural to talk (some more than others). If the second in line to be king of England can share his feelings with the nation then surely you can open up to your best mate. Even if you don’t want to talk to your wife / girlfriend or partner at least chat to your bestie that’s what friends are for. True friends won’t judge you and probably relate to you more than you think. It’s like that old age phrase ask the question because you can guarantee someone else is thinking the same. There’s also no such thing as a stupid question just one that’s left unanswered.

So men reach out and have a chat with your nearest and dearest (or GP). You’ll not be locked away and thrown in a padded cell for having voices in your head. You can be helped but only if you choose to seek help.

If you’re a man suffering with depression and would like to reach out and share you’re story why not get in contact with me. I could always do with a regular male voice on the blog.

Katherine xo

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WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY 10 OCTOBER 2017

The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year.

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The day provides an opportunity “for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide”. This year’s theme set by the¬†World Federation for Mental Health¬†is mental health in the workplace.

The theme for World Mental Health Day 2017 is workplace wellbeing. So whether you’re an individual looking to boost your own wellbeing or an employer seeking advice on supporting your staff, we’ve got a range of ways you can get involved.

 

6 Top tips for self managing stress or depression

Are you living with stress and want to know some self help top tips.

1. Notice your individual triggers

We all have little triggers that set us off but to help you manage stress you should try to hone in on what sets you off. Is it the useless printer at work or the way a colleague speaks to you. Find out so you can manage it.

2. List your worries

This is probably an easy task for someone who perhaps kept a journal in their youth. This tip is all about jotting down your worries. If you can see them written down you can look at setting some goals to do something about them.

3. Be better organised

It is true that the more organised an individual the less stressed they become. Start with to do lists and list out all the big and little tasks that you need to do. Start with the most interesting and easy win tasks to help build your confidence up. For example if one task is to clean the house why not sort out one room (or even make that task smaller by just sorting a drawer). Once you’ve achieved that task why not see how long you can keep that room / area tidy then move on to another room. Break tasks down into manageable and achievable goals.

4. Get active

This gets said so often that it goes unnoticed at times. Physical health and mental health are linked. If your physically more active this releases endorphins which are the happy hormones. This can help your overall wellbeing.

5. Have a rest

Your not superman (or superwoman) you don’t need to do everything all at once. As mentioned in point 3 break tasks down into management targets. Don’t be afraid to have a nap at lunch time if you need it. You need to have physical strength to tackle mental tasks.

You should also try and mix up you breaks at work. Can you go for a stroll at lunch time. Read a book in the canteen / staff room? Meet a friend for coffee at the local coffee shop? These little changes in location can have a positive impact on your working afternoon.

6. Praise yourself

It’s a well known fact that society is so focused on bad feedback that we rarely stop and say I did a good job today.

Why not gloat about your achievements – write them down. Give your self brownie points (or gold stars). Don’t feel ashamed if your achievement was something as little as walked from a bus stop one stop earlier than normal. It’s your personal achievement not someone else’s. If you start to look more positively of yourself it will show.

Lastly Get talking

Now this step is not easy! Some people are able to talk to anyone including perfect strangers about their issues. If you’re not one of these people why not look at social media. Could you take to blogging?

Katherine xo

Top 10 mental health topic books

To celebrate world reading day we are sharing a top 10 list of mental health topic books for you to devour.

 1. Being miss nobody by Tamsin Winter.

Rosalind hates her new secondary school. She’s the weird girl who doesn’t talk. The Mute-ant. And it’s easy to pick on someone who can’t fight back. So Rosalind starts a blog – Miss Nobody; a place to speak up, a place where she has a voice. But there’s a problem…

Is Miss Nobody becoming a bully herself?

2. Panther by David Owen.

Life isn’t going terribly well for Derrick; he’s become severely overweight, his only friend has turned on him, he’s hopelessly in love with a girl way out of his league, and it’s all because of his sister. Her depression, and its grip on his family, is tearing his life apart. When rumours start to circulate that a panther is roaming wild in his south London suburb, Derrick resolves to turn capture it. Surely if he can find a way to tame this beast, he’ll be able to stop everything at home from spiraling towards disaster?

Panther is a bold and emotionally powerful novel that deals candidly with the effects of depression on those who suffer from it, and those who suffer alongside them.

3. We’re All Mad Here by Claire Eastham.

Anxiety is a crafty shapeshifter that can take on many forms: the tiger that sinks its claws in with physical symptoms and distressing thoughts, the cruel and belittling bully creating insecurity and self-doubt and, worst of all, the frenemy rewarding avoidance of social situations with no physical symptoms, no cruel thoughts… and no life beyond your sofa!

This no-nonsense guide to beating social anxiety covers everything from surviving university and the workplace, through to social media and making it through parties and dates (whilst actually enjoying them!) With honest insights about her own social anxiety and a healthy dose of humour, award-winning blogger Claire Eastham describes what social anxiety is, why it happens, and how you can lessen its effects with lifestyle choices, talking therapies or even a hug from your favourite canine friend!

4. Am I Normal Yet by Holly Bourne.

All Evie wants is to be normal. And now that she’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the-girl-who-went-nuts, there’s only one thing left to tick off her list… But relationships can mess with anyone’s head – something Evie’s new friends Amber and Lottie know only too well. The trouble is, if Evie won’t tell them her secrets, how can they stop her making a huge mistake?

5. Ruby by Cynthia Bond

***SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS’ WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2016***

‘LUMINOUS’ Guardian

‘STUNNING’ New York Times

‘EXCEPTIONAL’ Uzo Aduba (Orange Is The New Black)

Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby Bell, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city-the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village-all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom’s Juke, to Celia Jennings’s kitchen, where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby. Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man’s dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love.

6. Beautiful broken things by Sara Barnard

I was brave

She was reckless

We were trouble

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realizes, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

Beautiful Broken Things is a moving story of friendship from debut author Sara Barnard, shortlisted for the YA Book Prize and selected as part of Zoella’s Book Club.

7. The uncommon life of Alfred Warner in six days by Juliet Conlin

Approaching 80, frail and alone, a remarkable man makes the journey from his sheltered home in England to Berlin to meet his granddaughter. He has six days left to live and must relate his life story before he dies…

His life has been rich and full. He has witnessed firsthand the rise of the Nazis, experienced heartrending family tragedy, fought in the German army, been interred in a POW camp in Scotland and faced violent persecution in peacetime Britain. But he has also touched many lives, fallen deeply in love, raised a family and survived triumphantly at the limits of human endurance. He carries within him an astonishing family secret that he must share before he dies… a story that will mean someone else‚Äôs salvation.

Welcome to the moving, heart-warming and uncommon life of Alfred Warner.

8. When we collided by Emery Lord

Seventeen year old Jonah Daniels has lived in Verona Cove, California, his whole life, and only one thing has ever changed: his father used to be alive, and now he’s not. Now Jonah must numbly take care of his family as they reel from their tragedy. Cue next change: Vivi Alexander, new girl in town.

Vivi is in love with life. A gorgeous and unfiltered hurricane of thoughts and feelings. She seems like she’s from another planet as she transforms Jonah’s family and changes his life. But there are always consequences when worlds collide .

A fierce and beautiful love story with a difference, When We Collided will thrill fans of All the Bright Places and I’ll Give You the Sun.

9. The anxiety solution by Chloe Brotheridge

The Anxiety Solution is your guide to being a calmer, happier and more confident young woman.

‘Remarkable, pioneering, could change your life’ Daily Mail

10. I’ll give you the sun by Jandy Nelson

From the author of The Sky Is Every¬≠where, a radiant novel that will leave you laughing and crying ‚Äď all at once. For fans of John Green, Gayle Forman and Lauren Oliver. Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close ‚Äď until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don’t realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.

We hope you enjoy reading please do leave a comment on any reviews you have to help others decide which one to read next.

Katherine xo

What are the facts relating to Depression

I’m not a medical expert by all means but it annoys me when people who say they are stressed are suffering from depression. There is so much more to depression than feeling a bit “stressed”. Stress is also it’s own category of mental health.

So what are the facts with depression other than feeling ‘down’? Well there are many faces to depression and how it came about leaves individual marks.

When you are depressed your mood is pretty low and it is low for a long time. We are not simply talking about a couple of days feeling down in the dumps because our favourite sports team lost or that the special offer we were looking at expired. No, when you are feeling down for such long periods of time it can affect your daily life activities. Sometimes severe (and undiagnosed) depression can lead to much more serious consequences such as thoughts of suicide.

There are multiple types of depression:

  • SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder. A depression that often occurs in the winter months (but not always). This type of depression is sometimes linked to an increase in eating comfort foods (high carbohydrates like breads, cakes etc.)
  • Dysthymia – a persistent depression disorder or chronic depression that lasts two or more years
  • Bipolar disorder – this is also known as manic depression. individuals with this suffer from spells of feeling great followed by a sudden low mood.
  • Psychotic depression – you a clinically very depressed and may suffer from hallucinations or delusions (including hearing voices, seeing or believe things that are not real). This is psychosis. The voices in your head may tell you to do things that you shouldn’t like suicide or convince you that someone is out to get you (form of paranoia).
  • Pre-natal depression – starts during pregnancy (also known as ante-natal depression).
  • Post-natal depression – occurs in the weeks and months following the birth of a child. Can affect men and women equally although women are more suspecitical. It should be noted that many women experience the ‘baby blues’ which is a natural low mood felt immediately after the birth of a child lasting a couple of weeks. It is thought this is due to the sudden decrease in hormone levels after the birth of the baby. This in itself is not post-natal depression.

As mentioned there are many faces to depression and the symptoms are not always just psychological they can be physical too. Below is a list of common symptoms associated with depression.

Symptoms of depression:

  • continuous low mood or sadness (lasting weeks / months etc)
  • feeling of hoplessness and helplessness
  • having a low self-esteem
  • feeling tearful (and often for no reason at all)
  • feeling of guilt
  • irritability and lack of tolerance towards others
  • having no motivation or interest in things that once made you happy
  • difficulty in decision making
  • anxiety
  • suicidal / self harm thoughts
  • physically self-harming
  • slower reaction time
  • irritable bowel syndrome (constipation)
  • aches and pains
  • general lack of energy
  • loss of or lower than previous sex drive
  • changes to your menstrual cycle (including absence)
  • sleep disturbance (difficulty sleeping, waking at infrequent hours etc)
  • poorer performance at work
  • avoiding contact with friends and family
  • neglecting yourself

Depression itself doesn’t happen over night. it comes on over a period of time. symptoms are often difficult to notice. many individuals suffering with depression attempt to control and cope on their own without realising they are unwell. The first step to recovering is admitting to yourself that there is something wrong and seeking professional help / support. There is nothing wrong with asking for help but leaving it can have a serious impact on your life.

If you think you are suffering with depression you should seek assistance from your GP in the first instance. You will not be sectioned for admitting you need help nor will you be locked up an asylum for having suicidal thoughts. This is the stigma around depression and other mental health problems people assume that because you have illness you will be locked away from society. You don’t get shut in a cupboard for a broken leg so why act differently towards a broken mind?

Causes of depression

There isn’t a simple answer to this because depression isn’t a fit all illness. It’s not like a cut from broken glass where you can definitely save you are bleeding and have an open wound because you cut yourself on glass. With mental illnesses there are so many other factors that need to be considered. Family history, health, lifestyle and the use and abuse of drugs, alcohol or smoking.

Family history

Did you know that depression can run in families. You are more prone if your mother suffered depression when you were growing up.

Lifestyle

How you live your life can have an impact on both your physical and mental wellbeing. For example abusing legal and illegal substances, drinking excessive amounts or simply not having a well-balanced diet all have side effects. Some people believe that what we put into our bodies only affects us physically but it’s all connected.

You’re background or current situation could affect you. For example are you constantly reliving events from childhood. Work or a relationship isn’t going to well, unmanageable debt etc.

Illnesses

Depression may be a side effect of another illness for example if you are a lady and suffer with PCOS you are statistically more likely to develop depression.

Treatment

I’ve already touched on this – the first step to recovery is admitting to yourself and seeking help.

Like with symptoms there again isn’t a one solution suits all approach. It all depends on the individual and the severity of the depression. some people find talking to a complete stranger (trained therapists) can help whilst others it makes little or no difference.

Exercise

Physical health is just as important as mental health. What you put into and do with your body affects you on a number of levels. You don’t have to enrol in the London marathon or anything but just get up and about and be active for at least 30 minutes a day. Get off the bus a stop earlier, use the stairs instead of the lift. Buy a fitness¬†DVD and enjoy doing some fitness in the privacy of you own home. You could use this to build up your confidence to join a gym and do some exercises classes like yoga, pilates or even swimming.

Alternative therapies

A kind of think outside the box approach. Think aromatherapy, acupuncture, massage and mediation (basically a trip to the spa). These are not medically proven to get rid of your depression but they help your emotional state which may help overall. Some people may call this a wishy washy approach but don’t knock it until you’ve at least tried it.

Medication

It is true in the past GP’s issued anti-depressants like smarties. They do not do these so much these days as more assistance is being provided. That is because anti-depressants can work (long term) but there are some seriously uncomfortable side effects when you are coming off them.

One of the horrible stigma’s I hate about anti-depressants is people calling them ‘happy pills’ and idiotic quotes like have you taken you happy pills today moody? Seriously how is that helpful and also offensive. You don’t say stuff like that to diabetics or asthmatics.

If you think you or someone you know is suffering with depression please speak to your GP.

 

Katherine xo

It’s like butterflies and fire: giving depression a name

08:30 it’s grim outside, looks like rain. It’s nearly the end of the week but still feels like forever to go.¬†After sleeping on my realisation for the last two nights I am starting to think I should ask for help. I’ve booked a doctors appointment for later today.

So I finally picked up the courage to visit the doctors and speak to him about how I am feeling. He was lovely and we had a good old chat about everything. I was prescribed some anti-depressants after a lengthy chat about therapies etc. I was told that doctors don’t offer these as often as they once did so if you are offered at least give it a try. I was hesitant but I needed to sort this fuzz out in my head and get better. I am no good to myself or others if I’m not myself. I may have to back track my IVF journey to next year but I’d rather be back to myself than kid myself into going through all this in my current mental state.

The hardest part of the whole day was sitting down with my husband and telling him. Gosh I was so nervous I didn’t have a clue where to start. This is a man I’ve been with for over a decade he’s seen me on the toilet why does the thought of talking to him freak me out? Well I sat him down and explained that I hadn’t been entirely truthful with him and that I had been hiding the fact I cry a lot behind his back, that I don’t sleep etc. He then blurted out that he was relieved because he thought I was having an affair. Of all the things he could have thought about he thought I was with another man. I told him he was an idiot for thinking that but no that I am very much not having an affair with anyone. ¬†The only males in my life are him, the dog and cat.

I sat and pondered all night about taking my first antidepressant. I must have held the packet in my hand for a good hour. Finally, I just opened the box and took one with some water. Only time will tell now whether I’m making the right decision. That is why I have chosen to write this blog. I wanted to share with you all my path to getting better.

Depression is not something we should be ashamed of. Mental health is still a stigma for most but there are so many of us suffering in silence. Lets pull down these barriers and make people realise they are not alone. The first stage to recovery is realising that there is something wrong. Admit it to yourself and ask for help. It is far braver to ask for help than sit and tackle it on your own.

When you admit to yourself that you are suffering from a form of depression. Give it a name, I called mine butterflies and fire. Churchill famously called his his black dog.  

Once it has a name you give it an identity, it is something you can now relate to. ¬†Why did I choose butterflies and fire; well when I’m happy its like I am floating like butterflies drifting in the gentle breeze but when I’m down it’s like my mind is ablaze with a fire of ill-thought.¬†

Now the remaining part of my journey to recovery is reducing the demon’s size. You can only do this in stages, try to combat it all in one go and it will be unsustainable. You can’t run from it or hide away either, doing either just makes your demons bigger and harder to deal with. Over the coming days, weeks months and years I will blog about my progress and hopefully reach out to some of you and hopefully make friends along the way.

I really hope you enjoy reading my blogs and join the family to break the stigmas of taboo subjects like mental health.

Katherine xo