Monthly Archives: March 2018

Book Review: The Self Care Project

Picture from Pinterest 

Overview

“The Self Care Project” by Jayne Hardy is a book aimed at helping you make the most of your time to look after yourself. It looks at the term self care and what it means in real life. It gives advice on how to incorporate self care into your every day life and tips on what to do when loving yourself feels alien. It is a practical guide with activities to do along the way.

My thoughts

I really enjoyed this book. The tone that the book is written in is that of a friend who understands just how hard caring for yourself can be. It does not lecture you on what you should be doing, but instead inspires you to make changes, along with suggestions of how this can be done. It accepts that sometimes we are going to fail and instead of telling you off for that, it has practical solutions.

Jayne Hardy is honest about her own difficulties in this book and this helps you feel more at ease when reading as you realise you are not alone. Jayne makes you feel like she cares deeply about what you do and your well being and that is why she has written this book just for you. 

The description of depression in this book is the best I have ever read. It shows just how paradoxical depression can be and how we are all different in the way we suffer. It makes you feel understood and therefore maybe it is possible for you to incorporate self care and feel better about yourself.

The book also incorporated practical exercises to get you thinking about each area it was discussing, with templates as a guide. These templates look great, are simple to follow and easy to recreate, which means it isn’t turning self care into an arduous concept (which would defeat the point). I am really looking forward to filling in some of these as part of my bullet journal.

Another area of the book I really thought was useful and well written was the discussion surrounding our boundaries and what to do when they go a bit wonky. Jayne Hardy acknowledges that this is not an area that is easy to manage and admits to having trouble in this area too, which makes you feel understood. She explains why it is so important to have these boundaries in place but admits its not always easy. This gives you a realistic view of what it will be like to incorporate this self care. 

Overall I really recommend this book for anyone, not just those struggling with their mental health. It has lessons we can all learn something from. It is very relevant in our society today and has realistic expectations of those reading it. It is practical. Unlike other self help books, it is encouraging and breaks everything down into small steps. It also has emergency self care for different situations to refer to. Thank you Jayne for writing this book.

If you have read this book, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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Doubts

This is a personal piece. Please be trigger aware when reading.

In mental health, we talk a lot about recovery and things getting better because ultimately that is what we want to achieve, and rightly so. But often this process isn’t linear and doubts begin to creep in. This is what’s been happening for me recently and I thought I would share some of my worries and doubts with you.

1. Can I ever recover? This is a big doubt in my mind and I often find myself wondering is recovery even possible? Everyone is always saying how things will improve but when you ate in the middle of mental illness it is hard to see things that way. You begin to wonder what will recovery be like and will you ever get there? It doesn’t help that at times, when you think you are making progress, things may relapse and you feel you are back where you started from. This is a doubt that runs through my head repeatedly and probably feeds into all my other doubts. Also, because of the uncertainty of the future, it is something I can’t answer. On my good days I can recover but on my bad days it feels impossible.

2. What if therapy doesn’t work? I am due to start therapy at some point in the future for the third time. All the professionals in my care are sure that this is the thing that will really help me and make me turn a corner in my recovery. This terrifies me as it feels like a lot of pressure and I am still unsure whether it will work. And if it doesn’t where does that leave me? Does it mean I am broken beyond repair? What will happen next? This may sound like a defeatist attitude but its not I promise you. I really want the therapy to work and make a difference but I’m just scared it won’t. The doubt is there and I don’t know how to stop it.

3. How will I cope without self harm? At the moment this is a question I find myself thinking quite a lot. Self harm is such a big part of my life right now and the thought of having to cope without it scares me. In my head, nothing else is as effective at managing the thoughts and voice I hear. Nothing takes away the bad feelings or gives as much relief. So naturally the thought of losing it is terrifying. Of course I know I need to move forward and that means letting it go but I just don’t feel ready. I find myself wondering will I ever be? I know that is the aim of treatment and therapy, to help me cope, but it is still scary and doubt creeps in.

So those are a few of my doubts. At times they bother me a lot but I know that is all part of the process and it is natural to worry. Doubts will always creep in and that’s OK as long as they don’t rule us and stop us moving forward. Have you had any doubts, similar to mine or completely different? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter.

Campaigns And Charities: The OLLIE Foundation

This blog post is a different one and is, hopefully, the first in what will be a series of posts about different campaigns and charities linked to the topic of mental health. I hope to highlight some of the great work being done in mental health. The first charity I am looking at is a small charity, local to me, called The OLLIE  Foundation. I am proud to announce that I recently became an ambassador for the charity and want to tell you more about them.

What is The OLLIE Foundation? 

The OLLIE Foundation is a charity based in St. Alban’s, Hertfordshire in the UK. OLLIE stands for One Life Lost Is Enough and the idea behind this came from three parents who lost children to suicide and decided they didn’t want anyone else to go through the pain they had endured, and wanted to help prevent death from suicide.

In 2015 there were 6639 suicides recorded in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, a number that is far too high. OLLIE aims to help reduce this by providing suicide prevention and intervention training to people who are working with children and young adults. This age range they have chosen to target in particular as suicide is the leading cause of death in young people aged 20-34, in the UK, with 1659 young people dying by suicide in 2015.

What does The OLLIE Foundation offer?

The OLLIE Foundation offers two courses to parents, school staff and sports group leaders, as well as young adults themselves, to get them talking about suicide. The courses are offered at a highly reduced rate, thanks to the charity. 

The first course they offer is called safeTALK and is for half a day. It gives people the skills and confidence to have a conversation using the word “suicide”. It looks at ‘invitations’ that suicidal people may give to indicate they are vulnerable and builds up to a skin the direct question of whether someone is considering suicide.

The second course on offer is the two day ASIST course which aims to give people the skills the need to keep someone considering suicide safe. It answers the question “if you ask someone if they are suicidal and they answer yes, what do I do with that information?” ASIST teaches people how to create an intervention plan to keep those people safe.

Both courses are accredited, with all participants getting a certificate on completion. OLLIE does its best to get as many people trained as possible for the small fee of £80 (compared to £250) though they are open to discussion. 

For more information about The OLLIE Foundation you can check out their website theolliefoundation.org or Facebook and Twitter. If you have any queries about the training check out livingworks.net or email verity@theolliefoundation.org. 

Supporting Someone Who Is Self Harming

As someone who has used self harm as a coping strategy for over half my life, I have experienced a range of reactions to telling people I self harm. Some things have been helpful, others not so much. I know it can be hugely difficult to support someone who is using self harm to cope, so I thought I would put together some do’s and dont’s for helping someone who is self harming.

1. Don’t get angry – Your reaction to hearing about self harm can make a huge impact on the person telling you. It is understandably hard to hear that someone you care about is hurting themselves but I promise getting angry with them will not help. Instead it will lead to them feeling isolated and unable to come to you when they need help the most. It will drive the secretiveness of the behaviour and possibly prevent them seeking professional help. If, instead, you are calm and supportive, it will show that it is OK for them to talk and ask for help, which is what they really need.

2. Do encourage them to seek help – Self harm is not something you can solve alone. It requires professional help. Encouraging someone who is self harming to get help is important in helping them deal with whatever is going on for them. There are many different reasons people self harm and it is incredibly complex so professional help is necessary.

3. Don’t mimmick self harm – This is something I have come across in a few situations, where people have felt unable to say the words “self harm” so have instead imitated the actions of self harm behaviour. This is just unacceptable. It can be highly triggering to see someone acting out self harm behaviour and therefore is extremely unhelpful.

4. Do look after yourself – It is highly important to remember to care for yourself when you are supporting someone else. You can not pour from an empty cup. In order to help the person who is self harming, you need to make sure your own welfare comes first as if you aren’t well you will be of little use. This might mean talking to your own GP to get some support in place for you.

5. Don’t diminish the severity of what they’re feeling – When someone self harms they are showing that they are going through deep psychological pain, no matter what the severity of their self harm. Please don’t try to dismiss it ass “not that bad” or compare it to others who might be “hurting worse”. The physical severity is not proportionate to the pain. Anyone who is self harming needs to be taken seriously or the problem could escalate.

6. Do encourage them to use alternatives – It might take some time for the person who is self harming to get help but in the mean time you can encourage them to find alternative ways to express their pain. This could be by writing or art. Also there are other things they can do when they get the urge to self harm which can be found  here.

So those are just a few ways to support someone who is self harming. For more information on self harm check out the Mind website. If you have any tips feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter.