Tag Archives: depression

mental health awareness week

My story for Mental Health Awareness Week




My story for Mental Health Awareness Week

I have been so pleased with the press recently talking about mental health in the lead up to mental health awareness week. Good Morning Britain did a great job on Monday 8th interviewing Gazza (I was in tears, his autobiography is amazing) and Jason Donovan. I have been thinking about a post I could write, and what I decided was to share my story.

I was happy (perhaps not the right word, grateful?) to hear Prince’s Harry and William talking about the death of their mum recently. It’s a life event that is the most painful thing you can experience as a child. It rocks your world and changes you indefinitely.

Losing my Parents affected my Mental Health

I lost my mum at 16 and dad at 19, this resulted in a huge shift in what made me me. My stability and security was gone, my home, access to money was all gone. My late teens were filled with mental health issues that I can only recognise years later. I didn’t have any help or counselling after my mum died. It was 1993, these kinds of things didn’t exist, or if they did I wasn’t told about them. I was just expected to get back on with normal life. I WAS 16!!

I became angry and would self-destruct. I chose alcohol as my drug of choice and would binge drink until memory loss for most of my adult life. Eating and drinking clean in 2016 changed this pattern. I also developed a coping theory of running away. When I hit 18, I ran as far as I could from my home town of Penzance. I moved 320 miles away to university in London. I had got myself into too many horrid situations following the death of mum to stay in Penzance. I ran, never to return. Start a new life and forget the past.




Then my dad died at the end of my first year at university. Had I brought this upon myself, had I over thought about my mum dying, worrying about my dad and then he died? Much of university was self-destruct mode. I slept around, I drank too much and experimented with things that are not good for you. They were wild years where all I was trying to do was forget that my parents had died. And that I was the only person (so it felt) in the universe whom this had happened to.

At one point at university a close friend shouted at me to get a grip, ‘Lynn you are a bitch’ I remember her saying (thank you Julie). There was a point where I remember sitting on my second floor flat and thought what would happen if I jumped. I talked and cried to my personal tutor who finally recommended counselling. I spent a year talking to a university councellor about my feelings and depression about my parent’s deaths. It took 4 years and the death of two parents to get the help I needed.

My Career was impacted positively and negatively

As life progressed my mental health issues changed. My career was an interesting one. I was good academically and confident so landed a great graduate job and subsequent career. I would start a job all motivated and enthusiastic, but it would wane. I would get bored. I changed roles many times. Most companies were cool with this as when I was on form I was brilliant. I made huge changes and made all my companies lots of money! I worked for Tesco for 5 years during my 20’s, I moved roles three times in those five years. When I lost the plot at work, a caring boss took me under her wing and organised life coaching for me, all paid for by Tesco (thank you Jo).

Whenever things got tough I would run from a company. My last role at Tesco was an amazing job but I had some HR issues with a person in my team. He resigned but then tried to raise a tribunal against me for constructive dismissal. His efforts failed, but it rocked me. I couldn’t hack it at Tesco anymore so I left, on good terms, with an agreement. But I ran. Just like running from Penzance to London for university.

When I left Tesco part of my leaving package was that my private health care continued for three months and I spent time every week with a cognitive psychologist, who gave me much needed tools to help manage my seasonal affective disorder which was diagnosed.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

I struggle with winter. Really struggle. I am normally fine until maybe the end of November, this is good as I am fine for all my boy’s birthdays in October and November. December is a difficult month. Everyone expects you to be happy and sociable in December, but I am not. I have missed many nights out, many Christmas parties because I am not feeling it, or I am too down to go out and talk to people.




The blues last until holiday time which is normally April/end of March. Around the time of my birthday. January and February are horrid months, but I start to come around in March as the flowers start to blossom, the sun comes out and it warms up.

I have experimenting with a few strategies to cope with my winter blues, after all, three months of depression is not good. A whole quarter of the year. I spent £100 (£100!!!!!) on a special SAD light (why do companies rip you off when you have something you want to fix), I invested in nutritional supplements like milk thistle, magnesium. I have tried hypnotherapy life coaching with my friend Heather to try to get me through it.

This year my depression (only) lasted three months, when the previous year it lasted five months so I did make an improvement! I have never taken anti-depressants. I seem to have a deep-seated view that they should be last chance saloon, something to do with my sister telling me so when I was young I think. Maybe they are the solution for those three month, or maybe we need to dash off to Spain for Christmas and New Year to the sun?

Living in the now

Right now, I am 40. I can reflect on my life, and my subsequent reactions and can see where things were bad and where things were good. I have turned to life coaches and councellors several times in my life. Friends have often acted as councellors and life coaches as well! I feel like I am coping better now I am older and wiser.

I want to say to anyone reading this post who have suffered from mental health illness, get some help. Talk to someone you trust. Do not let it fester in your head, spiralling you down and down into a deep depression. Write a journal, hey why not start a blog. Getting the thoughts and feelings out of your head via the written or spoken word is so powerful.

Here is a list of organisations that I know can help you with problems mentioned above.

Grief Encounter – a charity for child bereavement

NHS Page full of great advice on how to find counsellor’s in your area

Step Change – Debt advice

Citizens Advice Bureau – Debt and consumer Advice

Heather Hall hypnotherapy – Cognitive hypnotherapy



What are Taboo Subjects in my Mrs Mummypenny world?

Taboo Subjects

In July I was invited to an event hosted by School of Life and AXA. The event was to discuss taboo subjects, the art of conversation and we were to expect frank discussions. I was given this information. Some of the questions we will explore are:

‘Do you think your best times still lie ahead – or are they behind you?’

‘What’s the one thing you regret not having told someone, and why?’

‘Would you rather outlive your partner or vice versa?’

Pretty deep questions there. It was being led by an actual philosopher Dave Waters so I simply had to go. I knew no one there (scary) but it looked to be so interesting and unmissable. One of my life mottos is “feel the fear and do it anyway”, so I went.

We spent the evening discussing the taboo. Starting with fairly light discussions about the art of conversation and small talk and importance of small talk and how it can put people at ease. Can you see what was happening here. The conversation then progressed into the taboo.

Taboo

What are taboo subjects? I think about anything that is remotely uncomfortable to talk about from death to divorce to mental health to illness. To family problems to financial problems to uncomfortable obsessions. Basically anything where we feel uncomfortable talking about a subject through fear of judgement. Subjects that you can only discuss with your best mate after a glass of wine and subjects that are reserved for the deepest parts of the mind.

Taboo Subjects I write about

I was invited to this event because I break the rules and I discuss many taboo subjects. Hurrah I cry, as I have always in the past got into trouble for breaking the rules. With my blog I can do whatever I want. The corporate world was always slightly uncomfortable when my rule breaking was discovered. Mrs Mummypenny is a blog all about personal finance and lifestyle. It works because I am honest and truthful and I do discuss a few taboo subjects from my life.

Personal Finance

Talking about money is a huge taboo particularly in our British culture. One would never dream of discussing our salaries or bonus, or how much we charge per day or how much debt we have. There are a few people I know who show off about their potential wealth, but are seen as vulgar and I doubt whether what they say is the truth!

So I discuss personal finance, I break it down into bite size chunks, explain simply how things work to encourage understanding and change. If you have a problem 1) you need to recognise you have a problem 2) understand how to fix that problem (in comes me!) and then 3) fix it. Money is a huge issue in many people’s lives and is sadly often the cause of mental health issues.

How many of us are in debt? Most of have credit cards, we have been marketed to our entire lives and convinced that credit cards are free money. Including me. Since the age of 18 I have had credit cards. When I was 16 I was working in Dorothy Perkins and I used to sell people store cards and earn £1 commission for every sale and £2 for every sale where they ticked the PPI insurance box. Note to people with Store cards from the 90’s and 00’s you may well have a PPI claim!!

I have always had credit cards from the age of 18. My debt levels have varied from £2k to £20k. In the past I have lost control of my debt and I have closely managed them. There has rarely been a time when I have had no debt. What I am saying is that that we should talk about debt and how to pay it off. We should talk about the world of savings accounts, ISA’s, pensions and investments. If we talk about it every day it encourages acceptance and understanding. And I can achieve the ultimate objective of my blog to help people create value and save some money.

Death

I talk about death. I wrote a blog post about the death of my mum 18 months ago. My mum died 24 years ago so it took a long time to address it and get it out of my head onto a word document. Even after writing the post it took me another 14 months to face the reality and press publish. When I did I felt an incredible sense of relief. The story was out there. So many people read it and contacted me afterwards to express their love for me, and so many people saying they had been through the same.

I have since written about the death of my dad too. It’s good to write about these subjects with a positive message. There could be millions of people reading it that it might help in a time of need.

Illness

I have written about depression, fear of death, alcoholism, weight issues, gall bladder problems, digestive issues, poo, bladder weakness.  Writing about these subjects that others choose not to write about is powerful. If I have had a health issue it is great to discuss mostly I have found a solution and made things better. Helping people with the same issues as me. I want to help the 50% of child bearing age women who are considered over-weight or obese. I want to help the people who sink into their winter hole of depression as the nights close in. And the women who struggle to laugh uncontrollably without doing a wee.

1-10-16-taboo-subjects-depression

So I write about my ‘weaknesses’ and problems and discuss why I have them, and I come up with a solution. So hopefully you can read all about it and try the same solution and improve things yourself.

Taboo Subjects coming soon

I often have people send me ideas of subjects to write about and brands 1-10-16-taboo-subjects-divorcecome to me as a voice not restricted by not being to write about taboo subjects. So coming soon is bladder weakness, colonic treatments, divorce, will writing, more on pensions and investments. I will be writing more about my debt story. Leave me a comment if there is a subject you want me to write about, or even if you have a story you would like to share.

What Subjects are off the record?

There are a few areas that are off limits. Subjects like my husband who doesn’t want to appear in the blog. Also anything difficult concerning my children that could be dragged back to embarrass them in the future. Wider family issues wont be discussed, its not worth the reaction. And I would never discuss things shared with me on a personal level with friends.

I hope you enjoy reading my blog and my taboo subjects. More importantly I hope you can relate and get some inspiration to make a change.

This event was provided to me free of charge by AXA who are keen to promote their healthcare schemes and providing for the future, they have a fantastic aging hub, reached here. 

The Winter Blues – My Experience and Coping Strategies

16-12-15 winter blues

I am a victim of the winter blues. Pretty much every year from around Dec/Jan to Mar I get sad, paranoid, anti-social and lose any kind of focus I have ever had.

There I said it out loud.

This has been happening ever since I can remember in my adult life. Some times it hits me hard and other times I get through it. Last year was one of the worst times. I went into a deep spiral of negativity. I was working full time, I hated my job. I was being bullied and undermined by a senior to me person at work. I felt like I was failing at pretty much everything from work, to being a mum to being a friend and a wife. And I got fat. Basically everything that could have gone wrong was going wrong.

I did all I could to bury myself. I worked from home and did what I could to get by at work without attracting too much attention. I missed the work Christmas parties. Christmas and New Year went by in a bit of a non event. I hid from the bully at work, avoided every possible meeting with her. This of course impacted on my job and I was seen to be under-performing. I took as much holiday as I could over the Christmas period in the hope that I could go back to work feeling better in January. I didnt. It’s funny when you go through this you think its obvious to everyone, but it isn’t. No one comes to your help, maybe they have too many of their own problems?

I got through to February, god knows how, and my wishes were granted. The redundancy carrot had been dangled in front of me in Dec, but then withdrawn (??!!) but was offered again in February. I remember the feeling when I got the email. I was sat in a huge meeting full of very important work people. The redundancy terms and offer popped up..I could have screamed, there was my way out. As I have learnt over the years when it comes to fight or flight..I often take flight. I work out is the battle worth fighting, in this situation after 6 months of hating job, bullying it was so much easier to flight. SO I did.

Suddenly life got alot better:-)

So now its December I can feel the SADness coming on again. I have lost focus. I have started eating more. I’m feeling like its an awful hassle to go out for drinks and socialise. I don’t even know why it happens, but I know it is happening and I need to engage coping strategies.

My coping Strategies

  1. 3 Positives each day – I will reflect every day on 3 big positives from each day and record them
    1. Today would be – I took Jack out to Playgroup Christmas Party, we had a lovely party and I had good chats to some lovely mummy friends. I have reached out and written a blog post about my dark times, hopefully it will make others feel like they are not the only ones. And I reached out to one of oldest friends offering her help in a really difficult situation.
  2. I have reached out to another good friend to help me. She knows how to offer practical help in this situation. And she has offered to do some life coaching with me.
  3.  I am forcing myself out to social events because when I get there I have a great time. I am going to arrange lots for January, one thing is the organisation of a charity event in Knebworth, which will keep me very busy.
  4. I am making creative and caring things for people who are important and I care for as Christmas Pressies, giving is good.
  5. I am spreading the love and the positivity by doing a good deed each day. The deeds could be a gift or a genuine compliment or the organisation of a social event or just a nice whatsapp message.

If you are reading this and thinking yes I can see some of myself here and I cope by doing this and that, please do write a comment and let me know. It would be nice to see that I am not the only one feeling like this.

MMPxx