Today is World Mental Health Day, a day to bring awareness of mental health issues and hopefully remove the associated stigma. In today’s blog, Peter, one of our therapists, talks about depression and gives some valuable advice about what to say to people who are suffering.
I want to share something on the topic of depression because I am aware of how many people suffer with depression and I want to let you know that you are not alone. People are thinking about you, so please do not suffer in silence.
Let me start by answering why you should never say to someone who is suffering from a mental illness “just get over it” or “pull yourself together”.
Would you say to someone who has a broken arm; “just get over it” or “think positive and you’ll be fine”. The reason for not saying the above is because we can typically overtly see when an individual is suffering from a physical injury and there is societal awareness that physical ailments and injuries occur in nearly everyone at some stage in their life.
There is an acceptance that, in general, physical injuries heal after a period of time. As a society, we need to foster this same awareness, acceptance and compassion for someone who may be struggling with their mental health.
People often have empathy and understanding for someone who has a physical injury but when it comes to a mental health condition they tend to dismiss it as something to get over or to just ignore. I know, of course, that not everyone holds this view but I am gently challenging those who feel they may fall into this category.
I am challenging you to really think how it may feel to have an illness in which is affects every facet of your life; one that makes it extremely difficult to connect and be with other people.
Depression is a common serious medical illness that requires treatment and it is not something someone can just snap out of.
Just because we cannot feel another person’s pain or at times we are unable to see their discomfort it does not mean they are not hurting.
It would be extremely beneficial to society if everyone were aware that approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. In knowing this, perhaps as a society we would be more open and willing to talk about mental health.
Depression not only affects the individual living with it but also the individual’s friends, family and colleagues. Unfortunately, those people may not have an understanding of what depression is and/or may be unaware of the wide ranging effects depression can have on a person.
If you know someone who you believe would benefit from understanding more about depression, why not share this short video with them.
The second video below is closely linked to the above video but is aimed at understanding depression from the viewpoint of a person living with depression.
I would have preferred in the video that they use the analogy of a black fog or cloud, which I have personally heard to be a more exact picture of what it is like to live with depression. Not to mention, dogs can be hugely beneficial to an individual’s wellbeing, but that aside I still found both videos to be very powerful and insightful.
A proverb which I have shared with many people and that I have found to be personally transformative is “This Too Shall Pass”.
I am sharing this particular proverb because it would appear that depression has a cruel way of casting a shadow over a person, a shadow being with you forever, an ingrained part of you.
It is true that depression can last for a long time but it is also true that with the right tailored treatment and support, painful thoughts and feelings can quiet down and pass.
The reason I have underlined tailored is to emphasise the fact we are individuals. By being special and unique we must find our own path to healing and understanding depression. With the support of professionals, we can find ways of exploring this angle of our mental health and learning why it may be present in our lives.
I have been thinking a lot recently about acceptance. So perhaps it might be helpful to frame depression as a way of our body directing us to make changes in our life.
Don’t get me wrong, I wish I had a magic wand that could eradicate depression once and for all and ensure everyone, including myself, always felt content. I would wave that wand in an instant if it meant people no longer felt emotional pain.
But the truth is, depression is prevalent within our society and I want to remove the stigma around mental health. I feel we should all be open and talk more about mental health and my hope is for people to understand that anyone can develop depression. It does not discriminate against age, sex, gender, job, location or wealth.
I also want to let you that there is hope. It may not feel like it now but things can and will get better. I cannot promise when it will be but it is something I hope for you and I wish with all my heart.
I urge you to read some of the letters on The Recovery Letters. There is also a book entitled: ‘The Recovery Letters: Addressed to People Experiencing Depression’
Below are the sources I recommend. I felt they gave me a better understanding of depression and mental health and well-being.
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig – Audible book
The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris - Book
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl - Book
Kamal Ravikant – Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It – Book
YouTube Clip - What causes anxiety and Depression - Inside Out:
A poem by Peter Dillon
Depression you’re mean why is it you’re here
What are your reasons for keeping me locked in this fear
Afraid to open up and share how I feel
I’m not all alone but you’re making this seem real
You’ve taken away passion my creativity and fun
But I’ve still got the light and with it I’ll run
The light is my hope and I’ll wait at the start
The race to find meaning, I’ll look deep in my heart
I will never give up I will fight till the end
Depression once frightening now a sort of friend
A friend that is guiding and keeps me on my toes
But now you don’t control me from the ashes I rose
I’m stronger than ever even through a bad day
Cause I’ve learnt the tools to keep you quiet and at bay
I know first-hand how impossible it can feel to open up and talk to someone but
it is exactly this hardest step to take that can start the healing process.
I have had clients tell me that just being able to talk to someone and to know that they are truly listening has made a huge positive impact in their life.
As a therapist, I offer a confidential safe space for you to talk about and explore anything you wish.
Therapy isn’t always easy, but neither is keeping thoughts and feelings inside and not sharing them with others.
I feel that the real magic of therapy is that for fifty minutes you can talk about anything and know you will not be judged.
With loving kindness,
At Hertfordshire Therapy Centre we offer a supportive environment for both children and adults to challenge the negative thoughts that are getting in the way of them enjoying their lives.
For more information about the services we offer at Hertfordshire Therapy Centre, or to book a complimentary clarity call to find out if our services can support you, please get in touch by calling or texting 07969 315591.
I have written before about anxiety, I have suffered anxiety and have worked for years with clients large and small to help them overcome their own negative thought patterns. I spoke recently with a mum of a 9 year old daughter about how anxiety affects her family. This raw, unedited account is what she asked me to post:
My loving, funny, creative daughter has anxiety. Not just a few worries here and there. Not just the occasional “I don’t want to go to school today” worry. Instead she worries about everything and anything.
She worries about not getting anything for her birthday. I tell her she will be getting presents from me and Daddy and grandma at the very least. She then gets anxious about what she will get for her birthday.
She got so anxious about the tooth fairy and desperate to know who it was. So I told her it was me. Now she’s not quite as anxious and we swap teeth for money in the kitchen.
She’ll get anxious if Daddy goes to work on the late shift and doesn’t leave her a bedtime note. She’ll check for this when she gets in from school. If he’s forgotten she’ll then check her iPad every 15 minutes to see if he’s messaged her.
She gets anxious if someone talks to her at school when the class should be quiet because what if she doesn’t answer them, then they won’t like her. Then she gets anxious about being told off by the teacher.
She gets anxious if someone has hurt themselves. She feels she needs to care for them. What if they have to go to hospital, will they die?
She constantly uses the word ‘sorry’ even when she doesn’t need to apologize.
She gets anxious if a friend ‘looks’ at her in a certain way. That surely means they don’t like her anymore, doesn’t it?
She gets anxious if her dad or I go out. Will we come back? She gets anxious if she doesn’t know where I am in the house.
Homework? Don’t talk to me about homework. She gets so anxious and feels shame if she can’t do it (she worries about failure). She then worries that she’ll miss out on extra playtime if she doesn’t do it all.
She’s already getting anxious about receiving detentions in secondary school and she’s not even in Year 6 yet.
My beautiful daughter's anxiety usually shows itself in anger, occasional violence, and, increasingly, in very dissociative behaviour. We have anger every day in this house and have done for years. We never really know what mood she’ll be in from one minute to the next. We used to walk on eggshells but not so much now as we’ve learnt tips and tools to help us help her, but it’s always incredibly wearing on us.
We’re always on high alert, ready to soothe her, ready to help her soothe herself, bring her down gently from high up on that pedestal of anxiety.
As a result, over the years my anxiety has increased hugely too. At one point I hated going out, even to do the school run. I’m better now but there are days I’d like to stay in the comfort and safety of my home with my husband. I volunteered for the PTA once, thinking it would get me out and about. It just merely served to increase my anxiety and brought on a couple of panic attacks when I had to make some calls regarding the school fete.
I often feel breathless and I can feel my heart pounding. I don’t sleep as well as I used to and I can very easily feel completely overwhelmed. You’ve probably heard of fight or flight – well, I do neither, I freeze.
I work from home, self-employed. There’s no way I could work in an office anymore as my confidence is so low.
I feel tired from lack of sleep. I feel tired from trying to get the right support for her and getting school to understand how anxiety and shame affects her. I don’t feel good enough, I am forever comparing myself to others in my head.
I do know there is help for me and I do have tools I can use. But my main priority is to help my daughter feel good about herself and about her life. I try not to get too anxious about the future.
Anxiety is becoming more commonplace in our society, as our daily stress levels rise, and the pressure our children are under at school, in friendships, from society both on and offline we see the affects of this on individuals and families.
At Hertfordshire Therapy Centre all of our therapists are seeing a rise in the number of clients asking for help in this area. We offer a supportive environment for both children and adults to challenge the negative thoughts that are getting in the way of them enjoying their lives.
We can work with parents and children offering individual support to both. Anxiety can be isolating, our role is to support you so it doesn't become that way.
For more information about the services we offer at Hertfordshire Therapy Centre, or to book a complimentary clarity call to find out if our services can support you, please get in touch by calling or texting 07969 315591.
One of our therapists, Sarah Ariss, talks about perfection
Perfection is in the eye of the beholder, they say. But one person’s perfection is another person’s “I’m not good enough.” But it’s all subjective. Everyone compares, yet everyone is different. As a therapist I regularly work with clients who, on the outside, appear to have so much, yet, by their standards, they are lacking. Their lack of self belief can manifest in so many ways.
A person can be fit, healthy, have a great job and a loving family and yet they feel there is something missing in their life. What they see when they look in the mirror is someone who is ugly, someone is attracts negativity, someone who is a failure. They can be wracked with anxiety and self-loathing.
Why do we seek Perfection?
Why do so many of us feel the need to be perfect? Is that what life is all about? When you look around at your friends and family would you love them less if they weren’t the best cook, the best gardener or the most beautiful person physically? Of course not. We love those around us, warts and all. We love their souls, their imperfections. So why is it so difficult to love ourselves without criticism?
For many people, lack of self-belief and anxiety are born of events that have happened in their past. Occasionally, it may be the result of a string of events that add up to a belief that they are not good enough. Other times one singular traumatic event can push us off course, creating a wave of limiting beliefs and fears. Something might have happened to us when we were young for which our minds were just not equipped to understand and deal with. Our perception of those events can leave us feeling either crippled, or can set us free.
Perfection in Therapy
When I started my career as a therapist, I doubted myself every day. Was I good enough? Was I doing the right thing to help my clients? What if the therapy didn’t work for them? I wanted to be the best therapist I could be. I wanted to have all the answers for my clients so that I could help everybody. I wanted to be perfect.
Over time I have realised that I will never be the perfect therapist. I will never have all the answers and I will not be able to help every single person who comes into my clinic room. The moment I let go of that need to be perfect I became a better therapist. Letting go of the need to be perfect freed me to accept my imperfections and work on growing and learning. I could then work on doing the best job I could for my clients. I began to believe that giving people the best of myself was what I needed to do and that best would change and grow over time. Coming from a place of honesty, care and service was what mattered. Sterile perfection was not what I wanted any more.
Growth Mindset versus Fixed Mindset
In school these days children are taught about Growth Mindset and Fixed Mindset. People with a fixed mindset tend to see perfection as a fixed point, a definite place to aim for. Those with growth mindsets don’t look so much for the destination as savour the journey.
Those people with growth mindsets are willing to take a chance, to push themselves into unknown territory. They might ‘fail’, but even if they do they will have learnt from the experience. Those with fixed mindsets tend to stay where they are, in their safe zone.
There is a saying that I heard some time ago and which I love. Its the phrase – “Nobody ever became a good sailor on calm seas.” Its so simple and yet it sums up life for me. Life is not a calm sea. Some days life is stormy, grey and full of waves that threaten to capsize our boats. The way we face those days defines us and makes us the people we are. It might feel safer and easier to live life on a mill pond, but where ultimately does that take us?
Making Imperfection feel like Perfection
So….. can you change that deep belief that you are not good enough into a dawning understanding that its ok to not be good enough…. yet? Are you able to ever really change who you fundamentally are? My answer to that is yes! Yes, you can change because we are all constantly changing. The direction you take is your choice and there are no rules as to where you go, who you become.
I often hear people say “I can’t do that.” And I wonder….but why not? What is it that is standing between you now and the person you would like to be? Work? A new skill? Courage? Fear of failure?
If you don’t step out from your comfot zone you will never know what you might have achieved. You might have dreams of doing or being something and, even if you try your hardest, you might not succeed in reaching that goal.
But in having the courage to try, you are already a different person to the person you would have been if you had stayed still, stayed fixed. You will have learnt, grown, changed just by taking those steps. And sometimes….you might even succeed….you might even become the person you want to be. How exciting is that thought?
Not being perfect is exciting because it means that you have space to change, learn and live life with the wind in your hair, the thrill of your heart beating a little faster. Imperfection can become the perfect place to be because it gives you choices.
Do you need a Helping Hand?
The work I do helps people to dismantle their limiting beliefs. I’m the person who helps you untie the knot that’s keeping your boat tied to the jetty. There are ways of working together that can work long term to change the way your mind understands events of the past. And at the same time we can work to give you tools to help in the Now with the symptoms of anxiety and fear.
I remember, when I was considering whether to take a chance and retrain at the age of 50, a friend told me that she had retrained aged 60 and had never regretted it. As she said, she now had maybe 20 years ahead of her doing something she loved, rather than carrying on with a life that bored her. Doing the same ‘safe’ thing day in, day out and getting nowhere is said, by some, to be the definition of madness.
Taking a chance, sailing out into unknown seas, can take you to exciting new places. Maybe you can begin to believe that you are more than good enough, even if you are not perfect.
If you, or someone you know, are affected by this post and would like to talk about making an appointment with Sarah Ariss, do get in touch by calling or texting 07969 315591.
The original version of this post appeared on www.sarahariss.com
This evening I took my dog for a walk. Not my usual type of round the block in my slippers walk, but a trainers on, had to take water, 5 mile walk. I had had a healthy dinner, was feeling good about myself and actually quite proud as I don't enjoy exercise as such, and am still recovering from foot surgery. SO overall I was feeling good about myself.
That is until I saw the runners!
There were at least 25 of them, running all around me, super fit, sweating, talking as they ran. I saw them before they saw me, so I quickened my pace, talked to my dog and walked past them, all was good.
However on the way home I saw them again. This time I felt a pang, that voice in my head -' see you should be running, you are just walking, you're not fit enough to run, you're lazy.'
Now this is what I had avoided earlier, I knew it was there as I often have this conversation with myself about exercise. This time however I had a reply ready. It wasn't my usual childish response of trying to excuse my laziness, this time it was 'I don't like running, I have enjoyed my walk and I feel good about myself.'
Then I came home and wrote about it for you.
Why did I feel the need to do that? Well, because from what I have learned from working with my clients, many people's automatic response to that situation would be the confirmation that they are just not good enough. Mine used to be that, and don't get me wrong, challenging it has been bloody hard work. But what happened tonight was confirmation that the past years' hard work has been worth it.
I have finally after 38 years of negative self talk learned to be kind to myself and for that I am proud.
To become a Psychotherapist I have had a ton of counselling (I saw my first counsellor at the age of 14) so I'm well aware of my triggers, my limiting beliefs, and where they all come from. The one that I have really struggled to challenge was I AM NOT ENOUGH and this led to some pretty nasty conversations with myself.
A year ago I started working with Suzy Ashworth. I thought the work was about my business, and yes it was, but to build my therapy centre I needed to to this final piece of work on myself.
I had to truly believe that I am enough, that I am good enough and strong enough to build my centre, to mentor my therapists, to support my clients.
Suzy set me a task, a task that I hated with a passion, a task that I began through gritted teeth. That task was to look in the mirror every day for 30 seconds and say "I love you". The first day I did it I felt stupid, but I persevered and it only took a few days for the shift to happen. I began being nicer to myself, I began forgiving myself for making a mistake, I stopped being shouty mummy in the mornings, my children stopped being shouty in the mornings. From there I began to grow. My mindset shifted and the final piece of my puzzle fell into place.
Negative self talk is a bitch, it can take you from feeling on top of the world, to feeling lower than low in an instant, and it can hit you from out of the blue. It can lead to comfort eating, binge drinking and many other unhelpful, unhelathy coping mechanisms.
This is why learning to love yourself is key.
When you love yourself, you make good choices for you and everyone around you benefits. I have spent the past year devouring material and working hard on me. I have read Gabby Bernstein, Denise Duffield Thomas, Mike Dooley, Ruby Wax. I have gone back into therapy, and signed up for an 8 week mindflness course. I have had NLP and EFT.
I have cried, shouted, been honest with myself and those around me (both were really hard). I haven't just read the books, I have done the work and you know what it actually works. I have learned the difference between meditating, and meditating. What I mean by that is mediating because I know I should, and meditating because I choose to, and really going deep and letting it heal me. I can now say I love you and make eye contact with myself (I still cringe a bit), I now know that I am enough. This power I use to be happy and my happiness floods into my work with the therapists that I mentor who work at my centre, and my clients I work with.
So if you are ready to do the work, to start loving yourself, and being kind to yourself, and saying goodbye to negative self talk, then drop me a line on 07969 315591, or send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can tall about how I, or one of my awesome therapists can get you started.
I have read with sadness this week about Ant McPartlin's admission of addiction to drugs and alcohol. On the one hand, the support he appears to be receiving from his colleagues, employers and the public is fantastic, however what concerns me is the fact that with all the support around him, he got to the point where he needs in-patient treatment for addiction which he cites depression as the cause.
Rebecca McCann is the head of Hertfordshire Therapy Centre and brings together expertise from amazing therapists here just for you