Tag Archives: mental illness

How To Avoid Stigmatising Mental Health In Your Novel

Hi guys and welcome back to my blog. In today’s post I’m going to be talking about how to avoid stigmatising mental health in your novel. Unfortunately, there is a lot of stigma attached to mental illness (and in my opinion made worse by social media) and people seem to be determined to see mental illness in a certain way. Every single person suffering from an illness is completely different, and everyone’s experiences are individual. The portrayal of mental illnesses in popular fiction (books, TV, film etc), if done incorrectly, can make the stigma worse and is damaging to those of us who suffer. Below, I’m going to share some tips to help you portray mental illness in the best way you can..


Although not everyone will feel comfortable sharing their experiences, as long as you are respectful and remain non judgemental some sufferers will be perfectly happy to give you some insight. Talking to actual sufferers of mental illness can be enlightening and give you valuable first hand accounts on what it’s like to live with a condition. This information can enable you to to craft a realistic portrayal of a character suffering from a mental illness.

Side note – remember never use information that enables anyone to be identified. Remove all identifying features, change their histories and/or life experiences so your character is a new person. Lots of writers use bits and pieces from all different kinds of people to create characters, because basing a character too similar to someone in real life can open you up to problems.


Use proper, respected sites to gather your information about the mental illness you are including in your novel. Remember that there are many different symptoms related to mental illnesses and you don’t always have to just use the typical, well known ones in your novel.

Some greats sites include Mind | Childline | Rethink | Beat.


Don’t scrimp on research, and make it a priority to check and double check before the final manuscript is released. Also, take your time when you are developing characters to make sure that every aspect is weaved into the story. Make sure you have accounted for things like possible causes, a detailed history and how it affects their everyday life.


It can be easy to observe mental illness in films/books/tv shows and automatically assume the portrayal is correct or that’s the only way someone with a mental illness presents. Sadly, many fictional portrayals (especially films) can be highly stigmatised and often show sufferers to be dangerous. Also, don’t use information from tabloid newspapers. These articles can be harmful for stigma and often contain incorrect information.


This irritates me because recovery is not something that happens overnight and it’s unlikely to happen without treatment of some sort. These things take time and hard work. Acting like miraculous recovery is the norm may make people believe that that’s how it happens in real life, or that all you have to do is think positive and boom, you’re cured.


Have you written a fiction book including mental illness? Do you have any tips for writers on this topic?

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6 Helpful iPhone Apps For Managing Your Mental Health

Hey everyone and welcome back to my blog. Today, I’m going to be sharing 6 apps that are great for managing your mental health. I have personally tried out all of the following apps and I have seen the potential they have in making it easier to manage your illness. I hope these apps are useful and you find something new to help you along…

(All app titles link to the App Store).


Think Ups.

Price – Free.

This is a lovely little app I discovered by accident. It contains 6 mini activities – happy taps, habit maker, mindset, positivity, breather and illuminator. All of them are based around positive thinking, good habits and mindfulness. My favourite game is positivity, which is a word search game. You are given words revolved around positivity and you have to find them in the grid.


Three Good Things.

Price – Free.

What I love about this app is how simple it is. Everyday you receive a notification to input 3 good things that happened to you that day. It’s a great way to try and pick out the positives of the day, even if it’s been a particularly tough day.


Cove.

Price – Free.

This is one of most unique apps I’ve ever come across. Cove allows you to express how you’re feeling through music. You pick an emotion and it then allows you to add a base, melody and percussion to create a song. It’s great if you’re struggling to express how you’re feeling or you can’t find words to describe it. This app is also working with NHS (you can read more about this here).


Stigma.

Price – Free with a pro option.

Stigma is an app that allows you to track your mood and add journal entries. It also has a pen pal option – where you can connect with other people in similar situations to yourself. I haven’t tried out the pen pal aspect but I can imagine how helpful that could be to someone’s support system. One of my favourite aspects of the mood tracker is you can add a visual representation of how you’re feeling, which you can track over a certain period of time (daily, weekly, monthly).


Quit That.

Price – free.

I’ve added some examples to show you how it works

This is a very simple app that allows you to track habits you want to quit. It isn’t necessarily a mental health app, however, it’s great if there are bad habits, possibly related to your illness, you’d like to stop doing. It also allows you to input if the habit costs anything per day, and it will then show you how much you’ve saved since you’ve quit, which I think is a great motivator.


Clementine.

Price – free.

This is an app that uses hypnotherapy to help you deal with the struggles you may be facing. It includes several audios to listen to in the categories sleep, confidence and de-stress. It also allows you to add mantras (or choose the surprise me option) and the app will send you reminders throughout the day to remind you of them, which is think is a lovely touch.


What apps do you find helpful in managing your mental health?

How To Deal With The Anxiety of a New Year

The thought of a new year when you have anxiety can be an overwhelming and terrifying thought. The bone crushing fear of another year full of promise, and the overwhelming expectations can end up in another year full of so much anxiety and failure that it can overwhelm you. The fear of failure is unrational, the fear of not being good enough is unrational and for the most part we know that – but that overwhelming fear is a reality for many of us who suffer with anxiety.

I for one was adamant that 2018 was ‘going to be my year’ – just like all the other years before that. Instead it ending up being another in a long line of bad health and stressful situations. There were amazing things that happened this year – including finally moving into a wheelchair accessible bungalow, starting up my blog and finally starting to write my first draft of my book. I don’t have all the answers neither am I living proof that the following things are guaranteed to work but hopefully the following advice can somehow make 2019 less of a burden for you…


Make goals.

And I don’t mean massive stuff like lose weight or learning to drive or starting a new job. I mean small, actionable goals, things you can easily cross off so you don’t feel like you’re useless and can’t do anything. For example – say you want to learn to drive, you could break that bigger goal down into actionable steps like ‘decide on learning manual or automatic’, ‘research driving instructors’, ‘contact driving instructors’ and so on and so forth until you achieve the big goal.


Surround yourself with positive people.

Unfortunately there are people in life who can become toxic and affect your mental health. Cut ties with the people who make you feel negative and bring you down instead of building you up. As hard as it may be you have to do what is best for you and if that means cutting ties with people who make you feel bad about yourself then it’s what you have to do.


Don’t expect too much from yourself.

There’s no use in pushing and pushing until you explode because that’s not going to get you anywhere. Start small and work your way up. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do things you aren’t ready for and focus on the things you are better able to do at a given moment.


Try to be proud of the little things.

Sometimes it’s easy to become fixated on all the things you can’t do. You forget that it’s the little things that get you through – getting out of bed, taking a shower or cooking a meal. To a lot of people these things may be the easiest thing in the world but for those of us with anxiety they are massive. Be proud of these small accomplishments as well as the bigger ones.


 

Do you have any advice to someone who is feeling anxious about a new year?

7 Common Misconceptions You Should Stop Believing About Eating Disorders

Like all mental illness – eating disorders carry stigma leading many people developing misconceptions. This can be extremely harmful to sufferers and can lead to them being treated in a way that is detrimental to their recovery. Here I’m going to talk some about some of those misconceptions and the truth behind them..


There are many different types of eating disorders, and so someone suffering from an eating disorder may not always be underweight. One of the biggest misconceptions is that if someone isn’t underweight then they aren’t suffering or their illness isn’t doing any harm to their body. This is far from the truth. The sufferer can be doing huge amounts of damage to their body regardless of what weight they are.


Yes, there are sufferers who fast for long periods of time but that isn’t the case for everyone. Even someone with anorexia might eat at times – that is why it’s called restrictive eating. One of the most annoying things I experienced at my worst was I would get judgemental comments about my lack of eating. Eating in public or around other people was a no go and there were times I’d fast for days. However, on most days even though I wasn’t eating enough, I was still eating.


Contrary to popular belief the increase in skinny film star/model/singer media photographs is not the cause of eating disorders. These issues are deep rooted. They burrow down into someone’s self conscious and rip apart their self esteem. Suffering from an eating disorder does not mean someone wants to look like a supermodel. Most of the time it’s not even about being skinny – it’s more about the control, and/or emptiness and these things manifest in the rules and rituals around food.


Recovery is a process – just like with any illness or disorder. Sometimes that process can take years. Even after someone is weight restored or their eating habits are healthier, it doesn’t mean their eating disorder has gone away. Learning to eat again, putting weight on, balancing out eating habits is only half the battle. Battling the thoughts and the way you feel about yourself is a longer battle that no one but the sufferer can see.


Eating disorders can affect anyone – regardless of their gender or sex. They don’t pick and choose who they affect, just like any other illness.


If only this was the case then so many beautiful souls would never have been taken before their time. Eating disorders are complex and serious mental illnesses that have the potential to cause life threatening complications. Sufferers do not choose to behave the way they do.


Eating disorders do not develop as a way to get attention. Obviously the worry and concern over someone’s eating habits or low weight can lead to the sufferer receiving more attention, but that isn’t the reason why they develop. Eating disorder sufferers will in fact go to great lengths to hide their behaviour and will possibly be in denial they have a problem.

Eating disorders are also not dramatic. Most eating disorder sufferers don’t end up in hospital like you see in the movies. They are secretive and the worst battles occur in someone’s head.


What misconceptions about eating disorders do you wish people would stop believing?


21 Easy Self Care Ideas Using The Five Senses

Blogtober graphic

Hi guys and welcome to Blogtober day 23 and today I’m here with some self care ideas. I see these posts around a lot but I wanted to try and do something different. So, I’ve come with some ideas using all the 5 senses. Once again I thank my beautiful best friend Sarah for helping me come up with these…


Sight.

1. Get out into nature and take some photos.

2. Look at old photos with a positive memory attached. Think about the memory, close your eyes and take yourself back to the day the photo was taken.

3. Pick something to draw, focus your time on what it looks like, every detail. Don’t worry if it doesn’t turn out like you expected – you’re not drawing a masterpiece.

4. Colour in a colouring book or print some sheets off the internet, and take note of the colours you’re using.


Smell.

5. Light some scented candles or melt some wax melts and let the scent surround you.

6. Buy yourself some lovely smelling flowers and display them in a vase.

7. Spritz yourself with your favourite perfume.

8. Bake a cake and let the warm smell fill the kitchen.

9. Use a shower or bath bomb and take note of the different kinds of smells.


Touch.

10. Get yourself a manicure or pedicure, or treat yourself to having your hair done.

11. Cuddle a fluffy cat or dog.

12. Pour some bubbles into your bath and let the warm water relax you.

13. Create a sensory book using a scrapbook and items you like the feel of. You could also incorporate other senses into this (would anyone like a post on how I make mine?). If you already have one go through it, taking your time to focus on each item.

14. Have a mini spa – face masks, foot bath/lotion, body lotion. Whatever helps relax you.


Hearing.

15. Create a playlist of your favourite songs and listen to it on repeat.

16. Download a meditation or relaxation app, put your headphones on and relax. (I use Relax and Sleep)

17. Have a conversation with someone you’re close to about something your enjoy. Listen to every word and take note of how it makes you feel.


Taste.

18. Eat your favourite flavour ice cream/chocolate/fruit etc.

19. Mindfully eat something sweet, sour, savoury, and new, and take note of the different feelings and textures you experience for each one.

20. Try to eat when your body is telling you it needs to.

21. Drink enough water to hydrate. If you don’t like water (like me) you could try adding a drop of different flavour juices or use flavoured water. Focus on the differences in the tastes throughout the day.


What kinds of things do you do to practice self care?

How To Survive Halloween When You Have Anxiety or PTSD

 

Blogtober graphic

Hi guys and welcome to Blogtober day 17. With Halloween creeping up on us, I thought I’d compile together some of the things I try to do to get through Halloween without too much distress. As exciting and fun as Halloween can be – it’s also a pretty scary time for those of us with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and/or anxiety. I love Halloween – it’s fun to dress up, decorate your house and it’s a great excuse to eat sweets (not that we need an excuse of course!). However it’s also terrifying – the thought of someone jumping out at me, not knowing whose behind scary Halloween masks etc.

Now Halloween isn’t celebrated in the UK as big as it is in America and other countries but it’s still big enough thing that it gives me anxiety. I’ve put together this post in the hopes that some of this advice can help you feel less anxious/distressed this Halloween, and if not I hope it makes you feel less on your own.


You don’t have to answer the door to trick or treaters.

Sometimes I think people feel obliged to answer the door if there’s trick or treaters. I know I always do because they’re mostly little kids with their parents but that shouldn’t mean you absolutely have to answer. It’s okay to say no, it’s okay not to answer and you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. If you want to shut the curtains and pretend you’re not home – that’s okay.


It’s okay not to celebrate Halloween.

Even with all the pumpkins, costumes and sweets everywhere – it’s totally okay not to celebrate if that’s what you want to do. There are many different reasons why people don’t celebrate – religion being one. But if it causes you anxiety just thinking about it – it’s okay to not take part.


Make sure your home before dark.

I find there’s nothing like walking in the dark to get your anxiety up and running. It’s even worse on Halloween night – when there’s people dressed up in all sorts of costumes. There’s also always people who have no respect for others and constantly try and make people jump. To them it’s funny – to us it’s terrifying.


If you have to go out – try and take someone with you if possible.

I know that not everyone is lucky enough to have someone to go out with them. If possible it’s best to only go out if it’s absolutely necessary but I know sometimes going out on Halloween night is unavoidable. If you aren’t able to take anyone with you – try and stick to well lit roads or get a lift or taxi to where you are going. This is important just in general but also will hopefully slightly ease your anxiety.


Distract yourself.

I live in a quiet area but it wasn’t too long ago I lived in a noisy place. On Halloween night it would get so loud it would cause me anxiety and it triggered my PTSD. Although it’s not as easy as it sounds, try to keep busy. Whatever you need to do to cope – arts and crafts, reading, loud music through headphones, binge watching tv, puzzles – whatever helps you get through.


Finally, remember to take care of yourself.

If you don’t want to go out – that’s okay, if you want to go out – that’s okay too. Just do whatever makes you feel comfortable and never feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to. Always remember you are safe and everything will be okay.


Was any of this useful to you, let me know in the comments? Is there anything you’d add?


10 Things You Need to Hear Right Now

In today’s post I’d like to tell you 10 of the things you need to hear right now. In this life – it’s easy to forget to look after yourself, and the stresses and worries of everyday can get to you to the point you feel so bad about yourself. Mental health is nothing to be ashamed of – and unless we start the conversations about it, unless we talk about our experiences then the stigma attached to mental illnesses will remain.

Sometimes we all need a bit of encouragement and to remind ourselves that we are important and loved. Whether you have a mental illness or not – we all need to be reminded of these things;


There is no one like you out there – and that’s an amazing thing. You are unique and it’s ok to be yourself. If you want to wear quirky clothes – go for it, if you want to wear bright make up- go for it, if you want to wear no make up – go for it. Never feel like you have to hide your true self – because you are amazing.


Someone, somewhere loves you. They love the bones of you, and love all the little things that you hate. They love you so much their heart is so full of joy it might burst-and all because you’re in their life.


You can do anything you put your mind to. You can be a writer or an actress or a doctor. Whatever you want to do – if you have the drive and determination – you can get there. Don’t let anyone, ever crush your dreams into pieces, and go for your dreams with your whole heart.


That includes you with the hair that hasn’t been washed in days and the pyjamas you haven’t gotten out of since last week. Whatever you look like, however you’re feeling – you are beautiful.


Making mistakes doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Everyone make mistakes, no matter who they are. Mistakes are how we learn and how we grow in ourselves – be proud of them and let them influence where you go from here.


You don’t have to be okay all the time. Sometimes society makes us feel that we have to be happy all the time and if you’re not happy you’re weak or attention seeking or a misery guts. In reality, whether you’ve got a mental illness or not – you can’t be alright everyday of your life. And that’s okay – you don’t have to hide how you feel, ever. We wouldn’t be human beings if we were happy all of the time.


When life has gotten so stressful and exhausting and you’re not even sure if you can carry on – you are not alone. Feeling alone in a room full of people- when you’re so sure that no one can understand what you’re going through – you are not alone. It’s easy for people to tell you it’s stupid to feel like you’re alone when you have people around you who care, but in reality, sometimes we need a reminder there are people out there who understand what we’re going through – because they themselves have been through it too.


I know it’s hard to believe people’s opinions don’t matter – but in reality no one has ever been in your shoes, and experienced the world or a situation the way you have. No one else has the right to judge you for how you respond to situations, how you cope and how you live your life.


Life isn’t a race and just because it might take you longer to do things doesn’t mean you’ll never get there. At 25 years old – I’m only just halfway through my university degree when many people my age have already completed their degrees and have a job. If you don’t want to go to university then that’s ok to. You take your life at your pace and do what makes you happy and fulfilled.


Even if it doesn’t feel like it right now – everything will be okay. Life is hard – and sometimes it can feel overwhelming and scary. But in the end things will work the way you need them to, life won’t always feel this hard.


What are some of the things you would like people to hear right now?