Supporting Friends Througn Mental Illness

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With 1 in 4 people in the UK being diagnosed with a mental illness it is very likely that a friend or family member could be one of these people.  It can be hard to know how to help when you hear of someone getting diagnosed with depression which affects around 300 million people, or anxiety, two of the biggest mental illnesses in the Uk, or any other mental health illness, a lot of what is written on the internet is about how the person affected can help themselves, the types of medical help that are available or guidance notes for employers to follow.

I have been through a diagnosis of mental illness and had 6 months away from work with anxiety and depression coupled with stress, and I am still recovering so the following post is about how you can support friends through mental illness based on the things that helped me.

  • Let them know you are there for them. Just hearing the words “I’m always here for you” and knowing that it is meant was a big support for me.
  • Don’t ask “How are you?” as many people will answer with a generic “I’m fine.” Instead, ask how they are feeling. I have a friend who always sends me a text to ask how I am feeling and it has always given me the opportunity to really talk about my feelings, sometimes being able to share those things is easier with a direct question.
  • Ask what you can do to help. Sometimes the answer may be nothing but other times it could be to run some errands or even just sit and chat.
  • Ask what they would like to do, and have some suggestions for things if they say they don’t want to do anything. My friend would ask me this and I would say nothing a lot of the time as I didn’t want to waste their time, but they would always suggest things like watching a film, cooking some food or playing games on the computer which made me feel good that they wanted to spend time with me.
  • Always remember them in group plans. My friend was brilliant at this, even when I’m sure they knew I would say no.  There really is no worse feeling than friends making plans and not being included.
  • There were times that I didn’t want to talk and there were times when I really needed to let everything out and having someone to just sit and listen was so valuable.
  • Don’t judge. There were times, at the beginning of my mental health illness where I hadn’t done any housework for weeks, I was still in the same pyjamas 3 days down the line, my hair wasn’t brushed or even washed and I felt embarrassed but my friends never judged me or made me feel bad about it.  If you can, do a small task for them, like washing the dishes, sometimes that little gesture helps more than you can imagine.  On one of my bad days where I hadn’t taken a shower for a week or even gotten dressed properly one of my friends came round and sat with me while I took a shower, they picked out some clothes for me to wear then blow-dried my hair for me because everything had felt too huge and overwhelming for me to do myself and those little things made such a difference to my week.

I hope that this guide is useful if you can think of any other ways to help support a friend through mental health illness then let me know in the comments.

Saturday Shout Out

SATURDAY

Saturday Shout Out gives you all a chance to meet some new bloggers, find new blogs to read or get your blog noticed a bit more. It is my way of thanking the blogging community for being so supportive of me and my little blog and introducing new blogs that you may not have seen or read before.

What this means…

Every Saturday I will choose one blog, share a bit about it along with your blog link. I will also share your blog to my Instagram account and my Twitter account.

If you are interested in taking part then drop me an email to my.colourful.life@outlook.com with Saturday Shout Out as the subject line and I will send you a form to fill out!

Supporting Mind with a Crafternoon

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Mind is a UK based charity that helps people who are experiencing mental health issues and offer support to their families and friends.  When I was signed off from work in September 2018 with stress, anxiety and depression I found the resources and guides on-line on the Mind website helped me through the difficult time.  Among the resources offered are a blog, information about where to find support and help, questions and answers along with contact information where you can speak with one of the Mind workers if you need advice, support or someone to chat with.

Mental health support is crucial at any time of the year but especially coming up to Christmas where worries and anxiety run high and many people need some extra support.

I held a Crafternoon event last year and raised £100 for Mind and this year I am aiming to raise as much as I can so that Mind can continue to work towards a future where mental health is better understood, supported and less stigmatised.  My Crafternoon event will be taking place on 30th November where I plan on getting friends together and creating some lovely Christmas decorations, holding a cake sale and raising awareness of what the Mind charity does.  I have set up a Just Giving page and am asking for any donation, no matter how small so that I can reach my fundraising target of £250 which you can access by clicking here or there is a donate button in the side menu which will take you to my page.  Any donation made will go straight to Mind and would be gratefully received.

Will you be supporting Mind this December?  If you are, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Weekly Roundup 17/11/19 – 23/11/19

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  • Reading

I don’t feel like I have spent much time reading this week but when I checked to see how far along I was in my current read – Jojo Moyes The One Plus One, I realised I was nearly 3/4 of the way through!  I have been enjoying reading this book so much and will be sad to finish it.

  • Watching

I finally got around to watching the “new” Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as it was on the tv yesterday.  I’m not really sure what to make of it if I am honest.  When I was a kid I quite liked the original film though there were parts that scared me (like when they get in the boat and go through the tunnels…) but this new version just felt a little creepy and dark.  The acting didn’t seem particularly good and the changes that were made to the story to modernise it was a bit of a let down so I don’t think it is a film I will be in any rush to watch again in the future.

  • Listening to

I downloaded a new Audible book called How The Pill Changes Everything: Your Body On Birth Control written by Sarah E Hill and narrated by Nan McNamara.  I have wanted to listen to this for a while now after it got suggested to me on the Audible app.  I have not quite finished listening to it yet but have been amazed to find out how birth control can affect stress and anxiety as well as other things too.  I would recommend this book to any woman taking birth control as it is an interesting listen/read and covers some important topics.

  • Eating

Cheese on toast with baked beans on top has been my go-to this week, it is cheap and quick to make, filling and just yummy!  I don’t know whether this happens with anyone else, but when all the Christmas food adverts come out on the tv I immediately start craving more and more simple food.  Maybe it’s so I can save myself for the big day?

  • Drinking

I’ve been really enjoying rose tea this week and have been alternating between rose tea and echinacea tea in work.  I have been trying to cut down on the amount of coffee that I drink while being healthy, rather than substituting my coffee for something sweet or carbonated I have been enjoying both of these types of tea.

  • Doing

I’ve been working on Christmas presents and making a few things to give as gifts, working out what else I need to get or make.  I have also been setting up things for my Mind Crafternoon which will be taking place next weekend!  I’ve been in contact with a friend from school and it has been lovely to catch up on messenger, hopefully, I will be able to go and visit her soon!  I also went out with another friend to see Hells Bells, an Ac/Dc tribute band on Friday night!  We had a really good time and the band and supporting act were brilliant!

  • Feeling

I’ve been feeling ok this week though my shoulder is still playing up, so much so that I had Friday off from work as I was in a lot of pain.  I had a really good week aside from that, it has been nice to catch up with friends and get some things sorted for my craft event.  I’m looking forward to the day now but there is still a lot to get sorted (clean the house, tidy up, get the Christmas decorations out and everything set up for the day!) but I am excited to get started!

How has your week been?  What have you been up to?  I’d love to hear in the comments!

Saturday Shout Out – Anxious Devotions for Anxious Christians

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saturday Shout Out is back ann better than before, with a whole new set of questions to really get to know everything about the blog and blogger featured!

Today I welcome Kay of Anxious Devotions for Anxious Christians to the Saturday Shout Out!  So, grab yourself a cuppa and sit back to find out all about this lovely blogger and her blog!

What is your name and what is your blog called?

My actual name is Kiersten, but I go by Kay. My blog is called Anxious Devotions for Anxious Christians.

What is your blog about?

My blog is mostly about what it looks like to be a Christian and having some mental illness. I post a lot of devotions and then other random Mental Health Awareness.

What 3 words would you used to describe your blog?

Supportive. Colorful. Empowering.

How long have you been blogging?

I have been blogging for about three years, but I have only been on this domain for two.

How did you get into blogging?

Journaling has always been a way to do self-care. Then I got to thinking that others sharing their story always helped me, so I wanted to be able to help others.

What is the inspiration behind your blogs name?

When I first started to become a Christian, I couldn’t find anything in the Christian literature that was specifically for those who struggle with their mental health. The name is my way to rebel against that.

Where do you find your blog post inspiration?

Reading posts on those who struggle with mental health, my own Bible time, classes that I am taking in school. Really wherever I can relate or wrestle with something and formulate it into a post.

How do you plan and schedule your content?

Devotions come out every Wednesday, a motivational post on Monday, and I am working on what it looks like to add a post to either Friday or Saturday.

What is your writing process like, from concept to published post?

A lot of scribbled notes. Flipping through the Bible. Making connections between scribbles and scripture. Handwriting a draft. Changing that draft as I type it. Then finally the final form is published.

What are your favourite topics to write about?

Self-worth and self-love are two topics I am passionate about.

How often do you post content to your blog? What is your posting schedule?

See question 8 for my posting schedule. I post twice a week right now. I am looking at ways to increase the amount I post.

What is your favourite aspect of blogging?

My favorite aspect of blogging would definitely be connecting with others. Forming a community of support for myself and to be that support for others.

What have you learnt from any mistakes you’ve made as a blogger?

I think one of the biggest mistakes I made as a beginner blogger was how infrequently I was posting. This led to a just as infrequent following.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned as a blogger?

I have a voice and my voice can even help others.

What has been your greatest achievement regarding blogging?

I have used the inspiration of my blog and the support of my followers to make the decision to start writing a devotional to be published. I am happy to announce that is well in the works.

What strengths do you have which have helped you with blogging?

I think my biggest strengths are compassion, determination, and the ability to relate with others.

In 3 words, describe yourself.

Caring, Resourceful, Emotional

What are your hobbies and interests?

I love to read. I read just about anything. I love to draw and color. I am a big fan of sloths (they are my spirit animal). And I am big into anything Christian studies and theology.

How do you stay motivated?

Keep everything detailed in my planner, I always want to be able to check things off my lists. I also really think about others and that by not posting or replying is not hurting me but could be hurting others.

Is blogging your main job or do you work elsewhere? If so, what is your job?

Blogging is really just a side-gig. I currently am a Lead Sunday School teacher and full time seminary student.

How do you manage your time?

My planner has become my best friend!

What is your most productive time of the day?

My most productive time of the day is right after dinner. I am definitely a night owl and get a second burst of energy after dinner.

How much time, roughly, per week do you spend on

A) Content – 14ish hours (I block two hours a day)

B) Marketing – I do this all throughout the day so i’d say about the same as content

C) Admin – 5-7 hours

Where do you write your content? What is your set up like?

I am currently a floor girl. I get out all of my stuff and sprawled out on the floor and write as much as I can. I have a fluffy carpet and a weighted blanket and lots of notebooks full of random notes.

What are some essentials you use when blogging?

My Bible, hot tea, my weighted blanket, a pen that writes smoothly

How has your blog evolved since you launched it?

I more frequent following, increased content quality, and a cleaner style.

What have you learned about blogging since you started?

It takes way more time that you are ever thinking that it does.

What one piece of advice you would give to a new blogger?

If you haven’t already, just start! If you have started, reach out and form a community that will help give you feedback.

What are your best blog posts?

How do you attract new readers?

I have just recently expanded out to social media platforms, and I definitely interact with as many different people’s blogs as I can.

What blogging problems have you faced and how have you overcome them?

The biggest problem I faced getting started was finding a regular set of readers and supporters. When you aren’t getting any interaction it’s hard to keep up the motivation, but I just pushed through and reached out to others until I finally had a regular audience.

What was your last blogging milestone?

100 followers. I took a little hiatus with posting and had lost some followers, so to rehit that milestone was huge.

What do you want to achieve on your blog this year?

I am working hard to reach 200 followers in the next year.

What are your goals for the Tfuture?

Turn some of my content into published work. Be able to increase my posts per week, and continue to increase my support.

How important do you think other social media (eg Instagram and Twitter) is to bloggers?

I think it is incredibly important. I just recently made the move and it has already shown to be incredibly helpful!

Do you have any favourite bloggers you follow?

What do you think is the biggest problem facing bloggers?

Time management and organization… I think it’s way too easy for your blog to be able to take hits from ever busy schedules and the hits life throws at us.

What is the best thing about blogging?

The best thing about blogging is being able to create a community of like-minded people and thrive to see each other succeed. It really is such a beautiful thing!

Where else can we find you on the internet?

Words On Wednesday

Wednesday (3)

Is enough being done to support employees who have mental health problems?  This is one question that has arisen since attending the HPMA Awards Ceremony last week.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how well people with mental health problems are supported in their employment.  When I was signed off by the doctor back in September last year with stress, anxiety and depression I had to phone my place of employment on a weekly basis to update my manager on how I was feeling and how my treatment plan was going.  I was already experiencing stress and anxiety and this seemed to cause me further distress as part of my illness meant that I was getting over-anxious and finding it difficult to talk to anyone.  Couple that with my Aspergers which makes it difficult for me to vocalise my thoughts and feelings and get nervous about phone conversations and I was in a really difficult space.  I understand that my employer needed to know how I was recovering but when I was seeing the doctor on a fortnightly basis and being signed off for a fortnight at a time I did feel that the level of contact expected of me was a bit much at times.

When I returned to work I was introduced back to the working environment on a phased return which was a really good thing to get me used to being back in a working routine in the office and to test the waters with how I was feeling.

Now though, I feel like I am on my own where it comes to my mental health.  Unlike a lot of illnesses and other medical problems (like a broken leg for example), I will not fully heal and suddenly be better.  I have days where I am feeling brilliant, weeks when I am good or ok and then there are times that I really do struggle.  I have days where I have to drag myself to work and fight to stay for the day rather than run home and sleep.

Those bad days are the worst.  People often think that because you have managed to get to work that you must be fine and expect you to continue with your work as you had been on your good days.

The alternative to going to work on a bad day is to phone up and take a day off as a sick day.  I have not done this as I have no idea how to explain to someone that my mental health is such that I really can not face work.  I am also aware that the sickness policy is such that 3 sets of absence act as a trigger for a sickness review where a meeting with my line manager would take place and my “illnesses” discussed.  Any additional absences trigger further warnings until eventually you are dismissed from your job.  The policy for sickness may differ from place to place but for my last 4 jobs the same policy has been in place.

The big question is, should mental health be treated as a sickness under the sickness policy?  I’m not sure that it should be as it is something that has varying degrees of being ok or not.  I think that there should be an understanding between employer and employee with regards to mental health, and taking a day off because of mental health should be allowed, not be taken as a sick day, annual leave or as unpaid leave.  I think that employees who are either on medication or under their doctor or mental health worker should have some kind of special leave granted for when things become too overwhelming.

I can see that special leave for mental health could be abused by an employee but I feel that if it was monitored correctly then people would not need to take days off here and there.

More could be done by the employer too, whether it is having regular “check-ins” with their employee just to see if all is ok when the employee is in work, or just noticing if the employee has changed, for example – becoming more withdrawn when they used to be chatty, getting less work done than before, if they appear to be getting more stressed out…

What are your thoughts on this?  I’d love to have conversations with you in the comments about this.

My Perfect Job

My Perfect Job(1)

Since taking part in Blogtober and coming to the conclusion that I need to find ways to bring more elements of things that make me feel enthusiastic into my life I have been thinking about work and my job.  I spend a great deal of my day in a job that I have come to realise drains me of energy and feel that a change of job could be one way to inject some much-needed enthusiasm into my life.

I am in a really lucky position, where I am already employed and can take time to really explore this idea before I even start to actively look and apply for anything.  Today I thought I would take some time to think about what my perfect job would be.

I would really like a job that would allow me to do some of the things I really enjoy like art or photography or painting and decorating.  I think I need something that can tap into my creative side and encourage and connect with those skills.

I’d love some kind of job that would make use of my writing skills, maybe something that involved researching and writing articles.  Blogging would be a brilliant job as I could utilise skills that I have learned while letting me learn even more along the way.

I have so many qualifications in art-based subjects and would really like to be able to put those skills to work in a job and not just at home as part of my hobbies.  I’d love to be able to use all of the things I learned in my Degree and Foundation Degree, as well as the self-taught skills that I have mastered.

I would love to be able to create and keep an eye on statistics and be able to report on where things are headed and what I can do to improve on them.

I’d like to have a job where I am appreciated, feel like part of a team and to be included in team chats and outings.

I’d like to work in an office that understands and has respect for each member of the team, where the individual matters as much as the rest of the team.

I’d like to be heard and have my concerns listened to and to be taken seriously.

I don’t have a job role that I am aiming for anymore, most of the “job roles” I have searched for in the past, even working as a member of bar staff, all have so many different requirements, that, now, I am looking at job requirements first rather than job title.

What would your perfect job be?  What would you look for in the perfect job?  I’d love to know your answers so let me know in the comments!

Saturday Shout Out

SATURDAY

Saturday Shout Out gives you all a chance to meet some new bloggers, find new blogs to read or get your blog noticed a bit more. It is my way of thanking the blogging community for being so supportive of me and my little blog and introducing new blogs that you may not have seen or read before.

What this means…

Every Saturday I will choose one blog, share a bit about it along with your blog link. I will also share your blog to my Instagram account and my Twitter account.

If you are interested in taking part then drop me an email to my.colourful.life@outlook.com with Saturday Shout Out as the subject line and I will send you a form to fill out!

Weekly Roundup 09/11/19 – 16/11/19

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  • Reading

I’ve continued reading “The One Plus One” by Jojo Moyes, which I started a few weeks ago, it has been really nice to come home from work, make a coffee and sit and read for an hour each evening.  I’m trying to find new ways to wind down after work and this has been perfect so far.

  • Watching

I have been watching “The Great Interior Design Challenge” on Netflix where designers go head to head in design challenges, each week there is a winner who then goes through to the next round.  It has been really interesting to watch and see what the designers come up with based on a brief.

  • Listening to

This week I have been listening to lots of different podcasts while at work.  I have been enjoying the “Do You Even Blog?” podcast as well as “Casefile” and “Crime Junkie“.  I really like listening to true crime shows, it is bizarre how many crimes have been committed and how much people have gotten away with before being caught.

  • Eating

Pasta has been my go-to meal this week.  I have been eating it with lots of different additions, from veg to cheese sauce, and it has been perfect to take to work for lunch the following day too.

  • Drinking

I’ve been drinking a lot of squash again this week and have found the perfect apple squash which has been tasty hot and cold.

  • Doing

I had physio on Tuesday morning, my physio and I chatted about different options that were available to me as well as the pros and cons of each treatment.  one of the options was to continue with the exercises and physio sessions or have a steroid injection into my shoulder and continue with physio and exercises and the third option was a guided steroid injection using ultrasound scanning as the injection was made and then continuing with the physio.  I have opted for the steroid injection and more physio as there is only a 4-week wait for an appointment compared with up to 6 months wait for the guided injection.  On Wednesday I travelled to Cardiff to the HPMA Awards where I was asked to be the photographer for the day.  I had so much fun there, the day was really interesting and there were talks given by some really interesting people.  The conference was all about Respect and Resolution in the Workplace and fitted in really well with the anti-bullying week.  Other things that I have been doing are editing photos and getting the images I took ready to be sent off!  I have also been spending some time setting up my Facebook pages in a better way (I had to delete the one I had and then re-set it up as I was having a few teething problems…)  You can find me on Facebook here (my blog page) or here (my personal page).

  • Feeling

I’ve been feeling quite good this week, I don’t know if it is because I have been sleeping a bit better or if the Vitamin D tablets I am now taking have started to work properly or if it was because I was doing something I enjoy this week (photography).  I am feeling a lot more positive, upbeat and motivated to get things done.  I always find it really funny how such small things can change my whole outlook on life.

How has your week been?  What have you been up to?  I’d love to hear in the comments!