Maryam's Blog

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7 November 2022

If You Have Anxiety About Climate Change

Zahra Biabani a climate activist suggests:
“FOCUS ON GOOD NEWS: Find stories about progress made in curbing climate change or a new solution. ‘Look for information that is a source of encouragement and doesn't blindside you’.”
“GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK: Do something unrelated to the problem - exercise, go outdoors, read or watch a film. ‘Finding an activity not connected to climate change is really cathartic and really beneficial’."
Caroline Hickman,  a psychotherapist suggests:
“TAKE ACTION: 'Join a local group that does something to tackle the problem, or lobby politicians to pass laws. ‘Find like-minded people and work together to advance a goal’."
“DO NOT TOTALLY SWITCH OFF:‘I caution people about shutting down completely - because when you wake up, the reality will be too extreme’.”
‘Doomism’ comes from a different place to the natural and necessary concerns about climate change. Counselling and psychotherapy could help.
♦  Excerpts from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-63516055
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15 October 2022

Women and Motherhood

"The idea that women must want to be mothers, and then must be glowing and thrilled with their babies, that they mustn’t complain or be unhappy with their new role, is still intricately woven into our culture. And that pressure creates shame that women swallow and pass on, and it is that shame that stops women from asking for the help they so desperately need."
♦  Excerpt from https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/oct/15/how-the-psychiatric-ward-rescued-me-from-post-partum-psychosis-elizabeth-sankey
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24 September 2022

Experiencing WOW moments: awe is good for health

Eleanor Morgan of the Guardian suggests, “When you feel awe, stay with it. If something makes you feel small, goosebumpy or teary, stay with the feeling. Notice the physical sensations. Resist the temptation to move on to the next thing. Emotions can have muscle memory: if we practise recognising what it’s like to really revel in awe, we may open ourselves to feeling it more in our day-to-day lives.”
My job allows me to step into people’s worlds. The awe I experience there, is the main reason why I am a still a therapist after 3 decades.
♦  Excerpt from: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2022/sep/23/how-getting-more-awe-can-improve-your-life-and-even-make-you-a-nicer-person
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12 September 2022

Never too late

Singer and artist Darren Hayes talks to The Guardian: he describes a photo showing a “12-year-old boy smiling in his bedroom with the world on his lap and a poster of his favourite artist behind him. What you can’t see are the other rooms in that house, with holes in the walls patched up with putty. Or how unhappy I was, with a violent alcoholic father who would physically abuse my mother.”
He says, “family members were aware and tried to help as much as they could, but everything was about keeping up appearances.”
He adds, “When I used to speak about my childhood I would stutter. I was kind of frozen.”
Darren managed to turn his life around and find a way to be more authentic. He says, “Ten years later,… that sad little boy, through the power of imagination and maintaining an innocent heart, managed to create a happy ending.”
It is never too late.
♦  Excerpt from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2022/sep/03/darren-hayes-looks-back-what-you-cant-see-is-how-unhappy-i-was
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1 September 2022

Postnatal Depression: Lethargy, Low mood, Insomnia, ... and Rage

Monisha Rajesh shares what she went through, how devastating it was, how ashamed she felt and what helped.
You can read her account in the Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2022/aug/31/moment-changed-me-smashed-toddlers-toy-kitchen-smithereens-knew-i-needed-help)
Have you experienced these emotions yourself as a mother? If yes, have you shared them with anyone? If you have not experienced postnatal depression, do you know anyone who has?
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23 August 2022

In light of recent research findings, should we still be taking antidepressants?

The belief that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain was recently challenged by a team of scientists at University College London.
“Many people take antidepressants because they have been led to believe their depression has a biochemical cause, but this new research suggests this belief is not grounded in evidence,” said the study’s lead author, Joanna Moncrieff, a professor of psychiatry at University College London and consultant psychiatrist at North East London NHS foundation trust.”♦
Antidepressants are not helpful for everyone and many suffer serious adverse effects. However, for a sizeable number of people the positive effects of antidepressants in helping them reconnect with life are clear. How are we to understand all this? What are the implications for our mental wellbeing?
A holistic approach that explores all aspects of life: psychological, social / historical and biological / organic, may be what we need. Every life is a strong and colourful weave of internal and external connections.
♦  Excerpt from https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/jul/20/scientists-question-widespread-use-of-antidepressants-after-survey-on-serotonin
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16 August 2022

Brown noise soothing the mind

Have you ever listened to brown noise to relax? Some people with ADHD, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, tinnitus or noisy neighbours report that brown noise helps to calm their brain.
I found a very good version online by Jason Lewis who says:
"Brown noise is a useful sound masking tool, that can block out external sounds and distractions and be used in many different ways. Compared to white and pink noise, brown noise uses mostly lower frequencies and is considered the most soothing to listen to of the three."
What sounds relax you most?
♦ Excerpt from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqzGzwTY-6w
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19 July 2022

""Five years ago I felt like a failure as a dad""

"Looking back now at his early days as a dad, ...[Marvyn Harrison] wishes he’d had more skin-to-skin contact with his babies, carried them in slings, helped his wife more with the night feeds and talked to them more often about anything – even if it was just what they had for breakfast. “Your voice should be soothing to your child, it should be something that calms them – and so should your smell, your touch. And it all helps you – not just with their connection to you, but with your connection to them.”"
""I want to be with my children. I want to have experiences with them. I want to take them places. They are the most important people in my life.”"
♦ Excerpt from: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2022/jun/19/five-years-ago-i-felt-like-a-failure-as-a-dad-now-i-am-sharing-how-to-love-children
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12 July 2022

Early Experiences Are Massively Important

"...If a child has faulty vision during a critical period after birth, he [neurobiologist Colin Blakemore] found, the brain will never develop the ability to see properly, even if eye problems are then fixed. That theme echoes through developmental science. The younger you are, the more it matters what happens to you."
♦ Excerpt from: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jul/10/evidence-grows-lockdown-harm-to-young-but-we-act-as-if-nothing-happened
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12 June 2022

Is There a Difference Between Counselling and Psychotherapy?

This depends on the therapist’s training. Traditionally, the term Counselling referred to relatively short-term therapy (weeks or months), focusing mainly on strengthening a person’s resources and improving their life in their present circumstances. Psychotherapy on the other hand referred to longer term work (months or years) for a deeper focus on the person’s life since childhood, to help them understand themselves and transform their lives for ever.
In reality, Counselling and Psychotherapy are identical in depth and value and many therapists use these terms interchangeably. The differences of focus are more to do with the type of training / modality. Ask your therapist about their training and focus. It helps to know something about the type of therapy you are receiving so you can decide if that is what you want to commit to.
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10 June 2022

Why do we buy it?

"Research findings that are probably wrong [are] cited far more than robust ones, study finds"
"Scientific research findings that are probably wrong gain far more attention than robust results, according to academics who suspect that the bar for publication may be lower for papers with grabbier conclusions."
"Studies in top science, psychology and economics journals that fail to hold up when others repeat them are cited, on average, more than 100 times as often in follow-up papers than work that stands the test of time."
♦  Excerpts from Ian Sample, science editor, The Guardian, 21 May 2021
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20 May 2022

2022 UK Public Perceptions Survey: talk to a counsellor or psychotherapist

"Almost nine in ten people (88%) agree it's important therapy should be accessible to everyone who wants it, and 85% agree it’s a good idea to seek counselling or psychotherapy for a problem before it gets out of hand.
65% of people agree it’s better for people to talk to someone about their problems rather than take medication, and 74% agree people might be happier if they talked to a counsellor or psychotherapist about their problems."
"All figures... are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 5136 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 9th - 23rd February 2022.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 16+)."
♦ Excerpts from https://www.bacp.co.uk/news/news-from-bacp/2022/9-may-mental-health-awareness-week-counselling-changes-lives/?
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Loneliness

6 May 2022
"Samaritans says the Covid pandemic has led to more people calling its helpline about loneliness and isolation.
It is an issue affecting all ages.
Nearly a third of all callers contacting the charity during the pandemic mentioned it. Prior to that, it was about a quarter."
♦ Excerpt from: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-61332060 - posted 5 May
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British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy shocked that Conversion Therapy ban in UK is discriminatory

24 April 2022
"A ban that only addresses conversion therapy for sexuality and not gender identity is inadequate."
"Sexual orientations and gender identities are not mental health disorders. Anyone accessing therapy should be able to do so without fear of judgement or the threat of being pressured to change a fundamental aspect of who they are."
♦  Excerpts from https://www.bacp.co.uk/news/news-from-bacp/2022/1-april-disappointment-on-conversion-therapy-ban-proposals-latest/?
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Trauma is a part of our human existence.

Here are some (often overlapping) types:
A single event trauma is when the brain is having trouble processing a threat.
A multiple event trauma (complex trauma) is when a number of such events are involved.
Developmental trauma is when we experience events over a period of time in the context of significant relationships. The more embedded they are in our childhood, the deeper is the impact.
Secondary or vicarious trauma is when we are exposed to and triggered by someone else’s experience.
 
Are any of these familiar?
Psychotherapy helps you to gently reconnect with the free and strong person that you are under the weight of trauma, and you can begin to slowly process the unprocessed.
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UK Mental health unit patients and specialists speak out

“…Keir Harding, founder of Beam Consultancy, says such environments ‘recreate a lot of the trauma [patients] have lived through’.”
Emma from Derbyshire, an inpatient for 3 months in 2020 says: ”I know how close I was to not making it through. Now I channel that energy into trying to fight for other people."
“The Department of Health and Social Care said it was ‘rolling out integrated community mental health teams which will give 370,000 people with severe mental illness greater choice over their care’.”
♦ Excerpts from BBC File on 4 and UK Insight. By Adam Eley and Emma Forde
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“Calls to male sexual abuse helpline doubled in 2021.”
Alex Feis-Bryce, Survivors UK: “We need to be teaching young people about consent and their responsibilities when it comes to sex, and to remove shame from sex, because that perpetuates silence.”  
♦  Excerpts from Rachel Stonehouse, BBC Newsbeat Report, 10 January 2022
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Anxiety: the 'fight, flight or freeze' responses

Like other animals, we have evolved to protect ourselves from perceived danger.
When our brain detects a threat, our body reacts by releasing useful hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones make us want to fight off danger or run away or numb out. These are automatic and uncontrollable physical responses.
'Fight, flight' responses are more commonly known, but what about 'freeze'? When our brain thinks it can do absolutely nothing to ward off danger, we go blank, or experience a kind of paralysis, or numbness. Click here for an excellent article about 'freeze'.
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Emotions

Our survival instinct compels us to suppress the emotions that we think are a threat.
Recognising and expressing emotions safely, helps us own, understand and process them.
Express them by telling someone, imagining, making, drawing, painting, dancing, walking, running, punching (safely), digging, writing, listening to music, talking to yourself out loud, making noise, singing, playing, etc. Then... think through the impact of those emotions on you and what you're going to do with them.
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National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)

November 2021: Qualitative evidence gathered by Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists offered 5 studies that showed "people with depression expressed strong beliefs about the potential benefits of talking therapies, either alone or in combination with antidepressants. The opportunity to gain insight and understanding, and to talk to a professional who is not part of their life, were particularly valued."
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Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 50

Ruth Sutherland, CEO of Samaritans wrote:
(1 Aug 2018) "Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 50. You can quote the statistics about suicide, but it is hard to convey the devastation with just numbers. A suicide is like a rock thrown into the water with the ripples spreading outwards, covering family, friends, soaking work colleagues, acquaintances, the wider community."
♦  Excerpt from https://www.england.nhs.uk/blog/tackling-the-root-causes-of-suicide/
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