anxiety, asd, autism, dance, depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, mental health, metnal health, post natal depression, special needs, wellbeing

Who am I and why do I want to volunteer with Tots & Tums?

I,m Louise, I’m 39, and I am a mum of three gorgeous children, and married to Andrew.

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Me and my youngest, Emily

When people ask me ‘what I do’ I’m never quite sure what to say. I mean it’s easy to tell someone you work in retail, or in education, or something along those lines, but I write, and I blog, and I probably use social media way more that society suggests I probably should.

But I do all of those with reason and my intentions are always to spread messages of positivity and hope for those who may need it.

I do this because I have suffered with mental health issues pretty much all my adult life. Once I hit 16, I went off the rails and spiralled into a life which I can see now, is not the kind of life any mother would ideally want their daughter to have.

I had my first child at 21, ended up a single parent at 22, got into relationships with the wrong kind of people, made bad choices, found myself in not exactly ideal situations, but luckily I decided to try and make something of my life by going back into education at 26 once my son started school.

I met my now husband just before I turned 30 and as I was about to graduate from uni, and from then I finally got my life back on track, or more or less. We had our first child together in November 2008, then our second child September 2011.

Our oldest daughter was diagnosed with autism in April 2015, and it was at that point I said I was going to change my life. I had answers now. I’d spent so many years anxious, worrying, stressing. We had answers, a diagnosis and I needed to move forward.

So I set about making changes to my life, little by little and I can say now that I am completely through my depression. I still have moments of anxiety, but I think we all do, and I am now aware of how to control them.

I started by working towards fulfilling my childhood ambition of becoming a journalist and signed up to a distance learning course. From this I pushed myself to travel down to London on my own to do workshops, then smashed another barrier by taking my first exam, and passing. I then made myself completely familiar with my surroundings and what is going on in the area, what’s topical? What do people want to read about?, and started writing feature articles for newspapers and magazines.

I then started blogging and sharing my personal experiences of being an autism mum and living with depression and anxiety. I then took up exercise and it’s through that which I’ve made so many friends. Which brings me where I am today…

Beating depression has made me want to help others beat it too. I want to find people who have lost their way in life, and help them find it again. But I don’t want to do it sat in an office, taking notes, or as an employee who’s able to listen, but not able to give advice.

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I want to do it as me. As the girl who woke up one day and decided to take her life back. I want to find men and women who have lost all belief in themself, lost their identity, lost their path in life. I want these people realise their self-worth, identify their dreams, break their comfort zones and achieve them.

I want to be someone who helps reduce the mental health stats which fill me with tears every single time I read them. I want to be someone who makes a difference to the world, I want to potentially save lives.

And I want to do it all by sharing my experiences of kicking mental health issues and give others the confidence and belief that they can do it too.

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depression, diet, excercise, general, health, health and fitness, lifestyle, metnal health

Twenty sixteen

It’s here, a new year and I’m hoping this year will be even better than last. My aim for 2015 was the typical ‘lose a bit of weight’ goal. But as suspected, months in and it just wasn’t happening.

It took me till the summer to start shifting the pounds, and that’s only because I discovered a love for exercise. I doubt I would’ve seen any difference at the end of the year had I just ‘gone on a diet’.

So this year I plan to continue dropping the pounds, as well as building strength both mentally and physically. I’m not aiming or aspiring to be ‘slim’, or a particular weight or dress size. This is about being in the best shape I feel I can be. I want to be healthy in both body and mind.

I’m hoping to achieve and stick to this by blogging, hopefully daily. I am going to share some of my meals, document any exercise I have done, and the scariest part, take photos. I want to see how much my body (not size but shape) can change over a year if I stick to my plan.

I’m also aim to keep track of and share my mental state over the year. On the days when I’m not feeling so good, I am going to identify why, and what I do to change it. I’m curious to see just how much absolutely anyone can change over a year.

Today is New Years day, and should really be day one. Only we still have food (cheesecake, crisps, chocolate) left over from Christmas, but very little and I suspect it’ll all be gone by tonight.

So tomorrow is day 1. Tomorrow is back on a healthy diet, only stricter than it has been and hopefully I can fit in an hour in the gym, or possibly even a run. But tonight,  I’m having a bath and finishing off the vino from last night.

 

autism, general, health, metnal health, wellbeing

Ways to deal/cope with lifes lows

Over the last year or so, I’ve finally learned how to deal with any merging feelings of depression/anxiety (they never fully develop. I won’t let them), and can now effectively deal with a symptom as soon as it appears.

The onset of depression can often be indicated by a feeling of low mood or sadness. A feeling of becoming more tearful, or less tolerant of others. A feeling of a being in a constant state of panic, or worry, just that feeling that you really aren’t enjoying life at all.

In addition to those psychological symptoms, there is also they physical symptoms to deal with, which I actually never linked to depression, they had to be pointed out to me. The change of appetite, not wanting to eat, although typically I went the other way, leading to an increase in weight, then a decrease in self-esteem. Physical symptoms also include aches and pains, and the most common,  finding it hard to sleep, or sleeping too much.

These symptoms obviously have an affect the way we function and interact with the world. We may find that we are not doing as well at work, neglecting hobbies and interests, and experiencing difficulties at home or isolating ourselves.

The easiest and often most popular way of dealing with these symptoms is with medication. Antidepressants work  by increasing levels of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. Certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and noradrenaline can improve mood and emotion. The increasing levels of neurotransmitters can also disrupt pain signals sent by nerves. Sound like a pretty efficient quick fix (although antidepressants do generally take two weeks to start taking effect).

The ways in which I have managed my mood are:

Know the symptoms By knowing the symptoms of depression, you can then deal with them, which has probably been the most useful advice I have been given. The minute I start to feel low, I’ll tackle those feelings

Identify the cause If I start to feel low, I’ll think about what has been going on in my life recently. Is it something someone has said which has knocked me and having a busy life which goes at a million miles an hour, I haven’t dealt with it. Have I been doing so much recently that I’ve just not taken any time to relax, and its a feeling of exhaustion?

Act on it In the early days when life took a different turn as expected, I’d to spend quite a lot of time just talking about how I feel, letting it all out, having that feeling of slight relief, then continuing on with the same problems or issues, which would again build up. I very rarely complain to anyone about feeling depressed or low now, because I don’t. Maybe I may have just became hardened to it (it takes a lot to upset me now, and I’ll challenge anyone or anything which does) or most importantly, I’ve accepted life as it is. We never anticipated or planned to have a child with a disability, but we have, and I embrace it.

Let it go – Who would’ve thought of getting advice from a Disney film, but it’s true. Let things go. Let go of your expectations, any criticisms you may have encountered, negative thoughts or beliefs. Leave them where they belong, in the past.

Belive in yourself – We’re all born with the capacity to achieve whatever we want, just some of us lack the confidence. I’ve put myself in situations I would completely avoid, or never dream of being in over just the last few months. I’ve signed myself up to something, or arranged to do something, said ‘I can’t do it’, but been reminded and encouraged that I can, so I have. I thrive on that feeling of achievement, and the adrenaline of the build up.

Surround yourself with positive people – This should be a rule of life, not a coping mechanism. Don’t soak in other people’s negativity, let them add to your positivity. Even if this means re-evaluating those around you.

Stop ‘being strong’ – This is just my opinion, and I may be going completely against the grain, and it may not work for some people, but STOP BEING STRONG. It’s cliched advice to ‘stay strong’. I’ve never stayed strong. I’ve stayed focused, but never been strong. If I wanted to have a good cry, I’ve had one. If I’ve wanted a day to myself,  Andrew has taken care of the kids whilst I’ve lay in bed away from the world. I’ve always felt better the next day and ready to move on. Staying strong only allows the feelings to mount up, and will eventually explode. I think it’s more useful to deal with how you are feeling, day by day.

Take time out for yourself having a busy, noisy life, I find I need to have proper wind down time once a week. It’s something to look forward to, and something I really appreciate.

Take care of yourself Excercise is the best way to release serotonin and endorphins. I’m not going to pretend I assign to this method, because I don’t. I detest exercise. I joined the gym, left the gym. Bought trainers, threw them in the cupboard. Bought a pedometer, and the last time I saw it it, was wedged between the fridge and the kitchen unit. But if you do enjoy it, do it.

Eat healthy – Something which I do do, just I get my serotonin fix from chocolate. I don’t eat any fried, processed, or frozen food. These foods will have an affect on your mood, aswell as your health.

So, I can say that I’ve never taken any long medication at all to deal with anxiety/depression/stress, and never will. It’s all about keeping in check with yourself, and being open and honest about your feelings and experiences.

general, health, metnal health, wellbeing

‘Time to Talk’

People are today being encourage to spend five minutes talking about mental health as part of the second annual Time to Talk Day.

‘Time to Talk’ day is a campaign which aims to tackle the stigma, challenge attitudes and change behaviours around mental illness. ‘Time to Change’ is the programme which is led by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental illness. It is suggested that if more of us speak up about mental health, and share our experiences, the judgemental attitudes will disappear. It’s like lots of things, the more you talk about or become exposed to something, the more ‘normalised’ it becomes.

Mind states that since 2011, two million people are said to have a more positive view of mental illness, and now, here in the UK, we are living in a society where people are talking more about mental health than ever before. Statistics currently indicate that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in the course of a year, the most common being anxiety and depression, woman are more likely to receive treatment for a mental health problem than men (which doesn’t necessarily mean women suffer the most, but men try to deal with it on their own).

From my experience I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression, body image disorder (although I’m pretty sure this is more of a symptom of depression) anxiety, and social anxiety (shyest person EVER). I’m not ashamed to admit it, why should I be? If I had a broken leg, I wouldn’t be ashamed to use crutches for support, or if I had an ear infection, I wouldn’t be ashamed to tell anyone. Anxiety, Depression etc are illnesses for which we need treatment and support, just you can’t see them, and the effects of hiding them away and coping alone only fuel the condition. Talking is like releasing pressure, or letting off steam. I find it hard to understand why so many of us choose to suffer in silence with something so common.

Short term solutions to mental illness, antidepressants, are exactly that, short term. The long term solution which we need to recognise and use more, is to open up and talk about it.

The NHS now provide’ Health and Wellbeing’ services. Short courses ran by the Adult Learning Alliance and psychological services such as ‘Managing your Mood’, ‘Stress Control’, ‘Confidence building’, ‘Relaxation Techniques’ and ‘Assert yourself’. I enrolled on a couple last year as I was interested to see what I could learn and gain from them. I was hesitant in attending at first as I felt like everyone would think I was there because I was a failure, or unable to cope. I met people from all different backgrounds. people who were struggling with the pressure at work and just needed tips on how to wind down, some people whose confidence had taken a recent knock and they just needed a little bit of guidance to get back on track, and one lady felt unable to say ‘no’ to her boss when she would put piles of paperwork on her desk right on home time and ask her to stay behind.  It felt pretty liberating to be in a room full of other people who were in need of a little support, as mental illness often can be extremely isolating.

We are always in the path of little things cropping up, small issues, or problems, which we often allow to build up and become more of a bigger problem. I often see friends on Facebook, about to have a ‘rant’, or a ‘moan’, but you can see they have reigned in their thoughts, or apologised for expressing how they feel. Don’t hold back. Let off steam, have that chat with a friend, family member or just anyone who might offer. Don’t apologise for showing your emotions or vulnerability. By doing that we are just reinforcing the taboo and stigma of mental health.

And on a lighter note, it’s also National Nutella Day too