5 subscription services that will make life better

subscription mental health make life better

Is it just me or are the weekends getting shorter? It seems I can’t do anything other than fall asleep on the couch on a Friday night and before I know it I’m having my obligatory Sunday afternoon nap. I guess being over 30 isn’t as exciting as I thought it would be!

I’m trying to be more active at the weekends, as well as during the week. It’s too easy to let time run away from us after the working day is done and I don’t want to waste time slumped in front of the telly any longer than necessary. Because let’s be honest, sometimes it’s necessary.

Here are few subscription services that I think help make life better, more spontaneous, less stressful and more fulfilled without having to fork out too much money.

1. Cinema

I’ve always loved going to the cinema but as prices have steadily increased since I was a teenager I was often put off paying nearly £10 to see a movie, especially when I was unemployed. Even once I was well enough to work again my minimum wage salary didn’t really accommodate weekly visits to the local cinema.

Once I moved to Glasgow city centre and heard about the Cineworld Unlimited card I knew that I had to sign up. I currently pay £17.40 a month and can see as many movies as I like, although some movies like 3D or IMAX cost a little extra.

Working to a tight budget means that even if I’m skint one week, I know I can still go and see a film. With it being my favourite thing to do anyway, I think that’s awesome! It means that all those movies I probably wouldn’t have paid full price to go see (you know, all that Adam Sandler trash) are now available to me within my monthly payment should I wish to waste away a few hours of the day.

My husband isn’t a fan of horror, but now I can go on my own in the afternoon after work and use my Cineworld card. In fact, you might notice that cinemas are now over-run with people going to see movies on their own which I think is a great thing for us little old introverts.

2. Cooking boxes

I’ve never thought of ordering a cooking box. My talents as a chef way exceed anything that I could be sent in the post – joke – so how on earth could it benefit me? I pride myself in cooking most of my meals from scratch so I’ve never thought I needed the guidance of a ‘how to’ style delivery service with pre-portioned ingredients and accompanying recipe card.

However, after a long weekend I was surprised at how helpful a Gousto box was when I returned from holiday, stamping my feet and moaning I DON’T WANNA COOK. I made a tasty Aubergine Katsu Curry (which you can see in the video below) and some Sweet Potato Taquitos.

Although the recipes weren’t difficult, they’re still ones that I wouldn’t have picked out myself because I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand. The best thing about Gousto is that they give you the exact amount of each item, meaning you don’t have to fork out for some random spice or condiment that you’re never going to use again.

This means you can expand your cooking repertoire without wasting food or money in the process. Bonus!

Discount code: To receive a generous £40 discount on your Gousto order (£20 off your first and second box) use the code TORNADO

3. Snack boxes

I’m still getting to grips with intuitive eating after years of restrictive eating, so having snacks on hand can be a tricky balancing act for me. Subscribing to Graze or The Vegan Kind is something that I’ve been looking into trying after my success with Gousto.

I personally tend to get stuck in a rut with what foods I eat, and snacking on the go is something I struggle with. I always eat Nakd Bars and if I can’t find them I often end up eating flapjacks and cereal bars which are full of sugar. Not the best thing if you’re trying to train your brain to escape the binge-eating/diet cycle.

Having tasty, healthy morsels in my bag for when I’m at work or at the gym is something that I know would make my life easier, and take away some of the guilt associated with eating the wrong foods when I haven’t planned ahead. I’m definitely going to be giving these a go.

4. Prescription

It might sound simple but setting up a repeat prescription has changed my life. My anxiety makes GP appointments a stressful affair, but because I take anti-depressants I can only receive one months supply of my medication at a time.

Although I do kind of understand the reason behind this, my mental illness means that I constantly dread making an appointment (using the phone is a fear of mine) and talking to a doctor about my health over and over again.

Now, the doctor is happy because I only get 28 tablets at a time and I’m less worried because I don’t have to go through the torture of making an appointment every month.

subscription mental health happiness hobbies

5. Audio books/podcasts

Instead of mindlessly watching TV or scrolling on my phone, I find it helpful to listen to podcasts and audio books. Although most podcasts are free many of them offer a payment scheme where you can get access to exclusive episodes before anyone else. I love listening to Emma Gannon as well as My Favourite Murder and Generation Why.

Audible is a really affordable app which gives you enough credit to buy one audio book per month and there are thousands to choose from. Once you’ve downloaded it you actually own it and can listen to it a many times as you like. You can also return books that you didn’t enjoy and get a full refund!

I find Audible great for when I want to read up on a subject like healthy eating or time management. It’s also great for catching up on those classic books that you never got round to reading. Either way, it stops me from passing out on the couch and is a great incentive to get outside walking too.

Have you used any subscription services to make life a little easier?

 

Things to consider when you’re off work with a mental illness

off work sick with mental illness

I have such admiration for people who can continue to work whilst being treated for mental illness. I struggled so badly that I had to quit my job and was subsequently out of work for over a year whilst I built up my confidence to return.

I know for some people going to work is the one thing they continue to excel at whilst their mental health suffers, but for me it simply wasn’t an option.

It took me a long time to come to terms with that. When I lost my career I felt like I lost my identity, but I wish I’d realised that is was OK to be off work. It was OK to need help. It was OK to take as much time as I needed. It was more than OK – it was necessary.

Whether you’re off work for a day, a week or a prolonged period of time; you should use this time to make your recovery as wholesome and speedy as possible.

Don’t beat yourself up

Once you’ve decided to take time off, it can be common to feel guilty about being at home resting whilst your family and friends go out to work. You may feel bad that your colleagues are left with more work to do, but remember they’re mentally well enough to cope with added stress whilst you are not.

With the physical symptoms of mental illness often hard to see, certain employers often doubt whether they are there at all. This can be very frustrating – but try not to let it get to you. It’s merely a reflection of how little knowledge most people have about mental illness, and not an indication of whether or not you should return to work. That’s a decision that should be made by you with the advice of your GP.

Consider your finances

If you’re unemployed or off work long term this can be very stressful for a lot of people. If you’re running out of savings you should be honest and consider making a plan for the future. If you live in the US you may want to have a read of the DRB Capital structured settlement review. I was receiving benefits and Statutory Sick Pay when I was off sick abd residing in the UK, more information on which can be found here.

Any extra cash can be pivotal when you are no longer earning full time, and this will also help take the pressure off you rushing back into work when you’re not totally ready to do so.

off work with mental illness

Implement a routine

When you’re out off work for a prolonged period of time it can be hard to find structure in your day. I know for me the days often ran into one another, with sleeping taking priority over eating, showering and staying in contact with family. You should try to avoid the days slipping away by implementing a loose routine.

Try setting your alarm every morning and try to follow a basic self-care routine. This could be something as simple as getting up before midday and making a cup of tea. Over time you can add more difficult tasks such as washing, cooking breakfast and leaving the house. This will give some purpose to your days without adding too much expectation or pressure.

Try to stay active

This doesn’t mean going a run everyday or religiously going to keep-fit classes like I did, but it will benefit you to get out of the house and move around a little most days. I know how hard it can be to get out of bed and it’s OK to spend all day sleeping when you need it. But if you do feel the urge to do something like rearrange your bedroom or pop to the supermarket then you should capitalise on that positive attitude.

Completing the smallest tasks can feel like a big win when you’re at an all time low. I remember one day following a bad spell of my depression I suddenly felt compelled to clean my windows. It felt like such an achievement and as silly as it sounds, it was such a great day for me and my recovery.

What steps are you taking to help with your mental illness whilst you’re off work?

How to make self-care a priority on holiday

self care on holiday tips

Do you ever feel like you need a holiday just to recover from being on holiday? I get this all the time, and I realised it’s because I wasn’t setting aside time for self-care when I was away. We often feel obliged to cram in as much sight-seeing or partying as possible, instead of actually taking time to rest when we have the chance. If you’ve got a holiday coming up I suggest being mindful of a few things in order to make self-care a top priority…

Fuel your body

Although being on holiday is a great excuse to enjoy a few treats that doesn’t mean neglecting what your body really needs. I love this post from Rachael about how overeating at the weekend can make you feel terrible, and it’s exactly the same for holidays. Eat what makes you feel good (cake and chips, obvs) but also eat what makes you actually feel good (you know… the odd carrot, lettuce leaf and potato).

It’s easy to get carried away with trying everything on offer just because it’s there, but remember that self-care means listening to your body and knowing what it wants. I like to eat a big breakfast otherwise I get hangry and all of a sudden I’m ordering a burrito, fries and planning dessert before I’ve even finished lunch.

I personally find that fuelling my body early with a big bowl of porridge and fruit helps be feel satisfied and mentally ready to start the day without feeling deprived. I also like to avoid alcohol (just my preference, no judgements) and drink lots of water, eat plenty of greens and avoid too much sugar before bed.

 

Dress comfortably

Wearing summer outfits gives me the fear. I’m not made to exist in a hot climate, so finding clothes that are appropriate is a real struggle for me. I want to wear long, flowing skirts and little white cotton dresses but the truth is chub-rub is REAL. These thighs were not made to meet on such a regular occurrence.

As much as I’d love to look all flirty and feminine on the beach it’s just not comfortable for me. How can I be expected to catch a break when I’m physically uncomfortable? I say wear what feels right.

For me, that’s loose-fitting harem pants, leggings and big-old denim shorts. Being at ease with your physical self is SO important to allow your mind to unwind, so wear what you want and feel free.

Stay active

You should absolutely take time to catch up on some sleep when you’re on holiday. I remember when we were on our honeymoon, we didn’t make it to the breakfast buffet once the entire week and it was fabulous! Waking up naturally without an alarm is an amazing feeling, but try to stay as active as possible throughout the day to avoid any unnecessary fatigue.

Walking outside is so helpful to keep your body ticking over as well as induce those mood-boosting endorphins. It will also help you get a better sleep in the evening meaning you should naturally rise earlier the next morning.

self care holiday tips

Plan some alone time

As an introvert, I personally find a week stuck in other people’s company a little overwhelming at times. I crave downtime on my own because that’s how I recharge my batteries and find energy for the next day.

My favourite way to find alone time on holiday is to go to the gym. It’s my own space where I can reflect but still do something productive that I enjoy and I generally leave the gym feeling more energised that when I went in. Weird, right?

I know this isn’t everyone’s idea of fun though, so try and find the thing that works for you. It might be a soak in the tub, a massage or a good hour getting lost in your favourite book. Whatever works.

Have you made a self-care plan for your next holiday?

5 easy ways to de-stress right now

feel less stressed

I’m the queen of stressing out. I can appear calm and collected on the surface for weeks, but it only takes something small and insignificant to tip me over the edge into total meltdown-mode. I’ve learned a few tricks over the years and now implement all of them on a daily basis to keep me relaxed, or call on them to tackle those panic-stricken moments that come out of the blue.

1. Listen to a podcast

I’ve never managed to maintain a blogger-style morning routine (are any of those real?) but one thing I consistently do in the morning is listen to podcasts. When I get out of the shower the first thing I do is put on an episode of My Favourite Murder whilst I get ready.

Yes, true crime relaxes me and I know you won’t judge me for that. It’s the dedicated ‘me time’ that I don’t often find elsewhere in the day, and it lets me forget about work and instead listen to two hilarious ladies explain the details of gory murders that have happened across the globe.

2. Go for a walk

There is something about waking outside that really helps me focus. Putting my phone on silent in my pocket definitely helps matters, as does breathing in the fresh air and getting a new perspective on things.

If you’re feeling stuck creatively, or just putting off doing certain things I honestly think walking outside is the perfect motivation. It helps clear your head, releases endorphins and gives you that can-do attitude that’s so hard to find when you stay cooped up indoors.

less stress relax

3. Write a list

Sometimes actually doing the things that stress you out are just too much, and I for one like to bury my head in the sand as long as possible before getting proactive. That’s where my love for planning comes in.

When I’ve got too much going on in my head, I take a pen and a notebook and do a ‘brain-dump’, something I learned from the incredibly organised Jenny Melrose. It’s basically a way of writing down all the thoughts, tasks and to-dos that are swirling around your mind in order to feel a little better. Once you have the list of random thoughts, you can start constructing some sort of plan.

This is great because it allows you to pick out the easiest jobs that you can complete quite quickly. For the more daunting tasks, dedicate a whole page to mapping out the smaller steps that need to be taken making the job easier to manage. Ta-da! More planning = less stress.

4. Organise a small space

Looking for organisational tips? You won’t find them here. I’m pretty scatter-brained when it comes to household chores and really don’t take any pleasure in cleaning, but I will admit that it feels good to do it now and again.

When I’ve got a growing to-do list sometimes I find it helpful to take 30 minutes and tidy up a small area of my home, as it leaves me feeling more motivated to continue with my day. For me this area is normally the kitchen. I cook a lot from scratch so I make a mess in there. I like to wash all the dishes, clean the surfaces, sweep and then mop the floor and then I normally feel a little more calm and collected.

5. Talk

Talking is such a simple thing, but something we often neglect to do when we’re feeling stressed. We’re conditioned to bottle things up, battle on and continue spinning plates until they all coming crashing down around us. We wonder why we can’t do everything all at once, but everyone has different capabilities and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. I ended up seeing a counsellor because I couldn’t be open about my problems.

Pick up the phone and call someone you trust. Tell your colleague that you’re a bit over-worked. Text that one person who knows you inside out and ask for help. I let out most of my minor aggravations on Instagram stories on a daily basis and people always respond with helpful messages to pick me up and make me feel better.

Have you found any easy ways to feel less stressed?

 

How to stay happy on a sick day

tips for sick day

Getting sick is SO frustrating. You eat your veg and take your vitamins but sometimes the body can’t fight off infection without a few rest days. I don’t know about you I can’t wait until we’re all floating heads inside robot bodies (joke).

As someone who prides myself on prioritising fitness and healthy eating I am horrified at the idea of having to take time off work to recover from illness, but I’m starting to see the importance of sick days and nipping it in the bud instead of struggling on and feeling miserable.

With that in mind here are a few simple and easy to follow tips that you might not have thought of for staying happy on a sick day.

Eat carbs

Although you might lose your appetite when you feel sick it’s key to keep eating to ensure you have enough energy to recover. My favourite comforting carbs are pasta, mashed potatoes, rice or a huge pile of toast smothered in peanut butter. If you’re too tired to cook grab a Cliff Bar for an energy boost with zero effort.

If you’re not hungry or you can’t really taste food, I recommend making a smoothie jam-packed with spinach and bananas (I love this post from Amy about the health benefits of bananas) and leave to chill in the fridge before drinking. A nice cold beverage will soothe a sore throat and help keep you hydrated too.

No guilt

There are two types of people, those who call in sick at the drop of a hat and those who would rather die at work than take a day off. Hello! I’m the latter.

I really hate taking days off due to sickness and only do it when my back is playing up because I physically can’t get out of the house. To me, sitting at home feeling guilty is more painful than showing up for your shift when you’re under the weather. I’d rather suffer that day than let anyone else down, but we all know that’s a pointless attitude to have.

I’ve been trying to work on my guilt – in every aspect of my life – for a while now. I’m definitely getting better, but it takes time and practise. If you want to truly feel better about yourself on a sick day then try your best to remember that your health comes first, and without it you’re useless at work, as inconvenient as that may be!

Get dressed

I was ill recently and spent the first day in bed, wearing the same pyjamas all day with my hair matted and my face unwashed. The next day I forced myself to get up, take a shower, get dressed and managed to drag myself to the store to buy some medication.

I felt so much happier on the second day, and although that may have been the medication I also just felt more alive because I was dressed in something other than smelly old PJs. You also might like to take it a step further and treating yourself a face mask. I like this Garnier Sheet Mask because it requires minimal effort but really plumps up dry, dehydrated skin.

Open a window (or at least the curtains)

Fresh air might not be what you’re body is craving, especially if you’re cold, but consider opening all the curtains in your home when you’re feeling unwell.

Studies have shown that workers in sunlit areas are more productive than workers without exposure to natural light, so if you want to speed up your recovery having a natural light source is a good idea.

Not only does natural light increase endorphins and serotonin leading to improved mood, but did you know it can even boost your white blood cell count? Get those curtains open!

Stay connected

Being home alone all day can be a real downer. I’m a total introvert but even I think that being sick needs company! Obviously if you’re infectious (no, I’m not talking about your infectious charm) then it’s a but unfair to subject others to your germs, so you might want to find company via phone. Normally my mum is the first person I speak to when I’m sick because she’s the best at sympathy. Mums are good for that!

Chat to friends on Twitter or WhatsApp but avoid emails in case you get sucked into work related enquiries. Text that friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with, or Skype your long lost cousin. Whatever keeps you occupied and in the loop with other humans is essential.

How do you stay happy on a sick day?

 

3 mental health books you MUST read today

best books for mental illness depression anxiety

I’ve spent many an afternoon wandering around the library. To me the library has always been a place of opportunity, and it has helped me find books that ignite new interests and explain unknown worlds to me. I’ve loved collecting books over the years, and looking back at my favourites reminds me if where I was at that point in my life, how I was feeling and what I was doing.

Having depression and anxiety means I often look for answers in the books I read. Recently I reflected on some of the books that helped me make sense of my own mental illness and it’s something that I think you might find helpful, so I’ve listed my top 3 books below.

From Darkness to Light: A Memoir by Nikki Dubose

I only finished reading this memoir last week and I actually posted a full review which you can read here. I was engrossed in this from the moment I picked it up and it’s the quickest I’ve read a book in ages.

Nikki takes us through her life story, starting with when she developed an eating disorder at eight years old to when she finally got help as an adult. During that time she was physically and sexually abused by family members, addicted to drugs and alcohol and struggled with self-harm and body dysmorphia.

As an international top model the pressure to be thin was overwhelming, and only served to exacerbate her eating disorder as well as her psychotic episodes. This painfully honest account is a testament to her strength and offers hope to anyone experiencing even the darkest of times.

Shoot The Damn Dog by Sally Brampton

I read this book back in about 2009, years before I was diagnosed with any form of mental illness. I really can’t say why I felt compelled to pick up a book about depression other than I felt I was becoming unhinged at times, and had taken to drinking during the day to relieve stress.

Sally’s book didn’t point out any glaring symptoms in myself, but I was utterly hooked by her story and how her relationship with alcohol made things so much worse. This combined with a failing marriage and a daughter to look after made for a heartbreaking tale.

I found it upsetting to read, but absolutely essential to my understanding of how powerful depression is at taking over the mind and body. She does well to describe how one cannot simply ‘shake off’ these bad feelings and get on with daily life, something that many non-sufferers could benefit from understanding.

I didn’t know until recently that Sally died from suicide last year, which makes her work even more significant and worth reading.

Brain Over Binge by Kathryn Hansen

I bought this book after I started to become concerned about my eating habits. I was laying in bed one night, sobbing and feeling ashamed after another day of uncontrollable eating when I searched ‘how to stop binge eating’ on You Tube. I came across a video of someone talking about how this book changed their life, so I ordered it immediately.

Kathryn went through years of unsuccessful therapy for binge eating disorder and couldn’t seem to get it under control. The most common theory is that binge eating is a coping mechanism for some underlying psychological issue that must be unearthed in order to stop the pattern.

She spent years following the doctor’s orders, writing down and exploring all her habits and thoughts in an attempt to identify the problem. I won’t spoil the book for you but Kathryn goes on to explain how she developed her own method for stopping the illness in its tracks.

I’ve never been diagnosed with binge eating disorder because honestly, I was too scared to tell anyone about the symptoms and addictions I was developing. I believe I managed to stop the habits from forming by applying the techniques I read in this book.

It was also just incredibly comforting to read someone describe the same urges that I was experiencing, because no one really talks about binge eating openly and I really needed confirmation that there was a problem and I wasn’t just exaggerating things in my head.

What are your favourite books about mental illness?

Opening up about mental illness in the modelling industry – Washed Away by Nikki Dubose

nikki dubose book review

Washed Away: From Darkness to Light is a Memoir by former model Nikki Dubose. She has appeared in magazines such a Maxim, Glamour, Vogue and Vanity Fair and first suffered from an eating disorder at just eight years old.

Her childhood trauma of sexual abuse led to bulimia, various drug addictions and serious mental illness in later life. Although she boasted a high-flying career in the fashion industry, at the height of her success she was experiencing intense inner turmoil which she kept hidden from the world.

Talking about one performance on the catwalk she writes;

“As my feet carry me to the edge, I hear no sound, experience no sensation. Despite the music and commotion, I am lost in a dreamland. How long have I waited to arrive in this spectacular moment? I never imagined I would feel so numb, so vacant. Dozens of cameras pop and crackle as they capture the magnificent creature before them. I perform, but inside I feel trapped, imprisoned within my mind.”

Nikki describes the terrifying ‘whispers’ she hears when she’s on stage, the voices in her head which mock her every move. When met with praise she ignores everyone and instead of celebrating with champagne and dancing, she rushes home to her apartment to be alone. She only wants one thing, and that’s to binge on – and then purge – large amounts of food.

To say Nikki came from a broken home would be kind at best. Her parents separated early on and her mother sexually abused her and treated her as a buddy; someone to show off to as she performed sex acts in online chat rooms and hooked up with strangers in bars. This is just one of several people who took advantage of her innocence from a young age.

With such a tainted childhood, it’s no surprise that Nikki went looking for love in all the wrong places. Her struggle to meet the demands of how a model should look only exacerbated her eating disorder as well as her constant self-loathing.

As I read the history of Nikki’s eating disorder it became clear that it was not only a way to stay as thin as possible for the modelling world, but a form of physical release that she couldn’t get elsewhere. Her mental illness ultimately led to the physical condition which consumed her life.

Having lived with a hatred for my own body for most of my life and dieting since aged 17, this topic really hit home for me. I’ve never been diagnosed with an eating disorder but I know I’ve teetered on the edge, and so I empathised with the daily rituals she went through to hide her unhealthy behaviours.

“I binged and threw up in the shower or in paper bags that I kept in my bedroom. I was the smart one; Evelin and Vitor had no idea, especially when I hid the vomit in the paper bags. My knuckles and lips began to bleed and scar again, but I covered them with concealer. Whenever a make-up artist raised an eyebrow at the cuts, I said that I had an autoimmune disease.”

Nikki talks to the reader as though we are her closest ally. Throughout her illness she felt unable to share her troubles with anyone, so to have her talk intimately and in great detail about the things she’s endured is a privilege.

Reading her words is like being inside Nikki’s head. Her writing style is brutally honest and disturbing at times, a testament to not only what she has endured but also how difficult it must have been for her to relive these painful memories and put them down on paper.

I had no idea what to expect going into this book. I never thought I’d finish the thing in just a few days and feel so utterly connected to someone I’d never met. Knowing Nikki’s story has reminded me why I started to write about mental illness online, even though it often leaves me feeling vulnerable to expose myself to the world.

Although Washed Away is about championing the possibility of recovery, it’s my no means a self-help book. I’m not sure the world needs another one of those anyway. Often those of us with mental illness know deep down what steps need to be taken, but we just can’t imagine having the strength carry them out.

This book proves that we are indeed strong enough, and that even the darkest of times will lead to light.

Buy Nikki’s book here

This post is sponsored and contains affiliate links

 

The honest truth about seeing a counsellor

whats it like seeing talking to a counsellor therapy

If your GP has put you on a waiting list to see a counsellor then you should definitely see one.

Many people brush off the notion of talking as a form of medication , and just want to take pills and power through their illness until they feel ‘normal’ again.

Medication is great. Medication can help alleviate symptoms of depression in order for you to be a little more productive, take better care of yourself and attend important appointments.

But you may find that talking about your problems is the thing you need to fully resolve any ongoing mental health problems you have. If you think it isn’t going to work for you then ask yourself; what have you got to lose?

It’s a process

If you physically recoil when you think about sharing ‘feelings’ with a stranger then this will seem like an uphill struggle from the start. I didn’t want to talk about my depression. It was mine, my burden and sharing it with others didn’t feel natural or helpful.

I learned over time that sharing my burden was a gift. The best thing is that your counsellor is an outsider.

They are not a family member who thinks you’re taking life too seriously. They aren’t a friend who thinks you’ve got nothing to be sad about. They aren’t an employer who thinks you need to knuckle down and get on with it. They are an impartial person with your best interests at heart.

I found my counsellor especially helpful during the phase when I was returning to work. She was able to give me answers to some of the questions that I didn’t have myself. Should I work full time or part time? What level of responsibility should I have? She also gave me the strength to stand up to my friends and stay away from alcohol when I was feeling the urge to abuse it.

It’s awkward as hell

Everyone reacts differently to awkward situations. And if sitting down to tell a complete stranger about your inner turmoil isn’t the worst kind of awkward, then I don’t know what is.

Some people laugh, others chat nervously, but I sat in silence. Going into that claustrophobic room, crippled with anxiety and depression was the absolute opposite of what I wanted to do during that period of my life.My body downright rejected it and I had to force myself to enter.

I spent most sessions staring at the floor. I avoided eye contact. I gave one word answers. I said “I’m fine” constantly, to try and fool the woman into letting me out of the painful scenario. My muscles tensed to fiercely that I was physically exhausted from every session I completed. But I completed them.

whats it like seeing a counsellor therapy depression

You have to commit

As difficult as my weekly meetings were, I never missed a single one. Even when I felt like it wasn’t helping, or that it was making me feel worse, I kept going. I knew that this kind of treatment was hard to come by so I didn’t want to lose my place in the programme.

I slugged it out even when I didn’t want to. Part of being depressed means that a lot of the time you don’t have control over your actions, and you might not be able to show up every week. I get it. Sometimes leaving the house just isn’t an option.

But if you can find the will to go then I urge you to do it, and do it consistently. If you show up regularly – even when you don’t want to talk – it lets your counsellor take note of your mood and your ability to cope. This is all helpful information that can be used to track your progress, even if you feel like you’re not progressing much at the time.

You need to be honest

Having a mental illness is draining. You often walk around pretending to be OK for days, weeks or months at a time because you think it’s what you’re expected to you. You tell employers you can cope with extra work, you tell friends you’re happy on a night out, and you tell your partner your just having a bad day because you haven’t been sleeping well.

It’s a vicious cycle where you use so much energy putting on a brave face for everyone that you have no strength left to truly take care of yourself.

Talking to a counsellor is an amazing opportunity to actually tell the truth. Be totally honest. Tell them that you dread getting up in the morning, you hate your job and you don’t want to socialise with anyone. Tell them you can’t find enough hours in the day to wash your hair and match up your odd socks. In fact, these small tasks are so overwhelming that you sob uncontrollably at the thought of doing them.

Nothing bad can come from opening up about these thoughts. They are more than just thoughts. They are symptoms of your illness, and once you’ve got them off your chest I guarantee you’ll feel the benefit. Trained professionals understand them in a way that your friends and family might not be able to and that is an invaluable tool in your path to recovery.

Do you have any experience with seeing a counsellor?

 

 

Why you need to stop apologising for your mental illness

stop apologising how to talk to people about mental illness

One of the most prevalent emotions that tears you up inside when you have depression is guilt.

Guilt about being sad. Guilt about letting people down. Guilt about not being good enough and guilt about always relying on others to help you get through the day.

I’ve had to rely on others for money, transport and food as well as emotional support especially in social situations where I feel very vulnerable. Not being able to go out to meet people without a chaperone is a pretty shitty feeling let me tell you. But I believe there’s no good reason why you should have to apologise for your mental illness. Here’s why…

It’s not your fault

You probably think apologising for your behaviour is the right thing to do. You’ve not been yourself, ignoring people and been a bit of a recluse in fear of upsetting anyone with your unpredictable mood swings.

It’s easy to think that people don’t want to see when you’re like that, but rest assured that it’s your mental illness talking and not the truth. When mental illness takes hold it’s so overpowering that you can’t control it. If it was a choice wouldn’t we all just shake it off and get on with life? Of course we would.

Your friends and family might not think you’re a bundle of fun when you’re going through a bad spell with your mental health, but they still love you anyway. Apologising and talking yourself down all the time is honestly just a waste of energy at this point. Energy that you need to conserve and use for more positive tasks. As much as possible, you should try and remember that your situation is not a direct result of any actions you’ve taken.

It’s more inconvenient for you than anyone else

Have you ever felt that you’ve let someone else down as a result of your mental illness? Me too.

I started a new job and on my second day I burst into tears on the way there and screamed that I couldn’t go in. It was the easiest job in the world with the friendliest people I’ve ever worked with but I just couldn’t handle it. I made my mum go in and tell them that I wouldn’t be in that day and I didn’t go back.

I later had it confirmed by a health professional that I was indeed unfit for work, but at the time I felt like a total failure and a time-waster. I’d left someone to work on their own in a situation that would’ve been incredibly stressful, but me being there in floods of tears unable to cope with my existence wouldn’t have helped the situation.

Why do you think your happiness is less important that someone else’s? If you let someone down and they’re mentally stable then they can go on with their day regardless. You, on the other hand are unable to do something because you’re unwell. You’re not fit to do some tasks at the moment and whilst that might be inconvenient for someone else for a few minutes, you’re dealing with the painful inconvenience of having a mental illness every single day. You come first.

Making other people uncomfortable or making things slightly awkward once in a while is something others will just have to deal with whilst you work hard to recover. Trust me, they can handle it.

It’s OK to be selfish

One of the reasons I got myself in a mess was because I was trying to please too many people too many times. I was scared to say no to anyone because to be honest, I didn’t realise I could. One of the best things you can do for your happiness is practise saying no more often.

I’m not talking about avoiding things that make you happy, but being confident enough to know when you’ve taken on too much. Don’t do something just to make someone else happy when you know that it’s causing you pain or making your anxious. Be honest with people. When someone is asking you do do something they’re asking you because there is more than one possible answer; make sure you choose the one that serves you.

The day I started being selfish with my time was the day I started to truly realise what I was capable of doing without putting my health at risk.

Are you going to stop apologising for your mental illness?

My top 10 self-care tips for quick and effective anxiety relief

mental health blogger UK self care quick tips

Finding time for self-care can be a bit of a mission. I know after I’ve done a day’s work, a sweaty gym session, scribbled down a blog post and done the fastest food shop in history I rarely manage to do anything other than flop onto the sofa with a bowl of leftovers for dinner. I’m often a jittery mess and find it hard to fall asleep at night.

I’m trying to make a conscious effort though, to stop and take a few minutes out of my day to slow down and check in with myself. If like me you get easily stressed and overwhelmed, then you might find these quick self-care tips easy to fit into your day.

Drink some water

Aaaah, the solution to all life’s problems. Got a wound? Chuck some water on it. Feeling faint? Splash on that water! Annoying boss? Dunk ‘em! In all seriousness though, I find my mood is greatly affected when I’m dehydrated. I get tired, anxious and cranky and it’s so easily avoided by simply drinking enough water!

Have a shower

I have a love/hate relationship with showering. When I’m depressed or anxious it’s the last thing I want to do. It feels pointless, a waste of energy and frankly just too much to handle. But when I do muster up the strength to jump in for even a minute or two, I have to admit that I always feel better afterwards.

mental health blogger UK self care

Listen to your favourite song

Music can have such a profound affect on our mood that you should really try incorporating it into your self-care routine. Start by creating a playlist full of uplifting songs and add to it whenever you find a new tune that makes you feel good. My current favourite are Thunder by Jessie J, Moments by Tove Lo and Dancing On My Own by Robyn.

Write stuff down

Sometimes we don’t realise how much is going on in our subconscious everyday. Whether it’s remembering to call someone, make an appointment or look for a new job; these thoughts can play on our minds without us even noticing. Try doing a ‘brain dump’ regularly. This basically means writing down everything that’s on your mind. It’s NOT a to-do list (although it could be used to create one afterwards). Instead just a way to get your thoughts on paper, freeing up your mind to become a little more relaxed.

mental health blogger self care

De-clutter your space

I love to set a timer for 10 minutes and go around my flat with a bin bag. I throw out all the rubbish, empty the bins and fill a basket of dirty washing. Before I know it I’ve got a wash on, dishes done and I’m dusting and sweeping the whole flat. When my space is cluttered it often plays on my mind and I procrastinate because I just hate doing housework. The 10 minute trick is just enough time to get the basics done and make me feel a little more organised.

Change your bed sheets

For me, good personal hygiene goes hand-in-hand with effective self-care. I love the feeling of getting into bed when the sheets are clean, and it’s even better after a long bath. I try to change my bedding once a week but you can do it more frequently especially if you have pets who like to snuggle.

Read an inspirational blog post

When I feel lost and worried, I like to read about how other people are coping and what they’re doing to learn more about themselves and their mental health journey. I love this post by Grace called Accepting Who I Really Am and this one by Emily on The Pressure of Happiness. Somehow knowing that I’m not the only person with anxiety makes me feel better.

Phone a friend

Living away from home has made me appreciate how important it is to have the right people around you and on call when you need them. I try and surround myself with positive, creative, can-do people who inspire me to do better. It only takes a few minutes to call a friend and catch up, and talking to someone who really gets you can remind you of what you want and what you believe in, things that we often forget when we get caught up in daily life.

mental health blogger UK self care

Get some fresh air

We all know that getting moving outside is good for our mental health, but so many of us just don’t make time for it. I honestly think that just 20 minutes outside everyday can give you a noticeable boost in energy, especially if you work sitting down in an office for most of the day. I also find it improves my creativity and helps me think through problems without distractions.

What quick self-care tips can you recommend?