Minding Our Heads.
How to be positive

Various events and problems can make it easier for us to focus on the negative aspects rather than the good things that exist in our lives. How can we become people who see the cup as ‘half full’ rather than ‘half empty’? How can we make the most of any situation?  I hope this post will help you find some answers and I hope it will encourage you to find ways of becoming a more positive individual.

So here are some key points to becoming more positive (in no particular order)

Keep track of your progress

Sometimes, in all the rush of things, you can forget how far you have already come and so you may keep plodding on to the next venture without acknowledging the positives. If you just keep going and don’t stop every so often, you might lose track of where you are and what you have already achieved, so you may find that you feel like you’re not getting very far.

This is why it’s important to congratulate yourself on your achievements, whether these are personal, professional or in any other capacity.

No matter how big or small you may perceive them; all achievements are significant in some way. Keeping track can give us a sense of self-worth and motivation to keep going.

Whether you write it down, tell yourself out loud or in your head, or share it with others, it’s important that you notice when something has gone well, and when you have made an accomplishment.

Get rid of negativity from your vocabulary

It’s easy to say “I can’t do that” or “I won’t be able to do it.”

Think of at least one positive outcome of doing something that you may find daunting, tedious or boring. That way, you can congratulate yourself and feel proud when you have done something you didn’t feel like doing.

Know your strengths

Remind yourself of your strengths, skills and personal qualities. What are you good at? What do others say you are good at? If you don’t know, then ask a friend, relative or anyone you know and trust to tell you what they think. Others often see us differently to how we see ourselves.

Write these things down or tell yourself out loud. Refer back to what you have written when you are feeling negative towards yourself. You will be able to remind yourself that you actually have a lot going for you.

Write downs positive thoughts and quotes

 Although it may be hard sometimes to think positively, I often find myself coming up with lots of ideas and thoughts in the evenings and at night. My ideas just seem to flow at this time of the day, which is why you will often see me tweeting numerous positive thoughts later on in the day.

However, if you struggle with coming up with these by yourself, then why not use the Internet to help you? Look for positive quotes and phrases, and if you find any that you particularly like and find useful, write them down. Sometimes I just scribble down a load of positive quotes and thoughts into a notebook and I refer back to them when I’m feeling down or I need motivation.

It’s okay not be okay, but you can make it better

It’s okay to feel down, sad or upset. Don’t think that you shouldn’t be feeling a certain way because it’s unjustified or not acceptable. You are entitled to feel whatever comes naturally to you and you can’t be expected to hide your feelings. You can’t just switch off your emotions.

However, sometimes it may become difficult to get out of a negative and vicous circle of our own thoughts and feelings. It’s important to make sure we don’t spend too much time over-thinking and being negative.

When you’re feeling down, tell someone. Tell anyone at all. Don’t feel that you’re a burden because you’re actually far from it. Someone out there cares about you and wants to know that you’re okay, and if you’re not okay, they want to help.

Take a step towards being positive and feeling a little better by writing down how you feel. Pour it out onto the paper. Use words, pictures, phrases or anything you feel is necessary to illustrate how you feel. Keep going until you feel like a weight has been lifted. It doesn’t matter how odd or messy the page may look after, as long as you let everything out onto the paper. After, read back on it, then come back to it a few days later and see if anything has changed. If anything has changed since then, what is it? Write that down too.


__________________________________


So there you have it, just some ways you can take a step to becoming more positive. Let me know what you think and as always, I am here for anyone who needs a friendly chat and a caring ear to listen.

Loren

(@mindingourheads)

Invisible Illness

“But you look fine!”, “Why are you being like this?”, “Just pull yourself together,”

Do any of these expressions sound familiar to you? These are just a few of the words that have been said to me with regards to my mental health.

However, what I do know is that when I sprained my ankle at a younger age, many people I came into contact with were full of sympathy and would ask “How are you feeling?” and wish me well in my recovery. Why? My injury was physical. It was visible to see that something was wrong as I walked with a limp for weeks and my ankle was bandaged. Everyone could see something was wrong.

And that’s the thing about mental illness and mental health difficulties. Many people don’t realise there’s something wrong, because to them, someone with mental health difficulties might look completely fine. And so I often refer to mental illness as invisible illness.

But if we don’t tell someone how we’re feeling, how can we expect them to know? And if we don’t educate people on mental health issues, how can we expect them to understand?  Of course people are bound to make judgements and misconceptions if they know nothing about an issue.

So, even if you aim to challenge the misconceptions of one person, you are already making a difference!

I hope that by blogging and tweeting to raise awareness on mental health issues, we will be able to effectively challenge misconceptions and break down stigma. With your help and support, we can do it together.

  - Loren

Twitter: @mindingourheads

Email: mentalhealthblog@live.co.uk

Time To Change Campaign

Time To Change is a campaign set up by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. The campaign is the biggest ever in England to try to end the stigma and discrimination faced by those with mental health problems.

Visit http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/

Find out more about the campaign at http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/about

You can help break stigma and end discrimination by…

Making a pledge

Just a few words telling people about mental illness can make a difference.

You can make a pledge on the Time to Change website.

By clicking on the link below, you can make a pledge on the pledge wall

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/pledgewall  

As an example, you might make a pledge that says: ‘I pledge to challenge misconceptions of mental illness when I encounter them’

- Loren (@mindingourheads)

 

Eastenders’ Character Ian Beale’s Break Down and Mental Illness

I don’t really watch a lot of TV but I have to say that in the past I have always kept up to date with Eastenders.

However in the last few months I haven’t been watching my favourite soap as much as I’d have liked due to various commitments. More recently though, I have been catching up with episodes that follow Ian Beale (played my actor Adam Woodyatt) in his return to the Square and his struggle with a mental breakdown.

Businessman and family-orientated Ian hasn’t had an easy time of it lately. With his finances declining and a rocky relationship with Mandy, as well on-going battles with rebellious teenage daughter Lucy, things haven’t been great for Ian. And if his problems weren’t already difficult enough to handle, the shocking revelation that his brother Ben had killed family-friend Heather was the tip of the iceberg. Not only this, but Ian then had the added pressure from Ben and Phil to keep such a devastating secret.

After Mandy refused to marry him on the day of their wedding, Ian wandered down a motorway in his pyjamas. Those around Ian had failed to notice that he was having a break down, which I feel is very eye-opening, because often the signs of a breakdown might not be acknowledged or taken seriously enough.

Later, Ian disappeared for weeks, leaving his children Lucy and Bobby to fend for themselves.

Upon returning to Walford, it was clear to see that Ian had not maintained a clean and well-groomed appearance. More so, Ian had become extremely introverted, locked away so deeply in his own mind, and was quite clearly a broken man. The other characters seemed shocked by the transformation of Ian, who had been sleeping rough on the streets of London.

Many of the characters didn’t know how to respond and what to say to Ian, although others such as Alfie Moon, and particularly Jean Slater, try to help Ian. They take him aside from the overwhelming atmosphere of the pub crowd and try to encourage him to speak out about how he is feeling. 

Of course, Eastenders has a track record for recognising mental illness. Characters Stacey Branning and her mother Jean Slater both have bipolar disorder.

It was lovely to see that Jean offered care, empathy and understanding for Ian. Jean gave encouraging words such as “One of the things that I’ve learned from my stints in hospital is to not bottle things up. To talk” I can completely relate to this. I know from personal experience that it isn’t good to keep everything to yourself. Your thoughts will start to feed off each other and it isn’t ideal to let this happen. It becomes a vicious circle of negativity, of which you may be likely to struggle in breaking the cycle.

Jean also reminds Ian that “even the greatest minds have snapped.” I couldn’t agree more with this comment. It is true that mental illness and breakdowns can happen to anyone at all, even those who you least expect it to. No matter how intelligent a person may be and in spite of someone’s family, friends, money and career amongst other things, no one is exempt from mental illness.

I always feel so much empathy and emotion when I’m watching these scenes. It’s because I can relate to some of what Ian is going through. It’s also sad to come to the realisation that many people still don’t understand mental illness in its’ true capacity. Of course, mental illness is an umbrella term for a variety of issues and disorders.

I hope the story line will go in a positive direction for Ian. It would be great to see him get some help with the support of his loved ones, and for him to start taking small steps to recovery. This will show that dealing with and overcoming mental illness is possible.

Time To Change, an anti-stigma campaign for mental illness, run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, worked closely with Eastenders on this storyline. The Eastenders researchers and script writers were put in touch with real-life people who had experienced what Ian was going through. This added to accuracy in the portrayal of a character that was affected by mental illness. Time To Change said “We hope that an accurate portrayal of what it’s like to have a mental health problem, showing that this can happen to any member of society such as a business man or a family man, just like Ian, will break down the barriers and help and eliminate the stigma and taboo around the issue.”

Resources I used to help me write this:

If you have any comments or questions on the story line or this post, please get in touch. As always I like to hear responses and I appreciate feedback.

- Loren

Twitter: @mindingourheads

Email: mentalhealthblog@live.co.uk

My anxiety and panic. Things get better.

In previous times, I have found great difficulty in the everyday tasks that others might take for granted. Things like going out to the shops, going to school or attending a friends’ party were a real struggle for me. I wanted to avoid social situations and leaving the confines of my house at all costs. The immense anxiety and panic that would fill my entire being at just the thought of going out were controlling my life.

I started to lose friends. They thought I didn’t want to be around them and I think they felt annoyed that I constantly let them down when we had made plans. I felt that no one understood or even cared about what I was going through. But then again how could I expect them to understand my issues when I didn’t explain it to them? I couldn’t explain, though. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I had lost all perspective.

It hurt when people told me to ‘pull myself together’ and ‘lighten up’. It isn’t as easy as that. I wished it was easy, and that I really could ‘snap out of it’, but I had no choice but to carry on and live in  hope of the day where things would get better.

After years of struggling with panic and anxiety, I slowly began to build myself up again. My loved ones gave me the strength, courage and determination to get better. I knew I couldn’t avoid going out forever.

Slowly, I started taking small steps to recovery. I started to walk down the road to shop with my mum. I gradually started to accept invitations to go out with friends. I found the motivation to get ready and leave the house to go to school.

The small steps added up to one amazing final result.

I still have days where I don’t want to face the world. There are certain situations that I hate to be in as I am filled with the same feelings as I had before. I try to avoid getting myself into a bad emotional state, and my mum can always tell when I start to feel overwhelmed or distressed by a social situation.

However I am so thankful that I overcame the worst of this horrific ordeal. I feel like I have regained my life now. I have started to take every good opportunity that comes my way. I enjoy going out with my friends and I have a social life again. I still have a way to go, but I know that I have come so far.  

I think it is important to remind yourself of how far you have come from the point you used to be at.

If you are reading this and you’re going through panic or anxiety, please know that I understand and empathise with you. I am always here if you need someone to listen or someone to relate to.

I hope that you can find it within yourself to take small steps like I did, and I know that great things will happen. All the wonders you seek are within yourself.

Loren (@mindingourheads)