Tag Archive | Mental Health

Silver Linings

Well.
If you’d told me a few weeks ago that I’d be standing in front of an eminent audience talking about my depression, its impact and how I cope at work, I would have been extremely sceptical.

Caroline Ashrafi

For just three weeks ago I was feeling very overwhelmed, anxious, mentally and emotionally exhausted and my head felt like eggs being scrambled in a magi-mix.

In fact, to prevent any further deterioration in my mood and general well-being I invoked my work-place adjustments. I don’t like doing this. I try and manage my condition day-to-day but I have to admit that I did lose focus on maintaining my own good health a couple of months ago and, true to form, suffered a relapse arising from the delayed reaction weeks later.

Coincidentally, I had been asked to give a ten-minute talk at the Midlandsability network launch yesterday and had already chosen my topic,my workplace adjustments, never thinking that I would be able to quote from such recent history and experience.

Silver linings. It’s hard to have faith sometimes but I keep reminding myself that there are often silver linings to alleviate my downturn in mood.

But thanks to some amazing friends both old and new, a staggering amount of hard work, passion, dedication and sheer determination, yesterday was pure gold.

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Just keep going….

Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to get out of the house. Most people take this for granted, but if you have low mood, fatigue and apathy, just getting out of bed in the morning is a trial. This is how I feel at the moment. I know that it is  temporary and that one day  I will get my enthusiasm and energy back, but for now I just need to keep going until the tide turns.

In practice this means accepting all invitations to socialise and not make excuses to avoid being with others when just getting up, showering, putting make-up on and dressing smart are a monumental effort. It’s hard. My perfect day would be to get up when I feel like it, dress in tracksuit, put hair up in a scarf and sit all day behind my sewing machine until hubby comes in from work. But I know that this is not healthy day after day after day.

Today I had arranged to have my hair cut. I was tempted to put it off again but already being 2 weeks overdue, I felt that I really needed to get up and get trimmed. Once I was in the salon I really appreciated the 45 minutes of “me- time.” Two shampoos and the slow massage conditioner treatment were really relaxing and with my hair cut, I felt so much better.

Then came the walk with the “girls” at 2pm. Four ladies plus Jasper met at the local park for a walk and 1 1/2 hours later, we returned to the park, tired but pleased that we had not succumbed to the rain and wind earlier in the day, to be rewarded with sunshine for our get-together. This is the embryonic walking group which Julie has tried to set up on our local internet page and so far we are doing well. Jasper and I enjoyed our walk and are now looking forward to organising next week’s stroll. I wasn’t looking forward to it earlier but knowing that fresh air and gentle exercise would be beneficial to my mood and general well-being, Jasper insisted that we join in.

Jasper and I arrived back home after 2 hours of walking, exhausted from the fresh air and wondering how on earth I was going to survive an evening out with the “other” girls. I ran a bath, and nearly fell asleep, but somehow managed to galvanise myself to get changed and get ready by 6.30pm when we left for the meal.

The meal was great. The company was friendly and interesting and being back home by 9.30pm means that a late night is avoided. I really enjoyed myself although if I had had the chance earlier I would have declined the invite.

I have learned over the years that even if you feel low, you need to keep on going. Keep accepting invitations from friends. Do not become isolated. Go through the motions if you have to but keep going. It’s the only way. Yes, it’s hard work and can be exhausting but don’t even think about not going. Put yourself on auto-pilot. Explain to your friends if necessary; they will understand and I guarantee that you will be pleasantly surprised.

Make the effort. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

 

 

 

114 Days of freedom-day 7

Already one week down on my 16-week break from work! How quickly time flies when you are enjoying yourself so the saying goes.

I certainly enjoy having the time to indulge my favourite activities; walking Jasper, making quilts and, at the moment, sleeping.

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Jasper heping with mummy’s quilt!

One thing I have learned about chronic fatigue and how it affects me is that my body is not very good at dealing with adrenalin. It doesn’t matter whether the adrenalin -rush is the result of stress or excitement, (a) I seem to produce a lot of it and (b) it hangs around and upsets my equilibrium for some weeks afterwards.

I finished the high-intensity cycle of my seasonal work at the end of January, and am still winding down 3 weeks later. In previous years when I was much less self-aware, I would have fed off this adrenalin and continued the high-energy activities it promotes. This in turn would lead to a crash weeks if not months down the line. These days, being aware of this potential reaction I make a concerted effort to relax and not do  more than necessary so conserving my energy and protecting my equilibrium.

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The beginnings of a disappearing 16 square quilt

Since finishing work, I have been able to control what I do during the day, but my sleep pattern has been disturbed. Short periods of deep sleep for 2-3 hours are followed by hours of agitated waking, my mind racing with ideas and plans for the next day.

Going forward if my sleep doesn’t settle down soon, I will take my prescription medication to help me stay asleep for a good 6-7 hours instead of waking every few. In the meantime, I just keep trying to rest and relax in the hope that sleep returns to normal. My GP tells me that sleep patterns are the last thing to sette down after a relapse so hopefully it won’t take long.

Still mind

Mental Health First Aid

mental healthThis week I will be on an intensive 2-day mental health first aid course in London. This is part of my role as a mental health champion (doesn’t sound quite the right title does it?!) at work and I am hoping that the course lives up to my expectations so that I am able to recommend that others across our network also take the course in future.

I am sure they will be two long days and will be tiring, interesting, thought-provoking but most of all useful. I am looking forward to it and will let you know how I get on.

Useful links

Mental Health First Aid England

Mental Health First Aid England/Workplace

 City Mental Health Alliance

MIND- Suicide support

Samaritans

 

 

50 Shades of Women

Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend the pilot presentation entitled the “50 Shades of Women” put on jointly by Kate Nash Associates and EDIT Development. The workshop is “designed for disabled women from all backgrounds, ages and stages of their lives and designed specifically for women in management grades.”

The overarching goal is to help disabled women “deliver work more effectively as disabled women” and we can expect to :

  • “….overcome self-limiting beliefs and behaviours…”
  • “…start to find new solutions to old problems”
  • “Gain some insight into our strengths and development areas in the workplace…..” and
  • have some practical ideas to start using immediately”

The workshop was amazing and I came away inspired, motivated, hopeful, happy in my skin and thrilled to have met 30 women who I can add to my “tribe.” We all related to each others stories and health conditions and disabilities. We supported each other and we understood exactly what makes us tick. To be in an environment like that it a privilege and an occasion to celebrate. The positivity has stayed with me all day and nothing could have spoilt what was shaping up to be a typical 9-5 work experience.

I took time to share some of my experiences with a colleague at work, with whom I collaborate on disabled matters, and it cheered him up too! There’s nothing like a bit of positive encouragement and acknowledgement that although we have our additional “difficulties”, this should be no barrier to FABULOUSNESS.

In many ways I had let myself forget what I am good at; what I enjoy and actually, what I am excellent at. Although my perception of me is somewhat tempered by self-criticism and doubt, the feedback I get from others is overwhelmingly the opposite and I am, apparently, an amazing role model and inspirational person. Hey, I need to develop this idea and start to believe it otherwise I could lose the opportunity to help others overcome their barriers and fulfill their potential. Nothing would make me more fulfilled than taking on that role.

Of course I have a day job which I love. I need to find a way to combine the two without jeopardising my mental health. This will be challenging but as I discovered yesterday, far from impossible.

I learned so much yesterday that I cannot possible share it all in one post, but share it I will over a number of articles. For today, have faith and believe that you can achieve, you can be an equal and certainly the world is starting to take a more positive approach to people with mental health conditions.

We know that we are just as capable, loyal, creative, determined, resilient and have a lot to give. Thankfully at last I see others believing that too!

Are you mentally strong?

I found this on Pinterest today and when I read through them it made me think. I don’t practise some of these things that “mentally strong” people do. Maybe I should start. Have a read and let me know how you get on…..

Mentally strong