Sunday, 15 March 2015

My Mind Matters Needs Your Help Please Vote Now!

To create awareness for Mental Health problems and raise money for Mind.  I started the Mind Drawing Project in 2013 by asking people with mental health problems and/or their carers to draw a picture of what mental health means to them.

Mind provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. They state that they won't give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect. 

To find out more click here.

After considering all of the submissions I have now narrowed them down to the final 17 and I need your help!

Please browse through the following drawings and vote for your favourites at http://goo.gl/lHnnii It's free to vote and you can vote multiple times!

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The top 5 drawings picked will be printed on to t-shirts and sold with all proceeds going to Mind Charity.

Voting Closes March 22nd 12pm GMT.




Sunday, 8 March 2015

Blog For Mental Health 2015

I know I am late but I've been struggling with my motivation and concentration but I am back and proud to announce that this is my 3rd year taking the pledge and I am proud to declare that;

I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2015 Project.  I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others.  By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health.  I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.
Blog for Mental Health 2015
 
When I first started my Blog in 2012 during my worst period of Depression to date I naively thought to myself what am I going to write about in a few months time when I'm better again and don't have Depression anymore.  Well 3 years later after lots of ups & downs and steps forwards and backwards I am still struggling day to day trying to beat my Depression and Anxiety.

I write my blog as I want to share my experiences to help raise awareness about Mental Health and how it affects everyone differently.  It deeply saddens me that there is still so much stigma around in this day and age and I want to do whatever I can to get rid of it! 

I also work in mental health services and I'm doing what I can to tackle bad practice and make a change and hopefully one day I won't need this blog but until then I'll be here typing away.

If I can help just one person through my writing I will be the happiest person alive.  I want people out there to know that you are not alone!

I would love to hear about other peoples' experiences and you can connect with me on Twitter at @Marilynsmind

Here's to 2015!

If you would like to find out more about the Blog for Mental Health and are interested in taking the pledge click here!

Lose Weight Fatty!

Over the past year I've been having a lot of health problems and all my doctors seem to be focused on is my weight.  Whenever I go to see them with a problem the first thing they do is weigh me and then no matter what my problem is they just tell me I need to lose weight.  I know that I am over weight at the moment but my BMI is only 31, they are acting liking I'm 500lbs which I'm not.  I'm 5ft 6" and weigh 200lbs.  Yes I know that's not great but surely everything I go to see them about is not due to my weight.
It started when I went to see them about my wrists.  I have pins and needles in my wrists, pain in my  thumbs and numbness.  Classic Carpal Tunnel symptoms, plus I have a family history of this.  My GP sent me to a Consultant at my local hospital and they couldn't find the cause, so she told me to lose weight and that would help. On all of the sites I looked at for Carpal Tunnel, none of them sited weight as a cause.  The consultant wasn't going to do any further tests to look into this, but thankfully I was feeling well enough with my mental health to push this further until something was done and she ended up identifying through blood tests that I may have an Underactive Thyroid.
I have been tested every year for about the past 9 years for an Underactive Thyroid because this also runs in my family but I was told that there weren't any sign of it and they couldn't predict if I would get it.  Which is fair enough but after a few more sets of blood tests, it was confirmed that I did have an Underactive Thyroid and for the past 3 years or so my test results have been gradually decreasing so it should have been picked up a lot earlier. 
A classic symptom of an Underactive Thyroid is weight gain because your metabolism is slowing down, so why every time that they told me to lose weight did they not factor in my potential thyroid problems.  Plus as well as this they never bloody give you any advice on how to lose weight.  They just look at you disapprovingly as if you should know better and be a bloody skeleton.
To make things worse though my GP noticed that my Prolactin levels were too high and increasing.  This is the hormone which produces breast milk and no I'm not pregnant!  It's bloody ironic though because I am dying to have a baby but I really don't want to breastfeed.  Anyway she was convinced that I had a tumour called a Prolactinoma growing on my Pituitary Gland.  They are generally benign but I was besides myself with worry.  I know I'm a hypochondriac but she was over the top, she didn't factor in my anti-depressant medication that can affect your Prolactin levels or the fact that an underactive thyroid can affect them, instead she just freaked me out telling me I had a brain tumour and then made me wait 2 months to see a specialist.  I was ill with worry the whole 2 months every headache I was convinced was due to a tumour.
I don't think any of these GPs and Consultants even consider the affect that any of this has on my Mental Health.  They just tell you your fat and that you have a brain tumour and then leave you to fester and ruminate for months without any support.  I genuinely think that they have no idea that this could exacerbate my mental health.  Do they not realise that I hate myself for the way I look and that I've let myself get this big.  I try everyday to lose weight but the more I try to lose weight the more unwell I become.  I think I have a non specified eating disorder and I'm currently keeping a diary to keep track of my thoughts, triggers and behaviours because again my GP cannot accept the possibility that I could have an eating disorder because I am too fat.
I went to see the consultant regarding my potential tumour last week and thankfully he does not think that I have one.  He said that my Prolactin levels would be a lot higher if there was one present but I'm just waiting for the last set of blood tests to confirm this.  In one way I'm glad that my GP was so proactive about this because it can be a fight to get them to do anything these days but I think she needs to work on her tact and think about my mental health.
The consultant thinks that once my Thyroid problem is under control and I'm on the right level of Thyroxine all of my physical problems will right themselves, so it's such a relief to know that it is not my fault that these things are happening to me and it's NOT because of my weight thank you very much. 
BUT then he still went on to lecture me about my weight saying that if I want to have kids I need to loose weight.  He did tell me though, which is very useful that GP's are often very unsure about underactive thyroids and pregnancy and he said that when I do become pregnant they need to increase my Thyroxine at least 25mg to support the baby. 
I bet even now that he has said that my problems are due to my Underactive Thyroid that my weight will still get blamed for everything.  The next time this happens I hope I am feeling strong enough to challenge them and point out what he said but I get myself so worked up going to the doctors that I can't defend myself. 
Does anyone else have this problem with their GP? 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Welcome back; here's a kick in the teeth!

I returned to work today after 3 weeks sick leave due to Depression. I was incredibly anxious and was dreading what I thought everyone's reactions were going to be; from my managers, colleagues and clients. 
At first I thought I needn't have worried.  My 2 colleagues who were in the office this morning were lovely and seemed genuinely concerned about me and happy to have me back.  I caught up on my emails and yes there were a couple of angry clients but that's to be expected because they come to my organisation when they have issues so they're generally not happy anyway, so I can understand them being annoyed at me because it must feel like someone else is letting them down. 
Then both of my colleagues went on visits so I was left on my own for several hours on my first day back.  I was expecting my manager to come into the office at some point because I had the dreaded back to work interview planned and I was expecting to get told off but she didn't show up until nearly 4pm.
My GP recommended I have a phase return and I had started an hour late but I was hoping to finish an hour early too which they knew, so I was beginning to get restless.
When they did come in, they were nice enough and we began the interview.  That went ok to start with and she didn't tell me off and was checking to make sure I hadn't come back too soon.  However then she dropped a bombshell, my sick pay reached its limit over a week ago, so I will only be getting statutory sick pay for the last 7 days.  That was like a kick in the teeth, I barely get by on my wages as it is due to my debt, bills and wedding etc so this is just going to completely land me in the sh*t! I'll be approx £300 down which may not seem like a lot to some but to me that's my food, petrol and wedding money gone!!! 
I am gutted.  I asked why HR had not told me and apparently they don't tell you in case you come back to work early for the wrong reasons.  I can appreciate their point on that but by them not telling me this has now had a negative affect on my health again and potentially could make me incredibly poorly due to the financial imovations it is going to have.  They are a mental health charity, surely they know the link to finances and mental health or at the very least have some consideration for people's lives! Yes I know they have a company to run but they have to look at the bigger picture.
Then my boss told me off for booking in my laser eye surgery.  They said I shouldn't have booked it so close to me returning to work from being poorly.  She said it's unfair on my colleagues as they have time in lieu to take which they've accrued because of me being ill and this is stopping them from taking it.  Again I take their point into consideration but they didn't tell me any of this when I rang up to tell them last week.  I told my area manager at the beginning of the year that I was waiting for my eyes to stabilise so I could have my surgery again and I've been having regular check ups to monitor my eyes which I've kept them updated about.  I know my colleagues deserve their lieu too and I don't want to make any of them poorly but I'll only be off 5 days and I'm only technically contracted for 4.  I know this surgery is elective but it's also time limited for me I had a choice of dates and that was the only one I could do.
So to cut a long story short I drove home in tears and had a crying fit when I got home.  I feel like a failure for being off poorly in the first place, I feel like my bosses hate me, I feel like a failure for not being able to pay for my share of the bills and I just want to curl up in a ball and cry!!! 
I know today could have been a lot worse but now I just don't want to go back.  I think it's so nasty of them not to tell me about my wages and completely cowardly of them to tell me off about my surgery a week after I first rang up and told them about it.
Ergh I want a new job!!!!! 

Friday, 10 October 2014

Toby Allen's Real Monsters

I've just stumbled across the amazing work of Toby Allen and I had to share it with you guys.

Toby is an illustrator and created The Real Monsters to explore and raise mental health problems after suffering from Anxiety himself. 

Real Monsters consists of 7 different monsters each with their own description of their horrors.  A lot of us will relate to one or more of the monsters and I particularly love the idea of making these silent demons into physical creatures for all to see and gain a better understanding of.

Toby has a shop where you can buy his prints, tees, phone cases and lots of other things available with the awesome monsters on and his other designs.
Check them out at: website www.zestydoesthings.com or Tumblr at zestydoesthings.tumblr.com

Which one is your favourite?









All artwork (c) Toby Allen 2014.

Can I be happy for 100 days?

I was on Buzzfeed and stumbled across '39 reasons to be happy everyday for 100 days'

Basically there's a challenge called #100happydays and it encourages you to post a photo everyday for 100 consecutive days of something that has made you happy. It can be of anything you want no matter how big or small.  Apparently 71% of people fail due to lack of time but if you succeed it's meant to increase happiness and optimism and a few other things.
So I decided to give it a go.  I love a good project to distract me and keep me focused.  I never appreciate the happy things either, as it's all too easy to dwell on the bad. I was hoping it would perk me up and make me appreciate things more.
 
You can sign up to the challenge on the website 100happydays.com or you can just do it for fun on your own.  Use the hash tag #100happydays
 

I didn't expect to be able to do it but I didn't miss a day. Yay!
 
I did find it got a little boring near the end,  however it did make me appreciate the little things.  Some days it was really hard to pick something and I worried that my photos weren't interesting enough.  Then I realised it doesn't matter what other people think about your photos, it's what is personal to you.  Like it says no matter how big or small.  My dogs and food were a big part in my happy days and my wife to be obviously.  Even my favourite TV programs, there was nothing big or fancy just my own creature comforts which sometimes I forget to cherish.
I would say that it did increase my happiness, on days when I was miserable and feeling unwell, this challenge was useful to keep me grounded and focus on what makes me happy.  I do love a project which I can get focus on and would recommend it for other people to try.  

Here is a video of my 100 happy days! 
 
video

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Unexpected Motivation

When I woke up this morning I was gutted to find out that we had a power cut.  All I wanted was to have a cup of tea and watch Netflix, my go to daily plan when I'm off work.  I thought about just reading a magazine or book but my concentration was too poor.  It's really bloody cold outside but I thought to myself F*ck it just go outside, walk the dogs and take some photos.
I've gotten into iphoneography (basically just taking photos on your iPhone lol) and I have a Instagram account for my pictures.  I'm not particularly amazing at taking pictures but it makes me happy and occupies me, so I grabbed the dogs and my phone and drove to our nearest park.  
Trees really soothe me for some reason I have no idea why, I know I'm odd but I do love a good stroll through the park.

Me and my boys were only out for about 45 minutes but I do feel surprisingly better than I have the past few days.  I guess fresh air does help.  Plus when I got home the boys were tired and are napping so aren't driving me crazy bless them.  I always feel better when I've been able to walk them because I feel so guilty when I don't take them out. 
I spent an hour or so editing my pictures too, so I've kept my mind quite occupied.

I recently read (I know I'm behind) the New Economics Foundation's (NEF) five ways to wellbeing, which are supported by the likes of Mind & Depression Alliance.  
They state that evidence has found that if you do the following things no matter how big or small it will lead you on the way to positive wellbeing.  
The 5 steps are;
Connect with others
Be Active
Take Notice
Learn
Give to others 
You can read more on their website here.

I applied my activity for today to these steps and it's surprising how easily achieveable they are and I like I said I do feel better than I have all week.  I connected with other dog owners and people walking in the park saying hello and even had a brief chat with a some teenagers.  The walk itself was being active with the dogs.  I took notice of my surroundings in the park, taking pictures and admiring the scenery and I learnt something new trying out all of my apps to edit my pictures.  I don't think I've done anything giving so I'll work on that but I know I've made the dogs happy by walking them.  
I can see how these steps can contribute to better wellbeing, however I can also see them becoming a chore if I focus on them too much, so I think I'll try to just keep a mental note of it but not follow it religiously.

There is an app available for Google Play App users.  Click here to download it.  You can keep track all of the actions that you do, set yourself goals, get daily motivational quotes, amongst other things.
Unfortunately I have an iPhone and the Apple app is not working yet but as soon as it is, I'm going to check it out.   
I'd like to know what your actions are to promote your wellbeing and what motivates you?  Have any one you used the app? Get in touch to share your stories.

Here are some of my photos that I took on my walk!











Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Please Continue to Call Me Fat

Why are the NHS so obsessed with blaming everything on your weight?

I've been having knee problems for a good few years now, mainly pains and clicking which makes me feel sick and my knees tend to give way.  This happened when I was in the middle of my healthy BMI weight and obviously when my weight crept up over 14stone (my healthy weight for my height is between 9-11st).  I have no doubt that when I became overweight it wouldn't have helped my knees in the slightest but the point is that I had problems before I got fat.  When I went to my GP to get my knees checked out, he just weighed me and told me to lose 2 stone (28lbs) he refused to do anything else even when I told him how long this had been going on.  He didn't even prescribe any painkillers or anti inflammatories.  My GP is very aware of my Depression and did not stop to think about how his words and actions may affect me.  I was completely frustrated and my self esteem was lower than ever.

Now it looks like I'm developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in my hands.  My GP referred me to hospital to see a specialist who I have just been to see last week.  She has referred me for nerve tests and I was given wrist splints but again she said that I had to lose weight to take the pressure off my nerves.  My wrists are the only thing that are skinny!!! I know that's it's the affect the weight has on all of your body but it just feels like they are constantly blaming me for my problems and not looking at the bigger picture.  She ignored the fact CTS runs in my family and I have a repitive job which places strain on my hands, nope she just zoned in on the weight issue.  She also knew I had depression and didn't think twice about how this may affect me.  

It's not as if they even offer support or give advice on how to lose weight they just insult you, put the blame on you and send you on your way.  

When I am poorly I do obsess over my weight, I've always been a comfort eater and will have binges.  I don't have a specified eating disorder but I would say I'm bordering on the edge as there have been occasions I have abused laxatives, became too obsessed with calories and starved myself.  However when I was admitted to hospital after a period of self harm they told me I couldn't have an eating disorder because I looked "normal size".  After this incident I made a formal complaint to the hospital to make them realise the impact of the words that they use, as it had led to me self harming myself again thinking I was a failure and too fat.  However all they said was that they'd take it on board, I'm not holding my breath that they took it seriously.

In this day and age how can medical professionals be so clueless, tactless and just plain stupid when it comes to such a sensitive issue especially when the patient also has mental health issues.  They are completely unhelpful and don't realise that what they might think is just medical facts, can have a dangerous impact on the person's life!! 

I'm currently dieting AGAIN and I'm trying to do it as safe as possible.  I'm allowing myself 1400 calories and going to the gym. I'm proud I've lost 8lbs in 18 days but I've got a long way to go until I'll get any help with my problems.  

In my mind the NHS are just reinforcing my core belief that it is all my fault and I'm not good enough.  Unless I'm stick thin I'm not going to get any help.  It's just infuriating because I'm only 3 stone over weight it's not as if I am dangerously overweight.  They may as well just label me as a lost cause!

I want to take this further within the NHS to try and educate them, to make them see the impact and consequences their comments and remarks are having on people.  I'm not asking them to sugar coat everything, at the end of the day weight is important for your health.  However they need to consider all of the person's facts aroun their issue instead of just focusing on those weight and if they are going to tell you to lose weight they could at least offer you advice and support! 

My Love/Hate Relationship with Therapy

I recently went to see my GP as I have been off work the past couple of weeks due to a relapse/hurdle/deterioration (I don't know what I prefer to call it) in my depression.  I'll not go in to too much detail about the GP as I'm going to blog about him later, so to cut a long story short he gave me a sick note and thrust IAPT's (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) number at me firmly stating that I need to call them again.  It was only the beginning of the year that I had some brief involvement with them, so I'm unsure if I want to contact them.

Looking back over the years since I was diagnosed with depression in 2006 at the age of 19 I have always wanted therapy and p*ssed and moaned when I struggled to get it.  
My first encounter with counselling was at my GP practice at 19yo.  The counsellor was a student and I was told I'd have 4 sessions with her.  I'd just lost my Auntie unexpectedly and it had hit me hard and triggered off my depression (although thinking about it I think I had it for years prior to this) I thought counselling would cure me and had high hopes.  However I was at uni during this time training to be a social worker and all of the techniques this student was using were ones that I was also learning at uni.  I struggled to take her seriously and being the young naive girl I was (still am sometimes) I believed that I could just "cure" myself and didn't need her help.  I thought I'd just take the Prozac and I'd be fine.  To be fair for a few years I kind of was.  I entered my slutty drunk stage and got engrossed in that I guess.  Then came a couple of emotionally abusive relationships, attention seeking whoreish behaviour and my mental health deteriorated quickly.
I was 24 when I first self harmed and at this point I was a full time social worker.  It freaked me out that I was doing it, I couldn't believe it was happening to me and I felt that I should know better and be able to control it because I was a "professional".  The periods of rationality mixed with impulsiveness and urge to hurt myself terrified me.  
At this point I begged my doctor for counselling, as the meds were clearly not working and I felt like I was on a downward spiral.  I desperately wanted to learn safe coping strategies to help me beat depression.  I went on long term sick from work to ease the pressure and I was referred to the Primary Care Team for a CPN but I was told I'd have a long wait.  As my sick leave began running out, the pressure on me to return to work grew but there was still no sign of the CPN.  I ended up in hospital twice once with a severe overdose and another time due to cutting myself, I had reasons for both acts but mainly they were an attempt to show the PCT how Ill I was and how much I needed help.  Eventually after 3 months which I know is nothing compared to some people but at the time felt like a lifetime to me I began weekly sessions with a CPN. We had 12 sessions but I think I missed about 4 due to my motivation.   Throughout that time I didn't understand what the CPN's role was, to be honest I'm still not sure.  Each week we filled in a score sheet to see how depressed and anxious I was to keep track of how I was doing.  She was going to do some basic cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with me and gave me homework to complete a mood diary each week but I struggled to do this.  I found it to be too draining and felt like a weight over my shoulders.  I know I should have done it to try and engage more and make the most of it but I just couldn't get myself too.  I had put way too much expectation on this CPN somehow making me better and I was bitterly disappointed I just felt like I was wasting my time.  She told me that because I was completing the sheets then I wouldn't be allowed to be referred for CBT with a therapist, this was before IAPT and this destroyed what little motivation I had.  At the end of our 12 weeks she said she was referring me to secondary care for a psychologist because of the risk to myself.  However they did an assessment, told me I didn't meet the criteria for their service and they would refer me to a local counselling service. 
This led to me becoming lost in the system and not hearing anything for a year.  I could have done something I know to chase this up but I was just becoming so frustrated and agitated with the whole system I gave up.
I looked into private counselling and had one session with a lady, however decided against it.  I really wanted therapy but I just couldn't afford it and I didn't feel like it was going to be helpful.  I think I have it in my head what I expect counselling to do, I guess I expect a miracle cure and when the reality hits me of meeting these counsellors and going through the systems it puts me back into my place and I feel hopeless.
When I felt able to finally do something and ask for help again I called around and found out that I had been referred to Mind, however they had closed my case as the PCT has given them my old contact details and they hadn't been able to reach me.  Thankfully they prioritised my case and I got a counsellor within a month and I started counselling.  The therapist was an older middle class woman and I just didn't click with her.  I only had 2 sessions with her and i disengaged.  She used a lot of Gestalt techniques like talking about carrying rocks on my back and how could I make it lighter but I just wasn't able to participate.  I don't know what it was, I think I just wasn't ready to actually make contact with my feelings even though I felt like I so desperately wanted to but it all just seemed like goobledy gook.  I requested a different therapist due to incompatibility and I was surprised to hear that the counsellor had recommend it too.  Ridiculous I know because she was just doing her job and trying to get me the best practice but I was annoyed at her for saying she didn't think we were compatible either.  Mind promised me they'd allocate another therapist however to this day I'm still waiting. Thanks for that Mind!!!
I gave up on counselling again after that because I just didn't seem to be having any luck with it.  I wanted coping strategies to help me fight depression but  what did rocks have to do with that!
Out of frustration from my experience and the desire to help people and prove a better service I enrolled into Level 3 then Level 3 of the counselling skills course.  I've always wanted to be a counsellor however after being turned down at uni at 18 I'd given up then.  I am way too easily defeated.  
I loved the courses.  Each week we practiced skills on each other and I found the sessions incredibly helpful.  Through the theories we learnt I began to understand myself, my problems and the things that I do in a whole different light.  I identified my own core beliefs which explains the automatic responses and irrational behaviours that I have and so much more.  I was always learning something new and gaining more understanding of myself.  The sessions with my peers gave us chance to explore our issues further and I began to get some closure on deep rooted issues.  Our teacher was amazing as well.  I finally felt like I was getting what I had been craving.   As a result I decided to ask my GP for a referral for counselling again as I felt that this time I was truly ready to change and engage.  I was allocated a worker fairly quickly, however I had to go to our local mental health hospital for the treatment.  This really distressed me because I currently work as a mental health advocate so I was paranoid i soul see professionals and service users that I worked with, this made me angry though because I didn't want to be embarrassed or scared I felt like a hypocrite.  So we got off to a rocky start because I missed a few sessions and I got informed I would be discharged if I missed another.  We began the CBT after 3 sessions of assessment, which I didn't feel was necessary because I've told them my story a thousand times before and most recently on the telephone assessment prior to starting CBT.  Once we did get started I think I annoyed her because I kept relating everything she was saying to my experience and learning at college.  I told her I'd already discovered my core beliefs and grew frustrated at the pace of how things were going.  Then she went on the sick for a couple of months, I was offered an appointment with her once she returned however the team had handled the information sharing so poorly when she was off that I was so annoyed with them and disengaged again.  They had just rang and cancelled our appointment not giving me a reason why or even saying that she was off, so as with the nature of my mental health I began ruminating and became convinced that she has ended our sessions because I must be too high of a risk of incurable.  I made a very agitated call to the team and nearly ended up becoming verbally aggressive because I was becoming so unwell.  So anyway yes I disengaged again, I decided that I would be fine with my medication and help from college.  
I was really motivated to go on to the degree course for counselling however I lost my motivation for it, after the whole experience with IAPT.  
Several months have passed since that brief counselling and now I'm back in this position again.  My depression has deteriorated, my meds aren't enough to keep me well and I'm off work poorly again.  
My decision now is whether or not to call IAPT to re-refer myself again.  I don't know if I will even be eligible for help after disengaging the last time, I also don't know if I even want it.  If I'm not in the right mind set to engage with it then it will be pointless.  I also don't know what I'm hoping to achieve by it?  I still want to learn coping strategies to try to minimise the affects triggers have on me but will I get them?  The thought of telling my story again to someone new and starting all over again wears me out.  I feel like I'm fighting a never ending battle to actually get anywhere.  I read all the time about people's struggles to actually get this far in accessing therapy and I'm really sorry you must think I'm being ungrateful.  I don't want to waste valuable resources but at the same time I just want something that works.  
One thing is for sure I need to do something because I can't keep having long periods of time off work.  My employers will only be patient for so long and then they will begin with their warnings and disciplinaries. 
What should I do??? 

Monday, 2 June 2014

My Happy Box - Anxiety Coping Strategies

It was at the beginning of the year whilst doing some online self harm training at work that I first discovered 'happy boxes'.  I wanted to make my own for a while but never got around to doing it.  Then a couple of months later my anxiety flared up again and whilst chatting to my fellow tweeters a friend suggested a happy box, so I decided to finally make one.

The purpose of a happy box is to ground you back in the moment, distract you from the anxiety, self harm or suicidal thoughts and help you to focus on your happy times and dare I say it, you may even smile! 

It's your box so fill it with whatever you like but it's recommended that you don't put items in which remind you of loved ones that have passed, as they may make you feel worse when your emotions are already raw.

All you need to do is;

~ Pick a box - It can be any size, shape or colour.  You can decorate it, paint it, put stickers on you name it.

~ Then put in your favourite items particularly at least one for each of your senses, this could be your favourite chocolate, perfume, CDs, a teddy bear or photographs 

~ you could also put in crafts, games, sensory toys anything that you think will help when you are unwell

Then whenever you feel yourself getting triggered go to somewhere where you are safe and get out your box and try it out!

Here is a photo of my box!  


It has 3 teddy's in each with a special meaning, a T-shirt from my time at summer camp, a fashion magazine, lots of happy photos, cards, letters & notes from my friends, a word search book, classical music cd (it's really helping with my anxiety & sleep at the mo), glow sticks (just because they're fun lol), a meditation DVD, a book filled with quotes to boost your self esteem and finally and most importantly..........a TEABAG.  Yup I'm not kidding I have always loved the smell of an English teabag, there is something about them that has always calmed me down when I've been stressed, I'm weird I know! 

Don't worry about what you put in the box, no one is there to judge it, it's what is going to work for you.  It's also not a competition so don't spend lots of money on it, it's the sentiment which is important.  I keep meaning to add my workbooks in that my CPN gave me a couple of years ago too so I can work through them when I calm down enough to.  

So please give it a go, see if it works for you and let me know.  I'd love to hear your stories or the coping strategies that you use :)

Here are a couple of links that talk about Happy Boxes too for more information.

http://www.stitchlinks.com/pdfsNewSite/personal_development/Happy%20box.pdf

http://twaarp.wix.com/twaarp#!happy-box/c8de

https://forums.superbetter.com/showthread.php?2928-Comfort-Box-first-aid-kit-for-anxiety