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WHY HAVING A MENTAL HEALTH BREAK IS IMPORTANT

The thought of taking a day off work or missing a lovely day out can leave us feeling guilty and worthless. It's a fact that when we cancel plans or take a day off we will feel bad for it and in many cases we won't and we carry on as normal, even when we know we shouldn't. When we look at mental health we sometimes see it… Continue readingThe thought of taking a day off work or missing a lovely day out can leave us feeling guilty and worthless. It's a fact that when we cancel plans or take a day off we will feel bad for it and in many cases we won't and we carry on as normal, even when we know we shouldn't. When we look at mental health we sometimes see it as something we shouldn't use to not do something and it's easier to say we have a bug or a bad cold. The thought of telling your boss your mental health is bad or telling your friend your struggling with depression is hard and we don't due to feeling guilty and being judged. The truth is there is nothing to feel guilty about when you need to take a mental health day and you sure as hell shouldn't feel judged, if you do then it says more about them than you, fact.

When your sick with a bad bug you take time off. This could be work, duties around the house or even going out for drinks with friends. You do it for many reasons but the main one is so you can get better quicker and this is the same for your mental health! Looking after yourself is number one priority when you are struggling with your mental health and getting yourself back into a good place is so important. You can't live a life with mental health and not take time for yourself, it's impossible. When your feeling burnt out or at a loss with your mental health just take a break. This could be for a day or longer and it will help. You can use the time to catch up on sleep, eating better or just sitting and doing nothing. Taking time away from work and home duties will give you the space to look after yourself and rest and get mentally recharged. Of course I'm not saying that a day off is going to cure your mental health issues, sometimes professional help is needed.

1. DON'T FEEL GUILTY
You wouldn't feel guilty for taking time off if you broke your leg so why is your mental health different? Don't feel guilty! You are taking time off to look after yourself. If it's from work they will manage and if it's from home duties someone else can pick up your load. Your not a machine and sometimes you need a break. Let people know what is bothering you and what they can do to help. It could be simple things like your partner cooks dinner more and does some cleaning or it might be something bigger like your college takes on a little more work for a few days. Either way your looking after your health and you shouldn't feel guilty. I think you will be surprised at how much people will want to help you.

2. REST, REST AND REST!
When you are on your on your break for your mental health rest! Don't use this time to do random jobs that you have been meaning to get around to or spending your time stressing because your having time off! Get yourself into bed and catch up on some sleep. When we don't get enough sleep we become more anxious and depressed. If your struggling to sleep go visit your GP and they might be able to give you something for the short term. Try and find things that help you relax and do them. Reading, walking, TV or even just having a peaceful cup of tea can help you feel more refreshed and ready to get back into the swing of things.

3. IT WILL BENEFIT YOU & OTHERS
Not only will you feel better after having some much needed time off but it will help others as well. You will go back into work with a refreshed brain and soul your work flow will be better and your boss will love you for it. If you have had time off from home duties you will come back ready to take over again but less stressed, so no more arguments over tiny things that mean nothing. Looking after yourself looks after others around you - because they can get on without worrying so much about you!

4. IT'S GOOD FOR THE SOUL
Taking time off for your mental health is so so good for you. It just gives you that space and time to sort out what is going on and just giving yourself some time to heal. Self care is so important and it really does make you feel good. Even if all you plan to do is eat, sleep and have a bubble bath it will make you feel better. Just giving yourself some much needed care does wonders on the body and mind. Time out is proven to make time in better.

Website: https://www.fixmeinfortyfive.com/

Steven's volunteering story

To mark the end of another successful Volunteers Week, we spoke to Steven who has volunteered for our charity for over two years now.

Before volunteering, Steven received support from Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind and got introduced to the idea of volunteering by the MFC Foundation.

Steven played football with the… Continue readingTo mark the end of another successful Volunteers Week, we spoke to Steven who has volunteered for our charity for over two years now.

Before volunteering, Steven received support from Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind and got introduced to the idea of volunteering by the MFC Foundation.

Steven played football with the foundation through our previous sports project and went on to coach for the organisation. This then spurred the idea of running bowls sessions at Thornaby Pavilion and other activities to improve your mental health.

“When I started volunteering I loved meeting new friends – it changed my life and put me on the right path. I buzz from meeting like-minded people who understand and have similar interests”.

Steven now volunteers on the Appropriate Adult service and is also a Recovery Champion for the Living Life team.

As an appropriate adult volunteer Steven supports people through the custodial process and as a Recovery Champion he visits people on their first one to one and talks about his mental health experiences in a none professional manner.

“Volunteering has a lot more opportunities and a lot more ways to make a difference. Don’t hold back, don’t let anything hold you back – go for it.

“If anyone is sat in their house hesitating thinking they’re not good enough or are suffering. Go and dip your toes in the water and find out. Come and meet people like me”.

If you would like to find out more about our volunteering roles click below.

Website: http://www.middlesbroughandstocktonmind.org.uk/volunteering.aspx

What volunteering means to me

I cannot recommend volunteering enough, it can help you in so many aspects of your life. You can get work experience from it, gain skills to put on your cv that can help you in to employment and progress to do something you have a genuine interest in or you just love doing. You can meet some amazing people and make new… Continue readingI cannot recommend volunteering enough, it can help you in so many aspects of your life. You can get work experience from it, gain skills to put on your cv that can help you in to employment and progress to do something you have a genuine interest in or you just love doing. You can meet some amazing people and make new friends, usually people who have a common interest with you which is a bonus. You’re usually volunteering for a good cause or charity, whether it is mental health and raising awareness or even dog walking at a local animal shelter, you are doing something that has such a positive impact and trust me you will feel amazing for doing it. I think a good way to think what you would enjoy giving your time to, would be to think what you would like as a career if money wasn’t an issue. Basically, what do you love to do or would love to do?

Before I started volunteering, I thought it was very limited as to what you could do. I mainly thought it would be working (for free) in a charity shop. Not that there’s anything wrong with that at all, because I would be more than happy to give me time to that, I have experience in retail and enjoy being around people. However there’s so much more to it. You can give your time by fundraising, writing blogs or taking part in videos/filming, attending training, attending meetings such as anti stigma meetings which raise awareness around mental health, attending or even co facilitate training and events and this is just to name a few that I have personally taken part in but there is so much more and you’re never expected to do something you don’t want to or you aren’t comfortable with. You are the one giving your time, so you still have a say in how you can help.

I enjoy being part of the anti stigma volunteer group because I’ve met a lot of like minded people who I would call friends. The people in the group inspire me and they are people I want to surround myself with to be a better person. It’s enabled me to better my understanding around mental health so I have been able to manage and cope better with my own issues. I can fit it around my job as I’ve written blog posts and attended events outside of working hours which I thoroughly enjoy. I’ve attended training and even co facilitated an event which has been paid work. I’ve attended a awards evening and won a volunteering award which is brilliant and really lovely to get recognition. We have regular meetings to discuss opportunities such as events and awareness days/weeks and how we can make the most of them to break the stigma and make mental health an every day topic. Our input is ours taken in to account and everyone always has their say.

mental health, myself and my family

If having your own mental health issue wasn't bad enough, then imagine how it tears you apart to watch a close friend or family member, someone who is extremely close and special to you, go through the same thing and all you feel like you can do is sit and watch.

Without going into too much detail but still give you… Continue readingIf having your own mental health issue wasn't bad enough, then imagine how it tears you apart to watch a close friend or family member, someone who is extremely close and special to you, go through the same thing and all you feel like you can do is sit and watch.

Without going into too much detail but still give you some background information, I myself suffer from anxiety and mild depression and I have done for roughly 5 years now. I started to get help about 3/4 years ago to help me to cope better and improve my understanding around mental health. I fully accept that it will never be something which is cured but I can better manage it. Lately, and unfortunately, I have had to witness a family member go through a horrendous time and see them go through things which I have experienced myself but would not wish upon anybody. They have gone through terrible illness, both physical and mental, unemployment which has led to money worries, relationship break downs and most heart breaking of all - addiction. All of these issues have had such a negative effect on their mental health and I know the feeling's associated with them as I have been through very similar times.

You really start to feel alone and helpless, like no one does or will understand. You can quite easily head into a downwards spiral. As I said it’s hard enough to go through yourself but to see someone else experience it, is just crushing.

I have always had the attitude of being so against any form of drugs, alcohol abuse and even smoking, because of how I was brought up. This is what made it even more difficult as this person influenced me to have these views in life and then to see them struggling was really strange, hard to accept and even confusing. I couldn't get my head around how they had gotten so low, and even without me realising the full extent of it. It also made it a struggle to get them to accept and address the issues themselves. Getting help is the first but hardest step, but almost impossible to achieve with denial.

I found one of the hardest things to deal with during this time was other people, and "the blame game". You would think that, naturally, everyone would come together and be supportive, try their best and help the person in need, right? Nope. Not always the case. I have experienced so many other family members - who are meant to be "the mature ones" - moan and bitch on about who's at fault, why it's not fair, how it's affecting them. Blah blah blah. Really?! I don't know if it's just because I have been through it myself, but saying these things are the last thing I would say or would want to hear. It just wastes so much time being negative and not helping.

I just really cannot get it into my head how people can focus on this and process things so negatively. Personally, I think it’s quite selfish. If you are in this situation or ever are (I really hope not) but my advice to you would be to be brutally honest and confront them about how unhelpful they are being, hopefully they will realise and change their ways. If not, ignore them, you do not need any more negativity in your life. As hard as it may be to do this to loved ones, it'll be for the best.

As I mentioned, I suffer with my own mental health, I do go up and down, but I know how to cope and control it most of the time. But it comes with no surprises that when something like this happens, which you have no control over, it starts to take its toll. You can’t spend all your time hanging around and checking if their OK. It gave me chest pains, loss of appetite and made me highly irritable, just to mention a few, when I'd be away from them and not knowing what was going on. So, then I'd think, "ok I'll just take some time off work, because it's obviously making me ill, I'll get a sick note and just spend all my time off work with them trying to help". Probably not the best idea, even though I got to the point where I was literally sat in the doctor’s surgery, I'm glad I never did this. That would have just lead to money worries from sick pay, I wouldn't have spent my time with them helping because then they would feel bad for knowing I couldn't work in that state and I'd have probably been sat at home, doing nothing but over think.

So, my best advice for anyone in this situation is to keep things as normal as you possibly can. Go to work, eat meals (even when you have no appetite) and do things that take your mind off how crappy things are because they will get better. Find an activity like reading, drawing/colouring, walk the dogs, gym, sewing, cooking/baking basically anything that occupies you and maybe even helps you forget to check the time. I'd also say to research and find as many avenues of help for the person that you possibly can, so when they are ready to get the help they need you can be fully equipped with different options.

When it came to me opening up to this person and trying to talk, it was one of the hardest things I have done, and I felt exhausted afterwards, but I knew I did the right thing. I got a few other people to be there, to talk one on one with them. I also written a note with different numbers, websites, support centres and groups they could access to get help, but I written it saying that I mainly cared, and I loved them, and this was only there if they needed it (not being pushy).

I spoke to them. I went up to the [] and I can’t really remember what I said exactly, and sometimes you don't even need to say anything at all, but I ended up giving them a cuddle too. I told them it would be OK, I could feel them shaking uncontrollably from emotions, what I can only imagine to be pain, anger, embarrassment, upset, relief and love. They said, "I just get sad sometimes". I'll always remember that moment because it broke my heart. I know what that feels like. It feels a thousand things more than sad, but you can’t put it into words because you don't fully understand it. So, I replied with "so do I and that's OK".

It’s so easy to say but, you are loved, it will get better and someone is always there to talk to. I promise.

Mental Health Awareness Week: Eating Disorders

I was 17 when I developed Anorexia and I was 25 when I finally got diagnosed.

Anorexia, as a word, often brings about a stigma and a stereotype – people assume the extremes; nil by mouth, severely bony and emaciated in appearance.

But Anorexia isn’t an extreme. Firstly, and foremost, Anorexia is a mental illness.… Continue readingI was 17 when I developed Anorexia and I was 25 when I finally got diagnosed.

Anorexia, as a word, often brings about a stigma and a stereotype – people assume the extremes; nil by mouth, severely bony and emaciated in appearance.

But Anorexia isn’t an extreme. Firstly, and foremost, Anorexia is a mental illness. It begins with a disordered thinking pattern that develops and projects onto the sufferer’s relationship with food, exercise and self. The physical symptoms come after this and they still don’t have to be as extreme as the stigma and stereotype lead the majority to believe.

I’m only 5ft 2 (I’m being generous). I’m small. For years many people just assumed I was skinny because I was petite and that it was my ‘frame’ nothing more untoward. That wasn’t the case.

I’ve spent most of my twenties being underweight due to restriction and over exercising and this is very unhealthy for the body and the mind. It’s only been this year that I managed to restore weight and get to a healthy BMI - but to be perfectly honest I feel heavier with the burden of Anorexia more than ever.

My recovery taught me that Anorexia is predominately a mental illness - as with every waking moment I feel it burn away part of my self-confidence and I feel the backlash of the constant mental war. I am aware this illness is in my mind and that the physical symptoms come after this.

The physical symptoms are what alert us to someone’s ill wellbeing but what we need to remember with Anorexia is that it’s an invisible illness, and the physical symptoms only show when somebody is suffering an extreme amount with it.

For me, my physical symptoms were shown in my bloods – ‘clear evidence of starvation’ and a low level of blood sugar; yet another thing the naked eye can’t capture. But I also encountered excruciating stomach pains due to malnutrition. This perhaps showed people I was in pain, but the connection was never made due to the majority of people assuming all Anorexics are at that extreme level of thinness. Assumptions really do make an ass out of you and me.

Experts say that the sooner Anorexia is caught the easier it is to overcome. However, especially in my experience, some people don’t feel ‘thin or skinny’ enough for Anorexia – what I assume in hindsight about my experience is that when I was 17 I wouldn’t actually have received any help from a GP because my weight wasn’t drastically low.

Regardless of weight, if there’s a constant battle in your mind about food, exercise or body image, there is something up. That’s when it’s time to speak up and reach out.

As with every mental illness the more we talk about it, the more we speak up, the more we overcome stigma and barriers. With Anorexia and Eating Disorders there’s such an assumption of how we ‘should’ look, when really, we should be focusing on how we feel. If we attack these feelings first we can prevent the physical symptoms and perhaps even save lives.

We have the power, we just need to harness it and use it to our advantage.

Website: https://whatsandisays17.wordpress.com/

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