Tag Archives: SAD

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

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.